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Incarnation of the Word.
13 on his name;
JOHN I. Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of 15 grace and truth. John testified of him, and cried, saying, "This is he of whom I spoke, He that cometh after me is preferred to me: 16 for he was before me. And of his fulness we 17 all have received; and grace upon grace. For
the law was given by Moses, but the grace and 18 the truth came by Jesus the Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."
Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem 20 to ask him, "Who art thou?" And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, "I am not
of our Lord, the verb yevro must want a participle to explain and limit its signification. "The world was enlightened by him." None of the old translators, none of the Greek fathers, that I know of, ever made such a discovery as this! They thought that the text was complete, and conveyed a clear and noble sense. Coloss. i. 16.
11. Own land, &c. I have added, in italic, what the genders of the adnouns clearly signify. Judea is called Immanuel's land, Is. viii. 8, because he was to be born there; and the Jews his people, because, as to his human nature, he was to be one of them.
12, 13. The right, &c. The power or privilege of becoming, &c.Not of blood. They are children of God, not by their natural birth or descent from Abraham -- -Nor of the will of, &c. I consider these two clauses as nearly synonymous; the first denoting the natural inclination to marry, and the second the will of man choosing and marrying. Some apply these clauses to Jewish proselytism; and Doddridge explains flesh our corrupt principles, and the will of man, the attempts of others to convert and change us. ———— But of God, &c. By his spirit and truth. See Ch. iii. &c.
14. The word became, &c. That glorious person, called the Word, 'became incarnate,' as Campbell renders, and dwelt in our nature, as in a tent or tabernacle.·Beheld his glory, &c. When he was transfigured. Matt.xvii. 1-5, and 2 Pet. i. 17. There was a glory in the human nature, of Christ, answerable to that in the ancient tabernacle, and becoming him, who was 'the only begotten of the father. According to Matt. i. 20. Luke i. 35, Jesus was born into the world in such a manner as no other ever was; and if applied to this circumstance, I see nothing improper in retaining the common version. The term, however, may admit the sense of dearly beloved, or well beloved.' John only uses the term in reference to our Lord. The Septuagint use it for Ps. xxi. 20.; xxii. 20. ; xxxv.-17.; and often render the same word ayannos 'beloved,' Gen. xxii. 1, 12, 16. Jerem. vi. 26. Amos viii. 10. Zech. xii. 10.—Full of grace, &c. He was himself most kind and gracious, and made the most ample discoveries of pardon and grace to men; and was the truth,' as in him the promises were fulfilled, and the typical ceremonies of Moses were realized, he being the substance of them all.
15. John testified, &c. Of the Incarnate Word, and what he said was,
The testimony of John. the Christ." And they asked him, "Who 21 then? Art thou Elijah ?" And he saith, “I am not." "Art thou the prophet." And he answered, "No." Then said they to him, “Who 22 art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?" He said, "I am the voice of one crying in the 23 desert, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as said the prophet Isaiah." And those who had 24 been sent were of the Pharisees. Then they 25 asked him, and said to him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" John answered them, saying, 26 "I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who 27 cometh after me [is preferred before me,] whose shoe latchet I am not worthy to unloose." These 28 things passed in Bethany" beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto 29
"He that, &c." For the vindication of the common version, see Campbell's note here, and John xv. 18.—He was before me. That is, existed before me; and as this was not true of Jesus as man, (John being the elder) it must be regarded as the Baptist's testimony to his divinity. To render, "he is my principal," I think a violation of every just rule of sound criticism. See Kypke in Loc.
16. Of his fulness, &c. Not only did John give his testimony to the superior excellence and dignity of Christ, as full of grace; but the Evangelist adds, And of his fulness, &c. They had received the gifts of the spirit, knowledge, wisdom, power, &c.. -Upon grace. For this sense of avri see Pearce's note, who refers to Eccles xxvi. 15, and to the Helen. Euripid. v. 1250, and Theognis Sent. v. 344, and Philo, as quoted by Wetstein. Jesus had conferred favour upon favour in the freest and fullest manner.
17. The grace and the truth, &c. In the same manner as Moses had been the medium of communicating the law and the knowledge of it to the Israelites, so has Christ, in communicating the doctrines of grace and truth to his people. Exod. xxxiii. 20.
18. No man huth seen, &c. God is invisible to us, his people, but has, at various seasons, made known his will; and Jesus has particularly revealed his character, purposes, &c. And he was well qualified to do it, as his favourite, and most intimately acquainted with all his designs. The allusion is to the most favoured guest, Ch. xiii. 23. Luke xvi. 22, 23.
21. Art thou Elijah? The Jews, from what the prophet Malachi had said, expected Elijah to be raised, aud literally to come again; and to their question in this sense John truly answers in the negative; for he was not the person of Elijah, but one sent in the power and spirit of that reformer. Matt. xi. 14.—The prophet, &c. Our translators make this question a repetition of the former, that prophet;' while some render, a prophet,' to which John replies, no, though a greater had not been. Matt. xi. 11. The last version must be given up; and, with Campbell, I conceive the former is not the sense of the text, but that which I have given. Besides Elijah, they had some expectation of another prophet arising among them, appears from this verse, and from Ch. vi. 40, 41. See Deuter. xviii 15-19.
23. I am the voice, &c. Is. xl. 3.
Christ is the Lamb of God.
him, and saith, "Behold the Lamb of God, 30 who taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, "After me cometh a man who is preferred to me: for he was before me.' 31 And I knew him not: but to the end that he might be made manifest to Israel, therefore am 82 I come baptizing with water." And John tes
tified, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove; and it abode upon 33 him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, had said to me,
ing, and abiding upon him, this is he who 34 baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.' And I saw, and testify that this is the Son of God."
Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descend-whom Moses in the law, and the prophets also,
On the next day John was standing, and two 36 of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, "Behold the Lamb of God." 37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and 38 followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith to them, "What seek ye?" They said to him, "Rabbi, (which is, being interpreted, Teacher,) where dwellest 39 thou?" He saith to them, "Come and see." They went and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth 40 hour. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Jesus, was Andrew, Simon Peter's 41 brother. The first he met was his own brother
25. Why baptizest thou, &c. They thought his baptizing without being the Christ, or Elijah, or the prophet, was assuming authority altogether unwarrantable; to which John replies, that his baptism was introductory to a new dispensation, when men should be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and the person who should establish this dispensation was then among them.
Philip and Nathanael called.
Simon, and he said to him, "We have found
28. Bethany. Griesbach had adopted this reading, as supported by the best mss. old versions, and fathers. This Bethany is distinguished from that near Jerusalem, by the explanatory words, beyond or on the Jordan.' The signification of the word is, a house, by a ferry; and Beth-abara is the house of the passage. See Judg. vii. 24. John has given no account of the birth of Christ, or of his temptation in the desert, as these had been related by two of the Evangelists. After his temptation Jesus had returned to the place where John was still baptizing beyond the Jordan, and John relates what occurred
29-34. The next day, &c. After John had replied to the questions of the priests. Knew him not, &c. That is, as the Messiah, until it was revealed on whom he should see the Spirit descending, and abiding, the same person was he. John knew Jesus as of the same family, as a holy man, and probably as a prophet, but not as the Christ, until his baptism. Matt. iii. 14. Johnseeing the heavens opened and the Spirit descend, bears his testimony that Jesus is the son of God, or the Messiah.
36. Lamb of God. So called from his gentleness, but especially as ap-
The next day Jesus resolved to go into Gali- 43
pointed for sacrifice. As the lamb was the daily offering in the temple, this
40. Andrew, Simon, &c. It is generally supposed that our Evangelist
42. Cephas, &c. This is a Syro-Chaldaic term, and means a rock. The design of this name was to show his firmness and constancy.
45. Nathanael, &c. See note, Luke vi. 14.-Moses in the law, &c. According to the opinion of these plain and upright men, both Moses and the prophets had written of the Messiah, and that Jesus of Nazareth was he.
46. Can any good thing, &c. Pearce supposes that Nathanael may allude to Jer. xxxiii. 14, where God engages to perform that 'good thing' which he had promised, to cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David. In this view Nathanael's question will signify, Is Nazareth the place whence Messiah is to rise? This is an ingenious, though a very uncertain explanation. It is the common opinion, that Nathanael reflects on Nazareth as a wicked and ungodly city.
48. Under the fig-tree, &c. Where, most probably, Nathanael had been performing some private act of devotion.
Son of God, &c. He was assured, by what Jesus said, that he possessed supernatural knowledge; knew both his character and private actions; and Philip might have communicated to him the baptist's testimony, ver.32 −36. 50. Greater things, &c. It was a great thing to know secret actions ; 153
Marriage feast at Cana.
ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son
A. D. 30. Water turned into wine; Jesus geeth up to Jerusalem; and expells the buyers and sellers from the temple; foretels his own death and 'works miracles.
2. We learn from the testimony of John, the excellence of his own spirit and character, and his faithfulness in the discharge of his
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER I. 1. Let us be thankful that
office. When asked, 'Art thou the Christ?' He modestly and truly an
' in the beginning;' and by him was the world and all its inhabitants,
our Redeemer is the mighty God, as well as the Prince of peace.swered, ' I am not.' He did not claim to be regarded either as Elijah His being and glory were of old, even from everlasting. He was or the prophet whom they expected; but refers them to Isaiah for a description of himself. His office was to be the harbinger of Messiah, and to prepare his way; and he assures them that this glorious person was now standing among them. How just must be the account given of Jesus, when the baptist declares that he was not worthy to unloose the latchet of his shoes! Let us learn not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought; but as christians entertain and express our admiration of the person and grace of our Lord.
the heavens and all their glorious hosts, created. "For thou Lord, in the beginning laidst the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish; but thou remainest and they shall all wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." Without him was not any thing made that was made; whether they be thrones, dominions, principalities and powers, things visible and invisible, all were created by him and for him. Yet this glorious being became incarnate, and to accomplish our deliverance dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. He became the light and life of men in spiritual darkness and death; and, however some might reject him, to those who received him he gave the privilege of becoming the children of God. May we receive him, and yield ourselves to his instructions and grace; and honour the son as we honour the father.
CHAP. II. 1. Cana of Galilee. See Josh. xix. 28. This belonged to Asher; and as there was another of that name in Cœlosyria, according to Josephus, it is mentioned as being Galilee for the sake of precision.The mother of Jesus, &c. It has been very probably supposed that this marriage was celebrated at the house of Cleopas or Alpheus, whose wife was sister to the mother of our Lord. John xix. 25. This opinion is strengthened by the 12th verse, where we find our Lord's brethren, or nearest kindred, going down with him to Capernaum. Doddridge also supposes that as Mary is spoken of alone, Joseph was now dead.
2. And his disciples, &c. Pearce, from the preceding Ch. v. ver. 37, &c. thinks they were not more than four.
Water turned to wine.
"Woman, what hast thou to do with me? My
3. We should ever regard Jesus as the lamb of God,' by whose precious blood we are redeemed. He is the propitiation, not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world; and let us look to him by faith that our sins may be taken away, and we enjoy the comfort of pardon and forgiveness. To this end we should intreat the Head of the Church to impart to us a portion of that spirit of wisdom, love and power, with which he was so richly anointed; that so our acquaintance with, and conformity to him may increase. Especially let us keep up a private and close intercourse with heaven; and he that seeth us in secret will reward us openly; Jesus will have his eye upon us, and communicate to us increasing pleasure and consolation.
4. Woman, what hast, &c. This was not considered disrespectful in ancient times, as we learn from Zenophon, Dion Cass. &c. As for the idiomatical expression, see Sept. Josh. xxii. 24. Judg. xi. 12, and 2 Sam. xvi. 10.; xix. 22, &c.My hour is not come. His mother seems to have expected that he would do a miracle; but by his reply, he assures her that he would not do it to gratify curiosity, but at the proper time, when his hour to do so
5-10. His mother saith, &c. The occasion of this miracle, the failure of the wine, might occur from the unexpected number of guests, a part of whom might have come, because Jesus was there; or from the advanced time of the feast, which probably lasted seven days. Gen. xxix. 27. Judg. xiv. 12. In either case, to supply the deficiency, in no way derogates from the honour of our Lord.—Drunk plentifully, &c. This remark of the governor of the feast only shows what was customary; but gives no counte nance to intemperance. It implies that it was usual for men to drink more at a feast than on other occasions; but surely they may do this without being drunkards.
The zeal of Christ
the water knew ;) the governor of the feast 10 called the bridegroom, And saith to him, And saith to him, "Every man at first setteth on good wine; and when men have drunk plentifully, then, that (which is worse: but thou hast kept the good 11 wine until now." This beginning of miracles Jesus made in Cana of Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed on him. 12 After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disci: ples; but they did not remain there may days.
13 And the passover of the Jews was near; and 14 Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and 15 doves, and the money-changers sitting: And, when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the money of the exchangers, and overturned the tables; 16 And said to those who sold doves, "Take these things hence; make not my Father's
11. His glory. That is, his power, which tended greatly to establish the faith of his disciples.
for the purity of the temple.. house a house of merchandise." And his dis- 17 ciples remembered that it was written, “The zeal of thy house eateth me up."
Then the Jews spoke and said to him, 18 "What sign showest thou unto us, since thou doest these things?" Jesus answered and said 19 to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then said the Jews, 20 Forty-six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou raise it up in three days?" But 21 he spoke concerning the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, 22 his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Now while he was in Jerusalem during the 23 feast of the passover, many believed on his name, when, they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not trust himself to them, 24 because he knew all of them; And needed not 25 that any should give a character of any man: for he knew what was in man.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER 11. 1. We are taught that marriage is honourable; and the presence of Jesus and the miracle which he wrought at a marriage-feast was in effect a testimony borne to the honour and purity of that state. His being a guest on such an occasion, shows his condescension, kind and sociable temper; and should teach all his followers to avoid every thing forbidding and morose, and not to condemn men for the moderate enjoyments of providence, especially on occasions of festivity. By this miracle our Lord proved that he could have procured for himself every animal gratification; but he chose to live a life of self-denial, and sometimes to suffer hunger and thirst, to teach his followers, not to labour for the bread that perisheth only, but for that which endureth to everlasting lite.
2. We see in the conduct of the priests how powerful the love of through the spirit.
13-17.. And the passover, &c. This passover was the first Jesus attended after he had begun his public ministry; and his cleansing the temple different from that related by Matt. xxi. 12. Mark xi. 15, and Luke xix. 46, which was at the passover when he was crucified. The language, circumstances, &c. are all different. See Michaelis Anmerk.- -Sold oxen, &c. Immense numbers of these were brought for victimis; and the money-changers assisted the foreign Jews, by exchanging foreign coin for the shekel of the sanctuary. See notes, Matt. xxi. 12, &c.
18. What sign showest, &c. What evidence dost thou give of having a divine commission; they thought that by his conduct he claimed such a commission; and they desire to see the proof of it.
19... Destroy this temple, &c. He probably pointed with his hand to his U 3
the world is, and in that of Jesus, how much an enlightened zeal for
to the house of God with our minds full of worldly cares; when we
own body; but as many did not see this action, they understood him to speak of Herod's temple.
20. Forty-six years, &c. Herod the great began to rebuild the chief parts of the temple in the 18th year of his reign; and though it was in a great measure completed in nine years, additions and improvements had been made up to this time, and were continued for nearly forty years more. See Joseph. Antiq. xv. 11, and xx. 8, &c.
22. Believed the scripture, &c. They had not understood it before his resurrection; but by that event it was made plain. Ps. xvi. 10. Acts ii. 31, &c. Ps. ii. 7. Hebr. i. 5, &c.
23-25. The miracles, &c. What miracles were now wrought we are not informed'; but some were induced in consequence of them, so to believe as to admit him at least to be a teacher sent from God.- -Trust himself. Either
to declare his Messiahship, and thus put it in their power immediately to lay 155
The necessity of a new birth.
A. D. 30.
Nicodemus taught the nature and necessity of regeneration; of faith and unbelief; the baptism, witness and doctrine of Jolin concerning
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named 2 Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: This man came to Jesus by night, and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, unless God be with him." 3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Verily, verily, I say to thee, Unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicodemus saith to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? can hé enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Verily, verily, I say to thee, Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom 6 God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Wonder not that I said to thee, Ye must
hold of him; or to confide in the steadfastness of their conviction, and of their present favourable opinion of him. The latter seems supported by what follows. CHAP. III. 1. A ruler of the Jews. A magistrate, and member of the great Sanhedrim, Ch. vii. 50, who was struck with the miracles which Jesus had wrought.
Came to Jesus by night. Before he returned from the feast, Nicodémus paid our Lord this visit by night; probably for fear of his brethren, whose prejudices began already to be manifest.- -Rabbi, &c. By this title he admits our Lord to be a person of consequence, a teacher sent, &c.; and this on the ground of his miracles.
3-5. Jesus answered, &c. I think Nicodemus, as a Pharisee, was with the rest of that sect expecting a temporal kingdom to be set up when Messiah appeared; and our Lord informs him, that unless a man be born again, be the subject of a spiritual change, he cannot enter into his kingdom, or be a subject of it. Nicodemus, not perceiving the design of our Lord, says, 'How can a man, &c.' Our Lord corrects his misapprehension, and informs him that the new birth of which he was speaking, was of water and the spirit. Some think that he refers to baptism as the initiatory rite of his kingdom, and to the renewing influence of his spirit on the heart; while others suppose that water and the spirit only mean the spirit, whose influence, like water, should purify, refresh, and make fruitful. This view is supported by the 6th and 8th v. 6. Of flesh is flesh, &c. That flesh sometimes means man as mortal, is clear from many instances; but that it has that sense here may be justly doubted. It certainly signifies man as degenerate, and enslaved to animal appetites and passions. Comp. Gen. vi. 3. Rom. viii. 8. Gal. v. 17-24. Jude 34. Such is our state as the children of fallen and sinful parents.— Born of the Spirit, &c. Through the agency of the Spirit, a change is effected in the mind, and a holy and spiritual bias is imparted to the heart. Spirit seems put for a spiritual man. 1 John iv. 1, 2.
8. The wind bloweth, &c. Our Lord illustrates the subject, but shows that it is attended with circumstances for which we cannot account. The wind bloweth in all directions as it happeneth; its sound is heard, and its effects are seen; but who can tell whence it arises, or where it dies away. So
The great love of God.
be born again.' The wind bloweth where it will, 8 and thou hearest the sound thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus answered and said to him, "How 9 can these things be?" Jesus answered and 10 said unto him, "Art thou a teacher of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, 11 I say to thee, "We speak that which we know, and testify that which we have seen; yet ye remember not our testimony. If I have 12 told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how will ye believe, if I tell you heavenly things? Now no man hath ascended up to heaven, unless 13 he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted 14 up the serpent in the desert, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever 15 believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world, 16 that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
the effects of the Spirit are sensible, in the exercise of faith, love, &c.. but its mode of operation is unknown, and the reason why he acts on one object and not another is to us inscrutable.
10. Art thou a master, &c. Our Lord brought certain strange things to the ears of this Pharisee, and with wonder he said, "How can these things be" Jesus asks, “Art thou a teacher, &c." The prophets had frequently spoken of the influences of the spirit. Is. xliv. 3--5. Jer. xxxi. 33, 34. Ezek. xxxvi. 22, 67.
11. What we have seen, &c. Jesus maintains this power of the Spirit in those already called and converted to him; such as Nathanael and others. Ch. i. 37, &c.
12. If I have told you, &c. Of things more easy and plain, and which are occurring to men on earth.- -Heavenly things, &c. High and mysterious things. With Doddridge, I think our Lord adverts to these heavenly things in what follows-his descent from heaven to instruct us-his divine nature as being in heaven. The design of his coming to be lifted upon the cross, that he might save us from our sins-of everlasting life and happiness to be obtained by faith in his death, and of the condemnation of all such as finally reject him.
13. Now no man, &c. No one hath gone there to search into the secret counsels, and to obtain a perfect knowledge of the truths of God. Deuter. xxx. 12. Thom. x. 6.-Unless he that came. For the sense given to see Schleus. No man hath such a knowledge, unless the son of man, &c. The first clause is simply negative, that no man has ascended up to, &c. It refers to a real ascent, but denies that any man hath made it; and the second refers to a real descent, that of the Word, which became incarnate, and by reason of which, he who was the son of man on earth, was also in heaven.
14, 15. As Moses lifted up, &c. See Numb. xxi. 8, 9. That our Lord refers to his crucifixion is evident, from Ch. viii. 28.; xif. 32, 34.; but the great point of similitude is in the manner of healing and saving, which in both instances is, by believing regards to something lifted up for that purpose by divine appointment. As in the one case he that looked lived; so in the other, he that believeth shall be saved.
16-21. God so loved, &c. Jesus urges the gift of himself as the greatest