Abbott's Illustrated New Testament
This very remarkable language unequivocally establishes, in one clause, an identity between the existence called the Word and the supreme Jehovah; and in another, it as clearly marks a contradistinction between them. We are forced therefore, upon the alternative of either admitting, some incomprehensible distinction, in the oneness of the Godhead, or else peremptorily rejecting this testimony. And, if we were prepared to take the responsibility of doing the latter in any case, we most certainly could not do it in this, relating, as it does, to the nature, and to the personal identity, of the Supreme Being--subjects more than all others beyond the cognizance and comprehension of man.
And the light, &c. The meaning is, that the light shone into this world of darkness and sin, but the world would not receive it.
Every man that cometh into the world; that is, Jews as well as Gentiles. The meaning is, that the salvation which Christ came to bring, was not to be restricted to any people or class, but was offered freely to all.
To them gave he power to become the sons of God; made them the sons of God; that is, like God in the spirit and temper of their minds.
Which were born; that is, as sons of God.--Not of blood, &c.; that is, not by nature, but by the grace of God.
Was made flesh; became man. The statement here made, taken in connection with what is said of the Word in the opening verses of the chapter, seems to be so direct and unequivocal, that the doctrine of the inhering of a divine nature in the person of Jesus Christ, and that of the inspiration of the Word, of God, must be received or rejected together. It seems impossible to reject the one without renouncing the other.
Hath seen God; known God.--In the bosom of the Father; closely conjoined with him.--Hath declared him; made him known; revealed him to mankind.
Some persons, in those days, were inclined to believe that John the Baptist was himself the Messiah. This is intimated in Luke 3:15; and decisive evidence of it is contained in the writings of the early Christians. It was to meet and refute this error, that the evangelist thus repeatedly and emphatically adduces the testimony of John the Baptist in favor of Jesus. (Comp. John 1:8,15,)
I am not; that is, he was not Elias, or Elijah, in a literal and personal sense. The Jews understood the prophecy, Malachi 4:5, to mean that Elias himself was to rise from the dead, and reappear upon earth; whereas the meaning was, that a new prophet should arise, with the bold and energetic character of Elijah, as is expressed by the angel, Luke 1:17.--That prophet. It is not certain to what expectation of the Jews this question refers. From Matthew 16:14, it seems that the reappearance of Jeremiah might have been looked for as a prelude to the coming of Christ. In Deuteronomy 18:15, the coming of a prophet is mentioned; and this may have been the prediction referred to here.
Why baptizest thou then, &c. Baptism seems to be here spoken of as a customary religious rite, which any distinguished religious teacher in might be expected to perform.
This language seems unequivocally to represent the Redeemer to us in the light of a great sacrifice offered for sin.
I knew him not; that is, as the Messiah. It is evident, from Matthew 3:14,15, that Jesus was personally known to John when he came to be baptized; as, in fact, considering the relation subsisting between their mothers, arising out of the circumstances related by Luke, (Luke 1:1-2:52) must almost necessarily have been the case. He knew him, however, only as a devout and holy man, until after the baptismal ceremony was performed; when it was revealed to him that he was the Messiah, in the manner specified in the John 1:32,33.--But that, &c. The meaning is, that he knew only that the Messiah was about to appear.
Into Galilee; where he had another interview with Peter and Andrew, and called them to be his disciples, as related Matthew 4:18-20, and more particularly Luke 5:1-11.
Nazareth was an obscure village of Galilee and the whole region was held in very little esteem. It was remote from Jerusalem; thinly peopled, mountainous, and wild; and connected, in many ways, with the various Gentile nations around it.
What Jesus intended by this declaration, and when and how it was fulfilled, is not known. Most commentators regard the language as figurative, supposing it to mean only that Nathanael should see Jesus, in various circumstances of life, the object of the special protection of Heaven. This does not, however, seem to be a very natural construction.
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