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John 1

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Verses 1-99

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN

————

THE PROLOGUE (1:1-18)

The Prologue to the Gospel is in the form of a hymn,1 whose theme is the Christian doctrine of the Logos, explanatory comments being added at various points. Speculations about the Logos of God were current among Greek thinkers, and Jn. does not stay to explain the term, which was in common use at the time. But he sets out, simply and without argument, what he believes the true doctrine to be; and he finds its origin in the Jewish teaching about the Word of God rather than in the theosophy of Greek Gnosticism. Its final justification is the Life and Person of Jesus Christ.

Paul had declared that “a man in Christ is a new creation” (καινὴ κτίσις, 2 Corinthians 5:17). This thought is connected by Jn. with the Jewish doctrine of the creative Word, and accordingly he begins by stating his doctrine of the Logos in phrases which recall the first chapter of Genesis.


The Divine Pre-Existent Word (Vv. 1, 2)

1:1. ἐν�Colossians 1:17). With this cf. the words ascribed to Jesus in 17:5.

Philo does not teach the pre-existence of the Logos (see Introd., p. cxl); but a close parallel to Jn.’s doctrine is the claim of Wisdom (σοφία) in Proverbs 8:23, κύριος … πρὸ τοῦ αἰῶνος ἐθεμελίωσέ με ἐν�

λόγος is apparently used of the Personal Christ at Hebrews 4:12 (this difficulty need not be examined here); as we hold it to be in 1 John 1:1, ὃ ἦν�

καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν. εἶναι πρός τινα is not a classical constr., and the meaning of πρός here is not quite certain. It is generally rendered apud, as at Mark 6:3, Mark 9:19, Mark 14:49, Luke 9:41; but Abbott (Diat. 2366) urges that πρὸς τὸν θεόν carries the sense of “having regard to God,” “looking toward God” (cf. 5:19). This sense of direction may be implied in 1 John 2:1 παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, but less probably in 1 John 1:2, τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, which provides a close parallel to the present passage. In Proverbs 8:30, Wisdom says of her relation to God, ἤμην παρʼ αὐτῷ: and in like manner at John 17:5, Jesus speaks of His pre-incarnate glory as being παρὰ σοί. It is improbable that Jn. meant to distinguish the meanings of παρὰ σοί at 17:5 and of πρὸς τὸν θεόν at 1:1. We cannot get a better rendering here than “the Word was with God.”


The imperfect ἦν is used in all three clauses of this verse, and is expressive in each case of continuous timeless existence.

καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος, “the Word was God” (the constr. being similar to πνεῦμα ὁ θεός of 4:24). θεός is the predicate, and is anarthrous, as at Romans 9:5, ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων θεός. L reads ὁ θεός, but this would identify the Logos with the totality of divine existence, and would contradict the preceding clause.

This, the third clause of the majestic proclamation with which the Gospel opens, asserts uncompromisingly the Divinity of the Logos, His Pre-existence and Personality having been first stated; cf. 10:30, 20:28; and Philippians 2:6


2. This verse reiterates, after a fashion which we shall find Jn. to favour, what has been said already in v. 1, laying stress, however, upon the fact that the relationship with Deity implied in πρὸς τὸν θεόν was eternal; it, too, was “in the beginning.” That is to say, v. 2 is a summary statement of the three propositions laid down in v. 1, all of which were true ἐν�

In the Hebrew story of creation, each successive stage is introduced by “And God said” (Genesis 1:3). The Psalmist personifies in poetical fashion this creative word: “By the word of Yahweh were the heavens made” (Psalms 33:6; cf. Psalms 147:15, Isaiah 55:11). In later Judaism, this doctrine was consolidated into prose; cf., e.g., “Thou saidst, Let heaven and earth be made, and Thy Word perfected the work” (2 Esd. 6:38; cf. Wisd. 9:1). This was a Jewish belief which Philo developed in his own way and with much variety of application, sometimes inclining to the view that the λόγος was a mere passive instrument employed by God, at other times, under Greek influence, regarding it as the cosmic principle, the formative thought of God.1

3, 4. καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. This expresses negatively what has been said positively in the previous line, a common construction in Hebrew poetry (cf. Psalms 18:36, Psalms 18:37, Psalms 18:39:9, etc). Jn. uses this device several times (e.g. 1:20, 3:16, 6:50, 1 John 1:5, 1 John 2:4). “Apart from Him nothing came into being.” The sentence excludes two false beliefs, both of which had currency, especially in Gnostic circles: (a) that matter is eternal, and (b) that angels or aeons had a share in the work of creation.

The interpretation of this passage during the first four centuries implies a period or full-stop at ἕν, whereas since Chrysostom the sentence has been generally taken as ending with ὃ γέγονεν: “apart from Him nothing came into being that did come into being.” ὃ γέγονεν, if we adopt the later view of the constr., is redundant and adds nothing to the sense But this kind of emphatic explicitness is quite in accordance with the style of Jn. It is also the case that Jn. favours ἐν with a dative at the beginning of a sentence, e.g. 13:35, 15:8, 16:26, 1 John 2:4, 1 John 2:3:10, 1 John 2:16, 1 John 2:19, 1 John 2:4:2, so that to begin with ἐν αὐτῷ in v. 4 would be in his manner.


The early uncials, for the most part, have no punctuation, while the later manuscripts generally put the point after γέγονεν. But the evidence of MSS. as to punctuation depends upon the interpretations of the text with which scribes were familiar, and has no independent authority. In the present passage the Old Syriac,1 Latin, and Sahidic versions, as well as the Latin Vulgate, decidedly favour the placing of the point after ἕν, the O.L. b putting this beyond doubt by inserting autem in the next clause: “quod autem factum est, in eo uita est.” The interpretation which places the point after ἕν was adopted by Catholics and Gnostics alike in the early centuries; cf. Irenæus (Hær. II. ii. 4, III. viii. 3), Hippolytus (c. Noetum, 12), Origen (in Ioann. 36, etc.), Clem. Alex. (Pæd. i. II, Strom. vi. II), and, apparently, Tertullian (adv. Prax. 21). It is difficult to resist their witness to the construction of the Greek, provided that the next sentence as read by them yields an intelligible meaning.

Harris2 defends the construction “without Him was not anything made that was made,” by citing a passage from the Stoic Chrysippus which is alike redundant in form: Fate is “the λόγος according to which all things that have been made have been made, and all things that are being made are being made, and all things that are to be made will be made.”

The Word Issuing in Life and Light (Vv. 4, 5)

4. ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, “That which has come into being was, in Him, Life,” i.e. the life which was eternally in the Word, when it goes forth, issues in created life, and this is true both of (a) the physical and (b) the spiritual world. (a) Jesus Christ, the Son and the Word, is the Life (11:25, 14:6), the Living One (ὁ ζῶν, Revelation 1:17); and it is through this Life of His that all created things hold together and cohere (τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν, Colossians 1:17). (b) In the spiritual order, this is also true. The Son having life in Himself (5:26) gives life to whomsoever he wishes (οὓς θέλει ζωοποιεῖ, 5:21). Cf. 1 John 5:11, and see on 17:24. The children of God are those who are quickened by a spiritual begetting (see on v. 13). See also on 6:33.


If ἐν αὐτῷ is the true reading at 3:15 (where see note), we have another instance there of ἐν αὐτῷ being awkwardly placed in the sentence.

Presumably because of this awkward position of ἐν αὐτῷ, some Western authorities אD, many Old Latin texts, and the Old Syriac, replace ἦν by ἐστίν; interpreting, as it seems, the sentence to mean “that which has come into being in Him is life.” But this reading and rendering may safely be set aside as due to misapprehension of the meaning.

καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν�Genesis 1:3). This was the first manifestation of Life in the κόσμος, and the Psalmist speaks of the Divine Life and the Divine Light in the same breath: “With Thee is the fountain of life, and in Thy light shall we see light” (Psalms 36:9). God is Light (1 John 1:5) as well as Life, if indeed there is any ultimate difference between these two forms of energy (see on 8:12).


In this verse, Jn. does not dwell on the thought of the Word’s Life as the Light of the κόσμος, but passes at once to the spiritual creation; the Life of the Word was, at the beginning, the Light of men. Cf. 12:46, 9:5, and see especially on 8:12 for the Hebrew origins and development of this thought, which reaches its fullest expression in the majestic claim ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου (8:12).

Philo speaks of the sun as a παραδεῖγμα of the Divine Word (de somn. i. 15); but he does not, so far as I have noticed, connect life and light explicitly.

5. τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει. The guiding thought is still the story of the creation of light, which dissipated the darkness of chaos. But this is a story which ever repeats itself in the spiritual world; Jn. does not say “the Light shone, ” but “the Light shines.” In 1 John 2:8 he applies the thought directly to the passing of spiritual darkness because of the shining of Christ, the true light (ἡ σκοτία παράγεται καὶ τὸ φῶς τὸ άληθινὸν ἤδη φαίνει).

καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν. καταλαμβάνειν generally means to “seize” or “apprehend,” whether physically (Numbers 21:32, Mark 9:18, [Jn.] 8:4), or intellectually (Acts 10:34, Acts 25:25, Ephesians 3:18, etc.). Thus we may translate “the darkness apprehended it not,” i.e. did not understand or appreciate it; and so the vulg. has tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt, the note of tragedy being struck at once, which appears again, vv. 10, 11 (where, however, the verb is παραλαμβάνειν); see on 3:19.

But καταλαμβάνειν often means also to “overtake” (Genesis 31:23, Exodus 15:9, Ecclus. 11:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:4); Moulton-Milligan illustrate from the papyri this use of the verb, viz. of evil “overtaking” one. This is its meaning in the only other place where it occurs in in., viz. 12:35, ἵνα μὴ σκοτία ὑμᾶς καταλάβῃ, “lest darkness overtake you.”1 Origen (with other Greek interpreters) takes κατέλαβεν in this sense here, explaining that the thought is of darkness perpetually pursuing light, and never overtaking it.2 The meaning “overtake in pursuit” readily passes into “overcome”; e.g. 2 Macc. 8:18, where it is said that God is able “to overcome those who come upon us” (τοὺς ἐρχομένους ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς … καταλαβεῖν). A classical parallel is cited by Field from Herod. i. 87, ὡς ὥρα πάντα μὲν ἄνδρα σβεννύντα τὸ πῦρ, δυναμένους δε οὐκέτι καταλαβεῖν, i.e. “when he saw … that they were unable to overcome the fire.” That this is the meaning of the verb in the present verse is supported by the fact that the thought of Christ’s rejection does not appear, and could not fitly appear, until after the statement of His historical “coming into the world” (vv. 9, 10). We have not yet come to this, and it is the spiritual interpretation of the Creation narrative that is still in view. Thus in the Hymn of Wisdom (Wis. 7:29) we have: “Night succeeds the Light, but evil does not overcome wisdom” (σοφίας δὲ οὐκ�

Philo’s commentary on Genesis 1:3 is in agreement with this interpretation. He says that τὸ νοητὸν φῶς is the image of θεῖος λόγος, which is the image of God. This may be called παναύγεια, “universal brightness” (cf. 8:12). On the first day of creation this light dispelled the darkness: ἐπειδὴ δὲ φῶς μὲν ἐγένετο, σκότος δὲ ὑπεξέστη καὶ ὑπεχώρησεν,3 i.e. “darkness yielded to it and retreated.” Jn. applies this thought to Christ as the Light of the world. There is never an eclipse of this Sun.


C. J. Ball suggested4 that behind κασέλαβεν lies a confusion of two Aramaic verbs, קַבּיל, “take, receive,” and אַקבּיל, “darken.” He holds that, both here and at 12:35, the original Aramaic (which he finds behind the Greek) was לא אקבליה, “obscured it not,” and that this was misread לא קבליה, “received it not.”1 This is ingenious, but, as we have seen, κατέλαβεν is good Greek for “overcome,” so that there is no need to suppose any corruption of the original text.

Explanatory Comment: John the Baptist Was Not the Light (Vv. 6-9)

A feature of the style of Jn. is his habit of pausing to comment on words which he has recorded (cf. Introd., p. xxiv). Here we have a parenthetical note to explain that the Light of which the Logos hymn sings is not John the Baptist. It has been suggested that this was inserted as necessary to combat the pretensions of some Christians who exalted the Baptist unduly (cf. Acts 18:25, Acts 19:3f.); but see on v. 20 below.

For Jn., as for Mk., the “gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1), began with the preaching of the Baptist. Jn. does not stay to record stories of the Birth of Jesus, as Lk. and Mt. do. He opens his Gospel with a mystical hymn about the Logos, which reminds the reader that the true beginnings of the wonderful life are lost in the timeless and eternal Life of God. But in the Gospel Jn. is to describe the historical manifestation of the Word, and this was prepared for, and introduced by, the preaching of the Baptist. Upon this Jn. dwells more fully than any other evangelist, probably because his informant, the aged son of Zebedee, was himself one of the Baptist’s disciples. For the use made by Jn. of Mk., see Introd., pp. xcvi, c; and the correspondences between Mar_1 and Joh_1 in regard to what they tell about the Baptist and his sayings are remarkable.

Mark 1:2 introduces the Baptist by quoting Malachi 3:1, “I send my messenger before my face”; Jn. introduces him as a man “sent from God.” Both Mark 1:2 and John 1:23 apply to him the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3.Mark 1:7 gives two utterances of the Baptist about Christ which reappear John 1:15, John 1:27, John 1:30. Mark 1:8 and John 1:26 both report the emphasis laid by the Baptist on his baptism being with water. And the allusions to the baptism of Jesus in John 1:33, John 1:34 are reminiscent of Mark 1:10, Mark 1:11.


6. ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος κτλ. (“There arose a man,” etc.). There is no introductory particle connecting this with v. 5. It is a sentence quite distinct from the verse of the Logos Hymn which goes before.

ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ. The Baptist made this claim for himself (3:28); cf. Malachi 3:1. Cf. 9:16, 33 for a similar use of παρὰ θεοῦ, and see on 6:45.

ὅνομα αὐτῷ Ἰωάνης. For the constr. cf. 3:1 and Revelation 6:8, Revelation 9:11. Burney urges that this is a Semitic constr.,1 and represents an Aramaic or Hebrew שמו; but it is also good Greek, e.g. Ἀριστοφῶν ὅνομα αὐτῷ (Demosth. contra Zenoth. 11).


The spelling Ἰωάνης is preferred to Ἰωάννης by most modern editors, being almost universally found in B “It belongs to the series of Hellenised names which treat the an of the Hebrew termination (Ioanan) as a variable inflection” (Blass, Gram. 11).2

Jn. is prone to distinguish carefully people who have the same name, e.g. Judas (6:71, 13:2, 14:22), Mary (11:2, 19:25), Joseph (19:38); in this being more scrupulous than the Synoptists. It is, perhaps, worthy of note, therefore, that Jn. never writes “John the Baptist,” but always “John,” as if there were no other John who could be confused with him. On this has been based an argument to prove that John the son of Zebedee is, in some sense, the author (if not the actual scribe) of the Fourth Gospel; for the one person to whom it would not occur to distinguish John the Baptist from John the son of Zebedee would be John the son of Zebedee himself. On the other hand, the Synoptists only occasionally give the full description “John the Baptist,” “John” being quite sufficient in most places where the name occurs. It would not be as necessary for an evangelist writing for Christian readers at the end of the first century to say explicitly “John the Baptist,” when introducing the John who bore witness to Jesus at the beginning of His ministry, as it was for Josephus when writing for Roman readers to distinguish him as “John who is called the Baptist” (Antt. xviii, V. 2).

7. οὗτος ἦλθεν εἰς μαρτυρίαν. This was the characteristic feature of the Baptist’s mission, “to bear witness” to the claims of Him who was to come. The Fourth Gospel is full of the idea of “witness” (see Introd., p. xc), the words μαρτυρία, μαρτυρεῖν, being frequent in Jn., while they occur comparatively seldom in the rest of the N.T. The cognate forms μαρτύς,

μαρτύριον, are, on the other hand, not found in Jn., although they occur in the Apocalypse.

ἴνα μαρτυρήσῃ. ἴνα with a finite verb, in a telic sense, where in classical Greek we should expect an infinitive, is a common constr. in κοινή Greek, and is specially frequent in Joh_1 Burney2 held that this linguistic feature is due to the Aramaic origin of Jn., and that behind ἴνα is the particle דְּ or דִּי. But the colloquial character of Jn.’s style provides a sufficient explanation (cf. 11:50 and 18:14).


περὶ τοῦ φωτός. John Baptist says (v. 33) that it was revealed to him that Jesus was the Coming One.

ἴνα πάντες πιστεύσωσιν διʼ αὐτοῦ (“that all might believe through him,” i.e. through, or by means of, the testimony of John the Baptist). Ultimately the Baptist’s mission would affect not Israel only, but all men (πάντες). As the Divine Law is said to have come διὰ Μωυσέως (v. 17), so there is a sense in which Christian faith came διʼ Ἰωάνου. Abbott (Diat. 2302 f.) inclines to the view that αὐτοῦ refers here to Christ, αὐτός throughout the Prologue being used for the Word; but Jn. never uses the expression πιστεύειν διὰ Ἰησοῦ (see on 3:15). Jesus, for him, is the end and object of faith, rather than the medium through which it is reached (see on 1:12).

Jn. uses the verb πιστεύειν about 100 times, that is, with nine times the frequency with which it is used by the Synoptists, although the noun πίστις, common in the Synoptists, never occurs in Jn., except at 1 John 5:4.1 John 5:3 See further on v. 12.


Here πιστεύειν is used absolutely, the object of faith being understood without being expressed; cf. 1:50, 4:42, 53, 5:44, 6:64, 11:15

12:39, 14:29, 19:35, 20:8, 25.

8. ἐκεῖνος is used substantially, whether as subject or obliquely, with unusual frequency in Jn., the figures for its occurrence is the four Gospels being (according to Burney4) Mat_4, Mar_3, Luk_4, Jn. 51. Jn. uses it often to express emphasis, or to mark out clearly the person who is the main subject of the sentence, as here. It is used of Christ, 1:18, 2:21, 5:11, 1 John 2:6, 1 John 2:3:5, 1 John 2:7, 1 John 2:16.


οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς. The Baptist was only ὁ λύχνος, the lamp; cf. 5:35.

ἀλλʼ ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περι τοῦ φωτός. This is an elliptical constr. of which somewhat similar examples occur 9:3, 13:18, 15:25, 1 John 2:19 (Abbott, Diat. 2106 f.). The meaning is, “but he came that he might bear witness, etc. The repetition of the whole phrase ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός is thoroughly Johannine.


Burney suggests1 that here (as also at 5:7, 6:50, 9:36, 14:16) ἵνα is a mistranslation of an Aramaic relative, דְּ, “who.” The rendering then is simple, “he was not the Light, but one who was to bear witness of the Light”; but the correction is unnecessary.

9. ἦν τὸ φῶς κτλ. The constr. of the sentence has been taken in different ways, and the ambiguity was noticed as far back as the time of Origen.2

(I) The Latin, Syriac, and Coptic versions take ἐρχόμενον with ἄνθρωπον. The Light enlightens every man who comes into the world. But if this were the meaning, (a) we should expect παντὰ τὸν ἐρχόμενον rather than παντὰ ἄνθρωπον ἐρχόμενον; (b) these words are wholly redundant, for they do not add anything to “every man”; (c) the expression “coming into the world” is not used elsewhere by Joh_3 of a man being born (16:21 is no exception). This last consideration excludes also the rendering “every man, as he comes into the world,” apart from the fact that, although Wordsworth suggests it in his Ode, the idea of any special Divine enlightenment of infants is not Scriptural.


(2) It is better to take ἐρχόμενον with φῶς (so R.V.). Jn. several times uses the phrase “coming into the world” of the Advent of Christ (6:14, 11:27, 16:28, 18:37); and elsewhere (3:19, 12:46) in the Gospel Christ is spoken of as “light coming into the world.” And if we render “the Light, which lighteth every man, was coming into the world,” the constr. of ἦν with the present participle as used for the imperfect is one which appears frequently in Jn. (see on 1:28 below). ἦν … ἐρχόμενον means “was in the act of coming.”

Westcott, while retaining this meaning, endeavours to combine with it the conception of the Light having a permanent existence (ἦν, the verb used in v. 1). “There was the Light, the true Light which lighteth every man; that Light was, and yet more, that Light was coming into the world.” This seems, however, to attempt to get too much out of the words, and on our view of the whole passage the meaning is simpler.

We are still occupied with Jn.’s comment (vv. 6-9) on what the Logos Hymn has said about the Light (vv. 4, 5). The Baptist was not the perfect Light, but he came to bear witness to it; and this perfect Light was then coming into the world. When Jn. wrote the First Epistle he could say, “The true Light already shineth” (1 John 2:8), but it was only coming at the time when the Baptist’s mission began. Jesus had come into the world, indeed; but He had not yet manifested Himself as the Light.


ἀληθινόν. Christ is τὸφῶ�

Nevertheless the distinction between�1 John 2:8); οἱ�1 John 5:20); ἡ�Luke 16:11 is the genuine riches. Even at 4:37, where�


Less clearly, but still with some plausibility, can the distinctive sense of�

φωτίζει. This verb does not occur again in Jn., but cf. Luke 11:35, Luke 11:36.


ὂ φωτίζει παντὰ ἄνθρωπον. That the Servant of Yahweh would be a “light to the Gentiles” as well as to the Jews was the forecast of Deutero-Isaiah (42:6, 49:6); but this passage suggests a larger hope, for the Coming Light was to enlighten every man. It was this great conception upon which the early Quakers fixed, urging that to every man sufficient light was offered; and some of them called this passage “the Quaker’s text.” The Alexandrian theologians, e.g. Clement, had much to say about the active operation of the Pre-Incarnate Word upon men’s hearts; and it is interesting to observe that they did not appeal to this text, which is in fact not relevant to their thought, as it speaks only of the universal enlightenment which was shed upon mankind after the Advent of Christ.

εἰς τὸν κόσμον. The term κόσμος is used of the universe by Plato (Gorg. 508) and Aristotle (de mund. 2), Plutarch (Mor. 886 B) affirming that Pythagoras was the first to use the word thus, the order of the material world suggesting it1 This idea of a totality of the natural order is thoroughly Greek, and is without early Hebrew counterpart, עוֹלָם not being used in this meaning until the later days of Jewish literature2 In the LXX κόσμος appears in the sense of “ornament,” and occasionally to describe the ordered host of the heavenly bodies, but it is not used for “universe” until we reach the later Hellenistic books, e.g. Wisd. 11:17. Paul has κόσμος 46 times, and the Synoptists 14 times; but Jn. has it 100 times. Primarily, in the N.T. it is used of the material universe as distinct from God (cf. 21:25). But man is the chief inhabitant of the world as we know it, and thus κόσμος usually in Jn. includes the world of moral agents as well as the sum of physical forces. That is, it stands for mankind at large, as well as for the earth which is man’s habitation (6:51, 7:4, 12:19).

When, however, a term which was the product of Greek philosophy began to be used in connexion with the Hebrew doctrine of God and man, it inevitably gathered to itself the associations connected with Hebrew belief as to the Fall. To the Stoic, the κόσμος was perfect. This could not be held by a Jew. Inasmuch, then, as the Fall introduced disorder into that which in the beginning was “good” (Genesis 1:31), the term κόσμος when used of the visible order frequently carries with it a suggestion of imperfection, of evil, of estrangement from the Divine. The κόσμος cannot receive the Spirit of Truth (14:17); it hates Christ (7:7); it hates His chosen (15:19, 17:14); they are forbidden to love it (1 John 2:15). The world which is aloof from God may easily pass into an attitude of hostility to God, and the phrase “this world” (see on 8:23) calls special attention to such enmity.


According to Philo (quod deus imm. 6 and de mund 7), the κόσμος is the father of time, God being the Father of the κόσμος; a picturesque expression which brings out his view that the universe was created by God, who brought Cosmos out of Chaos, while its genesis goes back beyond the beginning of time.

A striking parallel to this verse is found in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (Levi, c. 14): τὸ φῶς τοῦ νόμου τὸ δοθὲν ἐν ὑμῖν εἰς φωτισμὸν πάντος�John 1:9 is based on this passage; but the date of the Greek versions of the Testaments is by no means certain, and there is no sufficient evidence of their existence in their present form before the time of Origen.1


There are unmistakable allusions to the verse in the Christian Apocalypse known as “The Rest of the Words of Baruch,” where Jeremiah addresses God as τὸ φῶς τὸ�

Even here, the meaning of “the world knew Him not” cannot be confined to the Immanent Logos. Jn. several times comes back to the phrase, applying it to the world’s failure to recognise the Incarnate Christ; e.g. ὁ κόσμος … οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν (1 John 3:1); οὐκ ἔγνωσαν … ἐμέ (16:3). Cf. 14:7, 17:25, 1 Corinthians 1:21. And in the next verse (v. 11) the Incarnate Word is clearly in view, for the aorist ἦλθεν expresses a definite point of time, although the Incarnation of the Word is not explicitly asserted until v. 14.


A saying about Wisdom very similar to the thought of this verse is in Enoch xlii. 1: “Wisdom found no place where she might dwell; then a dwelling-place was assigned to her in the heavens. Wisdom came to make her dwelling among the children of men and found no dwelling-place; then Wisdom returned to her place and took her seat among the angels.” What the Jewish apocalyptist says of Wisdom, the Prologue of the Fourth Gospel repeats of the Logos.

11. εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν. This (see on 19:27) is literally “He came to His own home.” And the following words, “His own received Him not,” would well describe His rejection by His own kinsfolk and neighbours in Galilee, according to the saying that a prophet has no honour in his own country (Mark 6:4, Matthew 13:57, Luke 4:24; cf. John 4:44). But the thought of this verse is larger. The world did not know Him, did not recognise Him for what He was (v. 10). But when He came in the flesh, He came (ἦλθεν) to “the holy land” (2 Macc. 1:7, Wisd. 12:3), to the land and the people which peculiarly belonged to Yahweh and were His own (Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6). In coming to Palestine, rather than to Greece, the Word of God came to His own home on earth. Israel were the chosen people; they formed, as it were, an inner circle in the world of men; they were, peculiarly, “His own.” He was “not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). “His own” intimate disciples did indeed receive him (see 13:1, 17:6, 9, 11 for οἱ ἴδιοι), but the thought here is of His own people, Israel. The Fourth Gospel is the Gospel of the Rejection; and this appears thus early in the Prologue (cf. 3:11, 5:43).

It is not said that Israel did not “know” Him, as is said of the “world” (v. 10); but Israel did not receive Him in welcome (cf. 14:3 for this shade of meaning in παραλαμβάνω). Like the Wicked Husbandmen in the parable (Mark 12:1, Matthew 21:33, Luke 20:9), Israel knew the Heir and killed Him.


Comment to Avoid Misunderstanding of V. 11 (Vv. 12, 13)

12. “His own received Him not” might suggest that no Jew welcomed Him for what He was. Accordingly (cf. Introd., p. cxlv), the evangelist notes that there were some of whom this could not be said. ὅσοι δέ κτλ. = but (δέ must be given its full adversative force), at the same time, as many as received Him (and this would include Jews as well as Greeks) were endowed with the capacity and privilege of becoming children of God. For λαμβάνειν used of “receiving” Christ, cf. 5:43, 13:20.

ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοις κτλ. This is the first appearance of a constr. which is very frequent in Jn., viz. the reinforcement of a casus pendens by a pronoun. It is a common, if inelegant, form of anacoluthon, more often met with in colloquial than in literary Greek. Jn. employs it 27 times (as against 21 occurrences in all three Synoptists). Burney suggests that this is due to the Aramaic original which he finds behind Jn., the cases pendens being a favourite Semitic idiom.1

The Jews rejected Christ; but His message was addressed to all mankind. He gave to “as many as received Him” the right to become children of God. ἐξουσία occurs again 5:27, 10:18, 17:2, 19:10, 11; it stands for authority rather than power. The privilege and right of those who “receive” Christ, i.e. those who “believe on His Name,” is that they may become τέκνα θεοῦ; but this (Jn. suggests) is not an inherent human capacity.

The conception of the faithful as “children of God” has its roots deep in Jewish thought. Israel conceived of herself as in covenant with Yahweh (see on 3:29), and the prophets speak of her as Yahweh’s wife (Hosea 1:2). “Thy sons whom thou hast borne to me” are words ascribed to Yahweh when addressing the nation (Ezekiel 16:20). Thus the Jews were accustomed to think of themselves as peculiarly the children of God (see on 8:41). But the teaching of Jesus did not encourage any such exclusive claim of Judaism. He taught the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God as having a more catholic range. To enter the kingdom of God is to become the child of God and the possessor of eternal life (for all these phrases mean the same thing; cf. 3:3f.), and the gate of the kingdom is the gate of faith in Christ. This is the message of the Fourth Gospel (20:30), and it is addressed to all who will hear it. We have here (in vv. 12, 13) a summary of the teaching of c. 3 about the New Birth and Eternal Life.

The phrase τέκνα θεοῦ is not placed either by Synoptists or by Jn. in the mouth of Jesus Himself: He is represented as speaking of υἱοὶ θεοῦ (Matthew 5:9); and this is also the title for believers generally used by Paul (Galatians 3:26), who employs the notion of adoption, as recognised by Roman law, to bring out the relation of God to the faithful.2 But τέκνα θεοῦ is thoroughly Johannine (cf. 11:52 and 1 John 3:1, 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:10, 1 John 3:5:2), and the phrase implies a community of life between God the Father and His children, which is described in v. 13 as due to the fact that they are “begotten” of God (cf. 3:3f.). τέκνον is from the root τεκ—,“to beget.”

The “children of God” are all who “believe in the Name” of Christ. The idea of the Fatherhood of God as extending to all mankind alike, heathen or Jewish, prior to belief in Christ, is not explicit in the Gospels (cf. Acts 17:28), however close it may be to such a pronouncement as that of the Love of God for the world at large (3:16). But for Jn., the “children” are those who “believe.”

τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ. The frequency of the verb πιστεύειν in Jn. has been already noted (1:7). Here we have to mark the form πιστεύειν εἰς … The phrase “to believe in Christ,” in Him as distinct from believing His words or being convinced of certain facts about Him, is, with one exception (Matthew 18:6), not found in the Synoptists; but in Jn. we find πιστεύειν εἰς … 35 times,1 always referring to God or Christ, except εἰς τὴν μαρτυρίαν (1 John 5:10). The phrase πιστεύειν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ occurs again 2:23, 3:18 (cf. 1 John 5:13), but not in the speeches of Jesus Himself. In the O.T. the “Name” of Yahweh is often used as equivalent to His Character or Person, as He manifests Himself to men (cf. 2 Samuel 7:13, Isaiah 18:7; see on 5:43 below). It is possible that this usage of ὄνομα in the N.T. is an Aramaism. We have it several times in the expression βαπτίζειν εἰς τὸ ὄνομά τινος (cf. Matthew 28:19).2 But, whether it is Aramaic or no, to believe in “the Name” of Jesus for Jn. is to believe “in Him” as the Son of God and the Christ.


13. For οἳ … ἐγεννήθησαν, the O.L. version in b gives qui natus est, the verse being thus a reference to the Virgin Birth of Christ. Irenæus (adv. Haer. iii. xvii. 1 and xx. 2), and possibly Justin (Tryph. 61; cf. Apol. i. 32, 63 and ii. 6), bear witness to the existence of this (Western) reading. Tertullian (de carne Christi, 19) adopts it formally, adducing arguments against the common text “who were born,” which he says is an invention of the Valentinians. In recent years the reference of the verse to Christ, and the reading qui natus est, have been approved by Resch (Aussercanonische Paralleltexte, iv. 57) and by Blass (Philology of the Gospels, p. 234).3 But the MS. evidence is overwhelming for ἐγεννήθησαν, which moreover, as we shall see, is in accordance with the characteristic teaching of Jn.

The children of God are “begotten” by Him by spiritual generation, as contrasted with the ordinary process of physical generation.

οὐκ ἐξ αἱμάτων κτλ. It was a current doctrine in Greek physiology that the human embryo is made from the seed of the father, and the blood of the mother. Thus Wisd. 7:2, “In the womb of a mother was I moulded into flesh in the time of ten months, being compacted in blood (παγεὶς ἐν αἵματι) of the seed of man and pleasure that came with sleep.” Cf. 4 Macc. 13:20 and Philo (de opif. mundi 45). 1

The plural αἱμάτων is unexpected, but Bräckner quoted the parallel ἄλλων τραφεὶς�

οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος σαρκός, “nor yet of the will of the flesh,” i.e. of sexual desire. θέλημα is used once or twice in the LXX in the sense of delectatio, e.g. Isaiah 62:4 and Ecclesiastes 12:1. Hippolytus (Ref. vi. 9) has the phrase ἐξ αἱμάτων καὶ ἐπιθυμίας σαρκικῆς, καθάπερ καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ, γεγεννημένος, which is apparently a reminiscence of this verse, of which at any rate it gives the meaning, identifying θέλημα with ἐπιθυμία (cf. 1 John 2:16).


The passage is also recalled by Justin (Tryph. 63), ὡς τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἐξ�

ἀλλʼ ἐκ θεοῦ (God being the immediate cause of the new spiritual life which begins in the believer). The metaphor of God as “begetting” children is strange to a modern ear, but it is frequent in Jn. Cf. also 1 Peter 1:3, ὁ …�James 1:18.

The verb γεννᾶν in the active voice generally means “to beget,” and is used of the father, e.g. Ἀβραὰμ ἐγέννησε τὸν Ἰσαάκ (Matthew 1:2). Sometimes this is followed by ἐκ and the mother’s name, e.g. ἐγέννησα ἐξ αὐτῆς Τωβίαν (Tobit 1:9).


γεννᾶν is also, but rarely, used of the “bearing” of children by a woman, e.g. μία μήτηρ ἐγέννησεν ἡμᾶς διδύμους (Acta Philippi, 115).

In Jn. the verb (with one exception, 1 John 5:1) is only found in the passive γεννᾶσθαι Sometimes this means “to be born,” e.g. 9:2f., 16:21, 18:37; cf. Μαρίας, ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη Ἰησοῦς (Matthew 1:16).

But usually in Jn. γεννᾶσθαι means “to be begotten,” and the phrase “to be begotten by God” is thoroughly Johannine. Jn. does not shrink from drawing out the metaphor, e.g. πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἁμαρτιαν οὐ ποιεῖ, ὅτι σπέρμα οὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ μένει (1 John 3:9). Gods σπέρμα is in the man, who is thus (the phrase occurs in the next verse, 1 John 3:10) τέκνον θεοῦ. An even closer parallel to vv. 12, 13, is πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστὶν ὁ Χριστὸς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται (1 John 5:1, 1 John 5:4), where it is again said that those who believe in Christ are “begotten of God.” Cf. also 1 John 2:29, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 5:18. This mystical language goes back to Psalms 2:7, where Yahweh says of the king of His favour, ἐγὼ σήμερον γεγέννηκά σε. Indeed, to say that believers are “begotten of God” is only to stretch a little farther the metaphor involved in the words, “Our Father which art in heaven.” See on v. 12.

The rendering of ἐγεννήθησαν here by nati sunt in the Latin versions cannot be taken to exclude the translation “were begotten”; for in the several passages in 1 Jn. where we have the phrase γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ (2:29, 3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 18), and where it must bear the meaning “begotten by God” (see especially 1 John 3:9), the Latin versions similarly have natus.


The Incarnation (V. 14)

14. καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο. The repeated καὶ introducing the next three clauses should be noticed.

Here we have the climax of the Johannine doctrine of Christ as the Word. That the Son of God became man is unmistakably taught by Paul (Romans 1:3, Romans 8:3, Galatians 4:4, Philippians 2:7, Philippians 2:8): He was “manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). So, also, according to Hebrews 2:14, He partook of our flesh and blood. But the contribution of Jn. to this exalted Christology is that he expressly identifies Christ with the “Word of God,” vaguely spoken of in the Wisdom literature of the Hebrews and also in the teaching of Philo and his Greek predecessors. The Logos of philosophy is, Jn. declares, the Jesus of history (cf. v. 11); and this is now stated in terms which cannot be misunderstood. That “the Word became flesh” must have seemed a paradox to many of those who read the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel when it was first made public; but the form of the proposition is deliberate. It would have been impossible for Philo (see Introd., p. cxli).

The heresy of Docetism was always present to the mind of Jn. (while it is most plainly in view in the First Epistle); the idea of Christ as a mere phantasm, without human flesh and blood, was to him destructive of the Gospel. “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4:2). But it is the deceiver and the antichrist who “confess not that He is come in the flesh” (2 John 1:7). The lofty teaching of the Prologue identifies Jesus with the Word, and the explicit declaration that the Word became flesh was necessary to exclude Docetic teaching.1 A characteristic feature of the Fourth Gospel is its frequent insistence on the true humanity of Jesus. He is represented as tired and thirsty (4:6, 7; cf. 19:28). His emotion of spirit is expressed in His voice (see on 11:33). He wept (11:35). His spirit was troubled in the anticipation of His Passion (12:27, 13:21). And the emphasis laid by Jn. on His “flesh” and “blood” (6:53), as well as on the “blood and water” of the Crucifixion scene, shows that Jn. writes thus of set purpose. Cf. also 20:27. At one point (8:40) Jn. attributes to Jesus the use of the word ἄνθρωπος as applied to Himself.

ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο. Here σάρξ signifies man’s nature as a whole, including his rational soul (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23). Thus the rendering here in the Old Syriac (although not in the Peshitta) of σάρξ by pagar,2 sc. “the Word became a body”—a rendering known to Ephraim3 and Aphrahat4—is inadequate and might mislead. The Logos did not became “a man,” but He became “man” in the fullest sense; the Divine Person assuming human nature in its completeness. To explain the exact significance of ἐγένετο in this sentence is beyond the powers of any interpreter.


καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν. This sentence has generally in modern times been understood to mean “and He pitched His tent among us,” or dwelt among us, ἡμῖν referring to those who witnessed the public ministry of Jesus, and more particularly to those who associated with Him in daily intercourse. ἐν ἡμῖν, on this rendering, would be equivalent to apud nos or inter nos, a use of ἐν with the dative which may be defended by 10:19, 11:54. A σκήνη or tent is a temporary habitation, and ἐσκήνωσεν might thus indicate the sojourn on earth for a brief season of the Eternal Word. In the N.T., however, the verb does not connote temporary sojourning in any other place where it is found.

Origen5 and Chrysostom6 understand the clause differently, For them, it is parallel to the preceding clause, “the Word became flesh,” and is another statement of the Incarnation.1 The Word took humanity as His tabernacle, ὥσπερ ὁ ναὸς δόξαν εἶχε θεοῦ κατασκηνοῦσαν ἐν αὐτῷ (Origen, l.c. 202). This would be in harmony with Paul’s great phrase ναὸς θεοῦ ἐστέ (1 Corinthians 3:16), and gives its proper force to ἐν ἡμῖν. Cf. Ecclus. 24:8 ἐν Ἰακὼβ κατασκήνωσον, as addressed to Wisdom.

In the N.T. the verb only occurs again Revelation 7:15, Revelation 12:12, Revelation 13:6 and 21:3, where it is said that in the New Jerusalem God σκηνώσει μετʼ αὐτῶν. So the prophets had foretold, e.g. κατασκηνώσω ἐν μέσῳ σου, λέγει κύριος (Zechariah 2:10); ἔσται ἡ κατασκήνωσίς μου ἐν αὐτοῖς (Ezekiel 37:27). Cf. Leviticus 26:11, Ezekiel 43:7. Such language goes back to the thought of the σκήνη or tabernacle in the desert (Exodus 25:8, Exodus 25:9), where Yahweh dwelt with Israel. The verb σκηνοῦν would always recall this to a Jew. Philo says that the sacred σκήνη was a symbol of God’s intention to send down to earth from heaven the perfection of His Divine virtue (Quis div. hœr. 23).

The language of this verse recalls Psalms 85:9, Psalms 85:10:


His salvation is nigh them that fear Him,

That glory (δόξα) may dwell (κατασκηνῶσαι) in our land:

Mercy (ἔλεος) and truth �

ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ. θεᾶσθαι is never used in the N.T. of spiritual vision, while it is used 22 times of “seeing” with the bodily eyes. Cf. 1:32, 38, 4:35, 6:5, 11:45, 1 John 4:12, 1 John 4:14 (θεὸν οὐδεὶς πώποτε τεθέαται … ἡμεῖς τεθεάμεθα … ὅτι ὁ πατὴρ�1 John 1:1, 1 John 1:2 ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα κτλ. Neither here nor at 1 John 1:1 is there any question of a supersensuous, mystical perception of spiritual facts, in both passages the claim being that the author has “seen” with his eyes (the aorist points to a definite moment in the historic past) the manifested glory of the Incarnate Word.

The use of the first person plural when speaking of his Christian experience is characteristic of Jn., and runs all through the First Epistle (cf. 1 John 1:1, 1 John 1:3:2, 14, 1 John 1:5:15, 19, 20) He speaks not only for himself but for his fellow-believers (cf. 3:11); and in this passage for such of these (whether living or departed) as had been eye-witnesses of the public ministry of Jesus. (Cf. also 2 Peter 1:17, and see Introd., p. lx).


δόξα, δοξάζειν are favourite words with Jn. (although they are not found in the Johannine Epistles). Certain shades of meaning must be distinguished.

As in Greek authors generally, δόξα often means no more than “honour,” and δοξάζειν means “to honour greatly”; e.g. 5:41, 7:18, 8:50, 54, 9:24, 11:4, 12:43, 14:13, 15:8, 16:14, 17:1, 4, 10, 21:19 (See on 4:44). But Jn. uses these words sometimes with special reference to that δόξα which belongs to God alone, e.g. 17:5 recalls the glory of the Eternal Word. According to one interpretation (see above) of ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, δόξα here (cf. 2:11, 11:40) stands for the Divine glory exhibited in the earthly life of Jesus which was perceived by those who companied with Him, and this must in any case be part of the meaning of ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ. The crisis of this “glorification” in Jn. is the Passion (7:39, 12:16, 23) consummated in the Risen Life (13:32). See especially on 13:32.

We must, at this point, recall the later Jewish doctrine of the Shekinah or visible dwelling of Yahweh with His people. The word שְׁכִינָה, “that which dwells,” is appropriated in later Judaism to the Divine presence. When in the O.T. Yahweh is said to dwell in a place, the Targums, to avoid anthropomorphism, preferred to say that He “caused His Shekinah to dwell.” The Shekinah was the form of His manifestation, which was glorious; but the glory is distinct from the Shekinah, which is used as equivalent to the Divine Being Himself. Thus the Targum of Isaiah 60:2 is: “In thee the Shekinah of Yahweh shall dwell, and His glory shall be revealed upon thee.” Again, Leviticus 26:12, “I will walk among you and be your God,” becomes in the Targum “I will place the glory of my Shekinah among you, and my Memra shall be with you.” Or again, Isaiah 6:1, “I saw the Lord,” becomes in the Targum “I saw the glory of the Lord” (see on 12:41).1

Now by bilingual Jews the representation of Shekinah by σκήνη was natural, and when σκηνοῦν or κατασκηνοῦν is used in the later books of the LXX or the Apocalypse of the dwelling of God with men, the allusion is generally to the doctrine of the Shekinah (cf. Revelation 7:15). Accordingly, ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ also carries a probable allusion to the glory of the Shekinah which was the manifestation on earth of God Himself.2


δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός. The glory of the Word is described as “a glory as of the Only-begotten from the Father.” Neither Son nor Father has yet been mentioned, and the sentence is a parenthesis explanatory of the δόξα of the Word. We may connect παρὰ πατρός either (a) with μονογενοῦς or (b) with δόξαν.

If (a) be adopted, then we have the parallels 6:46, 7:29, 16:27, 17:8, in all of which passages Jesus says of Himself that He is παρὰ θεοῦ or the like, a phrase which means more when applied to Him thus than it means in 1:6, where John Baptist has been described as�1 John 2:29, 1 John 2:3:9, 1 John 2:4:7, 1 John 2:5:1, 1 John 2:4, 1 John 2:18). It is true, indeed, that the distinctions between παρά,�


(b) If we connect δόξαν with παρὰ πατρός, the meaning is “the glory such as the only Son receives from his Father.” Cf. 5:41, 44 for δόξαν παρὰ τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ. “No image but the relation of a μονογενής to a father can express the twofold character of the glory as at once derivative and on a level with its source.”2 The manifested glory of the Word was as it were the glory of the Eternal Father shared with His only Son. Cf. 8:54 ἔστιν ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ δοξάζων με, where see note.

The word μονογενής is generally used of an only child (e.g. Judges 11:34, Tob. 3:15, 6:10, 14, Luke 7:12, Luke 8:42, Luke 9:38, Hebrews 11:17), the emphasis being on μονο—rather than on γενής. Thus Plato speaks of μονογενὴς οὐρανός (Tim. 31); and Clement of Rome (§ 25) describes the legendary bird, the phænix, as μονογενές, sc. it is the only one of its kind, unique (cf. the LXX of Psalms 25:16). Some of the O.L. texts (a e q) render μονογενής here by unicus, which is the original meaning, rather than by unigenitus, which became the accepted Latin rendering so soon as controversies arose about the Person and Nature of Christ.

An only child is specially dear to its parents; and μονογενής is used to translate יָתִיד in Psalms 22:20,3 35:17, where we should expect�Genesis 22:2; cf. Amos 8:10.Amos 8:1 And in every place where Jn. has μονογενής (except perhaps in this verse), viz. 1:18, 3:16, 18, 1 John 4:9, we might substitute, as Kattenbusch has pointed out,�


At this point, however, the meaning is clear. The glory of the Incarnate Word was such glory as the only Son of the Eternal Father would derive from Him and so could exhibit to the faithful.

πλήρης χάριτος καὶ�Mark 8:19, Matthew 14:20, Matthew 15:37, Acts 6:3), this would be the only possible construction of the passage.


πλήρης, however, is often treated as indeclinable by scribes, in the N.T., the LXX, and the papyri;3 and it is possible, therefore, to take it in the present passage (the only place where it occurs in Jn.) as in apposition either to δόξαν or to αὐτοῦ or μονογενοῦς in the previous line. For πλήρης here D reads πλήρη, which apparently was meant by the scribe to be taken with δόξαν. Turner has shown4 that Irenæus, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and later Greek Fathers did not connect πλήρης with ὁ λόγος, but (generally) with δόξαν. And the Curetonian Syriac (Syr. sin. is deficient at this point) will not permit πλήρης to be taken with λόγος.5

On the contrary, Origen seems to favour the connexion of πλήρης with λόγος or μονογενής.6 The O.L. (followed by vulg.) has plenum in apposition with uerbum; and internal evidence seems to favour this construction, despite the authority of most Greek Fathers. For to speak of the glory of Christ as being “full of grace and truth” is not as intelligible as to speak of Christ Himself being πλήρης χάριτος καὶ�Acts 6:8, Στέφανος πλήρης χάριτος καὶ δυνάμεως, and for this constr. of πλήρης as descriptive of a man’s quality, see Acts 6:3, Acts 6:5, Acts 6:7:55, Acts 6:11:24. Further, in v. 16 the πλήρωμα from which Christians receive grace is that of Christ Himself, which shows that πλήρης here refers to Him.


The problem is one of grammar rather than of exegesis, for on any rendering grace and truth are specified as characteristic attributes of the Incarnate Word, or of His manifestation of Himself in the world. These two words χάρις and�

The characteristically Christian word χάρις does not appear in Jn. except at 1:14, 16, 17, in the Prologue. It is never placed in the mouth of Jesus by any evangelist (except in the sense of thanks, Luke 6:32, Luke 6:34, Luke 6:17:9), and is not used at all by Mk. or Mt. In Lk. it is applied occasionally to the special favour of God to individuals (1:30, 2:40, 52), as it is several times in the LXX (e.g. Genesis 6:8). But its Christian use as grace is derived from Paul,1 who habitually employs it to designate the condescending love of God in redemption, as contrasted with the legalism of the Mosaic economy (Romans 5:21, Romans 6:14 and passim); and the influence of Paul’s terminology appears in Acts (e.g. 20:24 το εὐαγγέλιον τῆς χάριτος τοῦ θεοῦ), Hebrews 10:29, 1 Peter 1:13, etc. So we have χάρις in the specially Christian sense in Barnabas, § 5, and Ignatius (Magn. 8), and thenceforth in all Christian writers. But Jn. never uses χάρις except here and vv. 16, 17, and this is an indication of the faithfulness with which the primitive Christian phraseology is preserved in the Fourth Gospel. He does not even speak of the grace of God, when he writes ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον (3:16), although what Paul meant by χάρις is behind his thought.

On the other hand,�1 John 4:6, 1 John 5:7), who is to guide the faithful into all the truth (16:13). Christ’s disciples will “know the truth, and the truth shall make them free” (8:32); “he that doeth the truth cometh to the light” (3:21; cf. 1 John 1:6); and Christ’s prayer for His chosen is that they may be “sanctified in the truth” (17:17, 19). Every one that is of the truth hears His voice (18:38).

The word�Mark 12:14, Matthew 22:16, Luke 20:21). “We know,” they said, “that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth”; i.e. they began by a verbal recognition of the claim that He had made for Himself, a claim directly recorded by Jn. alone. While then, the emphasis laid in the Fourth Gospel upon the truth of Christ’s teaching is partly due to the circumstances in which the book was produced, and the desire of Jn. to assure his readers not only of the spiritual beauty but also of the solid foundations of Christian doctrine, we need not doubt that it gives a representation faithful to historical fact, when it describes Jesus as Himself claiming to be the Ambassador and Revealer of the Truth. In the Galilæan discourses we should not expect to find this topic prominently brought forward, and the Synoptists are mainly occupied with Galilee. But when they bring Jesus to the critical and intellectual society of Jerusalem, they indicate that His claims to the possession of absolute truth had been noticed by those who wished to disparage and controvert His teaching.

Various explanations have been offered of the combination “grace and truth” as the two pre-eminent attributes of the Incarnate Logos. As we have seen, grace is what Jn. prefers to describe as love (God’s love descending on men), and truth brings light (cf. Psalms 43:3)); accordingly some exegetes refer back to v. 4, where the Divine life issues in light. But even if we equate χάρις with�

The combination is found again in v. 17, where grace and truth, which came through Christ, are contrasted with the Law, which was given through Moses. In the O.T. χάρις and�Psalms 40:11 89:14; cf. Exodus 34:6), and in Psalms 61:7 as attributes of the Messianic King. As we have seen above (p. 21), the meeting of ἔλεος and�Psalms 85:9, Psalms 85:10 with the dwelling (κατασκηνῶσαι) in the Holy Land of the Divine δόξα. And it is to this passage in the Psalter, more than to any other passage in the O.T., that the words and thoughts of John 1:14 are akin. The idea of the Divine compassion (ἔλεος), of which the O.T. is full, is enlarged and enriched in the N.T. by the idea of Divine grace (χάρις).1


The Baptist’s Witness to the Pre-Mundane Existence of the Word (V. 15)

15. The verse is parenthetical, interpolating at this point the Baptist’s witness to the pre-existence of Christ, which has been implied in v. 14.

μαρτυρεῖ, the historic present. What John said is, and remains, a witness to the pre-mundane dignity of Christ.

καὶ κέκραγεν, “and he hath cried aloud”; his voice was still sounding when the Fourth Gospel was written. For κράζειν, see on 7:28. א*D om. λέγων after κέκραγεν.

οὗτος. See on 1:2.

οὗτος ἦν ὃν εἶπον, “this was He of whom I spake”; cf. 8:27, 10:35 for the constr. ὃν εἶπον. At v. 30 we have the more usual ὑπὲρ οὗ εἶπον. The awkwardness of the constr. is responsible for variant readings. ὁ εἰπών is read by אaB*C*, but this is impossible; ὃν εἶπον is found in אcbAB3DLΘ, and must be accepted despite the inferiority of its attestation.2

ὃν εἶπον. It would seem from all four Gospels that the Baptist proclaimed “the Coming One” (ὁ ἐρχόμενος) before he had identified Him with Jesus. The terms of John’s proclamation are repeated in v. 30, almost verbally, and must be placed beside the Synoptic forms. We have seen on v. 6 above that the correspondences between Jn. and Mk. as to the Baptist’s witness are very close;3 and it is clear that at this point ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν is intended by Jn. to express what Mk. (and also Mt., Lk.) meant by ἰσχυρότερός μου (see also on v. 27). Thus ἔμπροσθεν does not indicate priority in time as at 3:28 (that is brought out in the next clause), but in dignity, as at Genesis 48:20, where it is said that Jacob made Ephraim ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Μανασσῆ. “He that comes after me has come-to-be before me” (cf. 6:25 for a like use of γέγονε).


ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν. This is a Johannine addition to the Synoptic proclamation of the Baptist. It has been rendered in two different ways. (a) To render πρῶτός μου as “my Chief,” “my Superior,” is defensible, and Abbott (Diat. 2665) cites some authorities for a similar use of πρῶτος. But “He was my Chief” would be a tame addition to the great saying, “He that cometh after me is preferred before me.” (b) The usual interpretation treats πρῶτος as equivalent to πρότερος, “He was before me,” sc. in His pre-Incarnate life, although He was born into the world six months after the Baptist. The verb ἦν favours this (cf. 8:58 and vv. 1, 2, 4, 10 above). πρῶτός μου, then, is parallel to πρῶτον ὑμῶν at 15:18, in both cases πρῶτος meaning anterior. This use of a superlative for a comparative may be supported by classical examples, e.g. Xenophon, Mem. 1. ii. 46 δεινότατος σαυτοῦ ταῦτα ἦσθα, and we may compare Justin, Apol. i. 12, where οὗ βασιλικώτατον καὶ δικαιότατον … οὐδένα οἴδαμεν means “than whom we know no one more regal and just.” On this rendering of πρῶτος “because He was before me,” Jn. ascribes to the Baptist a knowledge of Christ’s Pre-existence, which it is improbable that he had realised. But it is quite in the manner of in. to attribute to the Baptist that fuller understanding of Christ’s Person which was not appreciated even by the apostles until after His Resurrection (see on v. 29).

Explanation of V. 14: Christ the Giver of Grace (Vv. 16, 17)

16. ὅτι … ὅτι on introduces vv. 16, 17, v. 16 being explanatory of v. 14, and v. 17 elucidating v. 16 further. ὅτι is here read by אBC*DL 33, and must be preferred to the rec. καὶ (AWΘ), which is probably due to scribes not understanding that v. 15 is a parenthesis.

ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ πληρώματος αὐτοῦ κτλ. The Incarnate Word is indeed “full” of grace and truth, for (ὅτι) out of His “fulness” we have all received. Stephen is described (Acts 6:8) as πλήρης χάριτος as well as his Master, although in a lesser degree; but he was only one of many disciples of whom this might be said.


ἡμεῖς πάντες ἐλάβομεν, “we, all of us,” ἡμεῖς being prefixed for emphasis, i.e. all Christian disciples. The subject of ἐλάβομεν is wider than that of ἐθεασάμεθα in v. 14, where the thought is of contemporary witnesses of the public ministry of Jesus. It is, however, not only they who receive of His fulness, but every true believer.

πλήρωμα1 does not occur again in Jn., but is used in the same way of the “fulness” of Christ at Ephesians 4:13, Colossians 1:19. The thought of Ephesians 1:23 that the Church is His πλήρωμα is a different one; cf. also Romans 15:29. See p. cxxxvii.


καὶ χάριν�

In v. 16 the evangelist exults in the “grace for grace,” i.e. the grace after grace, which all believers have received in Christ. This is, indeed, in marked contrast with the spiritual condition of those who were “under the law,” as Paul would have expressed it, for it is pre-eminently through Christ that “grace” comes into play. χάρις is never spoken of in the LXX as a privilege of the Jew, and the contrast between law and grace is a master-thought of Paul (Romans 4:16, Romans 4:6:14, Romans 4:15, Galatians 5:4). Here it is explicit; it had become a Christian commonplace by the time that the Prologue came to be written, but Jn. never returns to it in the body of his Gospel.


The contrast is between νόμος and χάρις, as in Paul, but καὶ ἡ�

The full historical name “Jesus Christ” appears here for the first time in Jn. It was not used by the contemporaries of Jesus in His public ministry, and is only found in the Synoptists Mark 1:1, Matthew 1:1. It appears again John 17:3, and also 1 John 1:3, 1 John 2:1, 1 John 3:23, 1 John 4:2, 1 John 5:20. In the Acts it occurs 2:38, 3:6, 4:10, 10:36, 16:18, five times in the Apocalypse, and often in Paul (see Introd., p. cxxxvi).


The Logos Hymn Concluded: The Logos the Revealer of God (V. 18)

18. θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε. That God is invisible to the bodily eye was a fundamental principle of Judaism (Exodus 33:20, Deuteronomy 4:12). The Son of Sirach asks, τίς ἑόρακεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἐκδιηγήσεται; (Ecclus. 43:31), to which Jn. supplies the answer here (cf. ἐξηγήσατο at the end of the verse). Philo, as a good Jew, has the same doctrine. God is�Colossians 1:15, 1 Timothy 1:17.1 Timothy 1:2


The doctrine that God is invisible is not, indeed, peculiar to Hebrew thought; cf. the verse from the Orphic literature quoted by Clement Alex. (Strom. v. 12):

οὐδέ τις αὐτὸν

εἰσοράᾳ θνητῶν, αὐτὸς δέ γε πάντας ὁρᾶται.

μονογενής, Θεός ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ Πάτρος,

But we incline to a Hebrew origin for the Prologue, rather than a Greek.

Jn. is specially insistent on the doctrine that God is invisible. Cf. 5:37, οὔτε εἶδος αὐτοῦ ἑωράκατε, and (a passage closely parallel to 1:18) 6:46, οὐχ ὅτι τὸν πατέρα ἑώρακέν τις, εἰ μὴ ὁ ὢν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ. οὗτος ἑώρακεν τὸν πατέρα. See note on 14:7, and cf. 1 John 4:12, 1 John 4:20.

In the Greek Bible πώποτε always occurs with a negative. Jn. has it again 5:37, 6:35, 8:33, 1 John 4:12; cf. also Luke 19:30.


μονογενὴς θεός. This is the reading of אBC*L 33 (the best of the cursives), Peshitta, Clem. Alex., Origen, Epiphanius, etc., while the rec. ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός is found in all other uncials (D is lacking from v. 16 to 3:26) and cursives, the Latin vss. and Syr. cur. (Syr. sin. is lacking here) Chrysostom and the Latin Fathers generally. An exhaustive examination of the textual evidence was made by Hort,1 and his conclusion that the true reading is μονογενὴς θεός has been generally accepted. There can be no doubt that the evidence of MSS., versions, and Fathers is overwhelmingly on this side.

μονογενὴς occurs again in Jn. only at 1:14, 3:16, 18, 1 John 4:9, and in the last three instances in connexion with υἱός, so that the tendency of scribes would be to replace the more difficult θεός here by the more familiar υἱός, as they have done; while there would be no temptation to replace υἱός by θεός. μονογενὴς θεός2 was an expression adopted by Arius and Eunomius as freely as by the orthodox Catholics, so that its occurrence in a Gospel text would hardly have been used for polemical purposes by either party. It is an expression unfamiliar to the modern ear, and is therefore hard of acceptance by any to whom the cadence “only begotten Son” seems inevitable. However, it is probable—although the patristic testimony does not altogether favour this view—that μονογενής is not to be taken as an adjective qualifying θεός, but that μονογενής, θεός, ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός are three distinct designations of Him who is the Exegete or Interpreter of the Father (cf. Abbott, Diat. 1938).


That the Word is θεός (not ὁ θεός) has already been stated without qualification in v. 1. In v. 14 His glory is said to be like the glory which a μονογενής. receives from his father, which prepares the way for giving Him the title of μονογενής. This title suggests that relation of Christ to God, as the Son to the Father, which has not yet been mentioned, but which is prominent in the Fourth Gospel. And, finally (as is also suggested by μονογενής, see on v. 14 above), this relation is one of eternal love. The Word may be described as ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός.

We translate, therefore:

“God hath no man seen at any time:

The Only-Begotten, who is God, who dwells in the Father’s bosom,

This is He who revealed God.”

θεὸν οὐδεὶς κτλ. Jn. generally begins such a sentence with οὐδείς but here θεόν is put first for special emphasis; cf. 3:32, 13:28, 15:13, 16:22, where similarly οὐδείς is not put in the forefront.

εἰς τὸν κόλπον. “The wife of one’s bosom” is a phrase, used in many languages, for “beloved wife.” Cf. Numbers 11:12, Deuteronomy 13:6. The metaphor is even applied to friendship between man and man; e.g. Cicero (ad Fam. Ep. xvi. 4, 3), “Cicero meus quid aget? iste uero sit in sinu semper et complexu meo,” and Plutarch, Cato minor, 33 fin., Γαβίνιον Αὖλον, ἐκ τῶν Πομπηΐου κόλπων ἄνθρωπον.

Hence ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός expresses the intimate relationship of love between the Son and the Father; the Word shares in the secrets of Deity. ὤν stands for eternal being (cf. 8:58 and Revelation 1:4); it is the relation between Son and Father prior to the Incarnation, that is in the writer’s thought.


εἰς τὸν κόλπον, without a verb of motion, occurs elsewhere neither in the Greek Bible nor in Greek literature generally (Abbott, Diat. 2712), the more usual constr. being ἐν τῷ κόλπῳ (as at 13:23, which does not, however, help us). It is possible that εἰς is used here in the same sense as ἐν (cf. 19:13), as it often is in Mk.;1 on the other hand, ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός recalls ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν (v. 1), where πρός may carry a sense of direction (see note in loc.).

Ignatius has a phrase which may be reminiscent of v. 18, viz. Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν τὸν�

ἐξηγεῖσθαι is used elsewhere in the N.T. by Lk. alone (Luke 24:35, Acts 10:8, Acts 10:15:12, Acts 10:14, Acts 10:21:19), and in the sense of “to rehearse,” for the benefit of others, words or incidents of sacred significance. It is the verb technically used in Greek literature of a declaration or exposition of Divine mysteries (see Wetstein for many examples). Thus, in Job 28:27 it is said that God “declared” (ἐξηγήσατο) wisdom, which was otherwise hidden from man; and the official interpreters of dreams in Genesis 41:8, Genesis 41:24 are called ἐξηγηταί.

Here we have the climax of the Prologue. The significance of the doctrine of the Logos is expressed in two words, ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο, “It is He who interpreted the Father.” In v. 17 it has been affirmed that “the truth came through Jesus Christ,” and the highest form of truth is the knowledge of God. This He declared with a precision which could only be exhibited by One whose dwelling was “in the bosom of the Father.” “What He hath seen and heard, of that He beareth witness” (3:32). Cf. Matthew 11:27, Luke 10:22.


The last words of the Prologue (v. 18) set out briefly the theme of the Gospel which is to follow. It is the ἐξήγησις or Exhibition to the world of God in Christ.1

PART I. (1:19-4:54 AND 6)

The Baptist’s Witness as to the Coming One (1:19-28)

19. This is the beginning of the Gospel, as distinct from the Prologue, and it opens, as Mk. does, with the witness of John the Baptist, differing, however, from Mk. in that the Baptism of Jesus is already over, reference being made to it at vv. 32, 33.

The indications of time in Song of Solomon 1:2 are remarkable and precise. If the incident described vv. 19-28 is dated Day i., then Day ii. (ἐπαύριον) is taken up with vv. 29-34. Again, Day iii extends from v. 35 (ἐπαύριον) to v. 39. Then, if we read πρωΐ for πρῶτον (see note in loc.) at v. 41, the incident of vv. 40-42 belongs to Day iv. Day v. extends from v. 43 (ἐπαύριον) to the end of the chapter. Nothing is told of Day vi., but Day vii. (τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ) is the day of the Marriage at Cana (see further on 2:1). That is, the Gospel opens with the detailed report of a momentous week.


καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν κτλ. “Now the witness of John is this …,” αὕτη being the predicate of identification, and καί referring back to v. 7 or v. 15, where John’s witness has been mentioned. We have now a threefold testimony of John, given on three consecutive days (vv. 19, 29, 35), the first being the announcement of the Coming One, the second the designation of Jesus as He who was to come, and the third having as its consequence the following of Jesus by two of John’s disciples. The particularity of detail points to the story coming ultimately from an eye-witness, probably from John the son of Zebedee, whose reminiscences lie behind the Fourth Gospel (see on vv. 35, 40). For the idea of μαρτυρία in Jn., cf. Introd., p. xci, and see on v. 7.

ὅτε�

John the Baptist was now carrying on his ministry, and his work had aroused intense interest (Luke 3:15). It was natural that the Sanhedrim (see on 7:32) should send representatives to inquire into his purpose and personal claims. John the Baptist’s father being a priest, his activities would be of special interest to the whole priestly order. Accordingly the authorities at Jerusalem sent “priests and Levites,” a combination that does not occur again in the N.T. Levites are mentioned elsewhere only at Luke 10:32, Acts 4:36; and Jn. does not employ the term ἱερεύς again, although he often has�

οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι. The use of this term in Jn. is remarkable. Except in the phrase, “the King of the Jews,” the Synoptists only use the word Ἰουδαῖος five times (Matthew 28:15, Mark 1:5, Mark 7:3, Luke 7:3, Luke 23:51), while it occurs more than 70 times in Jn. When Jn. refers to the social or religious customs of “the Jews” (e.g. 2:6, 13, 4:9, 5:1, 6:4, 7:2, 11:55, 19:40, 42), he does not exclude Galilæans, who were at one in religion and habits of life with the inhabitants of Judæa. But he generally means by “the Jews,” the people of Judæa and particularly of Jerusalem, the scene of so large a part of his narrative. The Fourth Gospel is pre-eminently the story of the rejection of Jesus by these “Jews,” who were deeply imbued with national sentiment, intensely conservative in religious matters, bigoted and intolerant in their pride of race (cf. 5:10). Their popular leaders were the Pharisees, and we find from v. 24 that the commission of inquiry about John the Baptist’s doings had been sent by them. In v. 19 οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι are not to be distinguished from οἱ Φαρισαῖοι of v. 24. It is the “Jews” and the “Pharisees” who are represented throughout the Fourth Gospel as especially the opponents of Jesus and His claims.


In one passage (6:41, 52), indeed, objectors who appear from the context to have been Galilæans are explicitly called “the Jews,” perhaps because they represented the Jewish party of hostility; but see note in loc. In the present verse, there is no doubt that οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι are the leaders of religious thought in Jerusalem.

ἐξ Ἱεροσολύμων. The Hebrew ירושׁלם is transliterated Ἱερουσαλήμ in the LXX, whence we have “Jerusalem.” This primitive form of the name is not found in Mt. (except 23:37), Mk., or Jn., while it is nearly always used by Lk., and always in the Apocalypse (3:12, 21:2, 10, of the New Jerusalem).

The Hellenised form Ἱεροσόλυμα came into vogue about 100 b.c., and is the form usually employed in the Books of the Maccabees (cf. 2 Macc. 3:9) and in Josephus. It is generally treated as a neuter plural, but in Matthew 2:3 and Tob. 14:4 it appears as a feminine singular, perhaps being taken to represent “the sacred Solyma.”1 This is the form (Ἱεροσόλυμα, as a neuter plural) which is always used in Jn., as well as in Mt. and Mk. See further on 2:23.


ἵνα ἐρωτήσωσιν αὐτόν, “that they should interrogate him.” They asked him, Σὺ τίς εἶ; “Who are you?” not meaning thereby to ask him his name or parentage, for that his father was Zacharias the priest must have been well known to the authorities. But they meant to ask him who he claimed to be, and he understood their meaning, for he disclaimed at once any pretence of being the Christ.2

For the answer given by Jesus to the same question, Σὺ τίς εἶ; see 8:25.

The pronoun σύ is used with extraordinary frequency in Jn., his tendency being to lay stress on personality (cf. Abbott, Diat. 1726, 2402).

20. καὶ ὡμολόγησεν καὶ οὐκ ἠρνήσατο καὶ ὡμολόγησεν, a good example of parataxis, or the habit of using co-ordinate sentences conjoined by καί, which is so marked a feature of Jn.’s style. See above on v. 10.

The alternation of affirmative and negative statements, so as to make explicit what is meant, is also thoroughly Johannine; cf. 1 John 1:5, 1 John 1:2:4, 27. See above on v. 3.


With “confessed and denied not,” cf. Josephus, Antt. VI. vii. 4, Σαοῦλος δὲ�

Jn. has ὁμολογεῖν again 9:22, 12:42, 1 John 1:9, 1 John 1:2:23, 1 John 1:4:2, 15.

John the Baptist is bold and direct in his reply to them, saying ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμὶ ὁ χριστός, ἐγώ being emphatic, “I am not the Christ,” the form of his answer suggesting that they might have to reckon with the Christ, nevertheless. Lk. (3:15) tells in like manner of John’s disclaimer, which is mentioned again 3:28 below (cf. also Acts 13:25).


ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμί. So אABC*LW 33; rec. has οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐγώ (C3Θ). In c. 1, the Baptist’s use of ἐγώ is a feature of the narrative (vv. 23, 26, 27, 30, 31, 33), his distinctive ministry being thus brought into clear view.

Jn. dwells with special emphasis on the acceptance by John the Baptist of a ministry quite subordinate to that of Jesus (cf. 3:28-30, 5:33f., 10:41). Disciples of the Baptist had been found by Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7); and there is some evidence that by the end of the first century a Baptist community was prominent there, whose members offered allegiance to their founder rather than to Christ. As late as the middle of the third century, the Clementine Recognitions mention such a sect explicitly: “ex discipulis Johannis qui … magistrum suum ueluti Christum praedicarunt” (i. § 54 and § 60).1 The necessity of refuting such claims made for the Baptist in Ephesus and its neighbourhood sufficiently explains the importance which the Fourth Gospel attaches to John the Baptist’s confession, “I am not the Christ.”

21. καὶ ἠρώτησαν αὐτόν, Τί οὖν; The argumentative τί οὖν; quid ergo? appears in Romans 6:15, Romans 11:7.


The variants are puzzling. B has σὺ οὖν τί; which can hardly be right; אL om. σύ; C* 33 insert σύ before Ἠλείας; while AC3ΓΔΘ with the Latin vss. have Ἠλείας εἶ σύ. Perhaps σύ has been interpolated from the next clause; it is not necessary for the sense. We omit it, with Tischendorf, accordingly.

Ἠλείας εἶ; There was a general belief that Elijah would return to earth to prepare the way of the Messiah. This was founded on Malachi 4:5. In Mark 9:11 it is mentioned, as commonly recognised, that “Elijah must first come” (cf. Mark 6:15, Mark 8:28 and parallels). His mission was to be the establishment of order (Mark 9:12), as is also explained in the Mishna.1 Justin quotes (Tryph. 8) Jewish doctrine to the effect that Messiah was to be hidden until pointed out and anointed by Elijah.

In a sense, John the Baptist was the Elijah of Jewish expectation, and so Jesus declared (Matthew 11:14; cf. Luke 1:17), but in the sense in which the Jewish emissaries put the question, “Art thou Elijah?” the true answer was No; for, while the Baptist fulfilled the preliminary ministry of which Malachi had spoken, he was not Elijah returned to earth in bodily form.2

ὁ προφήτης εἶ σύ; This was another alternative. The Jews held that not only Elijah, but others of the great prophets, would return before Messiah’s appearance. Cf. 2 Ezra 2:17, “For thy help will I send my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah,” a passage which may be pre-Christian. One of the rumours about Jesus during His Galilæan ministry was that He was “Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:14; cf. Mark 8:28). See 9:17 below. But more specific than this expectation of the return of one of the older prophets was the expectation of one who was pre-eminently “the prophet,” whose coming was looked for on the ground of Deuteronomy 18:15. This idea is not in the Synoptists, but appears three times in Jn. (1:21, 6:14, 7:40). Christian exegesis from the beginning (Acts 3:22, Acts 7:37) found the fulfilment of Deuteronomy 18:15 in the Christ; but pre-Christian, i.e. Jewish, comment distinguished “the prophet like unto Moses” from the Messiah, as is clear from the present passage and from 7:40; see on 6:31. To the question, “Art thou the prophet?” the only answer was No, for the Jews were mistaken in distinguishing ὁ προφήτης ὁ ἐρχόμενος from the Christ, whose herald John was.


22. εἶπαν οὖν κτλ., “And so they said to him, Who are you?” οὖν is a favourite connecting particle in the Fourth Gospel, seldom expressing logical sequence, but generally historical transition only (as in Homer). It occurs 195 times, and is used as εὐθύς is used in Mar_1 In a few passages Jn. places it in the mouth of Jesus, indicating logical consequence, e.g. 6:62, 12:50, 13:14, 16:22. It does not occur in 1 Jn. at all.


ἳνα�

23. ἔφη, Ἐγὼ φωνὴ κτλ. The Synoptists (Mark 1:3, Matthew 3:3, Luke 3:4) apply the words of Isaiah 40:3 to the Baptist and his mission; but Jn. represents him as applying the text to himself2 when answering the interrogation of the Jews. The source of the citation, viz. the prophecy of Isaiah, is explicitly given in all four Gospels.

The Synoptists quote from the LXX, but Jn. seems to reproduce a citation made memoriter from the Hebrew. Instead of ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου, he has εὐθύνατε, from the second clause of Isaiah 40:3, where the LXX has εὐθείας ποιεῖτε.3


Theologians, both Eastern and Western, have noted the contrast between φωνή and λόγος. John “was the Voice, but not the Word” (Ephraim, Epiphany Hymns, i. 9). So also Augustine (serm. 293, 3): “Johannes uox ad tempus, Christus uerbum in principio aeternum.” Cf. Origen, Comm. (ed. Brooke, ii. 233).

24. The rec. text (so NWΘ) inserts οἱ before�

The baptism of proselytes from heathenism was a recognised, if not a universal, practice in Jewry at this time. But why should Jews be baptized? And what authority had John to exercise this ministry? Baptism, that is a symbolic rite of purification, would indeed be a token of the approach of the Messianic kingdom; “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean” (Ezekiel 36:25) were prophetic words (cf. Zechariah 13:1). But John had admitted that he was not Messiah; he was not even Elijah or “the prophet” (v. 21). His claim to be the Voice in the wilderness of Isaiah 40:3 did not satisfy the Pharisees as to his authority for exercising so novel and irregular a ministry as that of baptizing Jews seemed to be.


26. The attitude of the Baptist to Jesus is explained more clearly in vv. 25-34 than it is in the Synoptists, whose source of knowledge about him was tradition and not personal acquaintance. This is what we should expect if the ultimate author of the Fourth Gospel were John the son of Zebedee, for he seems to have been one of the Baptist’s disciples (see on v. 35). Jn. does not narrate the Baptism of Jesus directly, but what he tells is consistent with the Marcan story.

We have, first, the Proclamation of the Coming One (Mark 1:7, Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16), to which reference is made several times in this chapter. But when the proclamation was first made, the Baptist did not know (except in Mt.’s account; see on v. 31) that Jesus was the Predestined One for whose Advent he looked. Both in the Synoptists and in Jn. is the contrast drawn out between baptism ἐν ὕδατι (which was all that John offered) and baptism ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ (which was to be the work of the Christ). When Jesus presented Himself for baptism, the Baptist noticed a dove alighting on His head (v. 32); and as he looked he became conscious that this was the sign of the Spirit, and that Jesus was the expected One who should baptize ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ. All this is now to be set out in detail.


ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰωάνης λέγων. In Jn. we nearly always have the constr.�

The Baptist had been asked, “Why do you baptize?” What authority have you? (v. 25). He gives no direct answer; but before he speaks of Him whose herald he was, he admits that he did baptize, but only “with water.” ἐγὼ βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι. ἐγώ is emphatic: “Yes, I baptize, I administer a symbolic rite of purification, of cleansing with water.” The words are in all the Synoptic accounts of the Proclamation, where the contrast with the baptism with the Holy Spirit (v. 33) immediately follows (Mark 1:8 and parallels). Here, at v. 26, ἐγὼ βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι is only a reiteration of the claim for himself which he was accustomed to make as he predicted the Coming of a Greater One (see on v. 33).


μέσος ὑμῦν. The rec. text (so NΘ) inserts δέ after μέσος, but om. אBC*LTb. It is not required by the sense. A new sentence begins with μέσος, in Johannine style without any connecting particle. We should have expected ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν, but Jn. never uses this constr.; cf. 19:18 μέσον δὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦν, and see on [8]:3, 9.

στήκει is read by BLTb, and א has ἐστήκει: the rec. with ACΔWNΘ gives the more usual ἕστηκεν. But στήκει, “standeth up” or “standeth fast,” is more dramatic, and well attested.

μέσος ὑμῶν στήκει. Apparently Jesus was actually present on this occasion, which is subsequent to His Baptism, as appears from the fact that the Baptist now knows Him for what He is, although the questioners did not: ὃν ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε, ὑμεῖς being emphatic. Perhaps the Baptist’s statement that the Coming One was even in their midst was treated as of no serious importance; there is no record, at any rate, of his being further questioned as to what he meant, or to which person of the company his words were applicable.

οἴδατε. εἰδέναι is a favourite verb with Jn., occurring three times as often in the Fourth Gospel as in the Synoptists. It is not easy to distinguish it in meaning from γινώσκειν (see on 1:48), although Westcott (on John 2:24) has made a subtle analysis of the two verbs. Probably we might say that γινώσκειν generally stands for relative, acquired knowledge, gradually perfected, while εἰδέναι indicates a complete and absolute knowledge of the object. The latter would be the natural verb to express Divine knowledge (but cf. 17:25), although it would include also human certainty (see 2:9). But it is doubtful if the two verbs can be differentiated with any precision.1 Both are frequently used in the LXX to render יָדַע; and the following list of passages shows that they are often used in Jn. without any perceptible difference of meaning.

Both verbs are used of Christ’s knowledge of the Father; γινώσκω at 10:15, 17:25, οἶδα at 7:29, 8:55. Both are used of the world’s knowledge (or ignorance) of God, or of that possessed by the Jews: γινώσκω at 1:l0, 17:23, 25, 8:55, 16:3, 1 John 3:1, 1 John 3:6; οἶδα at 7:28, 8:19, 15:21. Both are used of man’s knowledge of God and Christ: γινώσκω at 14:7, 9, 17:3, 1 John 2:4, 1 John 2:13, 1 John 2:14, 1 John 2:4:6, 1 John 2:7, 1 John 2:8, 1 John 2:5:20, and οἶδα at 1:31, 33, 4:22, 14:7. Both are used of Christ’s knowledge of men or of ordinary facts, e.g. γινώσκω at 2:25, 5:6, 42, 6:15, 10:14, 27, and οἶδα at 6:64, 8:37, 13:3. The word used for the Father’s knowledge of the Son is γινώσκω (10:15), and not οἶδα as we should have expected. With this array of passages before us, we shall be slow to accept conclusions which are based on any strict distinction in usage between the two verbs.


27. ὁ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος κτλ. This clause (see v. 15) is in apposition to μέσος ὑμῶν στήκει κτλ. of the previous verse. Through misunderstanding of this, variants have arisen. The rec. with AC3ΓΔ prefixes αὐτός ἐστιν (as if v. 27 began a new sentence), and adds (with Θ) ὃς ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονει (from v. 15); but neither of these insertions is found in אBC*LNTbW. א*B also omit ὁ before ὀπίσω, but ins. ACא3NWΘ; the omission of the article is awkward, and is explicable from itacism, ὁ … ὀπ.

For the Synoptic forms of the Baptist’s proclamation, see Introd., p. c. Mt.’s alteration of “loosen the thong of His sandals” to “carry His sandals” (βαστάσαι for λύσαι) may point back to the form in Q. Either duty was that of a slave; and Wetstein (Matthew 3:11) cites a Rabbinical maxim (Cetuboth, f. 90. 1) to the effect that a disciple might offer any service to his teacher which a slave did for his master, except that of unfastening his shoes, which was counted as a menial’s duty.

ἄξιος does not occur elsewhere in Jn. (cf. Luke 15:19), and the constr. ἄξιος ἵνα … is not found elsewhere in the N.T. Jn. never uses ἱκανός (οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς ἵνα .. is found again Matthew 8:8, Luke 7:6). Perhaps ἄξιος is the more appropriate adj. here (cf. Acts 13:25, where it is found in the citation of the Baptist’s proclamation, instead of the Synoptic ἱκανός); but cf. 2 Corinthians 2:16 πρὸς ταῦτα τίς ἱκανός;


28. The situation of the place is uncertain, and the variety of reading perplexes the topographical problem still more.

Βηθανίᾳ is read by א*ABC*WNΘ and must be accepted, although a “Bethany beyond Jordan” is not mentioned elsewhere. The rec. reading Βηθαβαρᾷ was adopted by Origen on geographical grounds (Comm. vi. 40). The Sinai Syriac has Beth Abré, which Burkitt thinks must rest on local tradition similar to that followed by Origen.

Conder identified Bethabara with the ford called ’Abârah, N.E. of Bethshean.1 Jordan had many fords and ferries, and the name Bethabara would suit any place near a ford, its root being עבר “to cross”; but it is in favour of Conder’s identification that the name is not found elsewhere (cf. Beth-barah, Judges 7:24). ’Abârah is barely 20 miles from Cana as the crow flies, but would be about 40 miles by road, so that it would be a possible site, if we take into account the time spent on the journey (2:1). It is, however, too far from Jerusalem to suit the Synoptic narrative (Mark 1:5, Matthew 3:5), and the traditional site is much farther south, near Jericho.2

Beth-Nimrah, on the E. side of Jordan, N.E. of Jericho, will meet all the conditions of the problem. In Joshua 13:27 (B) Beth-Nimrah becomes Βαιθαναβρά, and this form might be corrupted either into Bethany or Bethabara. We incline to accept this identification, which, made at the first by Sir George Grove, was accepted by Sir Charles Wilson,3 and favoured by Cheyne.

ὅπου ἧν Ἰωάνης βαπτίζων. This coupling of a participle with the verb εἶναι, where we should expect an imperfect (ἐβάπτιζε) denoting continued action, is common in Jn. We have the phrase ἦν Ἰωάνης βαπτίζων repeated 3:23, 10:40; cf. also 5:5, 11:1, 13:23. It is also found in the Synoptists (e.g. Luke 5:16, Matthew 19:22). This may be an Aramaic constr., but it is also found in classical Greek.


Abbott notes (Diat. 2171) that ὅπου after the name of a place (a constr. which appears again 12:1, 19:18, and in Mk., Mt. occasionally) is not in accordance with classical usage. Milligan cites from a second-century papyrus, εἰς Λιβύην ὅπου Ἄμμων … χρησμῳδεῖ, an excellent parallel.

The Baptist’s Designation of Jesus as the Christ (Vv. 29-34)

29. τῇ ἐπαύριον. We now come to the second day of this spiritual diary (see on v. 19). One of the characteristics of the Fourth Gospel is the precision with which the author gives dates (see Introd., p. cii).

βηέπει τὸν Ἰησοῦν. The name Ἰησοῦς generally takes the article in Jn. (as in the Synoptists), except where an appositional phrase with the article is introduced, or in a quotation (4:1, 47, 6:24), or in the phrase�

The word�1 Peter 1:19, and Acts 8:32 (a quotation from Isaiah 53:7), in each instance being applied to Christ, and with a sacrificial connotation. On the other hand, the diminutive�Psalms 114:4, Psalms 114:6, Jeremiah 11:19, Jeremiah 50:45, but not as often as�


ὁ�

(a) In Jeremiah 11:19 we have: “I was as a gentle lamb �Isaiah 53:7) conveys the same idea. The two passages are brought together by Origen,1 and the point of the comparison need not be missed. But the thought of the gentleness of a lamb is insufficient to explain the “Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.”

(b) In 1 Peter 1:19 the Redemption of Christ is likened to that wrought on a lower plane by the sacrifice of a lamb without blemish. The deliverance from Egypt is the type of deliverance from the bondage of sin, and so the blood of the Paschal lamb was typical of the blood of Christ. At the institution of the Passover, indeed, the blood of the Paschal lamb was not primarily piacular or redemptive; it was sprinkled on the doorposts, that the destroying angel might “pass over” the house (Exodus 12:13). Nevertheless, the conception of its redemptive efficacy prevailed in later Jewish thought; and Hort quotes (on 1 Peter 1:19) an apposite Midrash on Exodus 12:22: “With two bloods were the Israelites delivered from Egypt, the blood of the Paschal lamb and the blood of circumcision.” The reference in 1 Peter 1:19, then, relates to the Paschal lamb rather than to the lamb of Isaiah 53:7.

In the Apocalypse, the application of�Revelation 5:6, Revelation 5:9, Revelation 5:7:14), whose death is an expiatory sacrifice, efficacious for all mankind. And the association in Revelation 15:3 of the “Song of Moses” with the “Song of the Lamb” suggests that, as in 1 Peter 1:19, the slain Lamb of the Apocalypse is compared with the Paschal lamb, rather than with the lamb of the daily sacrifice.

The comparison of Christ with the Paschal lamb appears also in a document earlier than either 1 Peter or the Apocalypse, viz. 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us.” And, inasmuch as this thought is conspicuously present in the Johannine narrative of the Passion (see on 19:36), it would be legitimate to interpret “the Lamb of God” in the present passage in the same way, and to find here the thought that “the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world,” is the true Paschal Lamb, of whom the Passover victims of the past had been a type.

(c) It seems, however, that in the Johannine use of the title, “the Lamb of God,” there is a reference to Isaiah 53:6, Isaiah 53:7: “Yahweh hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all … as a lamb that is led to the slaughter … He opened not His mouth.”2 The passage is directly applied to Christ in Acts 8:32, and other phrases from the same prophecy are treated as having a Messianic reference in Matthew 8:17, 1 Peter 2:22f., Hebrews 9:28. It is certain that, soon after the Passion, Christian believers found in Isa. 53 a forecast of the sufferings and the redemption of Jesus Christ. And the author of the Fourth Gospel, writing at the end of the first century, could not have been unaware of this Christian interpretation of Hebrew prophecy,3 which would be quite sufficient to explain the majestic title, “The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” Indeed, Jn. treats Isa_53 as a Messianic chapter at 12:38; see on 19:30.


Such considerations help us to understand Jn.’s use of the title. But it is the Baptist’s use of the title that presents difficulty. That he had been led to identify Jesus with Messiah who was to come, whether by private converse with Him before His baptism, or by the sign at the baptism which he believed himself to have received (v. 33), is in accordance with all the evidence that is available.1 But that John the, Baptist should have spoken of the Christ as “the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world,” and have done so, not only before His Passion, but before His public ministry had begun, requires explanation.

The idea of a Suffering Messiah was not prevalent among the Jews of the first century2 (see on 12:34). The apostles never reconciled themselves to the idea that Jesus was to die by violence (Mark 9:32 and passim; cf. Luke 24:21). Yet here we find the Baptist represented as foreseeing from the beginning that the climax of the ministry of Jesus would be death, and as announcing this publicly by acclaiming Him as the true Lamb of sacrifice, foreordained of God. It has been urged, in explanation, that the Baptist was the son of a priest, familiar with sacrificial ideas all his life. He certainly thought of himself as the Forerunner of the Christ, and Jn. represents him as believing that he was the herald of Isaiah 40:3 (see on v. 23). He was, therefore, a student of the Isaianic prophecies which tell of the ideal Servant of Yahweh, the chosen One in whom Yahweh delights (Isaiah 42:1). Later he was reassured, when in perplexity, by learning that the mighty works of Jesus were such as had been predicted of this Servant of Yahweh (Matthew 11:5, Luke 7:22; cf. Isaiah 35:5, Isaiah 35:6, Isaiah 42:7, Isaiah 61:1). And so what more natural than that he should apply to Jesus the most striking of all the prophecies about Yahweh’s Servant, viz. Isa_53? If he identified in his thoughts this great prophetic ideal with the person of Jesus, it would be explicable that he should call Jesus “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”


Dr. C. J. Ball3 held that the title “Lamb of God” has an even closer connexion with Isa_53 than is indicated by the word�Isaiah 53:6. The Hebrew word טָלֶה “lamb” came in its Aramaic form טַלְיָא to mean “child,” “boy,” “servant”; and he suggested that what the Baptist really said in Aramaic was, “Behold the Servant of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” the Greek rendering in John 1:29 being an excusable mistranslation. Ball urged further that ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ in v. 34 is a more correct rendering of the same Aramaic phrase, in both cases the explicit reference being to the παῖς of Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 52:13, Acts 3:13, Acts 4:27.


The main difficulty in the way of all such explanations is that there is no good evidence that the Messianic application of Isa_53 was current among the Jews in pre-Christian times. As has been said above, it became current among Christians immediately after the Passion of Christ; but it does not appear that either the Jews or the early disciples during the earthly ministry of Jesus conceived of Isa_53 as foretelling a suffering Christ.1 It is, therefore, hard to believe that John the Baptist, alone among the witnesses of the ministry of Jesus, and before that ministry had begun, should have associated Him with the central figure of Isa_53; and that he should have so markedly anticipated the conclusions reached by those who, after the Passion, looking back upon the life and death of Jesus, found them to fulfil the predictions of the Hebrew prophet.


To sum up. John Baptist believed Jesus to be the Christ of Jewish expectation, and announced Him as such, probably in the hearing of John, the son of Zebedee. Looking back, the aged apostle in after years realised how momentous an announcement this was, even more momentous than the Baptist had understood. And when dictating his recollections of an incident on which he had pondered long and deeply, it is intelligible that he should state the Baptist’s cry, “Behold the Christ,” in terms which unfolded all that Jesus had come to mean for himself. Jesus was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the world’s sin.” We do not suppose that the speeches in the Fourth Gospel were all spoken exactly as they are set down, although they may have been in some instances. But here, whether we attribute the form of the Baptist’s announcement to John the son of Zebedee, or to the scribe and editor of the Gospel who put in order the old man’s reminiscences, we must recognise the probability that the Baptist’s actual words were simpler, and a less perfect expression of the Gospel of Redemption. Cf. Introd., p. cii.

ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου. In 1 John 3:5 we have ἐκεῖνος ἐφανερώθη ἵνα τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἄρῃ. Here the “taking away” is in the present tense, the futurum instans (like μαρτυρεῖ in v. 15). ὁ αἴρων is He who takes away and is always taking away the world’s sin, a profound Christian conception, formulated first in this verse, and reproduced with fidelity in the liturgical “Lamb of God, which takest away (not which took away once for all at Calvary, although that also is true) the sins of the world.” For the Atonement is not only an event in time, but an eternal process.

The sin of the world—not sins in the plural, as at 1 John 3:5 —is here contemplated. Western liturgies have followed 1 John 3:5 rather than John 1:29 in pleading “Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.” But the sin of the world is a deeper stain than the sins of individual men and women; and the Fourth Evangelist, who views the mission of Jesus sub specie æternitatis, sees that it is the sin of the κόσμος (cf. v. 9), the lawlessness and rebellion of all created being, that is the subject of redemption. This includes, indeed, the sins of all men, but it is the sin of the κόσμος, which knew not Jesus (v. 10), that is in view in this tremendous phrase.

αἴρειν is used of taking away sin at 1 Samuel 15:25, 1 Samuel 25:28, as at 1 John 3:5; at Isaiah 53:4 we have οὗτος τὰς ἁμαρτίας φέρει, the image being of the bearing of another’s sin.


30. This verse is almost verbally identical with v. 15, and illustrates well Jn.’s habit of repeating a phrase which he regards as specially significant after a short interval, in a slightly different form (see on 3:16).

οὗτός ἐστιν κτλ. “This One,” pointing to Jesus, is He of whom I spake. The reference is not merely to vv. 26, 27, but to Jn.’s proclamation of the Coming of Jesus, before He began His ministry, which is common to the Synoptists and Jn. (see on v. 15, and Introd., p. c).

The rec. text has οὗτός ἐστι περὶ οὗ ἐγὼ εἶπον, with אcAC3LNΔΘ; but א*BC*W give ὑπὲρ οὗ, “in whose behalf,” the Baptist always regarding himself as the herald of Jesus. Blass points out that λέγειν ὑπέρ = λέγειν περί, “to speak about,” is common in classical Greek, and that ὑπέρ for περί is found in Paul (e.g. 2 Corinthians 8:23). But in Jn. (with whom it is a favourite preposition) ὑπέρ always means “in behalf of.” Cf. 6:51, 10:11, 15, 11:4, 50, 51, 52, 13:37, 38, 15:13, 17:19, 18:14, 1 John 3:16. See on 1:15 for ὃν εἶπον, which seems to be the true text in that place.

ἀνήρ is applied, as here, to Jesus, Acts 2:22, Acts 2:17:31; see on 1:13 above for its Johannine usage.

31. κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν, repeated v. 33, “even I did not know Him” (cf. v. 26), sc. as the Messiah. That John the Baptist knew Jesus in their early years is hardly doubtful, but the statement here made is that he did not recognise Him for what He was before His Baptism. The account in Matthew 3:14f. is different, and represents John as unwilling to baptize Jesus because he was aware of His Messiahship. Jn’s narrative, here as at other points (see v. 32), is more primitive than the Matthæan tradition.


ἵνα φανερωθῇ τῷ Ἰσραήλ. John knew that his ministry was one of preparation only; its ultimate purpose was that in its exercise the Expected One should be made manifest.

φανεροῦν, “to reveal,” is a late Greek word, occurring in LXX only at Jeremiah 33:6. In the Synoptic Gospels it appears once only (Mark 4:22), but is used in the Marcan Appendix (16:12, 14) of the “manifestation” of the Person of Jesus, as in Jn. (7:4, 21:1, 14; cf. 1 John 1:2). The verb always indicates emergence from mysterious obscurity, and a sudden breaking forth into clear light. Cf. 2:11 where it is used of the manifestation of the glory of Jesus; and 3:21 of the manifestation in Him of the works of God. At 1 Timothy 3:16 it suggests Divine pre-existence, and of this there may be a hint here (cf. v. 15), as there certainly is in 1 John 3:5, ἐκεῖνος ἐφανερώθη ἵνα τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἄρῃ.


τῷ Ἰσραήλ. The “manifestation” for which the Baptist looked was only to Israel. The exhortation of the brethren of Jesus was, indeed, φανέρωσον σεαυτὸν τῷ κόσμῳ (7:4), but even there no more is suggested than a public manifestation to the Jews. Jn. is fond of the term κόσμος (see on v. 9), and the thought that Jesus manifested Himself to the whole order of created life is deep-rooted in his thought; but he does not suggest that the Baptist had any such wide vision.

ἦλθον ἐγὼ ἐν ὕδατι βαπτίζων. This was the most conspicuous feature of his ministry; cf. v. 26, and see further on v. 33.

32. John now explains how and when it was that he came to recognise Jesus as the Christ.

ἐμαρτύρησεν. This testimony, as the aorist denotes, was delivered at a definite moment; cf. contra μαρτυρεῖ in v. 15. The testimony is to the effect that John saw a dove or pigeon alight on Jesus at His baptism. There is no hint that we are to think of a spiritual vision; the verb θεᾶσθαι (see on 1:14) is always used in the N.T. of seeing with the bodily eyes. The incident is related differently by Mk. (1:10), who implies (as does Matthew 3:16) that Jesus Himself saw the Spirit descending like a dove. Luke 3:22 does not say who saw it, but all agree that a dove was seen, the words of Lk., σωματικῷ εἴδει, laying emphasis on the objective and physical nature of the incident. All the evangelists, that is, agree in recording that a dove alighted upon Jesus when presenting Himself for baptism.


The dove was regarded in Palestine as a sacred bird. Xenophon (Anab. i. iv. 9) reports that it was not lawful in Syria to hunt doves; and this is suggested by Tibullus (i. 7. 17):

Quid referam ut uolitet crebras intacta per urbes

Alta Palaestino sancta columba Syro.

So Lucian explains that to the Syrians a dove is tabu, and that any one unwittingly touching a dove is counted unclean (de Dea Syria, 54; cf. 14). Philemon 1:1 comments on the great number of doves at Ascalon, and upon their tameness, due to the circumstance that from ancient times the people were not allowed to eat them, so that they were never caught (ap. Euseb. Praep. Evangel. viii. 14, 64).2

Furthermore, the dove was regarded among the Semites as a symbol of the Spirit. Of φωνὴ τῆς τρυγόνος, “the voice of the turtle” (Song of Solomon 2:12), there is a Chaldee interpretation, reported by Wetstein, “the Voice of the Spirit.” And by the Jewish doctors the Spirit hovering over the primeval waters (Genesis 1:2) was compared to a dove: “Spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas, sicut columba, quae fertur super pullos suos nec tangit illos.”3


Hence we can understand why a dove alighting upon Jesus should have been regarded as symbolic of a descent of the Divine Spirit.4 The words ascribed to the Baptist are explicit. He saw the dove, and forthwith recognised it as the sign which he had been expecting (v. 33).

For the expression καταβαίνειν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ see on 3:13.

Some other divergences from the Synoptic accounts of the Baptism should be observed. Jn. says nothing of the heavens being opened (Mark 1:10 and parallels), or of the Voice from heaven (see on 12:28 below); and having regard to his knowledge of Mk.,5 with whose account of the Baptist he has so much in common (see on v. 6), it would seem that these omissions are deliberate. Here, as in v. 31, the Johannine narrative appears to be more primitive than that of the Synoptists.

καὶ ἔμεινεν ἐπʼ αὐτόν (cf. for the constr. 3:36). This is, on the other hand, a detail not found in the Synoptic narratives, perhaps added here with a reminiscence of Isaiah 11:2, where it is said of the Messianic King,�Isaiah 11:2) quotes the following from the Gospel of the Hebrews: “When the Lord was come up out of the water, the whole fount of the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon Him, and said to Him: My Son, in all the prophets was I waiting for thee that thou shouldest come, and I might rest in thee. For thou art my rest, thou art my first-begotten Son that reigneth for ever.” This is a doctrinal combination of the Synoptic and Johannine narratives, probably intended to teach the permanence of the spiritual gift here vouchsafed through Christ to mankind.2


The form in which the Dove and the Voice from heaven at the Baptism of Jesus are mentioned in the Odes of Son_3 is curious. Ode xxiv. begins: “The Dove fluttered over the Christ, because He was her head, and she sang over Him and her voice was heard,” sc. in the Underworld. The singing or cooing of the dove is as it were a Heavenly Voice; and “fluttering” recalls the verb used by Justin, ὡς περιστερὰν τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα ἐπιπτῆναι ἐπʼ αὐτόν (Dial. 88). The verb ἐπιπτῆναι is also found, in reference to the Baptism of Christ, in the Sibylline Oracles (vii. 67) and in Origen (c. Cels. i. 40, 41), and its rendering volare or devolare in Tertullian (adv. Val. 27) and in Hilary (in Psalms 54:7), showing that it had a place in some extra canonical record. This idea of the dove “fluttering” is, as we have seen, associated in Hebrew thought with the idea of the Spirit “brooding” over the waters; cf. Genesis 1:2, Deuteronomy 32:11.


33. κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν, repeated from v. 31. John the Baptist repeats, as an essential part of his witness, that he did not recognise Jesus for what He was until the dove lit upon Him; and he recognised Him then only because he had been divinely warned that there would be a sign. The Baptist is not represented as saying that he knew that the sign would be forthcoming in the case of a candidate for baptism.

ὁ πέμψας με. Cf. v. 6. John’s mission to baptize was from God.

ἐκεῖνός (explicit and emphatic, see on v. 8) μοι εἶπεν κτλ. The Hebrew prophets had claimed that “the word of Yahweh” came to them, and John, the last of them, makes the same claim. “God said to me”; of that he was assured.

ἐφʼ ὃν ἂν ἴδῃς τὸ πνεῦμα καταβ. κτλ. Upon whomsoever the Spirit descended and abode, He would be the minister of a greater baptism than that of John. John had doubtless (although this is not recorded) had many opportunities of observing the intense spirituality of the early life of Jesus, and his intercourse with Jesus previous to His baptism (according to Matthew 3:14) had led John to see something of His unique personality. But, as the story is told, the Baptist was not finally assured of the Messiahship of Jesus until the dove rested upon Him. He had not been told that the descent of the Spirit would thus be indicated; but the sign was sufficient, and he accepted it joyfully.


οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ. For οὗτος, cf. 1:2, and note that βαπτίζων is a prophetic present (cf. αἴρων in v. 29). The Spirit descended on Jesus, so that He might baptize men therewith, and that the Spirit might rest on them as it rested on Him, although not in the same plenitude (cf. 3:34).

ἐν ὕδατι … ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ. Baptism as administered by John was, according to the Synoptists, symbolical of purification of the soul. It was, according to Mark 1:4, βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν. There may be a hint at 3:25 of some association of John’s ministry with the idea of purification, but there is no suggestion anywhere in the Fourth Gospel that his baptism was one “of repentance with a view to the remission of sins.” It has been pointed out1 that the language of Josephus (Antt. xviii. 5. 2) about John’s ministry of baptism suggests that it was not addressed so much to penitents as to those who were dedicating themselves very specially to an ascetic life of virtue. That it was symbolical, at any rate, of dedication, as well as of purification, is plain from the circumstance that Jesus submitted, at the beginning of His ministry, to be baptized by John.

In all the Gospels the primary contrast between the ministry of John and the ministry of Jesus is that the first was ἐν ὕδατι, the second ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ. Jn. makes the Baptist insist three times (vv. 26, 31, 33) that his baptism was only ἐν ὕδατι—that is, it was only the symbol of a baptism ἐν πνεύματι which he could not minister. In the prophets water is used several times as an image of the Spirit (cf. Isaiah 44:3, Ezekiel 36:25, and note the verb in Joel 2:28, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh”). Jn. is fond of this image (cf. 4:14, 7:38); and the contrast of “water” and “spirit” in the Baptist’s references to his ministry of baptism is intended to convey that it was only preparatory to, and symbolical of, a greater ministry that was at hand.

Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16 (but not Mark 1:8 or Acts 1:5) speak of the ministry of Jesus as a baptizing “with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” But Jn. says nothing about a baptism with fire. Fire is the symbol of judgment, and Jesus “came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (12:47; cf. 9:39), in the Johannine presentation of His teaching.


34. κἀγὼ ἑώρακα, καὶ μεμαρτύρηκα. John’s testimony was that of an eye-witness. He had seen the sign of the dove, and he bears witness accordingly, the perfect μεμαρτύρηκα indicating that his testimony was continuous up to the time of speaking, that Jesus was the Son of God.

In Jn., ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ is a recognised title of Messiah, Nathanael (1:49) and Martha (11:27) employing it as the Baptist does here. With this the Synoptists agree (Mark 3:11, Matthew 14:33, Matthew 26:63, Matthew 27:40, Luke 22:70); the title had a definite meaning to Jewish ears, and was applied in the sense of “Messiah.”1 In this sense it had its roots in the O.T.; cf., e.g., Psalms 2:7, where the theocratic king is Yahweh’s Son, and Psalms 89:27. The evidence for its use in Apocalyptic literature is scant, only one instance being found in Enoch (105:2) of Messiah being called “my Son”; cf. 2 Esd. 7:28, 13:32, 37, 52, 14:9.


Jn is the only evangelist who represents Jesus as using this title of Himself (5:25, 10:36, 11:4, where see notes). In these passages, if they stood alone, no higher meaning than “Messiah” need be ascribed to it; but when they are taken in connexion with the peculiar claims of sonship made by Jesus, in the Synoptists as well as in Jn. (see on 3:17), the phrase “the Son of God” seems intended by Jn. to have a deeper significance (cf. 3:18, 5:25, 19:7, 20:31).

For ὁ υἱὸς here there is a Western reading, ὁ ἐκλεκτός (א* e Syr. cur., probably supported by Pap. Oxy. 208). Cf. Matthew 27:40 with Luke 23:35.


The First Disciples of Jesus (Vv. 35-39)

35. τῇ ἐπαύριον (cf. v. 29). This is the third day of the story (see on 1:19), and the first day of the ministry of Jesus: “primae origines ecclesiae Christianae” (Bengel).

πάλιν is a favourite word with Jn., occurring over 40 times, while it only occurs twice in Lk. (Mk. has it 27 times, and 17 times). Jn. uses it as a sort of resumptive conjunction, where a new section is introduced (e.g. 8:12, 21, 10:7, 19, 21:1, etc.), the idea of repetition not being prominent in such cases.

πάλιν εἱστήκει.1 The next incident is that the Baptist was standing awaiting Jesus, whom he had acclaimed on the previous day. On this occasion he had two of his own disciples with him.

ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ δύο. For the constr. δύο ἐκ τῶν …, see on 1:40. A μαθητής is one who learns from, and associates himself with, a respected teacher. The μαθηταί of John the Baptist are mentioned again 3:25, 4:1 (cf. Mark 2:18, Matthew 11:2, Matthew 14:12, Luke 7:18, Luke 11:1). See on 2:2.

One of these two disciples of the Baptist (cf. 3:25, 4:1) was Andrew (v. 40); the other is not named, and nothing more is said about him. But the Synoptic account of the call of the first disciples of Jesus (Mark 1:19, Matthew 4:18) indicates that the first pair, Andrew and Peter, were quickly followed by the second pair, the sons of Zebedee. These are never mentioned explicitly in Jn., except in 21:1, but it is natural to infer that the unnamed disciple of v. 35 was one of them, viz. either James or John; and it would be in harmony with the reticence in regard to himself displayed throughout by the eye-witness whose reminiscences lie behind the Fourth Gospel, that he should here be referred to, i.e. that the unnamed disciple was John the son of Zebedee (see on vv. 19, 40).2

36. καὶ ἐμβλέψας. The verb (only again in Jn. at v. 42) signifies an intent, earnest gazing; cf. Mark 10:21, Mark 14:67.


Jesus was not coming towards the Baptist (cf. v. 29) on this occasion, but moving away. John again designates him as “the Lamb of God” or the Christ, in the hearing of the two disciples who were in his company.

37. אB place αὐτοῦ after μαθηταί, but αὐτοῦ comes first in C*LTb 33, and even before οἱ δύο in AC3NΓΔΘW.

The two disciples heard John’s words, and heard them with understanding and appreciation, for such (see on 3:8) is the force in Jn. Of�

καὶ ἠκολούθησαν τῷ Ἰησοῦ, “and went after Jesus.” Here was no decision to follow Him throughout His ministry and attach themselves to His Person, for the aorist only indicates their action at one definite moment. Jesus had not “called” them, or invited them to be His companions and disciples (cf. Mark 1:17 and parallels); nor were they constrained to go after Him by anything that they had seen Him do, John’s striking and repeated designation of Him as the Expected One arrested their attention, and His own Personality did the rest.


38. στραφεὶς δέ κτλ. He turned round (cf. 20:14), for He had heard their steps behind Him.

For θεασάμενος, always used of bodily vision, see on v. 14.

He asks, τί ζητεῖτε; “What do you seek? what are you looking for?” Their answer is, “Where are you staying?” for they desired an opportunity of private conversation with Him, They had not yet reached the stage of discipleship; they wished to know a little more about Him.

Abbott (Diat. 2649b) finds an illustration of τί ζητεῖτε; in Philo (quod. det. pot. 8) who, commenting on τί ζητεῖς; of Genesis 37:15, explains it as the utterance of the ἔλεγχος to the wandering soul. Later on (c. 40) the ἔλεγχος is identified with the λόγος. But the parallel is not close enough to prove that Jn. is indebted to Philo for the use of so familiar a phrase as τί ζητεῖτε; Cf. 18:4, 20:15.


The disciples address Jesus as Rabbi, a title which Jn., writing for Greek readers, at once interprets, ὃ λέγεται μεθερμηνευόμενον, Διδάσκαλε. For similar interpretations of Aramaic or Hebrew words, cf. vv. 41, 42, 4:25, 5:2, 9:7, 11:16, 19:13, 17, 20:16.

They may have addressed Jesus thus because they took Him for a Rabbi travelling alone, but more likely they used Rabbi as an ordinary title of respect, It was the title which the Baptist’s disciples were accustomed to use when addressing their master (3:26); and it appears from 13:13 that afterwards the disciples of Jesus habitually addressed Him either as Rabbi (teacher) or as Mari (lord). The distinction is only this, that the antithesis to Rabbi is “scholar,” and to Mar is “servant” or “slave” (cf. 15:15); the terms being often used without any clear sense of a difference between them. Either might be rendered “Sir,” without going wrong. Thus, in the Synoptic narratives of the Transfiguration, where Mk. (9:5) has Rabbi, Lk. (9:33) renders it by ἐπιστάτα, and Mt. (17:4) by κύριε. So in the story about the storm on the lake, where Mk. (4:38) has διδάσκαλε, Lk. (8:24) has ἐπιστάτα, and Mt. (8:25) has κύριε. But while κύριε may thus sometimes represent Rabbi, or be used (as at 12:21, 21:15) merely as the equivalent of the English “Sir,” it generally points to an original מָרִי or Mari.1

The Johannine usage of these terms is interesting. In the early part of the Gospel the disciples are always represented as saying Rabbi, while others,2 such as the woman of Samaria (4:11), the noble man ofCapernaum (4:49), the sick man at Bethesda (5:7), the blind man after his cure (9:36), Mary and Martha of Bethany (11:3, 21, 27, 32, but cf. 11:28 and note there), say κύριε. The multitude who were fed with the five loaves first say Rabbi (6:25); but, after they have heard the discourse about the heavenly bread, say κύριε (6:34). The first occasion on which a disciple is represented as saying κύριε is at the conclusion of this discourse, when Peter says, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” (6:68). We have Ῥαββεί used again by the disciples at 11:8, but κύριε at 11:12; and thenceforward Rabbi disappears from their speech, and they say Lord (13:6, 25, 14:5, 8, 22, 21:15, etc.), the change in address indicating a growing reverence. The title Rabbi was not employed after the Resurrection of Jesus, who was afterwards spoken of as Maran or ὁ κύριος (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:22, and see note on 4:1).


Thus Jn.’s report as to the use of these titles by the disciples is not only consistent, but is probably historical. Nothing of this kind can be traced in the Synoptists, who do not distinguish between διδάσκαλε and κύριε as modes of address, both being in use, as they represent the facts, at all stages of the association of the Twelve with Jesus. Indeed, Lk. (11:1) puts the phrase κύριε δίδαξον ἡμᾶς into the mouth of the disciples. In this regard, a more primitive tradition is preserved in the Fourth Gospel.

The Aramaic Rabbi is not found in Lk., and in Mt. only in the greeting of Judas to his Master (26:25, 49). Mk. has it in the corresponding place (Mark 14:45), and also places it twice in Peter’s mouth (Mark 9:5, Mark 11:21). Rabboni is found in Mark 10:51. With these exceptions, the Synoptists always translate רַבִּי, and do not reproduce the title itself.


Lk. and Jn., both of whom wrote for Greek readers, thus differ markedly as to the title Rabbi, Lk. never mentioning it, while Jn. has it again and again, giving the Greek rendering of it on its first occurrence. Probably the explanation is that behind Jn. we have the report of one who spoke Aramaic, and who was present at many of the scenes which he describes; while Lk. rests on documents and on information gained at second hand. In the reminiscences of his first intercourse with Jesus, as John the son of Zebedee dictated them, he employed the term Rabbi, which he remembers that

he used; and his interpreter, Jn., naturally translated it for the benefit of his Greek readers, but preserved the original word.

39. Ἔρχεσθε καὶ ὄψεσθε. For ὄψεσθε (BC*LTbW and syrr.), the rec. has ἴδετε with אAC3NΔΘ and latt. Lightfoot (Hor. Hebr. in loc.) and Schlatter note that “Come and see” is a common formula of authoritative invitation in Talmudic authors; but parallels are unnecessary to cite for so simple a phrase. Cf. 1:46, 11:34, ἔρχου καὶ ἴδε.

“Come and ye shall see.” This is the method of discovery which Jesus commended to the first inquirers, and it is still the method by which He is revealed. Not by dialectic or argument, although these have their place, is the soul’s quest satisfied. For that there must be the personal following, the “abiding” in His presence. Cf. 8:31, and see on 6:35.

ἦλθαν καὶ εἶδαν ποῦ μένει. Observe the historic present following “they saw” (cf. 21:4).

Accordingly, the two inquirers παρʼ αὐτῷ ἔμειναν τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείην, “abode with Jesus that day,” sc. that eventful day which the narrator recalls (see on 11:49 for a like use of ἐκεῖνος). Perhaps it was the Sabbath day (see on 2:1). The addition “it was about the tenth hour” is, no doubt, a personal reminiscence. That is, it was ten hours after sunrise, or about 4 p.m., when the two disciples reached the place where Jesus was lodging.

The evangelists uniformly follow the practice, common throughout the Roman world, of counting the hours from sunrise. Thus Josephus reports (Vita, 54) that it was a Jewish custom to dine �Matthew 20:5, Matthew 20:6). So, in the present passage, “the tenth hour” was about 4 p.m. There were “twelve hours in the day” (11:9), but as the day was reckoned from sunrise to sunset, the length of an “hour” depended on the time of year. No doubt, the precision of reckoning habitual to people with watches and clocks is not to be looked for among Orientals of the first century; but it is remarkable how prone Jn. is to note the time of day (cf. 4:6, 52, 18:28, 19:14, 20:19), and his exactitude suggests that he is reproducing the report of an observer of the events recorded.1


The Call of Peter (Vv. 40-42)

40. Ἀνδρέας. Jn. alone tells that Andrew was a disciple of the Baptist (v. 35). The Synoptic story of the call of Peter and Andrew (Mark 1:16f. and parls.) may be another version of vv. 40-42, but it probably narrates a more formal call to apostleship which came later (see on v. 37, and Introd., p. xxxv). Andrew is introduced as “Simon Peter’s brother,” being the less famous of the two (cf. also 6:8 and Mark 1:16, Matthew 4:18, Matthew 10:2, Luke 6:14); and, except at 12:22, he is always associated with Peter. Jn. assumes that every one will know who Simon Peter was, a similar assumption being made by Lk., who mentions “the house of Simon” and “Simon’s wife’s mother” (Luke 4:38), before anything is told about Simon himself. See, further, on 6:8 for the prominence of Andrew in the Fourth Gospel.


εἷσἐκ τῶν δύο κτλ. Jn. prefers to write εἷς ἐκ rather than εἷς simpliciter when speaking of one of a number of persons (cf. 6:8, 70, 71, 7:50, 11:49, 12:2, 13:21, 23, 18:26, 20:24). The Synoptists generally omit ἐκ, as Jn. does on occasion (7:19, 12:4).

τῶν�

elsewhere only at 4:25. see on v. 38 for the preservation of such Aramaic forms in Jn., although not in the Synoptists, the Greek interpretation being added. Cf. Psalms 2:2, Daniel 9:25, 28.

According to Jn., the recognition of Jesus as the Christ by Andrew, by Philip (v. 45), and by Nathanael (v. 49) was swift and unhesitating; although it is noteworthy that nothing of this kind is told of Peter, whose confession of faith is not recorded until 6:68, 6:9. The Synoptists suggest, as is probable a priori, that the disciples did not reach full conviction all at once, but that it came to them gradually, the critical point being Peter’s confession (Mark 8:29, Matthew 16:16, Luke 9:20). Perhaps we should regard the full assurance which Jn. ascribes to Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael on their first meeting with Jesus as antedated. It is, however, legitimate to treat their utterances (vv. 41, 45, 49) as the expressions of an enthusiasm which became dulled, as the novelty of their intercourse with Jesus passed away, and which did not become a reasoned conviction until later.1


42. The rec. has Ἰωνᾶ (with AB3ΓΔ) for the better supported Ἰωάνου (אB*LW 33, etc.). A similar variation appears at 21:15-17.

ἐμβλέψας sc. “having looked intently on him.” This verb has already (v. 36) been used of the Baptist’s earnest look at Jesus; it is used by the Synoptists of the piercing, scrutinising gaze of Jesus (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:21, Mark 10:27, Luke 20:17), and of His “looking” upon Peter after his denial.

It is plain from this verse (cf. 21:15-17 and Matthew 16:17 that Simon was known as “Simon, son of John,” to distinguish him from others bearing the common personal name “Simon.” By the Synoptists he is generally called “Peter,” but often simply “Simon”; in the lists of the apostles it being added that he was surnamed “Peter” (Matthew 10:2, Mark 3:16, Luke 6:14), this addition being necessary to distinguish him from the other apostle called Simon. The designation “Simon Peter” marks a later date than “Simon” simply; and it is noteworthy that while in Jn. he is described as Σίμων Πέτρος 17 times (see further on 18:15), this double name appears in the Synoptists only at Matthew 16:16 (a passage peculiar to Mt. and later than the Marcan tradition) and at Luke 5:8.Luke 5:2


Jn. states here that Jesus gave Simon the Aramaic name or nickname of Kephas, which became Πέτρος in Greek, when He saw him for the first time, discerning his strong character at a glance. Mk. (3:16) rather suggests (although he does not say expressly) that Simon was given the name of Peter when he was selected as one of the Twelve, much as John and James were called Boanerges or “sons of thunder.” This is not suggested, however, in the lists of the apostles in Lk. (6:14f.) and Mt. (10:2; Mt. has Σίμων ὁ λεγόμενος Πέτρος). It is obviously appropriate that Mt. should call the apostle “Simon Peter” (16:16) when relating his great confession, and that Jesus, addressing him on that occasion as “Simon, son of John,” should have reminded him of the name Kephas: σὺ εἶ Πέτρος, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν. Jn. may have ante-dated the giving of the new and significant name, but there is no proof of this.

To give a new name in the O.T. history sometimes marked the beginning of a new relation to God; e.g. Jacob was called Israel (Genesis 32:28), and Abram became Abraham (Genesis 17:5), after a spiritual crisis (cf. also Isaiah 62:2, Isaiah 65:15). When adult converts from heathenism are baptized, they are given a new name for a similar reason. But there is no evidence that it is in Jn.’s mind to suggest this when he recalls that Jesus called Simon, Kephas, “the rock man,”1 although such an inference might be drawn from Matthew 16:16f. if it stood alone. Jn.’s narrative here is quite simple, and there is no subtlety in the telling. See, however, on 6:69.


The Aramaic name Kephas (perhaps the same as Kaiaphas) is familiar in Paul, who uses it to designate Simon always in 1 Cor. (1:12, 3:22, 9:5, 15:5) and generally in Gal. (1:18, 2:9, 11, 14; but cf. 2:7, 8). It appears in no other Gospel but Jn., and the retention of the Aramaic כיפא is a touch that could hardly have occurred to any one whose mother speech was not Aramaic (see on vv. 38, 41, and cf. p. lxxix). By the end of the first century Simon was best known as Πέτρος, and he has been generally called by this name ever since.

The Call of Philip and Nathanael (Vv. 43-51)

43. τῇ ἐπαύριον, i.e. on Day v. of this eventful week (see on v. 9), Jesus resolved to go forth into Galilee; for ἐξελθεῖν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν cf. 4:43 and note that Jesus is now on the E. side of Jordan. Either as He was starting, or on the way, He found Philip, who was a Galilxan like Andrew and Peter, and who was probably brought into touch with Him by their means.

The rec. text adds ὁ Ἰησοῦεν, after ἠθέλησεν, omitting the name after αὐτῷ, but the better reading (אABWΘ) omits it after ἠθέλησεν and inserts it after αὐτῷ.

Thus, we might suppose from the order of the words that the subject of ἠθέλησεν and εὑρίσκει is not ὁ Ἰησοῦς, but Πέτρος, who has been mentioned immediately before. Then we should have the attractive sequence: Andrew finds Peter, Peter finds Philip, Philip (in his turn) finds Nathanael (v. 45), all being fellow-Galilæans and friends. But if Πέτρος is the subject of εὑρίσκει, it must also be the subject of ἠθέλησεν.

44. Philip is said to be�Luke 3:1), as Josephus records (Antt. xviii. 2, 1); and it is possible that the apostle Philip was named after the ruler of the district.

After Βηθσαοϊδά, Jn. adds ἐκ τῆς πολέως Ἀνδρέου καὶ Πέτπου. The house of Andrew and Peter was not at Bethsaida, but at Capernaum (Mark 1:21, Mark 1:29), a town which Jn. mentions, 2:12, 4:46, 6:17, 24, 59, and of which he knew the situation precisely. The discrepancy is unimportant.

Attempts have been made to distinguish in Jn. between a�Psalms 140:1,


ἐξελοῦ με ἐξ�

ἀκολούθει μοι This probably means no more, in this context, than that Jesus asked for Philip’s company on the journey into Galilee. The same call was afterwards addressed to others with a more exacting meaning (cf. Mark 2:14, Matthew 8:22, Matthew 19:21, and especially John 21:19).

It has been suggested that Philip is to be identified with the disciple who wished to bury his father before he obeyed the call to follow (Matthew 8:22), but this is mere conjecture.


45. Nathanael is a Hebrew name, נְתַנְאֵל, meaning “God has given,” the equivalent of the Greek Theodore. He was of Cana of Galilee (21:2), and it was perhaps there that Philip found him, as Cana is the next place mentioned (2:1).

Nathanael has been identified, e.g. by Renan and Zahn, with Bartholomew, because (1) in the Synoptic lists of the apostles, Philip is associated with Bartholomew as he is here with Nathanael, and (2) while the name Nathanael does not occur in the Synoptists, Bartholomew (which is only a patronymic, Bar Tholmai) is not found in Jn.

This group of disciples are represented as students of the O.T. As Andrew says, “We have found the Messiah” (v. 41), so Philip says, “We have found Him of whom Moses and the prophets wrote.” This is what was explained to the disciples at Emmaus (Luke 24:27). The reference to “Moses” includes at any rate Deuteronomy 18:15.


The Person in whom these prophecies were fulfilled is described by Philip as “Jesus, a son of Joseph (not the son, τὸν υἱόν of the rec. text being erroneous), the man from Nazareth.” It is certain that the author of the Fourth Gospel did not regard Jesus as a “son of Joseph”; for him Jesus was μονογενὴς θεός (v. 18). But he does not stay to explain that Philip’s confession fell short of the truth, just as he does not comment on the query, “Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph?” (6:42). Jn. is sure that his readers are of one mind with himself as to the Divinity of Jesus, and that they will not misunderstand. This characteristic of Jn.’s style has been called “the irony of St. John,”1 and it appears several times. (Cf. 6:42, 7:35, 18:28, 19:19.)

τὸν�Acts 10:37) was the natural designation of Jesus by those who only knew where He lived (see on 18:5). “Jesus of Nazareth” is still a descriptive phrase on the lips of many who are assured that He was θεὸς ἐκ θεοῦ.


46. Nathanael’s rejoinder has been taken by some to be a meditative comment on what Philip has said rather than a question, viz. “Some good might come out of Nazareth.” But the order of the words is in favour of it being taken interrogatively, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth is not mentioned in the O.T., so that there was nothing to connect the place with the prophecies of Messiah. See on 7:41, 52. But Nathanael’s question has something of scorn in it, as if Nazareth had a bad name; however, of this there is no evidence. Nathanael was of Cana, and the rivalry between neighbouring villages might account for his expression of incredulity as to Nazareth being a prophet’s home. That he does not seem to have heard of Jesus before shows how retired His life had been before He began His public ministry.

47. There is no suggestion that Jesus overheard Nathanael’s incredulous query. He speaks from His previous knowledge of the man (v. 48).

ἴδε. See on v. 29.

ἀληθῶς Ἰσραηλείτης ἐν ᾦ δόλος οὐκ ἕστιν. Isaac complained of Jacob’s guile (δόλος, Genesis 27:35); but that was before he received the new name of Israel and had a vision of heavenly things. The Psalmist hails as blessed the man “in whose spirit there is no guile” (Psalms 32:2); and of the ideal Servant of Yahweh it was declared, “neither was any guile found in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:9). Thus he who is truly an Israelite (cf. Romans 2:29), representing Israel at its best, must be without guile, and such a man Nathanael was declared by Jesus to be.

Jn. has�1 John 2:5.


48. πόθεν με γινώσκεις; “Whence do you know me?” Nathanael had overheard the remark of Jesus, and expresses wonder that He should have known anything about him.

γινώσκειν is a favourite word with Jn., occurring about twice as frequently as it does in the Synoptists, which is all the more remarkable as Jn. never uses the noun γνῶσις, (Luke 1:77, Luke 11:52, and often in Paul). For the supposed distinction between εἰδέναι and γινώσκειν, see on v. 26; Cf. 2:24.


ἀπεκρ. Ἰη. אΔ insert ὁ before Ἰησοῦς, but om. ABLWΓΔ; see on vv. 29, 50.

πρὸ τοῦ σε φίλιππον φωνῆσαι. φωνεῖν is the word used in Jn. for calling any one by his personal name or usual title; Cf. 10:3, 11:28, 12:17, 13:13, 18:33.

ὑπὸ τὴν συκῆν εἶδόν σε, “I saw thee under the fig tree.” ὑπό is not found with the acc. elsewhere in Jn. (see on ὑποκάτω in v. 50). Perhaps it indicates here that Nathanael had withdrawn to the shelter of the fig tree, under which Jesus had seen him.

ὑπὸ τὴν συκῆν. The fig tree is a very familiar object in Palestine, where it was specially valued for the grateful shade of its leaves. National tranquillity is often pictured by the image of every man sitting “under his vine and under his fig tree” (1 Kings 4:25, Micah 4:4, Micah 4:1 Macc. 14:12). When Jesus says to Nathanael, “When thou wast under the fig tree,” i.e. probably the fig tree in the precincts of his own house, He alludes to some incident of which the evangelist gives no explanation. What ever it was, the fact that Jesus should have known it impressed Nathanael so much that he broke out into the confession, “Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel.” The power which Jesus had of reading the secrets of men’s hearts is alluded to again, 2:24, 25, 4:19, 29.


This episode has been compared1 with the story of the prolonged meditation of Gautama under the Bodhi tree, where he attained Buddha-hood, and thenceforward began to gather disciples. But there is no real parallel. It was not Jesus, but His disciple Nathanael, who meditated under the fig tree, nor is there any hint (as in the Buddha legend) that Jesus received “enlightenment” thus.

Cheyne2 gets rid of the fig tree by the supposition that there has been a misreading of an Aramaic original, the words וְאַתָּה מִתְחַנֵּן, “when thou wast making supplication,” being mistaken for ואַתָּה תַּהַת הַתְּאֵנָה, “when thou vast under the fig tree.” This is not convincing.

Other fanciful hypotheses about Nathanael are that the incident indicated here is another version of the story of Zacchoeus in the sycamore tree (Abbott, Diat. 3375 f.); or that in him we are to see a figure symbolical of Paul, an Israelite who broke through the prejudices of his early training (sufficiently answered by Moffatt, Introd. to N.T., p. 565); or that we are to equate him with the Beloved Disciple (cf. Introd., p. xxxvii). But the simplest interpretation is the best. Nathanael was a real figure, and his call was vivid in the mind of the aged disciple whose recollections are behind the Fourth Gospel.

49. Ῥαββεί. See on v. 38.

σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. Cf. Peter’s σὺ εἶ ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ (6:69) and Martha’s σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστός, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ (11:27); and see below on v. 51. Nathanael sees in Jesus One who has displayed a wonderful knowledge of his past life (cf. 4:19, 29), and so he identifies Him with the expected Messiah. For the title ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, see on v. 34 above.

σὺ βασιλεὺς εἶ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ. This, to us, is a lesser title than ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, but not so to Nathanael; see on 12:13. Nathanael has been hailed by Jesus as an “Israelite,” a worthy and representative son of Israel, and he replies out of the fulness of his heart, “Thou art the King of Israel,” and therefore Nathanael’s King. Both Messianic titles, “Son of God” and “King of Israel,” have their roots in Psa_2.

50.�Mark 7:28) the formula is ὁ�

Burney (Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 53) claims�1 Samuel 14:28, 1 Samuel 14:19:22, 2 Chronicles 29:31, 2 Chronicles 34:15, Joel 2:19 (of Yahweh). A more plausible argument for an Aramaic original of Jn. is found by Burney in the large number of asyndeton sentences. This is a specially Aramaic (not a Hebrew) characteristic. If, however, the narrative parts of the Gospel were dictated (as we hold to be probable) by one to whom Aramaic was his native language, we should expect to find them reproduced sometimes in Greek with an Aramaic flavour.


Ἰησοῦς often—perhaps generally—takes the def. art. in Jn. (see on v. 29); but the phrase�Gen_32), says (de somn. 1. 21): “He compels him to wrestle, until He has imparted to him irresistible strength, having changed his ears into eyes, and called this newly modelled type, Israel, i. e. one who sees” (Ἰσραήλ, ὁρῶιτα)


Nathanael, who is “an Israelite indeed,” must also be a man of vision, and the vision which is promised him is greater even than that which he has already recognised, viz. that Jesus is “the King of Israel” (v. 49).

51. καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, Ἀμὴν�

ἀμὴν�Mark 2:11, Mark 11:24, Luke 5:24, Luke 5:6:27, Luke 5:7:28, Luke 5:10:12, Luke 5:24, Luke 5:11:8, Luke 5:9 etc., Matthew 5:44, Matthew 16:18, Matthew 21:43, Matthew 23:39 etc. This is often found in the expanded form�Revelation 3:14; cf. Isaiah 65:16), who never rested His sayings on the authority of other masters, as the Rabbinical habit was, but spoke as One possessed of the secrets of life.

Why the�Luke 10:41), Simon, Simon (Luke 22:31), Eloi, Eloi (Mark 15:34); but this does not provide, an exact parallel. It would appear that�Matthew 5:37), and this is Verily, verily.1 See Luke 7:26, Luke 11:51 for ναί as equivalent to�Matthew 5:37, Jesus recommends as a form of solemn affirmation�

In Jn. (as in the Synoptic Gospels, where λέγω ὑμῖν only or�Mark 10:29, Matthew 26:34), or an explanation and expansion of something that has already been said (e.g. 1:51, 5:24, 25, 10:1, 7, 12:24, 13:16, 20, 21, 16:20, 23, 14:12; cf. Mark 13:30, Matthew 26:13). Even 8:51 goes back to 8:43, 6:47 to 6:40, 5:25 to 5:24, although the connexion is not so obvious. But it is important to observe that in Jn. the prelude�1 Kings 1:36, Nehemiah 5:13, Jeremiah 11:5); or in its doubled form,�Numbers 5:22, Judith 13:20, Psalms 41:13). But in the O.T. we do not find�

The phrase�Matthew 26:64). The vision which is described is not one which was to be revealed henceforth, i.e. from the time of speaking; it was for the future, perhaps the distant future.

ὄψεσθε. ὄπτομαι (but not ὁρᾶν in the pres. or perf. tenses) is always used in Jn. (3:36, 11:40, 16:16, 1 John 3:2) of the vision of heavenly or spiritual realities, as distinct from a seeing with the eyes of the body. The same usage is common in the rest of the N.T., but there are exceptions (e.g. Acts 7:26, Acts 20:25). For the difference in usage between ὅπτομαι and θεωρεῖν see on 2:23, and cf. Abbott (Diat. 1307, 1597 f.).

ὄψωσθε τὸν οὐρανὸν�Genesis 28:12, Genesis 28:13). It is, however, remarkable that no Christian writer before Augustine seems to have noticed that John 1:51 is, in part, a quotation (see, for the patristic interpretations of the passage, Additional Note, p. 70 f.). The promise to Nathanael, as an “Israelite indeed,” that he (with others) shall see angelic visions, is couched in terms which recall the vision of Jacob, the father of his race, of whom Nathanael is no unworthy descendant. That the vision of Bethel was seen by Jacob before he received the new and pregnant name of Israel does not constitute a difficulty, for we are not concerned with the details of Jacob’s vision. The evangelist’s report does not indicate that he thought of it as fulfilled in Nathanael. The words ascribed to Jesus have to do with Jacob’s vision only in so far as they suggest to Nathanael that he was not the first Israelite to have visions of heaven and the angels.

What is to be the occasion of the vision promised to Nathanael and his companions? The direction in which an answer must be sought is indicated by the use, for the first time, in the Gospel of the strange designation of Jesus as “the Son of Man.” We have already seen (Introd., p. cxxvii) that the title “the Son of Man,” applied by Jesus to Himself, most frequently appears in eschatological passages, which have reference to His final and glorious Advent, after which His indestructible kingdom is to be fully established (cf. Daniel 7:13). The vision of this Advent seems to be what is promised to Nathanael and his believing companions. Nathanael is represented as acknowledging that Jesus is “the Son of God, the King of Israel” (v. 49), i.e. that He is the Messiah as looked for under the aspect of King, the “political” Messiah (see on v. 34) of Israel’s hope. But there was a higher conception than this, a more spiritual picture than that of an earthly prince; and it was to this (as suggested by the words of Daniel 7:13) that Jesus pointed His followers, when He spoke of Himself as the Son of Man. It was a greater thing to see Him as the Son of Man than as the King of Israel. The vision which would be the condemnation of the high priest who presumed to condemn Jesus, viz. ὄψεσθε τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ�Mark 14:62), would be the reward of disciples who faithfully accepted Him as the Messiah.

The parallel to this passage in the Synoptists is the promise which followed upon the confession of Peter and the rest. Peter’s confession, like that of Nathanael, was σὺ εἶ ὁ χριστός and in making it he was the spokesman of the others. And the promise which follows is the counterpart of the promise to Nathanael, viz.: “The Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels. … Verily I say unto you, There be some of them that stand here which shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Matthew 16:27, Matthew 16:28; cf. Mark 8:38, Mark 9:1, Luke 9:26, Luke 9:27). The parallelism with John 1:51 is remarkable, and the difficulty of explaining both passages (for they are left unexplained by the evangelists) shows that, alike in the Synoptists and in Jn., they embody a genuine reminiscence or tradition.1 See on 6:69 for Jn.’s version of Peter’s confession.


There is in Jn. a third confession of faith, which should be placed beside that of Nathanael and that of Peter, viz. that of Martha (11:27), who says σὺ εἶ ὁ χριστός, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, ὁ εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἐρχόμενος. No reply of Jesus is recorded until we reach v. 40, when He says, with apparent reference to her previous confession, “Said I not unto thee, that if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” That is, again, as in the case of Nathanael, Vision is the reward of Faith: the vision of the Divine glory, as exhibited in the power over death which Jesus had (see note on 11:40).

The attempts which have been made to trace a detailed correspondence between what is said about Jacob’s vision at Bethel and the vision promised to Nathanael are quite unsuccessful. Nathanael, it must be borne in mind, is here typified by Jacob or Israel as “the man who sees.” It is, therefore, impossible to take Jacob as the type of Christ or the Son of Man; and this rules out several modern interpretations. E.g., to take (see Meyer) the angels ascending and descending as typical of the continuous intercourse between God and Christ, the Father and the Son (see on 5:19, 6:57), presupposes that Jacob at Bethel typifies Christ, not to mention that the idea of the intercourse between the Father and the Son being carried on by the ministry of angels is quite foreign to the Gospels.

Burney2 points out that the Hebrew בּוֹ, which is rendered at Genesis 28:13 ἐπʼ αὐτῆς by the LXX, and by the English versions “on it,” sc. on the ladder, might also be rendered “on him,” sc. on Jacob. He cites a Midrash where this interpretation is proposed, and where it is said of the angels at Bethel that they were ascending on high and looking at Jacob’s εἰκών (which was in heaven), and then descending and finding his sleeping body. Burney suggests that the heavenly εἰκών of Israel was the Son of Man, and that Genesis 28:13 is quoted here by Jn. from the Hebrew, בּוֹ being rendered “on Him,” i.e. the heavenly Ideal of Israel. If the heavens were opened, Nathanael would then see the angels of God “ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” But, as we have said, Jn. certainly does not intend Jacob at Bethel to be taken as the type of the Son of Man, and so this interesting interpretation does not help us.


Additional Note on the Promise to Nathanael

1:51. No commentator before Augustine suggests any connexion between Genesis 28:13 and Joh_1:5l. When the proneness of the early exegetes to seek O.T. testimonia is remembered, this is remarkable. A few passages may be cited to illustrate the various interpretations that were placed on both texts.

(a) Philo, as one would expect, has much to say about Jacob’s vision at Bethel (de somn. i. 22). Between heaven and earth, he says, there is the air, the abode of incorporeal souls, immortal citizens. The purest of the beings who pass to and fro are angels, who report the Father’s orders to His children, and their needs to Him. Here (§ 23) is an image of man’s soul, of which the foundation, as it were, is earthly (αἴσθησις), but the head is heavenly (νοῦς). And the λόγοι of God move incessantly up and down, ascending that they may draw the soul heavenwards, condescending that they may impart life from above. This, despite some verbal similarities, has no bearing on the exegesis of John 1:51.

(b) Origen (c. Celsum, vi. 21) recalls the Platonist doctrine, favoured by Celsus, that souls can make their way to and from the earth through the planets, and speaks with approval of Philo’s exposition of Genesis 28:13 which has been cited above. He says that Genesis 28:13 either refers to the Platonic view or to “something greater,” but he does not explain what this is.

(c) Origen quotes John 1:51 several times. In Hom. in Luc. xxiii. (Lommatzsch, v. 178) he quotes it to show that visions of angels are seen only by those to whom special grace is given; and similarly in de Orat. 11 (Lommatzsch, xvii. 128) he says that the angels ascending and descending are visible only to eyes illuminated by the light of knowledge (γνῶσις). In another place (c. Celsum, i. 48) he interprets the phrase τὸν οὐρανὸν�Genesis 28:13 had occurred to him as a parallel.

(d) Tertullian refers twice to Jacob’s ladder. Just as some men behave badly in time of persecution, and others well, so in Jacob’s dream some mount to higher places, others go down to lower (de Fuga, 1). More interesting is his comment in another place (c. Marcion. iii. 24): By the vision of Jacob’s ladder, with God standing above, is shown the way to heaven, which some take and others fall from. “This,” said Jacob, “is the gate of heaven,” and the gate is provided by Christ. Tertullian never mentions John 1:51. It may be added that Cyprian quotes neither Genesis 28:13 nor John 1:51.

(e) Irenæus (Dem. 45) says that Jacob’s ladder signifies the Cross, “for thereby they that believe on Him go up to the heavens,” adding that “all such visions point to the Son of God, speaking with men and being with men.” He does not quote John 1:51 anywhere.

(f) Justin (Tryph. 58, 86) quotes in full the story of Jacob at Bethel. He urges that it was not God the Father who stood above the ladder (Genesis 28:13), but the Angel of His presence; and he finds the type of Christ, not in the ladder, but in the stone which Jacob had used for a pillow, and which he anointed (Genesis 28:18). He does not allude to John 1:51.

(g) Chrysostom (in loc.) regards the ministry of angels in Gethsemane (Luke 22:43) and the Resurrection (John 20:12) as a fulfilment of John 1:51, an inadequate explanation. In an obscure passage (in Col. ii. 5), he refers to Genesis 28:13 as a sign of the Divine Sonship of Christ, but he does not associate it with John 1:51.


(h) Jerome alludes to Jacob’s ladder several times (e.g. Epp 98. 3, 118. 7, 123. 15, and Tract. de Psa_119.). It represents, he says, the Christian life, the Lord standing above holding out His hand to help those going up, and casting down the careless. Like Justin, he takes the stone of Jacob as a type of Christ the cornerstone; but he does not quote John 1:51 in this context.

(i) Augustine is the first exegete to find in John 1:51 an allusion to Genesis 28:13. He, too, regards Jacob’s stone as a type of Christ; and he suggests that the confession of Nathanael that Jesus is the Christ was like the anointing of the stone by Jacob (Genesis 23:18). The “angels, ascending and descending,” typify the preachers of the Gospel. Augustine, however, introduces two ideas not altogether consistent with each other. First the angels “ascend and descend upon the Son of Man,” because He is at once above and below, in heaven and on earth. “Filius enim hominis sursum in capite nostro, quod est ipse Salvator; et Filius hominis deorsum in corpore suo, quod est Ecclesia.” Secondly, he explains that the Ladder is a type of Christ, who said, “I am the Way”; and it is notable that Augustine is the first Christian writer to suggest this thought (c. Faustum, xii. 26). He refers again to the association between Genesis 28:13 and John 1:51 in de Civ. Dei, xvi. 39, and in Serm. cxxiii. 3, 4; but he does not elsewhere speak of Jacob’s ladder as typifying Christ. Augustine does not seem to be clear as to the correspondence between the details of Jacob’s vision and the promise to Nathanael; and, in fact, the correspondence cannot be set out precisely. But his general idea has left its mark on modern exegesis.












1 Cf. Introd., p. cxliv.

Diat. E. A. Abbott’s Diatessarica, including his Johannine Vocabulary and Johannine Grammar, Parts I.-X. (1900-1915).

L Regius (ε 56). Paris. viii. Cc. 15:2-20 21:15-25 are missing.

1 See Introd., p. cxl.

1 Also the Peshitta; see Burkitt, J.T.S., April 1903, p. 436.

2 “Stoic Origins of St. John’s Gospel,” in Bulletin of John Rylands Library, Jan. 1922, quoting Stobæus, Phys. 180.

אԠSinaiticus (δ 2). Leningrad. iv.

D Bezæ (δ 5). Cambridge. v-vi. Græco-Latin. Cc. 18:14-20:13 are missing in the Greek text, and the gap has been filled by a ninth-century scribe (Dsupp).

Moulton-Milligan Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, illustrated from the papyri, by J. H. Moulton and G.Milligan (1914-). This is being completed by Dr. Milligan; it is indispensable.

1 See also the reading of אD at 6:17 and the note there.

2 In loann. 76; cf. also Brooke’s edition, ii. 214.

3 de opif. mundi, 9.

4 Quoted by Burney, Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 30.

1 Cf. F. C. Burkitt in Theology, July 1922. p. 49, for a criticism of Ball’s emendation.

1 Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 31.

B Vaticanus (δ 1). Rome. Cent. iv.

2 Cf. Westcott-Hort, Appx., p. 59, and E.B. 2504.

1 Cf. Abbott, Diat. 2093, 2687.

2 Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 70.

3 Per contra, πιστεύειν never occurs in the Apocalypse, while πίστις occurs 4 times. See Introd., p. lxv.

4 Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 82.

1 Aramaic Origin, etc., pp. 32, 75.

2 In Ioann. (ed. Brooke, ii. 216).

3 It is found, however, several times in the Talmud; see Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr., in loc.; and cf. Schlatter, Sprache u. Heimat., u.s.w., p. 18.

1 Cf. Trench, Synonyms of N. T.

2 Dalman, Words of Jesus, pp. 162, I71.

1 Cf. Burkitt, J.T.S., Oct. 1908; Plummer, Comm. on St. Matthew, p. xxxiv. f.

1 Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 66.

2 See Hippol. Ref. ix. 9, cited by Pfleiderer, Primitive Christianity, iv. 7.

3 Apol. i. 46.

1 Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 64.

2 Paul has τέκνα θεοῦ at Romans 8:16, Romans 8:17, Romans 8:21, Philippians 2:15 (from Deuteronomy 32:5).


1 Note that πιστεύουσιν is the present participle, and expresses the continual life of faith, not an isolated act of faith (see on 6:29). See, further, for the unclassical constr. πιστεύειν εἰς, Abbott, Diat. 1470 f.

2 I have discussed this expression in Studia Sacra, p. 66 f. A similar use of the construction εἰς τὸ ὅνομά τινος occurs in papyri; e.g. ἕντευξις εἰς τοῦ βασιλέως ὄνομα is a “petition to the king’s majesty,” the name of the king being the essence of what he is as ruler. Cf. Deissmann, Bible Studies, Eng. Tr., 146 f., 196 f.

3 Cf. also Burney, Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 43.

1 See H. J. Cadbury (Expositor, Dec. 1924, P. 432). to whom these references are due.

1 Cf. Introd., p. clxx.

2 Cf. Introd., p. clxix.

3 Cf. Burkitt, Ephraim’s Quotations from the Gospel, p. 50.

4 Of the Resurrection, § 15.

5 Comm. in Ioann. 20, 142, 202.

6 In loc.

1 Burkitt (Ev. da Mepharreshe, ii. 307) favours this mode of rendering the Syriac.

1 Cf. Marshall in D.B., s.v “Shekinah”; and see Burney, Aramaic Origin, etc., PP. 35-37.

2 Generally in the LXX, δόξα is the rendering of כָּבוֹך (as in Psalms 85:9, Isaiah 60:1); but in Esther 1:1, Esther 6:3 it represents יְקָר which is the word commonly used in the Targums.


1 So the original Nicene Creed ran, γεννηθέντα ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς μονογενῆ.

2 Hort, Two Dissertations, p. 13. Cf. Philippians 2:6 ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων.

3 Justin (Tryph. 105) associates Psalms 22:30 with John 1:14, using the term μονογενής.


1 See J. A. Robinson, Ephesians, p. 229 f.

2 See D.C.G., s.v. “Only-Begotten”; and for a different line of reasoning reaching the same conclusion, cf. Harris, Bulletin of John Rylands Library, July 1922.

3 See Hort, Select Readings, p. 24; Blass, Gram., p. 81; Turner, J.T.S., 1899, p. 121 f., and 1900, p. 561, for many examples.

4 J.T.S., 1899, p. 123 f., 1900, p. 561.

5 See Burkitt, J.T.S., 1900, p. 562.

6 See Origen, Comm. in Ioann., ed. Brooke, ii. 219, 220.

1 J. A. Robinson (Ephesians, p. 224), in a valuable note on χάρις, does not think that Paul introduced the word in its new sense to the Christian vocabulary, but that he did much to develop its use, especially in connexion with the extension of the Gospel to the Gentiles.

1 As it is with Paul (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10).

1 Cf. Augustine (de pecc. mer. ii. 31), who notes that when you compare John 1:14 with Psalms 85:10, you have to substitute gratia for misericordia.


C Ephræmi (δ 3). Paris. v. Palimpsest. Contains considerable fragments of Jn.

A Alexandrinus (δ 4). British Museum. v. Cc. 6:50-8:52 are missing.

Θ̠Koridethi (ε 050). Tiflis. vii-ix. Discovered at Koridethi, in Russian territory, and edited by Beermann & Gregory (Leipzig, 1913). The text is akin to that of fam. 13, fam. 1, and the cursives 28, 565, 700 See Lake and Blake in Harvard Theol. Review (July 1923) and Streeter, The Four Gospels. Cf. also J.T.S. Oct. 1915, April and July 1925.

2 See further, for the variants, Abbott, Diat. 2507a.

3 See Introd., p. ci.

W Freer (ε 014). Washington. iv-vi. Discovered in Egypt in 1906. The Gospels are in the order Mt., Jn., Lk., Mk. Collation in The Washington MS. of the Four Gospels, by H. A. Sanders (1912).

1 For πλήρωμα, see Lightfoot, Colossians, p. 255 f., and J. A. Robinson, Ephesians, p. 255 f.

2 Ephesians, p. 223.

3 The LXX of Zechariah 4:7 has the difficult phrase ἰσότητα χάριτος χάριτα αὐτῆς, but the resemblance to χάριν�


1 See Drummond’s Philo Judæus, ii. 9, 206.

2 See Introd., p. cxxxviii.

1 Two Dissertations (1876), the most valuable of commentaries on John 1:18.


2 μουνογένεια θεά is cited by Harris from the Orphic literature as a title of Persephone (Bulletin of John Rylands Library, July, 1922).

1 See Turner, J.T.S., Oct. 1924, p. 14.

2 Bulletin of John Rylands Library, July 1922.

1 See Introd., p. cxlv.

Δ̠Sangallensis (ε 76). St. Gall. ix-x. Græco-Latin.

1 Westcott-Hort do not adopt the rough breathing, “as due to a false association with ἱερός”; but see Moulton-Milligan, s.v. Ἱεροσόλυμα.

2 For the vagueness, and also the prevalence, of the expectation in the first century that a divinely appointed leader, popularly called Messiah, should appear, see G. F. Moore in The Beginnings of Christianity, i. 356.

1 Cf. Lightfoot, Colossians, p. 401 f.

Γ̠(ε 70) Oxford and Leningrad. ix-x. Contains Song of Solomon 1:1-13 8:3-15:24 19:6 to end.


1 Edujoth, viii. 7, quoted by Schürer, Hist. of Jewish People, II. ii. 156.

2 Cf. Headlam, Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ, p. 166.

1 Cf. Burkitt, Evangelion da-Mepharreshê, ii. 89, and Abbott, Diat. 1883, 2640. Jn.’s usage of οὖν corresponds somewhat to the Hebrew “wāw consecutive.”

2 Justin reproduces (Tryph. 88) this peculiar feature of the Fourth Gospel, and represents the Baptist as saying οὐκ εἰμὶ ὁ Χριστός,�

T Muralt (ε 31). Leningrad. vi. Contains cc. 1:25-42 Song of Solomon 1:2:Song of Solomon 1:9-14 4:34-50.


1 Cf. R. Law, The Tests of Life (p. 364), for γινώσκειν and εἰδέναι.

1 D.B., s.v. “Bethabara.”

2 Eusebius, Onom.

3 See Smith’s D.B.2, s.v. “Beth-Nimrah”; cf. also E.B., s.v. “Bethany,” and see Rix, Tent and Testament, p. 175 f.

1 In Ioann. vi. 53.

1 Secondarily, as Charles shows, the Apocalyptist conceives of the Lamb as leader, an idea prominent in Jewish apocalyptic, but not present in the Fourth Gospel (Revelation, I. cxiii).

2 Cyprian’s Testimonia (ii. 15) for John 1:29 include both Exodus 12:3f. and Isaiah 53:7.


3 Clement of Rome (§ 16), writing in the same decade, cites Isa_53 in full, applying it all to Christ.


1 See Introd., p. ci.

2 Cf. also Justin, Tryph. 32, and Introd., p. cxxxiii.

3 See Burney, Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 108.

1 Burkitt, Christian Beginnings, p. 39, points out that the application of Isa_53 to the Passion was made by Greek-speaking Christians in the first instance. Cf. Theology, July 1922, p. 50.

1 In Quis rer. div. hær. § 25, Philo, when discoursing on Genesis 15:9, interprets the turtle dove and pigeon (τρυγόνα καὶ περιστεράν) of divine and human wisdom respectively, the περιστερά standing for human wisdom, as being gentle (ἤμερος and fond of the haunts of men.


2 Clement of Alexandria says that the Syrians venerate doves, as the Eleans venerate Zeus (Protrept. ii. 35).

3 Quoted by Wetstein on Matthew 3:16 from Chagiga, 15A.


4 Students of the fantastic science of Gematria have not failed to note that the arithmetical value of the letters in περιστερά is 801, the same total as that represented by αω (Alpha and Omega). Cf. Irenæus, Hær. i. 14, 6, who gives this as a Gnostic fancy.

5 See Introd., p. c.

1 Irenæus (Hær. iii. 17. 1) associates Isaiah 11:2 with the Baptism of Jesus.


2 See Abbott, Diat. 712 ff., for speculations as to why Jn. avoided the word rest and preferred abide.

3 Cf. Introd., p. cxlvi.

1 Jackson and Lake, The Beginnings of Christianity, i. 102.

1 Cf. contra, Dalman, Words of Jesus, Eng. Tr., p. 275; Burkitt (Christian Beginnings, p. 25) regards “Son of God” as the most primitive of the Christological titles.

1 This form (plpft. with sense of impft.), “was standing,” occurs again 7:37, 18:5, 16, 20:11. The MSS. vary between εἱστήκει and ἱστήκει, the latter being always adopted by Westcott-Hort.

2 Cf. Introd., p. xxxvi.

1 See on the whole subject, Dalman, Words of Jesus, Eng. Tr., pp. 324-340. and Burkitt, Christian Beginnings, pp. 43 ff.

2 Nicodemus, naturally, says Rabbi (3:2).

B Vaticanus (δ 1). Rome. Cent. iv.

C Ephræmi (δ 3). Paris. v. Palimpsest. Contains considerable fragments of Jn.

L Regius (ε 56). Paris. viii. Cc. 15:2-20 21:15-25 are missing.

T Muralt (ε 31). Leningrad. vi. Contains cc. 1:25-42 Song of Solomon 1:2:Song of Solomon 1:9-14 4:34-50.


W Freer (ε 014). Washington. iv-vi. Discovered in Egypt in 1906. The Gospels are in the order Mt., Jn., Lk., Mk. Collation in The Washington MS. of the Four Gospels, by H. A. Sanders (1912).

אԠSinaiticus (δ 2). Leningrad. iv.

A Alexandrinus (δ 4). British Museum. v. Cc. 6:50-8:52 are missing.

N Purpureus Petropolitanus (ε 19). Dispersed through the libraries of Leningrad, Patmos, Rome, Vienna, and British Museum. vi. Some pages are missing. Edited by H. S. Cronin in Cambridge Texts and Studies (1899).

Δ̠Sangallensis (ε 76). St. Gall. ix-x. Græco-Latin.

Θ̠Koridethi (ε 050). Tiflis. vii-ix. Discovered at Koridethi, in Russian territory, and edited by Beermann & Gregory (Leipzig, 1913). The text is akin to that of fam. 13, fam. 1, and the cursives 28, 565, 700 See Lake and Blake in Harvard Theol. Review (July 1923) and Streeter, The Four Gospels. Cf. also J.T.S. Oct. 1915, April and July 1925.

1 The idea (adopted by Westcott) that Jn. follows a method of counting the hours from midnight has been shown by W. M. Ramsay (D.B., 475-479) to be untenable; cf. A. Wright, N.T. Problems, PP. 147 ff.

Γ̠(ε 70) Oxford and Leningrad. ix-x. Contains Song of Solomon 1:1-13 8:3-15:24 19:6 to end.


1 The Old Syriac does not reproduce here any word like πρῶτον ο πρωί.

1 Cf. Introd., p. cxxxiv.

2 See a full note on “The Tames of St. Peter” in Hort, 1 Peter, p. 152.

1 See Moffatt, Introd., p. 524.

Diat. E. A. Abbott’s Diatessarica, including his Johannine Vocabulary and Johannine Grammar, Parts I.-X. (1900-1915).

Moulton-Milligan Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, illustrated from the papyri, by J. H. Moulton and G.Milligan (1914-). This is being completed by Dr. Milligan; it is indispensable.

1 Salmon, Introd. to N.T., p. 280; cf. p. 34 above.

1 By Seydel. See D.C.G., ii. 288.

2 E.B., s.v. “Nathanael.”

1 Allen, in Matthew 5:37, writes: “The Talmud Sanhed. 36a discusses whether Yes and No are oaths, and decides that they are oaths if repeated twice.”


1 Both Justin (Apol. i. 6) and Irenæus (Deu_10) speak of angels as following and attending the Son. Cf. J. A. Robinson, St. Irenceus and the Apostolic Preaching, pp. 27 ff.


2 Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 116; cf. for Rabbinical speculations about the angels and Jacob’s ladder, Abbott, Diat. 2998 (xiii.).







Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on John 1". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/john-1.html. 1896-1924.
 
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