Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 3:27

John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - John;   Minister, Christian;   Thompson Chain Reference - Dependence;   Gifts;   Human;   Weakness, Human;   Weakness-Power;   The Topic Concordance - Giving and Gifts;   Jesus Christ;   John the Baptist;   Sending and Those Sent;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Heaven;   John the baptist;   Kingdom of god;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Baptize, Baptism;   Heaven, Heavens, Heavenlies;   John the Baptist;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Episcopacy;   Regeneration;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Faith;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Jesus Christ;   John the Baptist;   Holman Bible Dictionary - John, the Gospel of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Gospels;   John, Gospel of;   John, Theology of;   Mss;   Scribes;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Heaven ;   Humility;   Immanence ;   Influence;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - John, the Baptize;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Baptism (Non-Immersionist View);   Baptism (Lutheran Doctrine);  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for December 6;   Every Day Light - Devotion for January 30;   Today's Word from Skip Moen - Devotion for December 5;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

A man can receive nothing, etc. - Or, A man can receive nothing from heaven, unless it be given him. I have received, not only my commission, but the power also by which I have executed it, from above. As I took it up at God's command, so I am ready to lay it down when he pleases. I have told you from the beginning that I was only the forerunner of the Messiah, and was sent, not to form a separate party, but to point out to men that Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world: John 3:28.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 3:27". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

John answered … - John did not enter into their feelings or sympathize with their love of party. He came to honor Jesus, not to build up a sect, He rejoiced at the success of the Messiah, and began to teach them to rejoice in it also.

A man can receive nothing … - All success is from heaven. All my success was from God. All the success of Jesus is from God. As success comes from the same source, we ought not to be envious. It is designed to answer the same end, and, by whomsoever accomplished, the hand of God is in it, and we should rejoice. If Jesus and his disciples are successful, if all men flee to him, it is proof that God favors him, and you should rejoice.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 3:27". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-3.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it have been given to him from heaven.

Except it have been given ... The words here are true in two senses. Jesus could not have enjoyed such widespread success unless God had given it; and John's decline could not have occurred unless the Lord had willed it. How wonderful it would be if every minister accepted the principle that "It is God who gave the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:6). All power, ability, talent, intelligence, skill, beauty - everything comes from God (Deuteronomy 8:18).

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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 3:27". "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

John answered and said,.... The Syriac and Arabic versions add, "to them"; the answer being made to the disciples of John, who came to him with their complaint:

a man can receive nothing; the Syriac and Persic versions add, "of his own will": some understand this of Christ, as man, who did not take upon him the character of the Messiah, nor the office of a Mediator, nor the honour of it of himself; and who received the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, without measure, and had his success in his work from above: and indeed, it is true of both Christ, and John; for as Christ, so John received his office, and honour, as the harbinger and forerunner of Christ, and all his gifts qualifying for it, and his success in it, not of himself, but of God: and since therefore the superior office, and honour, and usefulness of the one above the other, were according to the sovereign will of God, there was no room for complaint, murmuring, and envy; but there ought to be contentment and pleasure in the wise disposition of things by God. Yea, this is true of every man, who has nothing of his own; and whatever he has in nature, providence and grace, is a gift to him; and all he enjoys is in a way of receiving: nor can he receive it,

except it be given him from heaven; from God who dwells there; See Gill on Matthew 21:25; who is the author and donor of every gift, temporal, spiritual, and eternal; particularly he cannot perceive, and discern spiritual things, nor receive Gospel truths; as it appeared to John his disciples could not, unless spiritual light is given from above; and such a favour is bestowed, as to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven: and therefore, for every office, whether of a superior, or inferior kind, and for every degree of honour, and for whatsoever blessing and gift, whether for soul or body, for time, or for eternity, men ought to be thankful, and not glory in them, as though they had not received them; nor is there any reason to murmur against God, or envy one another, as these disciples did.

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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
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 3:27". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

John answered and said, A man u can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

(u) Why are you trying to better my state? This is every man's lot and portion, that he cannot better himself in the slightest way.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 3:27". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-3.html. 1599-1645.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

27. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

[A man can receive nothing.] The rendering of this word receive, may be a little questioned. The Syriac hath it to receive. Perhaps it might be more fitly translated to perceive or apprehend. For the Baptist seems in these words to rebuke the incredulity and stupidity of these men: q.d. "Ye see, by this very instance of yourselves, that no man can learn, perceive, or believe, unless it be given him from heaven. For ye yourselves are my witnesses, that I did prefer Jesus before myself, that I testified of him that he was the Son of God, the Lamb of God, &c.; and ye now would cavil against him, and prefer me before him. It is apparent that no one can perceive or discern what he ought to do, unless it be given from heaven." Compare with this, verse 32, "No man receiveth his testimony."

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Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on John 3:27". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/john-3.html. 1675.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Except it have been given him from heaven (εαν μη ηι δεδομενον αυτωι εκ του ουρανουean mē ēi dedomenon autōi ek tou ouranou). See the same idiom in John 6:65 (cf. John 19:11). Condition of third class, undetermined with prospect of determination, αποστελλωean mē with the periphrastic perfect passive subjunctive of didōmi The perfect tense is rare in the subjunctive and an exact rendering into English is awkward, “unless it be granted him from heaven.” See 1 Corinthians 4:7 where Paul says the same thing.

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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 3:27". "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

Receive

Answering to given.

Be given ( ᾖ δεδομένον )

Rev., more correctly, have been given.

From heaven

Literally, out of heaven ( ἐκ ).

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 3:27". "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

John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

A man can receive nothing — Neither he nor I. Neither could he do this, unless God had sent him: nor can I receive the title of Christ, or any honour comparable to that which he hath received from heaven. They seem to have spoken with jealousy and resentment; John answers with sweet composure of spirit.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 3:27". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-3.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it have been given him from heaven1.

  1. A man can receive nothing, except it have been given him from heaven. Some take this to mean that Jesus could not have had this great success unless Heaven gave it to him; but it is more likely that John used the words with entire reference to himself. A "man" can only take what is given to him; the Son of God takes what he chooses. The friend receives only what hospitality extends to him, but the heir takes what he will, as the owner of the house.

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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 3:27". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-3.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Не может человек. Некоторые относят это ко Христу, словно Иоанн обвиняет своих учеников в нечестивой дерзости. Ведь они пытались лишить Христа того, что было дано Ему от Отца. Итак, смысл по их мнению следующий: То, что Христос за столь короткое время достиг такой чести, сделал Сам Бог. Посему вы напрасно пытаетесь принизить Того, кого Бог возвысил собственной десницей. Другим кажется, что это восклицание вызвано негодованием. Иоанн возмутился тем, что ученики столь мало преуспели в познании. Действительно, весьма абсурдно, если они, столько раз слышав о Христе, все еще хотели поставить Его ниже их собственного учителя. Итак, Иоанн мог справедливо посетовать на то, что напрасно тратил время на обучение глухих тупиц, разум которых не обновился свыше. Однако я скорее присоединюсь к мнению тех, кто относит сказанное к самому Иоанну. Он отрицает, что в его или в их власти сделать себя великим. Ведь положенный нам удел – быть такими, какими нас хочет видеть Бог. Если даже Сам Божий Сын принял Свое достоинство не от Себя, кто из Его стада дерзнет требовать больше, чем дал ему Господь? Одна эта мысль, глубоко укоренившись в людских душах, достаточна для обуздания любого самомнения. Если же упразднить самомнение, одновременно исчезнет болезнь споров и разногласий. Почему еще человек возносится сверх положенного, если не потому, что не хочет зависеть от Господа и довольствоваться тем, куда Он его поставил?

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:27". "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. 27. "John answered and said: A man can receive nothing except that which hath been given him from heaven."

As far as John 3:30, which is the centre of this discourse, the dominant idea is that of the person and mission of the forerunner. Accordingly, it seems natural to apply the general sentence of John 3:27 specially to John the Baptist. He is urged to defend himself against Jesus who is despoiling him. "I cannot take," he answers, "that which God has not given me"—in other words, "I cannot assign to myself my part: make myself the bridegroom, when I am only the friend of the bridegroom."

So Bengel, Lucke, Reuss, Hengstenberg, I myself (first ed.). I abandoned this application in the second edition, for that of Olshausen, de Wette, Meyer, Weiss, according to which this maxim refers to Jesus: "He would not be obtaining such success, if God Himself did not give it to Him." With this meaning, this saying must be regarded as the summary of the two parts of the discourse (I and He), and not only of the first part. Yet I ask myself whether it is not proper, as I did originally, to refer this maxim to the mission conferred, rather than thesuccess obtained; comp. Hebrews 5:4. Then the asyndeton between John 3:26-27 is more consonant with the application to John only, since he announces the following verse as an energetic reaffirmation of the thought of John 3:26.

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Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 3:27". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/john-3.html.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

Ver. 27. A man can receive nothing] There is much in this word "man," as Beza thinks, to set forth the most miserable indigence of all mankind by nature. {a} The Greeks, when they set forth one miserable indeed, they call him τρισανθρωπον, thrice a man.

{a} Videtur hominis appellatio magnum habere momentum.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 3:27". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-3.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, How holily and wisely John the Baptist corrects the envy and jealousy of his own disciples, and endeavours to root out all prejudice out of their minds against Christ; in order to which, he shews them a five-fold difference betwixt Christ and himself.

1. He tells them Christ was the Master, John but his minister, and that he had told them so from the beginning. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ; but that I am sent before him. The faithful ministers of Christ think it honour enough to be servants to him, and would not have their followers attribute the least part of that honour and glory to them, which is due to Jesus Christ.

2. John acquaints his disciples, that Christ was the bridegroom of his Church, to whom the Christian church was to be solemnly espoused and married; and that he had honour enough in being one of the bridegroom's friends and servants; and accordingly, instead of envying, he rejoiced, at the success which the bridegroom had, and took great pleasure in it.

Learn, 1. That the relation betwixt Christ and his church is a conjugal relation, a relation of marriage; yet set forth under the name of bride and bridegroom, rather than under the notion of a complete marriage, because it is but begun here, and to be consummated in heaven. And also to shew that Christ's and his people's affections are as warm and fresh, as strong and vehement, towards each other, as the affections of espoused and newly married persons are to one another; Isaiah 62:5 As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.

Learn, 2. It is honour sufficient to the ministers of Christ, that they, as friends of the bridegroom, are employed by him to further the marriage relation betwixt him and his spouse. Their office is to woo for Christ, to commend his person, and to invite all persons to accept of him for their head and husband, I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2

Learn, 3. That there is no greater joy to the ministers of Christ, than to see themselves honoured by him, as his instruments, in preparing a people for Christ, and happily uniting them unto him.

Oh! how little do our people know, and less consider, how much of the comfort of their poor ministers lives lie at their mercy: we live as we see any of them stand fast in the Lord; we die as we see others stick fast in their sins. This was the second difference which John acquaints his disciples was found betwixt Christ and himself.

The third follows ver. 30. He must increase, but I must decrease. He must increase; that is, in honour and dignity, in esteem and reputation, in discovery and manifestation. He shall shine forth as the rising sun, and I must disappear as the morning-star. Not that John's light was diminished, but by a greater light obscured only; as all the stars disappear at the appearance of the sun.

Yet, Observe, What matter of joy it was to John to see himself out-shined by Christ; let him increase, tho' I decrease. That minister has true light in himself, that can rejoice when he is out-shined by others; who is content to be abased and obscured, if he may but see Christ dignified and exalted in the lives of his people, whosever the person is, whom God honours as his instrument in that service.

The fourth difference wherein Christ excels John and all his ministers, is in the divine original of his person, ver 31. He that cometh from above, is above all, says John. Now Christ is from above, his original is from heaven; I am from the earth (though I had my commission from heaven) and accordingly my words and actions are earthly. My Master therefore infinitely surpasseth and excels me in the dignity of his person, and in the sublimity of his knowledge.

From the whole, note, How much it is the desire and endeavour of every gospel minister to magnify Jesus Christ, to display his glorious excellencies and perfections before the people, that they may reverence his person, revere his authority, and respect his laws. This was the care of the holy Baptist here, and it will be the endeavour of every faithful minister of Christ that succeeds John, to the end of the world.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 3:27". 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

27.] The subject of this answer is,—the divinely appointed humiliation and eclipsing of the Baptist himself before the greater majesty of Him who was come after him. Accordingly he begins in this verse by answering to the zeal of his disciples, ‘that he cannot go beyond the bounds of his heaven-appointed mission.’ “Non possum mihi arrogare et capere quæ deus non dedit.” (Wetstein.) Some apply the words to Jesus:— εἰ δὲ λαμπρότερα τὰ ἐκείνου, καὶ πάντες πρὸς αὐτὸν ἔρχονται, θαυμάζειν οὐ χρή. τοιαῦτα γὰρ τὰ θεῖα. Chrys. But the whole tone of the answer makes the other view more likely. Of course the remark, being general, may in the background have reference to the greater mission of Jesus; but not primarily. The parallelism of ἄνθρωπος here and himself as the subject of εἶπον in the next verse, also supports this view: see Hebrews 5:4.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 3:27". 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 3:27. οὐ δύναται, cannot) How can I dare, saith he, to bind men to me?— ἄνθρωπος, a man) I, saith John, who am but a man.— λαμβάνειν) to take to himself.— οὐδέν, nothing) much less the name of Messiah.(58)ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, from heaven) i.e. from God. These Metonymes [substitutions of the general for the definite expression] imply modesty [humility].

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 3:27". 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 ministry, and the success of the ministry, must both be given a man from heaven: doth he baptize? It is a sign he is sent of God. Do all men come to him? That also is from God. An excellent corrective of ambition, envy, and jealousy: no man hath in the church of God authority, but he to whom it is given from heaven; no authority over his Son.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 3:27". 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

дано ему с неба Этот стих делает особое ударение на том, что только Бог Своей суверенной властью дает возможность служить Ему (ср. 1Кор. 4:7; 15:10).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 3:27". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-3.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Except it be given him; every office in God’s kingdom, and all success in doing good, is from God. He gives to all their place and work as he sees best. You should not be dissatisfied that a greater than I has come, for this is what I foretold.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 3:27". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

27.John answered—It might seem humiliating thus to assure his disciples that they belong to a waning side. But touching as is the humility of John, John 3:29 shows that he joys even in the subordinate character of his office.

A man—John himself.

Given him from heaven—Herein John warns them and himself that he must not aspire above his appointed office. Honoured with a divine commission, they must stay within its limitations.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 3:27". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-3.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

John replied to the implied question with an aphorism, a general maxim. He meant that no one can receive anything unless God in His sovereignty permits it (cf. John 6:65; John 19:11; 1 Corinthians 4:7). Regarding Jesus this statement expressed belief that God had permitted Jesus to enjoy the popularity that He was experiencing. It also expressed John"s satisfaction with that state of affairs. John demonstrated an exemplary attitude. He recognized that God had assigned different ministries to Jesus and himself and that it was wrong for him and his disciples to wish things were otherwise (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; 1 Corinthians 4:1-7; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 3:27". "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 3:27. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it have been given him out of heaven. Not for a moment does he enter into their jealous advocacy of his claims. Understanding the true force of their hasty words, ‘All men come to him,’ he tells them that such honour, such position, Jesus cannot receive unless it have been given Him from heaven. He says this in words so general that they seem certainly intended to point to himself also. ‘Each of us, in accomplishing God’s work, will receive the place appointed to him from heaven.’

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 3:27". "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 3:27. His answer sufficiently shows that it was not rivalry that prompted him to continue his baptism.— . The general sense is obvious (cf.Psalms 75:6-7; Psalms 127:1; James 1:17; 1 Corinthians 3:7), but did John mean to apply the principle directly to himself or to Jesus? Wetstein prefers the former: “non possum mihi arrogare et rapere, quae Deus non dedit”. So Calvin, Beza [“quid conamini meae conditioni aliquid adjicere?”], Bengel [“quomodo audeam ego, inquit, homines ad me adstringere?”], and Lücke. But, as Weiss points out, it is a justification of Jesus which the question of the disciples demands, and this is given in John’s statement that His popularity is God’s gift. But John avails himself of the opportunity to explain the relation he himself holds to Jesus.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 3:27". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-3.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

receive = take [upon himself].

nothing. Greek. ou ouden. A double negative.

be given = have been given.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:27". "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

John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, [ ou (Greek #3756) dunatai (Greek #1410) anthroopos (Greek #444) lambanein (Greek #2983) ouden (Greek #3762)] - rather, as in the margin, 'A man can take to himself,' or 'assume nothing;' that is, lawfully, and with any success,

Except it be given [or 'have been given' ee (G2228) dedomenon (G1325)] him from heaven: - q.d., 'Every divinely-commissioned person has his own work and sphere assigned him from above.' Even Christ Himself came under this law. See the note at Hebrews 5:4.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:27". "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

(27) A man can receive nothing . . .—Do these words apply to the Baptist himself, or to Christ? Do they mean “I cannot assume this higher position which you wish to give me, because it is not given me by heaven;” or, “His work, with its influence over men, ought to convince you that His mission is divine “? Expositors have given, now this, now that answer. The immediate connection with John 3:26 points to the latter view as the correct one (but see Alford’s Note on the other side). The power that had shown itself in word and work, teaching as none ever taught before, binding men—aye, some of their own brotherhood—to Himself, convincing men whose minds were open to the truth that He was the very Christ—all this could only have been received from heaven. Did they feel the movement around them? Let them recognise it as divine, and seek to be borne with it. (See Note on John 6:36.)

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 3:27". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
A man
Numbers 16:9-11; 17:5; 1 Chronicles 28:4,5; Jeremiah 1:5; 17:16; Amos 7:15; Matthew 25:15; Mark 13:34; Romans 1:5; 12:6; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2:12-14; 3:5; 4:7; 12:11; 15:10; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; 3:7,8; 1 Timothy 2:7; James 1:17; 1 Peter 4:10,11
receive
or, take unto himself.
Hebrews 5:4,5
from
Matthew 21:25; Mark 11:30,31
Reciprocal: Exodus 31:2 - I have;  Numbers 18:7 - as a service;  Matthew 3:1 - John;  Matthew 10:1 - he gave;  Mark 9:12 - restoreth;  Mark 13:11 - shall be;  Luke 1:77 - give;  John 19:11 - Thou;  Acts 3:12 - or;  Acts 13:25 - whom;  Acts 15:7 - God;  1 Corinthians 4:6 - be puffed;  2 Corinthians 4:5 - we;  2 Corinthians 5:18 - all;  Philippians 2:13 - God;  Hebrews 6:4 - and have;  Revelation 11:3 - I will give power

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 3:27". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-3.html.

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

Ver. 27. "John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven."

It is disputed whether this proposition refers merely to Christ or to John, or to both at the same time. But we must be content with John; for it can scarcely be doubted that ἄνθρωπος here is emphatic, containing in itself the ground of the axiom, and corresponding to" ἐκ τῆς γῆς in ver. 31, to which it stands in all the closer relation, because the "man of the earth" occurs in the original passage, Psalms 10:18. The use of ἄνθρωπος and the reference contained in it to his inferiority of position, who must be content with whatever lot is assigned to him, is explained also by Ecclesiastes 6:10 : "That which he is, he hath long been named, and it is known that he is man: neither may he contend with Him that is mightier than he." And the words, "given from heaven," apply more appropriately to John than to Jesus, who, according to the following verses, comes from above, is God's Son and representative on earth, and possesses what He has, not as a free gift, but as the emanation of His whole personality. We must therefore suppose, that in ver. 28 we have the application of the general proposition, as if it were said, "Because I am a mere man, I cannot be," etc. It is not to be objected, that the jealous question of his disciples had quite prepared the Baptist to give an apology for Jesus; for the words of the disciples were indirectly a requisition on the Baptist to maintain his dignity against Jesus, and to fix the limits of his independent sphere towards that of Christ. δύναται, is not the mere moral possibility, but λαμβάνειν, corresponding to the being given, designates a real receiving. A man may make many pretensions, but in fact he receives only that which is given him from above; and to strive after more than this, is a criminal and destructive undertaking.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 3:27". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-3.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

27.A man cannot receive any thing. Some refer these words to Christ, as if John accused the disciples of wicked presumption in opposition to God, by endeavoring to deprive Christ of what the Father had given to him. They suppose the meaning to be this: “That within so short a time he has risen to so great honor, is the work of God; and therefore it is in vain for you to attempt to degrade him whom God with his own hand has raised on high.” Others think that it is an exclamation into which he indignantly breaks forth, because his disciples had hitherto made so little progress. And certainly it was excessively absurd that they should still endeavor to reduce to the rank of ordinary men him who, they had so often heard, was the Christ, that he might not rise above his own servants; and, therefore, John might justly have said that it is useless to spend time in instructing men, because they are dull and stupid, until they are renewed in mind.

But I rather agree with the opinion of those who explain it as applying to John, as asserting that it is not in his power, or in theirs, to make him great, because the measure of us all is to be what God intended us to be. For if even the Son of God took not that honour to himself, (Hebrews 5:4,) what man of the ordinary rank would venture to desire more than what the Lord has given him? This single thought, if it were duly impressed on the minds of us all, would be abundantly sufficient for restraining ambition; and were ambition corrected and destroyed, the plague of contentions would likewise be removed. How comes it then, that every man exalts himself more than is proper, but because we do not depend on the Lord, so as to be satisfied with the rank which he assigns to us?

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:27". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-3.html. 1840-57.