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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
John 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-9

The deity of the Savior

John 1:1-9

Each book of the Bible has a prominent and dominant theme, which is peculiar to itself. The theme of John's Gospel is the deity of the Saviour. Here as nowhere else in scripture so fully, the Godhood of Christ is presented to our view.

1. The relation of Christ to time. ‘In the beginning.’ Eternal.

2. The relation of Christ to the Godhead. ‘With God.’ One of holy trinity.

3. The relation of Christ to the Holy Trinity. ‘Was God.’ Divine revealer.

4. The relation of Christ to the universe. ‘All things made by him.’ Creator.

5. The relation of Christ to men. Their ‘life’ and ‘light.’

John 1:1-2. John opens by immediately presenting Christ not as the son of David, nor as the son of man, but as the Son of God, which is the theme of this book.

‘In the beginning’ of creation, the beginning of time, or as Moses wrote in Genesis 1:1, ‘In the beginning God.’ But Christ was not only from the beginning, he was ‘in the beginning.’ We can go back to the most remote point: that can be imagined, for Christ is without beginning, which is to say he is eternal! (John 17:5.)

‘Was the Word.’ A word is an expression. The word of God, then, is Deity expressing itself. This is why Christ is called the Word of God. Hebrews 1:1-2 says that Christ is God's final spokesman. Revelation 1:8 says that Christ is God's alphabet. John 1:18 says that Christ has declared or told forth the Father. A word is the means of manifestation, communication, and revelation. Christ manifests the invisible God, communicates the love and mercy of God, and reveals the attributes and perfections of God.

‘The Word was with God.’ This tells of his separate personality. Our God is ONE GOD yet the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; 1 John 5:7).

‘The Word was God’ or ‘God was the Word.’ The name ‘God’ is common to the three persons of the Holy Trinity (Hebrews 1:8). So fully and so perfectly did Christ reveal God, he could say, ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father’ (John 14:9; 2 Corinthians 4:6; John 10:30).

John 1:3. Here creation is ascribed to Him, and none but God can create. The whole creation is ascribed to the Word ‘all things’ (Colossians 1:14-17). He is before all things, therefore eternal. He is the originator and creator of all things, therefore omnipotent.

John 1:4. If Christ created all things, he is the fountain of life; he is the life-giver. ‘Life’ is used here in its widest sense. Of course, Christ is the spiritual life of believers; but all creature life is found in him (Acts 17:27-28). The word ‘light’ speaks of a relation which Christ sustains to all men – he is their light. This is confirmed by what we read in John 1:9. Every rational man is morally enlightened (Romans 2:15; Romans 1:18-21) and accountable.

By nature men are dead in trespasses and sins; notwithstanding, they are all responsible before God and shall give an account (Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:12) because of the ‘light’ referred to here.

John 1:5. Here we see the effects of the fall (Romans 5:12; John 5:40). Every man that comes into this world is lightened by his Creator, but the natural man disregards this light. He hates it and ‘loves darkness rather than light’ (John 3:19). The unregenerate man is like one who is blind – he is in the dark, so neither comprehends nor apprehends the light.

John 1:6. The change of subject here is abrupt. From ‘the Word,’ who is God, the Holy Spirit now turns to speak of the forerunner of Christ. He is called ‘a man’ who was sent of God. True preachers of the gospel are ordained and sent of God.

John 1:7. When the sun is shining in all of its power and beauty, who are the ones who are unconscious of the fact? Who needs to be told that it is shining? The blind! What a revelation of our fallen condition that men have to be told that ‘The Light’ is now in their midst!

Here we have the character of the preacher's office – ‘he came for a witness.’ A witness is one who knows what he says and says what he knows.

Here we have the theme of the preacher's ministry – ‘to bear witness of the light.’ He speaks not of himself but of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:23; John 16:14).

Here we have the design of the preacher's ministry – ‘that all through him might believe.’ Men become believers through receiving the preached word (Romans 10:13-15; Romans 1:16; 1 Peter 1:23-25).

John 1:8-9. John himself was not ‘that Light.’ Christ is the light. Even the believer has no light in himself nor of himself (Ephesians 5:8). Christ is the true Light, the real Light, the everlasting Light, and the underived Light (his light is his own).


Verses 10-14

The Word was made flesh

John 1:10-14

John 1:10. ‘He was in the world’ refers to his incarnation and the 33 years he tabernacled among men. Who was in the world? The great Creator, who made the world! He came not to judge but to save. He came not as a lion to destroy but as a Lamb to redeem. He came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many. What kind of reception did he receive? ‘The world knew him not’ (Isaiah 53:1-3; 1 Corinthians 2:7-8).

John 1:11. ‘He came unto his own’ refers to the nation Israel, the seed of Abraham. He came to his temple, his priesthood, and the people who had eagerly awaited the appearance of the Messiah for centuries; but they received him not! It began with ‘no room in the inn’ and culminated with shouts at the crucifixion, ‘We have no king but Caesar’ (Acts 3:22-26).

John 1:12. If the world knew him not and the Jews received him not, is the purpose of God defeated? No! The purpose of God in all things shall stand! (Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 46:9-11; John 6:37-39.) The Father gave the Son a people out of every tribe, kindred, and nation (John 17:1-2; John 17:9). By the power of the Spirit, by the preaching of the gospel of his Son, and through faith, they will all receive Christ lovingly, thankfully, and willingly, as God's gift of love and grace. They will all, with the heart, believe on his glorious name, as he is revealed to them in the word (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 16:15-17).

John 1:13. But who receives him thus? Not all, by any means! Is this believing on Christ left to chance? Is the success of his covenant and redemptive work left to the fallen will of the creature? Far from it! This verse explains to us why men receive and believe Christ – they are born of God, ‘not of blood.’ That is to say, salvation is not a matter of heredity nor parental bloodlines nor family associations. It is ‘not of the will of the flesh.’ The will of the natural man is against God. He has no will toward God until he is born of God (John 5:40; Romans 3:10-11). It is ‘not of the will of man.’ The new birth is not brought about by the efforts of friends, nor the persuasive powers of the preacher and the soul winners, ‘but of God.’ The new birth is divine work! It is accomplished by the will of God, by the Holy Spirit's applying the word in living power to the heart (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23-25; Acts 13:48).

John 1:14. ‘And the Word was made flesh.’ He became what he previously was not. He did not cease to be God, but he became man (Galatians 4:4-5; Hebrews 10:4-7). Our divine Lord took upon himself human nature. He became a real man, yet a sinless, perfect man (Hebrews 7:26). This union of the two natures in the person of Christ is one of the greatest mysteries of faith (1 Timothy 3:16). He was, and is, the God-man; yet the divine and the human in him were never confounded. His Deity, though veiled, was never laid aside. His humanity, though sinless, was a real humanity.

The union of the two natures in the person of Christ was necessary in order to fit him for his work as Redeemer and Mediator.

1. God cannot suffer and die – man cannot satisfy the infinite holiness required nor the infinite justice demanded. Christ, the God-man, can do both.

2. He can now be touched with the feelings of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:14-16); and he has left us an example, that we should follow his steps.

The duality of nature was plainly taught in the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. He was to be the woman's seed (Genesis 3:15), a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:18), a lineal descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:12), a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3-6). Yet, on the other hand, he was to be ‘God with us’ (Isaiah 7:4 : Matthew 1:23); he was to be the mighty God (Isaiah 9:6); as Jehovah he was to come to his temple (Malachi 3:1). The one born in Bethlehem is the Ruler (Micah 5:2).

‘He dwelt (tabernacled) among us.’ The reference here is to the tabernacle in the wilderness. It foreshadowed the incarnate Son. Almost everything about the tabernacle pictured Christ. It was humble on the outside, but glorious inside. It was God's dwelling place, his glory revealed there. It was the place where God met men and where the sin-offering and the atonement were made. It was the place of worship and the place where the Law was preserved.

‘And we beheld his glory.’

1. His essential glories; his divine attributes and perfections are all seen in Christ. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.

2. His moral glories or holiness or perfection.

3. His official glories, such as his covenant grace, his priesthood, his wisdom, and his kingship.

4. His acquired glories (Philippians 2:5-11).

Read John 1:1; John 1:14 together and you have a statement – the most comprehensive in its sweep, the profoundest in its depths, and yet the simplest to be found in the Bible. Here is the gift of God and the hope of the believer.


Verses 15-18

Grace and truth by Jesus Christ

John 1:15-18

Put these two verses together–Verses 1 and 14.

John 1:1. – ‘In the beginning was the word.’ Jesus Christ is eternal!

John 1:14. – ‘And the word was made flesh.’ God became a man!

John 1:1. – ‘And the word was with God.’ As one in the blessed Trinity, he was always with God.

John 1:14. – ‘And he dwelt among us.’ He actually tabernacled among men, becoming one with us, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.

John 1:1. – ‘And the word was God.’ In every attribute he is God.

John 1:14 – ‘We beheld his glory.’ He that hath seen Christ hath seen God!

John 1:15. It was of this Person that John bore witness saying, ‘This is he of whom I spake.’ Our gospel is concerning God's Son (Romans 1:1-4). ‘He that came after me.’ Historically John the Baptist was born into this world six months before Christ was born. But ‘He that is born after I was born was before me.’ John is referring to the eternal existence, glory, and deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has all preeminence and is infinitely above the heavens, the angels, Moses, John, and all other creatures (Hebrews 1:4; Hebrews 3:3; Hebrews 7:22-24). He is preferred before all.

John 1:16. The word ‘fullness’ is another term, which brings out the absolute deity, glory, and sufficiency of Christ. The same word is found in Colossians 1:19 and Colossians 2:9. All the fullness of God's glory, person, grace, mercy, peace, life, joy, and purpose dwells in Jesus Christ. ‘And of his fullness (his abundance) have all we (believers) received’ all that we need for time and eternity (1 Corinthians 1:30); ‘grace upon grace’ or God's favors heaped one upon another, favor upon favor, gift upon gift. ‘Ye are complete in him.’

John 1:17. ‘The law was given through Moses; grace and trust came by Jesus Christ.’ A contrast is drawn between law and grace. The law (Moral and Levitical) was given to Moses or to men through Moses; it was not his own. But grace and truth were not given to Christ, for these are his own essential perfections. Moses received from God the law, which manifested what God righteously demanded of men and what men ought to do and be. The law is holy, just, and good. It demands obedience, and the only alternative is death. It is inflexible in its claims and remits no part of its penalty (Galatians 3:10). Such a law could never justify nor show mercy to a sinner. For this it was never given! The terror Israel displayed at the giving of the law is the terror felt by every sinner who truly understands the law (Exodus 20:18-19), for it is the ministration of condemnation and of death. Did the law reveal all of God's attributes? No! Did the law reveal the love and grace of God? No! The law revealed God's justice; but it did not make known his mercy! The law testified to his righteousness, but it did not exhibit his grace. The law was God's ‘truth,’ but not the ‘full truth’ about God himself. ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’ We never read ‘by the law is the knowledge of God’ (Romans 8:3-4).

‘Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.’ These are fitly and inseparably joined together. We cannot have grace without truth, nor truth without grace. Those who reject grace, reject truth; and those who reject truth, reject grace. ‘Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 5:21). The grace, which saves a sinner, is no mere moral weakness nor sentimental gesture such as we find in human government. It is grace, which is established on the principles of an honored law and a satisfied justice (Romans 3:23-26). Grace does not ignore the law nor set aside its requirements; no, it ‘establishes the law’ (Romans 3:31). Grace establishes the law because it has a Substitute who perfectly fulfilled the law and endured the death penalty for all who believe, in order that God may be both just and justifier! Was there no grace and truth before Christ came in the flesh? Of course there was, for he is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Law manifests what is in men – sin. Grace manifests what is in God – love. Law demands righteousness from men. Grace brings righteousness to men. Law sentences men to death. Grace brings dead men to life. Law speaks of what men must do. Grace tells what Christ has done. Law gives a knowledge of sin. Grace puts away sin.

John 1:18. This verse summarizes the whole of these first 18 verses. ‘No man hath seen God at anytime’ (Exodus 33:18-23). True character is not declared in a person's ‘back parts,’ but in his face (2 Corinthians 4:6). But the only begotten Son has told out, revealed, unveiled, and displayed unto us the Father (John 14:8-9). The only begotten Son, in becoming flesh, did not leave his place of inseparable union with the Father; for it does not say, ‘The Son which was,’ but ‘the Son which is in the bosom of the Father.’ God is fully revealed, for the Son has declared him. How we ought to honor, reverence, and worship the Lord Jesus Christ!


Verses 19-29

Behold the Lamb of God

John 1:19-29

Even a hurried reading of these verses will make it evident that the person who stands out most conspicuously in them is John the Baptist. He is one of the most remarkable characters in the word of God. His life and ministry were prophesied in the Old Testament (Isaiah 40). His birth was due to the direct and miraculous power of God (Luke 1:7; Luke 1:13). He was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb (Luke 1:15). He was sent of God (John 1:6). Of him the Lord said, ‘None greater among men than John the Baptist’ (Matthew 11:11).

John 1:19-20. A deputation of priests and Levites was sent from Jerusalem to inquire of John as to who he was. Multitudes were hearing this man, many had been baptized of him, and a great stir had been made, so much that many wondered if he were the Christ (Luke 3:15). The Lord's forerunner, in fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, had appeared in the wilderness; but, lacking in spiritual understanding, these leaders knew not who he was. He confessed immediately, ‘I am not the Christ.’

John 1:21. They asked, ‘art thou Elijah?’ Why should they ask John if he were Elijah? The answer is that there was a general expectation among the Jews at that time that Elijah would again appear on earth (Matthew 16:13-14; Matthew 17:9-10; Malachi 4:5-6). They asked again, ‘Art thou that prophet?’ What prophet? The answer is found in Deuteronomy 18:15; Deuteronomy 18:18. Each time John answered, ‘I am not.’

John 1:22-23. ‘Then who are you?’ John might have answered, ‘I am the son of Zacharias the priest. I am filled with the Spirit from my mother's womb. I am a remarkable man raised up by God and sent to Israel.’ But instead he replied, ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.’ Men who are sent of God seek no glory nor acclaim for themselves, but own that they are at best unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10). When John referred to himself as ‘the voice,’ he employed the very term the Holy Spirit used of him 700 years previously (Isaiah 40:3). The mission of John was to bear witness of Christ, not himself. A voice is heard and not seen. The Lord Jesus endures long after ‘the voice’ is silent.

Also note that ‘the voice’ cried in the wilderness, not in the temple, nor in Jerusalem: for Jehovah was no more there in the temple. Judaism was an empty shell. They were a nation of legalists, steeped in self-righteous formalism, ceremonies, and rituals.

John 1:24-25. They challenged John's authority to preach or to baptize, he had received no commission from the Sanhedrin; he was outside the religious system; he had not been trained in their schools; he was not identified with either the Pharisees, the Sadducees, nor the Herodians. Who had commissioned him to go forth bidding men to repent? By what authority did he baptize?

John 1:26-28. John continued to stand his ground and would not deny that he baptized in water; but he sought to occupy them with his true mission, which was to point men to Christ. These men were raising questions about authority and baptism while they were utter strangers to Christ himself. How like men today! They want to discuss and argue about side issues while they are yet in their sins and the vital and central issue remains undecided. ‘What think ye of Christ?’ (1 Corinthians 1:17.) ‘There standeth one among you, whom ye know not’ (John 1:10-11). Here stands the seed of woman, Abraham's seed, David's son, the fulfillment of all promises, prophecies, and pictures of the Messiah given by the prophets in the holy scriptures; yet, they knew him not!

‘He is revealed after me, yet he was before me’(John 8:58). The Lord Jesus came in God's own time to this earth; but he is eternal, hath all preeminence, and is before all (Proverbs 8:24-30). John could find no expression strong enough to express the difference which separated him from the one who was ‘preferred before’ him; so he said, ‘I am not worthy to unlace his shoes.’

John 1:29. ‘Behold the Lamb of God.’ These Jews were looking for Messiah to come as a great prophet or a great king. They understood nothing of a ‘Saviour-Priest,’ of a ‘Lamb of God.’ You would think these priests and Levites who ministered about the temple and the sacrifices would have inquired about the sacrifice, but no; apparently they had no sense of sin – they were Abraham's seed. They would have welcomed him on the throne but not on the altar. ‘Behold the Lamb of God.’

1. In Genesis 4:4 we have the Lamb typified.

2. In Genesis 22:8 we have the Lamb prophesied.

3. In Exodus 12:5-7 we have the Lamb slain and the blood applied.

4. In Isaiah 53:1-7 we have the Lamb personified –a man.

5. In John 1:29 we have the Lamb identified.

6. In Leviticus 5:6; Leviticus 5:13 we have the Lamb magnified and glorified.


Verses 30-39

This is the Son of God

John 1:30-39

When John pointed to the Lord Jesus and said, ‘behold the Lamb of God,’ the title suggests several things.

1. His sinlessness, for he is the Lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19).

2. His gentleness and willingness to suffer. ‘He was led’ (not driven) ‘as a lamb to the slaughter’ (Isaiah 53:7).

3. His sacrifice. He is the Lamb that ‘taketh away the sin of the world’ (Hebrews 9:26).

4. The sufficiency of that sacrifice; ‘taketh away the sin’ (Hebrews 10:14-17).

John 1:30. This is the third time John has declared that Christ is ‘preferred before me’ (John 1:15; John 1:27). What he is doing is declaring the eternality, deity, and pre-existence of the Lord Jesus (John 17:5).

John 1:31. In this verse John tells the purpose of his baptism. It was to make Christ ‘manifest’ to Israel. It was to prepare a people for him. This people was prepared by their taking the place of sinners before God (Mark 1:5). That is why John baptized in Jordan, the river of death; for, being baptized in Jordan, they acknowledged that death was their due. In this, John's baptism differs from our baptism. In believers' baptism, the believer does not confess that death is his due, but he shows forth the fact that he has already died–died to sin, died with Christ.

John 1:32-33. These verses have reference to the occasion when Christ was baptized of John (Matthew 3:16-17). The dove manifests the character of the one upon whom the Spirit came. The dove is a bird of love and sorrow. When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, ‘There appeared unto them cloven tongues of fire.’ Fire signifies divine judgment. There was that in the disciples which needed to be judged; the evil nature remained within them. But there was no sin in Christ; hence did the Spirit descend upon him like a dove. The Holy Spirit did not come upon him and then leave again, as with the prophets of old. He abode on Christ. The Spirit descended and remained on him. He it is who baptized his people with the Holy Ghost (John 20:22).

John 1:34. John bore a seven-fold witness to the excellency and glory of Christ.

1. His pre-existence. ‘He was before me’ (John 1:15.)

2. His Lordship (John 1:23).

3. His immeasurable superiority. ‘I am not worthy to unlace his shoes’ (John 1:27).

4. His sacrificial work. ‘The Lamb of God’ (John 1:29).

5. His holiness (John 1:32).

6. His divine rights. ‘He baptized with the Holy Ghost’ (John 1:33).

7. His divine sonship (John 1:34).

John 1:35-36. The next day John stood with two of his followers (we believe, to be John and Andrew) and, looking upon Jesus Christ as he walked by, said, ‘behold the Lamb of God.’ This was John's ministry and message–to point men to Christ the Redeemer.

John 1:37. John and Andrew, who were fishermen by trade, had attached themselves to John. They had not only been baptized of him, but eagerly awaited the promised Messiah and Saviour of whom John preached. At last the day arrived when this teacher, whom they believed to be God's prophet, stopped them in their walk, pointed to the passing figure, and said, ‘behold, the Lamb of God.’ They left John and followed the Lord Jesus!

John 1:38. The Master turned and asked, ‘What seek ye?’ At first it may seem strange that the all-knowing Lord should ask such a question of them. His question was to reveal the true motive and purpose of these men. He asked Cain, ‘Where is your brother?’ He asked Adam, ‘Where art thou?’ In those days many followed him for various reasons – the miracles (John 2:23), the loaves and fishes (John 6:26), or because it was the popular thing to do. But some followed him because of their need and because they believed (John 6:66-69). The question is, ‘What seek ye?’ or ‘On what is your heart set?’ (Psalms 42:1).

Their reply was, ‘Master, where dwellest thou?’ It was not a ‘what’ but a ‘whom’ that their hearts were set upon. It was not a blessing, but the blesser himself they were interested in (2 Timothy 1:12).

John 1:39. The place where he dwelt is not given. They ‘abode with him.’ His abiding place is theirs too – wherever that is! (John 14:3.) It is not what that we seek but whom, for salvation is a person and a living union with him!

Himself

Once it was the blessing,

Now it is the Lord;

Once it was the feeling,

Now it is his word;

Once his gifts I wanted,

Now the Giver own;

Once I sought for healing,

Now himself alone.

Once 'twas painful trying,

Now 'tis perfect trust;

Once a half salvation,

Now the uttermost;

Once 'twas ceaseless holding,

Now he holds me fast;

Once 'twas constant drifting,

Now my anchor's cast.

Once 'twas busy planning,

Now 'tis trustful prayer;

Once 'twas anxious caring,

Now he has the care;

Once 'twas what I wanted,

Now what Jesus says;

Once 'twas constant asking,

Now 'tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working,

his it hence shall be;

Once I tried to use him,

Now he uses me;

Once the power I wanted,

Now the mighty one;

Once for self I laboured,

Now for him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus,

Now I know he's mine;

Once my lamps were dying,

Now they brightly shine;

Once for death I waited,

Now his coming hail,

And my hopes are anchored,

Save within the veil.


Verses 40-51

Come and see

John 1:40-51

John 1:40-41. One of the two disciples of John, which heard him speak of Christ, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. The other we believe to be John, the author of this book (John ever seeks to hide himself, never once mentioning himself by name). Andrew heard John, then he followed and listened to the Lord Jesus; and, being convinced that Jesus was the Christ, he immediately ran to share the good news with his brother, Peter. He did not become a preacher of the gospel at this time; for that he needed to be taught and trained by the Master. But he set out to bear a simple and clear witness of the Saviour he had found.

John 1:42. When the Lord beheld Simon, he said, ‘Thou art Simon the Son of John.’ The Lord showed that he was already thoroughly acquainted with Simon. But he adds, ‘Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation a stone.’ By natural temperament Simon was fiery, impetuous, rash, and unstable. How blessed was the promise of the Lord! ‘I know all about you, but you shall have a new name – a rock,’ fixed and stable. Also every believer becomes ‘a stone.’ ‘Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house’ (1 Peter 2:5).

John 1:43-44. These verses are an illustration of the Good Shepherd going after his sheep (Luke 19:10). Whether the Lord uses a human instrument or not, it is Christ, himself, who seeks and finds each one given to him by the Father. Our seeking Christ is only our response to his seeking us, just as we love him because he first loved us.

John 1:45. Here we find again the effect that a revelation of Christ has upon a true believer. He cannot remain silent nor indifferent. He must tell others of the Redeemer. Note the emphasis in the witness of Andrew and Phillip–‘we have found the Messiah; we have the Christ of whom Moses and the prophets did write.’ None of this ‘do you want to go to heaven?’ or emotional soul-winning pleas – simply the good news that the Christ, the Redeemer promised and prophesied in the scriptures, had come; and they had seen him and believed on him!

John 1:46. Nathanael asked, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ The Saviour's lowly birth, beginning, and surroundings were a stumbling block to those who expected a great and glorious Messiah who would restore the kingdom to Israel. Many looked for a lion, not a lamb. They did not understand the types and sacrifices of the Old Testament. Phillip did not argue; he simply said, ‘Come and see for yourself.’

John 1:47-48. The Lord Jesus saw Nathanael coming and said, ‘Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!’ Christ was not saying that Nathanael was not a sinner, but that he was a man of sincerity, a true seeker with an honest and open attitude, not a hypocrite. Such shall be given more light. Nathanael replied, ‘How do you know all about me?’ Our Lord replied, ‘Before Phillip called thee, I saw thee under the fig tree.’ Our Lord is omniscient; he sees and knows all things and all people. Evidently this particular reference to his being under the fig tree carried more significance than his simply being there, for Nathanael was astounded and awed before him.

John 1:49. Nathanael's eyes were opened to behold the divine glory and power of Christ Jesus, and he promptly confessed him to be the ‘Son of God.’ As we stated, the theme of John's book is Christ, the Son of God. There are seven who bear witness to his deity in this book–John the Baptist (1:34), Nathanael (1:49), Peter (6:69), the Lord himself (10:36), Martha (11:27), Thomas (20:28), and John (20:31).

John 1:50-51. Nathanael was deeply impressed by the Lord's omniscience, but the Lord told him that he would see greater things. Yea, the time would come when he would see an open heaven and the Son of God directly connected with the Throne of God. Christ may have referred to the vision of Jacob (Genesis 28:10-17).

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on John 1:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/john-1.html. 2013.

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