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Bible Commentaries
John 1

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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Verse 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In the beginning — Here this heavenly eagle, John the Divine, soars at first out of sight ( ο θεολογος κατ εξοχην ). Here doth God detonate ab alto, thunder from on high, saith Calvin. St Austin stands amazed at the mystical divinity here delivered. This barbarian (said the philosopher, concerning our evangelist) hath comprised more stupendous stuff in three lines than we have done in all our voluminous discourses. Amel. Platonic. ap. Clem. Alex. Happy had it been for him if he had been made, by this first chapter, of an atheist, a true Christian, as learned Junius was. Funccius ia Vita Sua, Operib. praefix. But he only admired it, and so left it where he found it; as too many do the Word at this day.

Was the Word — Personal, and enunciative. Isaiah, Isaiah 6:1 , saw him on the throne, and heard him speaking; Daniel, Daniel 8:13 , calleth him Palmoni hammedabber, " that excellent speaker," and asketh him of the vision; the Syriac interpreter here calleth him Meltha, " the Word uttered;" and the Chaldee, Pithgam Adonai, "the Lord, the Word."

And the Word was with God — Which sweetly sets forth his co-eternity and co-existency with the Father ( το συναιδιον και ενυποστατον ), saith Chrysostom. Moscopulus renders it, secundum Deum according to God, as being the express image of the Father. Others, ad Deum; to God, as importing a deliberation and conference of the Father and the Son.

And the Word was God — θεος , without an article: hence the Arians cavil that the Son is not God co-equal, but a secondary God, inferior to the Father. See Galatians 1:3 . The Father is also called θεος , without an article: therefore this follows not. This whole Gospel is a continuate demonstration of Christ’s Deity, which began to be denied, while this evangelist lived, by Ebion, Cerinthus, and other odious antichrists.

Verse 2

The same was in the beginning with God.

The same was in the beginning — In the instant of creation, as Genesis 1:1 , therefore also before the creation, therefore from eternity, Ephesians 1:4 ; 1 Peter 1:10 ; Proverbs 8:22-23 . Hinc Iohannes augustum illud et magnificum Evangelis sui initium assumpsit. Mercer in loc. "The Lord possessed me" (saith Christ, the essential Wisdom of God there) "in the beginning of his way." Arius corrupted the Greek text, reading it thus, For εκτησε in place of εκτισε . "The Lord created me in the beginning," …; and therehence blasphemously inferred that Christ was no more than a creature. But he was "set up from everlasting from the beginning, or ever the earth was," Proverbs 8:23 ; Psalms 45:6 . Uncta sum in reginam et dominatricem oleo loetitiae. Psalms 45:6 . Hence he is called the "Ancient of days," Daniel 7:9 . And Thales, one of the seven Sages of Greece, styleth him, "The most ancient of anything that hath being," πρεσβυτατον των οντων .

With God — Being alius another from his Father, not aliud; a distinct person, yet co-essential and co-eternal; for he was with him in the beginning of "the creature which God created," as himself speaketh, Mark 13:19 .

Verse 3

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

All things were made by him — So he was not idle with the Father (though he were his darling, sporting always before him, Proverbs 8:30 ), but by him, as by a principal efficient and co-agent with the Father and the Holy Ghost, all things were made; as some shadow and obscure representation of his wisdom, power, goodness, …, seen in the creature, as the sun is seen in water, or as letters refracted in a pair of spectacles are beheld by a dim eye. We can see but God’s back parts, and live; we need see no more, that we may live, Exodus 33:23 .

And without him was nothing made — This is added for the more certainty: it being usual with the Hebrews, thus by negation to confirm what they have before affirmed, where they would assure that the thing is so indeed; as Psalms 92:15 ; John 7:18 .

Verse 4

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

In him was life — As he created, so he quickeneth and conserveth all, being the Prince and principle of life, Acts 3:15 ; both of natural life, Acts 17:28 ; (the heathen could say as much), Est Deus in nobis, agitante calescimus illo. This is a God in us, we are warmed by that stirring. and of spiritual, 1 John 5:12 . Hence his members are called "heirs of the grace of life,"1 Peter 3:7; 1 Peter 3:7 , and all others are said to be "dead in trespasses and sins," Ephesians 2:1 , living carcases, walking sepulchres of themselves. In most families (as in Egypt, Exodus 12:40 ) there is not one, but many dead corpses, as being "alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them," Ephesians 4:18 .

Verse 5

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

And the light shineth — The light both of nature and of Scripture. The former is but a dim half-light, a rush candle, that will light a man but into utter darkness. The latter is a clear thorough light: the commandment is a lamp, et lex, lux, and the law is light, Proverbs 6:23 . As for the gospel, it is set up as a beacon on a hill,Titus 2:11; Titus 2:11 , επεφανη , or as the sun in the firmament, Luke 1:78-79 , bringing "life and immortality to light," 2 Timothy 1:10 ; where God by his Holy Spirit enlighteneth organ and object, Acts 26:18 , and shineth on the heart, in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:6 .

And the darkness comprehendeth it not — Nor will be comprehended by it, Philippians 3:12 , but repels it, rebels against it, Job 24:13 ; imprisons it, as those wizards did, Romans 1:18 ; spurns at it (as Balaam the devil’s spelman did, Numbers 24:1-2 , when he set his face toward the wilderness, and resolved to curse howsoever); execrates it, as the Ethiopians do the rising sun. (Herodot.) The morning is to such as the shadow of death,Job 24:17; Job 24:17 ; for being born in hell, they seek no other heaven.

Verse 6

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

There was a man sent from God — As he ran not, till sent,Jeremiah 23:32; Jeremiah 23:32 . St Paul holds it not only for incredible, but for impossible, that men should preach that are not sent, Romans 10:15 . So he declined not his ambassage, as did Jonah, απαιτουμενος την αποστολην ; who was therefore met with by another messenger of God, and sent into the whale’s belly to make his sermon for Nineveh; and in his prayer before, to acknowledge out of sad experience that they that hunt "after lying vanities" (as he had done) "forsake their own mercies,"John 2:8; John 2:8 .

Verse 7

The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

The same came for a witness — This he performed with a witness, verbis non solum disertis, sed et exertis. He witnessed plainly and plentifully, with a clear and punctual pronunciation, profession, indigitation, John 1:26 ; John 1:29 ; John 1:32 ; John 1:36 .

That all men through him might believe — Our Saviour expected that men should have come as far to hear his forerunner and him as the Queen of Sheba came to hear Solomon,Matthew 12:42; Matthew 12:42 . But the one thing necessary lies, alas, neglected. Men will run to hell as fast as they can: and if God cannot catch them (saith Mr Shephard) they care not, they will not come to Christ that they might live, John 5:40 .

Verse 8

He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

He was not that light — As some sinisterly conceited, which therefore occasioned that most necessary digression, John 1:6-10 , and drew afterwards, from the Baptist himself, that most vehement profession, John 1:20 ; "He confessed and denied not, but confessed," … He knew well the danger of detracting in the least degree from God’s glory. To look upon it only, and lust after it, is to commit spiritual fornication with it in our hearts; for it is God’s beloved spouse, and he being jealous, cannot bear a co-rival. Look upon it therefore but with a single eye, Matthew 6:22 , and in all addresses to God, give the honour to him; take humility to thyself, as Austin well adviseth, Illi da claritatem, tibi humilitatem. Aug. ad Bonifac., Eph 205. Let that be thy motto that was his, Propter te, Domine, propter re. Study God’s ends, and we may have anything of him, as Moses, Exodus 32:30-35 .

Verse 9

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

Which lighteth every man, … — Or, that coming into the world, lighteth every man; all, with the light of reason,Job 35:11; Job 35:11 ; his own, with a supernal and supernatural light (to know heavenly things is to ascend into heaven, Proverbs 30:3-4 ), an affecting, transforming light, 2 Corinthians 3:18 , such as maketh a man to be a child of light, Ephesians 5:8 ; "partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light,"Colossians 1:12; Colossians 1:12 . Any created understanding at most is but (as Aeschylus saith of fire stolen by Prometheus) παντεχνου πυρος σελας , a beam of that light essential.

Verse 10

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

He was in the world — Here the evangelist goes on where he left: resumes, and proceeds in his former argument, John 1:5 .

And the world was made by him — This is the second time here set forth, and reinforced, that we may the better observe and improve it. See the like, Revelation 4:11 ; "For thou hast created all things, and by thee they are and were created," without help, tool, or tiresomeness, Isaiah 60:18 . That one word of his, fiat , made all: shall we not admire his architecture?

And the world knew him not — Man is here called "the world," andMark 16:15; Mark 16:15 , he is called "every creature." This little world knew not Christ, for God had hid him under the carpenter’s son; his glory was inward, his kingdom came not by observation. And because the world knew not him, therefore it knoweth not us,1 John 3:1; 1 John 3:1 . Princes the saints are in all lands, Psalms 45:16 , but they he obscured, as did Melchizedek. The moon (say astronomers) hath at all times as much light as in the full; but often a great part of the bright side is turned to heaven, and a lesser part to the earth. So it is with the Church.

Verse 11

He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

He came unto his own — His peculiar picked people; as "touching the election, beloved for the Father’s sake," Romans 11:28 ; (ownness makes love), though the more he loved the less he was beloved. This may be the best man’s case,2 Corinthians 12:15; 2 Corinthians 12:15 . Learn we to deserve well of the most undeserving. God shines upon the unthankful also,Luke 6:35; Luke 6:35 . Christ came to the "stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears,"Acts 7:51; Acts 7:51 . His comfort was (and may be ours), "Though Israel be not gathered, yet I shall be glorious," …, Isaiah 49:5 .

And his own received him not — Nay, they peremptorily and pertinaciously "denied the holy One and the just; and desired a murderer to be given unto them," Acts 3:14 . For the which their inexpiable guilt, they are, as it were, cast out of the world by a common consent of nations, being a dejected and despised people. Howbeit, we long and look daily for their conversion, their resurrection, as St Paul calleth it,Romans 11:15; Romans 11:15 . And Augustine argueth out of the words, Abba, Father, that there shall one day be a consent of Jews and Gentiles in the worship of the one true God. There are those who say out ofDaniel 12:11; Daniel 12:11 , that this will occur A.D. 1650. Fiat, fiat. Do it, do it.

Verse 12

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

To them he gave power — Or, privilege preferment, prerogative royal, heavenly honour, ουρανιαν τιμην , as Nonnus here rendereth it, and fitly. For if sons, then heirs,Romans 8:17; Romans 8:17 . Hence that Ecce admirantis, 1 John 3:1 , and that "Who am I?" 2 Samuel 7:18 ; 2 Samuel 14:13-15 . Kings can make their firstborn only heirs, as Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 21:3 ; but here all are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.

Even to them that believe in his name — Though with never so weak a faith, such as may seem to be rather unbelief than faith, Mark 9:24 . The least bud draws sap from the root, as well as the greatest branch. The weakest hand may receive a ring. Credo languida fide, sed tamen fide, I believe by faint faith but yet by faith, said Dr Cruciger on his death bed. A weak faith is a joint possessor though no faith can he a joint purchaser of this precious privilege here specified. (Selneccer. paedag. Christ.)

Verse 13

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

But of God — Whose sons therefore they are, and so "higher than the kings of the earth," Psalms 89:27 , as those that prolong the days of Christ upon earth, being begotten by the travail of his soul, Isaiah 53:10-11 . Hence faith is said to adopt us,John 1:12; John 1:12 , in like sort as it justifies us, viz. by virtue of its object, Christ. Γεγενημενον εκ Διος ερνος . Homer. Filiabitur nomine eius. Trem. Hence, Psalms 72:17 , there is said to be a succession of Christ’s name; it is begotten, as one generation is begotten of another. This is true nobility, where God is the top of the kin, religion the root. Beatus Ludovicus would be called Ludovicus de Pissiaco, rather than take greater titles, because there he became a Christian. He thought no birth equal to a new birth in Christ, no parentage to that of God to his Father.

Verse 14

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

And the Word was made flesh — Put himself into a lousy, leprosy suit of ours, to expiate our pride and robbery, in reaching after the Deity, and to heal us of our spiritual leprosy; for ακαταληπτον αθεραπευτον , if he had not assumed our flesh he had not saved us. (Nazianzen.) Induit ergo sordes nostras, saith one. He therefore condescended to our rags; and so

Dwelt among us — Dwelt as in a tent or booth, εσκηνωσεν . He alludes to soldiers pitching their tents; or rather to the feast of tabernacles, in or near the time of which celebrated, by consent of many authors of best note, our Saviour was born.

Verse 15

John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

John cried, saying — He entered upon his calling in the year of Jubilee, which was wont to be published by the voice of a crier, with the sound of a trumpet. And hitherto allude the prophets and evangelists, that say he cried, and call him, "the voice of a crier."

Verse 16

And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

Of his fulness — Which is both repletive and diffusive; not only of plenty, but of bounty; not a fulness of abundance only, but of redundance too. In Christians is plenitudo vasis; abundance of vessels, but in Christ, fontis: is the fount, these differ (say the schoolmen) ut ignis, et ignita, as fire and that which holds the fire. Take a drop from the ocean, and it is so much the less; but the fulness of the fire is such, that light a thousand torches at it, it is not diminished.

And grace for grace — That is (say some) the grace of the New Testament for the grace of the Old. And so in the next verse, "grace" shall answer to the moral law, "truth" to the ceremonial. Or (as others) "grace for grace;" that is, a latitude answerable to all the commands, a perfection answerable to Christ’s own perfection. As the father gives his child limb for limb, part for part, …, so doth this "Father of Eternity," Isaiah 9:6 . There are those who render it "grace against grace," as in a glass is face against face. See2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 3:18 . Or "grace upon grace," that is, one grace after another, a daily increase of graces. Gratiam nova gratia cumulatam. Pasor.

Verse 17

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

For the law, …Lex iubet, gratia iuvat. Petamus ut det, quod ut habeamus iubet, The law command, grace assists. Let us ask that he may give, that we have what he commands, saith Augustine. We have his promise ever going along with his precept. The covenant of grace turns precepts into promises, and the Spirit of grace turns both into prayers.

Verse 18

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him .

The only begotten Son — In the year of grace 1520, Michael Servetus, a Spaniard, taught that there is no real generation or distinction in God, and was therefore worthily burnt at Geneva, in the year 1555. He would not recant; and yet feeling the fire, could not with patience endure it, but kept a hideous roaring till his life was exhausted, crying out to the beholders to dispatch him with a sword. (Bellarm. i.; de Christo, i.; Calvin Opusc.)

He hath, declared him — εξηγησατο . In a divine and extraordinary manner, as the word here used imports.

Verse 19

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

Jews sent priests — Whose proper office it was to inquire into new doctrines, and by preserving, to present knowledge to the people, who were to "seek the law at the priest’s mouth," Malachi 2:7 . Cicero complains of his Roman priests, that they were good honest men, but not very skilful. Bonos illos quidem viros, sed certe non pereruditos. (Cic. xx. de. Fin.) And Varro upbraids them with their ignorance of much about their own gods and religions. (Aug. Civ. Dei. iv. 1.)

Verse 20

And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

He confessed and denied not, but confessed — Sincerely and studiously; he put away that honour with both hands earnestly, as knowing the danger of wronging the jealous God in his glory, that is as his wife. All the fat was to be sacrificed to God. It is well observed, that nineteen times doth John use this kind of double affirmation. First, to strengthen our belief. Secondly, to show how sparing he was of an oath. Thirdly, for the greater certainty of the thing.

Verse 21

And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am notsc. That Elias that you imagine, Elias the Tishbite, by a transanimation ( μετεμψυχωσις Pythagorica). As neither was he an angel, as some in Chrysostom’s time would gather out of Malachi 3:1 . They that wrest the Scriptures are blinded, as Papists, and other brain sick heretics.

Verse 22

Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

Who art thou? that we may give answer — They would not be soon said or satisfied. How much more should God’s messengers go through stitch with their errand and ambassage; binding men’s sins upon their consciences if they be stubborn or stupid; and having in a "readiness to revenge all disobedience?"2 Corinthians 10:6; 2 Corinthians 10:6 . When the Aequi and Volsci (a certain people in Italy) bade the Roman ambassador in scorn ad quercum dicere, se interim alia acturos, tell their tale to the oak that stood by, they had somewhat else to do than to hear him. He presently replied, Et haec sacrata quercus audiat, foedus a vobis esse violatum: Let this consecrated oak hear and bear witness that you have broke your covenant, and shall dearly answer it. (Livy.)

Verse 23

He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

I am the voice of one crying — Christ spake not a word to Herod, saith one; because Herod had taken away this voice of his in beheading the Baptist. See Trapp on " Mark 1:3 " The Reverend Sam. Crook was wont to say to his friends rejoicing with him, and blessing God for him, "I am nothing but a voice."

In the wilderness — Not in the temple; to show that the legal shadows were now to vanish. Chrysologus calls John Baptist, fibulam legis et gratiae.

Verse 24

And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

Were of the Pharisees — Men of renown in the congregation, for more authority’ sake: and such as by their office were to inquire into new doctrines and their authors.

Verse 25

And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

Why baptizest thou then? — Why dost thou innovate anything in the rites of religion? A change they looked for under the Messiah, and had learned it out of Jeremiah 31:31-34 . But this testimony brought by John Baptist out of Isaiah, to prove his own calling, either they did not or would not understand; nor yet do they seek to be better informed by him.

Verse 26

John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;

I baptize with water — The Baptist here meaneth the same that St Paul doth, 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 . See Trapp on " Matthew 3:11 " Christ rains down righteousness upon all his baptized; to whom it is not only a sign, but also a seal, as circumcision is called, not only by St Paul, Romans 4:11 , but also by a Jewish doctor, more ancient than their Talmud. Of Wilfride, first Bishop of Chichester, A.D. 700, it is reported that he converted to the faith many pagans in those parts. And a day being appointed for their baptism, they had no sooner received the same, but immediately it rained plentifully, the want whereof had caused a dearth for three years before; so that many died daily for hunger, and serveral joining hand-in-hand (forty or fifty in a company) threw themselves headlong into the sea.

Verse 27

He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

I am not worthy — Yet Christ held him worthy to lay his hand upon his head in baptism. And there is one that tells us (but who told him?) that for his humility on earth, he is preferred to that place in heaven from which proud Lucifer fell.

Verse 28

These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

In Bethabara — That is, by interpretation, the place of passage, or traiectum, where Israel passed over Jordan. So the acts of Joshua and Jesus begin both at a place. Baptism also is first administered where it was of old foreshadowed. Christ is the true Bethabara, Ephesians 2:18 ; we sail to heaven on his bottom.

Verse 29

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Taketh away — Or, that is taking away, ο αιρων , by a perpetual act, as the sun doth shine, as the spring doth run,Zechariah 13:1; Zechariah 13:1 . This should be as a perpetual picture in our hearts. As we multiply sins, he multiplieth pardons, Isaiah 55:7 .

Verse 30

This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.

Preferred before me, for he was before me — Much ado the Baptist had to persuade this, the common did so admire him for his strict and holy life; for John did no miracle, John 10:41 . Holiness hath reverence. Of God himself it is said, "Holy and" therefore "reverend is his name."

Verse 31

And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

And I knew him not — By face not at all; lest the people should think that this was done and said by consent or compact beforehand between them. Nor did John ever know Christ so fully till now: his former knowledge was but ignorance, in comparison; none are too good to learn. The very angels know not so much of Christ, but they would know more, Ephesians 3:10 , and therefore look intently into the mystery of Christ, as the cherubims did into the ark, 1 Peter 1:12 .

But that he should be manifested — Ministers must hold up the tapestry, as it were, and show men Christ. They are the mouth of the Holy Ghost, whose office it is to take Christ’s excellencies, and hold them out to the world, John 16:14 .

Verse 32

And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

See Trapp on " Matthew 3:16 " See Trapp on " Mark 1:10 "

Verse 33

And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

And I knew him noti.e. Not so perfectly till I heard that testimony from heaven. Christ is not known all at once: but as by steps and stairs men went up to Solomon’s temple; and as the trumpet in the mount sounded lower at first, and then louder and louder, till at last it was heard all the camp over; so is it here. "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day," Proverbs 4:18 .

Verse 34

And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

Aud I saw and bare record — They that would persuade others, must be strongly persuaded themselves ("We believed, therefore have we spoken," 2 Corinthians 4:13 ; and "knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men," 2 Corinthians 5:11 ); or at least they must seem so to be, as those odious apostates, Judas, Demas, Ecebolus, Speiser, Pendleton, Harding (Bishop Jewel’s adversary), who was one while a thundering preacher, wishing he could cry out against Popery as loud as the bells of Osney; and exhorting the people after this sort (as Mr Fox testifieth) a little before King Edward VI died, -that if trouble come, they should never shrink from the true doctrine of the gospel which they had received; but take it rather for a trial sent by God, to prove them, whether they would abide by it or no. All which to be true (saith mine author) they can testify that heard him, and be yet alive; who also foreseeing the plague to come, were then much confirmed by his words. (Acts and Mon.)

Verse 35

Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;

John stood — Ready pressed to preach Christ, as Paul did at Athens in the market, to every one that met with him, Acts 17:17 . Christ must be preached in season, out of season, volentibus, nolentibus. If the Cynics thought it their duty to admonish all they met, and if men would not listen they counted it an easy loss to cast away a few words upon them; how should Christians (and especially ministers) much more do so.

Verse 36

And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

Behold the Lamb of GodEximius ille agnus et singularis, that notable Lamb, typed out by the paschal lamb, and by that lamb that was the daily morning and evening sacrifice in the temple; that Lamb without blemish of original corruption, and without spot of actual transgression,1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 1:19 . A lamb in his passion, but a lion in his resurrection, Revelation 5:5 , to whom every man is bound to send a lamb (in token of homage) as unto "the Ruler of the whole earth," Isaiah 16:1 .

Verse 37

And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

And they followed Jesus — So powerful is a word or two (many times) touching Christ and his cross to change the heart. Paul showeth that the very report of his bonds did a great deal of good in Caesar’s court, Philippians 1:13 . Bilney’s confession converted Latimer. Galeacius Caracciolus (that Italian marquis) was wrought upon by a similitude used by Peter Martyr, reading on the 1st Epist. to the Corinthians. So were Earl Martinengus and Hieronymus Zanchius (both of them Canonici Lateranenses ) by some seasonable truth falling from the same mouth. Luther having heard Staupicius say that it is kind repentance which begins from the love of God, ever after that time the practice of repentance was sweeter to him. Also this speech of his took well with Luther, "The doctrine of predestination begins at the wounds of Christ." (Melch. Adam. in Vita Luther.)

Verse 38

Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?

What seek ye — He saith still in effect as much as all this to all his suitors; and infinitely scorns that it should be said that any one seeketh him in vain, Isaiah 45:19 . He is found of them that sought him not, and saith, "Behold me" to every passenger, Isaiah 65:1 . Here he offers himself to these two disciples, and speaks first. He of his own accord (without any monitor) is wont to aid us. "His eyes are upon the righteous, as well as his ears are open to their prayers," Psalms 34:15 . Should he not see as well as hear, and prevent as well as follow us with his favours, we should want many things, and it would go full ill with us.

Verse 39

He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

Come and see — A most gracious invitation. That self-seeking scribe, Matthew 8:19 , met with far other entertainment. Let men bring to Jesus Christ but lawful petitions and honest aims, and they may have what they will of him.

Verse 40

One of the two which heard John speak , and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

One of the two — See here how mean and slender the Catholic Church was at first. Two poor men only follow Christ, who yet had the promise of the "heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession," Psalms 2:8 ; "Despise not therefore the day of small things,"Zechariah 4:10; Zechariah 4:10 . The cloud of a hand breadth may shortly muffle the whole heaven: the little stone cut out without hands may bring down the huge image, and break it to pieces, Daniel 2:45: the dry root of Jesse prove a tree so tall, that, like that of Nebuchadnezzar, the height thereof shall reach unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth, Daniel 4:11 . Nec minor ab excordio nec maior incrementis ulla, said he of Rome, say we of the Church. (Eutrop. Hist. lib. 1.)

Verse 41

He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

He first findeth — Yet afterwards Peter outstripped Andrew in faith and forwardness for Christ; as likewise Luther did Staupicius, … So the first become last, and the last first. But charity is no churl; Andrew calleth Simon, and Philip, Nathanael, …; as a loadstone draws to itself one iron ring, and that another, and a third, so, …

We have found the Messiah — Little it was that he could say of Christ’s person, office, value, virtue, …, but brings him to Christ. So let us do ours to the public ordinances. Do the office of the sermon bell at least, we know not what God may there do for them. Bring them as they did, the palsy man upon his bed, and lay them before the Lord for healing.

Verse 42

And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

Cephas, which is by interpretation a stone — Not a head, as some Popish buzzards would needs have it (not knowing a difference between Cephas and κεφαλη ), and all to prove Peter head of the Church. Some of them have said that the damnation of us Protestants is so plainly set down in our own Bibles, that there needs no more for convincing us thereof, but that we have our eyes in our heads (when we open the book) and be able to read it. But he that first interpreted Cephas, a head (against this clear text calling it a stone) either had not his eyes in his head, or else must needs be as perfect a stranger to the Bible as that Bishop of Dunkelden, in Scotland, that thanked God he knew neither the Old Testament nor the New. Or as that other Dutch bishop, Albertus Vindelicorum Episcopus, of whom Luther writeth, that lighting upon a Bible, and being asked (after that he had read awhile in it) what book it was; "I know not," said he, "what book it is; but this I know, that there is nothing in it that I can find to make for our religion."

Verse 43

The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.

Follow me — Together with Christ’s word there went out a power. His words are operative and efficacious. This Porphyry the atheist, and Julian the Apostate, understood not; and therefore lighting upon this and the like places of the Gospel, they blasphemously affirmed that either the evangelists were liars or the apostles fools, that with one word only of our Saviour would be drawn to follow him. So the Papists blaspheme assurance, which they have not, as if it bred security and looseness. They may as well say the sea burns or fire cools.

Verse 44

Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

Now Philip was of Bethsaida — So was Andrew and Peter, who would not be wanting to preach to this town, and pray for it. But all in vain; whence that, "Woe unto thee, Bethsaida,"Matthew 11:21; Matthew 11:21 . Christ would not suffer so much as the blind man he had cured to go thither, Mark 9:27 .

Thou art the Son of God — For else thou couldst never have known me so thoroughly at so great a distance. The Samaritess,John 4:29-30; John 4:29-30 ; John 4:39-42 , believed on the same ground ("Come see a man that told me all that ever I did"), but not so soon; Diserimen est a Deo, non natura. God and not nature made the difference. That message that God had accepted a ransom, had a present effect upon that distressed man,Job 33:24; Job 33:24 , in reviving his spirit. Not so upon David, though it were delivered to him by the mouth of Nathan, 2 Samuel 12:13 ; cf. Psalms 51:8 . God is a free agent, and gives grace and peace at his own pleasure.

Verse 45

Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

Philip findeth Nathanael — Whom some make to be the same with Bartholomew. I affirm nothing.

We have found — The Greek word imports the sudden and unexpected finding of such a community as he looked not for. See Isaiah 65:1 . ευρηκαμεν. ευρημα , lucrum insperatum, et repente oblatum.

Verse 46

And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

Can there any good, … — When men take a toy in their heads against a place or person, they are ready to reason in this manner. Good Nathanael was in the common error, as was likewise Philip, in the former verse, with his Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Four words only, and scarcely ever a true one. Epidemic diseases are soon caught.

Verse 47

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

Behold an Israelite, … — Here Christ wondereth at his own work of renovation, as wonderful, doubtless, as that of creation. Or the upright person hath here an ecce behold, for imitation, as the hypocrite for detestation, Psalms 52:7 .

Verse 48

Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

Before that Philip, … — Christ thinks of us when we little think of him. SeeRomans 5:10; Romans 5:10 .

Verse 50

Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.

Thou shalt see greater things — Strange sights, marvellous light, matchless mysteries, multifarious wisdom, even the wisdom of God in a mystery: heaven opened, and angels of God ascending and descending, John 1:51 , and curiously prying 1 Peter 1:12 into that great mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh, …

Verse 51

And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Upon the Son of man — The Jacob’s ladder, the bridge that joineth heaven and earth together, γεφυρωσας , as Gregory hath it.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 1". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/john-1.html. 1865-1868.
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