Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 3:25

Therefore there arose a discussion on the part of John's disciples with a Jew about purification.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - John;   Thompson Chain Reference - Disciples;   John's;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Purifications or Baptisms;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - John the baptist;   Rabbi;   Uncleanness;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Baptize, Baptism;   Clean, Unclean;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Episcopacy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Faith;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Jesus Christ;   John the Baptist;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Clean, Cleanness;   John, the Gospel of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Gospels;   John, Gospel of;   John, Theology of;   Mss;   Scribes;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Aenon ;   Baptism;   John the Baptist;   Purification (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Disciple,;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - John, the Baptize;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Baptism (the Baptist Interpretation);   Baptism (Lutheran Doctrine);   Disciple;   Uncleanness;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for January 30;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

John's disciples and the Jews - Instead of Ιουδαιων, Jews, ABELS. M. BV, nearly 100 others, some versions and fathers, read Ιουδαιου, a Jew, which Griesbach has admitted into the text. The person here spoken of was probably one who had been baptized by the disciples of our Lord; and the subject of debate seems to have been, whether the baptism of John, or that of Christ, was the most efficacious towards purifying.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 3:25". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A question - Rather a controversy a dispute.

John‘s disciples - Those who had been baptized by him, and who attached great efficacy and importance to the teaching of their master. Compare the notes at Acts 19:1-5.

And the Jews - Many manuscripts, some of the fathers, and the ancient Syriac version read this in the singular number “with A Jew,” one who, it is commonly supposed, had been baptized by the disciples of Jesus.

About purifying - What the precise subject of this dispute was we do not know. From what follows, it would seem probable that it was about the comparative value and efficacy of the baptism performed by John and by the disciples of Jesus. The word “purifying” may be applied to baptism, as it was an emblem of repentance and purity, and was thus used by the Jews, by John, and by Jesus. About this subject it seems that a dispute arose, and was carried to such a length that complaint was made to John. From this we may learn:

1. that even in the time of Jesus, when the gospel began to be preached, there was witnessed what has been ever since - unhappy disputings on the subject of religion. Even young converts may, By overheated zeal and ignorance, fall into angry discussion.

2. that such discussions are commonly about some unimportant matter of religion - something which they may not yet be qualified to understand, and which does not materially affect them if they could.

3. that such disputes are often connected with a spirit of proselytism - with boasting of the superior excellence of the sect with which “we” are connected, or in connection with whom we have been converted, and often with a desire to persuade others to join with us.

4. that such a spirit is eminently improper on such occasions. Love should characterize the feelings of young converts; a disposition to inquire and not to dispute; a willingness that all should follow the dictates of their own consciences, and not a desire to proselyte them to our way of thinking or to our church. It may be added that there is scarcely anything which so certainly and effectually arrests a revival of religion as such a disposition to dispute, and to make proselytes to particular modes of faith, and of administering the ordinances of the gospel.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 3:25". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-3.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

There arose therefore a questioning on the part of John's disciples with a Jew about purifying.

It is not known what the question here involved. Hovey thought that the fact of Jesus and John baptizing at the same time might have raised a question of the relative importance of the two administrations, whether both were of equal value, and if Jesus was to supersede John.

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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 3:25". "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

Then there arose a question,.... A dispute, or controversy, occasioned by the baptism, of John and Christ:

between some of John's disciples, and the Jews. The Syriac and Persic versions read, "between one of John's disciples, and a certain Jew"; and Nonnus renders it, "with an Hebrew man"; and so the Alexandrian manuscript; many others read, "with a Jew": the contention between them was

about purifying; either about the ceremonial purifications, and ablutions commanded in the law of Moses; or concerning the various washings of persons, and vessels, according to the traditions of the elders, which the Jews in common were very tenacious of; and which they thought were brought into neglect, and contempt, by the baptism of John: and this seems to have been occasioned by the baptism of Christ; which the Jew might improve against the disciple of John, and urge, that since another, besides his master, had set up baptizing, who could tell which was most right and safest to follow? and therefore it would have been much better, if no such rite at all had been used by any, but that the purifications required by the law of Moses, and by their elders, had been strictly and solely attended to.

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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 3:25". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

8 Then there arose a question between [some] of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.

(8) Satan inflames the disciples of John with a fond emulation of their master in order to hinder the course of the gospel: but John, being mindful of his office, not only puts a stop to their endeavours, but also takes occasion by that means to give testimony of Christ, that in him alone the Father has set forth everlasting life.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 3:25". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-3.html. 1599-1645.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

25. Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.

[A question about purifying.] I. Question, Syriac, inquire: which calls to mind that which is so perpetually in use amongst the Talmudic authors; R. N. inquired of R. N. Whence that also, as familiarly used, If you ask I will tell you. If the word in this place be taken according to this scholastic use of it, as it may very well be, then we may expound this passage thus:

The disciples of John, having heard that Jesus did baptize also, they with the Jews inquire, what sort of purifying resulted from the baptism of Christ; whether that purified more than the baptism of John. They inquire jointly, Doth Jesus superinduce a baptism upon the baptism of John? and John his upon the baptisms or washing of the Jews? Whither will this purifying at last tend? and what virtue hath this of Jesus' beyond that of John's?

II. Or, if you will, suppose we that this be a dispute betwixt the disciples of St. John and the Jews about the legal purifications and the baptism now introduced: there is no doubt but both parties contended to the uttermost of their power.

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Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on John 3:25". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/john-3.html. 1675.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

A questioning (ζητησιςzētēsis). Old word from ζητεωzēteō See Acts 15:2 for the word where also ζητημαzētēma (question) occurs. ητησιςZētēsis (process of inquiry) means a meticulous dispute (1 Timothy 6:4).

With a Jew (μετα Ιουδαιουmeta Ioudaiou). So correct text, not ΙουδαιωνIoudaiōn (Jews). Probably some Jew resented John‘s baptism of Jesus as implying impurity or that they were like Gentiles (cf. proselyte baptism).

About purifying
(περι καταρισμουperi katharismou). See John 2:6 for the word. The committee from the Sanhedrin had challenged John‘s right to baptize (John 1:25). The Jews had various kinds of baptisms or dippings (Hebrews 6:2), “baptisms of cups and pots and brazen vessels” (Mark 6:4). The disciples of John came to him with the dispute (the first known baptismal controversy, on the meaning of the ceremony) and with a complaint.

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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 3:25". "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

Then ( οὖν )

Not a particle of time but of consequence; therefore, because of both Jesus and John baptizing.

Question ( ζήτησις )

Rev., more correctly, questioning. Question would be ζήτημα , always in the sense of a question in debate. The word here represents the process of inquiry.

Between ( ἐκ )

Rev., correctly, on the part of. Literally, proceeding from. The rendering of the A.V. does not show with which party the discussion originated. The Greek distinctly states that the question was raised by the disciples of the Baptist.

The Jews

The best texts read Ἱουδαίου , with a Jew. Possibly one who asserted that John's baptism might now be dispensed with.

Purifying

Probably not about the familiar ceremonial purifications, but as to whether the baptism of Jesus or of John had the greater purifying power.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 3:25". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.

The Jews — Those men of Judea, who now went to be baptized by Jesus; and John's disciples, who were mostly of Galilee: about purifying - That is, baptism. They disputed, which they should be baptized by.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 3:25". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-3.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

There arose therefore a questioning on the part of John's disciples with a Jew about purifying1.

  1. There arose therefore a questioning on the part of John's disciples with a Jew about purifying. What this questioning was we are not told. The word "therefore" doubtless refers to the baptisms just mentioned, so that the dispute probably related to the necessity or purifying effects of that ordinance. But whatever the dispute was about, it brought to notice the fact that Jesus was baptizing more than John, a fact which some of the disciples of John quickly resented.

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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. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 3:25". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-3.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Purifying; baptism.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on John 3:25". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/john-3.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Произошел спор. Евангелист не напрасно говорит о вопросе, заданном учениками Иоанна. Ведь чем меньше они были наставлены в учении, тем увереннее пускались в диспуты. Поскольку незнание всегда бывает дерзким. Если бы другие приступили к ним с этим вопросом, их можно было бы извинить. Однако они сами, не будучи готовы к подобному спору, чрезмерно отягощали им иудеев, поступая весьма дурно и неосмотрительно. Ибо Евангелист буквально говорит о том, что именно они поставили подобный вопрос. Кроме того, потому как они грешили, бездумно рассуждая о том, чего не знали, и чего не могли знать, в них виден и другой не меньший порок: ученики хотели не столько утверждать законное совершение крещения, сколько защищать дело своего учителя, дабы его авторитет оставался невредимым и целостным. И то, и другое достойно порицания: и то, что, не зная, зачем нужно крещение, они выставили на посмешище священное установление Божие; и то, что из-за превратной мнительности они возвышали своего учителя вопреки Иисусу Христу. Посему они были поражены и смущены, узнав о том, что Христос тоже крестит. Ведь, думая о человеческих почестях, они совершенно забыли про учение. На их примере мы видим, как сильно падают те, кем больше руководит ревность по людям, нежели ревность по Богу. Из этого мы научаемся стремиться и всеми силами заботиться о том, чтобы славу получал один лишь Христос.

Об очищении. Вопрос об очищении был поставлен потому, что у иудеев имелись разные виды омовений, предписанные законом. Не довольствуясь этими установлениями, они ревностно соблюдали множество других, которые приняли от отцов. Посему они сочли абсурдным, что Христос и Иоанн вдобавок ко всему этому изобилию обрядовых омовений вводят еще какое-то новое.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:25". "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. 25. "There arose therefore a dispute on the part of John"s disciples with a Jew, touching purification."

The occasion of the following discourse was a discussion provoked by the competition of the two neighboring baptisms. οὖν, therefore, marks this relation. The expression on the part of the disciples, shows that John"s disciples were the instigators. The reading of the greater part of the Mjj. ᾿ιουδαίου, a Jew, instead of ᾿ιουδαίων,some Jews, is now generally preferred. I accept it, without being able to convince myself altogether of its authenticity. Should not the substantive ᾿ιουδαίου have been accompanied by the adjective τινός ? And would an altercation with a mere unknown individual have deserved to be so expressly marked? The three most ancient Versions agree in favor of the reading ᾿ιουδαίων, Jews.

The Sinaitic MS. also reads in this way. The two substantives in ου, before and after this word, might have occasioned an error. The subject of the discussion was the true mode of purification. Of what purification? Evidently of that which should prepare the Jews for the kingdom of the Messiah. Meyer thinks that the Jew ascribed to the baptism of Jesus a greater efficacy than to that of John.Chrysostom, followed by some others, holds that the Jew had had himself baptized already by the disciples of Jesus. Hofmann and Luthardt suppose, on the contrary, because of the term Jew, that he belonged to the Pharisaic party, hostile both to Jesus and to John, and that he had maliciously recounted to the disciples of John the successes of Jesus. The use of this term scarcely allows us, indeed, to suppose in this man kindly feelings, either towards Jesus or towards John. Perhaps in response to the disciples of John who invited him to have himself baptized, reminding him of the promises of the Old Testament (Ezekiel 36:25, etc.), he answered ironically that one knew not to whom to go: "Your master began; here is a second who succeeds better than he; which of the two says the truth?" The question was embarrassing. The disciples of John decide to submit it to their master. This historical situation is too well defined to have been invented.

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Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 3:25". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/john-3.html.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

25 Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying.

Ver. 25. And the Jews] Who joined themselves to John’s disciples, craftily and maliciously, that they might both set against Christ; like as the Jesuits at this day will cunningly comply with the Lutherans, and seem to side with them, that they may both set against the Calvinists.

About purifying] That is, baptism, called elsewhere the laver of regeneration, Titus 3:5, and by a Father, ‘ αλεξιτηριον καθαρτικον, a purging preservative. "Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh," saith Peter, but a better thing, 1 Peter 3:21.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 3:25". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

John 3:25. And the Jews It should be observed, that the word Jews, in this place and some others, does not mean persons of that nation in general, but of the country of Judea (see John 3:22.), where baptism had just then been administered under the direction of Jesus; and where, as most of John's disciples were of Galilee, it was natural for persons of these two schools, to bring their respective disciples into competition; and that some Jews or men of Judea, baptized under Christ, would, by invidious comparisons, raise the jealousy of some Galileans baptized by John. The Jews called all sorts of ablutions prescribed by their teachers purifications: the subject therefore of this debate was, how Jesus, who had been himself baptized by John, came to re-baptize John's disciples, Acts 19:4-5 that is, assume a greater authority than John, and virtually declare, that his baptism was inefficacious for the purposes of purification. The Baptist's disciples, though they had often heard their master speak on the subject, not understanding the subserviency of his ministry to that of Jesus, were unable to give their antagonists a satisfactory answer, so came and proposed their question to John himself. See the next verse.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 3:25". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/john-3.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, What a spirit of envy there was in John's disciples against Christ, upon account of the multitude of his followers: He that was with thee beyond Jordan, baptizeth, and all men come to him.

Where note, 1. How meanly John's disciples think and speak of our Saviour, compared with John their master. They do not so much as allow him a name, or give him any title, but He that was with thee beyond Jordan, the same baptizeth.

Observe, 2. How they intimate, as if Christ had received all his credit and reputation from their master John: He to whom thou bearest witness, baptizeth; as if they had said, "This man whom the people flock after, neglecting thee and thy disciples, is much inferior to thee; for he came to thee, thou didst not go to him; thou baptizedst him, he did not baptize thee; thou gavest testimony to him, he did not give testimony to thee."

Whence we observe, What a bitter spirit of envy and emulation there has always been amongst the ministers of the gospel, even from the very first plantation of the gospel, which causes them to look upon the exalted parts and gifts of others, as a diminution and debasing of their own; but why should as the prospering of the work of God, in one minister's hand, be matter of repining unto others? Shall not God honour what instruments he pleaseth? And will he not reward all his faithful labourers, according to their sincerity, not according to their success.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 3:25". 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

25.] The circumstances under which this dispute arose seem to have been these:—John and our Lord were baptizing near to one another. (On the relation of their baptisms, see below on John 3:26.) They were both watched jealously (see ch. John 4:1) by the Pharisees. One of these ( ἰουδαῖος, i.e. ἰουδ. τις) appears to have entered into dispute with the disciples of John about the relative importance of the two baptisms; they perhaps maintaining that their master’s καθαρισμός preparatory to the Messiah was absolutely necessary for all, and he (the ἰουδαῖος) pointing out to them the apparent inconsistency of this Messiah himself authorizing a baptism in his name, and alleging that if so, their master’s baptism was rendered superfluous. We are driven to these conjectures, because the text gives us no further insight into the fact than that the circumstances and the answer of John render probable.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 3:25". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-3.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 3:25. οὖν, Accordingly) There is reference to John 3:22; comp. John 3:26, “They came unto John and said, Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan,” etc., “the same baptizeth,” etc.— ζήτησις) A question, a temperate one: not a quarrel.— ἐκ, on the part of) The question was mooted by the disciples of John.— μετὰ ἰουδαίων) with the Jews, those who now no longer resorted to John, but to Jesus; whilst the disciples of John were contending, that purifying ought to be sought from John.— καθαρισμοῦ, purifying) from sins. Mark 1:4, “John did baptize,” etc., “and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Comp. Ephesians 5:26, “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” A word of frequent use among the Jews. Comp. Hebrews 9:13-14, “If the blood of bulls and goats,” etc., “sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ,” etc., “purge your conscience;” 2 Maccabees 1:36, νέφθαρ, διερμηνεύεται καθαρισμός: John 2:16, ἄγειν τὸν καθαρισμόν. John nowhere employs the terms, a baptism, a baptizing [baptisma, baptismus], the Baptist; see John 3:5, “be born of water” [not, be baptized]; nay, even to express Levitical baptism he uses the term, purifying, ch. John 2:6.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 3:25". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The Jews had so many purifyings, some legal, instituted by God, ordained by Moses as God’s minister; some traditional, brought in by the Pharisees, as their washings before meat, Matthew 15:1-20 Mark 7:1-23; that seemeth a hard thing to determine what the question was between John’s disciples and the Jews, about what purifying; and the boldest determiners in this case are no better than guessers. Some would have baptism to be meant here by

purifying. It would much conduce to the resolution of the question if we knew what these Jews were with whom John’s disciples argued. If they were of the Pharisees, it is probable the question was about John’s baptism, considering the frequent washings and purifyings that they had in use amongst them. If they were other Jews, the question might be about the virtue and efficacy of the ceremonial washings, ordained by the law of God, whether they were mere types, and now to cease? Whether in themselves they conduced any thing to the washing and cleansing of a soul? If these Jews were (as some think, but I know not how it can be proved) disciples of Christ, the question might be about John’s and Christ’s baptism. This notion seemeth to be favoured by what went before; where the evangelist had been speaking of baptism, as administered by Christ’s disciples, and by John; as also from what followeth, viz. John’s disciples coming to him and complaining, that Christ by his disciples baptized more than their master. But there seemeth to be this great prejudice against the notion of those learned men that have embraced that notion, viz. That the question is said to have risen between John’s disciples and the Jews; now we want an instance in Scripture, where the disciples of John are put in opposition to the disciples of Christ, and under notion of the Jews; the term Jews generally signifying that part of the people who adhered to the Judaical rites and religion; especially where (as here) it is used in opposition either to the disciples of John or of Christ. It is most probable therefore the question was, either about the washings ordained by the law of Moses, or about the traditional washings observed by the Pharisees.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 3:25". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-3.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

произошел спор Вероятно, спор касался связи служений крещения Иоанна и Иисуса к иудейским обычаям церемониального очищения, упомянутого в 2:6. Однако основным стимулом для него послужило беспокойство учеников Иоанна, что Иисус был его конкурентом.

(3:25-36) Этот сегмент можно разделить на 3 части, которые главное место отводят тому, что происходило во взаимоотношении служения Иоанна и Иисуса: 1) Иоанн Креститель ознаменовал окончание старой эпохи (ст. 25-29); 2) переход к служению Иисуса (ст. 30) и 3) служение Иисуса как установление начала новой эпохи (ст. 31-36). Вместо ревности Иоанн выказал скромную преданность превосходству Личности и служения Иисуса.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 3:25". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-3.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

About purifying; the question seems to have had reference to the relative worth of John’s baptism as compared with that of Jesus.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 3:25". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘A discussion therefore arose between John’s disciples and a Jew (or ‘the Judaisers’) about purifying’.

A discussion arose between John’s disciples and ‘a Jew’ (or ‘the Judaisers’). As John’s disciples were in fact Jews this demonstrates that the term Jew or Jews, when used in the Gospel, is not to be taken as referring to the nation. It rather refers to those who were particularly zealous for Judaism. It was they who would be concerned about purification rites, and as we know some of the Judaisers had already challenged John on the matter (John 1:25).

Possibly one of the representatives of the Jewish eldership (or a group of them - the authorities are relatively equally divided on the question) was seeking to pin down the meaning of John’s baptism, possibly mistakenly seeing it as an aspect of ceremonial purification or connecting it with the proselyte initiation ceremony, for when a non-Jew became a proselyte he would be required to undergo a ceremonial bath, although that was self-administered and thus of a very different nature. It may be that while seeking to argue this theological point, he commented to them concerning the fact that Jesus was more successful than John (John 4:1). He was probably seeking to cause a division between John and Jesus. The fact that the author is aware of what the discussion was about shows how close he was to the action, but he deliberately leaves the matter vague. The fact that he does so shows that it is not important to the meaning of this section. It is only mentioned because it happened. There was clearly constant communication between John the Baptiser’s group and the disciples of Jesus (see John 4:1-3).

But the reader is, of course, aware that there is no argument. He knows that the old purificatory waters of Judaism have been replaced by the new wine of the Spirit.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 3:25". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-3.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

25.The Jews—Our Evangelist uses the term Jews in its later sense to signify Judaists, or Jewish opposers of Christianity. See note on John 1:19. The best manuscripts have the word here in the singular, a Jew. By comparing this verse with John 4:1, we infer that this Jew was one of the partisans of the Pharisees, who were hearing that Jesus was becoming more prominent than John. His dispute here is with John’s disciples in regard to the superiority of the two baptisms or purifyings. In view of Jesus’s great demonstration and miracles at the late Passover, and the larger and increasingly larger popularity of Jesus’s baptism, the Jew sees the superiority on Jesus’s side. John’s disciples, who share not the humility of their master, still imagine that, as prior to Jesus, as his Baptizer and Testifier, John is the superior.

Purifying—This word, as designating the ritual effect of baptism, is here used to designate the rite itself.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 3:25". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-3.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Evidently the discussion in view centered on the relation of John"s baptism to other ceremonial washings that various other Jewish authorities espoused. These other washings probably included the practices prescribed in the Old Testament and more modern rites of purification that some Jewish leaders advocated. This verse provides the background from which John"s disciples approached him in the next verse.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 3:25". "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 3:25. There arose therefore a questioning on the part of John’s disciples with a Jew about purifying. In the circumstances just described, discussion would inevitably arise as to the relative position and value of the two baptisms. A ‘Jew’ (see note on chap. John 1:19) had placed the baptism of Jesus above that of John in regard to its purifying power. Although the Jews in general were hostile to Jesus, this man may have shared the convictions of Nicodemus (John 3:1-2). The disciples of John refused to regard their master’s baptism as less efficacious than that of another, who had been himself baptized by him. Unable either to set the question at rest, or to ignore the opposition of the Jew, they brought the matter of contention before John. On the symbolic character of John’s baptism, see the note on John 3:5; on ‘purification,’ see ii 6, John 13:10, John 15:3, and 1 John 1:7; 1 John 1:9.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 3:25". "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 3:25. ’ There arose therefore—that is, in consequence of the proximity of these two baptisms—on the part of John’s disciples [ , cf. Herod. John 3:21 and Dionys. Hal. viii. p. 556] a questioning, or discussion, with a Jew about purifying, that is, generally, including the relation of those two baptisms to one another, and to the Jewish washings, and the significance of each. The trend of the discussion may be gathered from the complaint to the Baptist, John 3:26. As the discussion was begun by the disciples of John, it would seem as if they had challenged the Jew for seeking baptism from Jesus. For their complaint is (John 3:26) . That Jesus should baptise as well as John they could not understand. Really, the difficulty is that Jesus should have allowed John to go on baptising, and that John should not himself have professed discipleship of Jesus. But so long as John saw that men were led by his preaching to accept the Messiah he might well believe that he served Christ better thus than by following in His train.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 3:25". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-3.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Then = Therefore: i.e. on account of the facts stated in verses: John 3:22-24.

question = questioning.

between some of = [on the part] of. Greek ek. App-104.

and = with. Greek. meta. App-104. the Jews. All the texts read "a Jew". Greek. Ioudaion, with Syriac. But it has been suggested that Iou was the primitive abbreviation for Iesou (= of Jesus), and being repeated (by inadvertence) led to the reading Iou[daion] (= a Jew). This would agree better with verses: John 3:22-24; with "Therefore" in John 3:26, and with the action of John"s disciples, and John"s answer. See the Structure H2 above.

about = concerning. Greek. peri. App-104.

purifying = purification. Compare John 2:6. Luke 2:22; Luke 5:14.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:25". "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

Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.

Then there arose a question between [some of] John's disciples and the Jews, [ ek (Greek #1537) toon (Greek #3588) matheetoon (Greek #3101) Iooannou (Greek #2491) meta (Greek #3326) Ioudaioon (Greek #2453)] - rather, 'on the part of John's disciples with the Jews.' But the true reading beyond doubt is, 'with a Jew' [ Ioudaiou (Greek #2453)]. The received text has but inferior support.

About purifying - that is, baptizing; the symbolical meaning of washing with water being put (as in John 2:6) for the act itself. Since John and Jesus were the only teachers who baptized Jews, discussions might easily arise between the Baptist's disciples and such Jews as declined to submit to that rite.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:25". "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

(25) Then there arose a question.—For “the Jews,” the reading of the better MSS. is, a Jew. The question arose on the side of John’s disciples. What the exact nature of it was we do not know, and have no means of judging. It was one of the questions which in every age has arisen about external rites, and has too often been accompanied by a neglect of inner principles. This arose in some way from the fact of the disciples of Jesus baptising near to the place where John was baptising, and doubtless was closely connected with these baptisms. The fact is only preserved as an incidental introduction to the remarkable testimony of the Baptist which follows.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 3:25". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.
about
2:6; Matthew 3:11; Mark 7:2-5,8; Hebrews 6:2; 9:10,13,14,23; 1 Peter 3:21
Reciprocal: Matthew 9:14 - the disciples;  Matthew 11:2 - he;  Mark 7:4 - except;  Mark 11:30 - GeneralLuke 11:38 - he marvelled;  John 1:35 - and two;  John 10:17 - GeneralActs 13:24 - GeneralActs 21:24 - and purify;  Hebrews 1:2 - appointed

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 3:25". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-3.html.

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

Ver. 25. "Then there arose a question on the part of John's disciples with a Jew about purifying.

The οὖν indicates that the discussion was occasioned by the nearness of the two baptisms. It is of significance that the discussion was started by the disciples of John. They evidently call a Jew ( ἰουδαίου is the best authenticated reading, not ἰουδαίων) to account, who gave the baptism of Christ the preference over that of their master, and was either coming from or going to it. Cf. ver. 26, where the sentence, ἴδε οὗτος βαπτίζει καὶ πάντες ἔρχονται πρὸς αὐτόν, is the general statement which has just been proved by this particular case. "On account of purification "(John 2:6): whether it were to be sought in the baptism of Christ, ver. 22, or in the baptism of John, ver. 23.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 3:25". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-3.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

25.A question then arose. Not without a good reason does the Evangelist relate that a question arose from the disciples of John; for just in proportion as they were ill-informed about doctrine, they are so much the more eager to enter into debate, as ignorance is always bold and presumptuous. If others had attacked them, they might have been excused; but when they themselves, though unfit to maintain the contest, voluntarily provoke the Jews, it is a rash and foolish proceeding. Now the words mean, that “thequestion was raised by them;” and not only were they to blame for taking up a matter which they did not understand, and speaking about it rashly and beyond the measure of their knowledge; but another fault — not less than the former — was, that they did not so much intend to maintain the lawfulness of Baptism as to defend the cause of their master, that his authority might remain unimpaired. In both respects, they deserved reproof, because, not understanding what was the real nature of Baptism, they expose the holy ordinance of God to ridicule, and because, by sinful ambition, they undertake to defend the cause of their master against Christ.

It is evident, therefore, that they were astonished and confounded by a single word, when it was represented to them that Christ also was baptizing; for while their attention was directed to the person of a man, and to outward appearance, (64) they gave themselves less concern about the doctrine. We are taught, by their example, into what mistakes those men fall who are actuated by a sinful desire to please men rather than by a zeal for God; and we are likewise reminded that the single object which we ought to have in view and to promote by all means is, that Christ alone may have the pre-eminence.

About purifying The question was about purifying; for the Jews had various baptisms and washings (65) enjoined by the Law; and not satisfied with those which God had appointed, (66) they carefully observed many others which had been handed down from their ancestors. When they find that, in addition to so great a number and variety of purifyings, a new method of purifying is introduced by Christ and by John, they look upon it as absurd.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:25". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-3.html. 1840-57.