Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 3:20

For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Blindness;   Character;   Darkness;   Jesus, the Christ;   Judgment;   Light;   Sin;   Wicked (People);   Word of God;   Thompson Chain Reference - Concealment-Exposure;   Darkness;   Works;   The Topic Concordance - Condemnation;   Evil;   Hate;   Light;   Manifestation;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Blindness, Spiritual;   Character of the Wicked;   Light;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Nicodemus;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Darkness;   Hatred;   Light;   Persecution;   Propitiation;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Backsliding;   Light;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Episcopacy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Faith;   Nicodemus;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Chambers of Imagery;   Jesus Christ;   Nicodemus;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Gospels;   John, Gospel of;   John, Theology of;   Logos;   Mss;   Nicodemus;   Scribes;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Death of Christ;   Deceit, Deception, Guile;   Discourse;   Hating, Hatred;   Holy Spirit;   Ignorance (2);   Incarnation (2);   Light;   Light and Darkness;   Love;   Obedience (2);   Property (2);   Reproof;   Righteous, Righteousness;   Sifting;   Sin;   Teaching of Jesus;   Truth (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - 30 To Do, Practise;   42 Evil Wicked;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Regeneration;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Tabernacle, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ephesians, Epistle to the;   Evidence;   Johannine Theology, the;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Nicodemus;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light - He who doth vile or abominable things: alluding to the subject mentioned in the preceding verse.

The word φαυλος, evil or vile, is supposed by some to come from the Hebrew פלס phalas, to roll, and so cover oneself in dust or ashes, which was practised in token of humiliation and grief, not only by the more eastern nations, see Job 42:6, but also by the Greeks and Trojans, as appears from Homer, Iliad xviii. l. 26; xxii. l. 414; xxiv. l. 640; compare Virgil, Aen. x. l. 844; and Ovid, Metam. lib. viii. l. 528. From the above Hebrew word, it is likely that the Saxon ful, the English foul, the Latin vilis, and the English vile, are derived. See Parkhurst under φαυλος .

Lest his deeds should be reproved - Or discovered. To manifest or discover, is one sense of the original word, ελεγχω, in the best Greek writers; and it is evidently its meaning in this place.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 3:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

That doeth evil - Every wicked person.

Hateth the light - This is true of all wicked men. They choose to practice their deeds of wickedness in darkness. They are afraid of the light, because they could be easily detected. Hence, most crimes are committed in the night. So with the sinner against God. He hates the gospel, for it condemns his conduct, and his conscience would trouble him if it were enlightened.

His deeds should be reproved - To “reprove” here means not only to “detect” or make manifest, but also includes the idea of “condemnation” when his deeds are detected. The gospel would make his wickedness manifest, and his conscience would condemn him. We learn from this verse:

1.that one design of the gospel is “to reprove” men. It convicts them of sin in order that it may afford consolation.

2.that men by nature “hate” the gospel. No man who is a sinner loves it; and no man by nature is disposed to come to it, any more than an adulterer or thief is disposed to come to the daylight, and do his deeds of wickedness there.

3.The reason why the gospel, is hated is that men are sinners. “Christ is hated because sin is loved.”

4.The sinner must be convicted or convinced of sin. If it be not in this world, it will be in the next. There is no escape for him; and the only way to avoid condemnation in the world to come is to come humbly and acknowledge sin here, and seek for pardon.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 3:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-3.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved. But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God.

These two verses are a further explanation of John 3:19, spelling out the universal law regarding the hatred of evil men for the truth of God, called here "the light." Also, there is the converse of it, namely, that good men seek and desire the truth. The whole spectrum of human behavior appears in this concise statement of eternal principles.

He that doeth evil hateth the light ... Wicked people are essentially night operators, being afraid of the light which could expose them. Most crimes are committed in darkness, and the police force is always busiest at night. Spiritually, the same principles hold. Wicked and unspiritual people stay as far as possible away from any study or discussion of God's word. If they attend worship at all, it is prompted by other considerations than a desire to know God; and for the vast majority of the wicked, worship services are absolutely off limits.

Lest their works should be reproved ... This is the reason for the wicked's avoidance of contact with truth. Not only would the word of God condemn his deeds, but his own conscience would be aroused against himself if it became enlightened, a discomfort which the wicked will not willingly endure, fleeing from the light to avoid it.

He that doeth the truth cometh to the light ... The person with the honest and good heart desires to walk uprightly before God and man, loves the truth, and seeks to know more of God's will. The light does not need to seek him; he seeks the light and shuns the works of darkness.

That his works may be manifest ... The good heart does not shrink from testing his behavior against the teachings of the Lord, being willing to correct deficiencies or aberrations in his life upon becoming aware of them.

That they are wrought in God ... This is the end of walking in the light. Human behavior is so corrected and disciplined that the whole life and all of its actions are wrought "in God." "For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

In this connection, it should be observed that: God in people and people in God, Christ in people and people in Christ, the Spirit in people and people in the Spirit, the mind of Christ in people, and the word of Christ in people are not references to various conditions, but to one condition. Who is the person of whom such expressions are valid? He is the Christian, the man born of water and of the Spirit who is faithful to his trust.

This concluded the Lord's interview with Nicodemus, an interview reported only in part, we may be sure; but enough was recorded to make it one of the most significant ever to occur on earth. Here was enunciated, probably for the first time, the doctrine of the new birth; and, from Jesus' words in this interview, there can be no doubt that this doctrine lies at the very heart of Christianity. The conclusion is established beyond any question that in order to enter fellowship with God, one must be baptized into Christ and receive the Holy Spirit - such is the sacred and eternal law laid down here by the Lord. Let every man ask himself, therefore, if indeed he has been born of water and the Spirit!

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 3:20". "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

For every one that doth evil, hateth the light,.... Every man, the series of whose life and conversation is evil, hates Christ and his Gospel, cause they make manifest his evil deeds, convict him of them, and rebuke him for them:

neither cometh to the light; to hear Christ preach, or preached; to attend on the Gospel ministration and means of grace:

lest his deeds should be reproved; or discovered, and made manifest, and he be brought to shame, and laid under blame, and advised to part with them, which he cares not to do; see Ephesians 5:11.

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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 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
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Gill, John. "Commentary on John 3:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-3.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

reproved — by detection.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/john-3.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

That doeth ill (ο παυλα πρασσωνho phaula prassōn). The word παυλοςphaulos means first worthless and then wicked (usually so in N.T.) and both senses occur in the papyri. In John 5:29 see contrast between αγατα ποιεωagatha poieō (doing good things) and παυλα πρασσωphaula prassō (practising evil things).

Hateth the light (μισει το πωςmisei to phōs). Hence talks against it, ridicules Christ, Christianity, churches, preachers, etc. Does it in talk, magazines, books, in a supercilious tone of sheer ignorance.

Cometh not to the light
(ουκ ερχεται προς το πωςouk erchetai pros to phōs). The light hurts his eyes, reveals his own wickedness, makes him thoroughly uncomfortable. Hence he does not read the Bible, he does not come to church, he does not pray. He goes on in deeper darkness.

Lest his works should be reproved
(ινα μη ελεγχτηι τα εργα αυτουhina mē elegchthēi ta erga autou). Negative final clause (ινα μηhina mē) with first aorist passive subjunctive of ελεγχωelegchō old word to correct a fault, to reprove, to convict. See also John 8:46; John 16:8. To escape this unpleasant process the evil man cuts out Christ.

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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)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 3:20". "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

Doeth ( πράσσων )

The present participle, indicating habit and general tendency.

Evil ( φαῦλα )

Rev., ill. A different word from that in the previous verse. Originally, light, paltry, trivial, and so worthless. Evil, therefore, considered on the side of worthlessness. See on James 3:16.

Lest his works should be reproved ( ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ ).

Rather, in order that his works may not be reproved. Ελέγχω , rendered reprove, has several phases of meaning. In earlier classical Greek it signifies to disgrace or put to shame. Thus Ulysses, having succeeded in the trial of the bow, says to Telemachus, “the stranger who sits in thy halls disgraces ( ἐλέγχει ) thee not” (“Odyssey, xxi., 424). Then, to cross-examine or question, for the purpose of convincing, convicting, or refuting; to censure, accuse. So Herodotus: “In his reply Alexander became confused, and diverged from the truth, whereon the slaves interposed, confuted his statements ( ἤλεγχον , cross-questioned and caught him in falsehood), and told the whole history of the crime” (i., 115). The messenger in the “Antigone” of Sophocles, describing the consternation of the watchmen at finding Polynices' body buried, says: “Evil words were bandied among them, guard accusing ( ἐλέγχων ) guard” (260). Of arguments, to bring to the proof; prove; prove by a chain of reasoning. It occurs in Pindar in the general sense of to conquer or surpass. “Having descended into the naked race they surpassed ( ἤλεγξαν ) the Grecian band in speed (“Pythia,” xi., 75).

In the New Testament it is found in the sense of reprove (Luke 3:19; 1 Timothy 5:20, etc.). Convince of crime or fault (1 Corinthians 14:24; James 2:9). To bring to light or expose by conviction (James 5:20; Ephesians 5:11, Ephesians 5:13; John 8:46; see on that passage). So of the exposure of false teachers, and their refutation (Titus 1:9, Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15). To test and expose with a view to correction, and so, nearly equivalent to chasten (Hebrews 12:5). The different meanings unite in the word convict. Conviction is the result of examination, testing, argument. The test exposes and demonstrates the error, and refutes it, thus convincing, convicting, and rebuking the subject of it. This conviction issues in chastening, by which the error is corrected and the erring one purified. If the conviction is rejected, it carries with it condemnation and punishment. The man is thus convicted of sin, of right, and of judgment (John 16:8). In this passage the evil-doer is represented as avoiding the light which tests, that light which is the offspring of love (Revelation 3:19) and the consequent exposure of his error. Compare Ephesians 5:13; John 1:9-11. This idea of loving darkness rather than light is graphically treated in Job href="/desk/?q=job+24:13-17&sr=1">Job 24:13-17.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 3:20". "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.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Всякий, делающий злое. Смысл в следующем: свет потому стал для них ненавистен, что они сами злы и, насколько возможно, стремятся скрыть свои грехи. Откуда следует, что они, отвергая врачевство, как бы сознательно потворствуют своему осуждению. Следовательно, мы сильно ошибаемся, если думаем, что противники Евангелия руководствуются святым рвением. Скорее, они боятся света, дабы свободнее льстить себе во тьме.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:20". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-3.html. 1840-57.

Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books

Ver. 20. "For, every one who practiseth evil hateth the light and doth not come to the light, that his works may not be condemned."

Night was reigning at the moment when Jesus was speaking thus. How many evil-doers were taking advantage of the darkness, to pursue their criminal designs! And it was not accidental that they had chosen this hour. Such is the image of that which takes place in the moral world. The appearance of Jesus is for the world like the rising of the sun; it manifests the true character of human actions; whence it follows, that when any one does evil and wishes to persevere in it, he turns his back upon Jesus and His holiness. If his conscience came to be enlightened by this brightness, it would oblige him to renounce that which he wishes to keep. He denies therefore, and this negation is for him the night in which he can continue to sin: such is the genesis of unbelief. The expression ὁ φαῦλα πράσσων, he who does evil, denotes not only the tendency to which the man has hitherto surrendered himself, but also that in which he desires to persevere. This is what the present participle πράσσων (instead of the past πράξας) expresses. For the word πονηρά (perverse things) is substituted the word φαῦλα (things of nought) of John 3:19; the latter is taken from the estimate of Jesus himself, while the former referred to the intrinsic nature of the acts, to their fundamental depravity. We must also notice a difference between the two verbs πράττειν and ποιεῖν : the first indicates simply labor—the question is of works of nought—the second implies effective realization, in the good the product remains. But we need not believe that the term practise evil refers only to what we call immoral conduct. Jesus is certainly thinking, also, of a life externally honorable, but destitute of all serious moral reality, like that of the greater part of the rulers in Israel, and particularly of the Pharisees: the exaltation of the I and the pursuit of human glory, as well as gross immorality, belong to the φαῦλα πράττειν, "practise things of nought" in the sense in which Jesus understands it.— ΄ισεῖ,he hates, expresses the instinctive, immediate antipathy; οὐκ ἔρχεται, he comes not, denotes the deliberate resolution. The verb ἐλέγχειν (perhaps from πρὸς ἕλην κρίνειν, to hold to the light in order to judge) signifies: to bring to light the erroneous or evil nature of an idea or a deed.

The reason of unbelief, therefore, is not intellectual, but moral. The proof which Jesus gives, in John 3:20, of this so grave fact is perfectly lucid. All that Pascal has written most profoundly on the relation between the will and the understanding, the heart and the belief, is already in advance contained in this verse and the one which follows. But that which is true of unbelief is equally true of faith. It also strikes its roots into the moral life; here is the other side of the judgment:

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Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 3:20". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/john-3.html.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Ver. 20. For every one that doeth evil] As the Ethiopians are said to curse the sun for its bright and hot shining. (Herodot.) Christ came a light into the world; his gospel hath appeared as a beacon on a hill, or as the sun in heaven, { επεφανη, Titus 2:12} his saints shine as lamps, &c. Now when men hate these, as thieves do a torch in the night, and fly against the lights as bats do, this is condemnation.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 3:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-3.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

John 3:20

Notice:—

I. That the Jews, to whom our text was originally applied, hated the light, and would not come to it because their deeds were evil. Their national rejection of our Lord was the result of their national depravity. We gather enough from the incidental notices of the inspired historians to assure us that when Christ came upon earth Judæa was overrun with almost universal profligacy. No man of common feeling can read our Lord's denunciations of the Pharisees without a consciousness that a fierce, unblushing depravity must have reigned among these teachers and rulers of the people, ere the lowly and compassionate Jesus could have poured forth such a torrent of reproach. Analyse the matter as nicely as you will, you cannot avoid allowing that it was just because the darkness of the false system favoured and fostered their evil deeds, while the light of the true system poured upon their shame and required their banishment, that with a tenacity which excites our surprise, and a fierceness which moves our indignation, the Jews scorned the Saviour when He stood amongst them and displayed the credentials of a marvellous and manifold miracle.

II. The same explanation may be given of infidelity, open or concealed, among ourselves. Viciousness of practice produces this strange preference of darkness to light. Men will not come to the light; they love darkness lest their deeds should be reproved. Conversion, in place of being desired, is literally and actually dreaded. It would be the most ill-omened message if you told the money-maker in the midst of his accumulations, or the pleasure-hunter in his revelries, or the child of ambition as he toils up the steep of preferment, that a day would soon dawn, bringing with it such a change in his feelings and character that wealth would be looked upon as dross, and voluptuousness spurned as an enemy, and distinctions fled from as dangerous and destructive, while he would count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ his Lord. Infidelity is a thing of man's own choice, and the choice results from men's own conduct. And thus the decision of our text, harsh as it may sound, and bigoted and illiberal, is, in every case, substantiated. The Jew and Gentile, the Deist, who openly denounces revelation as a forgery, and the worldling who gives it the homage of formal respect and then the contempt of a God-denying life—to all and each of these may the text be unreservedly applied: "Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."

H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2,585.

Reference: John 3:20, John 3:21.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 497.


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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on John 3:20". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/john-3.html.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

In these words our Saviour acquaints us with the different nature of sin and holiness. It is the nature of sin, and the property of sinners, to hate the light, because it discovers the evil and sinfulness of their ways unto them, and condemns them for them; as the Ethiopians are said to curse the sun for its bright and hot shining: whereas holy and gracious persons, that walk uprightly, do love the light; that is, they delight to have their thoughts, words, and actions, tried by the light of the word, because they are wrought in God; that is, performed as in the sight of God, according to the direction of the word of God, and with a single eye and sincere aim at the glory of God.

Learn hence, 1. That the word of God, or the gospel of Jesus Christ, has all the properties of a great and true light. It is of a pure and purifying nature, it is of a manifestive and discovering nature. It has a piercing power, and penetrating virtue; it enters the darkest recesses of the soul, and detects the errors of men's judgments, as well as discovers the enormities of their lives.

Learn, 2. That nothing is so hateful to, and hated by, a wicked man, as the discovering and reproving light of the word of God; for at the same time that it discovers the sin, it condemns the sinner.

Learn, 3. That a truly gracious person, who acteth agreeably to the will of God, is not afraid to examine his actions by the word of God; but desires and delights that what he doth may be made manifest both to God and man. He that doeth truth, cometh to the light, and rejoiceth, that his deeds may be made manifest, because they are wrought in God.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 3:20". 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

20.] This verse analyses the psychological grounds of the preceding. The φῶς is not here ‘the common light of day,’ nor light in general: but as before, the Light; i.e. the Lord Jesus, and His salvation: see John 3:21 fin.

There is here a difference between φαῦλα πράσσειν, and ποιεῖν τὴν ἀλήθειαν, which is too remarkable to be passed over,—especially as the same distinction is observed in ch. John 5:29,— οἱ τὰ ἀγαθὰ ποιήσαντες εἰς ἀνάστασιν ζωῆς, οἱ δὲ τὰ φαῦλα πράξαντες εἰς ἀν. κρίσεως. Bengel, who noticed this, hardly I think gives the right reason for it: “malitia est irrequieta, est quiddam operosius quam veritas;” nor does Stier fully reach it, “that πράσ. signifies more a subordination, a being the servants of sin, ἐργάται ἀδικίας, Luke 13:27.” I think the distinction is rather perhaps this,—that πράσσειν is more the habit of action; so that we might say ‘he that practises evil;’ but ποιεῖν the true doing of good, good fruit, good that remains. He who πράσσει, has nothing but his πρᾶγμα, which is an event, a thing of the past, a source to him only of condemnation, for he has nothing to shew for it, for it is also φαῦλον, worthless; whereas he that ποιεῖ, has his ποίημα,—he has abiding fruit; his works do follow him. So that the expressions will not perhaps here admit of being interchanged. (See however Romans 7:15-20, where the two verbs are certainly interchanged more than once.) There may possibly be a hint [in the mention of σκότος, John 3:19] at the coming by night of Nicodemus, but surely only by a distant implication. He might gather this from what was said, that it would have been better for him to make open confession of Jesus; but we can hardly say that our Lord reproves him for coming even as he did.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 3:20". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-3.html. 1863-1878.

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

John 3:20. γάρ] If by the previous γάρ the historical basis for the statement ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, κ. τ. λ., was laid, then this second γάρ is related to the same statement as explanatory thereof (see on Matthew 6:32; Matthew 18:11; Romans 8:6), introducing a general elucidation, and this from the psychological and perfectly natural relation of evil-doers to the light which was manifested (in Christ) ( το͂ φῶς not different from John 3:19), which they hated as the principle opposed to them, and to which they would not come, because they wished to avoid the ἔλεγχος which they must experience from it. This “coming to the light” is the believing adherence to Jesus, which, however, would have to be brought about through the μετάνοια.(167)

ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ] Intention. This ἔλεγχος is the chastening censure, which they shunned both on account of their being put to shame before the world, and because of the threatening feeling of repentance and sorrow in their self-consciousness. Comp. Luke 3:19; John 8:8; Ephesians 5:11; Ephesians 5:13. “Gravis malae conscientiae lux est,” Senec. ep. 122. 14. This dread is both moral pride and moral effeminacy. According to Luthardt (comp. B. Crusius), the ἐλέγχεσθαι refers only to the psychological fact of an inner condemnation. But against this is the parallel φανερωθῇ, John 3:21.

Observe, on the one hand, the participle present (for the πράξας might turn to the light), and, on the other, the distinction between πράσσων (he who presses on, agit, pursues as the goal of his activity) and ποιῶν, John 3:21 (he who does, facit, realizes as a fact). Comp. Xen. Mem. iii. 9. 4 : ἐπισταμένος μὲν δεῖ πράττειν, ποιοῦντες δὲ τἀναντία, also John 4:5. 4, al.; Romans 1:31; Romans 2:3; Romans 7:15; Romans 13:4. See generally, Franke, ad Dem. Ol. iii. 15.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 3:20". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/john-3.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 3:20. πράσσων) ποιῶν, John 3:21.(54) Evil is restless: it is a something more given to working than truth is. Hence they are marked by different words, as ch. John 5:29.(55)ἐλεγχθῇ) should be reproved, should be convicted of being such as they actually are: against the will of the evil-doer himself. The opposite to this is φανερωθῇ, may be made manifest, John 3:21 : ἐλέγχω, a word suited to this passage, from ἓλη and ἔγχω [I bring to the sun-light]: for ἔλεγχος εἰς φῶς ἄγει τὰ πράγματα.(56)τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ) Appositely, it is first said, the works of him [ αὐτοῦ being put last], in the case of the man who flees from the light; then in John 3:21, αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα [the αὐτοῦ first], his works in the case of him who knows that he will not be put to shame.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 3:20". 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

He that makes a trade of sin, and doth evil presumptuously, loving and delighting in it, doth not love the light, nor, if he can avoid it, will come near it; for the light is that which makes things visible, and discovereth them. As it is of the nature of natural light to show things to others as they are; and therefore thieves, and adulterers, and drunkards, care not for the light, but choose the darkness for their deeds of darkness, and come as little abroad in the light as they can when they do them: so it is of the nature of Christ and his gospel to discover men’s errors, both as to the obtaining of justification and eternal salvation, and the errors also of men’s lives; and therefore men and women possessed of errors in their judgments, or delighting in a filthy conversation, hate Christ and his gospel; because that a discovering the right ways of God discovereth the crookedness of their ways, opposite to the truths and ways of God.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 3:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-3.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Reproved; shown to be evil, and as such condemned. The reason why men do not believe what Christ has taught is, that they love error, they do evil, and his truth on this account condemns them.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 3:20". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved’.

While we are behaving like ‘nice Christians’ and doing good, men will praise us and say nice things about us, but let us once speak and behave in such a way that it condemns their own selfish and evil living, and they will immediately change and begin to show their anger and condemn us. For men hate the light.

So it was even more supremely with Jesus. While He preached in parables which could be generalised He was popular. But once His preaching began to reach the heart many left Him (John 6:66), and when He exposed the hypocrisy of much Jewish teaching He was condemned out of hand. But by their desertion, and by their condemnation, these people revealed that they were evil. They did not want to face up to the truth or let the truth come out, and so they hid from the light. They ceased listening to Him because it was too disturbing.

The truth is that men naturally ‘hate the light’. They do not want to be exposed as what they are. They do not want to know the truth about themselves and will do anything to hide from it. Nor do they want to be ‘reproved’ or condemned. So they hide in the darkness where they are satisfied that their sins cannot be seen. But in Jesus light had come, and it was shining through His life and teaching and they must therefore now respond one way or the other. What they must never forget is that one day a light will shine on their lives from which they cannot hide. And then judgment will be passed and they will ‘perish’.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 3:20". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-3.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20.Lest his deeds should be reproved—The light and truth of the Gospel make sin odious; and those who love sin, whether of the flesh or of the spirit, dislike their approach.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 3:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-3.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Not only do evildoers love darkness ( John 3:19), they also hate the light. The Greek word translated "evil" is phaula, meaning "worthless." Evildoers avoid the light that Jesus brings, and Jesus Himself (cf. John 1:9-11), because it exposes the vanity of their lives. It shows that they have no meaning, worthy goal, or hope for the future. They know that coming to the light would convict them. Immorality lies behind much unbelief.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 3:20". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-3.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 3:20. For every one that committeth evil hateth the light, and he cometh not to the light lest his works should be convicted. This verse explains the last, and refers the action there described to a general principle. The universal law is, that he who committeth evil hateth the light. Not ‘he that hath committed,’ for what is spoken of is the bent and the spirit of the man’s life. The word ‘evil’ here is not the same as that rendered ‘wicked’ in John 3:19, but is more, general. The one word means evil in active manifestation; the other what is worthless, good for nothing. No doubt the second word is used in this verse partly for the sake of vivid contrast with the real and abiding ‘truth’ of John 3:21, partly because what is worthless and unsubstantial will not stand the test of coming to that very light which shows in all its reality whatever is substantial and true. Every one whose life is thus evil knows that in the presence of the light he must stand self-condemned. The experience is painful, and he endeavours to avoid it by turning from the light, till, as conscience still asserts its power, he seeks defence against himself by hating the light (compare 1 Kings 22:8). We must not forget the application that is in John’s mind. The light that is come is Jesus Himself. He is come; but men also must come to Him. If they came not, the cause was a moral one. Before He came, some light had been in the world (John 1:5); those who, living a life of evil (whether open wickedness or a worthless self-righteousness), hated this light, were thus prepared to reject the Light Himself.—The last word of the verse is remarkable, as it is more naturally applied to the doer than to his deed. Not only will the works be shown by the light—be exposed in their true character: the works are looked on as of themselves the criminals—they will be self-convicted, self-condemned. The thought of self-conviction has in this Gospel an importance that can hardly be over-estimated.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 3:20". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-3.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 3:20. The principle is explained in this verse. Underlying the action of men towards Christ during His historical manifestation was a general law: a law which operates wherever men are similarly invited to walk in the light. The law which governs the acceptance or refusal of light is given in the words . , originally “poor,” “paltry,” “ugly”; , “the vulgar,” “the common sort”. In Polybius, , , badly constructed; , a foolish general, and in xvii. 15, 15 it is opposed to deliberate wickedness. Dull, senseless viciousness seems to be denoted. Here and in John 3:29 is used with , and in the next verse with , on which Bengel remarks: “Malitia est irrequieta; est quiddam operosius quam veritas. Hinc verbis diversis notantur”. Where a distinction is intended, expresses the reiterative putting forth of activities to bring something to pass, the actual production of what is aimed at. Hence there is a slight hint of the busy fruitlessness of vice. Paul, as well as John, uses , in certain passages, of evil actions. The person thus defined , “hates the light,” instead of delighting in it, , and does not bring himself within its radiance, does not seek to use it for his own enlightenment; , “lest his works be convicted” and so put to shame. According to John there is moral obliquity at the root of all refusal of Christ. Obviously there is, if Christ be considered simply as “light”. To refuse the ideal he presents is to prefer darkness.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 3:20". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-3.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

doeth = practises, or (habitually) does. Greek. prasso

evil. Greek. phaulos = worthless, base. Occurs only here; John 5:29. Titus 2:8. James 3:16, in Rec. Text, but in Romans 9:11. 2 Corinthians 5:10, in most texts for kakos. Here, plural worthless things.

neither = and . . . not. Greek. ou. App-105.

reproved = brought home to him. Compare John 16:8 (convince).

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:20". "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

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved - by being brought out to the light.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:20". "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

(20) For every one that doeth evil hateth the light.—In this and the next verse we have the explanation of the choice of the darkness and rejection of the light. The fact itself is first stated more strongly. Not only does the man that doeth evil love darkness rather than light, but he hates the light. (Comp. Note on John 7:7.) Its presence makes manifest and reproves his works, which he would hide even from himself. It illumines the dark and secret chambers of the heart, and reveals thoughts and deeds which conscience, seeing in this light, trembles at, and turns away to darkness that it may hide itself from its own gaze.

It has been often noted that the word “doeth,” in this and the following verse, represent different words in the original. Perhaps we may distinguish them in English by rendering this verse: “Every one that practiseth evil.” It is not less important to note that the word for evil here differs from the word so rendered’ in the last clause of the previous verse. Strictly, and the change of word seems to demand a strict interpretation (comp. Note on John 5:29), it is not that which is positively, but that which is negatively, evil—that which is trivial, poor, worthless. The man who practiseth such things misses the aim of life, and turns from the light that would point it out to him. He does many things, but forgets that one thing is needful, and spends a life-time in trifles without any permanent result. We are familiar with the thought that immorality shuns the light and warps the will, and thus darkens knowledge and weakens faith; but we remember too seldom the deadening effect of an unreal and aimless existence which is not truly a life.

Should be reproved.—The margin will show that our translators felt a difficulty about this word (see Notes on Matthew 18:15), where it is rendered “tell him his fault,” and comp. the other instances in this Gospel, John 8:9; John 8:46 (“convince” in both), and especially John 16:8 (“reprove,” and margin “convince”). The moral idea is exactly illustrated by the action of light, which makes manifest the wrong, and leads the conscience to see it and repent of it. It is through this chastening that the man passes from darkness to light. It is because men shrink from this chastening that they hate the light. (Comp. Notes on the remarkable parallel in Ephesians 5:11 et seq.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 3:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
every
7:7; 1 Kings 22:8; Job 24:13-17; Psalms 50:17; Proverbs 1:29; 4:18; 5:12; 15:12; Amos 5:10,11; Luke 11:45; James 1:23-25
reproved
or, discovered.
Ephesians 5:12,13
Reciprocal: Leviticus 13:10 - quick raw flesh;  2 Samuel 13:9 - And Amnon;  1 Kings 3:20 - midnight;  Nehemiah 6:10 - in the night;  Job 21:14 - for we;  Job 24:16 - they know;  Psalm 14:1 - abominable;  Psalm 25:12 - him;  Psalm 104:22 - GeneralProverbs 1:22 - fools;  Proverbs 2:13 - walk;  Proverbs 8:36 - he;  Proverbs 10:21 - fools;  Proverbs 15:10 - grievous;  Proverbs 16:30 - shutteth;  Proverbs 17:16 - seeing;  Proverbs 21:16 - wandereth;  Isaiah 5:13 - because;  Isaiah 6:10 - lest;  Jeremiah 9:6 - refuse;  Ezekiel 8:12 - in the;  Hosea 5:4 - They will not frame their doings;  Hosea 14:9 - but;  Zechariah 7:12 - lest;  Matthew 9:34 - GeneralMatthew 13:13 - GeneralMatthew 13:19 - and understandeth;  Matthew 24:39 - GeneralLuke 2:34 - set;  Luke 20:7 - that;  John 1:5 - GeneralJohn 5:44 - can;  John 8:45 - GeneralJohn 15:18 - GeneralPhilippians 1:10 - ye;  2 Timothy 3:7 - learning;  2 Timothy 3:16 - for reproof;  Hebrews 3:10 - err;  2 Peter 3:5 - they willingly;  1 John 1:6 - walk;  3 John 1:11 - he that doeth evil

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 3:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-3.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ver. 20. "For every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."

He that doeth evil is, according to Knapp, qui peccatis indulget, qui vitiis dat operam; or, as the Berleb. Bibel says, "whose practice it is to defend the old idle ways, and who will not leave that which is not worthy that a rational being should depend upon it." Light here is not used exclusively of the personal light Christ, but of all which is adapted to ameliorate the godless condition of the natural man, viz., of God and His revelation, the Church and its ministry. That the works should appear in their true character, is intolerable to him who is resolved to walk in the ways of sin. Inseparable from sin are hypocrisy and deceit, which call the evil good, and the good evil; so that darkness is changed into light, and light into darkness, the bitter into sweet, and the sweet into bitter, Isaiah 5:20. Such perversions of the truth are the stronghold of sin. A man cannot maintain himself therein, when it presents itself in its true form; and on this account he carefully avoids more immediate contact with the truth from above, and its bearers. On this account he hates the truth, when it seeks to gain access to him: he knows that sin cannot consist with it, and that his condition must be an intolerable one, if by contact with the light his sin is brought to light, Ephesians 5:13. Anton: "A man not desiring the elenchum becomes an enemy of the light, μισεῖ τὸ φῶς. This intimates that the light presses him hard, though it does not properly compel him. The light attacks the man, and the man attacks the light in return, and extinguishes it, becomes an enemy of light, an enemy of detection, an enemy of the elenchus; though at first he does not indeed think that he is an enemy. But when the time comes to proceed ad rem, then the enmity is revealed." This is the great secret of the enmity of the world to the living God and His all-revealing word,—to Christ also, and His Church. Man can bear anything rather than the revelation of his true character, the consequence of which is, that he must hate and despise himself, when he has once resolved not to renounce his lusts and passions.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 3:20". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-3.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

20.For whosoever doeth what is evil. The meaning is, that the light is hateful to them for no other reason than because they are wicked and desire to conceal their sins, as far as lies in their power. Hence it follows that, by rejecting the remedy, they may be said purposely to cherish the ground of their condemnation. We are greatly mistaken, therefore, if we suppose that they who are enraged against the Gospel are actuated by godly zeal, when, on the contrary, they abhor and shun the light, that they may more freely flatter themselves in darkness

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:20". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-3.html. 1840-57.