19Open John 1:1-18
Matthew Henry Complete Commentary
on the Whole Bible
SBT-Note -This article has been tagged for you with the initials defined/W/BBD (SP* 1)
What he saith of him, enough to prove beyond contradiction that he is God. He asserts,
1. His existence in the beginning: In the beginning was the Word. This bespeaks his existence, not only before his incarnation, but before all time. The beginning of time, in which all creatures were produced and brought into being, found this eternal Word in being. The world was from the beginning, but the Word was in the beginning. Eternity is usually expressed by being before the foundation of the world. The eternity of God is so described (Psalms 90:2), Before the mountains were brought forth. So Proverbs 8:23. The Word had a being before the world had a beginning. He that was in the beginning never began, and therefore was ever, achronos--without beginning of time. So Nonnus.
2. His co-existence with the Father: The Word was with God, and the Word was God (GOD defined/W/BBD(SP* 1) ) . Let none say that when we invite them to Christ we would draw them from God, for Christ is with God and is God (GOD defined/W/BBD (SP* 1) ) ; it is repeated in John 1:2: the same, the very same that we believe in and preach, was in the beginning with God, that is, he was so from eternity. In the beginning the world was from God, as it was created by him; but the Word was with God, as ever with him. The Word was with God, (1.) In respect of essence and substance; for the Word was God: a distinct person or substance, for he was with God; and yet the same in substance, for he was God (GOD defined/W/BBD(SP* 1) ) , Hebrews 1:3. (Heb1-3.htm defined/W/BBD(SP* 1) ) (2.) In respect of complacency and felicity. There was a glory and happiness which Christ had with God before the world was (John 17:5), the Son infinitely happy in the enjoyment of his Father's bosom, and no less the Father's delight, the Son of his love, Proverbs 8:30. (3.) In respect of counsel and design. The mystery of man's redemption by this Word incarnate was hid in God before all worlds, Ephesians 3:9. He that undertook to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18) was himself from eternity with God; so that this grand affair of man's reconciliation to God was concerted between the Father and Son from eternity, and they understand one another perfectly well in it, Zechariah 6:13,Mt+11:27. He was by him as one brought up with him for this service, Proverbs 8:30. He was with God, and therefore is said to come forth from the Father.
3. His agency in making the world, John 1:3. This is here, (1.) Expressly asserted: All things were made by him. He was with God, not only so as to be acquainted with the divine counsels from eternity, but to be active in the divine operations in the beginning of time. Then was I by him, Proverbs 8:30. God made the world by a word (Psalms 33:6) and Christ was the Word. By him, not as a subordinate instrument, but as a co-ordinate agent, God made the world (Hebrews 1:2), not as the workman cuts by his axe, but as the body sees by the eye. (2.) The contrary is denied: Without him was not any thing made that was made, from the highest angel to the meanest worm. God the Father did nothing without him in that work. Now, [1.] This proves that he is God; for he that built all things is God, Hebrews 3:4. The God of Israel often proved himself to be God with this, that he made all things: Isaiah 40:12,28,31:4; and see Jeremiah 10:11,12. [2.] This proves the excellency of the Christian religion, that the author and founder of it is the same that was the author and founder of the world. How excellent must that constitution needs be which derives its institution from him who is the fountain of all excellency! When we worship Christ, we worship him to whom the patriarchs gave honour as the Creator of the world, and on whom all creatures depend. [3.] This shows how well qualified he was for the work of our redemption and salvation. Help was laid upon one that was mighty indeed; for it was laid upon him that made all things; and he is appointed the author of our bliss who was the author of our being.
4. The original of life and light that is in him: In him was life, John 1:4. This further proves that he is God, and every way qualified for his undertaking; for, (1.) He has life in himself; not only the true God, but the living God. God is life; he swears by himself when he saith, As I live. (2.) All living creatures have their life in him; not only all the matter of the creation was made by him, but all the life too that is in the creation is derived from him and supported by him. It was the Word of God that produced the moving creatures that had life, Genesis 1:20,Ac+17:25. He is that Word by which man lives more than by bread, Matthew 4:4. (3.) Reasonable creatures have their light from him; that life which is the light of men comes from him. Life in man is something greater and nobler than it is in other creatures; it is rational, and not merely animal. When man became a living soul, his life was light, his capacities such as distinguished him from, and dignified him above, the beasts that perish. The spirit of a man is the candle of the Lord, and it was the eternal Word that lighted this candle. The light of reason, as well as the life of sense, is derived from him, and depends upon him. This proves him fit to undertake our salvation; for life and light, spiritual and eternal life and light, are the two great things that fallen man, who lies so much under the power of death and darkness, has need of. From whom may we better expect the light of divine revelation than from him who gave us the light of human reason? And if, when God gave us natural life, that life was in his Son, how readily should we receive the gospel-record, that he hath given us eternal life, and that life too is in his Son!
5. The manifestation of him to the children of men. It might be objected, If this eternal Word was all in all thus in the creation of the world, whence is it that he has been so little taken notice of and regarded? To this he answers (John 1:5), The light shines, but the darkness comprehends it not. Observe,
(1.) The discovery of the eternal Word to the lapsed world, even before he was manifested in the flesh: The light shineth in darkness. Light is self-evidencing, and will make itself known; this light, whence the light of men comes, hath shone, and doth shine. [1.] The eternal Word, as God, shines in the darkness of natural conscience. Though men by the fall are become darkness, yet that which may be known of God is manifested in them; see Romans 1:19,20. The light of nature is this light shining in darkness. Something of the power of the divine Word, both as creating and as commanding, all mankind have an innate sense of; were it not for this, earth would be a hell, a place of utter darkness; blessed be God, it is not so yet. [2.] The eternal Word, as Mediator, shone in the darkness of the Old-Testament types and figures, and the prophecies and promises which were of the Messiah from the beginning. He that had commanded the light of this world to shine out of darkness was himself long a light shining in darkness; there was a veil upon this light, 2 Corinthians 3:13.
(2.) The disability of the degenerate world to receive this discovery: The darkness comprehended it not; the most of men received the grace of God in these discoveries in vain. [1.] The world of mankind comprehended not the natural light that was in their understandings, but became vain in their imaginations concerning the eternal God and the eternal Word, Romans 1:21,28. The darkness of error and sin overpowered and quite eclipsed this light. God spoke once, yea twice, but man perceived it not, Job 33:14. [2.] The Jews, who had the light of the Old Testament, yet comprehended not Christ in it. As there was a veil upon Moses's face, so there was upon the people's hearts. In the darkness of the types and shadows the light shone; but such as the darkness of their understandings that they could not see it. It was therefore requisite that Christ should come, both to rectify the errors of the Gentile world and to improve the truths of the Jewish church.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the
The evangelist designs to bring in John Baptist bearing an honourable testimony to Jesus Christ, Now in these verses, before he does this,
I. He gives us some account of the witness he is about to produce. His name was John, which signifies gracious; his conversation was austere, but he was not the less gracious. Now,
1. We are here told concerning him, in general, that he was a man sent of God. The evangelist had said concerning Jesus Christ that he was with God and that he was God; (GOD defined/W/BBD(SP* 1) ) but here concerning John that he was a man, a mere man. God is pleased to speak to us by men like ourselves. John was a great man, but he was a man, a son of man; he was sent from God, he was God's messenger, so he is called, Malachi 3:1. God gave him both his mission and his message, both his credentials and his instructions. John wrought no miracle, nor do we find that he had visions and revelations; but the strictness and purity of his life and doctrine, and the direct tendency of both to reform the world, and to revive the interests of God's kingdom among men, were plain indications that he was sent of God.
2. We are
here told what his office and business were (John 1:7): The
same came for a witness, an eye-witness, a leading witness. He came eis martyrian--for a testimony. The legal
institutions had been long a testimony for God in the Jewish church. By them
revealed religion was kept up; hence we read of the tabernacle of the
testimony, the ark of the testimony, the law and the testimony: but now
divine revelation is to be turned into another channel; now the testimony of
Christ is the testimony of God, 1 Corinthians
1:6,2:1. Among the Gentiles, God indeed had not left himself without
14:17), but the Redeemer had no testimonies borne him among them. There was
a profound silence concerning him, till John Baptist came for a witness to him.
Now observe, (1.) The matter of his testimony: He
came to bear witness to the light. Light is a thing which witnesses for
itself, and carries its own evidence along with it; but to those who shut their
eyes against the light it is necessary there should be those that bear witness
to it. Christ's light needs not man's testimony, but the world's darkness does.
John was like the night watchman that goes round the town, proclaiming the
approach of the morning light to those that have closed their eyes, and are not
willing themselves to observe it; or like that watchman that was set to tell
those who asked him what of the night that the morning comes, and, if
you will enquire, enquire ye, Isaiah 21:11,12. He was sent of God to tell the world that the
long-looked-for Messiah was now come, who should be a light to enlighten the
Gentiles and the glory of his people
See John 10:41. Observe, it was designed that all men through him might believe, excluding none from the kind and beneficial influences of his ministry that did not exclude themselves, as multitudes did, who rejected the counsel of God against themselves, and so received the grace of God in vain.
3. We are here cautioned not to mistake him for the light who only came to bear witness to it (John 1:8): He was not that light that was expected and promised, but only was sent to bear witness of that great and ruling light. He was a star, like that which guided the wise men to Christ, a morning star; but he was not the Sun; not the Bridegroom, but a friend of the Bridegroom; not the Prince, but his harbinger. There were those who rested in John's baptism, and looked no further, as those Ephesians, Acts 19:3. To rectify this mistake, the evangelist here, when he speaks very honourably of him, yet shows that he must give place to Christ. He was great as the prophet of the Highest, but not the Highest himself. Note, We must take heed of over-valuing ministers, as well as of under-valuing them; they are not our lords, nor have they dominion over our faith, but ministers by whom we believe, stewards of our Lord's house. We must not give up ourselves by an implicit faith to their conduct, for they are not that light; but we must attend to, and receive, their testimony; for they are sent to bear witness of that light; so then let us esteem them, and not otherwise. Had John pretended to be that light he had not been so much as a faithful witness of that light. Those who usurp the honour of Christ forfeit the honour of being the servants of Christ; yet John was very serviceable as a witness to the light, though he was not that light. Those may be of great use to us who yet shine with a borrowed light.
II. Before he goes on with John's testimony, he returns to give us a further account of this Jesus to whom John bore record. Having shown in the beginning of the chapter the glories of his Godhead, Godhead.htm defined /W/BBD (SP* 1) he here comes to show the graces of his incarnation, and his favours to man as Mediator.
1. Christ was
the true Light (John
1:9); not as if John Baptist were a false light, but, in comparison with
Christ, he was a very small light. Christ is the great light that deserves to
be called so. Other lights are but figuratively and equivocally called so:
Christ is the true light. The fountain of all knowledge and of all comfort must needs be the true light. He is the true light, for
proof of which we are not referred to the emanations of his glory in the
invisible world (the beams with which he enlightens that), but to those rays of
his light which are darted downwards, and with which this dark world of ours is
enlightened. But how does Christ enlighten every man that comes into the world?
(1.) By his creating power he enlightens every man with the light of reason;
that life which is the light of men is from him; all the discoveries and
directions of reason, all the comfort it gives us, and all the beauty it puts
upon us, are from Christ. (2.) By the publication of his gospel to all nations
he does in effect enlighten every man. John Baptist was a light, but he
2. Christ was in the world, John 1:10. He was in the world, as the essential Word, before his incarnation, upholding all things; but this speaks of his being in the world when he took our nature upon him, and dwelt among us; see John 16:28. I am come into the world. The Son of the Highest was here in this lower world; that light in this dark world; that holy thing in this sinful polluted world. He left a world of bliss and glory, and was here in this melancholy miserable world. He undertook to reconcile the world to God, and therefore was in the world, to treat about it, and settle that affair; to satisfy God's justice for the world, and discover God's favour to the world. He was in the world, but not of it, and speaks with an air of triumph when he can say, Now I am no more in it, John 17:11. The greatest honour that ever was put upon this world, which is so mean and inconsiderable a part of the universe, was that the Son of God was once in the world; and, as it should engage our affections to things above that there Christ is, so it should reconcile us to our present abode in this world that once Christ was here. He was in the world for awhile, but it is spoken of as a thing past; and so it will be said of us shortly, We were in the world. O that when we are here no more we may be where Christ is! Now observe here, (1.) What reason Christ had to expect the most affectionate and respectful welcome possible in this world; for the world was made by him. 30 Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; Prov-8:30 defined/W/BBD (SP* 1) 30 Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence,http://www.ibs.org/niv/passagesearch.php?passage_request=Proverbs%208&niv=yes
Therefore he came to save a lost world because it was a world of his own making. Why should he not concern himself to revive the light that was of his own kindling, to restore a life of his own infusing, and to renew the image that was originally of his own impressing? The world was made by him, and therefore ought to do him homage. PROSKUNEO.htm defined/W/BBD(SP* 1) Who Did Jesus Say To Worship KingJesusHasSPOKEN.htm defined/W/BBD (SP* 1)
(2.) What cold entertainment he met with, notwithstanding: The world knew him not. The great Maker, Ruler, and Redeemer of the world was in it, and few or none of the inhabitants of the world were aware of it. The ox knows his owner, but the more brutish world did not. They did not own him, did not bid him welcome, because they did not know him; and they did not know him because he did not make himself known in the way that they expected--in external glory and majesty. His kingdom came not with observation, because it was to be a kingdom of trail and probation. When he shall come as a Judge the world shall know him.
3. He came
to his own (John
1:11); not only to the world, which was his own, but to the people
of Israel, that were peculiarly his own above all people; of them he
came, among them he lived, and to them he was first sent. The Jews were
at this time a mean despicable people; the crown was fallen from their head;
yet, in remembrance of the ancient covenant, bad as they were, and poor as they
were, Christ was not ashamed to look upon them as his own. Ta idia--his own things; not tous idious--his
own persons, as true believers are called, John 13:1. The
Jews were his, as a man's house, and lands, and goods are his,
which he uses and possesses; but believers are his as a man's wife and children
are his own, which he loves and enjoys. He came to his own, to seek and save
them, because they were his own. He was sent to the lost sheep of the
(1.) That the generality rejected him: His own received him not. He had reason to expect that those who were his own should have bidden him welcome, considering how great the obligations were which they lay under to him, and how fair the opportunities were which they had of coming to the knowledge of him. They had the oracles of God, which told them beforehand when and where to expect him, and of what tribe and family he should arise. He came among them himself, introduced with signs and wonders, and himself the greatest; and therefore it is not said of them, as it was of the world (John 1:10), that they knew him not; but his own, though they could not but know him, yet received him not; did not receive his doctrine, did not welcome him as the Messiah, but fortified themselves against him. The chief priests, that were in a particular manner his own (for the Levites were God's tribe), were ring-leaders in this contempt put upon him. Now this was very unjust, because they were his own, and therefore he might command their respect; and it was very unkind and ungrateful, because he came to them, to seek and save them, and so to court their respect. Note, Many who in profession are Christ's own, yet do not receive him, because they will not part with their sins, nor have him to reign over them.
(2.) That yet
there was a remnant who owned him, and were
faithful to him. Though his own received him not, yet there were those that received
him (John 1:12):
But as many as received him. Though
[1.] The true Christian's description and property; and that is, that he receives Christ, and believes on his name; the latter explains the former. Note, First, To be a Christian indeed is to believe on Christ's name; it is to assent to the gospel discovery, and consent to the gospel proposal, concerning him. His name is the Word of God; the King of kings, the Lord our righteousness; Jesus a Saviour. Now to believe on his name is to acknowledge that he is what these great names bespeak him to be, and to acquiesce in it, that he may be so to us. Secondly, Believing in Christ's name is receiving him as a gift from God. We must receive his doctrine as true and good; receive his law as just and holy; receive his offers as kind and advantageous; and we must receive the image of his grace, and impressions of his love, as the governing principle of our affections and actions.
[2.] The true Christian's dignity and privilege are twofold:--
The privilege of adoption, which takes them into the number of God's children:
To them gave he power to become the sons of God. Hitherto, the adoption
pertained to the Jews only (
Secondly, The privilege of regeneration (John 1:13): Which were born. Note, All the children of God are born again; all that are adopted are regenerated. This real change evermore attends that relative one. Wherever God confers the dignity of children, he creates the nature and disposition of children. Men cannot do so when they adopt. Now here we have an account of the original of this new birth. 1. Negatively. (1.) It is not propagated by natural generation from our parents. It is not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of corruptible seed, 1 Peter 1:23. Man is called flesh and blood, because thence he has his original: but we do not become the children of God as we become the children of our natural parents. Note, Grace does not run in the blood, as corruption does. Man polluted begat a son in his own likeness (Genesis 5:3); but man sanctified and renewed does not beget a son in that likeness. The Jews gloried much in their parentage, and the noble blood that ran in their veins: We are Abraham's seed; and therefore to them pertained the adoption because they were born of that blood; but this New-Testament adoption is not founded in any such natural relation. (2.) It is not produced by the natural power of our own will. As it is not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, so neither is it of the will of man, which labours under a moral impotency of determining itself to that which is good; so that the principles of the divine life are not of our own planting, it is the grace of God that makes us willing to be his. Nor can human laws or writings prevail to sanctify and regenerate a soul; if they could, the new birth would be by the will of man. But, 2. Positively: it is of God. This new birth is owing to the word of God as the means (1 Peter 1:23), and to the Spirit of God as the great and sole author. True believers are born of God, 1 John 3:9,5:1. And this is necessary to their adoption; for we cannot expect the love of God if we have not something of his likeness, nor claim the privileges of adoption if we be not under the power of regeneration.
4. The word was made flesh, John 1:14. This expresses Christ's incarnation more clearly than what went before. By his divine presence he always was in the world, and by his prophets he came to his own. But now that the fulness of time was come he was sent forth after another manner, made of a woman (Galatians 4:4); God manifested in the flesh, according to the faith and hope of holy Job; Yet shall I see God in my flesh, Job 19:26. Observe here,
(1.) The human nature of Christ with which he was veiled; and that expressed two ways.
[1.] The word was made flesh. Forasmuch as the children, who were to become the sons of God, were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, Hebrews 2:14.
DenyingJesusLife.htm defined/W/BBD(SP* 1) but they say that he was man, and was made a God, as Moses (Exodus 7:1), directly contrary to John here, who saith, Theos en--He was God, but sarxegeneto--He was made flesh. Compare John 1:1 with this. This intimates not only that he was really and truly man, but that he subjected himself to the miseries and calamities of the human nature. He was made flesh, the meanest part of man. Flesh bespeaks man weak, and he was crucified through weakness, 2 Corinthians 13:4. Flesh bespeaks man mortal and dying (Psalms 78:39), and Christ was put to death in the flesh 1 Peter 3:18. Nay, flesh bespeaks man tainted with sin (Genesis 6:3), and Christ, though he was perfectly holy and harmless, yet appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3), and was made sin for us, 2 Corinthians 5:21. When Adam had sinned, God said to him, Dust thou art; not only because made out of the dust, but because by sin he was sunk into dust. His fall did, somatoun ten psychen, turn him as it were all into body, made him earthly; therefore he that was made a curse for us was made flesh, and condemned sin in the flesh, Romans 8:3. Wonder at this, that the eternal Word should be made flesh, when flesh was come into such an ill name; that he who made all things should himself be made flesh, one of the meanest things, and submit to that from which he was at the greatest distance. The voice that ushered in the gospel cried, All flesh is grass (Isaiah 40:6), to make the Redeemer's love the more wonderful, who, to redeem and save us, was made flesh, and withered as grass; but the Word of the Lord, who was made flesh, endures for ever; when made flesh, he ceased not to be the Word of God.
[2.] He dwelt
among us, here in this lower world. Having taken upon him the nature of
man, he put himself into the place and condition of other men. The Word might
have been made flesh, and dwelt among the angels; but, having taken a body
of the same mould with ours, in it he came, and resided in the same world with
us. He dwelt among us, us worms of the earth, us that he had no need of,
us that he got nothing by, us that were corrupt and depraved, and
revolted from God. The Lord God came and dwelt even among the rebellious,
He that had dwelt among angels, those noble and excellent beings, came and
dwelt among us that are a generation of vipers, us sinners,
which was worse to him than David's swelling in Mesech
and Kedar, or Ezekiel's dwelling among scorpions,
(2.) The beams of his divine glory that darted through this veil of flesh: We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, FirstBorn.htm defined/W/BBD full of grace and truth. The sun is still the fountain of light, though eclipsed or clouded; so Christ was still the brightness of his Father's glory, even when he dwelt among us in this lower world. And how slightly soever the Jews thought of him there were those that saw through the veil. Observe,
[1.] Who were the witnesses of this glory: we, his disciples and followers,that conversed most freely and familiarly with him; we among whom he dwelt. Other men discover their weaknesses to those that are most familiar with them, but it was not so with Christ; those that were most intimate with him saw most of his glory. As it was with his doctrine, the disciples knew the mysteries of it, while others had it under the veil of parables; so it was with his person, they saw the glory of his divinity, while others saw only the veil of his human nature. He manifested himself to them, and not unto the world. These witnesses were a competent number, twelve of them, a whole jury of witnesses; men of plainness and integrity, and far from any thing of design or intrigue.
[2.] What evidence they had of it: We saw it. They had not their evidence by report, at second hand, but were themselves eye-witnesses of those proofs on which they built their testimony that he was the Son of the living God: We saw it. The word signifies a fixed abiding sight, such as gave them an opportunity of making their observations. This apostle himself explains this: What we declare unto you of the Word of life is what we have seen with our eyes, and what we have looked upon, 1 John 1:1. JOHN1onePLUS.htm defined/W/BBD (SP* 1)
[3.] What the glory was: The glory as of the only begotten of the Father. . The glory of the Word made flesh was such a glory as became the only begotten Son of God, and could not be the glory of any other. Note, First, Jesus Christ is the only begotten of the Father. Believers are the children of God by the special favour of adoption and the special grace of regeneration. They are in a sense homoiousioi--of a like nature (2 Peter 1:4), and have the image of his perfections; but Christ is homousios--Homoousion.htm defined /W/BBD(SP* 1) of the same nature, and is the express image of his person, and the Son of God by an eternal generation. Angels are sons of God, but he never said to any of them, This day have I begotten thee, Hebrews 1:5. (Heb1-3.htm defined/W/BBD (SP* 1) ) Secondly, He was evidently declared to be the only begotten of the Father, by that which was seen of his glory when he dwelt among us. Though he was in the form of a servant, in respect of outward circumstances, yet, in respect of graces, his form was as that of the fourth in the fiery furnace, like the Son of God. His divine glory appeared in the holiness and heavenliness of his doctrine; in his miracles, which extorted from many this acknowledgment, that he was the Son of God; it appeared in the purity, goodness, and beneficence, of his whole conversation. God's goodness is his glory, and he went about doing good; he spoke and acted in every thing as an incarnate Deity. Perhaps the evangelist had a particular regard to the glory of his transfiguration, of which he was an eye-witness; see 2 Peter 1:16-18. God's calling him his beloved Son,
John 5:17-30 - [Verse 26 in Original Greek]
17 But He answered them, "My R277 Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." 18 For this reason therefore the R278 Jews were R279 seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making R280 Himself equal with God. (2) Jews Said calling God His own Father, making R280 Himself equal with God—Jesus never said he was equal to his God –
That was The Jews Words. And Now It is “The Expression of the Trinitarian/Oneness Movement”
defined/W/BBD (SP* 1)
(3) Jesus Said so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. Jesus Never Said to Worship him—
Worship Jesus And Now ---That ‘s a Trinitarian/Oneness Movement Expression. Study KingJesusHasSPOKEN.htm
[4.] What advantage those he dwelt among had from this. He dwelt among them, full of grace and truth. In the old tabernacle wherein God dwelt was the law, in this was grace; in that were types, in this was truth. The incarnate Word was every way qualified for his undertaking as Mediator; for he was full of grace and truth, the two great things that fallen man stands in need of; and this proved him to be the Son of God as much as the divine power and majesty that appeared in him. First, He has a fulness of grace and truth for himself; he had the Spirit without measure. He was full of grace, fully acceptable to his Father, and therefore qualified to intercede for us; and full of truth, fully apprized of the things he was to reveal, and therefore fit to instruct us. He had a fulness of knowledge and a fulness of compassion. Secondly, He has a fulness of grace and truth for us. He received, that he might give, and God was well pleased in him, that he might be well pleased with us in him; and this was the truth of the legal types.
15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, FirstBorn.htm defined /W/BBD(SP* 1) which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
In these verses,
I. The evangelist begins again to give us John Baptist's testimony concerning Christ, John 1:15. He had said (John 1:8) that he came for a witness; now here he tells us that he did accordingly bear witness. Here, Observe,
1. How he expressed his testimony: He cried, according to the prediction that he should be the voice of one crying. The Old-Testament prophets cried aloud, to show people their sins; this New-Testament prophet cried aloud, to show people their Saviour. This intimates, (1.) That it was an open public testimony, proclaimed, that all manner of persons might take notice of it, for all are concerned in it. False teachers entice secretly, but wisdom publishes her dictates in the chief places of concourse. (2.) That he was free and hearty in bearing this testimony. He cried as one that was both well assured of the truth to which he witnessed and well affected to it. He that had leaped in his mother's womb for joy of Christ's approach, when newly conceived, does now with a like exultation of spirit welcome his public appearance.
2. What his testimony was. He appeals to what he had said at the beginning of his ministry, when he had directed them to expect one that should come after him, whose forerunner he was, and never intended any other than to lead them to him, and to prepare his way. This he had given them notice of from the first. Note, It is very comfortable to a minister to have the testimony of his conscience for him that he set out in his ministry with honest principles and sincere intentions, with a single eye to the glory and honour of Christ. Now what he had then said he applies to this Jesus whom he had lately baptized, and who was so remarkably owned from heaven: This was he of whom I spoke. John did not tell them that there would shortly appear such a one among them, and then leave them to find him out; but in this he went beyond all the Old-Testament prophets that he particularly specified the person: "This was he, the very man I told you of, and to him all I said is to be accommodated." Now what was it he said?
(1.) He had given the preference to this Jesus: He that comes after me, in the time of his birth and public appearance, is preferred before me; he that succeeds me in preaching and making disciples is a more excellent person, upon all accounts; as the prince or peer that comes after is preferred before the harbinger or gentleman-usher that makes way for him. Note, Jesus Christ, who was to be called the Son of the Highest (Luke 1:32), was preferred before John Baptist, who was to be called only the prophet of the Highest, Luke 1:76. John was a minister of the New Testament, but Christ was the Mediator of the New Testament. And observe, though John was a great man, and had a great name and interest, yet he was forward to give the preference to him to whom it belonged. Note, All the ministers of Christ must prefer him and his interest before themselves and their own interests; they will make an ill account that seek their own things, not the things of Christ, Philippians 2:21. He comes after me, and yet is preferred before me. Note, God dispenses his gifts according to his good pleasure, and many times crosses hands, as Jacob did, preferring the younger before the elder. Paul far outstripped those that were in Christ before him.
(2.) He here gives a good reason for it: For he was before me, protos mou en--He was my first, or first to me; he was my first Cause, my original. The First is one of God's names, Isaiah 44:6. He is before me, is my first, [1.] In respect of seniority: he was before me, for he was before Abraham, John 8:58 (I-AM.htm-defined/W/BBD (SP* 1) )
Nay, he was before all things, Colossians 1:17. Col1-15-17.htm defined plus/W/BBD(SP* 1)The ALPHAandTheOMEGA.htm defined/W/BBD (SP* 1) I am but of yesterday, he from eternity. It was but in those days that John Baptist came (Matthew 3:1), but the goings forth of our Lord Jesus were of old, from everlasting, Micah 5:2. This proves two natures in Christ. Christ, as man, came after John as to his public appearance; Christ, as God, was before him; and how could he otherwise be before him but by an eternal existence? [2.] In respect of supremacy; for he was my prince; so some princes are called the first; proton, "It is he for whose sake and service I am sent: he is my Master, I am his minister and messenger."
I. He presently returns again to speak of Jesus Christ, and cannot go on with John Baptist's testimony till John 1:19. The John 1:16 has a manifest connection with John 1:14, where the incarnate Word was said to be full of grace and truth. Now here he makes this the matter, not only of our adoration, but of our thankfulness, because from that fulness of his we all have received. He received gifts for men (Psalms 68:18), that he might give gifts to men, Ephesians 4:8. He was filled, that he might fill all in all (Ephesians 1:23), might fill our treasures, Proverbs 8:21. He has a fountain of fulness overflowing: We all have received. All we apostles; so some. We have received the favour of this apostleship, that is grace; and a fitness for it, that is truth. Or, rather, All we believers; as many as received him (John 1:16), received from him. Note, All true believers receive from Christ's fulness; the best and greatest saints cannot live without him, the meanest and weakest may live by him. This excludes proud boasting, that we have nothing but we have received it; and silences perplexing fears, that we want nothing but we may receive it. Let us see what it
is that we have received
Open Part 2 not yet
completely tagged -it will be soon today is
Secondly, In particular: "Not thou only, but you, all you my disciples, whose faith this is intended for the confirmation of, you shall see heaven opened;" this is more than telling Nathanael of his being under the fig-tree. This is introduced with a solemn preface, Verily, verily I say unto you, which commands both a fixed attention to what is said as very weighty, and a full assent to it as undoubtedly true: "I say it, whose word you may rely upon, amen, amen." None used this word at the beginning of a sentence but Christ, though the Jews often used it at the close of a prayer, and sometimes doubled it. It is a solemn asseveration. Christ is called the Amen (Revelation 3:14) ( Rev3-14.htm defined/W/BBD ), (SP* 1) and so some take it here, I the Amen, the Amen, say unto you. I the faithful witness. Note, The assurances we have of the glory to be revealed are built upon the word of Christ. Now see what it is that Christ assures them of: Hereafter, or within awhile, or ere long, or henceforth, ye shall see heaven opened.
is a mean title that Christ here takes to himself: The Son of man; a title frequently applied to him in the
gospel, but always by himself. Nathanael had called
him the Son of God and king
b. Yet they are great things which he here foretels: You shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. (a.) Some understand it literally, as pointing at some particular event. Either, [a.] There was some vision of Christ's glory, in which this was exactly fulfilled, which Nathanael was an eye-witness of, as Peter, and James, and John were of his transfiguration. There were many things which Christ did, and those in the presence of his disciples, which were not written (John 20:30), and why not this? Or, [b.] It was fulfilled in the many ministrations of the angels to our Lord Jesus, especially that at his ascension, when heaven was opened to receive him, and the angels ascended and descended, to attend him and to do him honour, and this in the sight of the disciples. Christ's ascension was the great proof of his mission, and much confirmed the faith of his disciples, John 6:62. Or, [c.] It may refer to Christ's second coming, to judge the world, when the heavens shall be open, and every eye shall see him, and the angels of God shall ascend and descend about him, as attendants on him, every one employed; and a busy day it will be. See 2 Thessalonians 1:10. (b.) Others take it figuratively, as speaking of a state or series of things to commence from henceforth; and so we may understand it, [a.] Of Christ's miracles. Nathanael believed, because Christ, as the prophets of old, could tell him things secret; but what is this? Christ is now beginning a dispensation of miracles, much more great and strange than this, as if heaven were opened; and such a power shall be exerted by the Son of man as if the angels, which excel in strength, were continually attending his orders. Immediately after this, Christ began to work miracles, John 2:11. Or, [b.] Of his mediation, and that blessed intercourse which he hath settled between heaven and earth, which his disciples should be degrees be let into the mystery of. First, By Christ, as Mediator, they shall see heaven opened, that we may enter into the holiest by his blood (Hebrews 10:19,20); heaven opened, that by faith we may look in, and at length may go in; may now behold the glory of the Lord, and hereafter enter into the joy of our Lord. And, Secondly, They shall see angels ascending and descending upon the Son of man. Through Christ we have communion with and benefit by the holy angels, and things in heaven and things on earth are reconciled and gathered together. Christ is to us as Jacob's ladder (Genesis 28:12), by whom angels continually ascend and descend for the good of the saints. From •Open Matthew Henry Complete
Compare Open John 1:1-18