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tnings, and ye believe not, how 14 And as Moses lifted up shall ye believe if I tell you of the serpent in the wilderness, heavenly things?
even so must the Son of man be 13 And no man hath ascended lifted up: up to heaven, but he that came 15 That whosoever believeth down from heaven, even the Son in him should not perish, but of man which is in heaven, have eternal life.
change is necessary, he here speaks cation of a past tense, and should of as a very obvious one — one that here be translated has been ; He who every man rnight be expected to ad. has been in henden, but who hus now mit as a first principle. || Heavenly come down from heaven, he it is, and things. These are things pertaining he only, that is adequate to instruct to heaven, above the reach of men, on the more elevated topics yet to and consequently attended with diffi- be developed in the Messiah's reculty to persons on earth, and needing ligion, revelation and explanation. The term The Saviour then proceeded, as heavenly then means elevated, difficult, appears by the following verses, to beyond the ordinary range of men's unfold several of the great truths of thoughts. The Saviour thus intima- his religion. ted to Nicodemus, that he was about to 14. As Moses lifted up; raised on introduce sublimer topics, and that he high. See Num. 21 : 6–9. || So must had instructions of a more elevated the Son of man be lifted up. By reand difficult character to communi- ferring to 8: 28. 12: 32, 34, it will be cate. But, if Nicodemus could not seen that this expression was afterreceive those obvious truths which wards used by our Lord with referhe had just declared, the heavenly ence to his death, and that it was so themes on which he wished to expa- understvod by the people. To his tiate, would be entirely beyond his death our Lord, doubtless, referred in reach.
speaking to Nicodemus.
But the 13. Respecting these more elevated language was such, and the allusion topics, no one but Jesus himself, the to the brazen serpent such, that perMessiah, whose abode had been in haps Nicodemus would draw from heaven, and who was therefore inti- this remark only the sentiment that mately acquainted with God's designs, the Messiah would be set forth as was adequate to give instruction. a means of spiritual benefit, and as No man huth ascended up to heaven. the object in which men should place By referring to Deut. 30 : 11-14, it their confidence. Still, even if the will appear that subjects which were thought of being lifted up. in a involved in difficulty were spoken suffering, and dying condition, as of as being afar off in heaven, the Saviour of men, was not at out of human sight; so that be- once apprehended by Nicodemus, the fore a person could give instruction terms employed were such as would respecting them, he must ascend to inevitably give a new turn to the heaven and acquire information. thoughts of Nicodemus, and would Compare, also, Prov. 30: 4. To ascend insensibly prepare him for the fuller up to heaven, then, means, to possess disclosures which were afterwards superior knowledge, and to be able to to be made. Thus the thought of give instruction on subjects encom the Messiah's suffering and dying passed with difficulty; to be able to for the benefit of men was, at least teach respecting heavenly, sublime obscurely, held up before Nicodemus topics. ll The Son of mun. See 1: 15. There was a striking resem 51. || Which is in heaven. The word blance between the occasion for the here rendered is has also the signifi-| elevating of the brazen serpent, the
16 For God so loved the believeth not, is condemned al world, that he gave his only-be- ready, because he hath not begotten Son, that whosoever be- lieved in the name of the onlylieveth in him, should not perish, begotten Son of God. but have everlasting life.
19 And this is the condem17 For God sent not his Son nation, that light is come into into the world to condemn the the world, and men loved darkworld, but that the world through ness rather than light, because him might be saved.
their deeds were evil. 13 He that believeth on him, 20 For every one that doeth is not condemned: but he that evil hateth the light, neither result of its being elevated, the dispo- tion show how unspeakable was the sition necessary on the part of the compassion of God for a guilty world. distressed Israelites to receive the What disclosures were now openbenefit proposed, and the occasion for ing on the mind of Nicodemus! How the Messiah's being crucified, the re- different the design of God in sendsult of his being crucified, the dispo- ing the Messiah from what he had sition necessary in order to receive been in the habit of supposing! What the benefit proposed. The world was a different reign from what he had regarded as being in a sinful and been anticipating ! miserable condition ; eternal life was 17. To condemn the world. The to result from the Messiah's suffer- Jews supposed that great miseries ings; believing in the Messiah was would be inflicted on the Gentile required in order to enjoy the bless- world by the Messiah. On the con.ngs which he came to bestow. In trary, the design of God in respect to addition to these thoughts, the Messi- the human race was of a most benevoah's blessings were not to be restricted lent character, having regard to their to one people; they were to be en- salvation. joyed by all, whether Jews or Gen- 18. He that believeth, &c. Faith tiles, who should believe in him. in the Messiah as the unspeakably Thus the Saviour led Nicodemus to glorious Son of God, is the great the view of a spiritual salvation, to be requisite for enjoying his blessings. enjoyed, not in consequence of any It is not the fact of being a Jew, that national distinctions, but in connec- secures salvation; but it is the fact tion with trusting in him as the only of believing in the Messiah, and obeyappointed medium of eternal life.
ing him. Declining to receive the 16. So loved ; so great was the Messiah in an obedient spirit- this compassion. II The world; not mere- will expose to condemnation both ly the Jewish nation, but the human Gentiles and Jews. Thus, inward
This thought it was necessary piety was enforced as necessary; a to present with great clearness before spirit of love, trust, and obedience. the mind of Nicodemus. For the 19. The condemnation; the cause Jews cherished the opinion that the of condemnation. || Light is come, Messiah would inflict miseries on all &c.; true knowledge of God, which other nations, and that the only way in has been imparted by the Messiah, as which other nations would be blessed, the Teacher and the Saviour. || They would be by their becoming Jews. loved darkness, &c. They loved their || His only-begotten Son. This phrase ignorance and sinfulness, rather than is used as expressing the unspeakable the true knowledge and holiness dignity of the Saviour (see on 1: 14) which the Messiah's religion proand the unspeakable affection of God poses, for him. Such dignity and such affec- 20. Hateth the light. The term light
cometh to the light, lest his deeds may be made manifest, deeds should be reproved. that they are wrought in God.
21 But he that doeth truth, 22 After these things, came cometh to the light, that his Jesus and his disciples into the is applied to any thing which brings of being in the wrong, and they preout to view what was before concealed. fer to keep aloof from an examination The religion of the Messiah clearly by this standard ; therefore they come and fully exposes the deformity of into condemnation; just as a sick man, sin. And to this religion may be who should love his disease, would not applied the general principle, that desire a remedy. His disease, howwicked men hate exposure, and will ever, much as he might love it, would oppose whatever brings out to pub- still be preying on his constitution, lic view the evil of their conduct. and would lead to death. So a sin| Should be reproved; detected, ex- ful disposition rejects the gospel, and posed.
incurs eternal death; and for this, it 21. He that doeth truth, &c. The is not the gospel, but the man himself word truth is here the opposite of evil who slights the gospel, that is culin the preceding verse, and signifies pable. true uprightness, both towards God and towards men. A man who is
SUGGESTIONS. 1. Have we expeconscious of uprightness does not rienced such a change in our dispodread examination; he rather seeks sitions towards God, that we are radithe opportunity of comparing his cally different from what we once character and conduct with the test were ? Have we now towards God which a true knowledge of God's will a spirit of filial love, reverence, and furnishes. || That his deeds may be obedience ? v. 3. made manifest. Such a man does not 2. Verses 14–18 bring to view so seek concealment and dread detec- clearly our state of condemnation on tion, like the man who practises evil. account of sin — the method which He rather desires that his actions God has proposed for our recovery may be viewed in the light of divine the ample provisions of that method truth; not that he may boast of them, -the requisites for enjoying the but that they may be compared with blessings provided - the unutterable the true standard. For he has a con- bliss of those who shall enjoy these sciousness of integrity, and wishes blessings - and the unutterable woe of that all his actions may be perfectly those who shall fail to obtain them, right, and that he may know that that these verses ought to be indelithey are right. || Thut they are bly imprinted on our memories, and wrought in God.
The preposition pondered with the most devout athere translated in, has in this place tention. O! who of us will fail of the meaning, in conformity to, in ac- eternal life, after reading these blessed cordance with the will of. Then we words of the Lord Jesus! Will we have the idea, that they are done in neglect the great salvation ? conformity to God's will and have his 3. If we dislike the religion of the approbation. The religion of Jesus Bible, the difficulty lies in our own is a system of moral light and truth, hearts; we are under the influence furnishing a correct judgment of of sin. v. 20. One great reason why men's characters and actions. To any men are infidels is, the fact, that this perfect standard of uprightness a the religion of the Bible is so holy, truly good man will gladly come, that and runs so entirely counter to their he may know whether his actions inclinations. are right. But this perfect standard which condemns what is wrong, is 22. Land of Judea. The preceding disliked by those who are conscious conversation occurred in the city of land of Judea; and there he tar- 24 For John was not yet cast ried with them, and baptized. into prison.
23 And John also was bap- 25 Then there arose a questizing in Ænon, near to Salim, tion between some of John's disbecause there was much water ciples and the Jews, about purithere : and they came, and were fying. baptized.
26 And they came unto John, Jerusalem. Compare 2 : 23. Jesus clear intimation that more than a few now went into the country parts of drops of water were necessary for this Judea. || Baptized. may be well ordinance. It has indeed been said, to observe, that this is the first dis- that John selected a part of the countinct notice of Jesus's having bap- try where there were many streams, tized He baptized, however, not in order that the people and their personally, but by means of his dis- animals might have an adequate ciples. See 4 : 2."
supply of water for drinking and 23. John also was baptizing. John's washing; but not a hint of this is labors had reference to the Messiah, given by the evangelist. On the as introducing him to the people, and contrary, both before and after these coöperating with him. Hence John words, baptism is mentioned; and could continue his work even after the thought almost necessarily arises Jesus had begun to collect disciples, in a reader's mind, that this place as he would prepare for the Mes- was selected with reference to its siah those whom he himself should suitableness for baptizing. As to the baptize. There was entire harmony proper meaning of the phrase transbetween John and Jesus; and the lated much water, a careful examinalabors and the office of John blended tion of other passages in which it ocwith those of the Messiah, and were curs, clearly shows that it conveys consummated in him and by him, just the idea of abundant water, or an as the morning twilight blends with, abundance of water, not the idea of and is finished by, the rising day. many rivulets. See Rev. 1: 15. 14: || non, near to Salim. The precise 2. 17:1. 19: 6, in which passages situation of these places is not known. our translation has the phrase many It is generally supposed that they waters, the expression in the origiwere central places in the country nal being the saine as in the origi. near the Jordan. || Much water. There nal of the verse under consideration, has been much ünnecessary dispute In all these passages, the idea of in regard to the meaning of the origi- many rivulets is wholly inappropriate. nal words here used; some writers Again, in the Greek translation of contending that they ought to be the Hebrew Scriptures, the same translated many streams or rivulets. phrase occurs in passages which will It has been supposed that the ques- not admit any other idea than that of tion, whether baptism, as administered much water ; and in that Greek trans. in those early tirnes, was the immer-lation the phrase rendered many wasion of a person in water, would be ters and the phrase rendered 'much affected by the proper translation of water are equivalent. || They came ; these words. But such a supposition that is, the people came. is wholly needless; for the immer- 24. Cast into prison. See Matt. sion of a person can be performed in 14:3. a brook or rivulet, as well as in a lake 25. About purifying. In the next or a larger collection of water. And verse, it is related that the persons the fact that mention is made of much among whom arose the questioning, water, or many streams, in connec- repaired to John in order to obtain his tion with baptism, is a sufficiently opinion. In stating the matter to him,
and said unto him, Rabbi, heness, that I said, I am not the that was with thee beyond Jor Christ, but that I am sent before dan, to whom thou barest wit- him. ness, behold, the same baptizeth, 29 He that hath the bride, is and all men come to him. the bridegroom : but the friend
27 John answered and said, of the bridegroom, which standA man can receive nothing, eth and heareth him, rejoiceth except it be given him from greatly, because of the brideheaven.
groom's voice: this my joy 23 Ye yourselves bear me wit- therefore is fulfilled.
they mentioned the circumstance that claimed, he would have assumed Jesus was baptizing. Hence it is what had not been appointed for him. probable that the word purifying had If Jesus had not possessed higher respect to baptism, which was a rite power and greater honor than John, emblematic of moral purification. he would have failed to receive what From the tenor of John's reply, it God had appointed for him. Thus the would seem that the question had re- principle contained in the remark was spect to the fact that Jesus was at applicable both to John and to Jesus. tracting greater numbers of the peo- 28. Ye yourselves bear me witness, ple and greater regard than John. &c. John further accounted for the The persons concerned in the con- increasing honor of Christ, by recall. versation needed instruction; they ing to the memory of those with had not a just view of the relation whom he was conversing, that he which subsisted between John and himself had always professed not to Jesus. A suitable opportunity was be the Messiah, but to be merely his now afforded for asserting the superi- forerunner: It was to be expected ority of the Messiah, and for preparing then, since the great personage himJohn's disciples heartily to acknowl. self had appeared, that John inust re edge Jesus as the great object of their tire comparatively into the shade. faith.
29. He that hath the bride is the 26. Rabbi. See on v. 2. || Thou bridegroom, &c. The relation which barest witness. Compare 1:28, &c. John sustained to the Messiah made || All men come to him; comparatively it altogether proper that the principal speaking. Some still went to John; attention should be paid to the Mesbut so much greater a number to Je- siah. This he illustrated by an allu
that it might be said John was sion to marriage-ceremonies. It is forsaken. Formerly, the multitudes the bridegroom himself, not the mere repaired to John. See Matt. 3:5. friend, or attendant on the brideJesus was now attracting the princi- groom, that is the principal person. pal regard.
And not only is the friend of the 27. A man can receive nothing, &c. bridegroom necessarily an inferior No man can justly assume to himself person, so far as the marriage is conany dignity, unless God appoints it cerned, but that friend rejoices in the for him. A man's station depends on happiness of the bridegroom, and the appointment of God. This gen- holds himself ready to do all in his eral truth John proposed as entirely power to promote it. He would not meeting the fact that Jesus was more envy the bridegroom ; he would not highly honored, and more extensive detract from his dignity or his joy. ly regarded than himself. Such was So John, instead of looking with enthe appointment of Heaven. If John vious eyes on Jesus, would rejoice in had arrogated to himself higher pow- his greater dignity, and in his attracters and greater honor than he actually | ing to himself greater regard from the