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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 3:19

"This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

Adam Clarke Commentary

This is the condemnation - That is, this is the reason why any shall be found finally to perish, not that they came into the world with a perverted and corrupt nature, which is true; nor that they lived many years in the practice of sin, which is also true; but because they refused to receive the salvation which God sent to them.

Light is come - That is, Jesus, the Sun of righteousness, the fountain of light and life; diffusing his benign influences every where, and favoring men with a clear and full revelation of the Divine will.

Men loved darkness - Have preferred sin to holiness, Belial to Christ, and hell to heaven. חשך chashac, darkness, is frequently used by the Jewish writers for the angel of death, and for the devil. See many examples in Schoettgen.

Because their deeds were evil - An allusion to robbers and cut-throats, who practice their abominations in the night season, for fear of being detected. The sun is a common blessing to the human race - it shines to all, envies none, and calls all to necessary labor. If any one choose rather to sleep by day, that he may rob and murder in the night season, he does this to his own peril, and has no excuse: - his punishment is the necessary consequence of his own unconstrained actions. So will the punishment of ungodly men be. There was light - they refused to walk in it. They chose to walk in the darkness, that they might do the works of darkness - they broke the Divine law, refused the mercy offered to them, are arrested by Divine justice, convicted, condemned, and punished. Whence, then, does their damnation proceed? From Themselves.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 3:19". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

This is the condemnation - This is the cause of condemnation; or this is the reason why men are punished.

That light is come - Light often denotes instruction, teaching, doctrine, as that by which we see clearly the path of duty. all the instruction that God gives us by conscience, reason, or revelation may thus be called light; but this word is used especially to denote the Messiah or the Christ, who is often spoken of as “the light.” See Isaiah 60:1; Isaiah 9:2. Compare Matthew 4:16; also the notes at John 1:4. It was doubtless this light to which Jesus had particular reference here.

Men loved darkness - Darkness is the emblem of ignorance, iniquity, error, superstition - whatever is opposite to truth and piety. Men are said to love darkness more than they do light when they are better pleased with error than truth, with sin than holiness, with Belial than Christ.

Because their deeds are evil - Men who commit crime commonly choose to do it in the night, so as to escape detection. So men who are wicked prefer false doctrine and error to the truth. Thus the Pharisees cloaked their crimes under the errors of their system; and, amid their false doctrines and superstitions, they attempted to convince others that they had great zeal for God.

Deeds - Works; actions.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-3.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light; for their works were evil.

Christ had just mentioned that he had not come to judge the world in any such manner as the hierarchy expected; but, to be sure, there was a judgment going on already, a judgment precipitated by the dramatic appearance of the Messenger of the Covenant who had suddenly come to his temple. It was a judgment required by the dazzling Light of all nations in the first advent of our Lord. As men reacted to that Light, their fate was sealed. That moral judgment could not be put off until some distant cataclysm; it was in full progress while this interview with Nicodemus was going on.

This verse forever lays to rest the conceit that unbelief is an intellectual problem; on the contrary, it is basically a moral problem.

Men have loved darkness rather than light; for their works were evil ... Jesus thus revealed that loving darkness rather than light is due, not to intelligence or learning, but to evil works. In an age when infidelity masquerades under all kinds of disguises, especially that of intelligence and erudition, this is an extremely important verse. Its very first application, of course, was to the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus' time, who pretended such a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, but who, in the last analysis, knew nothing at all about them. Yes, there was a sense in which such people knew the Scriptures; but, unless knowledge is held in good and honest hearts (and in their case, it was not), then even knowledge itself becomes darkness in the soul.

This verse still applies to unbelief, because the moral judgment going on when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus is still in progress. Believers in Christ are not judged, being safe "in him"; but unbelievers have been judged already by their rejection of the only hope of the world.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https: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 this is the condemnation,.... Of him that believes not in Christ; that is, this is the matter and cause of his condemnation, and by which it is aggravated, and appears to be just:

that light is come into the world: by which is meant, not natural or corporeal light; though natural darkness is, by some, preferred to this, being more convenient for their evil works; as by thieves, murderers, and adulterers: nor is the light of nature designed, with which every man is enlightened that comes into the world; which, though but a dim light, might be of more use, and service, than it is; and is often rejected, and rebelled against, by wicked men, and which will be the condemnation of the Heathen world: but rather the light of divine revelation, both in the law of God, and Gospel of Christ; especially the latter is here intended; and which, though so great a favour to fallen men, is despised, and denied by the sons of darkness: though it may be best of all to understand it of Christ himself, the light of the world, and who is come a light into it; see John 8:12, who may be called "light", because he has set revelation in its clearest and fullest light; he has declared the whole mind, and will of God concerning the affair of divine worship, and the business of salvation: grace, and truth, are come by him; the doctrines of grace, and the truths of the Gospel, are most clearly brought to light by him; the types, and shadows of the law are removed; and the promises, and the prophecies of the Old Testament, are most largely expounded by him, and most perfectly fulfilled in him: and besides; he is the author and giver of the light of grace, by which men see themselves to be what they are, lost and undone sinners; and see him to be the only able, willing, suitable, sufficient, and complete Saviour: and he it is that now gives the saints the glimpse of glory they have, and will be the light of the new Jerusalem, and the everlasting light of his people hereafter. He, by his incarnation, may be said to "come into the world" in general, which was made by him, as God; and as he was in it, as man; though he was not known by it as the God-man, Mediator, and Messiah: and particularly he came into the Jewish world, where he was born, brought up, conversed, lived, and died; and into the Gentile world, by the ministry of his apostles, whom he; sent into all the world, to preach the Gospel to every creature, and spread the glorious light of it in every place:

and men loved darkness rather than light: the Jews, the greater part of them, preferred the darkness of the ceremonial law, and the Mosaic dispensation, and even the traditions of their elders, before the clear Gospel revelation made by Christ Jesus; and the Gentiles also, for the most part, chose rather to continue in their Heathenish ignorance, and idolatry, and to walk in their own ways, and in the vanity of their minds, than to embrace Christ, and his Gospel, and submit to his ordinances, and appointments; and the generality of men, to this day, love their natural darkness, and choose to walk in it, and to have fellowship with the works of darkness, and delight in the company of the children of darkness, rather than follow Christ, the light of the world; receive his Gospel, and walk in his ways, in fellowship with his saints: the reason of all this is,

because their deeds were evil; which they chose not to relinquish; and Christ, his Gospel and ordinances are contrary to them; for the doctrine of the grace of God, which has appeared, and shone out in great lustre, and splendour, in the world, teaches men to deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts; and therefore it is hated, and rejected, by men.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes 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

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 3:19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

7 And this is the r condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

(7) The only reason why men refuse the light that is offered to them is wickedness.

(r) That is, the cause of condemnation, which remains in men, unless through God's great benefit they are delivered from it.


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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 3:19". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-3.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

this is the condemnation, etc. — emphatically so, revealing the condemnation already existing, and sealing up under it those who will not be delivered from it.

light is come into the world — in the Person of Him to whom Nicodemus was listening.

loved darkness, etc. — This can only be known by the deliberate rejection of Christ, but that does fearfully reveal it.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/john-3.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

And this is the judgment (αυτη δε εστιν η κρισιςhautē de estin hē krisis). A thoroughly Johannine phrase for sequence of thought (John 15:12; John 17:3; 1 John 1:5; 1 John 5:11, 1 John 5:14; 3 John 1:6). It is more precisely the process of judging (κρισιςkri -κριμαsis) rather than the result (το πως εληλυτενkri -ερχομαιma) of the judgment. “It is no arbitrary sentence, but the working out of a moral law” (Bernard).

The light is come (ηγαπησαν το σκοτοςto phōs elēluthen). Second perfect active indicative of το σκοτοςerchomai a permanent result as already explained in the Prologue concerning the Incarnation (John 1:4, John 1:5, John 1:9, John 1:11). Jesus is the Light of the world.

Loved darkness
(η σκοτιαēgapēsan to skotos). Job (Job 24:13) spoke of men rebelling against the light. Here πονηραto skotos common word for moral and spiritual darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5), though Πονηροςhē skotia in John 1:5. “Darkness” is common in John as a metaphor for the state of sinners (John 8:12; John 12:35, John 12:46; 1 John 1:6; 1 John 2:8, 1 John 2:9, 1 John 2:11). Jesus himself is the only moral and spiritual light of the world (John 8:12) as he dared claim to his enemies. The pathos of it all is that men fall in love with the darkness of sin and rebel against the light like denizens of the underworld, “for their works were evil (πονοςponēra).” When the light appears, they scatter to their holes and dens. πονεωPonēros (from ponos toil, poneō to toil) is used of the deeds of the world by Jesus (John 7:7). In the end the god of this world blinds men‘s eyes so that they do not see the light (2 Corinthians 4:4). The fish in the Mammoth Cave have no longer eyes, but only sockets where eyes used to be. The evil one has a powerful grip on the world (1 John 5:19).


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

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

This

That is, herein consists the judgment. The prefacing a statement with this is, and then defining the statement by ὅτι or ἵνα , that, is characteristic of John. See John 15:12; John 17:3; 1 John 1:5; 1 John 5:11, 1 John 5:14; 3 John 1:6.

Light ( τὸ φῶς )

Rev., correctly, the light. See John 1:4, John 1:9.

Men ( οἱ ἄνθρωποι )

Literally, the men. Regarded as a class.

Darkness ( τὸ σκότος )

See on John 1:5. Rev., correctly, the darkness. John employs this word only here and 1 John 1:6. His usual term is σκοτία (John 1:5; John 8:12; 1 John 1:5, etc.), more commonly describing a state of darkness, than darkness as opposed to light.

Were ( ἦν )

Habitually. The imperfect tense marking continuation.

Evil ( πονηρὰ )

Actively evil. See on Mark 7:22; see on Luke 3:19.


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

This is the condemnation — That is, the cause of it. So God is clear.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 3:19". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-3.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

The condemnation; the ground of their condemnation. Compare John 3:19,20; John 1:1-14, for evidence that these are the remarks of the evangelist, and not of Jesus.


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Bibliography
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/john-3.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

19.And this is the condemnation He meets the murmurs and complaints, by which wicked men are wont to censure — what they imagine to be the excessive rigour of God, when he acts towards them with greater severity than they expected. All think it harsh that they who do not believe in Christ should be devoted to destruction. That no man may ascribe his condemnation to Christ, he shows that every man ought to impute the blame to himself. The reason is, that unbelief is a testimony of a bad conscience; and hence it is evident that it is their own wickedness which hinders unbelievers from approaching to Christ. Some think that he points out here nothing more than the mark of condemnation; but, the design of Christ is, to restrain the wickedness of men, that they may not, according to their custom, dispute or argue with God, as if he treated them unjustly, when he punishes unbelief with eternal death. He shows that such a condemnation is just, and is not liable to any reproaches, not only because those men act wickedly, who preferdarkness tolight, and refuse the light which is freely offered to them, but because that hatred of the light arises only from a mind that is wicked and conscious of its guilt. A beautiful appearance and lustre of holiness may indeed be found in many, who, after all, oppose the Gospel; but, though they appear to be holier than the angels, there is no room to doubt that they are hypocrites, who reject the doctrine of Christ for no other reason than because they love their lurking-places by which their baseness may be concealed. Since, therefore, hypocrisy alone renders men hateful to God, all are held convicted, because were it not that, blinded by pride, they delight in their crimes, they would readily and willingly receive the doctrine of the Gospel.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-3.html. 1840-57.

Ver. 19. "Now this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil."

In rejecting Jesus, man judges himself. The strictest inquiry into his whole life would not prove his disposition, as opposed to what is good, better than does his unbelief. The final judicial act will have nothing more to do than to ratify this sentence which he pronounces on himself (John 3:28-29). In order to make the matter understood, the Lord here calls Himself the light, that is to say, the manifested good, the divine holiness realized before the human conscience.

It follows from this, that the attitude which the man takes in relation to Him, reveals infallibly his inmost moral tendency. To the view of Jesus, the experiment has been already made for the world which surrounds Him: "Men loved rather ..." There is in every servant of God, in proportion to his holiness, a spiritual tact which makes him discern immediately the moral sympathy or antipathy which his person and his message excite. The visit of Jesus to Jerusalem had been for Him a sufficient revelation of the moral state of the people and their rulers. They are the men of whom He speaks in this verse, but with the distinct feeling that they are in this point the representatives of fallen humanity. The expression loved rather is not designed, as Lucke thinks, to extenuate the guilt of unbelievers, by intimating that there is still in them an attraction, but a weaker one, towards the truth. As has been well said, the word μᾶλλον does not mean magis, more, but potius, rather. This word, therefore, aggravates the responsibility of the Jews, by bringing out the free preference with which, though placed in presence of the light, they have chosen the darkness (comp. John 3:11). What is, indeed, the ground of this guilty preference? It is that their works are evil. They are determined to persevere in the evil which they have hitherto committed; this is the reason why they flee from the light which condemns it. By displaying the true nature of their works, the light would force them to renounce them. The term τὸ σκότος, the darkness, includes with the love of evil the inward falsehood by which a man seeks to exculpate himself. The aorist ἠγάπησαν, loved, designates the preference as an act which has just been consummated recently, while the imperfect ἦν, were, presents the life of the world in evil as a fact existing long before the appearance of the light. The word ἔργα, works, denotes the whole moral activity, tendency and acts. In the following verse, Jesus explains, by means of a comparison, the psychological relation between immorality, gross or subtle, and unbelief.


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Bibliography
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/john-3.html.

Scofield's Reference Notes

world

kosmos = mankind. (See Scofield "Matthew 4:8").


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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.

Bibliography
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on John 3:19". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/john-3.html. 1917.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

OUT OF DARKNESS INTO LIGHT

‘And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.’

John 3:19

Is any one liable to this reproach of loving darkness more than light? It sounds, as it is, a very shameful thing, but it does not necessarily imply that debasement of the whole nature which characterises persons of reckless and abandoned lives.

I. Avoidance of the light is quite consistent with a truth-loving disposition, according to an imperfect idea of truth.—This is an age of earnest seeking after truth. Men would like to find out what are called the great problems of life; to know whence man comes and whither he is going; to understand the mystery of pain and sorrow and death in the creation of a God of Love; to understand the way in which prayer acts; and many such things, which are so much talked and written about in our day. How welcome would be considered any ray of light which would tend to clear up these difficulties! But has not the light itself come into the world in the person of Jesus Christ? Why, then, do you not come to it? Why do you not bring all your dark questionings to be illumined by it?

II. The light will illumine your deeds which you know are evil, and do not wish to have reproved.—You would be glad to study the wise sayings of Christ, only they oblige you continually to bring your own life to the rule of His life and precepts, and pronounce judgment upon it by that rule. You have a high respect for Christian morality as a system, but you cannot endure the continual conviction of sin, and the stinging words, ‘Thou art the man,’ especially when pronounced by human lips. You are not insensible to the wholesome general influence of religion, and you linger on the outskirts of an atmosphere warmed and brightened by other men’s piety; but you are afraid of entering in; afraid of forming distinctly religious habits yourself, lest you should gradually be brought into a position in which the inconsistencies of your own conduct will be more apparent, and a painful and humiliating alteration of your life, perhaps at an advanced age, be required of you. All this is undoubtedly avoiding the light. And yet you want to attain to truth, which dwells in the light! Do not think to make a distinction between one light and another; there is but one light for the soul of man, and that illuminates both the mind and the conscience. God does not reveal mental truth separately; thinking right is inseparably bound up with doing right. The riddance of mental darkness about religion must be accompanied by ceasing to do the works of darkness.

III. ‘He that doeth truth cometh to the light.’—Observe that the corresponding expression to doing evil is not doing good, but doing truth; because good actions wrought in Christ are the putting truth into operation as a living power, instead of treating it as a mere abstract idea. On the other hand, doing the truth is not to be diluted into dealing truly. It involves, of course, being honest and straightforward and open in one’s actions, as well as sincere of purpose, and simple-minded. But it reaches much further and deeper than this. It is thinking and feeling, speaking and acting in all things in harmony with the life of Christ.


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on John 3:19". Church Pulpit Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/john-3.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Ver. 19. This is the condemnation] This is hell above ground and aforehand. Affected ignorance is the leprosy in the head, which makes a man undoubtedly unclean and utterly to be excluded, Leviticus 13:44.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 3:19". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-3.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

John 3:19

God's Condemnation of Men.

Note:—

I. The principles of Divine condemnation. If we accept these words in honest simplicity we must believe that it is not for being dark, but for being content to be dark that God condemns man.

II. Pass on now to the rise of sin into conscious deeds. (1) Every act of sin darkens the light of conscience. (2) Every step decreases the power of resistance.

III. Glance at the manifestation of this principle in the coming of Christ. When the Light came, every man, who rejected Him, proved his contentment in sin.

E. L. Hull, Sermons, 1st series, p. 303.


References: John 3:19.—Homilist, new series, vol. iii., p. 348. John 3:19-24.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xii., pp. 162, 167.


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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/john-3.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

John 3:19. And this is the condemnation, That is, the cause of condemnation; they will not receive the light of the Logos, the God of Christians, because they will not obey him.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 3:19". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/john-3.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. The worth and dignity of a choice and invaluable privilege declared, Light is come into the world. A personal light, CHRIST; a doctrinal light, the Gospel.

Observe, 2. The unworthiness, abuse, and great indignity which the world, through infidelity, offers to this benefit: they reject it, and love darkness rather than light.

Observe, 3. The dreadful sentence of wrath which the rejection of this benefit, and the abuse of Christ, brings upon the impenitent and unbelieving world. It terminates in their full and final condemnation: This is the condemnation; that is, 'tis a just and righteous condemnation, 'tis an inevitable and unavoidable condemnation: 'tis an heightened and aggravated, 'tis an accelerated and hastened, an irrecoverable and eternal condemnation.

Learn hence, That the greater and clearer the light is, under which the unregenrated and impentient do live in this world, so much the heavier will their condemnation and misery be in the world to come, if they wilfully and finally reject it.


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Bibliography
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 3:19". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/john-3.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

19.] The particular nature of this decided judgment is now set forth,—that the Light (see ch. John 1:4-5; John 1:7, and notes) is come into the world ( ἐλήλυθεν, in reference perhaps to ἐλήλυθας, John 3:2), and men (= ὁ κόσμος, men in general; an awful revelation of the future reception of the Gospel) loved (the perversion of the affections and will is the deepest ruin of mankind) the darkness (see note on ch. John 1:5; = the state of sin and unbelief) rather than (not = ‘and not,’ but as Bengel says, “Amabilitas lucis eos perculit, sed obhæserunt in amore tenebrarum,” see ch. John 5:35; John 12:43 : 2 Timothy 3:4) the light, because their deeds were evil (their habits, thoughts, practices,—all these are included,—were perverted).

ἠγάπησαν and ἦν are the indefinite aorists, implying the general usage and state of men, when and after the φῶς ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τ. κόσ.


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 3:19". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-3.html. 1863-1878.

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

John 3:19. The ἤδη κέκριται is now more minutely set forth, and this as to its moral character, as rejection of the light, i.e. of God’s saving truth,—the possessor and bringer in of which was Christ, who had come into the world,—and as love of darkness. “But herein consists the condemnation (as an inner moral fact which, according to John 3:18, had already occurred), that,” etc. κρίσις is the judgment in question, to be understood here also, agreeably to the whole connection, of condemnatory judgment. But in αὕτηὅτι (comp. 1 John 5:11) we have not the reason (Chrysostom and his followers), but the characteristic nature of the judgment stated.

ὅτι τὸ φῶς, etc., καὶ ἠγάπησαν] The first clause is not expressed in the dependent form ( ὅτι ὅτε τὸ φῶς, etc., or with Gen. abs.), but as an independent statement, in order to give emphatic prominence to the contrast setting forth the guilt. See Kühner, II. 416; Winer, p. 585 [E. T. pp. 785–6].

ἠγάπησαν] after it had come. Jesus could now thus speak already from experience regarding His relations to mankind as a whole; the Aor. does not presuppose the consciousness of a later time. See John 2:23-24. For the rest, ἠγάπ. is put first with tragic emphasis, which object is also served by the simple καί (not and yet). The expression itself: they loved the darkness rather (potius, not magis, comp. John 12:43; 2 Timothy 3:4) than the light,

μᾶλλον belonging not to the verb, but to the noun, and comparing the two conceptions (Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 51; Bäuml. Partik. p. 136),—is a mournful meiosis; for they did not love the light at all, but hated it, John 3:20. The ground of this hatred, however, does not lie (comp. John 3:6; John 1:12) in a metaphysical opposition of principles (Baur, Hilgenfeld, Colani), but in the light-shunning demoralization into which men had sunk through their own free act (for they might also have done ἀλήθεια, John 3:21). The source of unbelief is immorality.

ἦν γὰρ αὐτῶν, κ. τ. λ.] The reason why “they loved the darkness rather,” etc. (see on John 1:5), was their immoral manner of life, in consequence of which they must shun the light, nay, even hate it (John 3:20). We may observe the growing emphasis from αὐτῶν onwards to πονηρά, for the works which they (in opposition to the individual lovers of the light) did were evil; which πονηρά does not in popular usage denote a higher degree of evil than φαῦλα, John 3:20 (Bengel), but answers to this as evil does to bad (worthless); Fritzsche ad Rom. p. 297. Comp. John 5:29; Romans 9:11; 2 Corinthians 5:10; James 3:16; φαῦλα ἔργα in Plat. Crat. p. 429 A.; 3 Maccabees 3:22.


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 3:19". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/john-3.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 3:19. κρίσις, the judgment [condemnation]) i.e. the cause of judgment.— τὸ φῶς, the Light) After the mention of life, the mention of light follows, as in ch. 1. The Light, Christ. See what follows. In John 3:19, the hypostatical [personal] Light [Jesus Christ, its embodiment] is praised: afterwards, in the latter part of John 3:19, in antithesis to darkness, of which there is no hypostasis [personality], and in John 3:20-21, the discourse treats of Light indefinitely in the thesis, but so as that, in the hypothesis, it answers chiefly to the hypostatical [personal] Light.— ἠγάπησαν, loved) They did not pay back love for the love on God’s part, John 3:16.— μᾶλλον, rather than) The comparison is by no means inappropriate. The loveliness of the light struck them with admiration; but they were held fast in the love of darkness. Comp. John 5:35, “He was a burning and a shining light; and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.” A similar comparison occurs, ch. John 12:43, “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”— πονηρά, evil [maligna, evil-disposed]) This is indeed worse than φαῦλα, vile [worthless, wrong], John 3:20.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 3:19". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

This is the reason, the evidence and great cause of condemnation,

that light is come into the world. Christ is the Light, foretold by the prophet, Isaiah 9:2 42:6 49:6. He is styled, in the beginning of this Gospel the true Light, John 1:4; that is, he hath in perfection all the excellent qualities of light; the power to enlighten the minds of men in the knowledge of saving truth, to warm the affections with the love of it, to revive the disconsolate, and to make the heavenly seed of the word to flourish and fructify in their lives. This Light is come into the world; that signifies not only his incarnation, but his revealing the merciful counsel of God for our salvation, which the clearest spirits could never have discovered; he has opened the way that leads to eternal life.

But

men loved darkness rather than light; they preferred, chose, and adhered to their ignorance and errors, before the light of life, the saving knowledge of the gospel. Their ignorance is affected and voluntary, and no colour of excuse can be alleged for it; nay, it is very culpable and guilty, by neglecting to receive instruction from the Son of God.

Because their deeds were evil; the vices and lusts of men are the works of darkness, the fruits of their ignorance and errors; and they are so pleasant to the carnal corrupt nature, that to enjoy them securely, they obstinately reject the light of the gospel; this aggravates their sin and sentence.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 3:19". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-3.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

The condemnation; cause of condemnation.

Light is come; divine truth is revealed.

Darkness; error and sin.


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Bibliography
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

19. αὕτη δέ ἐς. ἡ κρ. But the judgment is this; this is what it consists in. We have precisely the same construction 1 John 1:5; 1 John 5:11; 1 John 5:14; and almost the same (ἵνα for ὅτι) John 15:12, John 17:3.

τὸ φῶς. This is not only S. John’s term (John 1:4-9) but Christ’s (John 8:12, John 9:5, John 12:46). On ἐλήλ. εἰς τ. κ. see on John 11:27.

καὶ ἠγαπ. The tragic tone again (see on John 1:5). Men loved the darkness rather than the Light. Litotes or meiosis (John 6:37, John 8:40); they hated the Light. Gravis malae conscientiae lux, Seneca, Ep. 122. No allusion to Nicodemus coming by night: he chose darkness to conceal not an evil work but a good one.


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"Commentary on John 3:19". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/john-3.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

19. The condemnation—Men would not be condemned had not Christ come. But for the provision of a Saviour for the race, the race would have died in Adam. But for the promise of the holy seed, given in Eden, the seed of Adam would never have been propagated. All condemnation, therefore, is summed up in the fact that the means of salvation, sanctification, glorification, are rejected. But though but for the light there would be no condemnation, the light is not, therefore, to blame for that condemnation; but the entire blame rests upon men for their rejection of the light. Men are most truly and justly “damned by grace” when they reject grace.

Light is come into the world—Christ and his religion are what the sun is to the world. It is its own evidence, and sheds evidence that none have a right to reject. Yet the evidences of Christ and his religion do not compel conviction, permanent and undeniable; for as belief of the truth is one of the tests of our probation, so disbelief must be allowed to be possible. That degree of evidence is afforded which convinces the honest mind, and leaves rejection under condemnation. And this rejection is a rejection of that salvation, and of pardon for all other sins as well as for the sin of unbelief. The man’s entire amount of sin remains unpardoned to condemn him.

Because their deeds were evil—Wicked deeds, and the love of sin, are the great cause of men’s hatred of religious truth. An evil life loves the darkness and error by which it can excuse itself. A wicked heart spontaneously and obstinately hates Christ and truth. Sometimes that wickedness of heart is of an animal and fleshly character, arising from a low brutishness in man. Sometimes it is of a higher nature; from intellectual pride; the sin not of the flesh but of the spirit. This is not from the brute, but from the devil in man; for the devil is the very model of unsanctified, proud, cold-hearted intellect.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-3.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil’.

God bases His condemnation on the fact that Jesus has come as ‘the light’ into the world (John 1:4-5; John 1:9; John 8:12), and by His life and teaching has offered the light of life and revealed the light of truth. But men turn from Him because they love their sins and His light therefore shines on them and condemns them. They do not want to give up their lives which ‘come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23), the glory revealed by Jesus, and so they reject Jesus and even say evil things against Him, and thus are in danger of the unforgivable sin, final rejection of the clear testimony of the Spirit (Mark 3:22 with 28, 29). If we refuse to open our lives to the light of Jesus we have no one to blame but ourselves when we are finally condemned.

When we pick up a rock in the garden the light shines where it was previously dark and we find there many unpleasant creatures that immediately scuttle for cover. So when Christ’s light shines on men they too will respond or run for cover, depending on the state of their hearts, and the result of what they do will determine their eternal future.

‘The only begotten Son of God.’ Strictly speaking in earthly terms Jesus was not ‘begotten of God’ for on earth to be begotten is to come into existence after the begetter. The idea is rather that He is true God and of the same nature as the Father. Unlike all others He is not a created being.


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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-3.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

John explained the process of mankind"s judgment (Gr. krisis, separating or distinguishing, not krima, the sentence of judgment). Even though light entered the world, people chose darkness over light. The light in view is the revelation that Jesus as the Light of the World brought from the Father, particularly the light of the gospel. The reason people choose darkness over light is their deeds are evil. They prefer their darkness to God"s light because of what the darkness hides, namely, their sin.


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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-3.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 3:19. And this is the judgment,—the judgment is of this kind, takes place thus,—because the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. These words bring out clearly that the ‘not believing’ spoken of in the last verse signifies an active rejection, and not the mere absence of belief—a rejection of the true light which in the person of Jesus came into the world, and henceforth ever is in the world. Men loved the darkness, for their works—not single deeds, but the whole expression and manifestation of their life-were wicked. The word used (‘wicked’) is that which elsewhere expresses the character of the arch-enemy as ‘the wicked one’ (John 17:15; 1 John 3:12). It denotes active evil, positive and pronounced wickedness.


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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-3.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 3:19. This is further explained in the following, αὕτητὸ φῶς. The ground of the condemnation lies precisely in this, that since the coming of Christ and His exhibition of human life in the light of the holiness and love of the Father, human sin is no longer the result of ignorance, but of deliberate choice and preference. Nothing can be done for a man who says, “Evil, be thou my good”. The reason of this preference of darkness and rejection of Christ is that the life is evil, ἦν γὰρ κ. τ. λ.


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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 3:19". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-3.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

The judgment. That is, the cause of his condemnation. (Challoner)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 3:19". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/john-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

this is = this is what it consists in; viz:

condemnation = judging: i.e. the process rather than the result. Greek. krisis. App-177.

light = the light. App-130. See note on John 1:4.

men = the men. As a class. App-123.

darkness = the darkness.

deeds = works. Plural of ergon. A characteristic word of this Gospel. See note on p. 1511.

evil. Greek. poneros = active evil. App-128.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:19". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

And this is the condemnation - emphatically so; revealing the condemnation already existing, and sealing up under it those who will not be delivered from it.

That light, [ to (G3588) foos (G5457), rather, 'the light'] is come into the world - in the Person of Him to whom Nicodemus was listening.

And men loved [`the'] darkness [ to (G3588) skotos (G4655)] rather than [`the'] light, because their deeds were evil. [On the aorist - eegapeesan (Greek #25) - here, see the note at John 10:4.] The deliberate rejection of Himself was doubtless that to which Jesus here referred, as that which would fearfully reveal men's preference for the darkness.


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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-3.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(19) And this is the condemnation.—For “condemnation” read judgment; for “light” and “darkness,” the light and the darkness. The object is salvation, not judgment (John 3:17); but the separation of the good involves the judgment of the evil. The light makes the darkness visible. Both were before men. That they chose darkness was the act of their own will, and this act of the will was determined by the evil of their deeds. “The light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” (Comp. Note on John 1:5.)

The words are general, but they must have had, for him who then heard them, a special force. It was night. He had avoided the light of day, and like men who go forth to deeds of darkness under cover of darkness, he had come in secrecy to Jesus. His own conscience told him that he was in the presence of a Teacher sent from God (John 3:2); but he has checked the voice of conscience. He has shrunk from coming to this Teacher in the light of day, and has loved the darkness of the night.


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 3:19". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
this
1:4,9-11; 8:12; 9:39-41; 15:22-25; Matthew 11:20-24; Luke 10:11-16; 12:47; Romans 1:32; 2 Corinthians 2:15,16; 2 Thessalonians 2:12; Hebrews 3:12,13
because
5:44; 7:17; 8:44,45; 10:26,27; 12:43; Isaiah 30:9-12; Luke 16:14; Acts 24:21-26; Romans 2:8; 1 Peter 2:8; 2 Peter 3:3

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 3:19". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-3.html.

Ver. 19. "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

Quesnel: "Nothing discovers more the corruption of an age, and gives more reason to fear the wrath of God, than when we see opposition to the light increase in the same proportion in which God bountifully diffuses it."

Love to our darkness is always concealed behind a false love of the light; and it is the great punishment of God on nations and individuals to give them over to this depraved sense, which takes light for darkness and darkness for light. "This is the condemnation;" it is the sin, and at the same time the condemnation, or the punishment. For that which is sin from one side, is from the other the punitive act of God, by which He adjudges to darkness those who love the darkness, and excludes from the light those who despise the light. They do not disappoint God, but rather, by their sins against them, fulfil the eternal laws of His being.

On light and darkness, cf. John 1:4-5. The light is salvation, as it has come into the world in the person of the Saviour; the darkness is the wickedness of sin, and the evil inseparable from it.

Men are represented principally by the Jews. ἠγάπησεν refers to the experience which Jesus had already had, especially in Jerusalem. But the Aorist requires only, that the action be one that is already commenced. It is used not infrequently of general truths founded on empirical observations: Buttmann, Gram. S. 174 , 5.

Lücke remarks, "It is said, Men loved darkness more than light. To love it absolutely would be devilish. So, according to John, there is in every one a spark, a feeling of need for the light." But this remark is certainly not in the meaning of the Saviour. Of course a ratherness only is declared, but in the background there is a complete want of love to the light, and hatred towards it. The word μᾶλλον stands likewise in John 12:43, "They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God;" and it is evident, that they did not love the praise of God at all. When, in Genesis 29:30, it is said that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, the very next verse, "And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated," shows how this is to be understood: cf. Deuteronomy 21:15. Who, from Luke 18:14, κατέβη οὗτος δεδικαιωμένος εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ ἤ γὰρ ἐκεῖνος, would conclude, that the Pharisee likewise shared in the justification, but in a less degree? or from 2 Timothy 3:4, φιλήδονοι μᾶλλον ἢ φιλόθεοι, that love to God is ascribed to these persons, but only in a less degree?

The reason for despising the light is stated in the words, "because their deeds were evil." In a certain sense, the deeds of all men are evil—so certain as the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, and as all men are evil, πονηροί, according to the declaration of the Saviour, Matthew 7:11. But the words cannot be intended to have this sense here: they can refer only to decided and stiff-necked wickedness. The Scripture, immediately after it has recorded the depth of the fall of sin, in which the whole human race is involved, teaches, that notwithstanding this, there is still always an opposition between the unrighteous and the righteous those who surrender themselves unconditionally to their innate sin, like Cain and his descendants, and those who, in adherence to God, and by walking with Him, contend against it, as Abel, Enoch, Genesis 5:22; Genesis 5:24, the sons of God in Genesis 6:2, and Noah, of whom it is said in Genesis 6:9, "Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations: Noah walked with God." In the same sense in which evil deeds stand here, occurs the phrase, evil works, in 1 John 3:12, where the evil works of Cain are opposed to the righteous works of Abel. This difference was especially perceptible among the covenant-people, whom the Saviour has principally in view here. In the heathen world it was less prominent. Although such differences occurred even here, yet in the great whole they were altogether buried ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς πονηροῖς, Colossians 1:21.


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Bibliography
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 3:19". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-3.html.

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