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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
John 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

In the beginning (εν αρχηιen archēi). ΑρχηArchē is definite, though anarthrous like our at home, in town, and the similar Hebrew ηνbe reshith in Genesis 1:1. But Westcott notes that here John carries our thoughts beyond the beginning of creation in time to eternity. There is no argument here to prove the existence of God any more than in Genesis. It is simply assumed. Either God exists and is the Creator of the universe as scientists like Eddington and Jeans assume or matter is eternal or it has come out of nothing.

Was (ειμιēn). Three times in this sentence John uses this imperfect of εγενετοeimi to be which conveys no idea of origin for God or for the Logos, simply continuous existence. Quite a different verb (γενεσταιegeneto became) appears in John 1:14 for the beginning of the Incarnation of the Logos. See the distinction sharply drawn in John 8:58 “before Abraham came (ειμιgenesthai) I am” (ο λογοςeimi timeless existence).

The Word
(Λογοςho logos). λεγωLogos is from Λογοςlegō old word in Homer to lay by, to collect, to put words side by side, to speak, to express an opinion. ανιμα μυνδιLogos is common for reason as well as speech. Heraclitus used it for the principle which controls the universe. The Stoics employed it for the soul of the world (σπερματικος λογοςanima mundi) and Marcus Aurelius used Λογοςspermatikos logos for the generative principle in nature. The Hebrew Λογοςmemra was used in the Targums for the manifestation of God like the Angel of Jehovah and the Wisdom of God in Proverbs 8:23. Dr. J. Rendel Harris thinks that there was a lost wisdom book that combined phrases in Proverbs and in the Wisdom of Solomon which John used for his Prologue (The Origin of the Prologue to St. John, p. 43) which he has undertaken to reproduce. At any rate John‘s standpoint is that of the Old Testament and not that of the Stoics nor even of Philo who uses the term σοπιαLogos but not John‘s conception of personal pre-existence. The term αεονLogos is applied to Christ only in John 1:1, John 1:14; Revelation 19:13; 1 John 1:1 “concerning the Word of life” (an incidental argument for identity of authorship). There is a possible personification of “the Word of God” in Hebrews 4:12. But the personal pre-existence of Christ is taught by Paul (2 Corinthians 8:9; Philemon 2:6.; Colossians 1:17) and in Hebrews 1:2. and in John 17:5. This term suits John‘s purpose better than σαρχ εγενετοsophia (wisdom) and is his answer to the Gnostics who either denied the actual humanity of Christ (Docetic Gnostics) or who separated the προς τον τεονaeon Christ from the man Jesus (Cerinthian Gnostics). The pre-existent Logos “became flesh” (Προςsarx egeneto John 1:14) and by this phrase John answered both heresies at once.

With God
(προςpros ton theon). Though existing eternally with God the Logos was in perfect fellowship with God. παρακλητον εχομεν προς τον πατεραPros with the accusative presents a plane of equality and intimacy, face to face with each other. In 1 John 2:1 we have a like use of προσωπον προς προσωπονpros “We have a Paraclete with the Father” (προςparaklēton echomen pros ton patera). See προςprosōpon pros prosōpon (face to face, 1 Corinthians 13:12), a triple use of το γνωστον της προς αλληλους συνητειαςpros There is a papyrus example of προςpros in this sense παρα σοιto gnōston tēs pros allēlous sunētheias “the knowledge of our intimacy with one another” (M.&M., Vocabulary) which answers the claim of Rendel Harris, Origin of Prologue, p. 8) that the use of και τεος ην ο λογοςpros here and in Mark 6:3 is a mere Aramaism. It is not a classic idiom, but this is Koiné, not old Attic. In John 17:5 John has ο τεος ην ο λογοςpara soi the more common idiom.

And the Word was God
(ο λογοςkai theos ēn ho logos). By exact and careful language John denied Sabellianism by not saying ο λογοςho theos ēn ho logos That would mean that all of God was expressed in τεοςho logos and the terms would be interchangeable, each having the article. The subject is made plain by the article (πνευμα ο τεοςho logos) and the predicate without it (ο τεος αγαπη εστινtheos) just as in John 4:24 ο Λογος σαρχ εγενετοpneuma ho theos can only mean “God is spirit,” not “spirit is God.” So in 1 John 4:16 ho theos agapē estin can only mean “God is love,” not “love is God” as a so-called Christian scientist would confusedly say. For the article with the predicate see Robertson, Grammar, pp. 767f. So in John 1:14 ho Logos sarx egeneto “the Word became flesh,” not “the flesh became Word.” Luther argues that here John disposes of Arianism also because the Logos was eternally God, fellowship of Father and Son, what Origen called the Eternal Generation of the Son (each necessary to the other). Thus in the Trinity we see personal fellowship on an equality.


Verse 2

The same (ουτοςhoutos). “This one,” the Logos of John 1:1, repeated for clarity, characteristic of John‘s style. He links together into one phrase two of the ideas already stated separately, “in the beginning he was with God,” “afterwards in time he came to be with man” (Marcus Dods). Thus John clearly states of the Logos Pre-existence before Incarnation, Personality, Deity.


Verse 3

All things (πανταpanta). The philosophical phrase was τα πανταta panta (the all things) as we have it in 1 Corinthians 8:6; Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16. In John 1:10 John uses ο κοσμοςho kosmos (the orderly universe) for the whole.

Were made (egeneto). Second aorist middle indicative of γινομαιginomai the constative aorist covering the creative activity looked at as one event in contrast with the continuous existence of ηνēn in John 1:1 and John 1:2. All things “came into being.” Creation is thus presented as a becoming (γινομαιginomai) in contrast with being (ειμιeimi).

By him
(δι αυτουdi' autou). By means of him as the intermediate agent in the work of creation. The Logos is John‘s explanation of the creation of the universe. The author of Hebrews (Hebrews 1:2) names God‘s Son as the one “through whom he made the ages.” Paul pointedly asserts that “the all things were created in him” (Christ) and “the all things stand created through him and unto him” (Colossians 1:16). Hence it is not a peculiar doctrine that John here enunciates. In 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul distinguishes between the Father as the primary source (εχ ουex hou) of the all things and the Son as the intermediate agent as here (δι ουdi' hou).

Without him
(χωρις αυτουchōris autou). Old adverbial preposition with the ablative as in Philemon 2:14, “apart from.” John adds the negative statement for completion, another note of his style as in John 1:20; 1 John 1:5. Thus John excludes two heresies (Bernard) that matter is eternal and that angels or aeons had a share in creation.

Not anything
(ουδε ενoude hen). “Not even one thing.” Bernard thinks the entire Prologue is a hymn and divides it into strophes. That is by no means certain. It is doubtful also whether the relative clause “that hath been made” (ο γεγονενho gegonen) is a part of this sentence or begins a new one as Westcott and Hort print it. The verb is second perfect active indicative of γινομαιginomai Westcott observes that the ancient scholars before Chrysostom all began a new sentence with ο γεγονενho gegonen The early uncials had no punctuation.


Verse 4

In him was life (εν αυτωι ζωη ηνen autōi zōē ēn). That which has come into being (John 1:3) in the Logos was life. The power that creates and sustains life in the universe is the Logos. This is what Paul means by the perfect passive verb εκτισταιektistai (stands created) in Colossians 1:16. This is also the claim of Jesus to Martha (John 11:25). This is the idea in Hebrews 1:3 “bearing (upholding) the all things by the word of his power.” Once this language might have been termed unscientific, but not so now after the spiritual interpretation of the physical world by Eddington and Jeans. Usually in John ζωηzōē means spiritual life, but here the term is unlimited and includes all life; only it is not βιοςbios (manner of life), but the very principle or essence of life. That is spiritual behind the physical and to this great scientists today agree. It is also personal intelligence and power. Some of the western documents have εστινestin here instead of ηνēn to bring out clearly the timelessness of this phrase of the work of the ΛογοςLogos

And the life was the light of men (και η ζωη ην το πως των αντρωπωνkai hē zōē ēn to phōs tōn anthrōpōn). Here the article with both ζωηzōē and πωςphōs makes them interchangeable. “The light was the life of men” is also true. That statement is curiously like the view of some physicists who find in electricity (both light and power) the nearest equivalent to life in its ultimate physical form. Later Jesus will call himself the light of the world (John 8:12). John is fond of these words life and light in Gospel, Epistles, Revelation. He here combines them to picture his conception of the Pre-incarnate Logos in his relation to the race. He was and is the Life of men (των αντρωπονtōn anthrōpon generic use of the article) and the Light of men. John asserts this relation of the Logos to the race of men in particular before the Incarnation.


Verse 5

Shineth (παινειphainei). Linear present active indicative of παινωphainō old verb from παωphaō to shine (παοσ πωςphaos class="normal greek">εν τηι σκοτιαι — phōs). “The light keeps on giving light.”

In the darkness (σκοτοςen tēi skotiāi). Late word for the common σκιαskotos (kin to ο ζοπος του σκοτουskia shadow). An evident allusion to the darkness brought on by sin. In 2 Peter 2:17 we have σκοτιαho zophos tou skotou (the blackness of darkness). The Logos, the only real moral light, keeps on shining both in the Pre-incarnate state and after the Incarnation. John is fond of σκοτοςskotia (πωςskotos) for moral darkness from sin and πωτιζω παινωphōs (αυτο ου κατελαβενphōtizō class="normal greek">καταλαμβανω — phainō) for the light that is in Christ alone. In 1 John 2:8 he proclaims that “the darkness is passing by and the true light is already shining.” The Gnostics often employed these words and John takes them and puts them in the proper place.

Apprehended it not
(ινα μη σκοτια υμας καταλαβηιauto ou katelaben). Second aorist active indicative of ινα καταλαβηιkatalambanō old verb to lay hold of, to seize. This very phrase occurs in John 12:35 (κατελαβε δε αυτους η σκοτιαhina mē skotia humas katalabēi) “that darkness overtake you not,” the metaphor of night following day and in 1 Thessalonians 5:4 the same idiom (hina katalabēi) is used of day overtaking one as a thief. This is the view of Origen and appears also in 2Macc 8:18. The same word appears in Aleph D in John 6:17 katelabe de autous hē skotia (“but darkness overtook them,” came down on them). Hence, in spite of the Vulgate comprehenderunt, “overtook” or “overcame” seems to be the idea here. The light kept on shining in spite of the darkness that was worse than a London fog as the Old Testament and archaeological discoveries in Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Crete, Asia Minor show.

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Verse 6

There came a man (εγενετο αντρωποςegeneto anthrōpos). Definite event in the long darkness, same verb in John 1:3.

Sent (απεσταλμενοςapestalmenos). Perfect passive participle of αποστελλωapostellō to send.

From God
(παρα τεουpara theou). From the side of (παραpara) God (ablative case τεουtheou).

Whose name
(ονομα αυτωιonoma autōi). “Name to him,” nominative parenthetic and dative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 460).

John
(ΙωανηςIōanēs). One νn in Westcott and Hort. In the giving of the name see Luke 1:59-63, Hellenized form of Jonathan, Joanan (Gift of God), used always of the Baptist in this Gospel which never mentions the name of John son of Zebedee (the sons of Zebedee once, John 21:2).


Verse 7

For witness (εις μαρτυριανeis marturian). Old word from μαρτυρεωmartureō (from μαρτυςmartus), both more common in John‘s writings than the rest of the N.T. This the purpose of the Baptist‘s ministry.

That he might bear witness (ινα μαρτυρησηιhina marturēsēi). Final clause with ιναhina and aorist active subjunctive of μαρτυρεωmartureō to make clearer εις μαρτυριανeis marturian

Of the light
(περι του πωτοςperi tou phōtos). “Concerning the light.” The light was shining and men with blinded eyes were not seeing the light (John 1:26), blinded by the god of this world still (2 Corinthians 4:4). John had his own eyes opened so that he saw and told what he saw. That is the mission of every preacher of Christ. But he must first have his own eyes opened.

That all might believe
(ινα πιστευσωσινhina pisteusōsin). Final clause with ιναhina and first aorist active subjunctive of πιστευωpisteuō ingressive aorist “come to believe.” This is one of John‘s great words (about 100 times), “with nine times the frequency with which it is used by the Synoptists” (Bernard). And yet πιστιςpistis so common in Paul, John uses only in 1 John 5:4 and four times in the Apocalypse where πιστευωpisteuō does not occur at all. Here it is used absolutely as in John 1:50, etc.

Through him
(δι αυτουdi' autou). As the intermediate agent in winning men to believe in Christ (the Logos) as the Light and the Life of men. This is likewise the purpose of the author of this book (John 1:31). The preacher is merely the herald to point men to Christ.


Verse 8

He (εκεινοςekeinos). “That one,” i.e. John. He was a light (John 5:35) as all believers are (Matthew 5:14), but not “the light” (το πωςto phōs).

But came (αλλall'). No verb in the Greek, to be supplied by repeating ηλτενēlthen of John 1:7. See similar ellipses in John 9:3; John 13:18; John 15:25. In Johannine fashion we have the final ιναhina clause of John 1:7 repeated.


Verse 9

There was (ηνēn). Imperfect indicative. Emphatic position at the beginning of the sentence and so probably not periphrastic conjugation with ερχομενονerchomenon (coming) near the end, though that is possible.

The true light (το πως το αλητινονto phōs to alēthinon). “The light the genuine,” not a false light of wreckers of ships, but the dependable light that guides to the harbor of safety. This true light had been on hand all the time in the darkness (ηνēn imperfect, linear action) before John came.

Even the light
(not in the Greek). Added in the English to make plain this interpretation.

Lighteth every man
(πωτιζει παντα αντρωπονphōtizei panta anthrōpon). Old verb (from πωςphōs) to give light as in Revelation 22:5; Luke 11:35. The Quakers appeal to this phrase for their belief that to every man there is given an inner light that is a sufficient guide, the Quaker‘s text it is called. But it may only mean that all the real light that men receive comes from Christ, not necessarily that each one receives a special revelation.

Coming
(ερχομενονerchomenon). This present middle participle of ερχομαιerchomai can be taken with αντρωπονanthrōpon just before (accusative masculine singular), “every man as he comes into the world.” It can also be construed with πωςphōs (nominative neuter singular). This idea occurs in John 3:19; John 11:27; John 12:46. In the two last passages the phrase is used of the Messiah which makes it probable here. But even so the light presented in John 11:27; John 12:46 is that of the Incarnate Messiah, not the Pre-incarnate Logos. Here κοσμοςkosmos rather than πανταpanta occurs in the sense of the orderly universe as often in this Gospel. See Ephesians 1:4.


Verse 10

He was in the world (εν τωι κοσμωι ηνen tōi kosmōi ēn). Imperfect tense of continuous existence in the universe before the Incarnation as in John 1:1 and John 1:2.

Was made by him (δι αυτου εγενετοdi' autou egeneto). “Through him.” Same statement here of “the world” (ο κοσμοςho kosmos) as that made in John 1:3 of πανταpanta

Knew him not
(αυτον ουκ εγνωauton ouk egnō). Second aorist active indicative of common verb γινοσκωginoskō what Gildersleeve called a negative aorist, refused or failed to recognize him, his world that he had created and that was held together by him (Colossians 1:16). Not only did the world fail to know the Pre-incarnate Logos, but it failed to recognize him when he became Incarnate (John 1:26). Two examples in this sentence of John‘s fondness for καιkai as in John 1:1, John 1:4, John 1:5, and John 1:14, the paratactic rather than the hypotactic construction, like the common Hebrew use of wav f0).


Verse 11

Unto his own (εις τα ιδιαeis ta idia). Neuter plural, “unto his own things,” the very idiom used in John 19:27 when the Beloved Disciple took the mother of Jesus “to his own home.” The world was “the own home” of the Logos who had made it. See also John 16:32; Acts 21:6.

They that were his own (οι ιδιοιhoi idioi). In the narrower sense, “his intimates,” “his own family,” “his own friends” as in John 13:1. Jesus later said that a prophet is not without honour save in his own country (Mark 6:4; John 4:44), and the town of Nazareth where he lived rejected him (Luke 4:28.; Matthew 13:58). Probably here οι ιδιοιhoi idioi means the Jewish people, the chosen people to whom Christ was sent first (Matthew 15:24), but in a wider sense the whole world is included in οι ιδιοιhoi idioi Conder‘s The Hebrew Tragedy emphasizes the pathos of the situation that the house of Israel refused to welcome the Messiah when he did come, like a larger and sadder Enoch Arden experience.

Received him not
(αυτον ου παρελαβονauton ou parelabon). Second aorist active indicative of παραλαμβανωparalambanō old verb to take to one‘s side, common verb to welcome, the very verb used by Jesus in John 14:3 of the welcome to his Father‘s house. Cf. κατελαβενkatelaben in John 1:5. Israel slew the Heir (Hebrews 1:2) when he came, like the wicked husbandmen (Luke 20:14).


Verse 12

As many as received him (οσοι ελαβον αυτονhosoi elabon auton). Effective aorist active indicative of λαμβανωlambanō “as many as did receive him,” in contrast with οι ιδιοιhoi idioi just before, exceptional action on the part of the disciples and other believers.

To them (αυτοιςautois). Dative case explanatory of the relative clause preceding, an anacoluthon common in John 27 times as against 21 in the Synoptists. This is a common Aramaic idiom and is urged by Burney (Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 64) for his theory of an Aramaic original of the Fourth Gospel.

The right
(εχουσιανexousian). In John 5:27 εδωκενedōken (first aorist active indicative of διδωμιdidōmi) εχουσιανexousian means authority but includes power (δυναμιςdunamis). Here it is more the notion of privilege or right.

To become
(γενεσταιgenesthai). Second aorist middle of γινομαιginomai to become what they were not before.

Children of God
(τεκνα τεουtekna theou). In the full spiritual sense, not as mere offspring of God true of all men (Acts 17:28). Paul‘s phrase υιοι τεουhuioi theou (Galatians 3:26) for believers, used also by Jesus of the pure in heart (Matthew 5:9), does not occur in John‘s Gospel (but in Revelation 21:7). It is possible that John prefers τα τεκνα του τεουta tekna tou theou for the spiritual children of God whether Jew or Gentile (John 11:52) because of the community of nature (τεκνονteknon from root τεκtek -, to beget). But one cannot follow Westcott in insisting on “adoption” as Paul‘s reason for the use of υιοιhuioi since Jesus uses υιοι τεουhuioi theou in Matthew 5:9. Clearly the idea of regeneration is involved here as in John 3:3.

Even to them that believe
(τοις πιστευουσινtois pisteuousin). No “even” in the Greek, merely explanatory apposition with αυτοιςautois dative case of the articular present active participle of πιστευωpisteuō

On his name
(εις το ονομαeis to onoma). Bernard notes πιστευω ειςpisteuō eis 35 times in John, to put trust in or on. See also John 2:23 and John 3:36 for πιστευω εις το ονομα αυτουpisteuō eis to onoma autou This common use of ονομαonoma for the person is an Aramaism, but it occurs also in the vernacular papyri and εις το ονομαeis to onoma is particularly common in the payment of debts (Moulton and Milligan‘s Vocabulary). See Acts 1:15 for ονοματαonomata for persons.


Verse 13

Which were born (οι εγεννητησανhoi egennēthēsan). First aorist passive indicative of γενναωgennaō to beget, “who were begotten.” By spiritual generation (of God, εκ τεουek theou), not by physical (εχ αιματωνex haimatōn plural as common in classics and O.T., though why it is not clear unless blood of both father and mother; εκ τεληματος σαρκοςek thelēmatos sarkos from sexual desire; εκ τεληματος ανδροςek thelēmatos andros from the will of the male). But b of the old Latin reads qui natus est and makes it refer to Christ and so expressly teach the Virgin Birth of Jesus. Likewise Irenaeus reads qui natus est as does Tertullian who argues that qui nati sunt (οι εγεννητησανhoi egennēthēsan) is an invention of the Valentinian Gnostics. Blass (Philology of the Gospels, p. 234) opposes this reading, but all the old Greek uncials read οι εγεννητησανhoi egennēthēsan and it must be accepted. The Virgin Birth is doubtless implied in John 1:14, but it is not stated in John 1:13.


Verse 14

And the Word became flesh (και ο λογος σαρχ εγενετοkai ho logos sarx egeneto). See John 1:3 for this verb and note its use for the historic event of the Incarnation rather than ηνēn of John 1:1. Note also the absence of the article with the predicate substantive σαρχsarx so that it cannot mean “the flesh became the Word.” The Pre-existence of the Logos has already been plainly stated and argued. John does not here say that the Logos entered into a man or dwelt in a man or filled a man. One is at liberty to see an allusion to the birth narratives in Matthew 1:16-25; Luke 1:28-38, if he wishes, since John clearly had the Synoptics before him and chiefly supplemented them in his narrative. In fact, one is also at liberty to ask what intelligent meaning can one give to John‘s language here apart from the Virgin Birth? What ordinary mother or father ever speaks of a child “becoming flesh”? For the Incarnation see also 2 Corinthians 8:9; Galatians 4:4; Romans 1:3; Romans 8:3; Philemon 2:7.; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14. “To explain the exact significance of εγενετοegeneto in this sentence is beyond the powers of any interpreter” (Bernard). Unless, indeed, as seems plain, John is referring to the Virgin Birth as recorded in Matthew and Luke. “The Logos of philosophy is, John declares, the Jesus of history” (Bernard). Thus John asserts the deity and the real humanity of Christ. He answers the Docetic Gnostics who denied his humanity.

Dwelt among us (εσκηνωσεν εν ημινeskēnōsen en hēmin). First aorist ingressive aorist active indicative of σκηνοωskēnoō old verb, to pitch one‘s tent or tabernacle (σκηνοςskēnos or σκηνηskēnē), in N.T. only here and Rev 7-15; Revelation 12:12; Revelation 13:6; Revelation 21:3. In Revelation it is used of God tabernacling with men and here of the Logos tabernacling, God‘s Shekinah glory here among us in the person of his Son.

We beheld his glory
(ετεασαμετα την δοχαν αυτουetheasametha tēn doxan autou). First aorist middle indicative of τεαομαιtheaomai (from τεαthea spectacle). The personal experience of John and of others who did recognize Jesus as the Shekinah glory (δοχαdoxa) of God as James, the brother of Jesus, so describes him (James 2:1). John employs τεαομαιtheaomai again in John 1:32 (the Baptist beholding the Spirit coming down as a dove) and John 1:38 of the Baptist gazing in rapture at Jesus. So also John 4:35; John 11:45; 1 John 1:1.; 1 John 4:12, 1 John 4:14. By this word John insists that in the human Jesus he beheld the Shekinah glory of God who was and is the Logos who existed before with God. By this plural John speaks for himself and all those who saw in Jesus what he did.

As of the only begotten from the Father
(ως μονογενους παρα πατροςhōs monogenous para patros). Strictly, “as of an only born from a father,” since there is no article with μονογενουςmonogenous or with πατροςpatros In John 3:16; 1 John 4:9 we have τον μονογενηton monogenē referring to Christ. This is the first use in the Gospel of πατηρpatēr of God in relation to the Logos. ΜονογενηςMonogenēs (only born rather than only begotten) here refers to the eternal relationship of the Logos (as in John 1:18) rather than to the Incarnation. It distinguishes thus between the Logos and the believers as children (τεκναtekna) of God. The word is used of human relationships as in Luke 7:12; Luke 8:42; Luke 9:38. It occurs also in the lxx and Hebrews 11:17, but elsewhere in N.T. only in John‘s writings. It is an old word in Greek literature. It is not clear whether the words παρα πατροςpara patros (from the Father) are to be connected with μονογενουςmonogenous (cf. John 6:46; John 7:29, etc.) or with δοχανdoxan (cf. John 5:41, John 5:44). John clearly means to say that “the manifested glory of the Word was as it were the glory of the Eternal Father shared with His only Son” (Bernard). Cf. John 8:54; John 14:9; John 17:5.

Full
(πληρηςplērēs). Probably indeclinable accusative adjective agreeing with δοχανdoxan (or genitive with μονογενουςmonogenous) of which we have papyri examples (Robertson, Grammar, p. 275). As nominative πληρηςplērēs can agree with the subject of εσκηνωσενeskēnōsen

Of grace and truth
(χαριτος και αλητειαςcharitos kai alētheias). Curiously this great word χαριςcharis (grace), so common with Paul, does not occur in John‘s Gospel save in John 1:14, John 1:16, John 1:17, though αλητειαalētheia (truth) is one of the keywords in the Fourth Gospel and in 1John, occurring 25 times in the Gospel and 20 in the Johannine Epistles, 7 times in the Synoptics and not at all in Revelation (Bernard). In John 1:17 these two words picture the Gospel in Christ in contrast with the law of Moses. See Epistles of Paul for origin and use of both words.


Verse 15

Beareth witness (μαρτυρειmarturei). Historical (dramatic) present indicative of this characteristic word in John (cf. John 1:17.). See John 1:32, John 1:34 for historical examples of John‘s witness to Christ. This sentence is a parenthesis in Westcott and Hort‘s text, though the Revised Version makes a parenthesis of most of John 1:14. The witness of John is adduced in proof of the glory full of grace and truth already claimed for the Incarnate Logos.

Crieth (κεκραγενkekragen). Second perfect active indicative of κραζωkrazō old verb for loud crying, repeated in dramatic form again for emphasis recalling the wonderful Voice in the wilderness which the Beloved Disciple can still hear echoing through the years.

This was
(ουτος ηνhoutos ēn). Imperfect indicative where John throws the tense back in past time when he looked forward to the coming of the Messiah as in Acts 3:10 where we should prefer “is” (εστινestin). Gildersleeve (Syntax, p. 96) calls this the “imperfect of sudden appreciation of the real state of things.”

Of whom I said
(ον ειπονhon eipon). But B C and a corrector of Aleph (Westcott and Hort) have ο ειπωνho eipōn “the one who said,” a parenthetical explanation about the Baptist, not the words of the Baptist about Christ.

After me
(οπισω μουopisō mou). See also John 1:27. Later in time John means. He described “the Coming One” (ο ερχομενοςho erchomenos) before he saw Jesus. The language of John here is precisely that in Matthew 3:11 ο οπισω μου ερχομενοςho opisō mou erchomenos (cf. Mark 1:7). The Beloved Disciple had heard the Baptist say these very words, but he also had the Synoptic Gospels.

Is become
(γεγονενgegonen). Second perfect active indicative of γινομαιginomai It is already an actual fact when the Baptist is speaking.

Before me
(εμπροστεν μουemprosthen mou). In rank and dignity, the Baptist means, ο ισχυροτερος μουho ischuroteros mou “the one mightier than I” (Mark 1:7) and ισχυροτερος μουischuroteros mou “mightier than I” (Matthew 3:11). In John 3:28 εμπροστεν εκεινουemprosthen ekeinou (before him, the Christ) does mean priority in time, but not here. This superior dignity of the Messiah John proudly recognizes always (John 3:25-30).

For he was before me
(οτι πρωτος μου ηνhoti prōtos mou ēn). Paradox, but clear. He had always been (ην ιμπερφεχτēn imperfect) before John in his Pre-incarnate state, but “after” John in time of the Incarnation, but always ahead of John in rank immediately on his Incarnation. Πρωτος μουPrōtos mou (superlative with ablative) occurs here when only two are compared as is common in the vernacular Koiné. So the Beloved Disciple came first (πρωτοςprōtos) to the tomb, ahead of Peter (John 20:4). So also πρωτον υμωνprōton humōn in John 15:18 means “before you” as if it were προτερον υμωνproteron humōn John 1:30 repeats these words almost exactly.


Verse 16

For (οτιhoti). Correct text (Aleph B C D L) and not καιkai (and) of the Textus Receptus. Explanatory reason for John 1:14.

Of his fulness (εκ του πληρωματοςek tou plērōmatos). The only instance of πληρωμαplērōma in John‘s writings, though five times of Christ in Paul‘s Epistles (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 3:19; Ephesians 4:13). See Colossians 1:19 for discussion of these terms of the Gnostics that Paul employs for all the attributes of God summed up in Christ (Colossians 2:9) and so used here by John of the Incarnate Logos.

We all
(ημεις παντεςhēmeis pantes). John is facing the same Gnostic depreciation of Christ of which Paul writes in Colossians. So here John appeals to all his own contemporaries as participants with him in the fulness of the Logos.

Received
(ελαβομενelabomen). Second aorist active indicative of λαμβανωlambanō a wider experience than beholding (ετεασαμεταetheasametha John 1:14) and one that all believers may have.

Grace for grace
(χαριν αντι χαριτοςcharin anti charitos). The point is in αντιanti a preposition disappearing in the Koiné and here only in John. It is in the locative case of ανταanta (end), “at the end,” and was used of exchange in sale. See Luke 11:11, αντι ιχτυος οπινanti ichthuos ophin “a serpent for a fish,” Hebrews 12:2 where “joy” and “cross” are balanced against each other. Here the picture is “grace” taking the place of “grace” like the manna fresh each morning, new grace for the new day and the new service.


Verse 17

Was given (εδοτηedothē). First aorist passive indicative of διδωμιdidōmi

By Moses (δια Μωυσεωςdia Mōuseōs). “Through Moses” as the intermediate agent of God.

Came
(εγενετοegeneto). The historical event, the beginning of Christianity.

By Jesus Christ
(δια Ιησου Χριστουdia Iēsou Christou). “Through Jesus Christ,” the intermediate agent of God the Father. Here in plain terms John identifies the Pre-incarnate Logos with Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. The full historical name “Jesus Christ” is here for the first time in John. See also John 17:3 and four times in 1John and five times in Revelation. Without Christ there would have been no Christianity. John‘s theology is here pictured by the words “grace and truth” (η χαρις και η αλητειαhē charis kai hē alētheia), each with the article and each supplementary to the other. It is grace in contrast with law as Paul sets forth in Galatians and Romans. Paul had made grace “a Christian commonplace” (Bernard) before John wrote. It is truth as opposed to Gnostic and all other heresy as Paul shows in Colossians and Ephesians. The two words aptly describe two aspects of the Logos and John drops the use of ΛογοςLogos and χαριςcharis but clings to αλητειαalētheia (see John 8:32 for the freedom brought by truth), though the ideas in these three words run all through his Gospel.


Verse 18

No man hath seen God at any time (τεον ουδεις εωρακεν πωποτεtheon oudeis heōraken pōpote). “God no one has ever seen.” Perfect active indicative of οραωhoraō Seen with the human physical eye, John means. God is invisible (Exodus 33:20; Deuteronomy 4:12). Paul calls God αορατοςaoratos (Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17). John repeats the idea in John 5:37; John 6:46. And yet in John 14:7 Jesus claims that the one who sees him has seen the Father as here.

The only begotten Son (ο μονογενης υιοςho monogenēs huios). This is the reading of the Textus Receptus and is intelligible after ως μονογενους παρα πατροςhōs monogenous para patros in John 1:14. But the best old Greek manuscripts (Aleph B C L) read μονογενης τεοςmonogenēs theos (God only begotten) which is undoubtedly the true text. Probably some scribe changed it to ο μονογενης υιοςho monogenēs huios to obviate the blunt statement of the deity of Christ and to make it like John 3:16. But there is an inner harmony in the reading of the old uncials. The Logos is plainly called τεοςtheos in John 1:1. The Incarnation is stated in John 1:14, where he is also termed μονογενηςmonogenēs He was that before the Incarnation. So he is “God only begotten,” “the Eternal Generation of the Son” of Origen‘s phrase.

Which is in the bosom of the Father
(ο ων εις τον κολπον του πατροςho ōn eis ton kolpon tou patros). The eternal relation of the Son with the Father like προς τον τεονpros ton theon in John 1:1. In John 3:13 there is some evidence for ο ων εν τωι ουρανωιho ōn en tōi ouranōi used by Christ of himself while still on earth. The mystic sense here is that the Son is qualified to reveal the Father as Logos (both the Father in Idea and Expression) by reason of the continual fellowship with the Father.

He
(εκινοςekinos). Emphatic pronoun referring to the Son.

Hath declared him
(εχηγησατοexēgēsato). First aorist (effective) middle indicative of εχηγεομαιexēgeomai old verb to lead out, to draw out in narrative, to recount. Here only in John, though once in Luke‘s Gospel (Luke 24:35) and four times in Acts (Acts 10:8; Acts 15:12, Acts 15:14; Acts 21:19). This word fitly closes the Prologue in which the Logos is pictured in marvellous fashion as the Word of God in human flesh, the Son of God with the Glory of God in him, showing men who God is and what he is.


Verse 19

And this is the witness of John (και αυτη εστιν η μαρτυρια του Ιωανουkai hautē estin hē marturia tou Iōanou). He had twice already alluded to it (John 1:7. and John 1:15) and now he proceeds to give it as the most important item to add after the Prologue. Just as the author assumes the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke, so he assumes the Synoptic accounts of the baptism of Jesus by John, but adds various details of great interest and value between the baptism and the Galilean ministry, filling out thus our knowledge of this first year of the Lord‘s ministry in various parts of Palestine. The story in John proceeds along the same lines as in the Synoptics. There is increasing unfolding of Christ to the disciples with increasing hostility on the part of the Jews till the final consummation in Jerusalem.

When the Jews sent unto him (οτε απεστειλαν προς αυτον οι Ιουδαιοιhote apesteilan pros auton hoi Ioudaioi). John, writing in Ephesus near the close of the first century long after the destruction of Jerusalem, constantly uses the phrase “the Jews” as descriptive of the people as distinct from the Gentile world and from the followers of Christ (at first Jews also). Often he uses it of the Jewish leaders and rulers in particular who soon took a hostile attitude toward both John and Jesus. Here it is the Jews from Jerusalem who sent (απεστειλανapesteilan first aorist active indicative of αποστελλωapostellō).

Priests and Levites
(ιερεις και Λευειταςhiereis kai Leueitas). Sadducees these were. Down below in John 1:24 the author explains that it was the Pharisees who sent the Sadducees. The Synoptics throw a flood of light on this circumstance, for in Matthew 3:7 we are told that the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees “offspring of vipers” (Luke 3:7). Popular interest in John grew till people were wondering “in their hearts concerning John whether haply he were the Christ” (Luke 3:15). So the Sanhedrin finally sent a committee to John to get his own view of himself, but the Pharisees saw to it that Sadducees were sent.

To ask him
(ινα ερωτησωσιν αυτονhina erōtēsōsin auton). Final ιναhina and the first aorist active subjunctive of ερωταωerōtaō old verb to ask a question as here and often in the Koiné to ask for something (John 14:16) like αιτεωaiteō

Who art thou?
(συ τις ειsu tis ei). Direct question preserved and note proleptic position of συsu “Thou, who art thou?” The committee from the Sanhedrin put the question sharply up to John to define his claims concerning the Messiah.


Verse 20

And he confessed (και ωμολογησενkai hōmologēsen). The continued paratactic use of καιkai (and) and the first aorist active indicative of ομολογεωhomologeō old verb from ομολογοςhomologos (ομον λεγωhomon class="normal greek">και ουκ ηρνησατο — legō to say the same thing), to confess, in the Synoptics (Matthew 10:32) as here.

And denied not (αρνεομαιkai ouk ērnēsato). Negative statement of same thing in Johannine fashion, first aorist middle indicative of και ωμολογησενarneomai another Synoptic and Pauline word (Matthew 10:33; 2 Timothy 2:12). He did not contradict or refuse to say who he was.

And he confessed
(Εγω ουκ ειμι ο Χριστοςkai hōmologēsen). Thoroughly Johannine again in the paratactic repetition.

I am not the Christ
(οτιEgō ouk eimi ho Christos). Direct quotation again with recitative ο Χριστοςhoti before it like our modern quotation marks. “I am not the Messiah,” he means by ho Christos (the Anointed One). Evidently it was not a new question as Luke had already shown (Luke 3:15).


Verse 21

And they asked him (και ηρωτησαν αυτονkai ērōtēsan auton). Here the paratactic καιkai is like the transitional ουνoun (then).

What then? (Τι ουνTi oun). Argumentative ουνoun like Paul‘s τι ουνti oun in Romans 6:15. Quid ergo?

Art thou Elijah?
(Συ Ελιας ειSu Elias ei). The next inevitable question since Elijah had been understood to be the forerunner of the Messiah from Malachi 4:5. In Mark 9:11. Jesus will identify John with the Elijah of Malachi‘s prophecy. Why then does John here flatly deny it? Because the expectation was that Elijah would return in person. This John denies. Jesus only asserts that John was Elijah in spirit. Elijah in person they had just seen on the Mount of Transfiguration.

He saith
(λεγειlegei). Vivid dramatic present.

I am not
(ουκ ειμιouk eimi). Short and blunt denial.

Art thou the prophet?
(ο προπητης ει συho prophētēs ei su). “The prophet art thou?” This question followed naturally the previous denials. Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15) had spoken of a prophet like unto himself. Christians interpreted this prophet to be the Messiah (Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37), but the Jews thought him another forerunner of the Messiah (John 7:40). It is not clear in John 6:15 whether the people identified the expected prophet with the Messiah, though apparently so. Even the Baptist later became puzzled in prison whether Jesus himself was the true Messiah or just one of the forerunners (Luke 7:19). People wondered about Jesus himself whether he was the Messiah or just one of the looked for prophets (Mark 8:28; Matthew 16:14).

And he answered
(και απεκριτηkai apekrithē). First aorist passive (deponent passive, sense of voice gone) indicative of αποκρινομαιapokrinomai to give a decision from myself, to reply.

No
(ΟυOu). Shortest possible denial.


Verse 22

They said therefore (ειπαν ουνeipan oun). Second aorist active indicative of defective verb ειπονeipon with αa instead of usual οo Note ουνoun inferential here as in John 1:21 though often merely transitional in John.

Who art thou? (Τις ειTis ei). Same question as at first (John 1:19), but briefer.

That we give answer
(ινα αποκρισιν δωμενhina apokrisin dōmen). Final use of ιναhina with second aorist active subjunctive of διδωμιdidōmi with αποκρισινapokrisin from αποκρινομαιapokrinomai above, old substantive as in Luke 2:47.

To those that sent
(τοις πεμπσασινtois pempsasin). Dative case plural of the articular participle first aorist active of πεμπωpempō

What sayest thou of thyself?
(Τι λεγεις περι σεαυτουTi legeis peri seautou). This time they opened wide the door without giving any hint at all.


Verse 23

He said (επηephē). Common imperfect active (or second aorist active) of πημιphēmi to say, old defective verb.

I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness (Εγω πωνη βοωντος εν τηι ερημωιEgō phōnē boōntos en tēi erēmōi). For his answer John quotes Isaiah 40:3. The Synoptics (Mark 1:3; Matthew 3:3; Luke 3:4) quote this language from Isaiah as descriptive of John, but do not say that he also applied it to himself. There is no reason to think that he did not do so. John also refers to Isaiah as the author of the words and also of the message,

Make straight the way of the Lord” (Ευτυνατε την οδον του κυριουEuthunate tēn hodon tou kuriou). By this language (ευτυνωeuthunō in N.T. only here and James 3:4, first aorist active imperative here) John identifies himself to the committee as the forerunner of the Messiah. The early writers note the differences between the use of ΛογοςLogos (Word) for the Messiah and πωνηphōnē (Voice) for John.


Verse 24

They had been sent (απεσταλμενοι ησανapestalmenoi ēsan). Periphrastic past perfect passive of αποστελλωapostellō

From the Pharisees (εκ των Παρισαιωνek tōn Pharisaiōn). As the source (εκek) of the committee of Sadducees (John 1:19).


Verse 25

Why then baptizest thou? (Τι ουν βαπτιζεισTi oun baptizeis). In view of his repeated denials (three here mentioned).

If thou art not (ει συ ουκ ειei su ouk ei). Condition of first class. They did not interpret his claim to be “the voice” to be important enough to justify the ordinance of baptism. Abrahams (Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels) shows that proselyte baptism was probably practised before John‘s time, but its use by John was treating the Jews as if they were themselves Gentiles.


Verse 26

In the midst of you standeth (μεσος υμων στηκειmesos humōn stēkei). Adjective as in John 19:18, not εν μεσωι υμωνen mesōi humōn Present active indicative of late verb στηκωstēkō from perfect stem εστηκαhestēka John had already baptized Jesus and recognized him as the Messiah.

Whom ye know not (ον υμεις ουκ οιδατεhon humeis ouk oidate). This was the tragedy of the situation (John 1:11). Apparently this startling declaration excited no further inquiry from the committee.


Verse 27

Coming after me (οπισω μου ερχομενοςopisō mou erchomenos). No article (οho) in Aleph B. John as the forerunner of the Messiah has preceded him in time, but not in rank as he instantly adds.

The latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose (ου ουκ ειμι αχιος ινα λυσω αυτου τον ιμαντα του υποδηματοςhou ouk eimi axios hina lusō autou ton himanta tou hupodēmatos). Literally, “of whom I am not worthy that I unloose the latchet (see Mark 1:7 for ιμαςhimas) of his sandal (see Matthew 3:11 for υποδημαhupodēma bound under the foot).” Only use of αχιοςaxios with ιναhina in John, though used by Paul in this saying of the Baptist (Acts 13:25), ικανος ιναhikanos hina in Matthew 3:8, but ικανος λυσαιhikanos lusai (aorist active infinitive instead of λυσωlusō aorist active subjunctive) in Mark 1:7 (Luke 3:16) and βαστασαιbastasai in Matthew 3:11.


Verse 28

In Bethany beyond Jordan (εν ητανιαι περαν του Ιορδανουen Bēthaniāi peran tou Iordanou). Undoubtedly the correct text, not “in Bethabara” as Origen suggested instead of “in Bethany” of all the known Greek manuscripts under the mistaken notion that the only Bethany was that near Jerusalem.

Was baptizing (ην βαπτιζωνēn baptizōn). Periphrastic imperfect, common idiom in John.


Verse 29

On the morrow (τηι επαυριονtēi epaurion). Locative case with ημηραιhēmērāi (day) understood after the adverb επαυριονepaurion “Second day of this spiritual diary” (Bernard) from John 1:19.

Seeth Jesus coming (βλεπει τον Ιησουν ερχομενονblepei ton Iēsoun erchomenon). Dramatic historical present indicative (βλεπειblepei) with vivid present middle participle (ερχομενονerchomenon). Graphic picture.

Behold the Lamb of God
(ιδε ο αμνος του τεουide ho amnos tou theou). Exclamation ιδεide like ιδουidou not verb, and so nominative αμνοςamnos Common idiom in John (John 1:36; John 3:26, etc.). For “the Lamb of God” see 1 Corinthians 5:7 (cf. John 19:36) and 1 Peter 1:19. The passage in Isaiah 53:6. is directly applied to Christ by Philip in Acts 8:32. See also Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:22.; Hebrews 9:28. But the Jews did not look for a suffering Messiah (John 12:34) nor did the disciples at first (Mark 9:32; Luke 24:21). But was it not possible for John, the Forerunner of the Messiah, to have a prophetic insight concerning the Messiah as the Paschal Lamb, already in Isaiah 53:1-12, even if the rabbis did not see it there? Symeon had it dimly (Luke 2:35), but John more clearly. So Westcott rightly. Bernard is unwilling to believe that John the Baptist had more insight on this point than current Judaism. Then why and how did he recognize Jesus as Messiah at all? Certainly the Baptist did not have to be as ignorant as the rabbis.

Which taketh away the sin of the world
(ο αιρων την αμαρτιαν του κοσμουho airōn tēn hamartian tou kosmou). Note singular αμαρτιανhamartian not plural αμαρτιαςhamartias (1 John 3:5) where same verb αιρωairō to bear away, is used. The future work of the Lamb of God here described in present tense as in 1 John 1:7 about the blood of Christ. He is the Lamb of God for the world, not just for Jews.


Verse 30

Of whom (υπερ ουhuper hou). Not περιperi but υπερhuper “On behalf of whom.” John points to Jesus as he speaks: “This is he.” There he is. See John 1:15 for discussion of these words of John.


Verse 31

And I knew him not (καγω ουκ ηιδειν αυτονkagō ouk ēidein auton). Repeated in John 1:33. Second past perfect of οιδαoida as imperfect. He had predicted the Messiah and described him before he met him and baptized him. See the Synoptics for that story. Whether John knew Jesus personally before the baptism we do not know.

But that he should be made manifest to Israel (αλλ ινα πανερωτηι τωι Ισραηλall' hina phanerōthēi tōi Israēl). Final clause with ιναhina and first aorist passive subjunctive of πανεροωphaneroō The purpose of John‘s ministry was to manifest to Israel with their spiritual privileges (John 1:49) the presence of the Messiah. Hence he was baptizing in water those who confessed their sins, he means, as in Mark 1:5. The Synoptic account is presupposed all along here.


Verse 32

Bare witness (εμαρτυρησενemarturēsen). First aorist active indicative of μαρτυρεωmartureō Another specimen of John‘s witness to the Messiah (John 1:7, John 1:15, John 1:19, John 1:29, John 1:35, John 1:36).

I have beheld (τετεαμαιtetheamai). Perfect middle indicative of τεαομαιtheaomai the realization of the promise of the sign (John 1:33) by which he should recognize the Messiah. As a matter of fact, we know that he so recognized Jesus as Messiah when he came for baptism before the Holy Spirit came (Matthew 3:14.). But this sight of the Spirit descending as a dove upon Jesus at his baptism (Mark 1:10; Matthew 3:16; Luke 3:22) became permanent proof to him. John‘s allusion assumes the Synoptic record. The Semites regarded the dove as a symbol of the Spirit.


Verse 33

He said (εκεινος ειπενekeinos eipen). Explicit and emphatic pronoun as in John 1:8, referring to God as the one who sent John (John 1:6).

With the Holy Spirit (εν πνευματι αγιωιen pneumati hagiōi). “In the Holy Spirit.” Here again one needs the background of the Synoptics for the contrast between John‘s baptism in water (John 1:26) and that of the Messiah in the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8; Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16).


Verse 34

I have seen (εωρακαheōraka). Present perfect active of οραωhoraō John repeats the statement of John 1:32 (τετεαμαιtetheamai).

Have borne witness (μεμαρτυρηκαmemarturēka). Perfect active indicative of μαρτυρεωmartureō for which verb see John 1:32.

This is the Son of God
(ο υιος του τεουho huios tou theou). The Baptist saw the Spirit come on Jesus at his baptism and undoubtedly heard the Father‘s voice hail him as “My Beloved Son” (Mark 1:11; Matthew 3:17; Luke 3:22). Nathanael uses it as a Messianic title (John 1:49) as does Martha (John 11:27). The Synoptics use it also of Christ (Mark 3:11; Matthew 14:33; Luke 22:70). Caiaphas employs it to Christ as a Messianic title (Matthew 26:63) and Jesus confessed under oath that he was (verse Matthew 26:64), thus applying the term to himself as he does in John‘s Gospel (John 5:25; John 10:36; John 11:4) and by implication (the Father, the Son) in Matthew 11:27 (Luke 10:22). Hence in the Synoptics also Jesus calls himself the Son of God. The phrase means more than just Messiah and expresses the peculiar relation of the Son to the Father (John 3:18; John 5:25; John 17:5; John 19:7; John 20:31) like that of the Logos with God in John 1:1.


Verse 35

Again on the morrow (τηι επαυριον παλινtēi epaurion palin). Third day since John 1:19.

Was standing (ιστηκειhistēkei). Past perfect of ιστημιhistēmi intransitive, and used as imperfect in sense. See same form in John 7:37.

Two
(δυοduo). One was Andrew (John 1:40), the other the Beloved Disciple (the Apostle John), who records this incident with happy memories.


Verse 36

He looked (εμβλεπσαςemblepsas). First aorist active participle of εμβλεπωemblepō antecedent action before λεγειlegei (says).

As he walked (περιπατουντιperipatounti). Present active participle in dative case after εμβλεπσαςemblepsas and like ερχομενονerchomenon in John 1:29 vividly pictures the rapture of John in this vision of Jesus, so far as we know the third and last glimpse of Jesus by John (the baptism, John 1:29, and here).

Saith
(λεγειlegei). Historical present, change from ιστηκειhistēkei before. He repeats part of the tribute in John 1:29.


Verse 37

Heard him speak (ηκουσαν αυτου λαλουντοςēkousan autou lalountos). First active indicative of ακουωakouō and present active participle of λαλεωlaleō in genitive case agreeing with αυτουautou object of ακουωakouō “Heard him speaking” (kind of indirect discourse). John had disciples (ματηταιmathētai learners, from μαντανωmanthanō to learn).

They followed Jesus (ηκολουτησαν τωι Ιησουēkolouthēsan tōi Iēsou). Associative instrumental case after verb (first aorist active indicative, ingressive aorist, of ακολουτεωakoloutheō). These two disciples of the Baptist (Andrew and John) took him at his word and acted on it. John the Baptist had predicted and portrayed the Messiah, had baptized him, had interpreted him, and now for the second time had identified him.


Verse 38

Turned (στραπειςstrapheis). Second aorist passive participle of στρεπωstrephō vividly picturing the sudden act of Jesus on hearing their steps behind him.

Beheld (τεασαμενοςtheasamenos). First aorist middle participle of τεαομαιtheaomai (John 1:32). Both participles here express antecedent action to λεγειlegei (saith).

Following
(ακολοτουνταςakolothountas). Present active participle of ακολουτεωakoloutheō (John 1:37). It was Christ‘s first experience of this kind and the two came from the Baptist to Jesus.

What seek ye?
(Τι ζητειτεTi zēteite). Not “whom” (τιναtina John 18:4; John 20:15), but “what purpose have you.” The first words of Jesus preserved in this Gospel. See Luke 2:49; Matthew 3:15 for words spoken before this and Mark 1:15 for Mark‘s first report in the Galilean ministry.

Rabbi
(αββειRabbei). Aramaic title for “Teacher” which John here translates by ΔιδασκαλεDidaskale as he is writing late and for general readers. Luke, a Greek Christian, does not use it, but John recalls his first use of this term to Jesus and explains it. Matthew has it only in the greeting of Judas to the Master (Matthew 26:25, Matthew 26:49) and Mark once by Judas (Mark 14:45) and twice by Peter (Mark 9:5; Mark 11:21). John‘s Gospel has the disciples at first addressing Jesus by Rabbi while others address him by ΚυριεKurie (Lord or Sir) as in John 4:11, John 4:49; John 5:7. Peter uses ΚυριεKurie in John 6:68. In the end the disciples usually say ΚυριεKurie (John 13:6, John 13:25, etc.), but Mary Magdalene says αββουνειRabbounei (John 20:16).

Being interpreted
(μετερμημευομενονmethermēmeuomenon). Present passive participle of μετερμηνευωmethermēneuō late compound of μεταmeta and ερμηνευωhermēneuō to explain (John 1:42), old word from ερμεςHermes the god of speech (hermeneutics). John often explains Aramaic words (John 1:38, John 1:41, John 1:42; John 4:25; John 9:7, etc.).

Where abidest thou?
(Που μενεισPou meneis). They wished a place for quiet converse with Jesus.


Verse 39

Come and ye shall see (ερχεστε και οπσεστεerchesthe kai opsesthe). Polite invitation and definite promise (future middle indicative οπσεστεopsesthe from οραωhoraō correct text, not imperative ιδετεidete).

Where he abode (που μενειpou menei). Indirect question preserving the present active indicative after secondary tense (ειδανeidan saw) according to regular Greek idiom. Same verb μενωmenō as in John 1:38.

With him
(παρ αυτωιpar' autōi). “By his side,” “beside him.”

That day
(την ημεραν εκεινηνtēn hēmeran ekeinēn). Accusative of extent of time, all during that day.

About the tenth hour
(ωρα ως δεκατηhōra hōs dekatē). Roman time and so ten o‘clock in the morning. John in Ephesus at the close of the century naturally uses Roman time. See John 20:19 “evening on that day,” clearly Roman time. Thus also John 19:14 (sixth hour, morning) and Mark 15:25 (third hour, nine a.m.) suit. To his latest day John never forgot the hour when first he met Jesus.


Verse 40

Andrew (ΑνδρεαςAndreas). Explained by John as one of the two disciples of the Baptist and identified as the brother of the famous Simon Peter (cf. also John 6:8; John 12:22). The more formal call of Andrew and Simon, James and John, comes later (Mark 1:16.; Matthew 4:18.; Luke 3:1-11).

That heard John speak (των ακουσαντων παρα Ιωανουtōn akousantōn para Iōanou). “That heard from John,” a classical idiom (παραpara with ablative after ακουωakouō) seen also in John 6:45; John 7:51; John 8:26, John 8:40; John 15:15.


Verse 41

He findeth first (ευρισκει ουτος πρωτονheuriskei houtos prōton). “This one finds (vivid dramatic present) first” (προτωνprotōn). ΠροτωνProtōn (adverb supported by Aleph A B fam. 13) means that Andrew sought “his own brother Simon” (τον αδελπον τον ιδιον Σιμωναton adelphon ton idion Simōna) before he did anything else. But Aleph L W read πρωτοςprōtos (nominative adjective) which means that Andrew was the first who went after his brother implying that John also went after his brother James. Some old Latin manuscripts (b, e, r apparently), have μανεmane for Greek πρωιprōi (early in the morning). Bernard thinks that this is the true reading as it allows more time for Andrew to bring Simon to Jesus. Probably πρωτονprōton is correct, but even so John likely brought also his brother James after Andrew‘s example.

We have found the Messiah (ευρηκαμεν τον ΜεσσιανHeurēkamen ton Messian). First aorist active indicative of ευρισκωheuriskō Andrew and John had made the greatest discovery of the ages, far beyond gold or diamond mines. The Baptist had told about him. “We have seen him.”

Which is
(ο εστινho estin). Same explanatory neuter relative as in John 1:38, “which word is.” This Aramaic title Messiah is preserved in the N.T. only here and John 4:25, elsewhere translated into ΧριστοςChristos Anointed One, from χριωchriō to anoint. See note on Matthew 1:1 for discussion.


Verse 42

Looked upon him (εμβλεπσας αυτωιemblepsas autōi). See John 1:36 for same word and form of John‘s eager gaze at Jesus. Luke uses this word of Jesus when Peter denied him (Luke 22:61).

He brought him (ηγαγεν αυτονēgagen auton). Effective second aorist active indicative of αγοago as if Andrew had to overcome some resistance on Simon‘s part.

Thou shalt be called Cephas
(συ κλητησηι Κηπαςsu klēthēsēi Kēphās). Apparently before Simon spoke. We do not know whether Jesus had seen Simon before or not, but he at once gives him a nickname that will characterize him some day, though not yet, when he makes the noble confession (Matthew 16:17.), and Jesus will say, “Thou art Peter.” Here the future passive indicative of καλεωkaleō is only prophecy. The Aramaic ΧηπαςCēphās (rock) is only applied to Simon in John except by Paul (1 Corinthians 1:12; Galatians 1:18, etc.). But the Greek ΠετροςPetros is used by all. In the ancient Greek πετραpetra was used for the massive ledge of rock like Stone Mountain while πετροςpetros was a detached fragment of the ledge, though itself large. This distinction may exist in Matthew 16:17., except that Jesus probably used Aramaic which would not have such a distinction.


Verse 43

On the morrow (τηι επαυριονtēi epaurion). The fourth of the days from John 1:19.

He findeth Philip (ευρισκει Πιλιππονheuriskei Philippon). Vivid dramatic present as in John 1:41, though ητελησενēthelēsen (was minded, wished) is aorist active indicative. Apparently not an accidental finding, possibly due to the efforts of Andrew and Peter. Both Andrew and Philip have Greek names.

Follow me
(ακολουτει μοιakolouthei moi). Present active imperative, a direct challenge to Philip. Often Jesus uses this verb to win disciples (Mark 2:14; Matthew 8:22; Matthew 9:21; Matthew 19:21; Luke 9:59; John 21:19). Already Jesus had four personal followers (Andrew and Simon, John and James). He has begun his work.


Verse 44

From Bethsaida (απο ητσαιδαapo Bēthsaida). Same expression in John 12:21 with the added words “of Galilee,” which locates it in Galilee, not in Iturea. There were two Bethsaidas, one called Bethsaida Julias in Iturea (that in Luke 9:10) or the Eastern Bethsaida, the other the Western Bethsaida in Galilee (Mark 6:45), perhaps somewhere near Capernaum. This is the town of Andrew and Peter and Philip. Hence Philip would be inclined to follow the example of his townsmen.


Verse 45

Philip findeth (ευρισκει Πιλιπποςheuriskei Philippos). Dramatic present again. Philip carries on the work. One wins one. If that glorious beginning had only kept on! Now it takes a hundred to win one.

Nathaniel (τον Ναταναηλton Nathanaēl). It is a Hebrew name meaning “God has given” like the Greek ΤεοδορεTheodore (Gift of God). He was from Cana of Galilee (John 21:2), not far from Bethsaida and so known to Philip. His name does not occur in the Synoptics while Bartholomew (a patronymic, ευρηκαμενBar Tholmai) does not appear in John. They are almost certainly two names of the same man. Philip uses Μεσσιανheurēkamen (John 1:41) also to Nathanael and so unites himself with the circle of believers, but instead of ονMessian describes him “of whom (εγραπσενhon accusative with Ιησουν υιον του Ιωσηπ τον απο Ναζαρετegrapsen) Moses in the law (Deuteronomy 18:15) and the prophets (so the whole O.T. as in Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44) did write.”

Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph
(Iēsoun huion tou Iōsēph ton apo Nazaret). More exactly, “Jesus, son of Joseph, the one from Nazareth.” Jesus passed as son (no article in the Greek) of Joseph, though John has just described him as “God-only Begotten” in John 1:18, but certainly Philip could not know this. Bernard terms this part “the irony of St. John” for he is sure that his readers will agree with him as to the real deity of Jesus Christ. These details were probably meant to interest Nathanael.


Verse 46

Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? (Εκ Ναζαρετ δυναται τι αγατον ειναιEk Nazaret dunatai ti agathon einai). Literally, “Out of Nazareth can anything good be.” There is a tinge of scorn in the question as if Nazareth (note position at beginning of sentence) had a bad name. Town rivalry may account to some extent for it since Cana (home of Nathanael) was near Nazareth. Clearly he had never heard of Jesus. The best thing in all the world came out of Nazareth, but Philip does not argue the point. A saying had arisen that no prophet comes out of Galilee (John 7:52), untrue like many such sayings.

Come and see (ερχου και ιδεerchou kai ide). Present middle imperative (come on) and second active imperative (and see at once). Philip followed the method of Jesus with Andrew and John (John 1:39), probably without knowing it. Wise is the one who knows how to deal with the sceptic.


Verse 47

Behold (ιδεide). Here an exclamation (see John 1:29) as often like ιδουidou

An Israelite indeed (αλητως Ισραηλειτηςalēthōs Israēleitēs). “Truly an Israelite,” one living up to the covenant name, Israel at its best (Romans 2:29), without the guile (δολοςdolos deceit, bait for fish, from δελεαζωdeleazō to catch with bait) that Jacob once had of which Isaac complained (Genesis 27:35, δολοςdolos here in lxx). The servant of Jehovah was to be without guile (Isaiah 53:9).


Verse 48

Whence knowest thou me? (Ποτεν με γινωσκεισPothen me ginōskeis). Nathanael is astonished at this tribute, at any knowledge about himself by Jesus. He had overheard Christ‘s comment and longed to know its source.

Before Philip called thee (Προ του σε Πιλιππον πωνησαιPro tou se Philippon phōnēsai). Idiomatic Greek, προpro and the ablative case of the articular aorist active infinitive (του πωνησαιtou phōnēsai from πωνεωphōneō to call) with σεse as the object and ΠιλιππονPhilippon the accusative of general reference, “before the calling thee as to Philip.”

When thou wast under the fig tree
(οντα υπο την συκηνonta hupo tēn sukēn). “Being under the fig tree,” accusative present participle agreeing with σεse The fig tree was a familiar object in Palestine, probably in leaf at this time, the accusative with υποhupo may suggest that Nathanael had withdrawn there for prayer. Note genitive with υποκατωhupokatō in John 1:50. Jesus saw Nathanael‘s heart as well as his mere presence there. He saw him in his worship and so knew him.


Verse 49

Thou art the Son of God (συ ει ο υιος του τεουsu ei ho huios tou theou). Whether Nathanael had heard the Baptist say this of Jesus (John 1:34) we do not know, apparently not, but Nathanael was a student of the Old Testament as Philip implied (John 1:45) and was quick to put together his knowledge, the statement of Philip, and the manifest supernatural knowledge of Jesus as just shown. There is no reason for toning down the noble confession of Nathanael in the light of Christ‘s claim in John 1:51. Cf. the confession of Peter in John 6:69; Matthew 16:16 and Martha‘s in John 11:27. Nathanael goes further.

Thou art King of Israel (ασιλευς ει του ΙσραηλBasileus ei tou Israēl). To us this seems an anti-climax, but not so to Nathanael for both are Messianic titles in Psalm 2:1-12 and Jesus is greeted in the Triumphal Entry as the King of Israel (John 12:13).


Verse 50

Answered and said (απεκριτη και ειπενapekrithē kai eipen). This redundant use of both verbs (cf. John 1:26) occurs in the Synoptics also and in the lxx also. It is Aramaic also and vernacular. It is not proof of an Aramaic original as Burney argues (Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 53).

Because (οτιhoti). Causal use of οτιhoti at beginning of the sentence as in John 14:19; John 15:19; John 16:6. The second οτιhoti before ειδονeidon (I saw) is either declarative (that) or merely recitative (either makes sense here).

Thou shalt see greater things than these
(μειζω τουτων οπσηιmeizō toutōn opsēi). Perhaps volitive future middle indicative of οραωhoraō (though merely futuristic is possible as with οπσεστεopsesthe in John 1:51) ablative case of τουτωνtoutōn after the comparative adjective μειζωmeizō The wonder of Nathanael no doubt grew as Jesus went on.


Verse 51

Verily, Verily (Αμην αμηνAmēn class="normal greek">λεγω υμιν — amēn). Hebrew word transliterated into Greek and then into English, our “amen.” John always repeats it, not singly as in the Synoptics, and only in the words of Jesus, an illustration of Christ‘s authoritative manner of speaking as shown also by υμινlegō humin (I say unto you). Note plural αυτωιhumin though τον ουρανον ανεωιγοταautōi just before is singular (to him). Jesus addresses thus others besides Nathanael.

The heaven opened (ανοιγωton ouranon aneōigota). Second perfect active participle of επι τον υιον του αντρωπουanoigō with double reduplication, standing open. The words remind one of what took place at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16; Luke 3:21), but the immediate reference is to the opened heaven as the symbol of free intercourse between God and man (Isaiah 64:1) and as it was later illustrated in the death of Stephen (Acts 7:56). There is a quotation from Genesis 28:12., Jacob‘s vision at Bethel. That was a dream to Jacob, but Christ is himself the bond of fellowship between heaven and earth, between God and man, for Jesus is both “the Son of God” as Nathanael said and “the Son of Man” (epi ton huion tou anthrōpou) as Jesus here calls himself. God and man meet in Christ. He is the true Jacob‘s Ladder. “I am the Way,” Jesus will say. He is more than King of Israel, he is the Son of Man (the race). So quickly has this Gospel brought out in the witness of the Baptist, the faith of the first disciples, the claims of Jesus Christ, the fully developed picture of the Logos who is both God and man, moving among men and winning them to his service. At the close of the ministry Christ will tell Caiaphas that he will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:62). Here at the start Jesus is conscious of the final culmination and in apocalyptic eschatological language that we do not fully understand he sets forth the dignity and majesty of his Person.

 


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 1:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-1.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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