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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
John 1

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ ἰωάννην

B. א. have merely κατὰ ἰωάνν. Others: τὸ κατὰ ἰωάνν. ( ἅγιον) εὐαγγ. Others: ἐκ τοῦ κ. ἰωάνν. Others: εὐαγγ. ἐκ τοῦ κατὰ ἰωάνν. See on Matthew.

CHAPTER 1

John 1:4. ζωὴ ῆν] D. א. Codd. in Origen and Augustine, It. (Germ. Foss. excepted), Sahidic, Syr.cu Clem. Valentt. in Ir. Hilary, Ambrose, Vigil.: ζωή ἐστιν. So Lachm. and Tisch. Generalization in connection with the words: γέγ. ἐν αὐτῷ, ζωὴ ἦν, and perhaps in comparison with 1 John 5:11.

John 1:16. καὶ ἐκ] B. C* D. L. X. א. 33. Copt. Aeth. Arm. 1 Verc. Corb. Or. and many Fathers and Schol.: ὅτι ἐκ. So Griesb., Lachm., Tisch.; ὅτι is to be preferred on account of the preponderating evidence in its favour, and because John 1:16 was very early (Heracl. and Origen) regarded as a continuation of the Baptist’s discourse, and the directly continuous καὶ naturally suggested itself, and was inserted instead of the less simple ὅτι.

John 1:18. νἱός] B. C.* L. א. 33. Copt. Syr. Aeth. and many Fathers: θεός. Dogmatic gloss in imitation of John 1:1, whereby not only υἱός, but the article before μονογ. (which Tisch. deletes), was also (in the Codd. named) suppressed. The omission of υἱός (Origen, Opp. IV. 102; Ambrose, ep. 10) is not sufficiently supported, and might easily have been occasioned by John 1:14.

John 1:19. After ἀπέστειλαν, B. C.* Min. Chrys. and Verss. have πρὸς αὐτόν. So Lachm., an addition which other Codd. and Verss. insert after λευΐτας.

John 1:20. οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐγώ] A. B. C.* L. X. δ. א. 33. Verss. and Fathers have: ἐγὼ οὔκ εἰμι. So Lachm., Tisch. Rightly, on account of the preponderating evidence. Comp. John 3:28, where οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐγώ is attested by decisive evidence.

John 1:22. The οὖν after εἶπον (Lachm. Tisch. read εἶπαν) is deleted by Lachm., following B. C. Syr.cu,—testimonies which are all the less adequate, considering how easily the οὖν, which is not in itself necessary, might have been overlooked after the final syllable of εἶπον.(60)

John 1:24. The article before ἀπεσταλμ. is wanting in A.* B. C.* L. א.* Origen (once), Nonn. Perhaps a mere omission on the part of the transcriber, if ἀπεστ. ἦσαν were taken together; but perhaps intentional, for some (Origen and Nonn.) have here supposed a second deputation. The omission is therefore doubly suspicious, though Tisch. also now omits the art.

John 1:25. Instead of the repeated οὔτε, we must, with Lachm., Tisch., following A. B. C. L. X. א. Min. Origen, read οὐδέ.

John 1:26. δέ after μέσος must, with Tisch., on weighty testimony (B. C. L. א. etc.), be deleted, having been added as a connecting particle.

John 1:27. Against the words αὐτός ἐστιν (for which G. Min. Chrys. read οὗτός ἐστιν) and ὃς ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν the testimonies are so ancient, important, and unanimous, that they must be rejected together. Lachm. has bracketed them, Tisch. deletes them. αὐτός ἐστιν is an unnecessary aid to the construction, and ὃς ἔμπρ. μου γέγονεν (though defended by Ewald) is a completion borrowed from John 1:15; John 1:30.

John 1:28. βηθανίᾳ.] Elz.: βηθαβαρᾷ (adopted of late by Hengstenberg), against conclusive testimony, but following Syr.cu and Origen (Opp. II. 130), who himself avows that σχεδὸν ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἀντιγράφοις is found βηθανίᾳ, yet upon geographical grounds decides in favour of βηθαβαρᾷ,—a consideration by which criticism cannot be bound. See the exegetical notes.

John 1:29. After βλέπει Elz. has ἰωάνν., against the best testimonies. Beginning of a church lesson.

John 1:32. ὡς] Elz.: ὡσεί, against the oldest and most numerous Codd. See Matthew 3:16; Luke 3:22.

John 1:37. ἤκουσ. αὐτοῦ] Tisch., following B. א., puts αὐτοῦ after ΄αθητ.; C.* L. X. T.b have it after δύο. The Verss. also have this variation of position, which must, however, be regarded as the removal of the αὐτοῦ, made more or less mechanically, in imitation of John 1:35.

John 1:40. ἴδετε] B. C.* L. T.b Min. Syr. utr. Origen, Tisch.: ὄψεσθε. Correctly; the words which immediately follow and John 1:47 (comp. John 11:34) make it much more likely that the transcriber would write ἴδετε for ὄψεσθε, than vice versa. After ὥρα Elz. has δέ, against which are the weightiest witnesses, and which has been interpolated as a connecting link.

John 1:43. ἰωνᾶ] Lachm.: ἰωάνου, after B.; the same variation in John 21:15-17. We must, with Tisch., after B.* L. א. 33, read ἰωάννου. Comp. Nonnus: υἱὸς ἰωάνναο. The Textus Receptus has arisen from Matthew 16:17.

John 1:44. After ἠθέλησεν Elz. has ἰησοῦς, which the best authorities place after αὐτῷ. Beginning of a church lesson.

John 1:51. ἀπάρτι] wanting in B. L. א. Copt. Aeth. Arm. Vulg. It. and some Fathers, also in Origen. Deleted by Lachm. Tisch. Omitted, because it seemed inappropriate to the following words, which were taken to refer to actual angelic appearances.


Verse 1

John 1:1. ἐν ἀρχῇ] John makes the beginning of his Gospel parallel with that of Genesis;(61) but he rises above the historical conception of בְּרֵאשִׁית, which (Genesis 1:1) includes the beginning of time itself, to the absolute conception of anteriority to time: the creation is something subsequent, John 1:3. Proverbs 8:23, ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸ τοῦ τὴν γῆν ποιῆσαι, is parallel; likewise, πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κό΄ον εἶναι, John 17:5; πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσ΄ου, Ephesians 1:4. Comp. Nezach Israel, f. 48, 1 : Messias erat מפני חוהו (ante Tohu). The same idea we find already in the book of Enoch 48:3 f., 48:6 f., 62:7,—a book which (against Hilgenfeld and others) dates back into the second century B.C. (Dilm., Ewald, and others). The notion, in itself negative, of anteriority to time ( ἄχρονος ἦν, ἀκίχητος, ἐν ἀῤῥήτῳ λόγος ἀρχῇ, Nonnus), is in a popular way affirmatively designated by the ἐν ἀρχῇ as “primeval;” the more exact dogmatic definition of the ἀρχή as “eternity” (Theodor. Mopsuest., Euthym. Zig.; comp. Theophylact) is a correct development of John’s meaning, but not strictly what he himself says. Comp. 1 John 1:1; Revelation 3:14. The Valentinian notion, that ἀρχή was a divine Hypostasis distinct from the Father and the λόγος (Iren. Haer. i. 8. 5), and the Patristic view, that it was the divine σοφία

(Origen) or the everlasting Father (Cyril. Al.), rest upon speculations altogether unjustified by correct exegesis.(62)

ἦν] was present, existed. John writes historically, looking back from the later time of the incarnation of the λόγος (John 1:14). But he does not say, “In the beginning the λόγος came into existence,” for he does not conceive the generation (comp. μονογενής) according to the Arian view of creation, but according to that of Paul, Colossians 1:15.

λόγος] the Word; for the reference to the history of the creation leaves room for no other meaning (therefore not Reason). John assumes that his readers understand the term, and, notwithstanding its great importance, regards every additional explanation of it as superfluous. Hence those interpretations fall of themselves to the ground, which are unhistorical, and imply anything of a quid pro quo, such as (1) that λόγος is the same as λεγό΄ενος, “the promised one” (Valla, Beza, Ernesti, Tittm., etc.); (2) that it stands for λέγων, “the speaker” (Storr, Eckerm., Justi, and others). Not less incorrect (3) is Hofmann’s interpretation (Schriftbeweis, I. 1, p. 109 f.): “ λόγος is the word of God, the Gospel, the personal subject of which however, namely Christ, is here meant:” against which view it is decisive, first, that neither in Revelation 19:13, nor elsewhere in the N. T., is Christ called λόγος merely as the subject—matter of the word; secondly, that in John, λόγος, without some additional definition, never once occurs as the designation of the Gospel, though it is often so used by Mark (John 2:2, John 4:14, al.), Luke (John 1:2; Acts 11:19, al.), and Paul (Galatians 6:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:6); thirdly, that in the context, neither here (see especially John 1:14) nor in 1 John 1:1 (see especially ἑωράκαμενκαὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν) does it seem allowable to depart in λόγος from the immediate designation of the personal subject,(63) while this immediate designation, i.e. of the creative Word, is in our passage, from the obvious parallelism with the history of the creation, as clear and definite as it was appropriate it should be at the very commencement of the work. These reasons also tell substantially against the turn which Luthardt has given to Hofmann’s explanation: “ λόγος is the word of God, which in Christ, Hebrews 1:1, has gone forth into the world, and the theme of which was His own person.” See, on the other hand, Baur in the Theol. Jahrb. 1854, p. 206 ff.; Lechler, apost. u. nachapost. Zeit. p. 215; Gess, v. d. Person Chr. p. 116; Kahnis, Dogmat. I. p. 466. The investigation of the Logos idea can only lead to a true result when pursued by the path of history. But here, above all, history points us to the O. T.,(64) and most directly to Genesis 1, where the act of creation is effected by God speaking. The reality contained in this representation, anthropomorphic as to its form, of the revelation of Himself made in creation by God, who is in His own nature hidden, became the root of the Logos idea. The Word as creative, and embodying generally the divine will, is personified in Hebrew poetry (Psalms 33:6; Psalms 107:20; Psalms 147:15; Isaiah 55:10-11); and consequent upon this concrete and independent representation, divine attributes are predicated of it (Psalms 34:4; Isaiah 40:8; Psalms 119:105), so far as it was at the same time the continuous revelation of God in law and prophecy. A way was thus paved for the hypostatizing of the λόγος as a further step in the knowledge of the relations in the divine essence; but this advance took place gradually, and only after the captivity, so that probably the oriental doctrine of emanations, and subsequently the Pythagorean-platonic philosophy, were not without influence upon what was already given in germ in Genesis 1. Another form of the conception, however, appears,—not the original one of the Word, but one which was connected with the advanced development of ethical and teleological reflection and the needs of the Theodicy,—that of wisdom ( חָבְמָה), of which the creative word was an expression, and which in the book of Job (Job 28:12 ff.) and Proverbs (Proverbs 8, 9), in Sirach 1:1-10; Sirach 24:8, and Baruch 3:37 to Baruch 4:4, is still set forth and depicted under the form of a personification, yet to such a degree that the portrayal more closely approaches that of the Hypostasis, and all the more closely the less it is able to preserve the elevation and boldness characteristic of the ancient poetry. The actual transition of the σοφία into the Hypostasis occurs in the book of Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-11, where wisdom (manifestly under the influence of the idea of the Platonic soul of the world, perhaps also of the Stoic conception of an all-pervading world-spirit) appears as a being of light proceeding essentially from God,—the true image of God, co-occupant of the divine throne,—a real and independent principle revealing God in the world (especially in Israel), and mediating between it and Him, after it has, as His organ, created the world, in association with a spirit among whose many predicates ΄ονογενές τῆς τοῦ παντοκράτορος δόξης εἰλικρινής. ΄ονογενές should not have been rendered single (Bauerm., Lücke, Bruch, after the early writers), which it neither is nor is required to be by the merely formal contrast to πολυμερές. This idea single, as answering to the following πολυμερές, would have been expressed by μονομερές (Luc. Calumn. 6). Even Grimm (exeget. Handb. p. 152) has now rightly abandoned this interpretation.">(65) also is named, John 7:22. The divine λόγος also appears again in the book of Wisdom of Solomon 9:1, comp. Wisdom of Solomon 9:2, but only in the O. T. sense of a poetically personified declaration of God’s will, either in blessing (John 16:12, comp. Psalms 107:20) or in punishing (John 18:15). See especially Grimm, in locc.; Bruch, Weisheitslehre d. Hebr, p. 347 ff. Comp. also Sirach 43:33. While, then, in the Apocrypha the Logos representation retires before the development of the idea of wisdom,(66) it makes itself the more distinctly prominent in the Chaldee Paraphrasts, especially Onkelos: see Gfrörer, Gesch. d. Urchristenth. I. 1, p. 301 ff.; Winer, De Onkel. p. 44 f.; Anger, De Onkel. II. 1846. The Targums, the peculiarities of which rest on older traditions, exhibit the Word of God, מֵימְרָא or דִּבּוּרָא, as the divinely revealing Hypostasis, identical with the שְׁבִינָה which was to be revealed in the Messiah. Comp. Schoettg. Hor. II. p. 5; Bertholdt, Christol. p. 121. Thus there runs through the whole of Judaism, and represented under various forms (comp. especially the מַלְאַךְ יְהֹוָה in the O. T. from Genesis 16, Exodus 23 downwards, frequently named, especially in Hosea, Zechariah, and Malachi, as the representative of the self-revealing God), the idea that God never reveals Himself directly, but mediately, that is, does not reveal His hidden invisible essence, but only a manifestation of Himself (comp. especially Exodus 33:12-23); and this idea, modified however by Greek and particularly Platonic and Stoic speculation, became a main feature in the Judaeo-Alexandrine philosophy, as this is set forth in PHILO, one of the older contemporaries of Jesus. See especially Gfrörer, I. 243 ff.; Dähne, Jüdisch-Alex. Religionsphil. I. 114 ff.; Grossmann, Quaestion. Philon., Lpz. 1829; Scheffer, Quaest. Phil. Marb. 1829, 1831; Keferstein, Philo’s Lehre von dem göttl. Mittelwesen, Lpz. 1846; Ritter, Gesch. d. Philos. IV. 418 ff.; Zeller, Philos. d. Griechen, III. 2; Lutterb. neut. Lehrbegr. I. 418 ff.; Müller in Herzog’s Encykl. XI. 484; Ewald, apost. Zeit. 257; Delitzsch in d. Luther. Zeitschr. 1863, ii. 219; Riehm, Hebr. Brief, p. 249; Keim, Gesch. J.I. 212. Comp. also Langen, d. Judenth. z. Zeit Christi, 1867; Röhricht as formerly quoted. According to the intellectual development, so rich in its results, which Philo gave to the received Jewish doctrine of Wisdom, the Logos is the comprehension or sum-total of all the divine energies, so far as these are either hidden in the Godhead itself, or have come forth and been disseminated in the world ( λόγος σπερματικός). As immanent in God, containing within itself the archetypal world, which is conceived as the real world—ideal ( νοητὸς κόσ΄ος), it is, while not yet outwardly existing, like the immanent reason in men, the λόγος ἐνδιάθετος; but when in creating the world it has issued forth from God, it answers to the λόγος προφορικός, just as among men the word when spoken is the manifestation of thought. Now the λόγος προφορικός is the comprehension or sum-total of God’s active relations to the world; so that creation, providence, the communication of all physical and moral power and gifts, of all life, light, and wisdom from God, are its work, not being essentially different in its attributes and workings from σοφία and the Divine Spirit itself. Hence it is the image of the Godhead, the eldest and first-begotten ( πρεσβύτατος, πρωτόγονος) Son of God, the possessor of the entire divine fulness, the Mediator between 21 λόγος το΄εύς, δη΄ιουργός, ἀρχιερεύς, ἱκέτης, πρεσβευτής, the ἀρχάγγελος, the δεύτερος θεός, the substratum of all Theophanies, also the Messiah, though ideally apprehended only as a Theophany, not as a concrete humanized personality; for an incarnation of the Logos is foreign to Philo’s system (see Ewald, p. 284 ff.; Dorner, Entwickelungsgesch. I. 50). There is no doubt that Philo has often designated and described the Logos as a Person, although, where he views it rather as immanent in God, he applies himself more to describe a power, and to present it as an attribute. There is, however, no real ground for inferring, with some (Keferst., Zeller), from this variation in his representation, that Philo’s opinion wavered between personality and impersonality; rather, as regards the question of subsistence in its bearing upon Philo’s Logos (see especially Dorner, Entwickelungsgesch. I. 21; Niedner, de subsistentia τῷ θείῳ λόγῳ apud Philon. tribute, in the Zeitsch. f. histor. Theol. 1849, p. 337 ff.; and Hölemann, de evang. Joh. introitu, etc., p. 39 ff.), must we attribute to him no separation between the subsistence of God and the Logos, as if there came forth a Person distinct from God, whenever the Logos is described as a Person; but, “ea duo, in quibus cernitur τοῦ ὄντος καὶ ζῶντος θεοῦ essentia s. deitas plenum esse per suam ipsius essentiam et implere cuncta hac sua essentia, primo diserte uni substantiae tribuuntur, deinde distribuuntur, sed tantum inter essentiam et hujus actionem, quemadmodum nomina τοῦ θεοῦ et τοῦ λόγου hujus ipsius dei” (Niedner). Accordingly, Philo’s conception of the Logos resolves itself into the sum-total and full exercise of the divine energies; so that God, so far as He reveals Himself, is called Logos, while the Logos, so far as he reveals God, is called God. That John owed his doctrine of the Logos—in which he represents the divine Messianic being as pre-existent, and entering into humanity in a human form—solely to the Alexandrine philosophy, is an assertion utterly arbitrary, especially considering the difference between Philo’s doctrine and that of John, not only in general (comp. also Godet, I. 233), but also in respect to the subsistence of the Logos in particular.(67) The form which John gave to his doctrine is understood much more naturally and historically thus, without by any means excluding the influence of the Alexandrine Gnosis upon the apostle;—that while the ancient popular wisdom of the Word of God, which (as we have above shown) carries us back to Genesis 1:1, is acknowledged to be that through which the idea of the Logos, as manifested in human form in Christ, was immediately suggested to him, and to which he appended and unfolded his own peculiar development of this idea with all clearness and spiritual depth, according to the measure of those personal testimonies of his Lord which his memory vividly retained, he at the same time allowed the widespread Alexandrine speculations, so similar in their origin and theme, to have due influence upon him, and used(68) them in an independent manner to assist his exposition of the nature and working of the divine in Christ, fully conscious of their points of difference (among which must be reckoned the cosmological dualism of Philo, which excluded any real incarnation, and made God to have created the world out of the ὕλη). Whether he adopted these speculations for the first time while dwelling in Asia Minor, need not be determined, although it is in itself very conceivable that the longer he lived in Asia, the more deeply did he penetrate into the Alexandrine theologoumenon which prevailed there, without any intermediate agency on the part of Apollos being required for that end (Tobler). The doctrine is not, however, on account of this connection with speculations beyond the pale of Christendom, by any means to be traced back to a mere fancy of the day. The main truth in it (the idea of the Son of God and His incarnation) had, long before he gave it its peculiar form, been in John’s mind the sole foundation of his faith, and the highest object of his knowledge; and this was no less the case with Paul and all the other apostles, though they did not formally adopt the Logos doctrine, because their idiosyncrasies and the conditions of their after development were different. That main truth in it is to be referred simply to Christ Himself, whose communications to His disciples, and direct influence upon them (John 1:14), as well as His further revelations and leadings by means of the Spirit of truth, furnished them with the material which was afterwards made use of in their various modes of representation. This procedure is specially apparent also in John, whose doctrine of the divine and pre-existent nature of Christ, far removed from the influences of later Gnosticism, breaks away in essential points from the Alexandrine type of doctrine, and moulds itself in a different shape, especially rejecting, in the most decided manner, all dualistic and docetic elements, and in general treating the form once chosen with the independence of an apostle. That idea of a revelation by God of His own essence, which took its rise from Genesis 1, which lived and grew under various forms and names among the Hebrews and later Jews, but was moulded in a peculiar fashion by the Alexandrine philosophy, was adopted by John for the purpose of setting forth the abstract divinity of the Son,—thus bringing to light the reality which lies at the foundation of the Logos idea. Hence, according to John,(69) by λόγος, which is throughout viewed by him (as is clear from the entire Prologue down to John 1:18)(70) under the conception of a personal(71) subsistence, we must understand nothing else than the self-revelation of the divine essence, before all time immanent in God (comp. Paul, Colossians 1:15 ff.), but for the accomplishment of the act of creation proceeding hypostatically from Him, and ever after operating even in the spiritual world as a creating, quickening, and illuminating personal principle, equal to God Himself in nature and glory (comp. Paul, Philippians 2:6); which divine self-revelation appeared bodily in the man Jesus, and accomplished, the work of the redemption of the world. John fashions and determines his Gospel from beginning to end with this highest christological idea in his eye; this it is which constitutes the distinctive character of its doctrine. Comp. Weizsäcker, üb. d. evang. Gesch. pp. 241 ff., 297; also his Abh. über d. Joh. Logoslehre, in d. Jahrb. f. D. Th. 1862, pp. 619 ff., 701 f. The Synoptics contain the fragments and materials, the organic combination and ideal formation of which into one complete whole is the pre-eminent excellence of this last and highest Gospel. Paul has the Logos, only not in name.

The second and third ἦν is the copula; but καὶ λόγος, as the repetition of the great subject, has a solemnity about it.

πρὸς τὸν θεον] not simply equivalent to παρὰ τῷ θεῷ, John 7:5, but expressing, as in 1 John 1:2, the existence of the Logos in God in respect of intercourse (Bernhardy, p. 265). So also in all other passages where it appears to mean simply with, Mark 6:3; Mark 9:19; Matthew 13:56; Matthew 26:55; 1 Corinthians 16:6-7; Galatians 1:18; Galatians 4:18; and in the texts cited in Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 202.(72) Upon the thing itself, comp. concerning Wisdom, Proverbs 8:30, Wisdom of Solomon 9:4. The moral essence of this essential fellowship is love (John 17:24; Colossians 1:13), with which, at the same time, any merely modalistic conception is excluded.

καὶ θεὸς ἦν λόγος] and the Logos was God. This θεός can only be the predicate, not the subject (as Röhricht takes it), which would contradict the preceding ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, because the conception of the λόγος would be only a periphrasis for God. The predicate is placed before the subject emphatically (comp. John 4:24), because the progress of the thought, “He was with God, and (not at all a Person of an inferior nature, but) possessed of a divine nature,” makes this latter—the new element to be introduced—the naturally and logically emphasized member of the new clause, on account of its relation to πρὸς τὸν θεόν.(73) The omission of the article was necessary, because θεός after the preceding πρὸς τὸν θεόν would have assigned to the Logos identity of Person (as, in fact, Beyschlag, p. 162, construes θεός without the art.). But so long as the question of God’s self-mediation objectively remains out of consideration, θεός would have been out of place here, where πρὸς τὸν θεόν had laid down the distinction of Person; whereas θεός without the article makes the unity of essence and nature to follow the distinction of Person.(74) As, therefore, by θεός without the article, John neither desires to indicate, on the, one hand, identity of Person with the Father; nor yet, on the other, any lower nature than that which God Himself possesses: so his doctrine of the Logos is definitely distinguished from that of Philo, which predicates θεός without the article of the Logos in the sense of subordination in nature, nay, as he himself says, ἐν καταχρήσει (I. 655, ed. Mang.); see Hoelemann, I. 1, p. 34. Moreover, the name δεύτερος θεός, which Philo gives to the Logos, must, according to II. 625 (Euseb. praep. ev. vii. 13), expressly designate an intermediate nature between God and man, after whose image God created man. This subordinationism, according to which the Logos is indeed μεθόριός τις θεοῦ φύσις, but τοῦ ΄ὲν ἐλάττων, ἀνθρώπου δὲ κρείττων (I. 683), is not that of the N. T., which rather assumes (comp. Philippians 2:6, Colossians 1:15-16) the eternal unity of being of the Father and the Son, and places the subordination of the latter in His dependence on the Father, as it does the subordination of the Spirit in His dependence on the Father and the Son. θεός, therefore, is not to be explained by help of Philo, nor is it to be converted into a general qualitative idea—“divine,” “God-like” (B. Crusius),—which deprives the expression of the precision which, especially considering the strict monotheism of the N. T. (in John, see in particular John 17:3), it must possess, owing to the conception of the personal Logos as a divine being. Comp. Schmid, bibl. Theol. II. 370. On Sam. Crell’s conjecture (Artemonii initium ev. Joh. ex antiquitate eccl. restitut. 1726) that θεοῦ is a mere anti-trinitarian invention, see Bengel, Appar. crit. p. 214 ff.


Verse 2

John 1:2 again emphatically combines the first and second clauses of John 1:1, in order to connect with them the work of creation, which was wrought by the λόγος.(75) In this way, however, the subject also of the third clause of John 1:1 is included in and expressed by οὗτος. On this οὗτος—to which, then, πάντα standing at the beginning of John 1:3 significantly corresponds—lies the emphasis in the continuation of the discourse. In John 1:2 is given the necessary premiss to John 1:3; for if it was this same Logos, and no other than He, who Himself was God, who lived in the beginning in fellowship with God, and consequently when creation began, the whole creation, nothing excepted, must have come into existence through Him. Thus it is assumed, as a self-evident middle term, that God created the world not immediately, but, according to Genesis 1, through the medium of the Word.


Verse 3

John 1:3. πάντα] “grande verbum, quo mundus, i.e. universitas rerum factarum denotatur, John 1:10,” Bengel. Comp. Genesis 1; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2. Quite opposed to the context is the view of the Socinians: “the moral creation is meant.” Comp. rather Philo, de Cherub. I. 162, where the λόγος appears as the ὄργανον διʼ οὗ (comp. 1 Corinthians 8:6) κατεσκευάσθη ( ὁκόσμος). The further speculations of Philo concerning the relation of the λόγος to the creation, which however are not to be imputed to John, see in Hoelemann, l.c. p. 36 ff. John might have written τὰ πάντα (with the article), as in 1 Corinthians 8:6 and Colossians 1:16, but he was not obliged to do so. Comp. Colossians 1:17, John 3:35. For his thought is “all” (unlimited), whereas τὰ πάντα would express “the whole of what actually exists.”

καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ, κ. τ. λ.] an emphatic parallelismus antitheticus, often occurring in the classics (Dissen, ad Dem, de Cor. p. 228; Maetzner, ad Antiph. p. 157), in the N. T. throughout, and especially in John (John 1:20; John 10:28; 1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:27, al.). We are not to suppose that by this negative reference John meant to exclude (so Lücke, Olshausen, De Wette, Frommann, Maier, Baeumlein) the doctrine of a ὕλη having an extra-temporal existence (Philo, l.c.), because ἐγένετο and γέγονεν describe that which exists only since the creation, as having come into existence, and therefore ὕλη would not be included in the conception. John neither held nor desired to oppose the idea of the ὕλη; the antithesis has no polemical design—not even of an anti-gnostic kind—to point out that the Logos is raised above the series of Aeons (Tholuck); for though the world of spirits is certainly included in the πάντα and the οὐδὲ ἕν, it is not specially designated (comp. Colossians 1:16). How the Valentinians had already referred it to the Aeons, see in Iren. Haer. i. 8. 5; Hilgenfeld, d. Ev. u. d. Briefe Joh. p. 32 ff.

οὐδὲ ἕν] ne unum quidem, i.e. prorsus nihil, more strongly emphatic than οὐδέν. Comp. 1 Corinthians 6:5; see Stallbaum, ad Plat. Sympos. p. 214 D Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 6. 2. As to the thing itself, comp. Philo, II. p. 225: διʼ οὗ σύμπας κόσμος ἐδημιουργεῖτο.

γέγονεν] Perfect: what has come into being, and now is. Comp. ἔκτισται, Colossians 1:16. This belongs to the emphatic fulness of the statement (Bornemann, Schol. in Luc. p. xxxvii.), and connects itself with what precedes. The very ancient connection of it with what follows (C. D. L. Verss., Clem. Al., Origen, and other Greeks, Heracleon, Ptolemaeus, Philos. Orig. v. 8, Latin Fathers, also Augustine, Wetst., Lachm., Weisse), by putting the comma after either γέγ. or αὐτῷ (so already the Valentinians),(76) is to be rejected, although it would harmonize with John’s manner of carrying forward the members of his sentences, whereby “ex proximo membro sumitur gradus sequentis” (Erasmus); but in other respects it would only be Johannean if the comma were placed after γέγ. (so also Lachm.). The ground of rejection lies not in the ambiguity of ζωή, which cannot surprise us in John, but in this, that the perfect γέγονεν, as implying continuance, would have logically required ἐστί instead of ἦν after ζωή; to ἦν not γέγονεν but ἐγένετο would have been appropriate, so that the sense would have been: “what came into existence had in Him its ground or source of life.”


Verse 4

John 1:4. An advance to the nature of the Logos(77) as life, and thereby as light.

ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν] in Him, was life, He was πηγὴ ζωῆς (Philo). Life was that which existed in Him, of which He was full. This must be taken in the most comprehensive sense, nothing that is life being excluded, physical, moral, eternal life (so already Chrysostom),—all life was contained in the Logos, as in its principle and source. No limitation of the conception, especially as ζωή is without the article (comp. John 5:26), has any warrant from the context; hence it is not to be understood either merely of physical life, so far as it may be the sustaining power (B. Crusius, comp. Chrysostom, Euthymius Zigabenus, Calvin), or of spiritual and eternal life,—of the Johannean ζωὴ αἰώνιος (Origen, Maldonatus, Lampe, Kuinoel, Köstlin, Hengstenberg, Weiss), where Hengstenberg drags in the negative notion that the creature was excluded from life until Christ was manifested in the flesh, and that down to the time of His incarnation He had only been virtually life and light.

καὶ ζωὴ, κ. τ. λ.] and the life, of which the Logos was the possessor, was the light of men. The exposition then passes over from the universal to the relation of the Logos to mankind; for, being Himself the universal source of life to the world made by Him, He was as such unable to remain inactive, least of all with respect to men, but shows Himself as operating upon them conformably to their rational and moral nature, especially as the light, according to the necessary connection of life and light in opposition to death and darkness. (Comp. John 8:12; Psalms 36:10; Ephesians 5:14; Luke 1:78-79.) The light is truth pure and divine, theoretical and moral (both combined by an inner necessity, and not simply the former, as Weiss maintains), the reception and appropriation of which enlightens the man ( υἱὸς φωτός, John 12:36), whose non-appropriation and non-acceptance into the consciousness determines the condition of darkness. The Life was the Light of men, because in its working upon them it was the necessary determining power of their illumination. Comp. such expressions as those in John 11:25, John 14:6, John 17:3. Nothing as yet is said of the working of the Logos after His incarnation (John 14:6), but (observe the ἦν) that the divine truth in that primeval time came to man from the Logos as the source of life; life in Him was for mankind the actively communicating principle of the divine ἀλήθεια, in the possession of which they lived in that fair morning of creation, before through sin darkness had broken in upon them. This reference to the time when man, created after God’s image, remained in a state of innocency, is necessarily required by the ἦν, which, like the preceding ἦν, must refer to the creation-period indicated in John 1:3. But we are thus at the same time debarred from understanding, as here belonging to the enlightening action of the Logos, God’s revelations to the Hebrews and later Jews (comp. Isaiah 2:5), by the prophets, etc. (Ewald), or even from thinking of the elements of moral and religious truth to be found in heathendom ( λόγος σπερματικός). In that fresh, untroubled primeval age, when the Logos as the source of life was the Light of men, the antithesis of light and darkness did not yet exist; this tragic antithesis, however, as John’s readers knew, originated with the fall, and had continued ever after. There follows, therefore, after a fond recalling of that fair bygone time (John 1:4), the painful and mournful declaration of the later and still enduring relation (John 1:5), where the light still shines indeed, but in darkness,—a darkness which had not received it. If that reference, however, which is to be kept closely in view, of ἦν to the time of the world’s creation, and also this representation of the onward movement of our narrative, be correct, it cannot also be explained of the continuous (John 1:17) creative activity of the Logos, through which a consciousness and recognition of the highest truth have been developed among men (De Wette); and just as little may we find in τὸ φῶς τ. ἀνθρ. what belongs to the Logos in His essence only, in which case the reading ἐστί would (against Brückner) be more appropriate; comp. φωτίζει, John 1:9. As in ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, so also by ἦν τὸ φῶς τ. ἀνθρ. must be expressed what the Logos was in His historical activity, and not merely what He was virtually (Hengstenberg). Comp. Godet, who, however, without any hint from the text, or any historical appropriateness whatever, finds in “life and light” a reminiscence of the trees of life and of knowledge in Paradise.


Verse 5

John 1:5. Relation of the light to the darkness.

καὶ τὸ φῶς] and the light shineth;(78) not “and thus, as the light, the Logos shineth” (Lücke). The discourse steadily progresses link by link, so that the preceding predicate becomes the subject.

φαίνει] Present, i.e. uninterruptedly from the beginning until now; it embraces, therefore, the illuminating activity of the λόγος ἄσαρκος(79) and ἔνσαρκος. As it is arbitrary to supply the idea of “still present” (Weiss), so also is its limitation to the revelations by the prophets of the O. T., which would make φαίνει merely the descriptive praesens historicum (De Wette). For the assumption of this, however, in connection with pure preterites there is no warrant; comp. rather φωτίζωι, John 1:9. According to Ewald, Jahrb. V. 194 (see his Johann. Schr. I. 121), φαίνει represents as present the time in which the Light, which since the creation had enlightened men only from afar, had now suddenly come down into the world, which without it is darkness, and was shining in the midst of this darkness. An antithetic relation is thus assumed (“only from afar,—but now suddenly in the midst”) which has no support in the present tense alone, without some more distinct intimation in the text. The stress, moreover, is not on φαίνει, but the (tragic) emphasis is laid on the ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ, which with this object precedes it. It is the continuation of the discourse, John 1:7 ff., which first leads specially to the action of the Incarnate One (this also against Hengstenb.).

The σκοτία is the negation and opposite of the φῶς, the condition and order of things in which man does not possess the divine ἀλήθεια, but has become the prey of folly, falsehood, and sin, as a godless ruling power, with all its misery. Here the abstract term “darkness,” as the element in which the light shines, denotes not the individual subject of darkness (Ephesians 5:8), but, as the context requires, that same totality which had been previously described by τῶν ἀνθρώπων, consequently mankind in general, in so far as in and for themselves they have since the fall been destitute of divine truth, and have become corrupt in understanding and will. Melancthon well says, “genus humanum oppressum peccato vocat tenebras.” Frommann is altogether mistaken in holding that σκοτία differs in the two clauses, and means (1) humanity so far as it yet lay beyond the influence of the light, and (2) humanity so far as it was opposed thereto. But Hilgenfeld is likewise in error, when, out of a different circle of ideas, he imports the notion that “light and darkness are primeval opposites, which did not first originate with the fall;” see on John 8:44.

οὐ κατέλαβεν] apprehended it not, look not possession of it; it was not appropriated by the darkness, so that thereby the latter might have become light, but remained aloof and alien to it. Comp. Philippians 3:12-13, 1 Corinthians 9:24, and especially Romans 9:30; also expressions like καταλαμβ. σοφίαν, Sirach 15:1; Sirach 15:7. The explanation apprehended, i.e. ἔγνω, John 1:10 (Ephesians 3:18; Acts 10:34; Acts 4:13; Plato, Phaedr. p. 250 D Phil. p. 16 D Polyb. viii. 4. 6), is on one side arbitrarily narrowing, on another anticipatory, since it foists in the individual subjects of the σκοτία, which is conceived of as a realm. It is erroneous to interpret, as Origen, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Bos., Schulthess, Hoelemann, p. 60, also Lange: “The darkness did not hem it in, oppress it; it was invincible before it.” Linguistically this is allowable (see Schweighaüser, Lex. Herod. II. p. 18), but it nowhere so occurs in the N. T., and is here opposed to the parallels, John 1:10-11.

Observe that οὐ κατέλαβεν, which presupposes no Gnostic absolutism, but freedom of moral self-determination (comp. John 1:11-12), reflects the phenomenon as a whole, and indeed as it presented itself to John in history and experience; hence the aorist. Comp. John 3:19.


Verse 6

John 1:6. In the painful antithesis of John 1:5 which pervades the entire Gospel, was included not merely the pre-human relation of the Logos to mankind, but His relation thereto after His incarnation likewise (see on φαίνει). This latter is now more minutely unfolded as far as John 1:11, and indeed in such a way that John, to strengthen the antithesis, adduces first the testimony of the Baptist (John 1:6-8) to the Light, on the ground of which he then designates the Logos as the true Light (John 1:9); and finally, thus prefaced, makes the antithesis (John 1:10-11) follow with all the more tragic effect. The mention of John’s testimony here in the Prologue is not therefore a mere confirmation of the reality of the appearance of the Logos (Brückner), which the statements of John 1:9-10 did not require; still less is it a pressing forwards of the thought to the beginning of the Gospel history (De Wette), nor even the representation of the idea of the first intervention in the antithesis between light and darkness (Baur), nor “an illustrious exception” (Ewald) to the preceding σκοτία, κ. τ. λ.; but introducing a new paragraph, and therefore beginning without a particle, it forms a historical preparation, answering to what was actually the fact, for that non-recognition and rejection (John 1:10-11) which, in spite of that testimony of the Baptist, the light shining in the darkness had experienced. John 1:15 stands to John 1:7 in the relation of a particular definite statement to the general testimony of which it is a part.

ἐγένετο] not there was ( ἦν, John 3:1), but denoting the appearing, the historical manifestation. See on Mark 1:4; Luke 1:5; Philippians 2:7. Hence not with Chrys.: ἐγένετο ἀπεσταλμένος ἀντὶ τοῦ ἀπεστάλη; which Hengstenberg repeats.

Observe in what follows the noble simplicity of the narrative: we need not look out for any antithetical reference ( ἐγένετο

ἄνθρωπος

ἀπεστ. π. θεοῦ) to John 1:1 (B. Crusius, Luthardt, and older expositors). With ἀπεσταλμ. π. θεοῦ, comp. John 3:28; Malachi 3:1-3. Description of the true prophet; comp. also Luke 3:2-3.


Verse 7

John 1:7. εἰς μαρτυρίαν] to bear witness; for John testified what had been prophetically made known to him by divine revelation respecting the Light which had come in human form. Comp. John 1:33.

ἵνα πάντες, κ. τ. λ.] Purpose of the μαρτυρήσῃ, final end of the ἦλθεν.

πιστεύσ.] i.e. in the light; comp. John 1:8-9; John 12:36.

διʼ αὐτοῦ] by means of John, so far as he by his witness-bearing was the medium of producing faith: “and thus John is a servant and guide to the Light, which is Christ” (Luther); not by means of the light (Grotius, Lampe, Semler), for here it is not faith in God (1 Peter 1:21) that is spoken of.


Verse 8

John 1:8. ἦν is emphatic, and is therefore placed in the front: he was not the Light, but he was to bear witness of the Light; and hence, in the second clause, μαρτυρήσῃ emphatically takes the lead. The object of making this antithesis prominent is not controversy, nor has it the slightest reference to the disciples of John (see the Introduction), but to point out(80) the true position of the Baptist in face of the historical fact, that when he first appeared, men took him for the Messiah Himself (comp. John 1:20; Luke 3:15), so that his witnessshall appear in its proper historical aspect. Comp. Cyril.

ἀλλʼ ἵνα, κ. τ. λ.] From what precedes, we must understand ἦλθεν before ἵνα; a rapid hastening away to the main thought (comp. John 9:3, John 13:18, John 15:25; 1 John 2:19; Fritzsche, ad Matt. 840 f.; Winer, p. 297 [E. T. p. 398]); not imperative (De Wette), nor dependent upon ἦν (Lücke, Lange, Godet): not the latter, because εἶναι, ἵνα (instead of εἰς τό), even if it were linguistically possible, is here untenable on account of the emphasis placed upon the ἦν; while to take ἦν in the sense of aderat, as again understood before ἵνα (Godet), would be more forced and arbitrary than to supply ἦλθεν from John 1:7.


Verse 9

John 1:9. For the correct apprehension of this verse, we must observe, (1) that ἦν has the main emphasis, and therefore is placed at the beginning: (2) that τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθ. cannot be the predicate, but must be the subject, because in John 1:8 another was the subject; consequently without a τοῦτο, or some such word, there are no grounds for supposing a subject not expressed: (3) that ἐρχόμ. εἰς τὸν κόσμον (with Origen, Syr., Copt., Euseb., Chrys., Cyril., Epiph., Nonnus, Theophyl., Euth. Zig., It., Vulg., Augustine, Erasmus, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Aret., and most of the early expositors(81)) can only be connected with πάντα ἄνθρωπον, not with ἦν; because when John was bearing witness the Logos was already in the world (John 1:26), not simply then came into the world, or was about to come, or had to come. We should thus be obliged arbitrarily to restrict ἐρχ. εἰς τ. κόσμ. to His entrance upon His public ministry, as Grotius already did (from whom Calovius differs), and because the order of the words does not suggest the connecting of ἦν with ἐρχόμ.; rather would the prominence given to ἦν, and its wide separation from ἐρχόμ., be without any reason. Hence the connection by the early church of ἐρχόμ. with π. ἄνθρ. is by no means to be regarded, with Hilgenfeld, as obsolete, but is to be retained,—to be explained, however, thus: “The true Light was existing, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world”. This, together with the following ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν onwards to ἐγένετο, serves, by preparing the way, to strengthen the portentous and melancholy antithesis, καὶ κόσμ. αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω. The usual objection that ἐρχόμ. εἰς τ. κ., when referred to πάντα ἄνθρ., is a superfluous by-clause, is inept. There is such a thing as a solemn redundance, and that we have here, an epic fulness of words. Hence we must reject (1) the usual interpretation by the older writers (before Grotius), with whom even Kaeuffer sides: “He (or even that, namely to τὸ φῶς) was the true Light which lighteth all men who come into this world” (Luther), against which we have already remarked under (1) and (2) above; again, (2) the construction which connects ἐρχόμ. with φῶς as an accompanying definition (so probably Theod. Mopsu.; some in Augustine, de pecc. mer. et rem. i. 25; Castalio, Vatablus, Grotius; Schott, Opusc. I. p. 14; Maier): “He was the true Light, which was at that time to come into the world;(82) also, (3) the connecting of ἦν with ἐρχόμενον, so as to interpret it either in a purely historical sense (Bleek, Köstlin, B. Crusius, Lange, Hengstenberg: “He came”, with reference to Malachi 3:1; and so already Bengel); or relatively, as De Wette, Lücke: “when John had appeared to bear witness of Him, even then came the true Light into the world,” comp. Hauff in the Stud. u. Krit. 1846, p. 575; or as future, of Him who was soon to appear: venturum erat (Rinck, Tholuck), according to Luthardt (comp. Baeuml.): “it had been determined of God that He should come;” or more exactly, of an unfulfilled state of things, still present at that present time: “It was coming” (Hilgenfeld, Lehrbegr. p. 51(83)); and according to Ewald, who attaches it to John 1:4-5 : “It was at that time always coming into the world, so that every human being, if he had so wished, might have let himself be guided by Him;” comp. Keim: “He was continually coming into the world.” As to details, we have further to remark: ἦν] aderat, as in John 7:39 and often; its more minute definition follows in John 1:10 : ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν. The Light was already there (in Jesus) when John bore witness of Him, John 1:26. The reference of John 1:9-13 to the working of the Logos before His incarnation (Tholuck, Olshausen, Baur, also Lange, Leben J. III. p. 1806 ff.) entirely breaks down before John 1:11-13, as well as before the comparison of the Baptist with the Logos, which presupposes the personal manifestation of the latter (comp. also John 1:15); and therefore Baur erroneously denies that there is any distinction made in the Prologue between the working of the Logos before Christ and in Christ. Comp. Bleek in the Stud u. Krit. 1833, p. 414 ff.

τὸ ἀληθινόν] Because it was neither John nor any other, but the true, genuine, archetypal Light, which corresponds to the idea—the idea of the light realized.(84) Comp. John 4:23; John 4:37, John 6:32, John 7:28, John 15:1. See, generally, Schott, Opusc. I. p. 7 ff.; Frommann, Lehrbegr. p. 130 ff.; Kluge in the Jahrb. f. D. Th. 1866, p. 333 ff.; also Hoelemann, l.c., p. 63, who, however, supposes an antithesis, which is without any support from the connection, to the cosmic light (Genesis 1).

φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρ.] a characteristic of the true light; it illumines every one. This remains true, even though, as a matter of fact, the illumination is not received by many (see on Romans 2:4), so that every one does not really become what he could become, a child of light, φῶς ἐν κυρίῳ, Ephesians 5:8. The relation, as a matter of experience, resolves itself into this: “quisquis illuminatur, ab hac luce illuminatur,” Bengel; comp. Luthardt. It is not this, however, that is expressed, but the essential relation as it exists on the part of the Logos.(85) Bengel well says: “numerus singularis magnam hic vim habet.” Comp. Colossians 1:15; Romans 3:4.

ἐρχόμενον εἰς τ. κόσμον] every man coming into the world; rightly without the article; comp. 2 John 1:7. The addition of the predicative clause gives emphatic prominence to the conception of πάντα. There is no need to compare it with the Rabbinic בּוֹא בְעוֹלָם (see Lightfoot and Schoettgen). Comp. John 16:21, and see on John 18:37.


Verse 10

John 1:10. What here follows is linked on to the preceding by ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, following upon εἰς τ. κόσμ. This is a fuller definition of the emphatic ἦν of John 1:9 : “It was in the world”, viz. in the person of Jesus, when John was bearing witness. There is no mention here of its continual presence in humanity (B. Crusius, Lange), nor of the “lumière innée” (Godet) of every man; see on John 1:5. The repetition of κόσμος three times, where, on the last occasion, the word has the narrower sense of the world of mankind, gives prominence to the mournful antithesis; Buttm. neut. Gr. p. 341 [E. T. p. 398].

ἦν] not pluperfect (“It had been already always in the world, but was not recognised by it”), as Herder, Tholuck, Olshausen, and Klee maintain, but like ἦν in John 1:9.

καὶ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγέν.] Further preparation, by way of climax, for the antithesis with reference to John 1:3. If the Light was in the world, and the world was made by it, the latter could and ought all the more to have recognised the former: it could, because it needed only not to close the inner eye against the Light, and to follow the impulse of its original necessary moral affinity with the creative Light; it ought, because the Light, shining within the world, and having even given existence to the world, could demand that recognition, the non-bestowal of which was ingratitude, originating in culpable delusion and moral obduracy. Comp. Romans 1:19 ff. We need not attach to the καί, which is simply conjunctive, either the signification although (Kuinoel, Schott), nor the force of the relative (which was made by it, Bleek).

αὐτόν] the Logos, which is identified with the Light, which is being spoken of as its possessor, according to John 1:4 ff.; αὐτοῦ was still neuter, but the antithesis passes over into the masculine, because the object which was not recognised was this very personal manifestation of the Logos.

With regard to the last καί, observe: “cum vi pronuntiandum est, ut saepe in sententiis oppositionem continentibus, ubi frustra fuere qui καίτοι requirerent,” Stallbaum, ad Plat. Apol. p. 29 B. Comp. Hartung, Partikell. p. 147. Very often in John.


Verse 11

John 1:11. More particular statement of the contrast. Observe the gradual ascent to still greater definiteness: ἦν, John 1:9; ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, John 1:10; εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθε. John 1:11.

εἰς τὰ ἴδια] to His own possession, is, with Erasmus, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Bengel, Lampe, and many expositors, also Lücke, Tholuck, Bleek, Olshausen, De Wette, B. Crusius, Maier, Frommann, Köstlin, Hilgenfeld, Luthardt, Ewald, Hengstenberg, Godet, and most interpreters, to be explained of the Jewish people as specially belonging to the Messiah (Sirach 24:7 ff.), as they are called in Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6, Psalms 135:4, Isaiah 31:9, Jehovah’s possession; from Israel salvation was to spread over all the world (John 4:22; Matthew 8:12; Romans 1:16). This interpretation is required by the onward progress of the discourse, which by the use of ἦλθε excludes any reference to the world. (Corn. a Lapide, Kuinoel, Schott, Reuss, Keim), as was proposed along with this by Chrysostom, Ammonius, Theophylact, Euth. Zig., and conjoined with it by Augustine and many others. “He was in the world;” and now follows His historical advent, “He came to His own possession.” Therefore the sympathy of God’s people, who were His own people, should have led them to reach out the hand to Him.

οἱ ἴδιοι] the Jews. παρέλαβον] they received Him not, i.e. not as Him to whom they peculiarly belonged. Comp. Matthew 1:20; Matthew 24:40-41; Herod, i. 154, vii. 106; Plato, Soph. p. 218 B. Observe that the special guilt of Israel appears still greater ( οὐ παρέλαβον, they despised Him) than the general guilt of mankind ( οὐκ ἔγνω). Comp. the οὐκ ἠθελήσατε of Matthew 23:37; Romans 10:21. In the negative form of expression (John 1:10-11) we trace a deeply elegiac and mournful strain.


Verse 12

John 1:12. The mass of the Jews rejected Him, but still not all of them. Hence, in this fuller description of the relation of the manifested Logos to the world, the refreshing light is now (it is otherwise in John 1:5) joyfully recognised and placed over against the shadow.

ἔλαβον] He came, they received Him, did not reject Him. Comp. John 5:43; Soph. Phil. 667, ἰδών τε καὶ λαβὼν φίλον.

The nominative ὅσοι is emphatic, and continues independent of the construction that follows. See on Matthew 7:24; Matthew 10:14; Matthew 13:12; Matthew 23:16; Acts 7:40.

ἐξονσίαν] neither dignity, nor advantage (Erasmus, Beza, Flacius, Rosenmüller, Semler, Kuinoel, Schott), nor even possibility (De Wette, Tholuck), nor capability (Hengstenberg, Brückner), fully comes up to the force of the word,(86) but He gave them full power (comp. John 5:27, John 17:2). The rejection of the Logos when He came in person, excluded from the attainment of that sacred condition of fitness—received through Him—for entering into the relationship of children of God, they only who received Him in faith obtained through Him this warrant, this title ( ἐπιτροπὴ νόμου, Plato, Defin. p. 415 B). It is, however, an arrangement in the gracious decree of God; neither a claim of right on man’s part, nor any internal ability (Lücke, who compares 1 John 5:20; also Lange),—a meaning which is not in the word itself, nor even in the connection, since the commencement of that filial relationship, which is the consummation of that highest theocratic ἐξουσία, is conceived as a being born, John 1:13, and therefore as passive (against B. Crusius).

τέκνα θεοῦ] Christ alone is the Son of God, manifested as such from His birth, the μονογενής. Believers, from their knowledge of God in Christ (John 17:3), become children of God, by being born of God (comp. John 3:3; 1 John 3:9), i.e. through the moral transformation and renewal of their entire spiritual nature by the Holy Ghost; so that now the divine element of life rules in them, excludes all that is ungodly, and permanently determines the development of this moral fellowship of nature with God, onwards to its future glorious consummation (1 John 3:2; John 17:24). See also 1 John 3:9 and 1 Peter 1:23. It is thus that John represents the idea of filial relationship to God, for which he always uses τέκνα from the point of view of a spiritual genesis;(87) while Paul apprehends it from the legal side (as adoption, Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5), regarding the spiritual renewal connected therewith (regeneration), the καινότης ζωῆς (Romans 6:4), as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), a moral resurrection (Romans 6), and the like; while the Synoptics (comp. also Romans 8:23) make the υἱοθεσία appear as first commencing with the kingdom of the Messiah (see on Matthew 5:9; Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:35), as conditioned, however, by the moral character. There is no difference as to the thing itself, only in the manner of apprehending its various sides and stages.

τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, κ. τ. λ.] quippe qui credunt, is conceived as assigning the reason; for it is as believers that they have fulfilled the subjective condition of arriving at sonship, not only negatively, since they are no longer under the wrath of God and the condemnation of the law (John 3:36; John 3:16-17, John 5:45), but also positively, inasmuch as they now possess a capacity and susceptibility for the operation of the Spirit (John 7:38-39). John does not say πιστεύσασιν, but πιστεύουσιν, for the faith, the entrance of which brought about the ἔλαβον, is thenceforth their enduring habitus.

εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ] not essentially different from εἰς αὐτόν, but characterizing it more fully; for the entire subject-matter of faith lies in the name of the person on whom we believe; the uttered name contains the whole confession of faith. Comp. John 2:23, John 3:18, 1 John 3:23; 1 John 5:13. The name itself, moreover, is no other than that of the historically manifested Logos

Jesus Christ, as is self-evident to the consciousness of the reader. Comp. John 1:17; 1 John 5:1; 1 John 2:22.


Verse 13

John 1:13. οἵ] refers to τέκνα θεοῦ (the masculine in the well-known constructio κατὰ σύνεσιν, 2 John 1:1, Philemon 1:10, Galatians 4:19; comp. Eurip. Suppl. 12, Androm. 571), not to τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, because the latter, according to John 1:12, are said to become God’s children, so that ἐγεννήθησαν would not be appropriate. The conception “children of God” is more precisely defined as denoting those who came into existence not after the manner of natural human generation, but who were begotten of God. The negative statement exhibits them as those in whose coming into existence human generation (and consequently also Abrahamic descent) has no part whatever. This latter brings about no divine sonship, John 3:6.

οὐκ ἐξ αἱμάτων] not of blood, the blood being regarded as the seat and basis of the physical life (comp. on Acts 15:20), which is transmitted by generation.(88) Comp. Acts 17:26; Hom. Il. vi. 211, xx. 241; Soph. Aj. 1284, El. 1114; Plato, Soph. p. 268 D Liv. 38, 28. Kypke and Loesner on the passage, Interpp. ad Virg. Aen. vi. 836; Horace, Od. ii. 20. 6; Tib. i. 6. 66. The plural is not to be explained of the commingling of the two sexes (“ex sanguinibus enim homines nascuntur maris et feminae,” Augustine; comp. Ewald), because what follows ( ἀνδρός and the corresponding ἐκ θεοῦ) points simply to generation on the man’s side; nor even of the multiplicity of the children of God (B. Crusius), to which there is no reference in what follows; quite as little does it refer to the continuos propagationum ordines from Adam, and afterwards from Abraham downwards (Hoelemann, p. 70), which must necessarily have been more distinctly indicated. Rather is the plural used in a sense not really different from the singular, and founded only on this, that the material blood is represented as the sum-total of all its parts (Kühner, II. p. 28). Comp. Eur. Ion. 705, ἄλλων τραφεὶς ἀφʼ αἱμάτων; Soph. Ant. 121, and many places in the Tragedians where αἵματα is used in the sense of murder (Aesch. Eum. 163, 248; Eur. El. 137; Or. 1547, al.); Monk, ad Eur. Alc. 512; Blomf. Gloss. Choeph. 60. Comp. Sirach 22:22; Sirach 31:21; 2 Maccabees 14:18; also Plato, Legg. x. p. 887 D, ἔτι ἐν γάλαξι τρεφόμενοι.

The negation of human origination is so important to John (comp. John 3:6), that he adds two further parallel definitions of it by οὐδέ

οὐδέ (which he arranges co-ordinately); nor evennor even, where σαρκός designates the flesh as the substratum of the generative impulse, not “the woman” (Augustine, Theophylact, Rupertus, Zeger, Schott, Olshausen),—an interpretation which is most inappropriately supported by a reference to Genesis 2:22, Ephesians 5:28-29, Jude 1:7, while it is excluded by the context ( ἀνδρός, and indeed by what follows). The man’s generative will is meant, and this is more exactly, i.e. personally, defined by ἐκ θελ. ἀνδρός, to which the contrasted etc ἐκ θεοῦ is correlative; and hence ἀνήρ must not be generalized and taken as equivalent to ἄνθρωπος (Lücke), which never occurs—even in the Homeric πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε only apparently—but here least of all, because the act of generation is the very thing spoken of. The following are merely arbitrary glosses upon the points which are here only rhetorically accumulated to produce an ever increasing distinctness of description; e.g. Baumgarten Crusius: “There is an advance here from the most sensual to the most noble” (nature, inclination, will—in spite of the twice repeated θελήματος!); Lange (L. J. III. p. 558): “There is an onward progress from natural generation to that which is caused by the will, and then to that consummated in theocratic faith;” Hoelemann: “ σάρξ, meant of both sexes, stands midway between the universalis humani generis propagatio ( αἵ΄ατα) and the proprius singularis propagationis auctor ( ἀνήρ).” Even Delitzsch refines upon the words, finding in θελή΄. σαρκός the unholy side of generation, though John has only in view the antithesis between the human and the divine viewed in and by themselves.

ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθ.] were begotten of God, containing the real relation of sonship to God, and thus explaining the former τέκνα θεοῦ, in so far as these were begotten by no human being, but by God, who through the Holy Spirit has restored their moral being and life, John 3:5. Hence ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγενν. is not tautological. ἐκ indicates the issuing forth from God as cause, where the relation of immediateness (in the first and last points) and of mediateness (in the second and third) lies in the very thing, and is self-evident without being distinctively indicated in the simple representation of John.


Verse 14

John 1:14. καὶ] and; not assigning a reason for the sonship just mentioned (Chrys., Theophyl., Jansen, Grotius, Lampe, and several others); nor even = οὖν (Bleek), nor in the sense of namely (Frommann), nor yea (Godet), but simply carrying forward the discourse, like every καὶ in the Prologue; and not therefore pointing back to John 1:4 (Maldonatus) or to John 1:9 (De Wette), nor joining on to John 1:11 (Lücke: “The Logos came not only to His own possession, but appeared visibly;” so, substantially, also Baur and Hilgenfeld), which would be a merely apparent advance in the exposition, because the visible manifestation is already intimated by φαίνει in John 1:5 and in John 1:9-13. No; after having in John 1:4-13 spoken of the Logos as the light, of the melancholy opposition of the darkness of unbelief to that true light which had been attested by the Baptist as divine, and of the exceedingly blessed effects which He exercised on believers through the bestowal of the gift of sonship, the evangelist, on arriving at this last point, which expresses his own deepest and most blessed experience, can no longer hesitate formally and solemnly again to proclaim the great event by which the visible manifestation of the Logos—previously so frequently presupposed and referred to—had, with all its saving power, been brought about; and thus by an outpouring of speech, which, prompted by the holiest recollections, soars involuntarily upwards until it reaches the highest height, to set forth and celebrate the How of that manifestation of the Logos which was attended with such blessed results (John 1:12-13), and which he had himself experienced. The transition, therefore, is from what is said in John 1:12-13 of the efficacy of the manifested Logos, to the nature and manner of that manifestation itself, i.e. consequently to the incarnation, as a result of which He, as Jesus Christ, exhibited the glory of the Only-begotten, and imparted the fulness of grace and truth,—that incarnation which historically determined what is recorded of Him in John 1:12-13. Accordingly καὶ is not definitive, “under such circumstances, with such consequences” (Brückner, who inappropriately compares Hebrews 3:19, where καὶ connects the answer with the question as in continuous narration), but it carries the discourse onwards, leading up to the highest summit, which even from John 1:5 showed itself as in the distance. We must interpret it: and—to advance now to the most momentous fact in the work of redemption, namely, how He who had come and wrought so much blessing was manifested and was able to accomplish such a work—the Word was made flesh, etc.

λόγος] John does not simply say καὶ σὰρξ ἐγένετο, but he names the great subject as he had done in John 1:1, to complete the solemnity of the weighty statement, which he now felt himself constrained still to subjoin and to carry onwards, as if in joyful triumph, to the close of the Prologue.

σὰρξ ἐγένετο] The word σάρξ is carefully chosen, not indeed in any sort of opposition to the divine idea of humanity, which in this place is very remote,(89) but as opposed to the purely divine, and hence also to the purely immaterial nature(90) of the Logos (Clem. ad Cor. II. 9, ὢν μὲν τὸ πρῶτον πνεῦμα ἐγένετο σάρξ; comp. Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. 197), whose transition, however, into this other form of existence necessarily presupposes that He is conceived of as a personality, not as a principle (Beyschlag, Christol. p. 169); as is, besides, required by the whole Prologue. The actual incarnation of a principle would be for John an unrealizable notion. Just as decidedly is λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο opposed to the representation that the Logos always became more and more completely σάρξ (Beyschlag) during the whole unfolding of His earthly life. The λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο is a definite act in the consummation of His history. He became flesh, i.e. a corporeal material being, visible and tangible (1 John 1:2), which He was not before,(91) and by which it is self-evident that the human mode of existence in which He appeared, which we have in the person of Jesus, and which was known to the reader, is intended. ἐν σαρκὶ ἐλήλυθεν (1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7; comp. 1 Timothy 3:16) is, in fact, the same thing, though expressed from the point of view of that modality of His coming which is conditioned by the σὰρξ ἐγένετο. As, however, ἐγένετο points out that He became what He was not before, the incarnation cannot be a mere accident of His substantial being (against Baur), but is the assumption of another real existence, whereby out of the purely divine Logos-Person, whose specific nature at the same time remained unaltered, and in order to accomplish the work of redemption (chap. 6; Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:14-15), a really corporeal personality, i.e. the God-man Jesus Christ (John 1:17), came into existence. Comp. on the point, 1 John 4:2; Philippians 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 5:7. Since σάρξ necessarily carries with it the idea only of the ψυχή (see Schulz, Abendm. p. 94 ff.; Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 256), it might seem as if John held the Apollinarian notion, that in Christ there was no human νοῦς, but that the λόγος took its place.(92) But it is not really so (see, on the other side, Mau, Progr. de Christolog. N. T., Kiel 1843, p. 13 ff.), because the human ψυχή does not exist by itself, but in necessary connection with the πνεῦμα (Beck, bibl. Seelenl. § 13; Hahn, Theol. d. N.T. I. § 154), and because the N. T. (comp. John 8:40) knows Jesus only as perfect man.(93) In fact, John in particular expressly speaks of the ψυχή (John 12:27) and πνεῦ΄α of Christ (John 11:33, John 13:21, John 19:30), which he does not identify with the Logos, but designates as the substratum of the human self-consciousness (John 11:38).(94) The transcendental character, however, of this self-consciousness, as necessarily given in the incarnation of the Logos, Weizsäcker has not succeeded, as is plain from his interpretation of the passages referred to, in explaining away by anything Jesus Himself says in this Gospel. The conception of weakness and susceptibility of suffering (see on Acts 2:17), which Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, Olshausen, Tholuck, Hengstenberg, Philippi, and others find in σάρξ, is quite remote from this verse (comp. 1 John 4:2), where the point in question is simply the change in the divine mode of existence, while the σάρξ is that which bears the δόξα; and so also is any anti-Docetic reference, such as Frommann and others, and even De Wette and Lechler, imagine.

The supernatural generation of Jesus is neither presupposed nor included (as even Godet maintains), nor excluded,(95) in John’s representation λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο, for the expression contains nothing as to the manner of the incarnation; it is an addition to the primitive apostolical Christology, of which we have no certain trace either in the oldest Gospel (Mark), or in the only one which is fully apostolic (John), or even anywhere in Paul: see on Matthew 1:18; comp. John 5:27, Romans 1:3-4.

καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν] and tabernacled, i.e. took up His abode, among us: ἐσκήνωσεν here is chosen merely to draw our attention to the manifestation of the incarnate Logos, whose holy σκήνωμα (2 Peter 1:13) was in fact His human substance,(96) as the fulfilment of the promise of God’s dwelling with His people (Exodus 25:8; Exodus 29:45; Leviticus 26:11; Joel 3:21; Ezekiel 37:27; Haggai 2:8 : comp. Sirach 24:8; Revelation 21:3), and therefore as the Shekinah which formerly revealed itself in the tabernacle and in the temple (see on Romans 9:4); an assumption which the context justifies by the words: ἐθεασ. τ. δόξαν αὐτοῦ. The Targums, in like manner, represent the Word ( מימרא) as the שׁבינה, and the Messiah as the manifestation of this.

ἐν ἡ΄ῖν] refers to the ὅσοι ἔλαβον αὐτόν, John 1:12-13, to whom John belongs, not simply to the Twelve (Tholuck), nor to the Christian consciousness (Hilgenfeld), nor to mankind generally; comp. John 1:16. The believers whom Jesus found are the fellowship who, as the holy people, surrounded the incarnate Word, and by whom His glory was beheld (comp. 1 John 1:1).

καὶ ἐθεασά΄εθα, κ. τ. λ.] We must not (as most expositors, even Lücke, Frommann, Maier, De Wette) take this clause as far as πατρός to be a lively insertion, interrupting the narrative; for the having beheld the δόξα is the essential element in the progress of the discourse. It is an independent part in the connection; so that πλήρης χάρ. κ. ἀλ., which is usually joined grammatically with λόγος, is to be referred to αὐτοῦ in an irregular combination of cases, determined by the logical subject (B. Crusius, Brückner, Weiss, comp. Grotius), by which the nominative instead of the dependent case (Augustine read πλήρους) sets forth the statement more emphatically without any governing word. See especially Bernhardy, p. 68; Heind. ad Plat. Theaet. 89, Soph. 7; Winer, p. 524 [E. T. p. 705].

τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ] the Majesty ( כבוד) of the Logos, i.e. of necessity the divine glory (in the O. T. symbolically revealing itself as the brilliant light which surrounded the manifestation of Deity, Exodus 24:17; Exodus 40:34 ff.; Acts 7:2), so far as the Logos from His nature (see what follows) essentially participated therein, and possessed it in His pre-human state and onwards.(97) It presented itself to the recognition of believers as a reality, in the entire manifestation, work, and history of Him who became man; so that they (not unbelievers) beheld it(98) (intuebantur), because its rays shone forth, so as to be recognised by them, through the veil of the manhood, and thus it revealed itself visibly to them (1 John 1:1; comp. chap. John 2:11). The idea of an inner contemplation is opposed to the context (against Baur). The δόξα τοῦ λόγου, which before the incarnation could be represented to the prophet’s eye alone (John 12:41), but which otherwise was, in its essence, incapable of being beheld by man, became by means of the incarnation an object of external observation by those who were eye-witnesses (Luke 1:2; 1 John 4:14) of His actual self-manifestation. We must, however, bear in mind that the manifestation of this divine glory of the Logos in His human state is conceived of relatively, though revealing beyond doubt the divine nature of the Logos, and nothing else than that, yet as limited and conditioned on the one hand by the imperfection of human intuition and knowledge, and on the other by the state of humiliation (Philippians 2:6 ff.) which was entered upon with the σὰρξ ἐγένετο. For the δόξα absolutely, which as such is also the adequate ΄ορφὴ θεοῦ, was possessed by Him who became man—the Logos, who entered upon life in its human form—only in His pre-existent state (John 17:5), and was resumed only after His exaltation (John 12:41, John 17:5; John 17:22; John 17:24); while during His earthly life His δόξα as the manifestation of the ἴσα εἶναι θεῷ was not the simply divine, but that of the God-man.(99) See on Philippians 2:8, note, and chap. John 17:5. No distinction is hereby made between God’s δόξα and the δόξα of the God-man (as objected by Weiss); the difference is simply in the degrees of manifestation and appearance. Still Weiss is quite right in refusing, as against Köstlin and Reuss, to say that there is in John no idea whatever of humiliation (comp. John 12:32; John 12:34, John 17:5).

δόξαν] more animated without δὲ. Comp. Hom. Od. A, 22 f.; Dem. de. Cor. 143 (p. 275, Reisk.): πόλεμον εἰς τ. ἀττικὴν εἰσάγειςπόλεμον ἀμφικτυονικόν. See Krüger, § 59, 1. 3, 4.

ὡς ΄ονογενοῦς] as of an only-begotten, i.e. as belongs to such an one,(100) corresponds to the nature of one who is μονογενὴς παρὰ πατρός; Chrysostom: οἵαν ἔπρεπε καὶ εἰκὸς ἔχειν μονογενῆ καὶ γνήσιον υἱὸν ὄντα, κ. τ. λ. The idea of reality (Euthymius Zigabenus: ὄντως) lies as little in ὡς as in the erroneously so-called כְ veritatis (against Olshausen, Klee, and earlier writers); there is rather the supposition of a comparison, which approaches the meaning of quippe (Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 1002); see Kühner, § 330. 5.

΄ονογενής] of Christ, and regarded, indeed, in His divine nature, is Johannean, expressing the apostle’s own idea of Christ’s unique relationship as the Son of God, John 1:18, John 3:16; John 3:18, 1 John 4:9, though it is put into the mouth of Christ Himself in John 3:16; John 3:18. Comp. the Pauline πρωτοτόκος, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:6, which as to the thing certainly corresponds with the Johannean μονογενής, but presents the idea in the relation of time to the creation, and in Romans 8:29 to Christendom. ΄ονογ. designates the Logos as the only Son (Luke 7:12; Luke 8:42; Luke 9:38; Hebrews 11:17; Tobit 8:17; Herod, vii. 221; Plato, Legg. III. p. 691 D Aesch. Ag. 898; Hes. ἔργ. 378), besides whom the Father has none, who moreover did not become such by any moral generation, as in the case of the τέκνα θεοῦ, John 1:12-13, nor by adoption, but by the metaphysical relation of existence arising out of the divine essence, whereby He was ἐν ἀρχῇ with God, being Himself divine in nature and person, John 1:1-2. He did not first become this by His incarnation, but He is this before all time as the Logos, and He manifests Himself as the μονογ. by means of the incarnation, so that consequently the ΄ονογ. υἱὸς is not identical (Beyschlag, p. 151 ff.) with the historical person Jesus Christ, but presents Himself in that person to believers; and therefore we are not to think of any interchange of the predicates of the Logos and the Son, “who may be also conceived of retrospectively” (Weizsäcker, 1862, p. 699). In other respects the designation corresponds to human relations, and is anthropomorphic, as is υἱὸς θεοῦ itself,—a circumstance which, however, necessarily limited its applicability as an expression of the metaphysical relation, in apprehending which we must also leave out of view the conception of birth as such, so far as it implies the idea of the maternal function. Origen well remarks: τὸ δὲ ὡς ΄ονογ. παρὰ πατρ. νοεῖν ὑποβάλλει, ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρὸς εἶναι τὸν υἱὸν εἰ γὰρ καὶ ἄλλα παρὰ πατρὸς ἔχει τὴν ὓπαρξιν, ΄αταίως τοῦ ΄ονογενοῦς ἔκειτο φωνή.

πατρός] without the article (Winer, p. 116 [E. Tr. p. 151]). παρὰ πατρ. must be joined to ΄ονογ., to which it adds the definite idea of having gone forth, i.e. of having come from the Father (John 6:46, John 7:29, John 16:27). Correlative with this is John 1:18, ὢν εἰς τ. κόλπον τοῦ πατρός, where the, only-begotten Son who came forth from the Father is viewed as having again returned to the Father. The conception of having been begotten, consequently of derivation from the essence, would be expressed by the simple genitive ( πατρός) or by the dative, or by ἐκ or ἀπό, but lies in the word μονογενοῦς itself; since this expresses the very generation, and therefore the ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρὸς εἶναι (Origen). Its connection with δόξαν (Erasmus, Grotius, Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. 120, Weiss; already Theophyl.?) is in itself grammatically admissible (Plut. Agis, 2; Plato, Phaedr. p. 232 A Acts 26:12), but is not favoured here either by the position of the words or by the connection, from which the idea of the origin of the δόξα lay far remote, the object being to designate the nature of the δόξα; moreover, the anarthrous μονογ. requires a more precise definition, which is exactly what it has in παρὰ πατρός.

πλήρης χάρ κ. ἀληθ.] To be referred to the subject, though that ( αὐτοῦ) stands in the genitive. See above. It explains how the Logos, having become incarnate, manifested Himself to those who beheld His glory. Grace and truth(101) are the two efficaciously saving and inseparable factors of His whole manifestation and ministry, not constituting His δόξα (Luthardt),—a notion opposed to John 2:11; John 2:17,—but displaying it and making it known to those who beheld that glory. Through God’s grace to sinful man He became man; and by His whole work on earth up to the time of His return to His Father, He has been the instrument of obtaining for believers the blessing of becoming the children of God. Truth, again, was what He revealed in the whole of His work, especially by His preaching, the theme of which was furnished by His intuition of God (John 1:18), and which therefore must necessarily reveal in an adequate manner God’s nature and counsel, and be the opposite of σκοτία and ψεῦδος. Comp. Matthew 11:27. The ἀλήθεια corresponds formally to the nature of the Logos as light ( φῶς); the χάρις, which bestows everlasting life (John 3:15), to His nature as life ( ζωή), John 1:4-5. That the χάρις κ. ἀλήθεια with which He was filled are divine grace and truth, of which He was the possessor and bearer, so that in Him they attained their complete manifestation (comp. John 16:6), is self-evident from what has preceded, but is not specially indicated, as would necessarily have been done by the use of the article, which would have expressed the grace and truth (simply) κατʼ ἐξοχήν. John 1:16 f. is decisive against the construction of πληρής with what follows (Erasmus, Paulus). Whether John, moreover, used the words πλήρ. χάριτος κ. ἀληθ. with any reference to Exodus 34:6 (Hengstenberg) is very doubtful, for אֱמֶת in that passage has a different meaning (truthfulness, fidelity). John is speaking independently, from his own full experience and authority as a witness. Through a profound living experience, he had come to feel, and here declares his conviction, that all salvation depends on the incarnation of the Logos.


Verse 15

John 1:15. It is to this great fact of salvation to which the Baptist bears testimony, and his testimony was confirmed by the gracious experience of us all (John 1:16).

μαρτυρεῖ] Representation of it as present, as if the testimony were still sounding forth.

κέκραγε] “clamat Joh. cum fiducia et gaudio, uti magnum praeconem decet,” Bengel. He crieth, comp. John 7:28; John 7:37, John 12:44; Romans 9:27. The Perfect in the usual classical sense as a present ( βοῶνκαὶ κεκραγώς, Dem. 271, 11; Soph. Aj. 1136; Arist. Plut. 722, Vesp. 415). Not so elsewhere in the N. T. Observe, too, the solemn circumstantial manner in which the testimony is introduced: “John bears witness of Him, and cries while he says.”

οὗτος ἦν] ἦν is used, because John is conceived as speaking at the present time, and therefore as pointing back to a testimony historically past: “This was He whom I meant at the time when I said.” With εἰπεῖν τινα, “to speak of any one,” comp. John 10:36; Xen. Cyr. vii. 3. 5; Plato, Crat. p. 432 C Hom. Il. ζ. 479. See on John 8:27.

ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμ. ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν] “He who cometh after me is come before me;”—in how far is stated in the clause ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν, which assigns the reason. The meaning of the sentence and the point of the expression depend upon this,—namely, that Christ in His human manifestation appeared after John, but yet, as the pre-mundane Logos, preceded him, because He existed before John. On γίνεσθαι with an adverb, especially of place, in the sense of coming as in John 7:25, see Krüger on Xen. Anab. i. 2. 7; Kühner, II. p. 39; Nägelsbach, note on Iliad, ed. 3, p. 295. Comp. Xen. Cyrop. vii. 1. 22, ἐγένετο ὄπισθεν τῶν ἁρμαμαξῶν; Anab. vii. 1. 10; i. 8. 24. Both are adverbs of place, so that, however, the time is represented as local, not the rank ( ἐντιμότερός μοῦ ἐστι, Chrysostom; so most critics, even Lücke, Tholuck, Olshausen, Maier, De Wette),(102) which would involve a diversity in the manner of construing the two particles (the first being taken as relating to time), and the sentence then becomes trivial, and loses its enigmatical character, since, indeed, the one who appears later need not possess on that account any lower dignity. Origen long ago rightly understood both clauses as relating to time, though the second is not therefore to be rendered “He was before me” (Luther and many, also Brückner, Baeumlein), since ἦν is not the word;(103) nor yet: “He came into being before me,” which would not be referable “to the O. T. advent of Christ” (Lange), but, in harmony with the idea of μονογενής, to His having come forth from God prior to all time. It is decisive against both, that ὅτι πρῶτός ΄ου ἦν would be tautological,—an argument which is not to be set aside by any fanciful rendering of πρῶτος (see below). Nonnus well remarks: πρῶτος ἐ΄εῖο βέβηκεν, ὀπίστερος ὅστις ἱκάνει. Comp. Godet and Hengstenberg; also in his Christol. III. 1, p. 675, “my successor is my predecessor,” where, however, his assumption of a reference to Malachi 3:1 is without any hint to that effect in the words. According to Luthardt (comp Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erf. II. 256), what is meant to be said is: “He who at first walked behind me, as if he were my disciple, has taken precedence of me, i.e. He has become my master.” But the enigma of the sentence lies just in this, that ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμ. expresses something still future, as this also answers to the formal ἔρχεσθαι used of the Messiah’s advent. Hofmann’s view, therefore, is more correct, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 10 ff.,—namely, that the meaning of the Baptist is, “while Jesus is coming after him, He is already before him”. But even thus ἐμπρ. μου γέγ. amounts to a figurative designation of rank, which is not appropriate to the clause ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν, which assigns the reason, and manifestly refers to time.

ὅτι πρῶτός ΄ου ἦν] is a direct portion of the Baptist’s testimony which has just been adduced (against Hengstenberg), as John 1:30 shows, presenting the key to the preceding Oxymoron: for before me He was in existence. The reference to rank (Chrysostom, Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, and most comm., also B. Crusius and Hofmann), according to which we should construe, “He was more than I”, is at once overthrown by ἦν, instead of which we ought to have ἐστίν. Comp. Matthew 3:11. Only a rendering which refers to time (i.e. only the pre-existence of the Logos) solves the apparent opposition between subject and predicate in the preceding declaration.

πρῶτος in the sense of πρότερος, answering to the representation, “first in comparison with me”.(104) See Herm. ad Viger. p. 718; Dorvill. ad Charit. p. 478; Bernhardy, Eratosth. 42, p. 122. We must not, with Winer and Baur, force in the idea of absolute priority.(105) Comp. John 15:18; and Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 74 [E. T. p. 84]. This also against Ewald (“far earlier”), Hengstenberg, Brückner, Godet (“the principle of my existence”). To refuse to the Baptist all idea of the pre-existence of the Messiah, and to represent his statement merely as one put into his mouth by the evangelist (Strauss, Weisse, B. Bauer, De Wette, Scholten, and many others), is the more baseless, the more pointed and peculiar is the testimony; the greater the weight the evangelist attaches to it, the less it can be questioned that deep-seeing men were able, by means of such O. T. passages as Malachi 3:1, Isaiah 6:1 ff., Daniel 7:13 ff., to attain to that idea, which has even Rabbinical testimony in its support (Bertholdt, Christol. p. 131), and the more resolutely the pioneer of the Messiah, under the influence of divine revelation, took his stand as the last of the prophets, the Elias who had come.


Verse 16

John 1:16. Not the language of the Baptist (Heracleon, Origen, Rupertus, Erasmus, Luther, Melancthon, Lange), against which ἡμεῖς πάντες is decisive, but that of the evangelist continued.

ὅτι (see critical notes) introduces the personal and superabounding gracious experience of believers, with a retrospective reference indeed to the πλήρ. χάριτος κ. ἀληθ., John 1:14, and in the form of a confirmation of John’s testimony in John 1:15 : this testimony is justified by what was imparted to us all out of the fulness of Him who was borne witness to.

ἐκ τοῦ πληρώμ. αὐτοῦ] out of that whereof He was full, John 1:14; πλήρωμα in a passive sense; see on Colossians 1:19. The phrase and idea were here so naturally furnished by the immediate context, that it is quite far-fetched to find their source in Gnosticism, especially in that of the Valentinians (Schwegler, Hilgenfeld).

ἡμεῖς] we on our part, giving prominence to the personal experience of the believers (which had remained unknown to unbelievers), John 1:10-11.

πάντες] None went empty away. Inexhaustibleness of the πλήρωμα.

ἐλάβομεν] absolute: we have received.

καὶ] and indeed. See Winer, p. 407 [E. T. p. 546]; Hartung, Partikell. I. 145.

χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος] grace for grace, is not to be explained (with Chrysostom, Cyril, Severus, Nonnus, Theophylact, Erasmus, Beza, Aretius, Calovius, Jansen, Wolf, Lampe, and many others, even Paulus), N. T. instead of O. T. grace (Euthymius Zigabenus: τὴν καινὴν διαθήκην ἀντὶ τῆς παλαιᾶς), or instead of the original grace lost in Adam (see especially Calovius), since in John 1:17 νόμος and χάρις are opposed to each other, and since in the N. T. generally χάρις is the distinctive essence of Christian salvation (comp. especially Romans 6:14-15); but, as Beza suggested, and with most modern expositors,(106)so that ever and anon fresh grace appears in place of that already received.” “Proximam quamque gratiam satis quidem magnam gratia subsequens cumulo et plenitudine sua quasi obruit,” Bengel. So superabundant was the λαμβάνειν! This rendering is sufficiently justified linguistically by Theogn. Sent. 344, ἀντʼ ἀνιῶν ἀνίας; Philo, de poster. Caini, I. p. 254; Chrys. de sac. vi. 13,—as it is generally by the primary meaning of ἀντὶ (grace interchanging with grace); and it corresponds, agreeably to the context, with the idea of the πλήρωμα, from which it is derived, and is supported further by the increasingly blessed condition of those individually experiencing it (justification, peace with God, consolation, joy, illumination, love, hope, and so on: see on Romans 5:1 ff.; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9). John might have written χάριν ἐπὶ χάριτι or χάριν ἐπὶ χάριν (Philippians 2:27), but his conception of it was different. Still, any special reference to the fulness of the special χαρίσματα, 1 Corinthians 12-14 (Ewald), lies remote from the context here (John 1:17); though at the same time they, as in general no εὐλογία πνευματική (Ephesians 1:3), wherewith God in Christ has blessed believers, are not excluded.


Verse 17

John 1:17. Antithetical confirmation of χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος; “for how high above what was formerly given by Moses, does that stand which came through Jesus Christ!” Comp. Romans 4:15; Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:10 ff., al. The former is the law, viewed by Paul as the antithesis of grace (Romans 6:14; Romans 7:3; Galatians 4:4, and many other passages), in so far as it only lays us under obligation, condemns us, and in fact arouses and intensifies the need of grace, but does not bestow peace, which latter gift has been realized for us through Christ. The antithesis without μὲν

δέ has rhetorical force (John 4:22, John 6:63); Buttm. N. T. Gk. p. 344 [E. T. p. 364].

χάρις] in the definite and formal sense of redemption, saving grace, i.e. the grace of the Father in the Son. Hence also καὶ ἀλήθεια is added with a pragmatical reference to John 1:14; this, like all Christ’s gifts of grace, was regarded as included in the universal χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος of John 1:16. Moreover, the ἀλήθεια was not given in the law, in so far as its substance, which was not indeed untrue, but an outflow of the divine will for salvation (Romans 7:10 sqq.; Acts 7:38), was yet related only as type and preparation to the absolute revelation of truth in Christ; and hence through its very fulfilment (Matthew 5:17) it had come to be done away (Romans 10:4; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 10:1 ff; Hebrews 7:18). Comp. Galatians 3:24. Grace was still wanting to the law, and with it truth also in the full meaning of the word. See also 2 Corinthians 3:13 ff.

ἐγένετο] The non-repetition of ἐδόθη is not to point out the independent work of the Logos (Clemens, Paedag. i. 7), to which διὰ would be opposed, or of God (Origen), whose work the law also was; but the change of thought, though not recognised by Lücke, lies in this, that each clause sets forth the historical phenomenon as it actually occurred. In the case of the law, this took place in the historical form of being given, whereas grace and truth originated, came into being, not absolutely, but in relation to mankind, for whom they had not before existed as a matter of experience, but which now, in the manifestation and work of Christ, unfolded their historical origin. Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:30.

Observe how appropriately, in harmony with the creative skilful plan of the Prologue, after the incarnation of the Logos, and the revelation of His glory which was therewith connected, have been already set forth with glowing animation, there is now announced for the first time the great historical NAME, Jesus Christ, which designates the incarnate Logos as the complete concrete embodiment of His manifestation. Comp. 1 John 1:1-3. Only now is the Prologue so fully developed, that Jesus Christ, the historical person of the λόγος ἔνσαρκος (who therefore is all the less to be understood throughout, with Hofmann and Luthardt, under the title λόγος), comes before the eye of the reader, who now, however, knows how to gather up in this name the full glory of the God-man.


Verse 18

John 1:18 furnishes an explanation of what had just been said, that ἀλήθεια διὰ . χ. ἐγένετο;(107) for that there was required direct knowledge of God, the result of experience, which His only-begotten Son alone possessed.

οὐδείς] no man, not even Moses. “Besides is no doctor, master, or preacher, than the only Teacher, Christ, who is in the Godhead inwardly,” Luther; comp. Matthew 11:27.

ἑώρακε] has seen, beheld (comp. John 3:11), of the intuition of God’s essence (Exodus 33:20), to the exclusion of visions, theophanies, and the like. Comp. 1 John 4:12; also Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17. Agreeably to the context, the reference is to the direct vision of God’s essential glory, which no man could have (Ex. l.c.), but which Christ possessed in His pre-human condition as λόγος (comp. John 6:46), and possesses again ever since His exaltation.

ὦν εἰς τὸν κολπ. τοῦ πατρός] As ἐξήγησ. refers to the state on earth of the Only-begotten, ὠν consequently, taken as an imperfect, cannot refer to the pre-human state (against Luthardt, Gess, pp. 123, 236, and others); yet it cannot coincide with ἐξήγη. in respect of time (Beyschlag), because the εἶναι εἰς τὸν κολ. τ. π. was not true of Christ during His earthly life (comp. especially John 1:51).(108) The right explanation therefore is, that John, when he wrote ὦν εἰς τ. κ. τ π., expressed himself from his own present standing-point, and conceived of Christ as in His state of exaltation, as having returned to the bosom of the Father, and therefore into the state of the εἶναι πρὸς τὸν θεόν. So Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. 120, II. 23; Weiss, Lehrbegr. 239. Thus also must we explain the statement of direction towards, εἰς τὸν κόλπ., which would be otherwise without any explanation (Mark 2:1; Mark 13:16; Luke 11:7); so that we recognise in εἰς as the prominent element the idea of having arrived at (Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 537; Jacobs, ad Anthol. XIII. p. 71; Buttm. N. T. Gr. p. 286 [E. T. p. 333]), not the notion of leaning upon (Godet, after Winer, Lücke, Tholuck, Maier, Gess, and most others), nor of moving towards, which is warranted neither by the simple ὦν (in favour of which such analogies as in aurem dormire are inappropriate) nor by εἰς, instead of which πρὸς (Hom. Il. vi. 467) or ἐπί with the accusative ought rather to bo expected.(109) This forced interpretation of εἰς would never have been attempted, had not ὦν been construed as a timeless Present, expressing an inherent relation, and in this sense applied (Lücke, Tholuck, De Wette, Lange, Brückner, Hengstenberg, Philippi, and most expositors) also to the earthly condition of the Son; comp. Beyschlag, pp. 100, 150. So far as the thing itself is concerned, the εἶναι εἰς τὸν κόλπ. does not differ from the εἶναι πρὸς τὸν θεόν of John 1:1; only it expresses the fullest fellowship with God, not before the incarnation, but after the exaltation, and at the same time exhibits the relation of love under a sensuous form ( κόλπον); not derived, however, from the custom (John 13:23) of reclining at table (thus usually, but not appropriately in respect of fellowship with God), but rather from the analogy of a father’s embrace (Luke 16:22). In its pragmatic bearing, ὦν is the historical seal of the ἐξηγήσατο; but we must not explain it, with Hilgenfeld, from the Gnostic idea of the πλήρω΄α.

ἐκεῖνος] strongly emphatic, and pointing heavenwards.(110)

ἐξηγήσατο] namely, the substance of His intuition of God; comp. John 8:38. The word is the usual one for denoting the exposition, interpretation of divine things, and intuitions. Plato, Pol. iv. p. 427 C Schneid. Theag. p. 131; Xen. Cyr. viii. 3. 11; Soph. El. 417; comp. the ἐξηγηταί in Athens: Ruhnken, ad Tim. p. 109 ff.; Hermann, gottesd. Alterth. § 1, 12. It does not occur elsewhere in John, and hence a special reference in its selection here is all the more to be presumed, the more strikingly appropriate it is to the context (against Lücke, Maier, Godet). Comp. LXX. Leviticus 14:57.

Note.

The Prologue, which we must not with Reuss restrict to John 1:1-5, is not “A History of the Logos,” describing Him down to John 1:13 as He was before His incarnation, and from John 1:14 ff. as incarnate (Olshausen). Against this it is decisive that John 1:6-13 already refer to the period of His human existence, and that, in particular, the sonship of believers, John 1:12-13, cannot be understood in any other than a specifically Christian sense. For this reason, too, we must not adopt the division of Ewald: (1) The pre-mundane history of the Logos, John 1:1-3; (2) The history of His first purely spiritual working up to the time of His incarnation, John 1:4-13; (3) The history of His human manifestation and ministry, John 1:14-18. John is intent rather on securing, in grand and condensed outline, a profound comprehensive view of the nature and work of the Logos; which latter, the work, was in respect of the world creative, in respect of mankind illuminative (the Light). As this working of the Logos was historical, the description must necessarily also bear an historical character; not in such a way, however, that a formal history was to be given, first of the λόγος ἄσαρκος (which could not have been given), and then of the λόγος ἔνσαρκος (which forms the substance of the Gospel itself), but in such a way that the whole forms a historical picture, in which we see, in the world which came into existence by the creative power of the Logos, His light shining before, after, and by means of His incarnation. This at the same time tells against Hilgenfeld, p. 60 ff., according to whom, in the Prologue, “the Gnosis of the absolute religion, from its immediate foundation to its highest perfection, runs through the series of its historical interventions.” According to Köstlin, p. 102 ff., there is a brief triple description of all Christianity from the beginning onwards to the present; and this, too, (1) from the standing-point of God and His relation to the world, John 1:1-8; then (2) from the relations of the Logos to mankind; John 1:9-13; and lastly, (3) in the individual, John 1:14-18, by which the end returns to the beginning, John 1:1. But a triple beginning (which Kaeuffer too assumes in the Sächs. Stud. 1844, p. 103 ff.) is neither formally hinted at nor really made: for, in John 1:9, λόγος is not the subject ἦν, and this ἦν must, agreeably to the context, refer to the time of the Baptist, while Köstlin’s construction and explanation of ἦν

ἐρχόμενον is quite untenable; and because in the last part, from John 1:14 onwards, the antithesis between receiving and not receiving, so essential in the first two parts, does not at all recur again. The simple explanation, in harmony with the text, is as follows: The Prologue consists of three parts,—namely, (1) John gives a description (a) of the primeval existence of the Logos, John 1:1-2, and (b) of His creative work, John 1:3 (with the addition of the first part of John 1:4, which is the transition to what follows). Next, (2) he represents Him in whom was life as the Light of mankind, John 1:4 ff., and this indeed (a) as He once had been, when still without the antithesis of darkness, John 1:4, and (b) as He was in this antithesis, John 1:5. This shining in the darkness is continuous (hence φαίνει, John 1:5), and the tragic opposition occasioned thereby now unfolds itself before our eyes onwards to John 1:13, in the following manner: “Though John came forward and testified of the Light, not being himself the Light, but a witness of the Light (John 1:6-8),—though He, the true Light, was already existing (John 1:9),—though He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, still men acknowledged Him not; though He came to His own, His own received Him not (John 1:10-11); whereas those who did receive Him obtained from Him power to become the spiritual sons of God (John 1:12-13).” Lastly, (3) this blessedness of believers, due to the Logos who had historically come, now constrains the apostle to make still more prominent the mode and fashion in which He was manifested in history (His incarnation), and had revealed His glory, John 1:14-18. Thus the Prologue certainly does not (against Baur) lift the historical out of its own proper soil, and transfer it to the sphere of metaphysics, but rather unveils its metaphysical side, which was essentially contained in and connected with it, as existing prior to its manifestation, and in the light of this its metaphysical connection sums it up according to its essence and antithesis, its actual development and the proof of its historical truth being furnished by the subsequent detailed narrative in the Gospel. We may distinguish the three parts thus: (1) The premundane existence and creative work of the Logos, John 1:1-4 a; (2) His work as the Light of men, and the opposition to this, John 1:4-13; (3) The revelation of His glory which took place through the incarnation, John 1:14-18. Or, in the briefest way: the Logos (1) as the creator; (2) as the source of light; (3) as the manifestation of the God-man. This third part shows us the Incarnate One again, John 1:18, where as ἄσαρκος He was in the beginning

ὦν εἰς τ. κόλπ. τοῦ πατρός; and the cycle is complete.


Verse 19-20

John 1:19-20. The historical narrative, properly so called, now begins, and quite in the style of the primitive Gospels (comp. Mark 1; Acts 10:36-37; Acts 13:23-25), with the testimony of the Baptist.

καὶ] and, now first of all to narrate the testimony already mentioned in John 1:15; for this, and not another borne before the baptism, is meant; see note foll. John 1:28.

αὕτη] “The following is the testimony of John, which he bore when,” etc.(111) Instead of ὅτι, the evangelist puts ὅτε, because the idea of time was with him the predominant one. Comp. Pflugk, ad Hec. 107; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 393. Had he written ὅτι, his thought would have been: “Herein did his testimony consist, that the Jews sent to him, and he confessed,” etc.

οἱ ἰουδαῖοι] means, even in such passages as this, where it is no merely indifferent designation of the people (as in John 2:6; John 2:13, John 3:1, John 4:22, John 5:1, John 18:33 ff., and often), nothing else than the Jews; yet John, writing when he had long severed himself from Judaism, makes the body of the Jews, as the old religious community from which the Christian Church had already completely separated itself, thus constantly appear in a hostile sense in face of the Lord and His work, as the ancient theocratic people in corporate opposition to the new community of God (which had entered into their promised inheritance) and to its Head. How little may be deduced from this as ground of argument against the age and genuineness of the Gospel, see my Introd. § 3. For the rest, in individual passages, the context must always show who, considered more minutely as matter of history, the persons in question were by whom οἱ ἰουδαῖοι are represented, as in this place, where it was plainly the Sanhedrim(112) who represented the people of the old religion. Comp. John 5:15, John 9:22, John 18:12; John 18:31, etc.

καὶ λευΐτας] priests, consequently, with their subordinates, who had, however, a position as teachers, and aspired to priestly authority (see Ewald and Hengstenberg). The mention of these together is a trait illustrative of John’s precision of statement, differing from the manner of the Synoptics, but for that very reason, so far from raising doubts as to the genuineness, attesting rather the independence and originality of John (against Weisse), who no longer uses the phrase so often repeated in the Synoptics, “the scribes and elders,” because it had to him already become strange and out of date.

σὺ τίς εἶ] for John baptized (John 1:25), and this baptism had reference to Messiah’s kingdom (Ezekiel 36:25-26; Ezekiel 33:23; Zechariah 13:1). He had, generally, made a great sensation as a prophet, and had even given rise to the opinion that he was the Messiah (Luke 3:15; comp. Acts 13:25); hence the question of the supreme spiritual court was justified, Deuteronomy 18:21-22, Matthew 21:23. The question itself is not at all framed in a captious spirit. We must not, with Chrysostom and most others, regard it as prompted by any malicious motive, but must explain it by the authoritative position of the supreme court. Nevertheless it implies the assumption that John regarded himself as the Messiah; and hence his answer in John 1:20, hence also the emphatic precedence given to the σύ; comp. John 8:25. Luthardt too hastily concludes from the form of the question, that the main thing with them was the person, not the call and purpose of God. But they would have inferred the call and purpose of God from the person, as the question which they ask in John 1:25 shows.

ἐξ ἱεροσ.] belongs to ἀπέστειλαν.

καὶ ὡμολογ.] still dependent on the ὅτε.

ὡμολ. καὶ οὐκ ἠρνήσ.] emphatic prominence given to his straightforward confession; ὡς ἀληθὴς καὶ στεῤῥός, Euthymius Zigabenus; comp. Eur. El. 1057: φημὶ καὶ οὐκ ἀπαρνοῦμαι; Soph. Ant. 443; Dem. de Chers. 108. 73: λέξω πρὸς ὑμᾶς καὶ οὐκ ἀποκρύψομαι. See Bremi in loc. Valcken. Schol. ad Acts 13:11.

καὶ ὡμολ.] The first κ. ὡμολ. was absolute (Add. ad Esther 1:15, and in the classics); this second has for subject the following sentence ( ὅτι recitative). Moreover, “vehementer auditorem commovet ejusdem redintegratio verbi,” ad Herenn. iv. 28. There is, however, no side glance here at the disciples of John (comp. the Introd.). To the evangelist, who had himself been the pupil of the Baptist, the testimony of the latter was weighty enough in itself to lead him to give it emphatic prominence.

According to the right order of the words (see crit. notes), ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμὶ χ., the emphasis lies upon ἐγώ; I on my part, which implies that he knew another who was the Messiah.


Verse 21

John 1:21. In consequence of this denial, the next point was to inquire whether he was the Elias who, according to Malachi 4:5, was expected (back from heaven) as the immediate forerunner of the Messiah.

τί οὖν] not, quid ergo es (Beza et al.), but as τίς does not again occur (vers. 19, 22): what then is the case, if thou art not the Messiah? what is the real state of the matter?

Art thou Elias? So put, the question assumes it as certain that John must give himself out to be Elias, after he had denied that he was the Messiah.

οὐκ εἰμί] He could give this answer, notwithstanding what is said in Luke 1:17, Matthew 11:14; Matthew 17:10 (against Hilgenfeld), since he could only suppose his interrogators were thinking of the literal, not of the antitypical Elijah. Bengel well says: “omnia a se amolitur, ut Christum confiteatur et ad Christum redigat quaerentes.” He was conscious, nevertheless, according to John 1:23, in what sense he was Elias; but taking the question as literally meant, there was no occasion for him to go beyond that meaning, and to ascribe to himself in a special manner the character of an antitypical Elias, which would have been neither prudent nor profitable. The οὐκ εἶμι is too definite an answer to the definite question, to be taken as a denial in general of every externally defined position (Brückner); he would have had to answer evasively.

προφήτης εἶ σύ;] The absence of any connecting link in the narrative shows the rapid, hasty manner of the interrogation. προφήτης is marked out by the article as the well-known promised prophet, and considering the previous question ἠλίας εἶ σύ, can only be a nameless one, and therefore not Jeremias, according to Matthew 16:14 (Grotius, Kuinoel, Olshausen, Klee, Lange), but the one intended in Deuteronomy 18:15, the reference of whom to the Messiah Himself (Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37; John 1:46; John 6:14) was at least not universal (comp. John 7:40), and was not adopted by the interrogators here. Judging from the descending climax of the points of these questions, they must rather have thought of some one inferior to Elias, or, in general, of an individual undefined, owing to the fluctuation of view regarding Him who was expected as “the prophet.”(113) Nonnus well expresses the namelessness and yet eminence of this προφήτης: μὴ σύ μοι, ὃν καλέουσι, θεηγόρος ἐσσὶ προφήτης, ἄγγελος ἐσσομένων; Observe how the rigid denials become shortened at last to the bare οὔ. Here also we have a no on the Baptist’s lips, because in his view Jesus was the prophet of Deuteronomy 18.


Verse 22-23

John 1:22-23. Now comes the question which cannot be met by a bare negative; ἵνα as in John 9:36.

The positive answer to this is from Isaiah 40:3 according to the LXX., with the variation εὐθύνατε instead of ἑτοιμάσατε, in unison with the second half of the words in the LXX. For the rest, see on Matthew 3:3. The designation of himself, the herald of the coming Messiah calling men to repentance, as a voice, was given in the words of the prophet, and the accompanying βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ excludes the idea which Baur entertains, that John here intended to divest himself, as it were, of every personal characteristic. According to Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 236, the evangelist has put the passage of Scripture applied to the Baptist by the Synoptics (who, however, have not this account at all) “at last into the Baptist’s own mouth.”


Verse 24

John 1:24 ff. The inquiry, which proceeds still further, finds a pragmatic issue in pharisaic style (for the Sanhedrim had chosen their deputies from this learned, orthodox, and crafty party). From their strict scholastic standing-point, they could allow ( οὖν) so thoroughly reformatory an innovation as that of baptism (see on Matthew 3:5), considering its connection with Messiah’s kingdom, only to the definite personalities of the Messiah, Elias, or the promised prophet, and not to a man with so vague a call as that which the Baptist from Isaiah 40:3 ascribed to himself,—a passage which the Pharisees had not thought of explaining in a Messianic sense, and were not accustomed so to apply it in their schools. Hence the parenthetical remark just here inserted: “And they that were sent belonged to the Pharisees,”—a statement, therefore, which points forwards, and does not serve as a supplementary explanation of the hostile spirit of the question (Euthymius Zigabenus, Lücke, and most others).

The reply corresponds to what the Baptist had said of himself in John 1:23, that he was appointed to prepare the way for the Messiah. His baptism, consequently, was not the baptism of the Spirit, which was reserved for the Messiah (John 1:33), but a baptism of water, yet without the elementum coeleste; there was already standing, however, in their midst the far greater One, to whom this preparatory baptism pointed. The first clause of the verse, ἐγὼ βαπτ. ἐν ὕδατι, implies, therefore, that by his baptism he does not lay claim to anything that belongs to the Messiah (the baptism of the Spirit); and this portion refers to the εἰ σὺ οὐκ εἶ χριστός of John 1:25. The second clause, however, μέσος, etc., implies that this preliminary baptism of his had now the justification, owing to his relation to the Messiah, of a divinely ordained necessity (John 1:23); since the Messiah, unknown indeed to them, already stood in their midst, and consequently what they allowed to Elias, or the prophet, dare not be left unperformed on his part; and this part of his answer refers to the οὐδὲ ἠλίας οὐδὲ προφήτης in John 1:25. Thus the question τί οὖν βαπτίζεις is answered by a twofold reason. There is much that is inappropriate in the remarks of expositors, who have not sufficiently attended to the connection: e.g., De Wette overlooks the appropriateness of the answer to the Elias question; Tholuck contents himself with an appeal to the “laconic-comma style” of the Baptist; and Brückner thinks that “John wished to give no definite answer, but yet to indicate his relation to the Messiah, and the fact of his pointing to Him;” while Bäumlein holds that the antithetical clause, ὃς βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύμ. ἁγ., which was already intended to be here inserted, was forgotten, owing to the intervening sentences; and finally, Hilgenfeld, after comparing together Matthew and Luke, deduces the unhistorical character of the narrative. Heracleon already was even of opinion that John did not answer according to the question asked of him, but as he αὐτὸς ἐβούλετο. In answer to him, Origen.

ἐγώ] has the emphasis of an antithesis to the higher Baptizer ( μέσος δὲ, etc.), not to ὑμεῖς (Godet). Next to this, the stress lies on ἐν ὕδατι. This is the element (see on Matthew 3:11) in which his baptism was performed. This otherwise superfluous addition has a limiting force, and hence is important.

μέσος without the spurious δὲ is all the more emphatic; see on John 1:17. The emphasizing of the antithesis, however, has brought this μέσος] to the front, because it was the manifestation of the Messiah, already taking place in the very midst of the Jews, which justified John in baptizing. Had the Messiah been still far off, that baptism would have lacked its divine necessity; He was, however, standing in their midst, i.e. ἀναμεμιγμένος τότε τῷ λαῷ (Euthymius Zigabenus).

ὃν ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε] reveals the reason why they could question as they had done in John 1:25. The emphasis is on ὑμεῖς, as always (against Tholuck); here in contrast with the knowledge which he himself had (see on John 1:28, note) of the manifested Messiah: you on your part, you people, have the Messiah among you, and know Him not (that is, as the Messiah). In John 1:27, after rejecting the words αὐτός ἐστιν and ὃς ἔμπροσ. μου γέγονεν (see the critical notes), there remains only ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος (John 1:15), and that in fact as the subject of μέσος ἕστηκεν, which subject then receives the designation of its superiority over the Baptist in the οὗ ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἄξιος, κ. τ. λ. Concerning this designation, see on Matthew 3:11.

ἐγώ] I for my part.

ἄξιος ἵνα] worthy that I should loose; ἵνα introduces the purpose of the ἀξιότης. Comp. ἱκανὸς ἵνα, Matthew 8:8, Luke 7:6.

αὐτοῦ] placed first for emphasis, and corresponding to the ἐγώ. On αὐτοῦ after οὗ, see Winer, p. 140 [E. T. p. 184]. τούτου would have been still more emphatic.


Verse 28

John 1:28. On account of the importance of His public appearance, a definite statement of its locality is again given.

A place so exactly described by John himself (John 11:18), according to its situation, as Bethany on the Mount of Olives, cannot be meant here; there must also have been another Bethany situated in Peraea, probably only a village, of which nothing further is known from history. Origen, investigating both the locality and the text, did not find indeed any Bethany, but a Bethabara instead(114) (comp. Judges 7:24?), which the legends of his day described as the place of baptism; the legend, however, misled him. For Bethany in Peraea could not have been situated at all in the same latitude with Jericho, as the tradition represents, but must have lain much farther north; for Jesus occupied about three days in travelling thence to the Judaean Bethany for the raising of Lazarus (see on John 11:17). Yet Paulus (following Bolten) understood the place to be Bethany on the Mount of Olives, and puts a period after ἐγένετο, in spite of the facts that τῇ ἐπαύριον (comp. John 1:35) must begin the new narration, and that ὅπου ἦν ἰωάνν. βαπτ. must clearly refer to John 1:25 ff. Baur, however, makes the name, which according to Schenkel must be attributed to an error of a non-Jewish author, to have been invented, in order to represent Jesus (?) as beginning His public ministry at a Bethany, seeing that He came out of a Bethany at its close. Against the objection still taken to this name even by Weizsäcker (a name which a third person was certainly least of all likely to venture to insert, seeing that Bethany on the Mount of Olives was so well known), see Ewald, Jahrb. XII. p. 214 ff. As to the historic truth of the whole account in John 1:19-28, which, especially by the reality of the situation, by the idiosyncrasy of the questions and answers, and their appropriateness in relation to the characters and circumstances of the time, as well as by their connection with the reckoning of the day in the following verses, reveals the recollections and interest of an eye-witness, see Schweizer, p. 100 ff.; Bleek, Beitr. p. 256.

ὅπου ἦν ἰωάνν. βαπτ.] where John was employed in baptizing.

Note.—(1.) Seeing that, according to John 1:26-27 (comp. especially ὃν ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε, which implies his own personal acquaintance), the Baptist already knows the Messiah, while according to John 1:31-33 he first learned to recognise Him at His baptism by means of a divine σημεῖον, it certainly follows that the occurrences related in John 1:19-28 took place after the baptism of Jesus; and consequently this baptism could not have occurred on the same or the following day (Hengstenberg), nor in the time between John 1:31-32 (Ewald). Wieseler, Ebrard, Luthardt, Godet, and most expositors, as already Lücke, Tholuck, De Wette, following the older expositors, rightly regard the events of John 1:19 ff. as subsequent to the baptism. It is futile to appeal, as against this (Brückner), to the “indefiniteness” of the words ὃν ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε, for there is really no indefiniteness in them; while to refer them to a merely preliminary knowledge, in opposition to the definite acquaintance which began at the baptism, is (against Hengstenberg) a mere subterfuge. That even after the baptism, which had already taken place, John could say, “Ye know Him not,” is sufficiently conceivable, if we adhere to the purely historical account of the baptism, as given in John 1:31-34. See on Matt. p. 111 ff. (2.) Although, according to Matthew 3:14, John already knows Jesus as the Messiah when He came to be baptized of him, there is in this only an apparent discrepancy between the two evangelists, see on John 1:31. (3.) Mark 1:7-8, and Luke 3:16 ff., are not at variance with John; for those passages only speak of the Messiah as being in Himself near at hand, and do not already presuppose any personal acquaintance with Jesus as the Messiah. (4.) The testimonies borne by the Baptist, as recorded in the Synoptics, are, both as to time (before the baptism) and occasion, very different from that recorded in John 1:19 ff., which was given before a deputation from the high court; and therefore the historic truth of both accounts is to be retained side by side,(115) though in details John (against Weisse, who attributes the narrative in John to another hand; so Baur and others) must be taken as the standard. (5.) To deny any reference in John 1:19 ff. to the baptism of Jesus (Baur), is quite irreconcilable with John 1:31; John 1:33; for the evangelist could not but take it for granted that the baptism of Jesus (which indeed Weisse, upon the whole, questions) was a well-known fact. (6.) Definite as is the reference to the baptism of Jesus, there is not to be found any allusion whatever in John’s account to the history of the temptation with its forty days, which can be brought in only before John 1:19, and even then involving a contradiction with the Synoptics. The total absence of any mention of this—important as it would have been in connection with the baptism, and with John’s design generally in view of his idea of the Logos (against B. Crusius)—does not certainly favour the reality of its historic truth as an actual and outward event. Comp. Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 154. If the baptism of Jesus be placed between tbe two testimonies of John 1:19 ff. and John 1:29 ff. (so Hilgenfeld and Brückner, following Olshausen, B. Crusius, and others), which would oblige us still to place it on the day of the first testimony (see Brückner), though Baumlein (in the Stud. u. Krit. 1846, p. 389) would leave this uncertain; then the history of the temptation is as good as expressly excluded by John, because it must find its place (Mark 1:12; Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1) immediately after the baptism. In opposition to this view, Hengstenberg puts it in the period after John 3:22, which is only an unavailing makeshift.


Verse 29

John 1:29. τῇ ἐπαύριον] on the following day, the next after the events narrated in John 1:19-28. Comp. John 1:35; John 1:44 (John 2:1), John 6:22, John 12:12.

ἐρχόμ. πρὸς αὐτ.] coming towards him, not coming to him, i.e. only so near that he could point to Him (Baur). He came, however, neither to take leave of the Baptist before His temptation (Kuinoel, against which is John 1:35), nor to be baptized of him (Evvald, Hengstenberg; see the foregoing note); but with a purpose not more fully known to us, which John has not stated, because he was not concerned about that, but about the testimony of the Baptist. If we were to take into account the narrative of the temptation,—which, however, is not the case,

Jesus might be regarded as here returning from the temptation (see Euthymius Zigabenus, Lücke, Luthardt, Riggenbach, Godet).

ἴδε ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, κ. τ. λ.] These words are not addressed to Jesus, but to those who are around the Baptist, and they are suggested by the sight of Jesus; comp. John 1:36. As to the use of the singular ἴδε, when nevertheless several are addressed, see on Matthew 10:16. The article denotes the appointed Lamb of God, which, according to the prophetic utterance presupposed as well known, was expected in the person of the Messiah. This characteristic form of Messianic expectation is based upon Isaiah 53:7. Comp. Matthew 8:17; Luke 22:37; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 2:22 ff.; and the ἀρνίον in the Apocalypse. On the force of the article, see John 1:21, προφήτης; also ῥίζα τοῦ ἰεσσαί, Romans 15:12; λέων ἐκ τῆς φυλῆς ἰούδα, Revelation 5:5. The genitive is that of possession, that which belongs to God, i.e. the lamb appointed as a sacrifice by God Himself. This interpretation follows from the entire contents of Isaiah 53, and from the idea of sacrifice which is contained in αἴρων, κ. τ. λ. We must not therefore render: “the Lamb given by God” (Hofmann, Luthardt). But while, according to this view, the lamb, designated and appointed by God, is meant,—the lamb already spoken of in holy prophecies of old, whose fulfilment in Jesus was already recognised by the Baptist,—it is erroneous to assume any reference to the paschal lamb (Luther, Grotius, Bengel, Lampe, Olshausen, Maier, Reuss, Luthardt, Hofmann, Hengstenberg; comp. Godet). Such an assumption derives no support from the more precise definition in αἴρων, κ. τ. λ., and would produce a ὕστερον πρότερον; for the view which regarded Christ as the paschal lamb first arose ex eventu, because He was crucified upon the same day on which the paschal lamb was slain (see on John 18:28; 1 Corinthians 5:7). He certainly thus became the antitype of the paschal lamb, but, according to the whole tenor of the passage in Isaiah, He was not regarded by the Baptist in this special aspect, nor could He be so conceived of by his hearers. The conception of sacrifice which, according to the prophecy in Isaiah and the immediate connection in John, is contained in ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, is that of the trespass-offering, אָשָׁם, Isaiah 53:10;(116), 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10; 1 John 1:7. It by no means militates against this, that, according to the law, lambs were not as a rule employed for trespass-offerings (Leviticus 14:2, Numbers 6:12, relate to exceptional cases only; and the daily morning and evening sacrifices, Exodus 29:38 ff., Numbers 28, which Wetstein here introduces, were prayer- and thank-offerings), but for sacrifices of purification (Leviticus 5:1-6; Leviticus 14:12; Numbers 6:12):(117) for in Isaiah the Servant of Jehovah, who makes atonement for the people by His vicarious sufferings, is represented as a lamb; and it is this prophetic view, not the legal prescription, which is the ruling thought here. Christ was, as the Baptist here prophetically recognises Him, the antitype of the O. T. sacrifices: He must therefore, as such, be represented in the form of some animal appointed for sacrifice; and the appropriate figure was given not in the law, but by the prophet, who, contemplating Him in His gentleness and meekness, represents Him as a sacrificial lamb, and from this was derived the form which came to be the normal one in the Christian manner of view. The apostolic church consequently could apprehend Him as the Christian Passover; though legally the passover lamb, as a trespass-offering, which it certainly was, differed from the ordinary trespass-offerings (Ewald, Alterth. p. 467 f.; Hengstenberg takes a different view, Opfer, d. h. Schr. p. 24 ff.). This Christian method of view accordingly had a prophetical, and not a legal foundation. To exclude the idea of sacrifice altogether, and to find in the expression Lamb of God the representation merely of a divinely consecrated, innocent, and gentle sufferer (Gabler, Melet. in John 1:29, Jen. 1808–1811, in his Opusc. p. 514 ff.; Paulus, Kuinoel), is opposed to the context both in Isaiah and in John, as well as to the view of the work of redemption which pervades the whole of the N. T. Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 159 ff.

αἴρων τ. ἁμαρτ. τ. κόσμου] may either signify, “who takes away the sin of the world,” or, “who takes upon himself,” etc., i.e. in order to bear it. Both renderings (which Flacius, Melancthon, and most others, even Bäumlein, combine) must, according to Isaiah 53., express the idea of atonement; so that in the first the cancelling of the guilt is conceived of as a removing, a doing away with sin (an abolition of it); in the second, as a bearing (an expiation) of it. The latter interpretation is usually preferred (so Lücke, B. Crusius, De Wette, Hengstenberg, Brückner, Ewald, Weber, v. Zorne Gottes, p. 250), because in Isaiah 53 the idea is certainly that of bearing by way of expiation ( נשא: LXX. φέρει, ἀνένεγκε, ἀνοίσει). But since the LXX. never use αἴρειν to express the bearing of sin, but always φέρειν, etc., while on the other hand they express the taking away of sin by αἴρειν (1 Samuel 15:25; 1 Samuel 25:28; Aq. Psalms 31:5, where Symm. has ἀφέλῃς and the LXX. ἀφῆκας); and as the context of 1 John 3:5, in like manner, requires us to take τὰς ἁ΄αρτίας ἡ΄ῶν ἄρῃ, there used to denote the act of expiation (comp. John 2:2), as signifying the taking away of sins; so αἴρων, etc., here is to be explained in this sense,—not, indeed, that the Baptist expresses an idea different from Isaiah 53, but the expiation there described as a bearing of sins is represented, according to its necessary and immediate result, as the abolition of sins by virtue of the vicarious sacrificial suffering and death of the victim, as the ἀθέτησις ἁμαρτίας, Hebrews 9:26. Comp. already Cyril: ἵνα τοῦ κόσμου τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἀνέλῃ; Vulgate: qui tollit; Goth.: afnimith. John himself expresses this idea in 1 John 1:7, when referring to the sin-cleansing power of Christ’s blood, which operates also on those who are already regenerate (see Düsterdieck in loc., p. 99 ff.), by καθαρίζει ἡ΄ᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁ΄αρτίας. The taking away of sins by the Lamb presupposes His taking them upon Himself. The interpretation “to take away,” in itself correct, is (after Grotius) misused by Kuinoel: “removebit peccata hominum, i.e. pravitatem e terra;(118) and Gabler has misinterpreted the rendering “to bear;” “qui pravitatem hominum … i.e. mala sibi inflicta, patienti et mansueto animo sustinebit.” Both are opposed to the necessary relation of the word to ἀμνὸς τ. θεοῦ, as well as to the real meaning of Isaiah 53; although even Gabler’s explanation would not in itself be linguistically erroneous, but would have to be referred back to the signification, to take upon oneself, to take over (Æsch. Pers. 544; Soph. Tr. 70; Xen. Mem. iv. 4. 14; 1 Maccabees 13:17; Matthew 11:29, al.).

The Present αἴρων arises from the fact that the Baptist prophetically views the act of atonement accomplished by the Lamb of God as present. This act is ever-enduring, not in itself, but in its effects (against Hengstenberg). Luthardt holds that the words are not to be understood of the future, and that the Baptist had not Christ’s death in view, but only regarded and designated Him in a general way, as one who was manifested in a body of weakness, and with liability to suffering, in order to the salvation of men. But this is far too general for the concrete representation of Christ as the Lamb of God, and for the express reference herein made to sin, especially from the lips of a man belonging to the old theocracy, who was himself the son of a sacrificing priest, a Nazarite and a prophet.

τὴν ἁμαρτίαν] the sins of the world conceived of as a collective unity; “una pestis, quse omnes corripuit,” Bengel. Comp. Romans 5:20.

τοῦ κόσμου] an extension of the earlier prophetic representation of atonement for the people, Isaiah 53. to all mankind, the reconciliation of whom has been objectively accomplished by the ἱλαστήριον of the Lamb of God, but is accomplished subjectively in all who believe (John 3:15-16). Comp. Romans 5:18.

Note.

That the Baptist describes Jesus as the Messiah, who by His sufferings maizes expiation for the world’s sin, is to be explained by considering his apocalyptic position, by which his prophecies, which had immediate reference to the person and work of Jesus, were conditioned; comp. John 1:31 ff. It was not that he had obtained a sudden glimpse of light in a natural manner (Hofmann, Schweizer, Lange), or a growing presentiment (De Wette), or a certitude arrived at by reason and deep reflection (Ewald); but a revelation had been made to him (comp. John 1:33). This was necessary in order to announce the idea of a suffering Messiah with such decision and distinctness, even according to its historical realization in Jesus;—an idea which, though it had been discovered by a few deep-seeing minds through prophetic hints or divine enlightenment (Luke 2:25; Luke 2:34-35), nevertheless undoubtedly encountered in general expectations of a kind diametrically opposite (John 12:34; Luke 24:26),—and in order likewise to give to that idea the impress of world-embracing universality, although the way was already prepared for this by the promise made to Abraham. The more foreign the idea of a suffering Messiah was to the people in general, the more disinclined the disciples of Jesus showed themselves to accept such a view (Matthew 16:21; Luke 24:25); the more certain that its dissemination was effected by the development of the history, while even thus remaining a constant σκάνδαλον to the Jews, the more necessary and justifiable does it appear to suppose a special divine revelation, with which the expression borrowed from Isaiah 53 may very well be consistent. And the more certain it is that the Baptist really was the subject of divine revelations as the forerunner of the Messiah (comp. Matthew 3:14), all the more unhistorical is the assumption that the evangelist divests the idea of the Messiah of its historical form (Keim) by putting his own knowledge into the Baptist’s mouth (Strauss, Weisse, Baur, Hilgenfeld, Scholten; comp. De Wette’s doubt, but against this latter, Brückner). This view receives no support from the subsequent vacillation of the Baptist (Matthew 11:3), because the revelation which he had received, as well as that made to him at the baptism (John 1:32), would not exclude a subsequent and temporary falling into error, and because this was not caused by any sufferings which Jesus underwent, but by his own sufferings in face of the Messianic works of Jesus, whereby the divine light previously received was dimmed through human weakness and impatience. It is only by surrendering the true interpretation (see αἴρων above) that Luthardt avoids such a supposition as this. The notion of a spiritualizing legend (Schenkel) is of itself excluded by the genuineness of the Gospel, whose author had been a disciple of the Baptist. Moreover, Jesus Himself, according even to the testimony of the Synoptics (Mark 2:20; Matthew 12:39, etc.), was sufficiently acquainted from the very first with the certainty of His final sufferings.


Verse 30

does not refer to John 1:26-27, where John bears his witness before the deputies from the Sanhedrim, but to an earlier testimony borne by him before his disciples and hearers, and in this definite enigmatic form, to which John 1:15 likewise refers

John 1:30 does not refer to John 1:26-27, where John bears his witness before the deputies from the Sanhedrim, but to an earlier testimony borne by him before his disciples and hearers, and in this definite enigmatic form, to which John 1:15 likewise refers. So essential is this characteristic form, that of itself it excludes the reference to John 1:26-27 (De Wette, Hengstenberg, Ewald, Godet, and others). The general testimony which John had previously borne to the coming Messiah, here receives its definite application to the concrete personality there standing before him, i.e. to Jesus.

ἐστί] not ἦν again, as in John 1:15, for Jesus is now present.

ἐγώ] possesses the emphasis of a certain inward feeling of prophetic certitude.

ἀνὴρ] as coming from the Baptist, more reverential and honourable than ἄνθρωπος. Acts 17:31; Zechariah 6:12; Dem. 426. 6; Herod, vii. 210; Xen. Hier. vii. 3.


Verse 31

John 1:31. κἀγώ] not I also, like all others, but and I, resuming and carrying forward the ἐγώ of John 1:30. Though the Baptist had borne witness in a general way concerning the Messiah, as John 1:30 affirms, Jesus was, at the time when he bare that witness, still unknown to him as in His own person the historic Messiah. John 1:34 shows that καὶ in κἀγώ is the simple and; for the thrice repeated κἀγώ, John 1:31-34, can only be arbitrarily interpreted in different senses. The emphasis of the ἐγώ, however (I on my part), consists in his ignorance of the special individuality, in the face of the divine revelation which he had received.

οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν] that is, as the Messiah, see John 1:33; not “as the manifestation of a pre-existent personality” (Hilgenfeld); still not denying, in general, every kind of previous acquaintance with Jesus (Lücke, Godet), which the following ἵνα φανερωθῇ and ὃν ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε in John 1:26 forbid. This οὐκ ᾔδειν leaves it quite uncertain whether the Baptist had any personal acquaintance generally with Jesus (and this is by no means placed beyond doubt by the legendary prefatory history in Luke 1:36 ff., which is quite irreconcilable with the text before us). That Jesus was the Messiah became known to the Baptist only at the baptism itself, by the sign of the descending dove; and this sign was immediately preceded only by the prophetic presentiment of which Matthew 3:14 is the impress (see on that passage). Accordingly, we are not to assume any contradiction between our text and Matt. l.c. (Strauss, Baur, and most others), nor leave the οὐκ ᾔδειν with its meaning unexplained (Brückner); nor, again, are we to interpret it only comparatively as a denial of clear and certain knowledge (Neander, Maier, Riggenbach, Hengstenberg, Ewald).

ἀλλʼ ἵνα φανερωθῇ, κ. τ. λ.] occupying an emphatic position at the beginning of the clause, and stating the purpose of the Baptist’s manifestation as referring to Messiah, and as still applying notwithstanding the κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδειν, and being thus quite independent of his own intention and choice, and purely a matter of divine ordination.

ἵνα φανερωθῇ] This special purpose, in the expression of which, moreover, no reference can be traced to Isaiah 40:5 (against Hengstenberg), does not exclude the more generally and equally divine ordinance in John 1:23, but is included in it. Comp. the tradition in Justin, c. Tryph. 8, according to which the Messiah remained unknown to Himself and others, until Elias anointed Him and made Him manifest to all ( φανερὸν πᾶσι ποιήσῃ).

ἐν τῷ ὕδατι βαπτίζων] a humble description of his own baptism as compared with that of Him who baptizes with the Spirit, John 1:33; comp. John 1:26. Hence also the ἐγώ, ι on my part. For the rest, we must understand ἐν τ. ὕδ. βαπτ. of John’s call to baptize in general, in which was also included the conception of the baptizing of Jesus, to which John 1:32 refers.(119)


Verse 32

John 1:32. What John had said in John 1:31, viz. that though Jesus was unknown to him as the Messiah, yet his commission was to make Him known to the people, needed explanation; and that as to the way in which he himself had come to recognise Him as the Messiah. This was, indeed, a necessary condition before he could make the φανέρωσις to the people. This explanation he now gives in the following testimony (not first spoken upon another occasion, Ewald) concerning the divine σημεῖον, which he beheld. And the evangelist considers this testimony so weighty, that he does not simply continue the words of the Baptist, but solemnly and emphatically introduces the testimony as such: καὶ ἐμαρτύρησεν, κ. τ. λ., words which are not therefore parenthetical (Bengel, Lücke, and most), but from an impressive part of the record: “And a testimony did John bear, when he said.” The following ὅτι simply recitative.

τεθέαμαι] I have seen; Perfect, like ἑώρακα in John 1:34, which see. The phenomenon itself took place at the baptism, which is assumed as known through the Gospel tradition, and is referred to in John 1:33 by πέμψας με βαπτίζειν ἐν ὕδατι, which implies that the σημεῖον was to take place at the baptism of the person spoken of. This is in answer to Baur, p. 104 ff., according to whom there is no room here for the supposition that Jesus was baptized by John,—an assertion all the more groundless, because if we insert the baptism of Jesus before John 1:19, there is no place in the plan of this Gospel for the narration of a fact which is assumed as universally known.

The sight itself here spoken of was no mere production of the imagination, but a real sight; it indicates an actual event divinely brought about, which was traditionally worked up by the Synoptics into a visible occurrence more or less objective (most unhesitatingly by Luke), but which can be the subject of testimony only by virtue of a θεωρία νοητική (Origen). See on Matthew 3:17, note.

ὡς περιστεράν] i.e. shaped like a dove: ἀντίτυπον μίμημα πελειάδος, Nonnus. See on Matthew 3:16. According to Ewald, “the sudden downward flight of a bird, coming near to Him at the moment, confirmed the Baptist’s presentiment,” etc. Conjectures of this kind are additions quite alien to the prophetic mode of view.

καὶ ἔμεινεν ἐπʼ αὐτόν] The transition here to the finite verb is owing to the importance of the fact stated. Bernhardy, p. 473; Buttmann, N. T. Gk. p. 327 [E. T. p. 382]. ἐπʼ αὐτόν, however, is not synonymous with ἐπʼ αὐτοῦ (John 19:31); the idea is, “remained (‘fluttered not away,’ Luther) directed towards Him.” We are to suppose the appearance of a dove coming down, and poising itself for a considerable time over the head of the person. See on ἐπί with the accusative (John 3:36; 1 Peter 4:14), seemingly on the question “where?” Schaef. ad Long. p. 427; Matthiae, p. 1375; Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 2. 2.


Verse 33

John 1:33. John’s recognition of Jesus as the Messiah (whom he had not before known as such) rested upon a revelation previously made to him with this intent; and this he now states, solemnly repeating, however, the declaration of his own ignorance ( κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν).

ἐκεῖνος] in emphatic contrast with his own reflection.

εἶπεν] i.e. by express revelation. We cannot tell the precise time or manner of this prior revelation. By it John was referred to some outwardly visible σημεῖον ( ἴδῃς) of the Spirit, in a general way, without any definition of its form. He was to see it descending, and this descent took place in the form of a dove, and after that divine intimation there was no room for doubt. Comp. on Matthew 3:17, note.

ἐφʼ ὃν ἂν ἴδῃς] that is, when thou baptizest Him with water. This is not expressly stated in the divine declaration, but John could not fail so to understand it, because, being sent to baptize, he would naturally expect the appearance of the promised sign while fulfilling his mission; comp. John 1:31. He therefore describes the giver of the revelation as πέμψας με, κ. τ. λ., and the evangelist puts the statement in the conditional form: ἐφʼ ὃν ἂν, κ. τ. λ., i.e., according to the connection of the narrative: “When, in the fulfilment of this your mission, you shall see the Spirit descending upon one of those whom thou baptizest, this is He,” etc.

ἐν πνεύμ. ἁγίῳ] by communicating it to those who believe upon Him. See on Matthew 3:11. The designation of this communication as a baptism very naturally arose from its close relation to the work of the Baptist’s mission (comp. Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16), because the gift of the Spirit, according to the prophetic figure (Joel 3:1; Isaiah 44:3), had been promised under the form of an outpouring (comp. Acts 2:33). The contrast itself distinctly sets before us the difference between the two baptisms: the one was a preparation for the Messianic salvation by μετάνοια; the other, an introduction thereto by the divine principle of life and salvation, the communication of which presupposes the forgiveness of sins (see on Mark 1:4).


Verse 34

John 1:34. A still more distinct and emphatic conclusion of what John had to adduce from John 1:31 onwards, in explanation of the οὗτός ἐστιν mentioned in John 1:30.

κἀγώ] and I on my part, answering triumphantly to the double κἀγώ in John 1:31; John 1:33.

ἑώρακα] i.e. as the divine declaration in John 1:33 had promised ( ἴδῃς). This having seen is to the speaker, as he makes the declaration, an accomplished fact. Hence the Perfect, like τεθέαμαι in John 1:32. Nor can the μεμαρτύρηκα be differently understood unless by some arbitrary rendering; it does not mean: “I shall have borne witness” (De Wette, Tholuck, Maier), as the aorist is used in the classics (see on John 6:36); or, “I have borne witness, and do so still” (Grotius, Lücke), or “testis sum factus” (Bengel, comp. Bernhardy, p. 378 ff.); but, I have borne witness, that is, since I saw that sight; so that, accordingly, John, immediately after the baptism of Jesus, uttered the testimony which he here refers to as an accomplished fact, and by referring to which he ratifies and confirms what he now has testified (John 1:30). Comp. also Winer, p. 256 [E. T. p. 341].

ὅτι οὗτος, κ. τ. λ.] the subject-matter of the μεμαρτ.

υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ] the Messiah, whose divine Sonship, however, had already been apprehended by the Baptist in the metaphysical sense (against Beyschlag, p. 67), agreeably to the testimony borne to His pre-existence in John 1:30; John 1:15 : ὅττι θεοῦ γόνος οὗτος, ἀειζώοιο τοκῆος, Nonnus. The heavenly voice in Matthew 3:17, in the synoptic account of the baptism, corresponds to this testimony. All the less on this account are the statements of the Baptist concerning Jesus to be regarded as unhistorical, and only as an echo of the position assigned to the former in the Prologue (Weizsäcker). The position of the Baptist in the Prologue is the result of the history itself. That the meaning attaching to υἱὸς τ. θεοῦ in the fourth Gospel generally is quite different from that which it has in the Synoptics (Baur), is a view which the passages Matthew 11:27; Matthew 28:19, should have prevented from being entertained.

Note.

On John 1:32-34 we may observe in general: (1.) The λόγος and the πνεῦμα ἁγιον are not to be regarded as identical in John’s view (against Baur, bibl. Theol. d. N. T. II. 268; J. E. Chr. Schmidt, in d. Bibl. f. Krit. u. Exeg. I. 3, p. 361 ff.; Eichhorn, Einl. II. 158 ff.; Winzer, Progr., Lps. 1819), against which the λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο in John 1:14 is itself conclusive, in view of which the πνεῦμα in our passage appears as an hypostasis distinct from the λόγος, an hypostasis of which the σὰρξ ἐγένετο could not have been predicated. The λόγος was the substratum of the divine side in Christ, which having become incarnate, entered upon a human development, in which the divine-human subject needed the power and incitement of the πνεῦμα. (2.) He was of necessity under this influence of the Spirit from the very outset of the development of His divine-human consciousness (comp. Luke 2:40; Luke 2:52, and the visit when twelve years old to the temple), and long before the moment of His baptism, so that the πνεῦμα was the awakening and mediating principle of the consciousness which Jesus possessed of His oneness with God; see on John 10:36. Accordingly, we are not to suppose that the Holy Ghost was given to Him now for the first time, and was added consciously to His divine-human life as a new and third element; the text speaks not of a receiving, but of a manifestation of the Spirit, as seen by John, which in this form visibly came down and remained over Him, in order to point Him out to the Baptist as the Messiah who, according to O. T. prophecy (Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 42:1), was to possess the fulness of the Spirit. The purpose of this divine σημεῖον was not, therefore (as Matthew and Mark indeed represent it), to impart the Spirit to Jesus (which is not implied even in John 3:34), but simply for the sake of the Baptist, to divinely indicate to him who was to make Him known in Israel, that individuality who, as the incarnate Logos, must long before then have possessed the powers of the Spirit in all their fulness (comp. John 3:34). The πνεῦμα in the symbolic form of a dove hovered over Jesus, remained over Him for a while, and then again vanished (comp. Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 150). This the Baptist saw; and he now knows, through a previously received revelation made to him for the purpose who it is that he has to make known as the Messiah who baptizes with the Spirit. To find in this passage a special stimulus imparted through the Spirit to Jesus Himself, and perceived by the Baptist, tending to the development or opening up of His divine—human consciousness and life (Lücke, Neander, Tholuck, Osiander, Ebrard, De Wette, Riggenbach, and others; comp. Lange, and Beyschlag, p. 103), or the equipment of the Logos for a coming forth out of a state of immanence (Frommann), or the communication of official power (Gess, Pers. Chr. p. 374; comp. Wörner, Verhältn. d. Geistes, p. 44), as the principle of which the Spirit was now given in order to render the σάρξ fit to become the instrument of His self-manifestation (Luthardt, after Kahnis, vom heiligen Geiste, p. 44; comp. also Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. 191, II. 1, 166; Godet; and Weisse, Lehrbegr. p. 268, who connects with John 1:51),—as in a similar way B. Crusius already explained the communication of the Spirit as if the πνεῦμα (in distinction from the λόγος) were now received by Jesus, as that which was to be further communicated to mankind;—these and all such theories find no justification from our Gospel at least, which simply records a manifestation made to the Baptist, not a communication to Jesus; and to it must be accorded decisive weight when brought face to face with those other diverging accounts. Thus, at the same time, this whole manifestation must not be regarded as an empty, objectless play of the imagination (Lücke): it was an objective and real σημεῖον divinely presented to the Baptist’s spiritual vision, the design of which ( ἵνα φανερωθῇ τῷ ἰσραήλ, John 1:31, that is, through the Baptist’s testimony) was sufficiently important as the γνώρισμα of the Messiah (Justin. c. Tryph. 88), and the result of which (John 1:34) corresponded to its design; whereas, upon the supposition that we have here a record of the receiving of the Spirit, there is imported into the exposition something quite foreign to the text. If this supposition be surrendered, then the opinion loses all support that the descent of the Spirit upon Jesus at His baptism is a mythical inference of Ebionitism (Strauss), as well as the assertion that here too our Gospel stands upon the boundary line of Gnosticism (Baur); while the boldness of view which goes still further, and (in the face of the βαπτίζων ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ) takes the πνεῦμα to be, not the Holy Spirit, but the Logos (in spite of John 1:14), which as a heavenly Aeon was for the first time united at the baptism with Jesus the earthly man (so Hilgenfeld, following the Valentinian Gnosis), does not even retain its claim to be considered a later historical analogy. There remains, however, in any case, the great fact of which the Baptist witnesses—“the true birth-hour of Christendom” (Ewald): for, on the one hand, the divinely sent forerunner of the Messiah now received the divinely revealed certainty as to whom his work as Elias pointed; and, on the other hand, by the divinely assured testimony which he now bore to Jesus before the people, the Messianic consciousness of Jesus Himself received not only the consecration of a heavenly ratification, but the warrant of the Father’s will, that now the hour was come for the holy ἀρχή of His ministry in word and work. It was not that now for the first time the Messiah’s resolve was formed; rather was it the entrance (comp. Acts 13:23) upon His great work, the commencement of its realization, which was the great event in the world’s history that marked this hour, when the fulness of time was come for the accomplishment of the counsel of God.


Verse 35-36

John 1:35-36. πάλιν εἱστήκει] pointing back to John 1:29.

δύο] One was Andrew, John 1:41. The other? Certainly John himself,(120) partly on account of that peculiarity of his which leads him to refrain from naming himself, and partly on account of the special vividness of the details in the following account, which had remained indelibly impressed upon his memory ever since this first and decisive meeting with his Lord.

ἐμβλέψας] denoting fixed attention. Comp. John 1:43; Mark 10:21; Mark 10:27; Mark 14:67; Luke 20:17; Luke 22:61. The profoundest interest led him to fix his gaze upon Him.

ἴδε ἀμνὸς τ. θεοῦ] These few words were quite sufficient to direct the undivided attention of both to Him who was passing that way; for, beyond a doubt (against De Wette, Ewald,—because the fact that nothing is now added to the ἀμνὸς τ. θεοῦ gives the words quite a retrospective character), they had been witnesses the day before of what is recorded in John 1:29-34. The assumption of a further conversation not here recorded (Kuinoel, Lücke, and most) is unnecessary, overlooks the emphasis of the one short yet weighty word on which hangs their recollection of all that occurred the day before, and moreover is not required by John 1:37.

We need not even ask why Jesus, who was now walking along ( περιπατ.) in the same place, had not been with John, because the text says nothing about it. Answers have been devised; e.g. Bengel: “Jesus had sufficiently humbled Himself by once joining Himself with John;” Lampe: “He wished to avoid the suspicion of any private understanding with the Baptist.” Equally without warrant in the text, B. Crusius and Luthardt: “Jesus had already separated Himself from the Baptist to begin His own proper ministry, while the Baptist desired indirectly to command his disciples to join themselves with Jesus;” as Hengstenberg also supposes, judging from the result, and because he at the same time regards the two as representatives of all John’s disciples.


Verses 37-40

John 1:37-40. And the two disciples heard (observed) him speak. For he had not addressed the words ἴδε ἀμνὸς τ. θεοῦ directly to them, but in general (comp. John 1:29) to those round about him.

ἠκολούθησαν] not the following of discipleship, nor in a “sens profondément symbolique” (Godet), but simply: “they went after Him” ( ὀπίστεροι ἦλθον ὁδῖται χριστοῦ νεισσομένοιο, Nonnus), in order to know Him more intimately ( πεῖραν λαβεῖν αὐτοῦ, Euthymius Zigabenus). Nevertheless Bengel rightly says: primae origines ecclesiae Christianae.

στραφείς] for He heard the footsteps of those following Him.

τί ζητεῖτε] what do you desire? He anticipates them by engaging in conversation with them, not exactly because they were shy and timid (Euthymius Zigabenus). But no doubt the significant θεασάμενος, κ. τ. λ. (intuitus), was accompanied by a glance into their hearts, John 2:25.

ποῦ μένεις] correlative to the περιπατοῦντι, John 1:36; therefore: “where dost thou sojourn?” Polyb. xxx. 4. 10; Strabo, iii. p. 147. They regarded Him as a travelling Rabbi, who was lodging in the neighbourhood at the house of some friend.

ἔρχεσθε κ. ὄψεσθε (see the critical notes); a friendly invitation to accompany Him at once.(121) They had sought only to know where the place was, so that they might afterwards seek Him out, and converse with Him undisturbed. We have not here the Rabbinical form of calling attention, בא וראה (Buxt. Lex. Talm. p. 248; Lightfoot, p. 968), nor an imitation of Revelation 6:1 (Weisse), nor yet an allusion to Psalms 66:5; Psalms 66:9, and a gentle reference on the part of Jesus to His Godhead (Hengstenberg), for which there was no occasion, and which He could not expect to be understood.

ἦλθον, κ. τ. λ.] shows the simplicity of the narrative.

μένει] instance of insertion of the direct address, common in dependent clauses. Kühner, II. 594; Winer, p. 251 [E. T. p. 335].

τὴν ἡμέρ. ἐκ.] i.e. the remaining part of that day, not at once from that day onwards (Credner, against whom is Ebrard).

δεκάτη] that is, at the beginning of their stay with Him. We have no reason to suppose in John, as Rettig does in the Stud. u. Krit. 1830, p. 106, as also Tholuck, Ebrard, Ewald, the Roman mode of counting the hours (from midnight to midnight, therefore ten o’clock in the morning) instead of the Jewish, which is followed elsewhere in the N. T. and by Josephus (even Vit. 54), i.e. four o’clock in the afternoon; because there is time enough from 4 P.M. till late in the evening to justify the popular expression τὴν ἡμέρ. ἐκ.; because, moreover, in John 11:9 it is plainly the Jewish method which is followed; and because even in John 4:6 the same method best suits the context, and is not excluded in John 4:52, while in John 19:14 it is with a harmonistic view that the Roman method of reckoning is resorted to. The Romans themselves, moreover, frequently measured the day after the Babylonian computation of the hours, according to the twelve hours from sunrise to sunset; and the tenth hour especially is often named, as in our text, as the hour of return from walking, and mention of it occurs as a late hour in the day, when e.g. the soldiers were allowed to rest (Liv. ix. 37), or when they went to table (Martial, vii. 1), etc. See Wetstein.

The great significance of this hour for John (it was the first of his Christian life) had indelibly impressed it on his grateful recollection, and hence the express mention of it here. This consideration forbids our giving, with Hilgenfeld and Lichtenstein, to the statement of time an onward reference to the incident next mentioned, the finding by Andrew of his brother Simon. Brückner, too, imports something that is foreign into this statement of time, when he says that it indicates, in close connection with John 1:41 ff., how rapidly faith developed itself in these disciples.


Verses 41-43

John 1:41-43. Still on the same day (not on the following, as, after the early expositors, De Wette, Baur, Luthardt, Ewald, and most others suppose; see, on the contrary, the ἐπαύριον which again appears, but not till John 1:44), Andrew first meets his brother Simon.

πρῶτος] We must understand the matter thus: Both disciples go out from the lodging-place (at the same time, or perhaps Andrew first), still in the first fresh glow of joy at having found the Messias,(122) in order that each of them may seek his own brother (we must assume that both brothers were known to be in the neighbourhood), in order to inform him of the new joy, and to bring him to Christ. Andrew is the first ( πρῶτος, not πρῶτον, an inelegant change adopted by Lachmann, after A. B. M. X. א **) who finds his brother. John, however, does not say that he also sought his brother James, found him, and brought him to Jesus; and this is in keeping with the delicate reserve which prevents him from naming either himself or those belonging to him (even the name of James does not occur in the Gospel). Still this may be clearly seen from the πρῶτος, and is confirmed by the narrative of the Synoptics, in so far that both James and John are represented as being called at the same time by Jesus (Mark 1:19 and parallels). Bengel, Tholuck, De Wette, Hengstenberg, wrongly say that Andrew and John had both sought out Simon. The τὸν ἴδιον is against this; as it neither here nor elsewhere (comp. John 5:18) occurs as a mere possessive (against Lücke, Maier, De Wette, and others), but in opposition to that which is foreign. Any antithetic relation to the spiritual brotherhood in which John as well as Andrew stood to Simon (Hengstenberg), is quite remote from the passage.

εὑρήκαμεν] placed emphatically at the beginning of the clause, and presupposing the feeling of anxious desire excited by the Baptist. The plural is used because Andrew had in mind the other disciple also.

ἐμβλέψας, κ. τ. λ.] This fixed look (John 1:36) on the countenance of Simon pierces his inner soul. Jesus, as the Searcher of hearts (John 2:25; Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 263), sees in him one who should hereafter be called to be the rock of the church, and calls him by the name which he was henceforth to bear as His disciple (not first in Matthew 16:18, as Luthardt thinks). A rock is the emblem of firmness as early as Homer (Od. xvii. 463); comp. Ezekiel 3:9. There is no contradiction here with Matthew 16:18 (it is otherwise with Mark 3:16), as if John had transferred the giving of the name to this place (Hilgenfeld, comp. Baur and Scholten), for in Matthew 16:18 the earlier giving of the name is really presupposed, confirmed, and applied. See on Matt.

σὺ εἶ σίμων, κ. τ. λ.] This belongs to the circumstantiality of the solemn ceremony of the name-giving; it is first said who he is, and what in future he should be called. Comp. Genesis 32:28; Genesis 35:10; Genesis 17:5. σὺ εἶ σίμων is not, as Ewald thinks, a question; and there is no ground whatever for supposing that Jesus immediately recognised him (Cyril, Chrysostom, Augustine, Aretius, Maldonatus, Cornelius a Lapide, Bengel, Luthardt, and many, comp. Strauss), for Andrew introduced his brother to Jesus. Grotius and Paulus(123) give arbitrary explanations of the reading ἰωνᾶ, but see the critical notes. For the rest, we must not say, with Hilgenfeld, “Peter here attains the pre-eminence of the first called disciple;” but Peter is first given this pre-eminence in the synoptical accounts (Matthew 4:18 and parallels); the personal recollection of John, however, must take precedence of these. See especially the note following John 1:51.


Verse 44-45

John 1:44-45. τῇ ἐπαύρ.] i.e. after the last-mentioned day, John 1:39, which is the same with the τῇ ἐπαύρ. of John 1:35, consequently the fourth day from John 1:19.

ἠθέλησεν, κ. τ. λ.] He was just desiring to go forth, and findeth, etc.; therefore still at the lodging-place, John 1:40, for ἐξελθεῖν refers to the stay there ( μένει, John 1:40).

εὑρίσκει] as if accidentally, but see John 17:5 ff.

The statement, instead of being hypotactic in form (“when he would go out, he findeth”), is paratactic, as often in Greek from Homer downwards (Nägelsbach, z. Ilias, p. 65, ed. 3; Kuhner, II. p. 416), and in the N. T.; Buttmann, N.T. Gr. p. 249 [E. T. p. 196]. We must place the scene at the commencement of the journey homeward, not on the road during the journey (Lücke).

ἀκολ. μοι] of following as disciples. Comp. Matthew 4:19-20; Matthew 9:9; see also John 1:46; John 2:2. The invitation to do this (not merely to go with Him) is explained by John 1:45, as brought about by the communications of Andrew and Peter, though certainly the heart-piercing look of Jesus Himself, and the impression produced by His whole bearing, must be regarded as the causes which mainly led Philip to come to a decision. John does not record the further conversations which of course ensued upon the ἀκολ. μοι, and the obedience which followed, because his aim was to narrate the call.

ἐκ τ. πόλεως, κ. τ. λ.] see on Matthew 8:14.


Verse 46

John 1:46. εὑρίσκει] when and where in the course of the journey we are not told,—perhaps at some distance from the road, so that Philip, observing him, quitted the road, and went towards him. According to Ewald, “not till after their arrival in the village of Cana, which nevertheless is named for the first time in John 2:1, and to which Nathanael belonged” (John 21:2). The supposition, however, that Nathanael was on his way to John’s baptism (Godet) is quite groundless.

ναθαναήλ, נְתַנְאֵל, i.e. Theodorus (Numbers 1:8; 1 Chronicles 2:14), is identical with Bartholomaeus. For, according to this passage, in the midst of calls to the apostleship, comp. John 21:2, he appears as one of the twelve; while in the lists of the apostles (Matthew 10:3; Luke 6:14; Mark 1:18; Acts 1:13), where his name is wanting, we find Bartholomaeus, and placed, moreover, side by side with Philip (only in Acts 1:13 with Matthew;(124) comp. Constitt. Apol. vi. 14. 1). This identity is all the more probable, because Bartholomew is only a patronymic, and must have become the ordinary name of the individual, and that in most frequent use; and thus it came to pass that his own distinctive name does not appear in the synoptic narrative.

ὃν ἔγραψε] of whom, etc. See on Romans 10:5

΄ωϋσῆς] Deuteronomy 18:15, and generally in his Messianic references and types. See on John 1:46.

τὸν ἀπὸ ναζαρέτ] for Nazareth, where Jesus had lived with His parents from infancy upwards, passed for His birth-place. Philip may have obtained his knowledge from Andrew and Peter, or even from Jesus Himself, who had no occasion at this time to state more fully and minutely his relation to Nazareth; while the τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἰωσήφ, which must rest upon a communication from Jesus, leaves His divine Sonship undisturbed. To attribute to Philip knowledge of the facts of the case with regard to both points (Hengstenberg) is in itself improbable, and is not in keeping with the simplicity of his words. But it is a groundless assumption to suppose that John knew nothing of the birth at Bethlehem; for it is Philip’s own words that he records (against Strauss, De Wette). See on John 7:41.


Verse 47

John 1:47. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? A question of astonishment that the Messiah should come out of Nazareth. But Nathanael asks thus doubtingly, not because Nazareth lay in Galilee, John 7:52 (the Fathers, Luther, Melancthon, Ebrard, and many), nor because of its smallness, as too insignificant to be the birth-place of the Messiah (Lücke, De Wette, Hug, Krabbe, Ewald, Lange, Brückner, and others), nor from both reasons together (Hengstenberg); nor, again, because the prophecy did not speak of Nazareth as the Messiah’s birth-place (Godet); but, as the general expression τὶ ἀγαθόν proves (it is not the more special χριστός), because Nathanael, and probably public opinion likewise, looked upon the little town as morally degenerate: it must have been so regarded at least in the narrow circle of the surrounding villages (Nathanael belonged to Cana). We have no historical proof that this was so; outside the N. T. the place is not mentioned, not even in Josephus; nevertheless Mark 6:6, and the occurrence recorded Luke 4:15 ff., well correspond with Nathanael’s judgment as to its disrepute in a moral point of view.

ἀγαθόν] which yet must above all be the case if the Messiah were to come therefrom,

He whose coming must be a signally holy and sublime manifestation.

ἔρχου κ. ἴδε] “optimum remedium contra opiniones praeconceptas,” Bengel.


Verse 48

John 1:48. περὶ αὐτοῦ] therefore to those journeying with Him, but so that the approaching Nathanael hears it, John 1:49.

ἀληθῶς] truly an Israelite, not merely according to outward descent and appearance, but in the moral nature which really corresponds to that of an upright Israelite. Comp. Romans 9:6; Romans 2:29. ἐν δόλος οὐκ ἐστί tells by what means he is so. Thus sincere and honest, thus inwardly true, should every Israelite be (not simply free from self-righteousness, but possessing what essentially belongs to truth); and Nathanael was all this. This virtue of guilelessness, as the characteristic of the true Israelite, is not named as belonging generally to the ancient ideal of the nation (Lücke, De Wette; this view arbitrarily passes by the reference to the nation historically which lay much nearer); but in view of the venerable and honourable testimonies which had been uttered concerning the people of Israel (e.g. Numbers 23:10), whose father was himself already designated אִישׁ תָּם, LXX. ἄπλαστος, καὶ οὔτε πλαστῶς εἰσὶν ἀγαθοί. Soph. 216 C: οἱ μὴ πλαστῶς, ἀλλʼ ὄντως φιλόσοφοι.">(125), Genesis 25:27; Aq. ἁπλοῦς,(126) Symm. ἄμωμος.

Jesus here also, as in John 1:43-44, appears as the searcher of hearts.


Verse 49

John 1:49. The approaching Nathanael heard the testimony of Jesus, and does not decline His commendation,—itself a proof of his guileless honesty; but he asks in amazement how Jesus knew him.

ὄντα ὑπὸ τ. συκῆν] belongs, as John 1:51 shows, not to φωνῆσαι, but to εἶδόν σε. Therefore, before Philip, John 1:46-47, met and called ( φωνῆσαι, comp. John 2:9, John 4:16, John 9:28, John 18:33), Nathanael had been under a fig-tree; whether the fig-tree of his own house (Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10), whether meditating (possibly upon the Messianic hope of the people), praying, reading,—which, according to Rabbinical statements (see in Lightfoot, Schoettgen, Wetstein), were employments performed beneath such trees,—we are not informed. He had just come from the tree to the place where Philip met him.(127)

εἶδόν σε] is usually taken as referring to a glance into the depth of his soul,(128) but contrary to the simple meaning of the words, which affirm nothing else than: I saw thee, not ἔγνων σε, or the like. Comp. also Hengstenberg. The miraculous element in the εἶδόν σε, which made it a ση΄εῖον to Nathanael, and which led to his confession which follows in John 1:50, must have consisted in the fact that the fig-tree either was situated out of sight of the place, or so far off that no one with ordinary powers of sight could have discerned a person under it. εἶδόν σε thus simply interpreted gives the true solution to Nathanael’s question, because there could not have been this rapport of miraculous far-seeing on the part of Jesus, had it not just been brought about by the immediate recognition of the true Israelite when he was at that distance. This spiritual elective affinity was the medium of the supernatural εἶδόν σε. Nonnus well says: ὄ΄΄ασι καὶ πραπίδεσσι τὸν οὐ παρεόντα δοκεύων. Jesus would not have seen an ordinary Jew, who, being therefore without this spiritual affinity, was beyond the limits of sight.

ὑπὸ τὴν συκ.] with the article: “under that well-known fig-tree, beneath which you were,” or, if the tree was within the range of vision, pointing towards it. De Wette also rightly abides by the simple meaning, I saw thee, but thinks that what caused the astonishment of Nathanael was the fact that Jesus saw him when he believed himself to he unobserved (though John regarded this seeing as supernatural). But this does not give an adequate motive psychologically for the confession of John 1:50; and we must further assume, with Ewald, that the words of Jesus reminded Nathanael of the deep and weighty thoughts which he was revolving when alone under the fig-tree, and he thus perceived that the depths of his soul were laid open before the spiritual eye of Jesus, though this is not indicated in the text.

φωνῆσαι nor the ὄντα ὑπὸ τὴν συκῆν would thus have their appropriate and necessary point.


Verse 50

John 1:50. The double designation is uttered in the excitement of joyful certainty. The simple faith in the Messiah, expressed in John 1:41, is here intensified, not as to its subject-matter, but in its outward expression. Comp. Luthardt, p. 344. The second designation is the more definite of the two; and therefore the first, in the sense in which Nathanael used it, is not as yet to be apprehended metaphysically (against Hengstenberg) in John’s sense, but is simply theocratic, presupposing the national view (Psalms 2:7; John 11:27) of the promised and expected theocratic King (comp. Riehm in the Stud. u. Krit. 1865, p. 63 ff.), and not perhaps implying the teaching of the Baptist (Olshausen). The early occurrence of such confessions therefore conflicts the less with that later one of Peter’s in Matthew 16:3, which implies, however, a consciousness of the higher import of the words (against Strauss).


Verse 51

John 1:51. πιστεύεις is, with Chrysostom and most others (even Lachmann and Tischendorf, not Godet), to be taken interrogatively; see on John 20:29.(129) But the question is not uttered in a tone of censure, which would only destroy the fresh bloom of this first meeting (Theophylact: “he had not yet rightly believed in Christ’s Godhead”); nor is it even the expression of slight disapproval of a faith which was not yet based upon adequate grounds (De Wette, comp. Ewald); but, on the contrary, it is an expression of surprise, whereby Jesus joyfully recognises a faith in Nathanael which could hardly have been expected so soon. And to this faith, so surprisingly ready in its beginning, He promises something greater ( ἐς ἐλπίδα φέρτερον ἕλκων, Nonnus) by way of further confirmation.

τούτων] Plural of the category: “than this which you now have met with, and which has become the ground of your faith.”

καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ] specially introduces the further statement of the μείζω τούτων as a most significant word.

ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν] The double ἀ΄ὴν does not occur in other parts of the N. T., but we find it twenty-five times in John, and only in the mouth of Jesus,—therefore all the more certainly original.

ὑ΄ῖν] to thee and Andrew, John, Peter (James, see in John 1:42), and Philip.

ἀπάρτι] from now onwards, for Jesus was about to begin His Messianic work. See chap. 2. Thus, in this weighty word He furnishes His disciples with the key for the only correct understanding of that work.

ὄψεσθε, κ. τ. λ.] The “opened heaven” is not intended to be taken in its literal sense, as if it stood alone, but is part of the figurative moulding of the sentence in keeping with the following metaphor. Observe here the perfect participle: heaven stands open; comp. Acts 7:56. The ascending and descending angels are, according to Genesis 28:12, a symbolical representation of the uninterrupted and living intercourse subsisting between the Messiah and God,—an intercommunion which the disciples would clearly and vividly recognise, or, according to the symbolic form of the thought, would see as a matter of experience throughout the ministry of Jesus which was to follow.(130) The angels are not therefore to be regarded as personified divine powers (Olshausen, De Wette, and several), or as personal energies of God’s Spirit (Luthardt and Hofmann), but as always God’s messengers, who brought to the Messiah God’s commands, or executed them on Him (comp. Matthew 4:11; Matthew 26:53; Luke 22:43), and return to God again ( ἀναβαίνοντας), while others with new commissions came down ( καταβαίν.), and so on. We are not told whether, and if so, to what extent, Nathanael and his companions now already perceived the symbolic meaning of the declaration. It certainly is not to be understood as having reference to the actual appearances of angels in the course of the Gospel history (Chrysostom, Cyril., Euthymius Zigabenus, and most of the early expositors), against which ἀπάρτι is conclusive; nor merely to the working of miracles (Storr, Godet), which is in keeping neither with the expression itself, nor with the necessary reference to the Messiah’s ministry as a whole, which must be described by ἀπάρτι ὄψεσθε, etc.

ἀναβαίν.] is placed first, in remembrance of Genesis 28:12, without any special purpose, but not inappropriately, because when the ὄψεσθε takes place, the intercourse between heaven and earth does not then begin, but is already going on. We may supply ἀπὸ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρ. after ἀναβαίν. from the analogy of what follows. See Kühner, II. p. 603.

Concerning υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρ., see on Matthew 8:20; Mark 2:8, note. In John likewise it is the standing Messianic designation of Jesus as used by Himself; here, where angelic powers are represented as waiting upon Him who bears the Messianic authority, it corresponds rather with the prophetic vision of the Son of man (Daniel 7:14), and forms the impressive conclusion of the whole section, confirming and ratifying the joyous faith and confession of the first disciples, as the first solemn self-avowal on the part of Jesus in their presence. It thus retained a deep and indelible hold upon the recollection of John, and therefore it stands as the utterance of the clear Messianic consciousness of Jesus unveiled before us at the outset of His work. It is exactly in John that the Messiahship of Jesus comes out with the greatest precision, not as the consequence and result, but as already, from the beginning onwards, the subject-matter of our Lord’s self-consciousness.(131)

Note.

The synoptical account of the call of the two pairs of brothers, Matthew 4:18 ff. and parallels, is utterly irreconcilable with that of John as to place, time, and circumstances; and the usual explanations resorted to—that what is here recorded was only a preliminary call,(132) or only a social union with Christ (Luther, Lücke, Ebrard, Tholuck; comp. also Ewald and Godet), or only the gathering together of the first believers (Luthardt), but not their call—fall to the ground at once when we see how the narrative proceeds; for according to it the μαθηταί, John 2:2, are with Jesus, and remain with Him. See on Matthew 4:19-20. The harmony of the two accounts consists in this simply, that the two pairs of brothers are the earliest apostles. To recognise in John’s account not an actual history, but a picture of the author’s own, drawn by himself for the sake of illustrating his idea (Baur, Hilgenfeld, Schenkel),—that, viz., the knowledge of the disciples and that of Jesus Himself as to His Messianic call might appear perfect from the outset,—is only one of the numerous self-deceptions in criticism which form the premisses of the unhistorical conclusion that the fourth Gospel is not the work of the apostle, but of some writer of much later date, who has moulded the history into the form of his own ideal. On the contrary, we must here specially observe that the author, if he wished to antedate the time and place of the call, certainly did not need, for the carrying out of his idea, to invent a totally different situation from that which was before his eyes in the Synoptics. Over and above this, the assumption that, by previously receiving John’s baptism, Jesus renounced any independent action (Schenkel), is pure imagination. Weizsäcker (p. 404) reduces John’s account to this: “The first acquaintance between Jesus and these followers of His was brought about by His meeting with the Baptist; and on that occasion, amid the excitement which the Baptist created, Messianic hopes, however transitory, were kindled in this circle of friends.” But this rests upon a treatment of the fourth Gospel, according to which it can no longer claim the authority of an independent witness; instead of this witness, we have merely the poet of a thoughtful Idyll. And when Keim (I. p. 553) finds here only the narration of an age that could no longer endure the humble and human beginnings of Jesus, but would transplant into the time of His first appearance that glory which, as a matter of history, first distinguished His departure and His exaltation, this is all the more daring a speculation, the more closely, according to Keim, the origin of the Gospel verges upon the lifetime of the apostle, and must therefore present the most vivid recollections of His disciples.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 1:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/john-1.html13. 1832.

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Saturday, December 14th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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