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6 There was a man sent from 8 He was not that Light, but God, whose name was John. was sent to bear witness of that
7 The same came for a wit- Light. ness, to bear witness of the 9 That was the true Light, Light, that all men through him which lighteth every man that might believe.
cometh into the world.
ignorance and sin, THE LIGHT from of the Saviour, and the Saviour himheaven shone to dispel the darkness, self, who was the author of bliss, and and to bring in the day of knowledge, the great revealer of true knowledge. of holiness, and of happiness. || And He was anxious that there should he the darkness; those who were in dark- no mistake in regard to the person ness; the world enveloped in igno- whom he was describing. rance and spiritual misery. || Com
9. Which lighteth every man that prehended it not ; did not receive it. cometh into the world. A broad disMen, in their ignorance and sin, did tinction is here pointed out between not give a cordial welcome to Christ, John, the forerunner, and Christ, the when he came to bestow knowledge real Saviour. John was sent to anand bliss. Special reference nounce the coming of the Messiah, probably made to the Jews; but both to bear testimony to him, and to labor Jews and Gentiles may be included for preparing the Jewish people to in this declaration. It was, and it is, receive him. His office was restricta general truth that the Messiah's ed to the Jewish nation. However religion, as to its doctrines and pre- honorable the commission which was cepts, the kind of happiness which it entrusted to him (see Matt. 11:11), proposes, and the manner of attaining yet he was appointed to act in a narthat happiness, does not accord with row sphere. The real Saviour, on the inclinations of men.
the contrary, had a more ample field. 6. A man sent from God; specially Not for the Jews only, but for the hucommissioned from above. Compare man race, did he come as a dispenser Luke 1: 11–17.3:2. Matt. 3:1–3. of religious light and eternal life.
John the Baptist is here introduced His mission was intended not, as as having borne testimony to Christ. was that of John, for any one By referring to the testimony of John tion, but for all nations; not for any the Baptist, the evangelist clearly one class of
but for al men, so shows to what person he was refer- that to every one the Saviour was inring in the preceding verses, and dis-tended to bear a most important relatinguishes Christ, who was, in the tion; and every one may, through highest sense, Light of the him, obtain eternal life. The word world, from all other religious teach- lighteth is equivalent to the phrase ers and benefactors.
blesseth with divine knowledge and 7. Of the Light. The special object spiritual happiness. The phrase thut for which John was commissioned cometh into the world is regarded by was to announce the coming of the the best judges of the original lanMessiah, to point him out to the peo- guage as properly referring, not to ple, and to direct the people to him the word man, but to the word Light, as the giver of divine knowledge and so that the idea expressed by the true bliss. || That all men through verse is this : That was the true Light him, &c.; that there might be a gen- which, coming into the world, lighteth eral reception of the Messiah. Com- every The phrase He that pare Luke 1:17.
cometh into the world was used as 8. He was not that Light. The designating the Messiah. See John writer carefully distinguishes be- 11:27. Matt. 11:3. Compare, too, tween John, who was the forerunner John 3: 19
10 He was in the world, and him, to them gave he power to the world was made by him, and become the sons of God, even the world knew him not.
to them that believe on his 11 He came unto his own, name: and his own received him not. 13 Which were born, not of
12 But as many as received blood, nor of the will of the
10. The world was made by him. tions. The evangelist asserted, in See v. 3. || Knero him nol; did not opposition to this vain boasting of the acknowledge him in his true charac- Jews, that the right of sustaining such ter. The remark is here a general a relation to God was given to the one in respect to the spirit in which followers of the Messiah. While those, the Saviour and his religion were met who, in respect to national relation, by human beings. In the very world had been regarded as the Messiah's which he had made he was not ac- people and the sons of God, had rejectknowledged. This thought is, in the ed the Messiah, those, on the contrary, next verse, more particularly ex- to whatsoever nation they belonged, pressed, namely, as having reference who received him, would be honored to the Jews.
with the right of being the true sons 11. Unto his own; his own pos- of God, and of enjoying that dignity sessions. The Jewish nation and to which the Jewish nation arrogantcountry were peculiarly his own; - ly laid claim. The word translated they were separated from all others, power is also by some considered as to be a peculiar property of Jehovah. equivalent to the word privilege. The Jews were expecting the Mes- || Believe on his name; believe on siah, in accordance with oft-repeated him. promises from God. The Saviour 13. The evangelist proceeded to arose from among them. || But his distinguish the sonship to which the own; his own people ; those who followers of Christ were entitled, from might be peculiarly called bis own that to which the Jews Jaid claim. family. Even they rejected him. In The dignity and happiness of being the world which himself had made children of God, which the Messiah's he was not acknowledged ; even by followers enjoyed, proceeded not from his own people he was not received; natural descent, but peculiarly from and that though he came as a Light, God. Which were born ; who had a glorious Saviour.
become sons of God. || Not of blood, 12. As many
received him. &c.; not by natural birth, not by Though he was opposed by so many blood-relationship to certain ancestors, that it might truly be said, He was as, for instance, Abraham. ll Of God. despised and rejected of men, yet It is a new, spiritual life, which charthere were those who acknowledged acterizes the real children of God, in him as the true Messiah, and became distinction from the natural relation his followers. || Power. The word to Abraham, on which the Jews rethus rendered, expresses also the idea lied; and this spiritual life is impartof right. || The sons of God; those ed by God. who enjoy the special favor of God, In the view of a Jew, there was no as his people, and who are treated greater distinction than to be children, with peculiar affection by him. The or sons, of God. This term contained Jews claimed that they only of all in it ideas of consummate dignity and nations were the people of God, on bliss. Yet John declared, in extolling account of his proinises and his dis- the benefits bestowed on the Messipensations. Compare Deut. 14:1,2. ah's followers, that it was to them, They gloried in this distinction, and and them only, that the right of be. looked with contempt on other na- / ing the true children of God per
flesh, nor of the will of man, and cried, saying, This was he but of God.
of whom I spake, He that com14 And the Word was made eth after me, is preferred before flesh, and dwelt among us, (and me; for he was before me. we beheld his glory, the glory 16 And of his fulness have as of the only-begotten of the all we received, and grace for Father) full of grace and truth. grace.
15 John bare witness of him, 17 For the law was given by tained; they having received from Son of God, possessing a nature like God a new spiritual life, by which God's (as a son possesses his father's they resemble God. Not to the Jews, nature), and manifesting divine exas descendants from Abraham, but to cellence (compare Heb. 1:3). He those who believed in Christ, and re- stood forth, distinct from all others, ceived him as the great Teacher and possessing qualities which pertain not Saviour, did the dignity pertain of to an ordinary man; he was the only being sons of God.
one who can truly be called the Son
of God. The idea of the writer is, REMARKS. 1. True faith in Christ that THE WORD, though having asimplies a receiving of him and a sub- sumed human nature, and dwelling in mitting to him, as the teacher and a most familiar manner among men, Saviour of men. It will produce a as a real human being, did yet show sincere obedience to his instructions, forth such glory, in his character and and a holy life.
acts, as indicated a nature superior to 2. To be born of God is different man's, a nature like God's. The glofrom an external change of conduct, rious goodness which he displayed or of condition. It is a change of was such as became THE ONLY Son character in respect to God, making of God. Though dwelling among us resemble him ; it is particularly men in feeble human nature, he yet manifested by our believing in Christ, gave decided indications of being receiving him as our Saviour, and more than a son of man; through the regulating our hearts and lives by his vail of his human nature there beamed religion.
forth the radiance of the divine na3. We are not children of God by ture. || Full of grace and truth; full our natural birth. It is by his own of favor, or benefits, for men, and richinfluence on our souls, leading us to ly communicating truth respecting trust in Christ and obey him, that we God's merciful designs; full of true, become children of God.
genuine love to men. Are we cherishing towards God 15. Cried ; proclaimed. || Is presuch love, and fear, and obedience, ferred before me ; is superior to me, as are possessed by his affectionate || For he was before me. Reference and dutiful children?
is here made to the fact, that Christ
existed previously to his appearing on 14. Was made flesh; became a man, earth. assumed the human nature. Com- 16. Of his fulness have all we repare 1 Tim. 3: 16. Heb. 2: 14. ceived; from the abundance of bless|| Among us; among men, particu- ings which he possesses, all his follarly his disciples. | His glory; his lowers receive a supply. || Grace for glorious qualities, the assemblage of grace; favor after favor; an endless his excellences, exhibited in his char- succession of benefits. acter and works, particularly in his 17. The law; the system of recondescending goodness to man. || As ligion communicated in the Old Tesof the only-begotten of the Father; as tament; the dispensation established of one who was in deed and truth the by the agency of Moses. || Grace
Moses, but grace and truth came | Son, which is in the bosom of by Jesus Christ.
the Father, he hath declared 18 No man hath seen God him. at any time; the only-begotten 19 And this is the record of and truth; the true love of God. chapter compose the preface by which The law of Moses and the gospel of John introduced his Gospel to his Christ are here contrasted, in order readers. This preface is fitted to into illustrate the succession of the di- spire us with profound reverence for vine benefits. The people of God, in Christ, and with an exalted opinion ancient times, enjoyed a rich blessing of the revelation which he has made, under the Mosaic dispensation ; but a and of the benefits which he bestows far richer blessing came when that on his followers. This preface aldispensation was superseded by the ludes to the testimony borne by John clearer manifestation of God's saving the Baptist to Jesus Christ, as the love through Jesus Christ. Compare promised Messiah. In proceeding Heb. 1:1, 2.
now to relate the acts and the dis18. No man. To no human being courses of Jesus, the evangelist dishas such a knowledge of God been tinctly mentions several occasions on imparted as would enable him to which John the Baptist had borne make the disclosures which are con- his testimony. tained in the gospel; it was THE ON- 19. The record of John; the testiLY Son of God, he who enjoyed a mony which John bore. || The Jews ; most intimate and a perfect knowl. those Jews in Jerusalem who posedge of the Father, that was compe- sessed the proper authority, namely, tent fully to reveal the purposes and the Sanhedrim, the highest court plans of God. Compare Matt. 11: among the Jews, and that which ex27. The system of divine love re-ercised a general superintendence, vealed in the gospel is immensely su- particularly over religious affairs. perior to the revelation by Moses and Il Priests and Levites. I'he descendthe prophets, inasmuch as it was ants of Levi were set apart for the given by Alim who enjoys the most services of religion. Aaron and his intimate acquaintance with the Fa- posterity were appointed to the priestther. || Hath seen God; hath had a hood; the other families of the tribe complete knowledge of God. Since of Levi were charged with the other so much of our knowledge is ac- services which the religious ceremoquired by sight, to see means fre- nial required. See Num. 1 : 50–53. quently to know, to be acquainted with. As John the Baptist had attracted || The only-begotten Son. See on v. much attention among the people (see 14. || Which is in the bosom of the Matt. 3: 5), and appeared to be estabFather ; he who has been most inti- lishing a order of religious mately acquainted with the Father, things in the nation, the Sanhedrim and cherished by him with the utmost would naturally seek information reaffection as a bosom-friend. Compare specting his claims. They wished the expression in v. 1 - The Word for the Messiah's coming as well as was with God. The manner of ex- | the great body of the people. They pression is drawn from the Eastern desired it, however, for civil purposes, custom of reclining. The head of a that the nation might be rescued from person could be placed on the bosom the Roman yoke, rather than for reof one next him, if he wished for ligious purposes, that they might be private, confidential conversation. delivered from the bondage of sin. See Luke 16 : 22. || Declared him ; Their own popularity, too, they revealed him, disclosed his purposes might fear, would be diminished by for the salvation of men.
the impression which John was makThe first eighteen verses of this ing on the people. Wishing to know
John, when the Jews sent priests give an answer to them that sent and Levites from Jerusalem, to us. What sayest thou of thyask him, Who art thou ?
self? 20 And he confessed, and 23 He said, I am the voice of denied not; but confessed, I am one crying in the wilderness, not the Christ.
Make straight the way of the 21 And they asked him, Lord, as said the prophet EsaWhat then ? Art thou Elias? |ias. And he saith, I am not. Art 24 And they which were sent thou that prophet ? And he an- were of the Pharisees. swered, No.
25 And they asked him, and 22 Then said they unto him, said unto him, Why baptizest Who art thou ? that we may thou then, if thou be not that in what capacity John claimed to tament, which was in constant use, have come (compare Luke 3: 15), the passage in Malachi above referred they sent, in order to make inquiry, to had been abused by inserting the some of the priests and Levites, men word Tishbite, instead of the word devoted to the religious affairs of the prophet, - so that the passage, as exnation.
pressed in the Greek version of the 20. He confessed, and denied not; Hebrew Scriptures, was, I will send but confessed. By this varied form Elijah the Tishbite, &c. Under the inof expression, the evangelist intended fluence of this prevalent opinion, the to show that John the Baptist made persons deputed asked John whether a prompt and open acknowledgment. he was Elijah. Knowing what they Il The Christ; the Messiah.
meant by the question, John answered, 21. Art thou Elins ? Elias, in the No. He was not Elijah, in their meanNew Testament, is the same as Eli- ing of the question. | That prophet. jah, in the Old. In Malachi, 4:5, It was also thought, among the Jews, it was predicted that God would send that, besides Elijah, some other of the Elijah the prophet among the Jews, ancient prophets, and particularly before the Messiah should actually Jeremiah, would appear at about the appear. The design of this prophet's same time as the Messiah, in order to coming would be, according to the assist him. See Matt. 16: 14. prediction, to produce a true reforma- 23. He said, I am the voice, &c. tion among the people, as preparatory See Matt. 3. 3. to the Messiah's coming. By Elijah 25. Why baptizest thou, then, &c. the prophet, Malachi meant à distin- John was manifestly departing from guished religious teacher, possessing the ordinary views of religion among the spirit of Elijah, and coming with the Jews, and was forming, by the a design similar to his, namely, to at- rite of baptisın, a religious communitempt a reformation among a degene- ty from among the people. Here rate and corrupt people. See Luke was something new, and to the princi1:17. Matt. 11: 14. 17: 10—13. pal men of the nation inexplicable, if The Jews, however, had imbibed the John was not the Messiah, nor one opinion that the real Elijah, the iden- of those prophets, who, they had suptical prophet of the Old Testament, posed, would come in company with, would reappear,
and introduce the or just before, the Messiah. To the Messiah. One circumstance that Messiah, they believed it would justtended to fix this opinion very deeply ly pertain to modify existing usages, in their minds, if not to originate it to introduce new laws, and in various among many, was the fact that, in ways to assert his kingly authority. the Greek translation of the Old Tes- Hence their inquiry.