Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 3:14

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Brazen Serpent;   Faith;   Immortality;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Life;   Salvation;   Symbols and Similitudes;   Types;   Scofield Reference Index - Inspiration;   Thompson Chain Reference - Believers;   Blindness-Vision;   Brazen Serpent;   Christ;   Deathless;   Divinity;   Divinity-Humanity;   Eternal;   Everlasting;   Foreknowledge;   God's;   Indispensable, Christ;   Life;   Life, Eternal;   Life-Death;   Only Saviour;   Promises, Divine;   Saviour, Christ Our;   Serpent, Brazen;   Sin-Saviour;   Sufferings of Christ;   Vision;   The Topic Concordance - Belief;   Eternal Life;   Jesus Christ;   Perishing;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Anger of God, the;   Death of Christ, the;   Salvation;   Serpents;   Types of Christ;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Brazen Serpent;   Nehushtan;   Nicodemus;   Serpents;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Cross;   Jesus christ;   John, gospel of;   Snake;   Son of god;   Son of man;   Teacher;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Disciple, Discipleship;   Fulfillment;   Numbers, Theology of;   Time;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Episcopacy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Brass;   Call;   Moses;   Nicodemus;   Pentateuch;   Serpent, Fiery;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Cross;   Jesus Christ;   Nail;   Nehushtan;   Sacrifice;   Serpent, Brazen;   Zechariah, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Atonement;   Bronze Serpent;   Cross, Crucifixion;   Fiery Serpent;   Fulfill;   Holy Spirit;   Hour;   Jesus, Life and Ministry of;   Lift;   Son of Man;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Atonement;   Faith;   Gospels;   John, Gospel of;   John, Theology of;   Law;   Logos;   Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Moses;   Mss;   Nicodemus;   Redeemer, Redemption;   Scribes;   Serpent, Brazen;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Announcements of Death;   Ascension;   Atonement (2);   Attributes of Christ;   Character;   Death of Christ;   Despondency;   Discourse;   Doctrines;   Foresight;   Holy Spirit;   Humanity of Christ;   Individuality;   Love (2);   Mediator;   Mental Characteristics;   Metaphors;   Ministry;   Mission;   Moses ;   Necessity;   Nicodemus;   Obedience (2);   Poison;   Power;   Property (2);   Quotations (2);   Reconciliation;   Redemption (2);   Regeneration (2);   Restitution;   Restoration;   Righteous, Righteousness;   Sacrifice;   Sacrifice (2);   Serpent;   Son of Man;   Teaching of Jesus;   Trinity (2);   Type;   Vicarious Sacrifice;   Wilderness (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Crucifixion;   Numbers, Book of;   Serpent of Brass;   Type;   36 Ought Must;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Nehushtan;   Regeneration;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Numbers book of;   Serpent;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Brass (brazen);   Christ;   Pole;   Serpent;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Brazen Serpent;   Calling;   Prophecy;   Serpent, Brazen;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - On to Canaan;   Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Christ, Offices of;   Justification;   Literature, Sub-Apostolic;   Logos;   Moses;   Nicodemus;   Papyrus;   Restoration;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Allegorical Interpretation;   Nicodemus;   Ophites;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for April 17;   Every Day Light - Devotion for December 4;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

As Moses lifted up - He shows the reason why he descended from heaven, that he might be lifted up, i.e. crucified, for the salvation of man. kind, and be, by the appointment of God, as certain a remedy for sinful souls as the brazen serpent elevated on a pole, Numbers 21:9, was for the bodies of the Israelites, which had been bitten by the fiery serpents in the wilderness. It does not appear to me that the brazen serpent was ever intended to be considered as a type of Christ. It is possible to draw likenesses and resemblances out of any thing; but, in such matters as these, we should take heed that we go no farther than we can say, Thus it is written. Among the Jews, the brazen serpent was considered a type of the resurrection - through it the dying lived; and so, by the voice of God, they that were dead shall be raised to life. As the serpent was raised up, so shall Christ be lifted up: as they who were stung by the fiery serpents were restored by looking up to the brazen serpent, so those who are infected with and dying through sin are healed and saved, by looking up to and believing in Christ crucified. These are all the analogies which we can legitimately trace between the lifting up of the brazen serpent, and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The lifting up of the Son of man may refer to his mediatorial office at the right hand of God. See the note on Numbers 21:9.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 3:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And as Moses - Jesus proceeds in this and the following verses to state the reason why he came into the world and, in order to this, he illustrates His design, and the efficacy of his coming, by a reference to the case of the brass serpent, recorded in Numbers 21:8-9. The people were bitten by flying fiery serpents. There was no cure for the bite. Moses was directed to make an image of the serpent, and place it in sight of the people, that they might look on it and be healed. There is no evidence that this was intended to be a type of the Messiah, but it is used by Jesus as strikingly illustrating his work. Men are sinners. There is no cure by human means for the maladies of the soul; and as the people who were bitten might look on the image of the serpent and be healed, so may sinners look to the Saviour and be cured of the moral maladies of our nature.

Lifted up - Erected on a pole. Placed on high, So that it might be seen by the people.

The serpent - The image of a serpent made of brass.

In the wilderness - Near the land of Edom. In the desert and desolate country to the south of Mount Hor, Numbers 21:4.

Even so - In a similar manner and with a similar design. He here refers, doubtless, to his own death. Compare John 12:32; John 8:28. The points of resemblance between his being lifted up and that of the brass serpent seem to be these:

1.In each case those who are to be benefited can he aided in no other way. The bite of the serpent was deadly, and could be healed only by looking on the brass serpent; and sin is deadly in its nature, and can be removed only by looking on the cross.

2.The mode of their being lifted up. The brass serpent was in the sight of the people. So Jesus was exalted from the earth raised on a tree or cross.

3.The design was similar. The one was to save the life, the other the soul; the one to save from temporal, the other from eternal death.

4.The manner of the cure was similar. The people of Israel were to look on the serpent and be healed, and so sinners are to look on the Lord Jesus that they may be saved.

Must - It is proper; necessary; indispensable, if men are saved. Compare Luke 24:26; Luke 22:42.

The Son of man - The Messiah.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 3:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-3.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life.

The connection between John 3:14-15 and John 3:13 is in the title "Son of man." John 3:13 gave Jesus' identity as God incarnate, and these cite the necessity for his Passion, his being lifted up on the cross, and through that, lifted up on High.

Moses lifted up the serpent ... refers to the last of Moses' miracles, which took place on the borders of Canaan (Numbers 21:7ff). Fiery serpents had been sent among the people producing suffering and death; Moses fashioned a serpent of brass and lifted it up on a pole in the center of the camp, and all who looked upon it were healed.

Those who would make that brass snake a type of Jesus Christ go much too far. As Clarke noted:

It does not appear that the brazen serpent was ever intended as a type of Christ. It is possible to draw likenesses out of anything; but, in such matters as these, we should take heed that we go no farther than we can say, "Thus it is written."[16]

The usual analogies drawn from the brass snake are these: (1) in each case, those who were benefited could not have been aided any other way; (2) the lifting up in each case was before all Israel, the serpent in the camp, Jesus on the cross; (3) the design in each case was to save life, the serpent physical, the Lord eternal life; (4) the manner of the cure is similar, the Israelites having merely to look on the serpent in order to be cured, and Christians, of course, having to do nothing except believe in order to be saved! Such analogies are not merely untrustworthy; they are fallacious and contradictory to the Sacred Scriptures. There are far more dissimilarities than there are similarities, thus: (1) the brass serpent was of different material from the deadly snakes that were tormenting Israel; but Jesus was made in all points like unto his brethren (Hebrews 2:17); (2) Israel was forbidden to worship the brass snake; but all people are commanded to worship Christ; (3) the brass snake eventually became an idol and was defiled and burned up (2 Kings 18:1,4); (the manner of appropriating the blessing is exceedingly diverse in each case, there having been no moral or spiritual conditions whatever in the healing of snake bites, not even faith). Now, when the Pharisees looked upon Jesus on the cross, were they saved? No! Far more than looking is required for salvation in Christ, as revealed in the next verse. And, as for those who would take this verse as the basis for promising salvation to all who "look upon" Jesus, and then interpret that to mean "faith only," it should be pointed out that Jesus had just revealed to Nicodemus that absolutely nothing short of being born again, born of water and of the Spirit, could suffice for entry into God's kingdom.

Whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life ... The particular construction of these words reveals that eternal life is promised not to "whosoever believeth," but to all believers who are "in him," that is, in Christ. The misconception sometimes substituted for the promise here is that "all believers SHALL be saved, whether or not they are ever baptized into Christ." The key word in this clause is "may." meaning the right or privilege of entering Christ and thus receiving eternal life in him. To be sure, "may" and "shall" are poles apart in meaning. To read that believers "shall be saved" is to read what is nowhere taught in the Bible; but to read that believers "may be saved" is to read the truth of God. The corruption of this text and that of John 3:16 by rendering "shall" instead of "may" or "should" must be rejected. Both here and in John 3:16, the true rendition is "may" or "should" and not in a thousand years "SHALL have eternal life." See Westcott[17] and all of the legitimate versions. When translators take the liberty of rendering "shall have eternal life," as, for example, in the International Version and others, they are not translating God's word at all but perverting it. Let the student of the word of God beware of the hand of Satan in such translations.

[16] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible (London: Mason and Lane, 1837), Vol. V, p. 533.

[17] B. F. Westcott, op. cit., p. 55.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 3:14". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,.... The history referred to is in Numbers 21:8. There is, in many things, an agreement between this serpent, and Jesus Christ: as in the matter of it, it was a brazen serpent; it was made not of gold, nor of silver, but of brass, the meaner metal, and was a very unlikely means, of itself, to heal the Israelites; and might be despised by many: this may denote the meanness of Christ in his human nature, in his birth and parentage, and place of education and converse; and especially in his crucifixion and death; and which, to an eye of carnal sense and reason, seemed a very improbable means of saving sinners; and therefore were to some a stumbling block, and to others foolishness: though on the other hand, as brass is a shining metal, and might be chose for the serpent in the wilderness to be made of, that by the lustre of it the eyes of the Israelites might be attracted and directed to it, who were at the greatest distance in the camp; so it may be expressive of the glory of Christ, as the only begotten of the Father, and who is the brightness of his Father's glory; and which is the great attractive, motive, and inducement to engage souls to look unto him, and believe in him, Isaiah 45:22; and whereas brass is both a strong and durable metal, it may signify the strength of Christ, who is the mighty God, and mighty to save; and his duration, as a Saviour, being the same today, yesterday, and for ever: likewise, the comparison between the serpent Moses lifted up, and Christ, may be observed in the form of it. The brazen serpent had the form of a serpent, but not the poison and venomous nature of one; so Christ was sent, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and was found in fashion as a man, as a sinful man, but was without sin, and was perfectly holy; and yet being in this form, was made both sin and a curse, that he might redeem his people both from sin, and from the curse of the law, by dying a death which denominated him accursed, of which the serpent was, an emblem: besides, this serpent was a fiery one; at least it looked like one of the fiery serpents, being of brass, which shone as though it burned in a furnace; and may be an emblem both of Christ's Father's wrath, which was poured out like fire upon him, and of his love to his people, which was like burning fire, the coals whereof gave a most vehement flame. Moreover, this serpent Moses made, and was ordered to make, was but "one", though the fiery serpents, with which the Israelites were bitten, were many; so there is but one Mediator between God and man; but one Saviour, in whom alone is salvation, and in no other, even Jesus Christ. To which may be added the "situation" in which this serpent was put: it was set by Moses on a pole; it was lifted up on high, that every one in the camp of Israel might see it; and may point out the ascension of Christ into heaven, and his exaltation at God's right hand there, as some think; or his being set up in the ministry of the word, and held forth and exalted there as the only Saviour of lost sinners; or rather his crucifixion, which is sometimes expressed by a lifting up, John 8:28. Once more, there is an agreement in the effect that followed upon the lifting up of the serpent; and which was the design of it, viz. the healing of such Israelites as were bitten by the fiery serpents, who looked to this: for as the Israelites were bitten by fiery serpents, with the poison of which they were infected, and were in danger of death, and to many of them their bitings were mortal; so men are poisoned with the venom of the old serpent the devil, by which they are subjected to a corporeal death, and are brought under a spiritual, or moral death, and are liable to an eternal one: and as these bitings were such as Moses could not cure; so the wounds of sin, through the old serpent, are such as cannot be healed by the law, moral or ceremonial, or by obedience to either; and as they were the Israelites who were convinced of their sin, and acknowledged it, and had a cure by looking to the brazen serpent; so such whom the Spirit of God convinces of sin, and to whom he gives the seeing eye of faith, these, through seeing, the Son, and looking to Jesus, as crucified and slain, receive healing by his stripes and wounds: and as those, who were ever so much bit and poisoned by the fiery serpents, or were at ever so great a distance from the pole, or had the weakest eye, yet if they could but discern the serpent on the pole, though it only appeared as a shining piece of brass, had a cure; so the greatest of sinners, and who are afar off from God, and all that is good, and who have faith but as a grain of mustard seed, or but glimmering view of Christ, of his glory, fulness, and suitableness, shall be saved by him. To add no more, this was done "in the wilderness": which may signify this world, Christ's coming into it, his crucifixion in it, and his going without the camp, bearing our reproach, or suffering without the gates of Jerusalem. It is certain, that the Jews had a notion that the brazen serpent was symbolical and figurative: Philo the Jew makes it to be a symbol of fortitude and temperanceF20De Agricult. p. 202. & Allegor. l. 3. p. 1101, 1102, 1103, 1104. ; and the author of the apocryphal book of WisdomF21C. 16. v. 6. , calls it "a sign of salvation". They thought there was something mysterious in it: hence they sayF23T. Hieros. Roshhashanah, fol. 59. 1. ,

"in four places it is said, "make thee", &c. In three places it is explained, viz. Genesis 6:14, and one is not explained, Numbers 21:8, "make thee a fiery serpent", לא פירש, is not explained.'

And elsewhereF24Misn. Roshhashanah, c. 3. sect. 3. they ask,

"and could the serpent kill, or make alive? But at the time that Israel looked up, and served with their hearts their Father which is in heaven, they were healed; but if not, they were brought low.'

So that the look was not merely to the brazen serpent, but to God in heaven; yea, to the word of God, his essential Logos, as say the Targumists on Numbers 21:9. The Jerusalem Targum paraphrases the words thus:

"and Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a high place, and whoever was bitten by the serpents, and lift up his face, in prayer, to his Father which is in heaven, and looked upon the serpent of brass, lived.'

And Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrases them thus:

"and Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a high place; and it was, when a serpent had bitten any man, and he looked to the serpent of brass, "and directed his heart", לשום מימרא דיי, "to the name of the word of the Lord", he lived.'

And this healing they understand not only of bodily healing, but of the healing of the soul: for they observeF25Tzeror Hammor, fol. 123. 2. , that

"as soon as they said, "we have sinned", immediately their iniquity was expiated; and they had the good news brought them "of the healing of the soul", as it is written, "make thee a seraph"; and he does not say a serpent; and this is it: "and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live", רפואת הנפש, "through the healing of the soul":'

yea, they compare the Messiah to a serpent; for so the Targum on Isaiah 14:29 paraphrases that passage:

"the Messiah shall come forth from Jesse's children's children; and his works shall be among you as a "flying serpent".'

And who else can be designed by the "other serpent of life"F26Zohar in Gen fol. 36. 2. , and the "holy serpent"F1Tikkune Zohar in Jetzira, p. 134. they speak of, in opposition to the evil serpent that seduced Eve? And it is well known, that נחש, "a serpent", and משיח, "Messiah", are numerically, or by gematry, the same; a way of interpretation, and explanation, often in use with the Jews. Now, as this serpent was lifted up on a pole on high, that every one that was bitten with the fiery serpent might look to it, and be healed;

even so must the son of man be lifted up; upon the cross, and die: the crucifixion and death of Christ were necessary, and must be, because of the decrees and purposes of God, by which he was foreordained thereunto, and by which determinate counsel he was delivered, taken, crucified, and slain; and because of his own engagements as a surety, laying himself under obligations in the council and covenant of peace, to suffer, and die, in the room of his people; and because of the prophecies in the Old Testament, and his own predictions, that so it should be; as also, that the antitype might answer the type; and particularly, that he might be a suitable object of faith for wounded sinners, sensible of sin, to look unto.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 3:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-3.html. 1999.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

14. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

[And as Moses lifted up the serpent, &c.] The Jews dote horribly about this noble mystery. There are those in Bemidbar Rabba, that think that the brazen serpent was not affixed to a pole, but thrown up into the air by Moses, and there to have settled without any other support.

"Moses put up the serpent for a sign; as he that chastiseth his son sticks up the rod in some eminent place, where the child may see it, and remember."

Thou shalt remove the mischief by that which did the mischief; and thou shalt heal the disease by that which made thee sick. The same hath R. Bechai; and both confess that it was a miracle within a miracle. But it is not for a Jew to understand the mystery; this is the Christian's attainment only.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on John 3:14". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/john-3.html. 1675.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Moses lifted up the serpent (Μωυσης υπσωσεν τον οπινMōusēs hupsōsen ton ophin). Reference to Numbers 21:7. where Moses set the brazen serpent upon the standard that those who believed might look and live. Jesus draws a vivid parallel between the act of Moses and the Cross on which he himself (the Son of man) “must” (δειdei one of the heavenly things) “be lifted up” (υπσωτηναιhupsōthēnai first aorist passive infinitive of υπσοωhupsoō a word not used about the brazen serpent). In John υπσοωhupsoō always refers to the Cross (John 8:28; John 12:32, John 12:34), though to the Ascension in Acts (Acts 2:33; Acts 5:31). Jesus is complimenting the standing and intelligence of Nicodemus as “the teacher of Israel” by telling him this great truth and fact that lies at the basis of the work of the kingdom of God (the atoning death of Christ on the Cross).

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)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 3:14". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Must ( δεῖ )

Must signifies the eternal necessity in the divine counsels. Compare Luke 24:26, Luke 24:46; Matthew 26:54; Mark 8:31; John 12:34.

Lifted up ( ὑψωθῆναι )

The following are the uses of the word in the New Testament: The exaltation of pride (Matthew 11:23; Luke 10:15; Luke 14:11). The raising of the humble (Luke 1:52; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). The exaltation of Christ in glory (Acts 2:33; Acts 5:31). The uplifting on the cross (John 3:14; John 8:28; John 12:32, John 12:34). The reference here is to the crucifixion, but beyond that, to the glorification of Christ. It is characteristic of John to blend the two ideas of Christ's passion and glory (John 8:28; John 12:32). Thus, when Judas went out to betray him, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified” (John 13:31). Hence the believer overcomes the world through faith in Him who came not by water only, but by water and blood (1 John 5:4-6).

Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 3:14". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

And as Moses — And even this single witness will soon be taken from you; yea, and in a most ignominious manner. Numbers 21:8,9.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 3:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-3.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

And as Moses1 lifted up the serpent in the wilderness2, even so must the Son of man be lifted up;

  1. And as Moses. Jesus here indicates the prophetical character of the Old Testament. The extent of Christ's endorsement of the Old Testament becomes apparent when we consider on how many occasions he revealed himself under the same symbolism which the Old Testament used to reveal him. At John 2:19 he revealed his resurrection under the symbolism of the destroyed and restored temple. At Matthew 12:40 the same event is revealed under the symbolism of Jonah and the whale. And here his crucifixion is likewise partially veiled and partially disclosed under a symbolic reference to the brazen serpent.

  2. Lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. The account of the brazen serpent will be found at Numbers 21:4-9. The lesson of the brazen serpent will be found in its main points of the crucifixion of Christ. When the people were bitten by fiery serpents, something made to resemble a serpent was hung upon a pole, and the people who looked to it in faith through it healing and life. Such is the epitome of Christ's gospel.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 3:14". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-3.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Be lifted up. It is uncertain whether the meaning is exalted in honor, as expressed Matthew 28:18 or whether the reference is to his being raised upon the cross in ignominy, as in John 12:32-34.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on John 3:14". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/john-3.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

И как Моисей. Христос объясняет, почему сказал ранее, что лишь Ему открыт доступ на небо. Он открыт Ему для того, чтобы привести туда всех прочих, кто захочет следовать за Ним как за своим водителем. Ибо Христос свидетельствует, что Он открыто выставлен перед всеми, дабы всех наполнить Своей силой. «Вознестись» здесь означает быть помещенным на видное и высокое место, дабы явиться взору всех. Это и происходит через проповедь Евангелия. Некоторые думают, что здесь говорится о распятии и кресте Христовом, однако это не соответствует контексту и далеко от мысли Христа. Итак, смысл слов весьма прост: проповедь Евангелия подобно знамени возносит Христа над землей, дабы обратить к Нему очи всех, о чем также говорит Исаия (Ис.2:2). Образ этого вознесения Христос видит в медном змее, которого выставил Моисей. Взгляд на него спасительно врачевал тех, кто был ранен смертельным змеиным укусом. В этом отношении примечательна история, рассказанная в Числ.21:9. Далее, Христос учит: евангельская доктрина выставляет Его перед взором всех с той целью, чтобы всякий, взглянувший на Него с верою, принял спасение. Откуда следует, что Христос ясно предлагается нам в Евангелии, и никто не может жаловаться на его туманность. Христос выставлен перед всеми, и взгляд веры, внемлющей проповеди, видит Христа так, как будто Он Сам предстоит перед человеческим взором. Павел также говорит, что во время проповеди Христос ярко живописуется со Своей крестной жертвой (Гал.3:1). Уподобление сие вовсе не натянуто и не искусственно. Змей выглядел змеем чисто внешне, внутри же он не был смертелен и ядовит. Так и Христос облекся в образ греховной плоти, на самом деле чистой и свободной от греха, дабы исцелить нанесенную нам грехом смертельную рану. Ибо не напрасно Господь, когда израильтяне ранились змеями, предложил им такое противоядие. Это Он сделал для подтверждения будущих слов Христа. Видя, что Его презирают как темного и отверженного человека, Христос не мог предложить лучший образ, чем образ вознесенного змея. Христос как бы говорит: Не должно казаться абсурдным, если вопреки людскому мнению Он воспрянет из преисподней. Ведь во времена закона прообразом этого служил змей. Теперь спрашивается: сравнивает ли Христос Себя с этим змеем из-за некоторого имеющегося сходства? Или же Он говорит, что змей был неким таинством, подобным небесной манне? Хотя манна и была телесной едой, предназначенной для текущего употребления, она, по свидетельству Павла, одновременно изображала духовную тайну (1Кор.10:3). Я склонен считать, что змей также представлял собой таинство. К этому меня побуждает и контекст, и то обстоятельство, что образ змея хранился весьма долго, пока по народному суеверию не превратился в идола. Но если кто думает иначе, я не буду спорить.

 

 

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:14". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-3.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE GIFT OF THE CROSS

‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.’

John 3:14

The only remedy for the serpent-bitten Israelites was the serpent of brass; the only remedy now is Christ lifted up on the Cross (1 Peter 2:24). The Son of Man must be lifted up. Think of the Cross.

I. It is a great gift.—No one was worthy to die for our sins but the only begotten and well-beloved Son of God. The greatness of it is measured by the greatness of our sin. ‘For Thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great’ (Psalms 25:11).

II. It is invaluable.—The rugged Tree of the Cross sweetens the bitter waters of our life. What should we do without our dear Lord in life and death? He knows all our sorrows, and disappointments, and bitterness; and He cares for us.

III. It is free.—‘Whosoever believeth.’ Christ is offered as a Saviour from sin to all. What are we going to do with Jesus? Accept Him, or reject Him? Take the gift with a humble, rejoicing heart. ‘My Lord and my God.’ My Jesus. ‘Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.’

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on John 3:14". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/john-3.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

Ver. 14. And as Moses lifted up the serpent] There it was, Vide et vive; See and live, here, Crede et vive. Believe and live, And as there, he that beheld the serpent, though but with a weak squint eye, yea, but with half an eye, was cured. So here, if we look upon Christ with the eye, though but of a weak faith, we shall be saved. Doctor Cruciger, when he lay a dying, cried out, Credo languida fide, sed tamen fide, I believe with a weak faith, but with a faith, such as it is. (Selneccer. in paedag. Christ. p. 321.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 3:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-3.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Christ having instructed Nicodemus in the doctrine of regeneration in the former verses, here he instructs him in the death of the Messiah, and in the necessity of faith in his death. The Son of man must be lifted up; that is, upon the cross, and die; that whosover believeth in him should not perish.

Observe here, 1. An Old Testament type which our Saviour refers to, and that is, the brazen serpent in the wilderness, the history of which is recorded, Numbers 21:8-9.

Observe, 2. The antitype, or the substance of what that type did shadow forth: the brazen serpent's lifting up upon the pole, prefiguring Christ's exaltation or lifting up upon the cross. So must the Son of man be lifted up.

Learn hence, That the Lord Jesus Christ is of the same use and office to a sin-stung soul, which the brazen serpent was of old to a serpent-stung Israelite.

Here observe, 1. Wherein the brazen serpent and Christ do agree.

And, 2. Wherein they differ. They agree thus: In the occasion of their institution; they were both apppointed for cure and healing.

Were they serpent-stung? we are sin-stung; devil--bitten. Was the sting of the fiery serpent inflaming? Was it spreading? Was it killing?

So is sin, which is the venom and poison of the old serpent. They agree in this; that they both must be lifted up before cure could be obtained; the brazen serpent upon the pole, Christ upon the cross.

They both must be looked unto before cure could be obtained; the looking up of the Israelites was as necessary unto healing, as the lifting up of the serpent.

Faith is as necessary to salvation as the death of Christ. The one renders God reconcilable unto sinners, the other renders him actually reconciled.

Again, did the brazen serpent heal all that looked upon it, and looked up unto it, though all had not eyes alike, some with a weak, others with a stronger eye? In like manner doth Christ justify and save all, that with a sincere faith, though weak, do rely upon him for salvation; Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish.

Further, the brazen serpemt was effectual for Israel's cure after many stingings; If after they were healed they were stung afresh, and did look up to it, they were healed by it. Thus the merit of Christ's death is not only effectual for our cure and healing at our first conversion, but after involuntary relapses and backslidings, if by faith we have recourse to the blood of Christ, we shall find it efficacious for our further benefit and future healing.

In a word, as the brazen serpent was effectual for Israel's cure after many stingings; If after they were healed they were stung afresh, and did look up to it, they were healed by it. Thus the merit of Christ's death is not only effectual for our cure and healing at our first conversion, but after involuntary relapses and backslidings, if by faith we have recourse to the blood of Christ, we shall find it efficacious for our further benefit and future healing.

In a word, as the brazen serpent had the likeness of a serpent, the form, the figure, the name, the colour of the serpent, but nothing of the venom and poison of the serpent in it; so Christ did take upon him our nature; but sin, the venom and poison of our nature, he had nothing to do with: though Christ loved souls with an invincible and insuperable love, yet he would not sin to save a soul. This was the similtude and resemblance between Christ and the brazen serpent.

The disparity or dissimiltude follows: The brazens serpent had no power in itself, or of itself, to heal and cure: but Christ has a power inherent in himself, for the curing and healing of all that do believe in him.

Again, The brazen serpent cured only one particular nation and people, Jews only; Christ is for the healing of all nations, and his salvation is to the end of the earth.

Farther, The brazen serpent cured only one particular disease; namely, the stinging of the fiery serpents; had a person been sick of the plague, or leprosy, he might have died for all the brazen serpent: but Christ pardons all the iniquities, and heals all the diseases, of his people, Psalms 103:3

Yet again, Though the brazen serpent healed all that looked up unto it, yet it gave an eye to none to look up unto it; whereas Christ doth not only heal them that look up to him, but bestows the eye of faith upon them, to enable them to look unto him that they may be saved.

In a word, the brazen serpent did not always retain its healing virtue, but in time lost it and was itself destroyed, 2 Kings 18:4 But now the healing virtue and efficacy of Christ's blood is eternal.

All believers have and shall experience the healing power of our Redeemer's death to the end of the world.

Lastly, The Israelites that were cured by looking up to the brazen serpent, died afterwards; some distemper or other soon carried them to their graves; but the soul of the believer that is healed by Christ shall never die more: Whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 3:14". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/john-3.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

14.] From this point the discourse passes to the Person of Christ, and Redemption by His Death.

The Lord brings before this doctor of the Law the mention of Moses, who in his day by divine command lifted up a symbol of forgiveness and redemption to Israel.

καθώς] We must avoid all such ideas as that our Lord merely compares His death to the elevation of the brazen serpent, as if only a fortuitous likeness were laid hold of by Him. This would leave the brazen serpent itself meaningless, and is an explanation which can only satisfy those who do not discern the typical reference of all the ceremonial dispensation to the Redeemer.

It is an important duty of an expositor here, to defend the obvious and only honest explanation of this comparison against the tortuous and inadequate interpretations of modern critics. The comparison lies between the exalted serpent of brass, and the exalted Son of Man. The brazen serpent sets forth the Redeemer. This by recent Commentators (Lücke, De Wette, and others) is considered impossible: and the tertium comparationis is held to be only ‘the lifting up.’ But this does not satisfy the construction of the comparison. ‘The brazen serpent was lifted up: every one who looked on it, lived,’ = ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up: every one who believes on Him, shall live.’ The same thing is predicated of the two;—both are lifted up; cognate consequences follow,—body-healing and soul-healing (as Erskine, On the Brazen Serpent). There must then be some reason why the only two members of the comparison yet unaccounted for stand where they do,—considering that the brazen serpent was lifted up not for any physical efficacy, but by command of God alone. Now on examination we find this correspondence fully established. The ‘serpent’ is in Scripture symbolism, the devil,—from the historical temptation in Genesis 3. downwards. But why is the devil set forth by the serpent? How does the bite of the serpent operate? It pervades with its poison the frame of its victim: that frame becomes poisoned:—and death ensues. So sin, the poison of the devil, being instilled into our nature, that nature has become σὰρξ ἁμαρτίας, a poisoned nature,—a flesh of sin. Now the brazen serpent was made in the likeness of the serpents which had bitten them. It represented to the children of Israel the poison which had gone through their frames, and it was hung up there on the banner-staff, as a trophy, to shew them that for the poison, there was healing;—that the plague had been overcome. In it, there was no poison; only the likeness of it. Now was not the Lord Jesus made ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας, Romans 8:3? Was not He made ‘Sin for us, who knew no sin’ (2 Corinthians 5:21)? Did not He, on His Cross, make an open shew of, and triumph over, the Enemy, so that it was as if the Enemy himself had been nailed to that Cross (Colossians 2:15)? Were not Sin and Death and Satan crucified, when He was crucified? ἐκεῖ μέν, ἐπεὶ διʼ ὄφεως ἡ βλάβη, διʼ ὄφεως καὶ ἡ θεραπεία· ἐνταῦθα δέ, ἐπεὶ διʼ ἀνθρώπου ὁ θάνατος εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον, διʼ ἀνθρώπου καὶ ἡ ζωὴ παρεγένετο, Euthym(49)

δεῖ, it is necessary, in the Father’s counsel—it is decreed, but not arbitrarily;—the very necessity of things, which is in fact but the evolution of the divine Will, made it requisite that the pure and sinless Son of Man should thus be uplifted and suffer: see Luke 24:26.

ὑψωθῆναι] In this word there is more than the mere crucifixion. It has respect in its double meaning (of which see a remarkable instance in Genesis 40:13; Genesis 40:19, E. V.) to the exaltation of the Lord on the Cross, and through the Cross to His Kingdom; and refers back to ἀναβέβηκεν εἰς τ. οὐρ. before. Stier quotes the Christian proverb, ‘Crux scala cæli.’

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 3:14". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-3.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 3:14. καί, and) Often Christ, after mention of His glorification, made mention of His passion.— ΄ωσῆς, Moses) This is the first mention of Moses, which is read as made by our Lord.— τὸν ὄφιν, the serpent) As that serpent was a serpent without poison, to counteract the poisonous serpents: so the man Christ [was] a man without sin, to counteract the old serpent.— ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, in the wilderness) where there was no other medicine [remedy].— ὑψωθῆναι, be lifted up) on a cross towards heaven: ch. John 12:32, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me,” etc. [Not as yet did Jesus speak at this early time more distinctly as to His suffering on the cross: see John 3:16.—V. g.]— δεῖ, must) For it was for this purpose He descended from heaven.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 3:14". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The history of the lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness we have, Numbers 21:8,9. The people being stung with fiery serpents, as a righteous judgment of God for their sins, as a merciful remedy God commanded Moses, Numbers 21:8, Make thee a fiery serpent, ( that is, the image or representation of one of those fiery serpents), and put it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. This brazen serpent in the wilderness was a lively type of Jesus Christ. Our Saviour having before spoken of the new birth as necessary to those who shall be saved, here comes to show it in the causes, and instances first in the meritorious, then in the instrumental, cause. The meritorious cause was his death; he saith, As the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so he, who was the Son of man, must be lifted up; that is, die upon the cross: the phrase is used twice more in this Gospel, John 8:28 12:32,34, in allusion, doubtless, to this type. Yet Mr. Calvin thinks the

lifted up here more properly interpreted of the doctrine of the gospel, and by the preaching of it; and others apply it to Christ’s ascension into heaven. And this he tells Nicodemus must be, for the fulfilling the Scripture, and the counsels of his Father.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 3:14". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-3.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

должно вознесену быть Сыну Человеческому Ср. 8:28; 12:32, 34; 18:31, 32. Это – завуалированное предсказание смерти Иисуса на кресте. Иисус говорил о рассказе в Чис. 21:5-9, где исцеление получали израильтяне, взглянувшие на вознесенную Моисеем змею. Суть этого примера или аналогии – это «Вознесенный». Как Моисей вознес на шесте змею, для того чтобы все, кто смотрел на нее, могли иметь жизнь физическую, так и те люди, которые смотрят на Христа, который был «вознесен» на крест, будут иметь жизнь духовную и вечную.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 3:14". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-3.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Moses lifted up the serpent; Numbers 21:8-9

Be lifted up; on the cross a propitiation for the sins of men. 1 John 2:2.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 3:14". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Jesus holds forth (under a veil) the doctrine of universal atonement by the only begotten Son, John 3:14-17.

14.Moses lifted up the serpent—By the light of subsequent revelation we know that this lifting up, shadowed by the serpent, was the lifting up upon the cross. Nicodemus doubtless understood that Jesus was to be held up and manifested to the world; but he did not understand, so prematurely as sceptics think, that Jesus was to die substitutionally for the sinner.

As the sinner is bitten by the infernal serpent, so the people of Israel in the wilderness were bitten by the fiery serpent. As Moses raised up the brazen serpent upon the pole, so Jesus is raised upon the cross. As the brazen serpent was in the likeness of the fiery serpent, which is Satan’s likeness, so Jesus is in the likeness of sinful flesh. As the bitten Jew was required to look at the brazen serpent, so the sinner is required to look by faith to Jesus. But the symbol for Nicodemus did not reveal the death of the Son of man; nor, especially, that the death of the Son of man must take the place of the death of the sinner. So that these words, too, are one of those passages embracing a depth of meaning undiscovered till a later period. See note on Matthew 7:29. The cross and the lifting up were both a matter of manifestation and of sacrifice; the latter was unknown to Nicodemus— both are known to us.

 

 

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 3:14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-3.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

In another sense Jesus would rise up to heaven. The Ascension is not in view here. Jesus" enemies lifting Him up toward heaven as Moses lifted the serpent on the pole toward heaven is in view (cf. Numbers 21:4-9). In the wilderness God promised the Israelites that whoever looked on the bronze serpent would receive physical life and not die.

This is Jesus" earliest recorded prediction of His death. It is an allusion to death by crucifixion (cf. John 8:28; John 12:32; John 12:34). Wherever the Greek word hypsoo ("lifted up") occurs in John"s Gospel, and it only occurs in these four verses, it combines the ideas of crucifixion and exaltation (cf. Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12). [Note: Carson, p201.] The Synoptic evangelists viewed Jesus" exaltation as separate from His crucifixion, but John thought of the crucifixion as the beginning of His exaltation.

God had graciously provided continuing physical life to the persistently sinning Israelites. It should not, therefore, have been hard for Nicodemus to believe that He would graciously provide new spiritual life for sinful humanity.

John 3:13 pictures Jesus as the revealer of God who came down from heaven. John 3:14 pictures Him as the suffering exalted Savior. It was in His suffering that Jesus revealed God most clearly. These themes cluster around the title "Son of Man" in the fourth Gospel.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 3:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-3.html. 2012.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 3:14. If the Son of Man alone has this knowledge, how is it to be disseminated and become a light to all men? This is answered in the words, [modern editors read ; so also in LXX]. The emphatic word is . When Moses made the brazen serpent, he did not secrete it in his tent and admit a few selected persons to view it, but , gave it an elevation at which all might see it. So must the Son of Man, the bearer of heavenly light and healing, , that all may see Him. The “lifting up” of the Son of Man is interpreted in John 12:33 to mean His lifting up on the cross. It was this which drew human observation and human homage. The cross is the throne of Christ. In the phrase the aorist is used in accordance with Greek usage by which an aorist infinitive is employed to express the action of the verb even though future after verbs signifying to hope, to expect, to promise, and such like. Thus Iph. in Aul., 462, , where Markland needlessly changes the aorist into the future. Nicodemus could not see the significance with which these words were filled by the crucifixion. What would be suggested to him by the comparison of the Messiah with the brazen serpent might be something like this: The Son of Man is to be lifted up. Yes, but not on a throne in Herod’s palace. He was to be conspicuous, but as the brazen serpent had been conspicuous, hanging on a pole for the healing of the people. His elevation was certain, but it was an elevation by no mere official appointment, or popular recognition, or hereditary right, but by plumbing the depths of human degradation in truest self-sacrifice. There is no royal road to human excellence, and Jesus reached the height He attained by no blare of heralds’ trumpets or flaunting of banners or popular acclaim, but by being subjected to the keenest tests by which character can be searched, by passing through the ordeal of human life in this world, and by being found the best, the one only perfectly faithful servant of God and man.

 

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 3:14". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-3.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

comparison of the serpent lifted up in the desert, upon which whoever looked was immediately cured from the bite of the fiery serpents, is a figure of the crucifixion of Christ on Calvary. And we remark, that our divine Saviour makes use of these words, the Son of man must be lifted up or exalted; (exaltari) by which form of expression he would teach us, that he does not consider the cross as a disgrace, but as a glory; (Theophylactus and St. John Chrysostom) and moreover, that as the Israelites, bitten by the fiery serpents, were cured by looking upon the brazen serpent, so are Christians cured by looking up with an active faith, replete with love and confidence, on Jesus Christ crucified.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 3:14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/john-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

as = even as. Reference to Numbers 21:9.

Moses. See note on John 1:17 and Matthew 8:4.

must = it behoved to, in order to fulfil the prophetic Scripture. See Luke 24:26, Luke 24:46. Acts 3:18; Acts 17:3, and compare Hebrews 2:9, Hebrews 2:10.

be lifted up. See note on John 3:13.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:14". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (see Numbers 21:4-9), even so must the Son of man be lifted up;

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-3.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(14) And as Moses lifted up.—This verse is closely connected by the conjunction “and” with what has gone before. Jesus has taught that in Himself heaven and earth meet; so that, while subject to the conditions of human life, He, the Son of Man, the representative of humanity, is in heaven. He goes on to show that what is true of the representative is, through Him, true of the whole race. Again the Old Testament Scriptures form the basis of the teaching to their expounder. The people in the wilderness bitten by the fiery serpents, the poison-virus spreading through their veins, and causing burning pain, torpor, and death—this was symbolical of the world lying in the misery, restlessness, and spiritual death, which came from the Serpent’s victory in Paradise. The serpent of brass lifted up by Moses, in which the sufferer saw the means of recovery determined by God, and was healed by faith in Him—this was symbolical of the means of salvation determined by God for the world. (Comp. the phrase “lifted up” in John 8:28; John 12:32; and, as an exact parallel with this passage, John 12:34) Nicodemus must have understood that the healing power of the serpent of brass was in the fact that it led men to trust in Jehovah, who had appointed it. This was the current Jewish interpretation. Comp. the Jerusalem Targum, “Their faces were to be fixed on their Father who is in heaven;” so the Targum of Jonathan ben-Uziel, “The heart was fixed on the name of the word of Jehovah;” so, again, the Wisdom of Solomon, “For he that turned himself toward it was not saved by the thing that he saw, but by Thee, that art the Saviour of all” (Wisdom of Solomon 16:7; see the whole passage, Wisdom of Solomon 16:6-13). It was the sign of the Eternal in power and in love present to save, and the man who realised that presence lived with a new life. In the divine counsels it was willed, and must be, that the Son of Man should be the witness to the world of the Eternal Power and Love which saves every man who grasps it.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 3:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
as
Numbers 21:7-9; 2 Kings 18:4
even
8:28; 12:32-34; Psalms 22:16; Matthew 26:54; Luke 18:31-33; 24:20,26,27,44-46; Acts 2:23; 4:27,28
Reciprocal: Numbers 21:9 - A serpent of;  Isaiah 11:10 - which shall;  Zechariah 13:7 - smite;  Matthew 16:13 - I the;  Mark 9:31 - The Son;  Luke 6:19 - sought;  Luke 23:33 - they crucified;  John 1:51 - the Son;  John 4:42 - and know;  John 12:34 - who;  John 16:10 - because;  John 18:32 - the saying;  Acts 10:43 - whosoever;  Acts 26:22 - the prophets;  Acts 28:5 - felt;  Romans 3:21 - being;  Romans 3:28 - GeneralRomans 4:24 - if we;  Romans 6:23 - but the;  Romans 8:3 - God;  Ephesians 2:4 - his;  Ephesians 2:8 - through

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 3:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-3.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

14.And as Moses lifted up the serpent. He explains more clearly why he said that it is he alone to whom heaven is opened; namely, that he brings to heaven all who are only willing to follow him as their guide; for he testifies that he will be openly and publicly manifested to all, that he may diffuse his power over men of every class. (62) To be lifted up means to be placed in a lofty and elevated situation, so as to be exhibited to the view of all. This was done by the preaching of the Gospel; for the explanation of it which some give, as referring to the cross, neither agrees with the context nor is applicable to the present subject. The simple meaning of the words therefore is, that, by the preaching of the Gospel, Christ was to be raised on high, like a standard to which the eyes of all would be directed, as Isaiah had foretold, (Isaiah 2:2.) As a type of this lifting up, he refers to the brazen serpent, which was erected by Moses, the sight of which was a salutary remedy to those who had been wounded by the deadly bite of serpents. The history of that transaction is well known, and is detailed in Numbers 21:9. Christ introduces it in this passage, in order to show that he must be placed before the eyes of all by the doctrine of the Gospel, that all who look at him by faith may obtain salvation. Hence it ought to be inferred that Christ is clearly exhibited to us in the Gospel, in order that no man may complain of obscurity; and that this manifestation is common to all, and that faith has its own look, by which it perceives him as present; as Paul tells us that a lively portrait of Christ with his cross is exhibited, when he is truly preached, (Galatians 3:1.)

The metaphor is not inappropriate or far-fetched. As it was only the outward appearance of a serpent, but contained nothing within that was pestilential or venomous, so Christ clothed himself with the form of sinful flesh, which yet was pure and free from all sin, that he might cure in us the deadly wound of sin. It was not in vain that, when the Jews were wounded by serpents, the Lord formerly prepared this kind of antidote; and it tended to confirm the discourse which Christ delivered. For when he saw that he was despised as a mean and unknown person, he could produce nothing more appropriate thanthe lifting up of the serpent, to tell them, that they ought not to think it strange, if, contrary to the expectation of men, he were lifted up on high from the very lowest condition, because this had already been shadowed out under the Law by the type of the serpent.

A question now arises: Does Christ compare himself to the serpent, because there is some resemblance; or, does he pronounce it to have been a sacrament, as the Manna was? For though the Manna was bodily food, intended for present use, yet Paul testifies that it was a spiritual mystery, (1 Corinthians 10:3.) I am led to think that this was also the case with the brazen serpent, both by this passage, and the fact of its being preserved for the future, until the superstition of the people had converted it into an idol, (2 Kings 18:4.) If any one form a different opinion, I do not debate the point with him.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:14". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-3.html. 1840-57.