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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
John 1

 

 

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Verse 1

Observe here, 1. The person spoken of, Jesus Christ, under the name of the Word. In the beginning was the Word. Because God spake to us by him, and makes known his will to us by Christ, as we make known our minds to one another by our words.

Again; As our words are the conception and image of our minds, so Christ is the express Image of his Father's person, and was begotten of the Father, even as our words are begotten of our minds: for these reasons he is often styled the Word.

Observe, 2. What the evangelist here asserts concerning the Word, Christ Jesus, even three particulars; namely, his eternal existence, his personal co-existence, and his divine essence.

1. His eternal existence; In the beginning was the Word; in the beginning, when all things received their being, then the Word was, and did actually subsist, even from all eternity. Not in the beginning of the gospel-state, but in the beginning of creation, as appears from the following words, All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. Which plainly shows that the evangelist is here speaking of the creation, rise, or beginning of all things created.

Learn hence, That Jesus Christ, not only antecedent to his incarnation, but even before all time, and the beginning of all things, had an actual being and existence.

2. His personal co-existence with the Father, The word was with God: that is, eternally and inseparably with him, in the same essence and nature, being in the Father, as well as with him, so that the Father never was without him, I was by him as one brought up with him. Proverbs 8:22 I was by his side, says the Chaldee interpreter.

Learn hence, That the Son is a Person distinct from the Father, but of the same essence and nature with the Father; he is God of God, very God of very God; being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made: The Word was with God.

3. His divine essence. The Word was God. Here St. John declares the divinity, as he did before the eternity, of our blessed Saviour. He was with God, and existed in him; therefore he must be God, and a Person distinct from the Father. The Word was God, say the Socinians, that is, a god by office, not by nature, as being God's ambassador. But the word God is used eleven times in this chapter in its proper sense; and it is not reasonable to conceive that it should be here used in an improper sense, in which this word in the singular number is never used throughout the whole New Testament: Dr. Whitby.

Learn hence, That eternity, the personality, and the divinty of Christ, are of necessity to be believed, if we will worship him aright. Christ tells us, that we must worship the Son even as we worship the Father. John 5:23

Now unless we acknowledge the eternity and divinity of Christ, the second Person, as well as of God the Father, the first Person, we honour neither the Father nor the Son. There is a difference between natural things and supernatural: Natural things are first understood, and then believed; but supernatural mysteries must be first believed, and then will be better understood. If we will first set reason on work, and believe no more than we can comprehend, this will hinder faith: but if after we have assented to gospel mysteries, we set reason on work, this will help faith.


Verse 3

Observe here, The argument which St. John uses to prove Christ to be God; it is taken from the work of creation. He that made all things, is truly and really God; but Christ made all things, and nothing was made without him; therefore is Christ truly and really God.

Here observe, 1. An affirmation of as large and vast an extent as the whole world. All things were made by him; not this or that particular being, but all created beings received their existence and being from Christ.

Observe, 2. That to prevent the least imagination of any thing's having another author than Christ, here is the most positive and particular negation that can be: that without him was not any thing made that was made; not without him as an instrument, but without him as an agent, Christ being a co-worker with the Father and the Spirit in the work of creation. He was an Author of the creation, not an instrument in creating.

Learn thence, that Christ, as God, being the Creator and Maker of all things himself, is excluded from being a creature, or any thing that was made.


Verse 4

Here we have a farther proof of Christ's divinity, and an evidence that he had a being as God, before his incarnation: forasmuch as life is centered in him, communicated by him, and derived from him. In him was life, formaliter et causaliter. Life was formally in Christ, as the subject of it; and also casually in him as the fountain of it.

Learn, 1. That Christ is Author and Dispenser of all life unto his creatures. He is the original life in the order of nature, because by him man was created, Genesis 1:26 He is spiritual life in the order of grace, I am the way, the truth, and the life. John 14:6 He is eternal life in the order of glory, This is the true God, and eternal life. 1 John 5:20

Learn, 2. That all creatures receiving light and life from Christ, not as an instrument, but as the fountain from whence it floweth, and in which it is preserved, is an evident proof of his divintiy, and an argument that he is truly and really God. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.


Verse 6

Here the evangelist proceeds in declaring Christ to be really God, because he was that original, that essential light, which had no beginning, suffers no decay, but is so diffusive, and in some kind and in some measure or other, to enlighten every man that cometh into the world. Some of the Jews had a conceit, that John the Baptist was the promised Messiah, as appears by Luke 3:15 The people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John whether he were the Christ or not.

Here therefore, to undeceive the Jews, the evangelist adds, that John was not that light; John was a great light, a burning and a shining light, but not such a light as the Messias was to be.

John was a light instrumentally, Christ efficiently,

John was a light enlightened, Christ was a light enlightening;

John's light was by derivation and particiapation, Christ's was essential and original;

John's light was the light of a candle in a private house, in and among the Jews only: but Christ's light was as the light of the sun, spreading over the face of the whole earth.

This is the true light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world; that is, he enlightens all mankind with the light of reason, and is the Author of all spiritual illumination in them that receive it. Christ is called a light in regard of his office, which was to manifest and declare that salvation to his church which lay hid before in the purpose of God; and he is called the true light, not so much in opposition to all false light, but as opposed to the types and shadows of the Mosaical dispensation.

Learn, 1. That every man and woman that comes into the world is enlightened by Christ in some kind and measure or other. All are enlightened with the light of reason and natural conscience: some with the light of grace and supernatural illumination.

Learn, 5. That Christ being the essential, original, and eternal Light, enlightening and enlivening the whole creation, is an evident and undeniable demonstration that he is truly and really God.


Verse 10

He was in the world, that is, he that was God from eternity, made himself visible to the world in the fulness of time. The evangelist repeats it again, that the world was made by him, to show his omnipotency and divinity; and then adds, that the world knew him not, as an evidence of the world's blindness and ingratitude.

Learn hence, That notwithstanding the eternal Son of God appeared in the world, and the world was made and created by him, yet the generality of the world did not know him;. that is, did not own and acknowledge him, did not receive and obey him. They neither knew him as creator, nor accepted of him as mediator. Yea, he came to his own; that is, his own kindred and country, the church and people of the Jews; but the generality of them gave him cold entertainment. It was the sin of the Jewish nation, that though they were Christ's own peculiar people, his own by choice, his own by purchase, his own by covenant, by kindred, yet the generality of them did reject him, and would not own him for the true and promised Messias.

Learn hence, That the Lord Jesus Christ met with manifest and shameful rejection even at the hands of those that were nearest to him by flesh and nature, Neither did his brethren believe on him. John 11:1-45.


Verse 12

That is, although multitudes reject him, yet some received and owned him for the true Messias; and those that did so, he advanced to the high dignity of adoption and sonship, giving them power, that is, right or privilege, to become the sons of God.

Here note, 1. The nature of justifying faith declared, As many as received him.

Now this receiving of Christ implies these three things,

1. The assent of the understanding to that divine testimony which the scripture gives of Christ.

2. The consent of the will to submit to this Jesus as Lord and King.

3. The affiance and trust of the heart in Christ alone for salvation; for faith is not a bare credence, but a divine affiance, and such an affiance in Christ, and reliance upon him, as is the parent and principle of obedience to him.

Note, 2. That it is the high and honourable privilege of all such as receive Christ by faith, to become the sons of God by adoption. This is a precious privilege, a free privilege, and honourable privilege, an abiding privilege, and calls for all possible returns of gratitiude and thankfulness, of love and service, of duty and obedience, of submission and self resignation.


Verse 13

Because the bragging Jews did much boast of their natural birth and descent from Abraham, as being his blood and offspring, therefore it is here asserted, that men become not the children of God by natural propagation, but by spiritual regeneration: They are not born of blood. Grace runs not in the blood, piety is not hereditary. Religious parents propagate corruption, not regeneration. Were the conveyances of grace natural, good parents would not be so ill-suited with children as sometimes they are. No person then whatsoever has the gracious privilege of adoption by the first birth. They are not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man; that is, no man by the utmost improvement of nature can raise himself up to this privilege of adoption, and be the author and efficient cause of his own regeneration.

Learn hence, That man in all his capacities is too weak to produce the work of regeneration in himself. They, says Dr. Hammond, who by the influence of the highest rational principles, live most exactly according to the rule of rational nature, that is, of unregenerated morality, are the persons here described.

Learn, 2. That God alone is the prime efficient Cause of regeneration. He works upon the understanding by illumination, and upon the will by sanctification; Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.


Verse 14

The evangelist having asserted the divinity of Christ in the foregoing verses, comes now to speak of his humanity and manifestation in our nature: The word was made flesh.

Where note, 1. Our Saviour's incarnation for us.

2. His life and conversation here among us. He dwelt or tabernacled for a season with us. In the incarnation or assumption of our nature,

Observe, 1. The person assuming, The Word, that is, the second person subsisting in the glorious Godhead.

Observe, 2. The nature assumed, flesh; that is, the human nature, consisting of soul and body.

But why is it not said, The Word was made man? but, The Word was made flesh.

Ans. To denote and set forth the wonderful abasement and condescension of Christ; there being more of vileness and weakness, and opposition to spirit, in the word flesh, than in the word man.

Christ's taking flesh implies, that he did not only take upon him the human nature, but all the weaknesses and infirmities of that nature also, (sinful infirmities and personal infirmities excepted,) he had nothing to do with our sinful flesh. Though Christ loved souls with an infinite and insuperable love, yet he would not sin to save a soul. And he took no personal infirmities upon him, but such as are common to the whole nature, as hunger, thirst, weariness.

Observe, 3. The assummption itself, He was made flesh; that is, he assumed the human nature into an union with his Godhead, and so became a true and real man by that assumption.

Learn hence, That Jesus Christ did really assume the true and perfect nature of man, into a personal union with his divine nature, and still remains true God, and true Man, in one person, for ever.

O blessed union! O thrice happy conjunction! As Man, Christ had an experimental sense of our infirmities and wants; as God, he can support and supply them all.

Note farther, 2. As our Saviour's incarnation for us, so his life and conversation among us; He dwelt, or tabernacled amongst us. The tabernacle was a type of Christ's human nature.

1. As the outside of the tabernacle was mean, made of ordinary materials, but its inside glorious; so was the Son of God.

2. God's special presence was in the tabernacle; there he dwelt, for he had a delight therein. In like manner dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily in Christ; and the glory of his divinity shined forth to the eye and view of his disiples; for they beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father; that is, whilst Christ appeared as a man amongst us, he gave great and glorious testimonies of his being the Son of God.

Learn hence, That in the day of our Saviour's incarnation, the divinity of his person did shine forth through the veil of his flesh, and was seen by all them that had spiritual eye to behold it, and a mind disposed to consider it. We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.


Verse 15

Here we have John Baptist's first testimony concerning Christ the promised Messiah: and it consists of four parts.

1. John prefers Christ before himself, as being surpassingly above himself. He that cometh after me is preferred before me, that is, in the dignity of his person, and in the eminency of his office, as being the eternal God. Now amongst them that were born of women, there was not a greater than John the Baptist; if Christ then was greater than John, it was in regard of his being God. He is therefore preferred before him, because he was before him, as being God from all eternity.

Learn hence, That the dignity and eternity of Christ;s person as God, sets him up above all his ministers; yea, above all creatures, how excellent soever. He that cometh after me in time, is preferred before me in dignity; for he was before me, even from all eternity.

2. John prefers Christ before all believers, in point of fulness and sufficiency of divine grace: Of his fulness do they receive. They have their failings, Christ has his fulness; theirs is the fulness of a vessel, his is the fulness of a fountain: their fulness is derivative, his fulness is original, yet also ministerial, on purpose in him to give out to us, that we may receive grace for grace; that is, grace answerable for kind and quality, though not for measure and degree. As a child in generation receives from its parent member for member, or as the paper in the printing-press receives letter for letter, and the wax under the seal receives print for print; so in the work of regeneration, whatever grace is in Christ, there is the like for kind stamped upon the Christian;s soul. All the members of Christ being made plentiful partakers of his spiritual endowments.

Learn hence, That all fulness of grace, by way of supply for believers, is treasured up in Christ, and communicated by him, as their wants and necessities do require: his fulness is inexhaustible, it can never be drawn low, much less drawn dry: Of his fulness do we receive grace for grace: that is, grace freely, grace plentifully; God grant that none of us may receive the grace of Christ in vain.

John prefers Christ before Moses, whom the Jews doted so much upon. The law was given by Moses, not as the author, but as the dispenser of it. Moses was God's minister, by whom the law which reveals wrath, was given to the Jews; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Grace, in opposition to the condemnatory curse and sentence of the law; and truth, in opposition to the types, shadows, and ceremonies of the legal administration.

Learn hence, That all grace for the remission of sin, and for performace of duty, is given from Christ, the Fountain of grace: Grace came by Jesus Christ. The grace of pardon and reconciliation; the grace of holiness and sanctification; the grace of love and adoption; even all that grace that fits us for service here, and glory hereafter. Christ is both the Dispenser and the Author of it. Grace came by Jesus Christ.

Again, 4. John the Baptist here John 1:18 doth not only prefer Christ before himself, before Moses, before all believers, but even before all persons whatsoever, in point of knowing and revealing the mind of God. No man hath seen God at any time; that is, no mere man hath ever seen God in his essence, whilst he was in this mortal state. Here God's invisibility is asserted: next Christ's intimacy with the Father, is declared.

The only-begotten Son, that is in the bosom of the Father. This expression implies three things.

1. Unity of natures; the bosom is the child's place, who is part of ourselves.

2. Dearness of affection. None lie in the bosom, but the person that is dear to us. A bosom friend is the dearest of friends.

3. It implies communication of secrets. Christ's lying in his Father's bosom intimates his being conscious to all his Father's secrets, to know all his counsels, and to understand his whole will and pleasure.

Now as Christ's lying in his Father's bosom implies unity of nature, it teaches us to give the same worship to Christ which we give to God the Father, because he is of the same nature with the Father. As it implies dearness of affection betwixt the Father and the Son, it teaches us to place our chief love upon Christ the Son, because God the Father doth so: he, who is the Son of God's love, should be the object of our love; as God hath an bosom for Christ, so should we have also; the noblest object challenges the highest affection.

Again, as Christ's lying in the Father's bosom implies the knowlege of his mind and will, it teaches us to apply ourselves to Christ, to his word and Spirit, for illumination. Whither should we go for instruction, but to this great Prophet; for direction, but to this wonderful Counselor: We can never be made wise unto salvation, if Christ, the wisdom of the Father, doth not make us so.


Verse 19

In these verses we have a second testimony which John the Baptist gave of our Saviour Jesus Christ. The Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem, saying, Who art thou? That is, the Sanhedrin, or great council at Jerusalem, to whom it belonged to judge who were true prophets, sent messengers to the Baptist to know, Whether he was the Messiah or not? John refuses to take this honour to himself, but tells them plainly, he was his harbinger and forerunner, and that the Messias himself was just at hand.

From hence note, How very cautious, and exceeding careful, this messenger of Christ was, and all the ministers of Christ ought to be, that they do not assume or arrogate to themselves any part of that honour which is due to Christ; but set the crown of praise upon Christ's own head, acknowledging him to be all in all. 1 Corinthians 3:5 Who is Paul? and who is Apollos? but ministers by whom ye believed?

Observe farther, In this testimony of John the Baptist, these two things:

1. A negative declaration, who he was not; I am not, says he, the Messiah whom ye look for, nor Elias, nor that prophet you expect: not Elias, that is, in your sense, not Elias the Tishbite; not Elias for identity of person, but Elias for similtude of gifts, office, and calling. John came, though not in the person, yet in the power and spirit, of Elias. He denies farther, that he was that prophet: that prophet which Moses spake of, Deuteronomy 18:15 nor any of the old prophets risen from the dead; nay, strictly speaking, he was not any prophet at all; but more than a prophet: The Old Testament prophets prophesied of Christ to come; but John pointed at, showed, and declared a Christ already come; and in this sense he was no mere prophet, but more than a prophet.

2. We have here the Baptist's positive affirmation who he was; namely, Christ's herald in the wilderness, his usher, his forerunner to prepare the people for receiving of the Messias, and to make them ready for the entertaining of the gospel, by preaching the doctrine of repentance to them.

From hence learn, That the preaching of the doctrine of repentance is indispensably necessary, in order to the preparing of the hearts of sinners for the receiving of Jesus Christ.

Observe lastly, The great and exemplary humility of the holy Baptist, the mean and lowly opinion he had of himself. Although John was the greatest among them that were born of a woman, and so much esteemed by the Jews, and had the honour to go before Christ in the exercise of his office and ministry; yet he judges himself unworthy to carry Christ's shoes after him: He that cometh after me is preferred before me, whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose.

Learn hence, That the more eminent gifts the ministers of the gospel have, and the more ready men are to honour and esteem them, the more they will abase themselves, if they be truly gracious, and account themselves highly honoured in doing the meanest offices of love and service for Jesus Christ. Thus doth the holy Baptist here: His shoes' latchet I am not worthy to unloose.


Verse 29

This is John the Baptist's third testimony concerning Christ; in which he points out Christ as the true Sacrifice for the expiation of sin. Behold the lamb of God: the Lamb of God's appointing, to be an expiatory sacrifice; the Lamb of God's election; the Lamb of God's affection; the Lamb of God's acceptation; the Lamb of God's exaltation; who, by the sacrifice of his death, has taken away the sin of the world.

The sin, not sins, (in the plural number,) to denote original sin, as some think; or, as others, to show, that Christ hath universally taken upon himself the whole burden of our sin and guilt. And there seems to be a secret antithesis in the word world. In the Levitical sacrifices, only the sins of the Jews were laid upon the sacrificed beast; but this Lamb takes away the sin both of the Jew and the Gentile. The Lord has caused to meet on him the iniquity of us all.

And the word, taketh away, being in the present tense, denotes a continued act, and it intimates to us thus much, viz. That it is the daily office of Christ to take away our sin, by presenting to the Father the memorials of his death. Christ takes away from all believers the guilt and punishment of their sins, the filth and pollution of them, the power and dominion that is in them: as St. John called upon the Jews, to behold this Lamb of God with an eye of observation; so it is our duty to behold him now with an eye of admiration; with an eye of gratulation; but especially with an eye of faith and dependence, improving the fruit of his death to our own consolation and salvation, Look unto me, and be saved. Isaiah 14:22.


Verse 31

Observe here, 1. That though John the Baptist was a near kinsman of Christ, according to the flesh, yet the providence of God so ordered it, that for thirty years together they did not know one another, nor converse with each other, nor probably ever saw the faces of each other; to be sure, he did not know him to be the Messiah. This, no doubt, was overruled by the wisdom of God to prevent all suspicion, as if John and Christ had compacted together to give one another credit; that the world mnight suspect nothing of the truth of John's testimony concerning Christ, or have the least jealousy that what he said of Christ was from any bias of mind to his person, therefore he repeats it a second time, I knew him not. John 1:31; John 1:33.

Hence we may learn, That a corporal sight of Christ, and an outward personal acquaintance with him is not simply needful, and absolutely necessary, for enabling a minister to set him forth, and represent him savingly to the world.

Observe, 2. The means declared by which John came to know Christ to be the true Messiah; it was by a sign from heaven, namely, The Holy Ghost descending like a dove upon our Saviour: He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining, the same is he.

Learn hence, 1. that Christ taking upon him our nature, did so cover his glory with the veil of our flesh and common infirmities, that he could not be known by bodily sight from another man. Till John had a divine revelation, and an evident sign from heaven, that Christ was the Son of God, he knew him not.

Learn, 2. That Christ in his solemn entry upon his office, as Mediator, was sealed unto the work by the descending of the Holy Ghost upon him; he was sealed by the Holy Ghost's descending, and the Father's testifying, that this was his beloved Son, in whom he was well pleased. Now it was, that God gave not of the Spirit to Christ by measure, for the effectual administration of his mediatorial office; now it pleased the Father, that in Christ should all fulness dwell. He was filled extensively with all kinds of grace, and filled intensively with all degrees of grace, in the day of his inauguration, when the Holy Spirit descended upon him.


Verse 35

It is evident that John's disciples were never very willing to acknowledge Jesus for the Messias, because they thought he did shadow and cloud their Master. See therefore the sincerity of the holy Baptist; he takes every opportunity to draw off the eyes of his disciples from himself, and fix them upon Christ; he saith to two of his disciples, Behold the Lamb of God; as if he had said, "Turn your eyes from me to Christ, take less notice of me his minister; but behold your and my Lord and Master, Behold the Lamb of God."

Learn hence, That the great design of Christ's faithful ministers, is to set people upon admiring of Christ, and not magnifying themselves. Oh! 'tis their great ambition and desire, that such as love and respect them, and honour their ministry, may be led by them to Christ; to behold and admire him, to accept of him, and to submit unto him: John said to his disciples, Behold the Lamb of God.


Verse 37

This latter part of the chapter acquaints us with the calling of five disciples; not to the apostleship, for that was afterwards; nor yet simply by conversion, for some of them were John's disciples already, and believed in the Messiah to come; but they are here called to own and acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the true and promsied Messiah.

The disciples here called were Andrew, Peter, and Philip, mean and obscure persons, poor fishermen, not any of the learned rabbies and doctors among the Jews. Hereby Christ showed at once the freeness of his grace, in passing by the knowing men of the age; the greatness of his power, who by such weak instruments could effect such mighty things; and the glory of his wisdom, in choosing such instruments as should not carry away the glory of the work from him; but cause the entire honour and glory of all their great successes to redound to Christ. As Christ can do, so he chooses to do, great things by weak means, knowing the weakness of the instrument redounds to the greater honour of the ages; for these persons now called to be disciples, were afterwards sent forth by Christ as his apostles, to convert the world to Christianity.

Observe farther, The order according to which the disciples were called: first, Andrew, then Peter; (which may make the church of Rome ashamed of the weakness of their argument for Peter's supremacy, that he was first called; whereas Andrew was before him, and Peter was brought to Jesus by him.) Andrew findeth his own brother Simon, and brought him to Jesus. Such as have gotten any knowledge of Christ themselves, and are let into acquaintance with him, will be very diligent to invite and industrious to bring in, others to him. Peter being brought to Christ, our Saviour names him Cephas, which signifies a stone, a rock; to intimate to him his duty to be firm and steady in the Christian profession, full of courage and constancy. Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.


Verse 45

The last person mentioned in this chapter, who was called to own and embrace Christ for the Messiah, is Nathanael: who this Nathanael was, doth not certainly appear; but it is evident, he was a sincere, good man, though prejudiced for the present against Christ, because of the place of his supposed birth and residence, Nazareth: Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? That is, can any worthy or excellent person, much less the promsied and long-expected Messias, come out of such an obscure place as Nazareth is? Whereas Almighty God, whenever he pleases, can raise worthy persons out of contemptible places.

Observe farther, How mercifully and meekly Christ passes over the mistakes and failings, the prepossessions and prejudices, of Nathanael; but takes notice of and publicly proclaims his sincerity: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile! that is, no guile imputed, no guile concealed, no prevailing guile. It being only true of Christ, in a strict and absolute sense, that there was no guile found in his lips; but, in a qualified sense, it is true of Nathanael, and every upright man: they are true Israelites, like their father Jacob, plain men; men of great sincerity and uprightness of heart, both in the sight of God and man. And whereas our Saviour speaks of him with a sort of admiration, Behold an Israelite in whom is no guile!

We learn, That a person of great sincerity and uprightness of heart towards God and man, a true Nathanael, an Israelite indeed, is a rare and worthy sight, Behold an Israelite indeed!

Learn, 2. That such indeed as are Nathanaels, need not commend themselves; Christ will be sure to do it for them. Nathanael conceals his own worth: Christ publishes and proclaims it, and calls upon others to take notice of it. Behold, &c.


Verse 48

Observe here, How Nathanael wondereth that Christ should know him, having (as he thought) never seen him. Christ gives him to understand, that by his all-seeing eye he had seen him, when he was not seen by him: When thou was under the fig-tree I saw thee. Christ's all-seeing eye is an infallible proof of his deity and god-head. Christ seeth us whatever we do, though we see not him. He seeth the sincerity of our hearts, and will own it, and bear witness to it, if we are upright in his sight.

Observe farther, How Christ's omnipresence and omniscience convinces Nathanael that he was more than man, even the Messias, God and man in two distinct natures and one person. Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God. Philip called Christ the Son of Joseph; Nathanael calls him the Son of God. Such as believe Christ's omniscience, will never call in question his divinity.

Observe lastly, How Christ encourages the faith of this new disciple Nathanael, by promising him that he shall enjoy farther helps and means for the confirmation of his faith, than ever yet he had. All that Christ said to him, was only this, that he saw him under the fig-tree, before Philip called him.

How ready art thou, O Lord! to encourage the beginnings of faith in the hearts of thy people, and to furnish them with farther means of knowledge, when they wisely improve what they have received! Never wilt thou be wanting, either in means or mercy to us, if we be not wanting to thee and ourselves.


Verse 51

The heavens were open to Christ, and the angels attended upon him, first at his baptism, Matthew 3:13-17 then at his ascension, Acts 1:9 Whether Christ alludes to the one or the other, or to both, I shall not positively say; but gather this note, That the ministry and attendance of the holy angels upon the Lord Jesus Christ, in the time of his humiliation, was very remarkable:

An angel foretells his conception to the Virgin, Luke 1-24; Luke 24:31.

An angel publishes his birth to the shepherds, Luke 2:14.

In his temptations in the wilderness, the angels came and ministered unto him, Matthew 4:11.

In his agony in the garden, an angel is sent to comfort him, Luke 22:42-43.

At his resurrection an angel rolls away the stone, and proclaims him risen to the women that sought for him, Matthew 28:6.

At his ascension, the angels attended upon him, and bare him company to heaven.

And at the day of judgment, he shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.

Now, thus officious are the holy angels to our blessed Saviour, and thus subservient to him upon all occasions.

1. In point of affection and singular love to Christ.

2. In point of duty and special obligation to Christ.

There is no such cheerful and delightful service, as the service of love. Such is the angel's service to Christ for the services he has done them, he being an Head of confirmation to them: For, that they are established in that holy and glorious state in which they were at first created, is owing to the special grace of the Redeemer: Glorify him then, all ye angels, and praise him all his host.

 


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Bibliography Information
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 1:4". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/john-1.html13. 1700-1703.

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Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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