Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 3:36

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
New American Standard Version

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Nave's Topical Bible - Faith;   Immortality;   Jesus Continued;   John;   Righteous;   Unbelief;   Wicked (People);   Thompson Chain Reference - Christ;   Deathless;   Distrust;   Eternal;   Everlasting;   Faith;   Faith-Unbelief;   Future State of the Wicked;   Future, the;   God's;   Infidelity;   John the Baptist;   Life;   Life, Eternal;   Life-Death;   Punishment;   Salvation-Condemnation;   Saving Faith;   Unbelief;   Wrath;   The Topic Concordance - Belief;   Eternal Life;   Life;   Unbelief;   Wrath;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Anger of God, the;   Condemnation;   Death, Spiritual;   Punishment of the Wicked, the;   Unbelief;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Life;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Jesus christ;   Life;   Propitiation;   Punishment;   Son of god;   Wrath;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Anger;   Backsliding;   Hell;   Jesus Christ;   Time;   Wrath of God;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Episcopacy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Eternal Life;   Faith;   Life;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - John the Baptist;   John, the Gospel According to;   Perdition;   Sacrifice;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Eternal Life;   Incarnation;   John, the Gospel of;   Judgment Day;   Salvation;   Wrath, Wrath of God;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Anger;   Anger (Wrath) of God;   Blessedness;   Faith;   Gospels;   John, Gospel of;   John, Theology of;   Life;   Mss;   Resurrection;   Scribes;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Communion (2);   Condemnation (2);   Creator (Christ as);   Dates (2);   Eternal Life (2);   Faith ;   Ideas (Leading);   Immortality (2);   John, Gospel of (Ii. Contents);   Judgment;   Life ;   Life and Death;   Mediator;   Punishment (2);   Redemption (2);   Regeneration (2);   Repentance (2);   Retribution (2);   Righteous, Righteousness;   Salvation Save Saviour;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Eternal;   Faith,;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Baptism (Lutheran Doctrine);   Death;   Ephesians, Epistle to the;   Everlasting;   Forgiveness;   Justification;   Life;   Punishment, Everlasting;   Retribution;   Wrath (Anger);   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Anger;  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for January 27;   Every Day Light - Devotion for January 30;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Hath everlasting life - He has already the seed of this life in his soul, having been made a partaker of the grace and spirit of him in whom he has believed. See on John 3:8; (note).

He that believeth not - Or, obeyeth not - απειθων : from α, negative, and πειθω, to persuade, or πειθομαι, to obey - the want of the obedience of faith. The person who will not be persuaded, in consequence, does not believe; and, not having believed, he cannot obey.

Shall not see life - Shall never enjoy it: there being no way to the kingdom of God, but through Christ Jesus, Acts 4:12. And none can expect to enter into this kingdom but those who obey him; for to such only he is the author of eternal salvation, Hebrews 5:9.

But the wrath of God abideth on him - Οργη, the displeasure of God. I should prefer displeasure to wrath, because the common acceptation of the latter (fury, rage) is not properly applicable here. Perhaps the original word is used in the same sense here as in Romans 2:5; Romans 3:5; Romans 13:4, Romans 13:5; Ephesians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; where it evidently means punishment, which is the effect of irritated justice. Taken in this sense, we may consider the phrase as a Hebraism: punishment of God, i.e. the most heavy and awful of all punishments; such as sin deserves, and such as it becomes Divine justice to inflict. And this abideth on him - endures as long as his unbelief and disobedience remain! And how shall these be removed in a hell of fire! Reader! pray God that thou mayest never know what this continuing punishment means!

There are many very important topics brought forward in this chapter; the principal of which have been already illustrated in the notes: the subject in the 29th verse is of great consequence, and requires some farther explanation.

The friend of the bridegroom is the person called among the Jews שושבי shoshabin ; and παρανυμφος, paranymph, among the Greeks. Several matters are found in the Jewish writings relative to these, which may serve to throw light, not only on the discourse of John, but also on other passages of Scripture.

  1. There were generally two shoshabinim ; one for the bride, another for the bridegroom: though in many instances we find the shoshabin of the bride only mentioned.
  • These officers were chosen out of the most intimate and particular friends of the parties: - a brother might be shoshabin or paranymph to his brother.
  • Though it is probable that such persons were not always found in ordinary weddings, yet they were never absent from the marriages of kings, princes, and persons of distinction.
  • The Jews believe that this was an ordinance appointed by God; and that he himself was shoshabin to Adam. But in Bereshith Rabba it is said, that God took the cup of blessing and blessed the first pair; and that Michael and Gabriel were shoshabins to Adam.
  • So important was this office esteemed among them, that it wag reckoned one of the indispensable works of charity: much depending on the proper discharge of it, as we shall afterwards find.
  • Those who were engaged in this office, were excused, for the time, from some of the severer duties of religion, because they had so much to do about the new-married pair, especially during the seven days of the marriage feast.
  • These shoshabinan had a threefold office to fulfill, viz. before, at, and after the marriage: of each of these in order.
      I. Before the marriage: it was the business of the shoshabin: -

  • To procure a husband for the virgin, to guard her, and to bear testimony to her corporeal and mental endowments; and it was upon this testimony of this friend that the bridegroom chose his bride.
  • He was the internuncio between her and her spouse elect; carrying all messages from her to him, and from him to her: for before marriage young women were very strictly guarded at home with their parents or friends.
  • II. At the wedding: it was the business of the shoshabin, if necessary: -

  • To vindicate the character of the bride.
  • To sleep in an apartment contiguous to the new-married pair, to prevent the bride from receiving injury.
  • It was his office to see that neither the bride nor bridegroom should be imposed on by each other; and therefore it was his business to examine and exhibit the tokens of the bride's purity, according to the law, Deuteronomy 22:13-21. Of their office, in this case, the rabbins thus speak: Olim in Judea paranymphi perscrutati sunt locum (lectum) sponsi et sponsae - ad scrutandum et officiose observandum ea, quae sponsi illa nocte fecerint: ne scilicet alter alteri dolo damnum inferat: ne sponsus sanguinem virginitatis agnoscat, illum celet aut tollat: et ne sponsa pannum sanguine tinctum secum inferat.
  • When they found that their friend had got a pure and chaste virgin, they exulted greatly; as their own character and the happiness of their friend, were at stake. To this the Baptist alludes, John 3:29, This my joy is fulfilled.
  • They distributed gifts to the new-married couple, which, on their marriage, were repaid either by their friend, or by his father. The same thing is done at what are called the biddings, at marriages in Wales, to the present day.
  • They continued with the bride and bridegroom the seven days of the marriage, and contributed variously to the festivity and hilarity of the occasion.
  • III. After marriage.

  • The shoshabin was considered the patron and advocate of the wife, and in some sort her guardian, to which the apostle alludes, 2 Corinthians 11:2. He was generally called in to compose any differences which might happen between her and her husband, and reconcile them when they had been at variance.
  • They appear to have had the keeping of the marriage contract, which in certain cases they tore; when they had reason to suspect infidelity on the part of the woman, by which the marriage was dissolved; and thus the suspected person was prevented from suffering capitally. Schoettgen produces a case like this from R. Bechai, in legem, fol. 114. "A king visited foreign parts, and left his queen with her maids: they raised an evil report on her, and the king purposed to put her to death. The shoshabin hearing of it, tore the matrimonial contract, that he might have it to say, the marriage is dissolved. The king, having investigated the case, found the queen innocent: she was immediately reconciled to her husband, and the shoshabin was directed to write another contract."
  • Schoettgen very modestly hazards a conjecture, that, if the husband had either abandoned or divorced his wife, the shoshabin took her, and acted to her as a brother-in-law; which is probable from the place to which he refers, Judges 14:20; : But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend: or, as both the Syriac and the Targum have it, she was given, שושביניה shoshebeeneyah, to his paranymph; which is agreeable to the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint, Και συνῳκησεν ἡ γυνη Σαμψων τῳ Νυμφαγωγῳ αυτου, ὁς ην ἑταιρος αυτου . And Samson's wife dwelt (or cohabited) with his paranymph, who had been his companion. The same reading is found in the Complutensian Polyglott.
  • From the preceding particulars, collated with the speech of John in John 3:29, and with the words of St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:2, it is plain that Christ is represented as the Bridegroom: the Church, or his genuine disciples, the Bride: the ministers of the Gospel, the שושבינים Shoshbeenim, whose great and important duty it is to present to the bridegroom a pure, uncontaminated virgin, i.e. a Church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, Ephesians 5:27, alluding evidently to the office of the paranymph, on whom the bridegroom depended to procure him, for wife, a chaste and pure virgin. Hence that saying of St. Paul, who considered himself the paranymph to Jesus Christ: I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:2.

    From all these particulars, we see that the office of the shoshabin, or paranymph, was a very important one among the Jews; and that, to it, some interesting references are made in the New Testament, the force and true meaning of which passages cannot be discerned without considering the character and office of the Jewish paranymph. See several good observations on this in Lightfoot's notes on John 2:1, and Schoettgen, on John 3:29.

    As the Christian Church was now to take place of the Jewish, and the latter was about to be cast off because it was polluted, John, by using the simile of the bride, bridegroom, and paranymph, or friend of the bridegroom, points out, as it were prophetically, of what kind the Christian Church must be: it must be as holy and pure as an uncontaminated virgin, because it is to be the bride or spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ: and God honors the Baptist by making him the paranymph; and indeed his whole preaching and baptism were excellently calculated to produce this great effect, as be strongly proclaimed the necessity of a total reformation of heart and manners, among all classes of the people. See the notes on Matthew 3:8-12; (note), and on Luke 3:10-14; (note). He heard the bridegroom's voice - he faithfully communicated what he had received from heaven, John 3:27, and he rejoiced exceedingly to find that he had got a people prepared for the Lord. The success of John's preaching greatly contributed to the success of that of Christ and his disciples. For this purpose he was endued with power from on high, and chosen to be the paranymph of the heavenly bridegroom.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 3:36". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    Hath everlasting life - Has or is in possession of that which is a recovery from spiritual death, and which will result in eternal life in heaven. Piety here is the same that it will be there, except that it will be expanded, matured, purified, made more glorious. It is here life begun the first breathings and pantings of the soul for immortality; yet it is life, though at first feeble and faint, which is eternal in its nature, and which shall be matured in the full and perfect bliss of heaven. The Christian here has a foretaste of the world of glory, and enjoys the same kind of felicity, though not the same degree, that he will there.

    Shall not see life - Shall neither enjoy true life or happiness here nor in the world to come. Shall never enter heaven.

    The wrath of God - The anger of God for sin. His opposition to sin, and its terrible effects in this world and the next.

    Abideth on him - This implies that he is “now” under the wrath of God, or under condemnation. It implies, also, that it will continue to remain on him. It will “abide” or “dwell” there as its appropriate habitation. As there is no way of escaping the wrath of God but by the Lord Jesus Christ, so those who will not believe must go to eternity “as they are,” and bear alone and unpitied all that God may choose to inflict as the expression of “his” sense of sin. Such is the miserable condition of the sinner! Yet thousands choose to remain in this state, and to encounter alone all that is terrible in the wrath of Almighty God, rather than come to Jesus, who has borne their sins in his own body on the tree, and who is willing to bless them with the peace, and purity, and joy of immortal life.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    John 3:36

    He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life

    Faith and unbelief; with their respective consequences

    There are three kinds of death.

    1. Temporal: the separation of soul from body, the approach of which is usually marked by failure of mental energy and increasing bodily debility.

    2. Spiritual: the separation of both body and soul from the Divine favour in this life--the symptoms of which are ignorance of God, neglect of His Word, worldliness, and carelessness about salvation.

    3. Eternal: the separation of the whole man from the Divine presence and glory in the world to come--the ills of which will be hope destroyed, despair, the awakening and disappointment of insatiable desire, tormenting sensibility of sin and irremediable woe. This state of things induced by the Fall, Christ has come to remedy. Note

    I. THE HAPPY CONSEQUENCE OF BELIEVING ON THE SON OF GOD. He that believeth on the Son hath

    1. Life in his Redeemer. God gave us life in Adam, which, with its attendant happiness, we lost, This is restored not directly to us, but in His Son.

    2. Life in himself. Once he was unconcerned about spiritual things, buried in the cares, business, and pleasures of the world. Now the Spirit of life having breathed upon him, he is alive from the dead, and the life he now lives in the flesh he lives by the faith of the Son of God. He is a fruit-bearing branch of the living Vine, a lively stone of a living Temple. This life derived from Christ is maintained by communion with Him.

    3. Life in promise. The “exceeding great and precious promises” bear upon this, and support the Christian amidst his conflicts and weakness.

    4. Life in prospect. He shall dwell in a paradise fairer than Eden for ever, without care, pain, disease, sin, in unalloyed happiness. Because his Redeemer lives he shall live also.

    II. THE UNHAPPY CONSEQUENCES OF NOT BELIEVING ON THE SON OF GOD. The unbeliever shall not see life. Of all that the believer enjoys he is deprived, and will be, if he persists, for ever. He may have a name to live, but he is dead, condemned already, bearing the eternal wrath of God. If these things be so, then see

    1. What is the great condemning sin of the world, the sin comprehending every other sin--Unbelief. For this makes God a liar, tramples on Christ’s salvation, does despite to the Spirit of grace, shuts heaven and opens hell.

    2. What is the faith of the gospel. Not a dead, inoperative belief, but a vigorous, influential principle, moved by the Holy Spirit, to serve and please God, to fear His displeasure, to obey His will out of love and not from dread of punishment or hope of reward.

    3. Who alone are secure from Divine displeasure. Those only who are found in Christ (Acts 4:10-12).

    4. How we may escape God’s wrath. By taking shelter in Christ through faith. (W. Mudge, B. A.)

    Faith and unbelief

    Evangelical texts lose their freshness from overfamiliarity. In order to appreciate their power we must realize their effects on those who have them for the first time. Let us reduce the text to a series of propositions.

    I. THAT THE HIGHEST GOOD IS ETERNAL LIFE. No heathen needs to be informed that life is more than existence. We cannot feel for a stone as we do for a tree which possesses life in its lowest form. We have a mere community of feeling for animal life; but this is as nothing compared with our regard for human nature. For rational life is better than irrational. But this can be conceived without the capacity of moral distins-tions--which men have, however. But, alas! we know that this moral life, if it may be so called, is quite compatible with spiritual death. Men are alive to the perception of moral good, but dead to its enjoyment. Is it not plain that a resurrection from this exalts us into a higher life, spiritual, not merely the life of our spirits, for in a lower sense they were alive before, but a life produced by the Spirit of God and doing God’s will and enjoying His favour. This is the highest life of which a creature is capable in kind; its purification from the evils that mar it, its endlessness, and the perfection of its blessedness for body and soul in heaven, make it the highest life in degree.

    II. Let us suppose a serious heathen to have formed this conception of eternal life, and to be filled with admiration. He would soon compare it with his own experience and see that between him and it there was a great gulf fixed. That life presupposes a God holy in Himself and in His requisitions. The inquirer thus sees himself opposite to God and odious in proportion to His excellence. A fond hope arises. As sin has been his death, he will sin no more. Now comes a new revelation. He is the slave of sin, and his heart is dead in sin. Can he give it life? No. Here is a new despair.

    He turns to another method of escape. God will forgive him, and by a sovereign act make him a new creature. As he looks towards the inaccessible light he is completely undeceived on this point. He sees no shadow of connivance at sin. He withdraws his eyes, as he thinks, in eternal darkness. But on that darkness a new light begins to steal. His eye follows it to a point beyond himself, an intermediate object between God’s inexorable justice and himself. Sin may be punished and the sinner saved. But a cloud passes over this celestial light. All men are alike, and if a man cannot make satisfaction for himself, how can he for another? But may not God? The thought seems impious till the lost veil is withdrawn and the astonished soul beholds the great mystery of godliness. God manifested in the flesh and becoming the propitiation for sin. But the work demanded of the sinner is hard because so easy: hard to do nothing when we think we must do all, to believe we have only to believe, when we expected to achieve our redemption. When once the soul is brought, however, to see that this is truly God’s plan--that the Son of God is able and willing to save, and accepts this salvation, the work is done, and the man justified and safe for ever. By some such process we may suppose a heathen to arrive at the second proposition, viz., THAT ETERNAL LIFE MAY BE ATTAINED BY SIMPLY BELIEVING IN THE SON OF GOD.

    III. From this He would infer THAT UNBELIEF INVOLVES THE LOSS OF ALL THAT PERFECT AND ENDURING BLESSEDNESS CALLED ETERNAL LIFE. But here he would be liable to error. The mere loss of heaven would not affect the hearts of those who know it not. Indeed, they refuse it, preferring the pleasures of sin. Deprivation, therefore, would be no punishment. The doctrine of the gospel is that he that loses heaven loses this world also. “The wrath of God abideth on him.” Hell is the deprivation of all that makes a life of sin tolerable here.

    1. Sinners here participate in the outward advantages of the believer, but the wrath of God will separate the lost from the saved for ever, and from all the advantages of order, comfort, and mutual constraint consequent.

    2. Sinners have positive enjoyment in sin--those are sentenced to be only for a season, and its native tendency to misery to go on for ever.

    3. Sinners are ignorant of anything better which could make the most dissatisfied wish sinful pleasure. The wrath of God will awaken conscience, which will have sufficient light to plant its daggers with unerring accuracy, and the sinner shall know What he has lost.

    IV. WHAT THESE TRUTHS WOULD BE TO A HEATHEN THEY ARE TO US. If to him they involve the whole way of salvation, they involve no less to us. We have here

    1. The great end of existence, eternal life and Divine favour.

    2. Its opposite, eternal death and Divine wrath.

    3. The way of life by faith.

    4. The object of this faith the Son of God, the one sacrifice for sin.

    In conclusion. On the unbeliever the wrath of God abides already. Let the procrastinating soul be undeceived. Distance of time and place works strange transformations. Tell one who violates the law of man that he will be condemned for it, and he may laugh the law and you to scorn. But bow few laugh when told that they are condemned already. Look at the convict at the bar, and see how different his aspect and demeanour from his aspect and demeanour when at large. Such is yon, case. You are not yet arrested, bat you are under sentence. You are condemned already, and reprieve or pardon is your only hope. (J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

    Everlasting life connected with believing on the Son of God


    1. This believing on the Son, as here mentioned, supposes a distinct knowledge of Him--of His person, natures, and offices.

    2. It includes assent to the record that God the Father has given of Him.

    3. It includes, in consequence of both the knowledge of Him, and assent to the testimony of God concerning Him, our hearty approbation of Him, as every way qualified, able, faithful, and willing, to save to the uttermost all that believe (Hebrews 7:25; Heb_2:17; John 6:37).

    4. Chiefly it includes a cordial acceptance of Christ, as offered in the gospel.


    1. They have it in title and right of purchase.

    2. They have the blessedness of the heavenly state in the promises of it; therefore it is called “eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, has promised” Titus 1:2).

    3. Believers have the eternal happiness of heaven in their glorified Head and forerunner. He, as their Forerunner, is entered into heaven for them Hebrews 6:20); has taken, as it were, possession in their name.

    4. They have everlasting life in the first-fruits of it. They have already received some part of their future blessedness in the graces and comforts of the Holy Spirit, which are therefore called the “first-fruits of the Spirit” Romans 8:23), and the “earnest of the heavenly inheritance” Ephesians 1:14). (Sketches of Sermons.)

    The unbeliever’s unhappy condition

    John the Baptist was a preacher who knew how to discriminate. He does not address the people as all lost or saved, but shows the two classes and the line of demarcation.


    1. They are common. They abound in our sanctuaries, and are to be met by thousands in our streets.

    2. They are not necessarily sceptics. Many of them are quite orthodox.

    3. Not a few are blameless in morals, but like the young man lack the great thing.

    4. Many are religious after a sort, attend worship, read the Bible, etc,, but alas! there is a worm at the centre of all this fair fruit.

    5. If they were criminals no one would wonder, but many of them are highly respectable.

    II. THEIR OFFENCE. They have not believed on the Son of God.

    1. They refuse to accept the mercy of God. Men rejected God’s law, now they reject His gospel. To refuse such a blessing provided at such a cost, cannot be a small sin. It is the greatest, for when the Holy Ghost comes to convince the world of sin, that sin is unbelief.

    2. In this rejection the unbeliever displays an intense venom against God. He must either accept mercy or condemnation. He chooses the latter. What has God done to deserve this?

    3. The unbeliever touches God in a very tender place: slighting the greatest manifestation of His love.

    4. He perpetrates an offence against every person in the blessed Trinity.

    5. He insults every Divine attributes justice, wisdom, mercy.


    1. In many, careless ignorance of the way of salvation, and this in a land of churches and Bibles, is so far from being an excuse that it is an aggravation.

    2. Indifference. Men are aware that they are not quite right, but hope to be at last; meanwhile it does not trouble them. What grosser impertinence can there be against the supreme Ruler?

    3. Pride. Salvation is all very well for harlots, drunkards, etc.

    4. Love of sin.

    IV. THE TERRIBLE RESULT. The wrath of God abideth now and always.

    1. You will not escape by ceasing to exist. The Divine wrath cannot rest on a non-existent creature.

    2. This must be so because you reject the only remedy. There is but one door, and you close it by unbelief.

    3. The wrath will produce no saving or softening effect, but will go on to harden.

    4. God has never taken an oath against any but unbelievers. “To whom sware He in His wrath that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not?” Continued unbelief God will never forgive, because His word binds Him not to do so. In conclusion. There is a blessed alternative: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    The life eternal


    1. It has its origin here. It is not death, but regeneration--that is the entrance gate to it. He begins to live the same life as he will live in heaven--only that here he is in a state of childhood, and many are the childish things which he does.

    2. It is nourished here. God has promised food for it; He has stewards to furnish it with nourishment in due season; and the cupboard and larder is open for it to help itself whenever it likes. The food contained in the Bible is the produce of its native country, and it will not look well unless it will feed often on this.

    3. It is trained here for its home. It is away from home here, in an ungenial climate and a strange land. It is not to be wondered at if at times it appears to be weak and feeble; it must do so if it remain long in the unhealthy atmosphere of this world. There is something tender, yet strong, about it. It is too strong ever to die, but it is tender enough to appear sickly.


    1. It will be of age there--“a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” The believer is but an infant, in his minority, here. Parents do not allow very young children to enter their drawing-rooms and mingle with their distinguished guests; but they have to wait until they are of a fit age, and know how to conduct themselves in noble company. When they are infants they are not allowed to meddle with the papers and writings of their father; but as they approach maturity it is pleasant to see them take interest in the circumstances and movements of the household.

    2. It will be in its own climate there. There are many impediments to its progress here. It is exposed to many diseases, and the believer has to take many a bitter drug, and has to undergo treatment oftentimes which is, for the present, not joyous, but grievous. But by such things is the inward man renewed day by day. The bitter things will not be needed in the world to come; there the climate will be genial, the atmosphere perfectly healthy; and none of the inhabitants shall say, “I am sick.”

    3. It will then be in its home. It is but a pilgrim here, travelling through the enemy’s land; the god of this world and the children of this world are hostile to it, and do their best to kill it. The Christian has often feared that the “Divine nature” has received a death-blow, he felt so weak and faint.

    4. It will be in its Father’s house. The believer is away at school; and the only intercourse between him and the Father is by correspondence.


    1. Heaven or hell will be but a continuation of what man is here. The principle which is now in thy soul, having reached its climax, will constitute thy heaven or thy hell; and that in its native element.

    2. All men begin in this world to live the “ eternal life” or begin to die the “eternal death.” (David Roberts, D. D.)

    Christ is the sinner’s only hope

    On a huge cross by the side of an Italian highway hung a hideous caricature of the Beloved of our souls, who poured out His life for our redemption. Out of reverence to the living Christ we turned aside, disgusted, from the revolting image, but not until we had espied the words “Spes unica” in capitals over its head. Here was truth emblazoned on an idol. Yes, indeed, Jesus, our now exalted, but once crucified Lord, is the sole and only hope of man. Assuredly, O Lord Jesus, thou art spes unica to our soul. “Other refuge have we none, Hangs our helpless soul on Thee.” We found this diamond in the mire of superstition: does it sparkle any the less?

    Believe or perish

    Faith in Jesus is the only way of salvation, and if I will not walk in that way, there is no other. Our Lord’s teaching leaves us no room to hope for the salvation of unbelievers. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”; but what of those who do not believe? May they not be sincerely mistaken? May they not be very good people after all, and be saved in their own way? Our Lord’s reply is sharp, clear, and decisive, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” He hath nothing else for them but that. Christ is too great and too honest to court popularity, as many do nowadays, by an affectation that right and wrong are much the same. The wicked charity of this age sickens us with its deceptive cant, as it whines out, “It will little matter what you believe; nothing nowadays is of very great consequence; believe what you like, and it shall be all right in the long run.” Nay, but according to the gospel of Jesus you must believe the truth, and’ have faith in the power of the truth, for a lie will not regenerate you, a lie will not fit you to see the face of God, a lie will not conduct you to heaven, but only that truth which hath the stamp and seal of God and of His Holy Spirit. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    The peril of unbelievers

    Your peace, sinner, is that terribly prophetic calm which the traveller occasionally perceives upon the higher Alps. Everything is still. The birds suspend their notes, fly low, and cower down with fear. The hum of bees among the flowers is hushed. A horrible stillness rules the hour, as if death had silenced all things by stretching over them his awful sceptre. Perceive ye not what is surely at hand? The tempest is preparing; the lightning will soon cast abroad its flames of fire. Earth will rock with thunderblasts; granite peaks will be dissolved; all nature will tremble beneath the fury of the storm. Yours is that solemn calm to-day, sinner. Rejoice not in it, for the hurricane of wrath is coming, the whirlwind and the tribulation which shall sweep you away and utterly destroy you.

    The dreadful wrath of God

    A young man went to hear Mr. Whitefield, who took the above passage for his text. “Mr. Whitefield,” said the young man, “described the Sadducees’ character; this did not touch me--I thought myself as good a Christian as any man in England. From this he went to that of the Pharisees. He described their exterior decency, but observed that the poison of hypocrisy rankled in their hearts. This rather shook me. At length, in the course of his sermon, he abruptly broke off, paused for a few moments, then burst into a flood of tears, lifted up his eyes and hands and exclaimed, ‘My hearers! the wrath to come! the wrath to come!’ These words sank into my heart, like lead in the waters. I wept, and when the sermon ended, retired alone. For days and weeks I could think of nothing else. Those awful words would follow me wherever I went. ‘The wrath to come! the wrath to come!’“ The result was that the young man soon after made a public profession of religion, and in a short time became an eminent preacher.

    Christ the only refuge from apprehensions of the future

    I. ALL MEN NEED SOME REFUGE FROM THESE APPREHENSIONS. Our ignorance prevents us from seeing into a future state, and our sinfulness damps what discoveries we may make by a sense of foreboding and an apprehension of punishment. Man needs light and peace.

    II. MOST MEN FEEL THIS NEED MORE OR LESS, AND RESORT TO EXPEDIENTS AGAINST THE FEAR OF WHAT FOLLOWS DEATH. No man of ordinary culture is asleep on this point, and this leads to modes of thinking and action which only disappoint.

    III. APART FROM REVELATION, ALL SYSTEMS IN WHICH MEN SEEK REFUGE ARE VAIN. Some, indeed, have been partially successful. Cf. the rites of Paganism and the delusions of Mohammed. But go where we will, if not to Christ, we have no rest.

    1. Shall we go to atheism, the madness of human nature? This does not extinguish fear. It is certain we exist now. Howl By chance, says the atheist. But on the same principle of chance may not life be protracted after death?

    2. Shall we go to Deism? Nothing can assure the Deist that the Bible is not the Word of God. All he can say is “probably” it is not. But suppose it should be true, what is his position then?


    1. He is the only effective teacher of it. The idea of immortality existed before; but He brought it down from the clouds into sober certainty John 5:25-25). So with the apostles (2 Corinthians 5:1). Who dared to say “We know” but disciples of this Master?

    2. He has revealed the only scheme of it consistent with the principles of the Divine government. By answering all the designs of justice in punishing, it has removed the necessity of punishment, and gives room for salvation.

    3. The miracles of Jesus prove that He has eternal life

    4. Facts of every-day occurrence prove that Jesus has eternal life. We do not see Him call Lazarus from the grave, but daily He calls dead souls into life. Every true Christian has witness within himself of this.


    1. Those who reject the Gospel Saviour reject their life.

    2. Those who receive Him are eternally secure. (A. M’Clelland, D. D.)

    The wrath of God

    The wrath of man is fearful to view, and especially to feel. But the wrath of God--no pen can describe it, or imagination conceive it. What will the realization of it be? And this wrath impends over every impenitent sinner.


    1. It is not a simple possibility.

    2. Not a threat to terrify.

    3. It is as sure as God Almighty’s throne.


    1. Here mercy tempers justice. Wrath is restrained and grace works.

    2. This is the world of probation, not of final award.

    3. The day of reckoning is appointed after death.


    1. It might have been turned aside.

    2. Voluntary sin and the persistent refusal of mercy and grace provoke it. (J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "John 3:36". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

    He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth upon him.

    With these dramatic words, John the Baptist disposed of the jealousy that marked the attitude of some of his disciples toward Jesus. In the Son of God eternal life was available for those who obeyed him; and for all others, they would continue to be under the wrath of God.

    He that believeth ... he that obeyeth not ... These are among the most decisive words in the New Testament with regard to what is meant by "believeth," or "faith" as frequently used by New Testament writers. In all instances, it is an OBEDIENT FAITH that is meant, and never is some special quality of faith apart from obedience intended. Salvation by "faith alone" is an erroneous tenet of human creeds, but it is not the teaching of God's word. He who does not obey the Son, in the practical sense, is an unbeliever; and all faith, of whatever degree, is dead without obedience.

    The wrath of God ... New Testament passages regarding God's wrath are extensive; and far more is intended by them than God's displeasure at men who do not accept the Son and obey the gospel. It has reference to the basic antagonism between light and darkness, goodness and evil. The total race of men from Eden and afterward is a fallen and rebellious race, their fellowship with God having been broken by the fall of humanity; and God's face is set against fallen and unregenerated men. He has appointed a day in which the unredeemable portion of humanity will be judged and punished, and when evil will be cast out of God's universe. Mercy and hope for all are available in Christ; but it must be received and appropriated, and the penalty of rejecting the Son of God is the forfeiture of all hope.

    In this chapter appeared the principle that evil men love darkness and hate the light (John 3:19), and that principle is still the device of judgment for all who were ever born. As Bowman expressed it:

    The great obstacle to men's acceptance of the Bible is not intellectual. It is spiritual. It is not that the Bible is unreasonable. It is that men do not want Christ. They choose to reject God's way in order to follow their own way.[31]

    An amazing example of the operation of this principle appears in the concluding words of this chapter. The disciples of John the Baptist, who loved and honored him, and who believed what he said, nevertheless rejected Christ. And why? They were evil in themselves.


    [31] Allen Bowman, Is the Bible True? (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1965), p. 186.

    Copyright Statement
    Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
    Bibliographical Information
    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    He that believeth on the Son,.... Who is a proper object of faith and trust; which, if he was not truly and properly God, he would not be: and this is to be understood not of any sort of faith, a temporary, or an historical one; but of that which is the faith of God's elect, the gift of God, and the operation of his Spirit; by which a man sees the Son, goes unto him, ventures and relies upon him, and commits himself to him, and expects life and salvation from him; and who shall not be ashamed and confounded; for such an one

    hath everlasting life; he has it in Christ his head, in whom he believes; he has a right unto it through the justifying righteousness of Christ, and a meetness for it by his grace; he has it in faith and hope; he has the beginning of it in the knowledge of Christ, and communion with him; he has some foretastes of it in his present experience; and he has the earnest and pledge of it in his heart, even the blessed Spirit, who works him up for this selfsame thing:

    and he that believeth not the Son; that does not believe Christ to be the Son of God, or Jesus to be the Messiah; or rejects him as the Saviour; who lives and dies in a state of impenitence and unbelief:

    shall not see life; eternal life; he shall not enter into it, and enjoy it; he shall die the second death. Very remarkable are the following words of the JewsF2Midrash Ruth, fol. 33. 2. concerning the Messiah, whom they call the latter Redeemer:

    "whosoever believes in him "shall" live; but he that believes not in him shall go to the nations of the world, and they shall kill him.'

    But the wrath of God abideth on him; as the sentence of wrath, of condemnation, and death, and the curse of the law were pronounced upon him in Adam, as on all mankind, it continues, and will continue, and will never be reversed, but will be executed on him, he not being redeemed from it, as his final unbelief shows; and as he was by nature a child of wrath, as others, he remains such; and as the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, it comes upon the children of disobedience, and remains there; it hangs over their heads, and lights upon them, and they will be filled with a dreadful sense of it to all eternity. The Syriac and Arabic versions render it, "shall abide upon him"; so some copies.

    Copyright Statement
    The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
    A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
    Bibliographical Information
    Gill, John. "Commentary on John 3:36". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not c see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    (c) Shall not enjoy.
    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 3:36". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    hath everlasting life — already has it. (See on John 3:18 and see on John 5:24).

    shall not see life — The contrast here is striking: The one has already a life that will endure for ever - the other not only has it not now, but shall never have it - never see it.

    abideth on him — It was on Him before, and not being removed in the only possible way, by “believing on the Son,” it necessarily remaineth on him! Note. - How flatly does this contradict the teaching of many in our day, that there neither was, nor is, anything in God against sinners which needed to be removed by Christ, but only in men against God!

    Copyright Statement
    These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
    This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
    Bibliographical Information
    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

    People's New Testament

    He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. Eternal life and eternal death turn upon trust in Christ. He who believes on the Son with a heartfelt, obedient faith, a faith that trusts all and surrenders all to the will of Christ, is born again and "hath eternal life." The faith that saves is a faith that moves us to come to Christ.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
    Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
    Bibliographical Information
    Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 3:36". "People's New Testament". 1891.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    Hath eternal life (εχει ζωην αιωνιονechei zōēn aiōnion). Has it here and now and for eternity.

    That obeyeth not (ο απειτωνho apeithōn). “He that is disobedient to the Son.” Jesus is the test of human life as Simeon said he would be (Luke 2:34.). This verb does not occur again in John‘s Gospel.

    Copyright Statement
    The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
    Bibliographical Information
    Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

    Vincent's Word Studies

    He that believeth not ( ὁ ἀπειθῶν )

    More correctly, as Rev., obeyeth not. Disbelief is regarded in its active manifestation, disobedience. The verb πείθω means to persuade, to cause belief, to induce one to do something by persuading, and so runs into the meaning of to obey, properly as the result of persuasion. See on Acts 5:29. Compare 1 Peter 4:17; Romans 2:8; Romans 11:30, Romans 11:31. Obedience, however, includes faith. Compare Romans 1:5, the obedience of faith.

    Shall not see ( οὐκ ὄψεται )

    Compare the future tense with the present “hath eternal life,” and the simple life with the fully developed idea eternal life. He who believes is within the circle of the life of God, which is essentially eternal. His life “is hid with Christ in God.” Life eternal is to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. Hence, to such an one, eternal life is not merely something future. It is a present possession. He hath it. The unbelieving and disobedient, instead of having eternal life, shall not have life: shall not even see it (compare see the kingdom of God, John 3:3). He shall have no perception of life simply considered, much less of eternal life, the full and complex development of life.

    The wrath of God ( ὀργὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ )

    Both ὀργὴ and θυμός are used in the New Testament for wrath or anger, and without any commonly observed distinction. Ὁργη denotes a deeper and more permanent sentiment; a settled habit of mind; while θυμός is a more turbulent, but temporary agitation. Both words are used in the phrase wrath of God, which commonly denotes a distinct manifestation of God's judgment (Romans 1:18; Romans 3:5; Romans 9:22; Romans 12:19). Ὁργὴ (not θυμός ) also appears in the phrase the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:16, etc.). Compare wrath of the Lamb (Revelation 6:16).

    Abideth ( μένει )

    The present tense. As the believer hath life, so the unbeliever hath wrath abiding on him. He lives continually in an economy which is alienated from God, and which, in itself, must be habitually the subject of God's displeasure and indignation.

    Copyright Statement
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    Bibliographical Information
    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life — He hath it already. For he loves God. And love is the essence of heaven.

    He that obeyeth not — A consequence of not believing.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
    Bibliographical Information
    Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 3:36". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

    The Fourfold Gospel

    He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life1; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life2, but the wrath of God abideth on him3.

    1. He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life. The New Testament represents everlasting life as a present possession obtained by belief.

    2. But he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life. In the second clause of this verse "obeyeth" stands in contrast with "believeth" in the first clause. No mental assent, however strong, is reckoned by the Scriptures as faith unless it results in obedience (James 2:20; Romans 1:5).

    3. But the wrath of God abideth on him. "Wrath of God" is a strong phrase, and is not to be lightly explained away. The unconverted sinner rests under this wrath. His study should be not only to avert a sentence to be pronounced at some future day, but to be freed from one already resting upon him. This verse shows conclusively that Christ's atoning work had its divine as well as its human side; that God had to be propitiated as truly as man had to be reconciled. The Baptist had already repeatedly warned the Jewish people of the wrath to come if they rejected the Messiah, and in this, his last recorded utterance, he boldly reiterates that warning.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
    Bibliographical Information
    J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 3:36". "The Fourfold Gospel". Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    Верующий в Сына. Эта фраза добавлена затем, чтобы не только научить нас тому, что Христа надобно просить о всяком благе, но чтобы мы также понимали, каким образом мы входим в обладание этими благами. Обладание это Иоанн помещает в вере. И вполне заслуженно, ибо верою мы обретаем Христа, приносящего с Собой и праведность, и жизнь, которая есть плод праведности. Из того, что вера во Христа зовется причиной жизни, мы заключаем, что жизнь кроется в одном только Христе. И мы не иначе становимся ее причастниками, как по благодати Христовой. Однако не все согласны в том, каким образом к нам переходит Христова жизнь. Одни понимают это так: Поскольку, веруя, мы принимаем Духа, возрождающего нас к праведности, подобным возрождением мы одновременно обретаем и спасение. Я же, хотя и согласен с тем, что верою мы обновляемся к тому, чтобы в нас царствовал Дух Христов, считаю, что прежде всего надо принять во внимание незаслуженное прощение грехов, из-за которого мы становимся угодными Богу. Я утверждаю, что лишь в этом состоит все спасительное упование, поскольку праведность перед Богом может вмениться нам только тогда, когда Бог прекратит вменять нам грехи.

    Неверующий в Сына. Иоанн, прежде предложив нам жизнь во Христе и привлекши нас ко Христу сладостью этой жизни, теперь приговаривает к вечной смерти тех, кто во Христа не верует. Таким образом, он еще больше превозносит благодеяние Божие, утверждая, что избежать смерти мы можем лишь тогда, когда нас избавляет Христос. Отсюда вытекает следующее положение: в Адаме все мы остаемся погибшими. Если служение Христа состоит в том, чтобы спасти погибшее, отвергающие предложенное в Нем спасение заслуженно остаются в состоянии смерти. Ранее мы сказали, что это в собственном смысле относится к тем, кто отвергает возвещенное им Евангелие. Хотя весь человеческий род вовлечен в одинаковую погибель, более суровое и двойное отмщение ожидает тех, кто отказывается признать Сына Божия своим избавителем. Не подлежит сомнению, что Иоанн креститель, возвещая смерть неверующим, хотел привлечь их ко Христу страхом перед подобной смертью. Далее, говоря об осуждении, он обращает в ничто всю праведность, которую мир приписывает себе отдельно от Христа. Некоторые возражают, что несправедливо губить святых и благочестивых людей только за то, что они не веруют. Однако это возражение легко опровергнуть. Ибо напрасным будет выискивать в людях какую-либо святость кроме той, которую дарует им Христос. Слова «видеть жизнь» означают здесь обладание жизнью. Кроме того, желая лучше выразить свою мысль о том, что вне избавления во Христе у нас не остается никакой надежды, Иоанн говорит, что гнев Божий пребывает на неверующих. Хотя меня устраивает и то, что сказал Августин. По его мнению Иоанн воспользовался словом «пребывает» для того, чтобы мы знали: уже от утробы матери мы предназначены к смерти, поелику рождаемся сынами гнева. Я охотно допускаю подобный намек, лишь бы только мы удержали простой и подлинный смысл, о котором я говорил раньше. Все неверующие настолько повинны смерти, настолько подавлены и объяты этой смертью, что никак не могут ее избежать. Действительно, хотя отверженные уже осуждены по своей природе, своим неверием они навлекают на себя новую смерть. И для этой цели служителям Евангелия дана власть связывать и разрешать. Справедливо возмездие за человеческую гордыню, когда отторгающие спасительное иго Божие попадают в оковы смерти.




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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

    Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books

    Ver. 36. "He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him."

    This is the practical consequence to be drawn from the supreme greatness of the Son. These last words present a great similarity to the close of Psalms 2 : "Do reverence to the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way when, in a little time, his wrath will be kindled; but blessed are they that put their trust in him." Only John, the reverse of the Psalmist and of Jesus Himself (John 3:19-21), begins with believers, to end with unbelievers. It is because he would give a stern and last warning to his disciples and the entire nation John declares, as Jesus had said to Nicodemus, that all depends for every man on faith and unbelief, and that the absolute value of these two moral facts arises from the supreme dignity of Him who is the object of them: the Son. This name is sufficient to explain why faith gives life, why unbelief brings wrath. The phrase ὁ ἀπειθῶν, he who disobeys, brings out the voluntary side in unbelief, that of revolt.

    The Son is the legitimate sovereign; unbelief is the refusal to submit. The words: the wrath abides, have often been understood in this sense: The naturalcondemnation abides, because the act which alone could have removed it, that of faith, has not taken place. But this sense seems to us weak and strained, and is only imperfectly connected with what precedes. The question is rather of the wrath called forth by the very refusal of obedience, and falling upon the unbeliever as such. Is it not just that God should be angry? If faith seals the veracity of God (John 3:33), unbelief makes God a liar (1 John 5:10).—The future shall see is opposed to the present has. Not only does he not have life now, but when it shall be outwardly revealed in its perfect form—that of glory—he shall not behold it; it shall be for him as though it were not. Here is a word which shows clearly that the ordinary eschatology is by no means foreign to the fourth Gospel. The verb μενει,abides, in spite of its correlation with the future ὄψεται, shall see, is a present, and should be written μένει . The present abides expresses, much better than the future shall abide, the notion of permanence. All other wrath is revocable; that which befalls unbelief abides forever. Thus the epithet eternal of the first clause has its counterpart in the second.

    Respecting the fact which we have just been studying, the following is Renan"s judgment: "The twenty-second and following verses, as far as John 4:2, transport us into what is thoroughly historical....This is extremely remarkable.

    The Synoptics have nothing like it" (p. 491).—As to the discourse, it may be called: the last word of the Old Covenant. It recalls that threatening of Malachi which closes the Old Testament: "Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." It accords thus with the given situation: In view of the unbelief which was emphatically manifested even among his disciples, the forerunner completes his previous calls to faith by a menacing warning. All the details of the discourse are in harmony with the character of the person of the Baptist. There is not a word which cannot be fully explained in his mouth. John 3:27; John 3:29-30 have a seal of inimitable originality; no other than the forerunner, in his unique situation, would have been able to create them. John 3:35 is simply the echo of the divine declaration which he had himself heard at the moment of the baptism. In John 3:34 there is formulated no less simply the entire content of the vision which was beheld at that same moment. John 3:28 is the reproduction of his own testimony in the Synoptics (Matthew 3 and parallels). John 3:36 also recalls his former preachings on the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7) and that axe already laid unto the root of the trees (John 3:10) with which he had threatened Israel. There remain only John 3:31-32. We believe we have indicated the very probable origin of these verses (see on John 3:32). Will any one find an objection in the Johannean coloring of the style? But we must recall to mind the fact that we have here the Greek reproduction by the evangelist"s pen of a discourse given in Aramaic (see Introd. pp. 172-175). It is entirely impossible to imagine a writer of a later epoch carrying himself back thus into the midst of the facts, drawing all the words from the given situation, and, above all, adapting to it with so much precision the progress of the discourse (John and Jesus), and binding together the two parts of it by the admirable saying of John 3:30. Weizsacker himself cannot refrain from acknowledging (p. 268) "that there are in this discourse elements of detail which distinctly mark the Baptist"s own point of view" (John 3:27; John 3:34-36).

    We have already replied to the objection derived from the special and independent position which John the Baptist keeps, instead of going to rank himself among the disciples of Jesus. As long as the aim of his mission—to lead Israel to Jesus,—was so far from being attained, that preparatory mission continued, and the Baptist was not free to exchange it for the position of a disciple which would have been more satisfactory to him (John 3:29). It is asked how, after such a discourse of their Master, John"s disciples could have subsequently formed themselves into an anti-Christian sect? But a small number from among the innumerable multitude of those baptized by John were present at this scene, and it would, in truth, be much to expect of a discourse—to suppose that it could have extirpated a feeling of jealousy which was so deep that we even find the traces of it again in the Synoptics (Matthew 9:14 and parallels). On the point in Matthew 11:2, also alleged in opposition to the authenticity of this discourse, see on John 1:34.

    Weiss holds, like Reuss, that this discourse contains authentic elements, but worked over by the evangelist, and that he has fused them into one whole with his own ideas. Thus, he proves the authenticity of the saying of John 3:34 by this argument: The perfection of Jesus" teaching is here ascribed by the forerunner to the action of the Holy Spirit, while John the Evangelist ascribes it to the remembrance which He had of His knowledge of the Father in His pre-existent state. This difference between the idea of the evangelist and that of the Baptist must prove the historical character of the discourse, at least in this point. But we have seen hitherto and we shall continue to discover that this way of conceiving of the higher knowledge of Jesus, which Weiss attributes to the evangelist, is by no means in harmony with the text and with the thought of our fourth Gospel. This alleged difference between his conception and that of the Baptist does not exist.

    Our Gospel does not give an account of the imprisonment of John the Baptist. But the saying of Jesus (John 3:35) implies the disappearance of the forerunner. This took place, therefore, very shortly after this last testimony uttered by him in Judea (see at John 4:1). The fact of John"s death was omitted here, like so many other facts with which the author knows that his readers are well acquainted, and the mention of which does not fall within his plan.

    I cannot believe (see p. 258) that the account which occupies our attention was written without some allusion to the disciples of John, who were moving about in considerable numbers in Asia Minor; not, surely, that I would wish to claim, that the entire fourth Gospel owes its existence to this polemical design, but it has entered as a factor into its composition (comp. Introd., pp. 213, 214).

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    Bibliographical Information
    Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books".

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    Ver. 36. Hath eternal life] 1. In promisso. In promise. 2. In pretio. In reward, 3. In primitiis. In beginnings. He stands already on the battlements of heaven, he hath one foot in the porch of paradise.

    He that believeth not] There is a two-fold unbelief, one in the understanding, and is opposed to faith, απιστια; the other in the will and lives, and is opposed to obedience, απειθεια, Hebrews 8:10. For cure of both, God hath promised to write his laws both in the minds of his people and in their hearts too.

    The wrath of God abides upon him] μενει, as in its mansion-place, as upon its basis, tanquam trabali clave fixa, saith one; there it nestles, settles, and never will away. The unbeliever can neither avoid it nor abide it.

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    These files are public domain.
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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 3:36". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    John 3:36. He that believeth on the Son, &c.— "This," says the Baptist, "is the substance, and this is the end of my whole testimony; that he who has a lively faith in this only Son of God, hath everlasting life; hath a title to it, and the beginning of it already wrought in his soul; but he who disobeys the Son (for so the Greek should be rendered) shall not see life." It is of great importance to preserve a difference in the translation corresponding to that in the original, because the latter phrase explains the former, and shews that the faith to which the promise of life is annexed, is an effectual principle of sincere and unreserved obedience; and it is impossible to make one part of scripture consistent with another, unless this be taken into our idea of saving faith. "He who believes on the Son, is opposed to him who disobeys the Son," says Dr. Heylin: "the sense of the word faith, which was familiarly used among the Jews when Christ and his disciples first taught, began to be perverted when St. John wrote his gospel; and therefore he guards the primitive sense by the antithesis." The Baptist adds, But the wrath of God abideth on him. In scripture the word abide has a particularsignification, denoting the adhesion and permanency of the thing which is said to abide. Of this signification we have an example here; for there is a momentary wrath of God, which quickly passeth; but his abiding wrath torments, and does not kill; and being once inflicted, never draws to an end. Thus the Baptist bare testimony to Jesus anew, setting forth his dignity in the plenitude of his commission, the excellencyof his gifts, the nearness of his relation to God the Father as his only Son, and the greatness of his power as universal Judge.

    Inferences.—How could any one do such miracles as Christ did, unless he and his doctrines were owned of God! and how plain and important were the doctrines of regeneration and faith in him, which he preached as necessary to salvation! And yet how natural is it for carnal minds to misjudge of spiritual things, to disbelieve them, and to be prejudiced against them, because, after all, there will be something incomprehensible in them! For who can, here below at least, fully explain the manner of the Holy Spirit's operations in and upon the souls of believers? Or who can tell how the divine and human natures are personally united in God manifested in the flesh, who, as the Son of God, always was in heaven, whilst, as the Son of man, he was only upon earth! And O how surprising is the thought of the Lord of glory's being lifted up on the cross, that he might be proposed in the gospel as a proper object for a sinner's faith; and that we, under a sense of guilt and danger, as wounded by sin, might look to him, and be as effectually healed of our soul's diseases, as the Israelites were of their desperate wounds, by looking to the brazen serpent in the wilderness! And how inexpressibly rich and free is that love which is the original cause of salvation, and has displayed itself in the gift of Christ to our world, to Gentiles as well as Jews, that whoever believes in him may have everlasting life! With what esteem, and preference to all others, should we think of the dear and only Saviour, who is originally from above, and was anointed with the Holy Ghost without measure for office-performances on earth, who is the object of the Father's highest love, and who is the great Lord and Husband of the church, and is Head over all things for its welfare; and what an honour and delight is it to be instrumental in espousing souls to him! What his servants do in holy ministrations, by his authority, is as valid as if it were done personally by himself; and they should go on in his work, according to the ability and opportunity that he gives them for it, without envying others who excel them in gifts and graces and success; as knowing that no man can receive any good thing for the service of others, or the benefit of his own soul, except it be given him from heaven; for that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. But, alas! how much more concerned are formalists in religion about an external baptism and purification, than about being baptized with the Holy Spirit, and having an experience in themselves of a real work of heart-changing grace!—How great is the sin of unbelief! It rejects the testimony of God concerning his Son, and is envious at Christ's glory; and it proceeds from unreasonable prejudices against him, from a love of evil ways, and unwillingness to be reformed, and from a hatred of the pure light of God's word, lest it should disturb the soul's peace and pleasure in an indulgence of beloved lusts! And how dreadful are its effects, as it binds all a man's other sins upon him, refuses his only remedy, and subjects him to condemnation and wrath with the highest aggravations of guilt! But O the excellence of true faith! It receives the Lord Jesus, sets to its seal that God is true, and depends upon his faithfulness for the performance of all that he has said about his Son, and said to us in a way of grace and mercy through him; it rejoices in the prosperity of his interest, in the espousal of souls to him, and in every thought of his being exalted; it proceeds from a desire of coming to the light of God's word, and from the discovery that is thereby made of the sinner's own vileness, and of the relief there is in Christ for him, and from a willingness to be saved from sin, as well as from the curse of the law, and the wrath of God; and by means of this faith the sentence of condemnation is reversed, and the soul receives a title to eternal life. Which of these states is mine? and in which of them am I likely to be found at death and judgment?

    REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have a singular instance of a great man who submitted to be saved by grace.

    1. There was a man, of great note and eminence, of the Pharisees, the sect which ever expressed the bitterest enmity against our Lord, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, a member of the Sanhedrim; the same came to Jesus by night, solicitous to have some particular discourse with him concerning the things that he had heard him preach; and he chose this time, as some suppose, out of shame and cowardice, as not daring to appear publicly with him, for fear of the Jews; or because this was the season when Christ would be more at leisure, being engaged all the day in public; and when he might more freely and at large talk over with him the important point concerning which he desired to be resolved. With great respect he addressed him, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. These were such credentials of his divine mission, and wrought with such notorious evidence, that the more they were examined, the more forcibly they proved the author of them sent from God. Note; (1.) The grace of Jesus can reach those whose condition in life is most dangerous, if they will but come to him. (2.) When the profession of the true religion is reproachful and unfashionable, some, who dare not openly avow their sentiments, approve in secret the truths which others despise, and will slip in among the faithful, if they cannot be seen, as Nicodemus, by night. (3.) Christ is come to be a teacher of babes, to lead a dark world to the light of life, and guide the erring feet of sinners into the paths of everlasting peace. May we then be humble scholars, and learn of him!

    2. In consequence of the application of Nicodemus, Christ addresses him in the following instructive discourse:

    [1.] On the nature and necessity of regeneration. Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus, like the rest of his countrymen, tinctured with the common prejudices concerning the Messiah's kingdom, supposed that the seed of Abraham would be all admitted to an honourable place in it. But Christ strikes at that radical mistake; assuring him, that no man's external privileges, religious profession, or moral attainments, availed any thing, if his heart and life were not effectually wrought upon by the regenerating influences of the Spirit of God. For, as we are born by nature corrupt and polluted with sin, and spiritually dead in trespasses, we must receive another, a new, a divine nature, the work of God. And unless this supernatural change passes upon us, we can neither understand the nature of the Messiah's kingdom, nor receive any of the blessings and benefits which it was designed to convey to us. Nicodemus, mistaking Christ's meaning, and understanding the words in a literal sense, expresses his surprise at the assertion, not comprehending how it was possible for a man, old as he was, to pass a second time through his mother's womb. In answer to his objection, Christ enforces and explains his declarations, Verily, verily I say unto thee, a truth which is a most infallible certainty, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God: Christ's word, however strange and unintelligible to the natural man, cannot change. There can be no entrance into glory, without that new birth which gives a meetness for it. The soul, by the powerful agency of the Spirit of God, must be cleansed from its natural pollution, as water purifies the body from any filth which it has contracted. And the necessity of such a spiritual change is evident, because that which is born of the flesh, is flesh: could a man a thousand times pass through the womb, he would still come forth with the same corrupted nature, unfit for the kingdom of God; man's nature being utterly sensual in his mere fallen state, and all his appetites, delights, and pursuits being after the flesh, and the things which gratify his bestial part: so that the soul in this condition is utterly enslaved, and the whole man flesh, and not spirit. Whilst, on the contrary, that which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit: when the Holy Ghost works effectually on the believing heart, it is refined from the dregs of sensuality, the soul is restored to spiritual understanding, and the whole man, now brought under the influence of a new, divine, implanted principle of grace, becomes spiritual, in his affections, pursuits, and designs, delivered from the bondage of base lusts and vile corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, and restored to a capacity of enjoying him. Marvel not, therefore, adds our Lord, that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again; nor, though we are ignorant of the manner in which this divine change is wrought, is that any objection to the thing: for, in the world around us, we see effects, of the immediate causes of which we are ignorant. As for instance, The wind bloweth where it listeth, without controul from any creature, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: the effects produced by it are sensibly felt: but why it blows at one time stronger than at another, why from one point rather than another, where it begins and where it ends, these are secrets known only to him who bringeth the winds out of his treasuries. So is every one that is born of the Spirit: so mysterious are the operations of the Divine Spirit in his first movements and operations on the believing heart, when he bears down every obstruction, quickening, comforting, sanctifying the believer's soul, and giving him a blessed experience of his divine power and influence; though he works mysteriously, and leaves the manner of his operations still a secret to us.

    [2.] When yet Nicodemus appeared ignorant, and questioned how these things could be; for to the natural man the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness: Christ proceeds to reprove his dulness, and to enlarge on the certainty and sublimity of those glorious truths which he had advanced: Art thou a master of Israel, a famed teacher, and professor of divinity, and knowest not these things? Note; It is a shame for those who undertake to instruct others, to be ignorant themselves, and, while they affect to pass for men of deep learning and erudition, to be unacquainted with the most important truths that pertain unto salvation. Verily, verily I say unto thee, We speak that we do know: the truths that Christ taught, were of infallible certainty; he spoke as commissioned by his Father, and in correspondence with what all the prophets and John had before declared: and testify that we have seen: not speaking on hearsay, but on the most undoubted evidence, and with the clearest assurance: and ye receive not our witness: such was the blindness, such the prejudices, that had spread over the Jews in general, and the Pharisees and rulers in particular, that they refused to receive and embrace the doctrines of salvation taught by the Son of God, though so infallibly true, so plainly delivered, and attested by such miracles: so that they were without excuse,—as all infidels are, who refuse to submit to the evidence of revelation. If therefore I have told you earthly things, illustrating, with the familiar instances of water and the wind, the necessity of a spiritual change in the hearts of sinners here below, and ye believe not, comprehend not the meaning, nor give credit to the truths advanced, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? of the more sublime doctrines of the gospel, the amazing union of the divine and human natures, the design of the incarnation of the Son of God; his sufferings, death, and exaltation; the nature of his spiritual kingdom, and of the beatific vision? how much more must these be mysterious, when delivered in language suitable to the vast subject, if the plainer truths appear so difficult to be understood? For instance, No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven: the prophets of God indeed had spoken under a divine inspiration, and what they said came from heaven; but none of them ever spoke of their own knowledge, nor had been with God in glory, acquainted with all the secrets of his will; this was the distinguished privilege of the Son of man, the Messiah, who from eternity lay in the bosom of the Father, and was now come down from heaven, as a teacher eminently sent from God; and who, though upon earth, was even then the Son of man which is in heaven; though in his human nature he stood and talked with Nicodemus, his divine nature filled heaven and earth, was every where present, and, in virtue of that communication of properties which subsists between the two natures, the Son of man, though on earth, was, as God, in heaven; that which was done by him in one nature being ascribed to him in the other. Note; (1.) There are mysteries above our comprehension, which are to be received on the evidence of God's word. Where reason fails, faith must be exercised. (2.) In all the humiliations of the Son of man, we must never forget that he is unchangeably the same, God over all, blessed for ever.

    [3.] As the great prophet, he proceeds to describe the end of his incarnation, and the eternal blessedness of those who truly and perseveringly believe in him. He came to seek and to save that which was lost, to heal our mortal wounds, and to recover our perishing souls.

    (1.) He came to heal our mortal wounds, as the antitype of the brazen serpent which Moses in the wilderness lifted up, that those who were stung by the fiery serpents might look and live. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have eternal life. (1.) We are mortally stung by the old fiery serpent Satan, and the deadly poison of sin has been diffused through our nature; the wound is incurable, the torment intolerable and eternal, unless more than human help and healing be vouchsafed to us. (2.) Christ is the only hope of the desperate, the brazen serpent lifted up, for the healing of the nations, on the pole of the everlasting gospel, as crucified on a tree, but now exalted to the throne, bright-shining with the beams of grace on every miserable soul that turns the eye of faith towards him. (3.) It is looking to him alone which performs the wondrous cure. The soul that seeks to any other physician, or refuses this simple method of cure, Look unto me, and be ye saved, Isaiah 45:22 perishes without remedy; while faith infallibly brings health and healing: for, (4.) However obnoxious we are by sin to the wrath of God, however deep our guilt, or aggravated our iniquities, he is a Saviour to the uttermost: whoever looks to him, shall live, though, like the dying thief, reduced to the last gasp; not only the chief of sinners shall be rescued from the eternal ruin which he justly apprehends and fears, but, if he persevere in cleaving to Christ, shall have eternal life, all the bliss and blessedness of glory, through the salvation which is in Jesus Christ.

    (2.) He came to save our lost souls by the sacrifice of himself. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. (1.) Christ is the universal Saviour, not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also; and, as his free salvation is preached to all, whoever will is invited to come to him. They who reject his calls, sin against their own mercies. (2.) He is the only-begotten Son of God, which bespeaks his infinite dignity and all-sufficiency to save. (3.) The love of God in thinking upon us in our ruined state, and sending his Son to be a propitiation for our sins, is the astonishment of angels, and should be matter of our increasing wonder, praise, and adoration. (4.) All who by faith receive the Lord Jesus, as the Son of God and the Redeemer of lost souls, placing their whole dependence on his infinite merit and intercession, are sure to obtain the remission of all their sins. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, as the Jews supposed their Messiah would destroy the Gentile nations, and exalt their own; but that the world through him might be saved. Even the vilest and most guilty, who believe in him, whether Jew or Gentile, may now through him obtain salvation; while out of him, ruin and despair must seize the whole fallen race. He that believeth on him is not condemned: there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus; no charge lies against those whom God justifieth through faith in the Blood of his Son. But, (5.) Destruction inevitable and eternal must be the portion of those who neglect or despise so great a salvation; he that believeth not the gospel-word preached unto them, whether Jew or Gentile, is condemned already; lies at present under the curse which is the wages of sin, and without repentance will as assuredly be lost, as when the sentence shall be executed in the great day, because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. Unbelief is the great damning sin: there can be no cure for those who reject the only remedy; and when God hath been so rich in grace, as to give his only-begotten Son, the baseness of the ingratitude in rejecting him cannot but bring aggravated guilt and perdition on the sinner's soul. And this is the greatest and most fatal cause of their condemnation, that light is come into the world, the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, in which he shines as the sun of righteousness arisen to guide our feet into the ways of peace: and men, notwithstanding, loved darkness rather than light. The Jews held fast their corrupt traditions; the Gentiles, their idolatrous superstitions; and both shunned the light of truth, which made manifest and condemned their works of darkness, because their deeds were evil; therefore do they lie under the divine wrath; and such wilful ignorance, and obstinate rejection of the truth, must needs fill up the measure of their iniquities. (6.) This then will be the test between the wilfully impenitent and the sincere inquirer after truth. For every one that doeth evil, makes it his practice and his delight, and is wedded to his sins, hateth the light, his carnal mind is at enmity with Christ and his gospel; neither cometh to the light, but shuns the means of grace, the ministrations of the faithful, and the company and converse of such whose words and works would be a rebuke to his darkness; lest his deeds should be reproved; lest his darling corruptions should be held up to him in their own hideous form, his danger faithfully set before him, and his conscience wounded with remorse. But he that doeth truth, in simplicity following the mind of God, as far as it is revealed to him, open to conviction, and willing to be searched, cometh to the light of God's word, desirous to know, and disposed to follow it, however contrary to his own natural inclinations or worldly interests; that his deeds may be made manifest, his heart examined, his principles brought to the test, his mind enlightened, and his conduct regulated; so that it may appear he is now under the influence of a regenerate spirit, designing in all his works the divine glory, and evidencing that they are wrought in God, by his gracious influence, according to his holy will, and in a state of union and communion with him. Blessed and happy are the people who are in such a case!

    2nd, When our Lord had finished his discourse with Nicodemus, we are told,

    1. Whither he went, and what he did. He left Jerusalem, and travelled into the country of Judea, where he continued some time, preaching the gospel of the kingdom; and by the ordinance of baptism, which his apostles administered, admitted those who professed their faith in him into the number of his avowed disciples.

    2. John continued his ministry in another part of the country with success. He did not join with Jesus, lest their enemies should pretend that there was a combination between them; nor did he desist from his labours, though he knew his Superior was now gone forth to minister, but continued to preach and baptize all who came to him; having fixed himself at a place where were many streams of water, which rendered it convenient to administer baptism to the multitudes which resorted to him; for as yet he was not cast into prison, as he shortly afterwards was, and a period put to his farther usefulness. Note; The work of the ministry is wide; there is room for the exercise of all our several talents, nor must any be discouraged by their own comparative inferiority: they are suited for their place, and may hope to see their labours successful.

    3. A contest arose between some of John's disciples and the Jews, concerning purifying. [See the Annotations.] Puzzled with the difficulty which embarrassed them, John's disciples carry the case to their master, and, jealous for his honour, and their own who were connected with him, report with concern what they had lately heard, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, and, among others, received baptism; to whom thou barest witness, pointing him out with peculiar distinction; behold, the same baptizeth, setting up himself as a rival to thee; and all men come to him. They look upon it as a piece of presumption in Jesus to assume the Baptist's office, and ungrateful to make use of the testimony which John had borne, in prejudice to him: nor could they, without envy, behold their master eclipsed by him whom they regarded as lately his disciple, and as one of themselves. So ready are good men to be under the temptation of a party-spirit, and to feel unbecoming jealousies and risings of envy against superior excellence, which seems to eclipse their own.

    4. John's answer shewed what spirit he was of. Far from envying Jesus as his rival, he rejoices in his success; and, confirming the testimony that he had before borne to him, cheerfully turns over to him all his interest in Israel.

    [1.] John answered and said, A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven. God gives gifts to his ministers severally as he will. If he is pleased to bestow more on one than another, there is no room for complaint: whatever our measure is, it is a matter of favour to us, and we have reason to be thankful, nor ought to envy the superior honours or usefulness of others: and this consideration should, in every case, silence every murmur of discontent or envy.

    [2.] He appeals to what he had uniformly advanced from the beginning. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. All the honour that he had ever assumed, was that of being his harbinger, and going before the face of the Lord to prepare his way: if therefore he was now arrived, his forerunner, far from being grieved, must rejoice in it. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom; Christ hath alone the right over his church, and to him must the gathering of the people be. He is come from heaven to espouse it to himself, the heavenly bridegroom. There can be no reason therefore for murmurs or jealousy; but, far otherwise, the friend of the bridegroom, as he was, which standeth and heareth him, waiting upon him as his attendant, helping forward his interests, and desiring to advance his honour, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice, when he comes to take his bride, and issues his orders and institutions to those who wait in his train. This my joy therefore is fulfilled, to hear that Christ appears publicly, inviting sinners to come to him; and that multitudes flock to him, embracing the offers of his grace. And thus does every faithful minister stand before the great Bridegroom of souls, to receive his commands, and deliver his messages of love to his church; delighted to behold the happy effects produced by them; and rejoicing greatly in every soul converted to Jesus, and brought by faith and love to cleave to him alone.

    [3.] Far from envying the rising glory of his Lord, John beholds with pleasure the fulfilment of the divine will, He must increase, but I must decrease; his fame must spread, his glory be manifested, his disciples multiply; and to him does John gladly turn over all his interest, content to fade before his superior brightness, as the morning star disappears before the rising sun; and well pleased to see that kingdom of the Messiah established and increasing, which must spread from pole to pole, and endure to the end of time. And to behold this, cannot but give the most singular delight to every faithful minister. The glory of his person, and the surpassing excellence of his office, cannot but give him this superiority. He that cometh from above, is above all: his nature and original being divine, he must needs have the undisputed precedency, and supreme authority, over all other messengers sent from God, who speak only in his name, and by his commission. He that is of the earth, and such are the greatest saints and prophets, is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: as he is sprung from the dust, and must return to the dust, he is naturally attached to earthly things; his conceptions low and groveling; and, when even under divine inspiration, unable adequately to express the sublime mysteries of infinite wisdom; while he that cometh from heaven is above all. Contrasted with the teachings of Jesus, in whom from eternity dwelt all the treasures of wisdom, as being one of the sacred self-existent Godhead, the wisdom of the wisest is weakness, and their speech not to be compared with his preaching. And the reason is evident, because what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth, from the most intimate knowledge of the divine nature and councils, both as God incarnate, and in the human nature possessing the Spirit without measure. But such was the blindness and obstinacy of those to whom he spoke, that, though he was greatly attended, and John's disciples apprehended that all who followed him believed in him, he lets them know the case was far otherwise: no man receiveth his testimony; none, comparatively speaking; so few of the multitudes who came to him would be found his real disciples. Blessed and happy, however, are those who receive his gospel in the light and love of it; for he that hath received his testimony, hath set his seal that God is true. He subscribes to the faithfulness and veracity of God, in having fulfilled all the prophesies concerning the Messiah; and embraces, with full confidence of their completion, the gracious promises of his gospel, as being Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. And herein God is glorified, when we trust our everlasting hopes upon the word that he has delivered to us by his Son; for he whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God; all his language spoke the Divinity resident in him; and no word of human infirmity ever dropped from his lips; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. All the other prophets, who were sent of God, possessed but a measure of the Spirit, and only spoke under his immediate inspiration on some particular occasions, being at other times left to speak their own words; but he in whom dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily, ever spoke the words of God. The Father loveth the Son with a peculiar and transcendant regard, as being possessed with the same nature and perfections. He delights in his Son's undertaking as Mediator, and hath given all things into his hand; investing him in his human nature with all power and authority in heaven and in earth. All the great affairs of the kingdom of providence, grace, and glory, are committed to his management, that his enemies may feel his vengeance; that his faithful ones may experience his blessing, protection, and care; and all at last appear before him as their eternal judge. He that believeth therefore on the Son, receives him as manifest in the flesh, and rests his hopes on the rich grace revealed in the gospel alone, hath everlasting life; he shall not only hereafter, if faithful unto death, be put in possession of it, but has already in himself the beginning and foretastes of it: and, on the contrary, he that believeth not the Son rejecteth his divine authority and mission, incredulous of his word, and disobedient to his will, shall not see life: while he remains under the power of unbelief, he is dead in trespasses and sins, and nothing but misery inconceivable and eternal awaits him, because the wrath of God, which is for ever wrath to come, abideth on him. How terrible is the end of all who believe not God, and obey not the gospel of his dear Son!

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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 3:36". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

    Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

    Learn, 1. That though all power be given to Christ, to dispense grace here, and glory hereafter, yet none must expect to enjoy it, but upon condition of believing in him, and of obeying him, for the original word signifies both. No faith is acceptable to Christ, nor available to our salvation, but that which is the parent and principle of obedience.

    Learn, 2. That the final unbelief renders a man infallibly an object of the eternal wrath of God; he that believeth not the Son, the wrath of God abideth on him. The unbeliever now lies under the sentence of God's wrath, hereafter he shall lie under the full and final execution of it.

    Lord! how sad is it to be here in a state of condemnation! but how in tolerable will it be in hell, to continue eternally under the power of condemnation! To lie for ever in that mysterious fire of hell, whose strange property is always to torture, but never to kill; or always to kill, but never to consume: for after millions of years are expired, still it is a wrath to come; and though the unbeliever has felt and endured never so much, yet still the wrath of God abideth on him. Every word carries dread and terror with it.

    The wrath, not the anger; and the wrath of God, not of man, at whose rebukes the devils tremble. And this wrath of God not only flashes out the lightening, but abides, dwells, and sticks fast upon him; that is, on his person, the whole man, soul and body.

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    Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 3:36". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    36.] Compare ch. John 1:12-13; John 3:15.

    ἀπειθῶν may mean disbelieving, see reff. Unbelief implies disobedience.

    μένει] It was on him, see John 3:18, in his state of darkness and nature,—and can only be removed by faith in the Son of God, which he has not.

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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 3:36". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary


    Everlasting praise to thee, my honored Lord, for the sweet and precious doctrine of the New-birth, so graciously taught thy Church, in this discourse with Nicodcmus. Oh! for the distinguishing grace of God the Spirit upon my heart, that I may have all the blessed testimonies, in the assurance of it there; that I may not only know it, in the written word, but enjoy it in the engrafted word; to make me wise unto salvation through the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    Do thou, dearest Lord, accompany those thine heavenly discourses, with thine Almighty grace; that from the words of my Lord and the commissioned discourse of his servant the Baptist, my soul may receive the truth, and the truth may make me free. Jesus hath all things in his Almighty hand. May I then Lord look to thee for all things, in grace, mercy, pardon, peace, and every New Covenant blessing here; and all the fulness of glory in Jesus, and from Jesus, to all eternity!

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    Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

    Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

    DISCOURSE: 1614


    John 3:36. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    A FAITHFUL minister will find many occasions of rectifying the views and dispositions of his hearers; nor will he fail to improve the opportunities that occur of leading them to a more intimate acquaintance with their Lord. Some of the followers of John the Baptist having heard of the popularity of Jesus, were envious of his success, and jealous for the honour of their own teacher. But this holy man answered their complaints with much wisdom and humility; and having, in the strongest terms, given his testimony to the Divine mission of Jesus, he confirmed his word with the solemn declaration which we have just read. This record contains the sum and substance of the Gospel. It sets before us,

    I. The one condition of our salvation—

    We do not mean to say that there is any thing to be done, whereby we are to earn or merit heaven (in this respect our salvation has no conditions except those which were performed by Christ) but that,

    We must believe in Christ in order to obtain salvation—

    [The duty here enjoined is not so easy as men generally suppose. If it merely imported a consent to the truth of Christianity, it might then be performed without any difficulty or self-denial. But to “believe on the Son of God” is, to believe, that he is the only, and the all-sufficient, Saviour of our ruined race. If we do not feel our need of him; if we be not convinced that we can never obtain salvation by any works of our own; if we do not make earnest application to him at a throne of grace; and if we do not trust altogether in his blood and righteousness, we cannot believe aright. This, and nothing less than this, is the condition of our acceptance with God.]

    Nor is there any other condition so suitable as this—

    [We may be ready to think that the performance of good works were a much fitter condition than faith. But if salvation were by works, no flesh living could be saved; because no man ever has kept, or ever can keep, the whole law of God. Nor should we be at all more safe, if sincere obedience were the term of our acceptance; because as no man has perfectly fulfilled the law, so no man has done all that he might have done; in many instances we might have mortified our sinful dispositions more, and approved ourselves more diligent in the discharge of our duty. Besides, if we were saved by any works of our own, we should have whereof to glory, and might ascribe, even in heaven itself, the honour to ourselves. Whereas the appointment of salvation by faith secures happiness to the most unworthy, if really penitent; and necessitates all to give the glory of their salvation to God alone.]

    The Baptist having thus made known the condition of our acceptance with God, proceeds to declare,

    II. The state of those who comply with it—

    About this, which might have been thought a dubious point, no doubt whatever is expressed. The believer has,

    1. A title to eternal life—

    [There is not any title whatever to an earthly inheritance so secure as that which the believer has to heaven. He has the promise of Jehovah. He has a covenant sealed with Emmanuel’s blood, and confirmed with the oath of God himself—and, provided he can appeal to God respecting his unfeigned reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ, he may put in his claim even at the bar of judgment, and demand, if we may so speak, all the glory of heaven as his unalienable inheritance. God hath said, “He that believeth shall be saved;” and if we only prove our performance of the condition, we need never doubt the fulfilment of God’s promise.]

    2. The beginning and earnest of it in his soul—

    [The life which a believer has in his soul is of the same kind with that which he shall possess for ever. He has the same reconciliation with God, the same delight in him, and the same sense of his favour. The Spirit of God that is within him is often called “an earnest” of his inheritance; because that Spirit, in his enlightening, sanctifying, and comforting influences, is a foretaste of heaven, and a pledge, that the soul possessed of it shall in due time enjoy all the glory and felicity of the heavenly world. He has only to wait the appointed hour, and his abode shall be in the presence of his God, where nothing that can trouble or defile him shall ever enter. Say, brethren, could an angel from heaven announce to you more joyful tidings than these?]

    But it is not thus with all. Widely different is,

    III. The state of those who do not comply with it—

    Here we may observe the same strength of assertion as in the former case. The text positively affirms, that

    They shall not enter into heaven—

    [Unbelievers often seem as confident of obtaining eternal happiness as if all the promises of God had been made to them in particular. But they will be awfully disappointed as soon as ever they enter into the invisible world. “They will knock at the gate of heaven, crying, Lord, Lord, open to us: but he will answer them, Depart from me, I never knew you.” A flaming sword will prohibit their entrance into Paradise, and an impassable gulf be fixed between them and the celestial spirits. This is the declaration of God, nor can it ever be reversed.]

    They shall be made eternal monuments of God’s wrath—

    [They will not be persuaded that God is angry with them; and because they feel not his judgments now, they think they never shall. But God even now is filled with wrath against them; and they are preserved only as condemned criminals in a dungeon, till the hour appointed for their execution shall arrive. God’s eye is ever upon them, not for good, but for evil. He views them as guilty of the most flagrant disobedience [Note: δε ἀπειθῶν is contrasted in the text with πιστεύων.]. He regards them as contemners both of his majesty, and of his mercy. He is incensed against them for “trampling under foot his dear Son, and doing despite to his Spirit.” And soon the wrath, which even now “abideth on them,” “shall come upon them to the uttermost.”]


    [Let all inquire seriously whether they do indeed believe — — — Let those, who have not hitherto come to Christ as lost and perishing sinners, guard against those workings of self-righteousness which would keep them from him — — — And let “those who have believed be careful to maintain good works” — — —]

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    Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on John 3:36". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

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

    John 3:36. All the more weighty in their results are faith in the Son and unbelief! Genuine prophetic conclusion to life or death.

    ἔχειζ. αἰ.] “he has eternal life,” i.e. the Messianic ζωή, which, in its temporal development, is already a present possession of the believer; see on John 3:15-16. At the Second Advent it will be completed and glorified; and therefore the antithesis οὐκ ὄψεται ζωήν, referring to the future αἰών, is justified, because it presupposes the οὐκ ἔχει ζ.

    ἀπειθῶν] not: “he who does not believe on the Son” (Luther and the Fathers), but: “he who is disobedient to the Son;” yet, according to the context, so far as the Son requires faith. Comp. Acts 14:2; Acts 19:9; Romans 11:30; Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 17. Contrasted herewith is the ὑπακοὴ πίστεως, Romans 1:5.

    ὀργή] not punishment, but wrath, as the necessary emotion of holiness; see on Romans 1:18; Ephesians 2:3; Matthew 3:7.

    μένει] because unreconciled, inasmuch as that which appropriates reconciliation, i.e. faith (John 3:16), is rejected; comp. John 9:41. This μένει (it is not termed ἔρχεται) implies that the person who rejects faith is still in a moral condition which is subject to the divine wrath,—a state of subjection to wrath, which, instead of being removed by faith, abides upon him through his unbelief. The wrath, therefore, is not first awakened by the refusal to believe (Ritschl, de ira Dei, pp. 18, 19; Godet), but is already there, and through that refusal remains.(180) Whether or not this wrath rests upon the man from his birth (Augustine; Thomasius, Chr. Pers. u. Werk, I. p. 289), this text gives no information. See on Ephesians 2:3.

    That the Baptist could already speak after this manner, is evident from chap. John 1:29.

    ἐπʼ αὐτόν] as in John 1:32-33.

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    Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 3:36". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

    Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

    John 3:36. ἔχει, hath) The present, the future being included. See on ch. John 5:24, “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”— οὐκ ὄψεται, shall not see) Future, in which the present is included.— ὀργή, wrath) For he has no experimental sense of the love with which the Father loves the Son, and those alone who believe in the Son.— μένει) Others read μενεῖ [Fut. So the old Lat. (60); Memph(61) and Syr(62) Versions: but (63)(64)(65)(66)(67)(68) support μένει(69)]; but see John 3:18, “He that believeth on Him, is not condemned; but he that believeth not, is condemned already,” etc., ἤδη κέκριται, is already judged; the wrath of God abideth on him: there is no need that it should at last come [on him].

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    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 3:36". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    He that, hearing the proposition of the gospel, so agreeth to it, as with his heart he receiveth him as his Saviour, and trusteth and hopeth in him, hath everlasting life; that is, a certain and just title to it, nay, in the first fruits; being actually delivered from condemnation, Romans 8:1, to which, without faith, he is exposed: he already liveth a spiritual life, Galatians 2:20; and having Christ in him, hath the hope of glory, into the possession of which he shall most certainly come. But he that receiveth not the gospel published by him who is the Son of God, and doth not embrace him as his Saviour, and yield obedience to him, shall not be saved. The word here translated believeth not, is apeiywn, which often signifieth, one that is not obedient. But this is the command of God, That men should believe on his Son, 1 John 3:23. The commandment doth not only respect love, but faith in the first place; for faith worketh by love; so as there is an apeiyeia, a disobedience in the understanding, as well as in the conversation; and he that so believeth not, as to obey, shall never come into heaven, which felicity is here expressed by seeing life; as not seeing death is not dying, so not seeing life is dying. And as he was by nature a child of wrath, Ephesians 2:3, subject and exposed to the wrath of God, so that wrath abideth on him: being justified by faith, he hath peace with God, Romans 5:1.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 3:36". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

    Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

    Этот стих является подходящей кульминацией главы. Иоанн Креститель предоставил выбор из двух возможностей: истинная вера или дерзкое непослушание, вызывающее тем самым на первое место опасность угрожающего суда. Поскольку Иоанн постепенно ушел из центра служения, он побудил верить в Сына и ясно указал на окончательные отдаленные последствия неверия, т.е. на «гнев Божий».

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    MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 3:36". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    ‘He who believes on the Son has eternal life. But he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.’

    Not to listen to the Son is dangerous indeed. ‘He who believes on (believes into) the Son has eternal life, ‘the life of the coming age’, spiritual life, immortal life. He who does not obey the Son will not see such life, but God’s divine anger will rest on him with its consequent results. Notice that believing and obeying are used synonymously. Those who believe will always obey, although belief precedes obedience, and lack of obedience indicates lack of faith. The believer has God abiding in him (John 14:17; John 14:23). In contrast the non-believer does not obey God and has God’s wrath, and the results of that wrath, abiding on him. God’s wrath is not anger as we know anger. It is not because He cannot control His feelings. The word is describing His total antipathy to sin and all that sin involves, expressed by judgment on that sin and on the sinner. It is thus steady and unchanging unless the sin is atoned for through the means that He has provided. God’s antipathy to sin cannot cease. What was therefore necessary was to deal with that sin in such a way that it could be removed as being a hindrance to man’s relationship with God.

    Note that the last part of this passage had moved from Jesus’ Messiahship to His Sonship. Jesus is being revealed as ‘the Christ, the Son of God’.

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    Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    36.Believeth on the Son—Accepts him as God incarnate.

    Hath everlasting life—It is already within him, the gift of the Son.

    Shall not see life—A life which is over and above the earthly life he now sees, and which is the gift of the Son conditioned on faith.

    Wrath—The reverse of that eternal life.

    Abideth on him—It is now upon him, and it is permanent upon him. Though he has now a mortal life, he has not the Son-given, immortal, celestial life; but is spiritually, and so permanently and eternally, dead, unless he obtain the higher life by faith. Hence: 1. Eternal life is the gift of Christ, and is implanted in principle and germ within the believer, in and over this temporal life. 2. Heavenly life is the perpetuity and perfection of the life now within the soul implanted by Christ. 3. Eternal death, the wrath of God, is the perpetuity of the present spiritual death. 4. Eternal life is for him alone who believeth.


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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    In conclusion, John placed the alternatives side by side. Belief in the Son of God results in eternal life ( John 1:12; John 3:3; John 3:5; John 3:15-16), life fitted for eternity with God and enjoyed to a limited extent now. Unbelief results in God"s wrath remaining on the unbeliever and his or her not obtaining eternal life. John spoke of unbelief as disobedience (rejection, NIV), because when God offers salvation unbelief becomes disobedience. [Note: See Brad McCoy, "Obedience Is Necessary to Receive Eternal Life," Grace Evangelical Society News9:5 (September-October1994):1, 3.]

    God"s wrath is His personal response to unbelief, not some impersonal principle of retribution.

    "It is the divine allergy to moral evil, the reaction of righteousness to unrighteousness. God is neither easily angered nor vindictive. But by his very nature he is unalterably committed to opposing and judging all disobedience." [Note: Tenney, " John," pp52-53.]

    Unbelievers will experience God"s wrath primarily in the future (cf. John 5:28-29). This is the only reference to God"s wrath in John"s Gospel or his epistles, though it appears six times in the Book of Revelation (cf. Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:26).

    ""The wrath of God" is a concept that is uncongenial to many modern students, and various devices are adopted to soften the expression or explain it away. This cannot be done, however, without doing great violence to many passages of Scripture and without detracting from God"s moral character. Concerning the first of these points, ... there are literally hundreds of passages in the Bible referring to God"s wrath, and the rejection of them all leaves us with a badly mutilated Bible. And with reference to the second, if we abandon the idea of the wrath of God we are left with a God who is not ready to act against moral evil.... We should not expect it [God"s wrath] to fade away with the passage of time. Anyone who continues in unbelief and disobedience can look for nothing other than the persisting wrath of God. That is basic to our understanding of the gospel. Unless we are saved from real peril there is no meaning in salvation" [Note: Morris, p220.]

    This verse brings the whole third chapter to a climax and emphasizes the significance of the Son for salvation and judgment.

    In this pericope the Apostle John explained that Jesus came from heaven with greater authority than any former prophet. What He revealed came from His own observations in heaven. His words accurately and fully represented God. Moreover He came because the Father fully endowed Him with divine authority and assistance out of love. Furthermore He is to be the object of people"s faith. Therefore He was superior to John the Baptist as well as every other divine representative.

    The events in John"s narrative of Jesus" first visit to Jerusalem ( John 2:13 to John 3:36) set the tone for Jesus" ministry, particularly His later occasions of ministry in Jerusalem (ch5; John 7:10 to John 10:42; John 12:12-50). The conflict between belief and unbelief begins to surface here.

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    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

    Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

    John 3:36. He that believeth in the son hath eternal life. As all things are in the Son’s hand by the gift of the Father, the destiny of all men depends on their relation to the Son. He that believeth in the Son has in Him the highest of all blessings, life eternal; has this in present possession-involved in the communion of faith in which he lives.

    But he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. Over against the believer is here set, not the man who does not believe, but he that disobeys. The change from believing to obedience results from the thought of the last verse: supreme power is given to the Son; therefore he that receives Him not by faith is guilty of disobeying His authority; not faith only, but the obedience of faith, is His due. From the eyes of all such life is hidden whilst the unbelief and disobedience shall last. The rejection of the Son brings with it the wrath of God, by whom all things were given into the Son’s hand: this is the present and the abiding heritage of him that obeyeth not the Son.

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    Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

    The Expositor's Greek Testament

    John 3:36. . Christ has been represented as Sovereign, commissioned with supreme powers, especially for the purpose of saving men and restoring them to God. Hence “he that believeth on the Son hath eternal life”. He who through the Son finds and accepts the Father has life in this very vision and fellowship of the Supreme; cf.John 17:3. But “he that refuses to be persuaded,” lit. “he that disobeyeth”. Beza points out that in N.T. there is a twofold , one of the intellect, dissenting from truth presented, as here and in Acts 14:2; the other of the will and life, see Romans 11:30. But will enters into the former as well as the latter. , the wrath of God denotes “the fixed and necessary hostility of the Divine nature to sin”; what appears in a righteous man as indignation; and also the manifestation of that hostility in acts of retributive justice. This is the only place in the Gospel where it occurs; but in Revelation 6:16, we have “the wrath of the Lamb”; also John 16:19, “the wine of the fury of His wrath”; also John 14:10, John 11:18, John 19:15. In Paul “the coming wrath” is frequently alluded to; as also “the day of wrath,” “the children” or “vessels” of wrath. On the refuser of Christ the wrath of God, instead of removing from him, abides, ; not, as Theophylact reads, , “will abide”.



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    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 3:36". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    divinity of the Son is in this chapter proved as clearly as in 1 John v. 7. "There are three who give testimony in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one." Which verse is entirely omitted by Luther in his version; for which omission he is severly reproved by keckerman. But while Catholics and Protestants deduce from this and many other places in Scripture, the divinity of Jesus Christ, as an indubitable and irrefragable consequence, how may learned Arians, Socinians, and Unitarians read the saem texts, and deduce quite contrary consequences? How clearly does this preove that the Bible only cannot prove the exclusive rule of faith. With reason does the Cambridge divinity professor, Dr. Herbert Marsh, ask in his late publication on this subject, p. 18, "Are all Protestants alike in their religion? Have we not got Protestants of the Church of England, Protestants of the Church of Scotland, Protestants who hold the profession of Augsburgh? Have we not both Arminian and Calvinistic Protestants? Are not the Moravians, the Methodists, the Baptists, the Quakers, and even the Jumpers, the Dunkers, the Swedenborgians, all Protestants? Since, then Protestantism assumes so many different forms, men speak quite indefinitely, if they speak of it without explaining the particular kind wich they mean. When I hear of a Swedish or a Danish Protestant, I know that it means a person whose religion is the Bible only, as expounded by the Synod of Dort. In like manner a Protestant of the Church of England, is a person whose religion is the Bible only; but the Bible as expounded by its Liturgy and Articles. How, therefore, can we know, if we give the Bible only, what sort of Protestantism well be deduced from it?" --- In the same publication, Dr. Herbert Marsh, p. 21, adds, "Protestants of every description, however various adn even opposite in their opinions, claim severally for themselves the honour of deducing from the Bible irrefragable and indubitable consequences. The doctrine of conditional salvation is an indubitable consequence to the Arminian. The doctrine of absolute decree, an indubitable consequence to the Calvinist. The doctrines of the trinity, the atonement and the sacraments, which the Church of England considers as indubitable consequences of the Bible, would not be so, if the Unitarians and Quakers were right in the consequences which they draw from the Bible. But the consequences which they deduce appear indubitable to them." This the professor properly styles protestantism in the abstract, or generalized, and nearly allied to apostacy from Christianity: a system, p. 16, "by which many a pilgrim has lost his way between the portal of the temple and the altar --- disdaining the gate belonging only to the priests, adn approaching at once the portals of the the temple, they have ventured without a clue, to explore the inmost recesses; and have been bewildered in their way, till at length they have wandered to the devious passage, where Christianity itself becomes lost from the view." See his Inquiry into the consequences of neglecting to give the Prayer-Book with the Bible.

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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 3:36". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    believeth not = obeyeth not. Greek. apeitheo. Compare App-150. See note on John 1:7. Only here in John.

    shall not see = will not see. Note the future here, in contrast with "hath".

    see. App-183.

    wrath = [permanent] wrath. Greek orge; as in Matthew 3:7. Luke 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:16, &c. Not thumos, which = [temporary] wrath.

    abideth. Present tense. See note on John 1:32.

    on = upon. Greek. epi. App-104.

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:36". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life - already hath it. See the note at John 3:18; and at John 5:24.

    And [or rather, 'but' de (G1161)] he that believeth not the Son shall not see life. The contrast here is striking. The one has already a life that will endure forever: the other not only has it not now, but shall never have it-never see it.

    But the wrath of God abideth on him. It was on Him before, and not being removed in the only possible way, by "believing on the Son," it necessarily remaineth on him.


    (1) Here again we have the marriage-relation of Yahweh to the Church-one of the leading Evangelical ideas of the Old Testament-which in Psalms 45:1-17 is transferred to Messiah, and is here, as in the First Gospel, appropriated by Christ to Himself, who thereby serves Himself Heir to all that the Old Testament holds forth of Yahweh's gracious affections, purposes, and relations toward the Church. See the note at Matthew 22:2, and Remark 1 at the close of that section.

    (2) What a beautiful and comprehensive idea of the office of the ministry is this, of "Friends of the Bridegroom" - instrumentally bringing the parties together; equally interested in both of them and in their blessed union; rejoicing as they listen to the Bridegroom's voice, with whom the whole originates, by whom all is effected, and from whom flows all the bliss of those united to Him!

    (3) No test of fidelity in the service of Christ can be more decisive than the spirit here displayed by the Baptist-absorption in his Master's interests, joy at the ingathering of souls to Him, and a willingness to decrease that He may increase, as stars before the rising sun.

    (4) The difference between Christ and all other, even inspired, teachers is carefully to be observed, and never lost sight of. By this the honour in which the early Church held the Gospels above every other portion of the inspired Scripture is fully justified; nor are the other portions of canonical Scripture thereby disparaged, but rather the contrary, being thus seen in their right place, as all either preparatory to or expository of THE GOSPEL, as the Four Evangelical Records were called-Christ Himself being the chief Corner-stone.

    (5) When Christ "speaketh the words of God," it is not simply as "The Word made flesh," but (according to the teaching of the Baptist in John 3:34) as plenarily gifted with the Holy Spirit-that "oil of gladness with which God, even His God, anointed Him above His fellows." As this was prophetically announced in Isaiah 61:1-3, so it was recognized by Christ Himself (Luke 4:18). But to guard against the abuse of this truth, as if Christ differed from other teachers only in having the Spirit given Him in larger measure, we shall do well to observe how jealous the fathers of the Church found it necessary to be on this point, when, having to combat such abuses, they decreed in one of their councils, that if anyone said that Christ 'spake or performed miracles by the Spirit of God, as by a power foreign to Himself,' he was to be condemned.

    Thus then-as at His baptism and elsewhere, so here-we have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all present, and each in His respective office in the work of redemption.

    (6) The Son of God is the great Administrator of the kingdom of grace. As this is part of the closing testimony of the Baptist to Him, so does the last book of the New Testament canon conclude with it - "Behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every man according as his work is" (Revelation 22:12). But this is not held forth here merely as a great fact. It is to give meaning and weight to what follows (John 3:36) - that the destinies of all that hear the Gospel, their blissful or blighted eternity, hang upon their reception or rejection of the Son of God.

    (7) God's attitude toward the unbelieving is that of "wrath" [ orgee (Greek #3709)], that is, righteous displeasure, whose judicial expression is called "vengeance" [ ekdikeesis (Greek #1557)]. While it repays [ apodidoosi (Greek #591)] the unbelieving by excluding them from "seeing life," it does so still more awfully by leaving them under the weight of God's settled, abiding displeasure. And yet, with such teaching sounding in their ears, there are those who confidently teach that there never was, is not, nor can be anything in God against sinners, needing to be removed by Christ, but solely in men against God. Having formed to themselves certain notions of the love and unchangeableness of God, which they think incompatible with there being anything in Him against the sinner needing to be removed in order to his salvation, they make the Scripture to bend to these notions, instead of adjusting their own views to its indisputable teaching.

    This may be consistent enough in those who believe in no authoritative divine Revelation, and regard the Scripture, and Christianity itself, as only designed to quicken and develop the natural religiousness of the human heart. But none who profess to bow to the teaching of Scripture as authoritative and conclusive can, consistently with the concluding words of this chapter, deny that God's view and treatment of the sinner will be that of reconciliation, complacency, and admission to life everlasting, or of abiding wrath or judicial displeasure, and permanent exclusion from life, according as he believes or believes not on the Son; in other words, that we must be not only internally but relatively right with God, or that He must be gained to us as well as we to Him. That He is willing and waiting to be so is indeed most true, as His whole procedure in the matter of salvation shows; and that neither Christ's death nor our faith in it make Him so-as we be slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say-is equally true. But until the sinner meets Him at the Cross, and sets to his own seal to the reconciliation effected by it-until both the Offended and the offending parties embrace each other over the same Sacrifice that taketh away the sin of the world, that love of God which yearns toward the sinner cannot, and will not, reach him. See the notes at Matthew 5:23-26, Remark 7 at the close of that section.

    (8) The language of the last six verses of this chapter, regarding Christ, has been thought by not a few critics to go so far beyond the Baptist's point of view, that they cannot persuade themselves that he uttered it as it stands reported here; and they think that the Evangelist himself has, in the exercise of his apostolic illumination and authority, blended the Baptist's fainter and his own clearer views into one full-orbed testimony, as that of the Baptist himself-being his in sense if not in form. We have put this view of Bengel, Wetstein Lucke, Olshausen, DeWette, da Costa, and Tholuck, as favourably as we could. But first, if this principle is to be admitted, we can have no confidence that even Christ's own discourses are correctly reported, except that they are too lofty to have been expressed as they are by any human pen; and though this may do very well to authenticate them in the general, there are some statements of our Lord of so special a nature that we should not feel bound to abide by them as the stand, if we could persuade ourselves that they were, in the form of them at least, due to the Evangelist himself.

    Thus is a principle of uncertainty in the testimony of the Gospels introduced, of which no one can see the end, or rather, the end of which has been too sadly seen in the criticism of Schleiermacher (on the Gospel of Luke, for example), and after him of Strauss. But again, this whole testimony of the Baptist-from John 3:27 - is so homogeneous, as Meyer well remarks, so uniform, consistent, and continuous, that one cannot see why the former portion of it should be thought to be strictly his, and the rest betray the Evangelist's own pen. But once more, we have seen already how glorious are the rays of Gospel truth-regarding the Person and the Work of Christ alike-which darted from the lips of His honoured herald (see the note at John 1:29; and at 1:49): and as from Luke 11:1 it is clear that John's teaching to his disciples took a wider range than anything expressly reported in the Gospels, we have no reason for doubting that this testimony-explicitly related as his, and so entirely in harmony with all his recorded testimonies-was really his, merely because it widens out into something singularly clear and lofty; more especially when we consider that it must have been among the very last testimonies, if not altogether the last, which he was permitted to bear to his blessed Master before his imprisonment.

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (36) Here too we have, in the words of John, thoughts which we have found already (John 3:15-16), and shall find again (John 5:24), in the words of Christ Himself.

    He that believeth not the Son.—Better, he that obeyeth not the Son. The word, which occurs only here in the Gospels, is not the same as that at the beginning of the verse, and shows that the faith there intended is the subjection of the will to the Son, to whom the Father hath given all things (John 3:35). (Comp. “obedience to the faith,” Romans 1:5.)

    Shall not see life is contrasted with the present possession of the believer. He has life; the man who disobeys has not, and while he disobeys shall not see life, for he cannot be a subject of a kingdom to whose laws he refuses allegiance. But there is also a fearful positive contrast. There is for him a present possession, which shall also remain.

    The wrath of God abideth on him.—Once only in the four Gospels does this term, so full of tremendous meaning, meet us, and that in the Gospel of fullest love, and in a context which speaks of the Father’s love to the Son, and of eternal life, which is the portion of all who believe on the Son. It must be so. This wrath (comp. Romans 2:8; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; Revelation 19:15) is not the fierceness of passion, nor is it the expression of fixed hatred. It is the necessary aspect of love and holiness toward those who reject love, and wilfully sin. It is not here spoken of as coming upon them, or as passing from them. It abideth, ever has and ever must; for the wrath of love must abide on hatred, the wrath of holiness must abide on sin. But none need hate, and none need live in wilful sin. “He that believeth”—how vast the love and bright the hope of the all-including words—“hath eternal life”! (Comp. Note on John 6:56.)

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
    that believeth on
    15,16; 1:12; 5:24; 6:47-54; 10:28; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; 8:1; 1 John 3:14,15; 1 John 5:10-13
    3; 8:51; Numbers 32:11; Job 33:28; Psalms 36:9; 49:19; 106:4,5; Luke 2:30; 3:6; Romans 8:24,25; Revelation 21:8
    Psalms 2:12; Romans 1:18; 4:15; 5:9; Galatians 3:10; Ephesians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 10:29; Revelation 6:16,17 Reciprocal: Numbers 25:11 - turned my;  Deuteronomy 28:20 - vexation;  2 Kings 19:15 - thou hast made;  Job 1:12 - power;  Psalm 22:29 - and none;  Psalm 88:7 - Thy wrath;  Proverbs 1:32 - the turning;  Proverbs 8:35 - whoso;  Matthew 21:37 - last;  Matthew 25:46 - the righteous;  Mark 1:11 - Thou;  Mark 16:16 - that believeth and;  Luke 1:32 - give;  Luke 9:35 - This;  Luke 14:24 - GeneralLuke 16:26 - they pass;  Luke 20:5 - Why;  Luke 20:13 - I will;  John 1:34 - this;  John 3:18 - is not;  John 6:29 - This;  John 6:40 - and believeth;  John 6:53 - eat;  John 8:24 - for;  John 9:35 - Dost;  John 11:25 - he that;  John 14:4 - and the;  John 20:31 - believing;  Acts 2:36 - that same;  Acts 3:13 - hath;  Acts 4:12 - is there;  Acts 10:36 - he is;  Acts 13:35 - to see;  Acts 16:31 - Believe;  Acts 20:21 - faith;  Romans 1:3 - his Son;  Romans 3:27 - but by;  Romans 4:11 - father;  Romans 6:23 - but the;  2 Corinthians 1:19 - the Son;  Galatians 3:22 - to;  Ephesians 2:8 - through;  Philippians 2:9 - God;  2 Thessalonians 2:12 - they;  1 Timothy 1:15 - worthy;  1 Timothy 1:16 - believe;  Hebrews 3:6 - as;  Hebrews 3:19 - General1 John 5:11 - God;  1 John 5:12 - that hath the;  Revelation 2:18 - the Son;  Revelation 5:12 - to receive;  Revelation 20:15 - whosoever

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 3:36". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

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

    Ver. 36. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that is not obedient to the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."

    This was the word with which the Baptist dismissed his disciples. We may hope that the result was the same as in the case of Nicodemus. Like the latter, they are silent, and lay their hand upon their mouth: "Once have I spoken, but I will not answer."

    The opposite to faith is unbelief; but the latter is here designated as criminal disobedience: cf. Acts 14:2; Romans 11:30. The Son of God, as such, cannot do otherwise than demand faith; and woe to him who is not obedient to such demand.—"The wrath of God abideth on him." This flows directly from the declaration that the Father loves the Son; for the love of the Father to the Son must take the form of unquenchable wrath towards those who despise the Son. The Berleb. Bibel, with many other expositors, gives the incorrect explanation: "The wrath of God abides on him, since it is by nature already upon him: no new condemnation is needed, for the old is sufficient, into which he has fallen in and with Adam, and is therefore by nature under wrath." The thought is not, that the wrath which has already rested upon him, remains; but, that the wrath which he draws upon himself by disobedience to the Son has an abiding character. We are therefore not to read the Future, μένει. The preceding ὄψεται is quite sufficient to determine the time. The abiding wrath here corresponds to eternal life, and is the unquenchable fire in Matthew 3:12. The wrath, and the corresponding fire, pertain, according to the Baptist, in Matthew 3:1-12, to the future, the day of judgment; cf. especially ver. 7 (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Even in the Old Testament passage, Psalms 2:12, "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry," the wrath proceeds from the relation to the Son. To the abiding wrath here, corresponds ἡ ὀργὴ εἰς τέλος in 1 Thessalonians 2:16. We have the representation of such an abiding wrath in Isaiah 34:10 : "It (the fire) shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation the land shall lie waste." A contrast to the wrath which, after it has once commenced, abides for ever. is formed by the transient anger in the Book of Wisdom, Wisdom of Solomon 16:5, where, with respect to the judgment of the serpents in the wilderness, it is said, οὐ μέχρι τέλους ἔμεινεν ἡ ὀργή σου: cf. also ch. Wisdom of Solomon 18:20 of the same book, where, with respect to the judgment averted by Phinehas, it is said, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐπὶ πολὺ ἔμεινεν ἡ ὀργή. Contrary to the ὄψεται and the parallel passages, De Wette remarks, "It is not a future, but an immediate punishment, beginning with the unbelief, and without doubt internal, consisting of the inward discord of the soul which is not at peace with God." Olshausen was of opinion that the absolute permanence is expressed only conditionally, in case the disobedience did not cease. But it is not the sense of the Scripture that man can persevere in this disobedience as long as he pleases, and then suddenly bring it to a termination. There comes a decisive moment when the man has definitively fallen into disobedience, as is shown by the Scripture doctrine of the sin against the Holy Ghost. Since this may be at any moment, man is threatened at every instant by the danger of falling under the abiding wrath of God.

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    Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 3:36". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    36.He who believeth in the Son. This was added, not only to inform us that we ought to ask all good things from Christ, but likewise to make us, acquainted with the manner in which they are enjoyed. He shows that enjoyment consists in faith; and not without reason, since by means of it we possess Christ, who brings along with him both righteousness andlife, which is the fruit of righteousness. When faith in Christ is declared to be the cause of life, we learn from it that life is to be found in Christ alone, and that in no other way do we become partakers of it than by the grace of Christ himself. But all are not agreed as to the way in which the life of Christ comes to us. Some understand it thus: “as by believing we receive the Spirit, who regenerates us in order to justification, by that very regeneration we obtain salvation.” For my own part, though I acknowledge it to be true, that we are renewed by faith, so that the Spirit of Christ governs us, yet I say that we ought first to take into consideration the free forgiveness of sins, through which we are accepted by God. Again, I say that on this all our confidence of salvation is founded, and in this it consists; because justification before God cannot be reckoned to us in any other way than when he does not impute to us our sins.

    But he who believeth not in the Son. As he held out life in Christ, by the sweetness of which he might allure us, so now he adjudges to eternal death all who do not believe in Christ. And, in this way, he magnifies the kindness of God, when he warns us, that there is no other way of escaping death, unless Christ deliver us; for this sentence depends on the fact, that we are all accursed in Adam. Now if it be the office of Christ to save what was lost, they who reject the salvation offered in him are justly suffered to remain in death. We have just now said that this belongs peculiarly to those who reject the gospel which has been revealed to them; for though all mankind are involved in the same destruction, yet a heavier and double vengeance awaits those who refuse to have the Son of God as their deliverer. And, indeed, it cannot be doubted that the Baptist, when he denounced death against unbelievers, intended to excite us, by the dread of it, to the exercise of faith in Christ. It is also manifest; that all the righteousness which the world thinks that it has out of Christ is condemned and reduced to nothing. Nor is any one enabled to object that it is unjust that those who are otherwise devout and holy should perish, because they do not believe; for it is folly to imagine that there is any holiness in men, unless it have been given to them by Christ.

    To see life is here put for “enjoying life.” But to express more clearly that no hope remains for us, unless we are delivered by Christ, he says that the wrath of God abideth on unbelievers. Though I am not dissatisfied with the view given by Augustine, that John the Baptist used the word abideth, in order to inform us that, from the womb we were appointed to death, because we are all born the children of wrath, (Ephesians 2:3.) At least, I willingly admit an allusion of this sort, provided we hold the true and simple meaning to be what I have stated, that death hangs over all unbelievers, and keeps them oppressed and overwhelmed in such a manner that they can never escape. And, indeed, though already the reprobate are naturally condemned, yet by their unbelief they draw down on themselves a new death. And it is for this purpose that the power of binding was given to the ministers of the gospel; for it is a just vengeance on the obstinacy of men, that they who shake off the salutary yoke of God should bind themselves with the chains of death.

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:36". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.