Of this nonreception of the word by the Jews, and their punishment for it, the Targumist on Hosea thus speaks: "my God will remove them far away, because, , "they receive not his word"; and they shall wander among the people. And so they treated this same "Logos", or word of God, when he was made flesh, and dwelt among them.
Somewhat remarkable is the following discourse of some Jews among themselves e : "when the word of God comes, who is his messenger, we shall honour him. Says R. Saul, did not the prophets come, and we slew them, and shed their blood? Samuel, the Levite, to him, because he will heal them, and deliver them from their destructions; and because of these signs we shall believe him, and honour him. But they did not, e Ben Arama in Genesis This is explained, in the latter part of the text, by believing in his name; for faith is a receiving him as the word, and Son of God, as the Messiah, Saviour, and Redeemer; a receiving grace out of his fulness, and every blessing from him, as a justifying righteousness, pardon of sin, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified; for though the generality rejected him, there were some few that received him: to them gave he power to become the sons of God; as such were very early called, in distinction from the children of men, or of the world; see Genesis To be the sons of God is a very special favour, a great blessing, and high honour: saints indeed are not in so high a sense the sons of God as Christ is; nor in so low a sense as angels and men in common are; nor in such sense as civil magistrates; nor merely by profession of religion; much less by natural descent; but by adopting grace: and in this, Christ, the word, has a concern, as all the three divine persons have.
The Father predestinated men to the adoption of children, secures this blessing for them in the covenant of his grace, and puts them among the children, and assigns them a goodly heritage: the Spirit, and who is therefore called the spirit of adoption, discovers and applies this blessing to them, and witnesses to their spirits that they are the children of God: and Christ, the word, or Son of God, not only espoused their persons, and in time assumed their nature, and by the redemption of them opened a way for their reception of the adoption of children; but actually bestows upon them the "power", as it is here called, of becoming the sons of God: by which is meant, not a power of free will to make themselves the sons of God, if they will make use of it; but it signifies the honour and dignity conferred on such persons: so Nonnus calls it, "the heavenly honour"; as indeed, what can be a greater?
It is more honourable than to be a son or daughter of the greatest potentate on earth: and it is expressive of its being a privilege; for so it is an undeserved and distinguishing one, and is attended with many other privileges; for such are of God's household and family, and are provided for by him; have liberty of access unto him; are Christ's free men, and are heirs to an incorruptible inheritance. This is a privilege that excels all others, even justification and remission of sins; and is an everlasting one: and it also intends the open right which believers have unto this privilege, and their claim of it: hence it follows, even to them that believe in his name; that is, in himself, in Christ, the word: the phrase is explanative of the former part of the verse, and is a descriptive and manifestative character of the sons of God; for though the elect of God, by virtue of electing grace, and the covenant of grace, are the children of God before faith; and were so considered in the gift of them to Christ, and when he came into the world to gather them together, and save them; and so, antecedent to the Spirit of God, being sent down into their hearts, to make this known to them; yet no man can know his adoption, nor enjoy the comfort of it, or claim his interest in it, until he believes.
John Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Which were born not of blood, Or bloods, in the plural number. The birth, here spoken of, is regeneration, expressed by a being born again, or from above; by a being quickened by the Spirit and grace of God; by Christ being formed in men; and by a partaking of the divine nature; and by being made new creatures, as all that believe in the name of Christ are; and which is the evidence of their being the sons of God: and now this is owing not to blood, or bloods; not to the blood of circumcision; or of the passover, which the Jews had an high opinion of, and ascribe life and salvation to, and to which notion this may be opposed: so their commentators f on Ezekiel where the word "live" is twice used, observe on the first "live", by the blood of the passover, on the second "live", by the blood of circumcision; but, alas!
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So with the Jews, "a man", signifies a great man, in opposition to "Adam", or "Enosh", which signify a mean, weak, frail man; and our translators have observed this distinction, in Isaiah and the mean man Adam boweth down, and the great man Ish "humbleth himself": on which Jarchi has this note, "Adam boweth down", i. Though sometimes the Jews say g , Adam is greater than any of the names of men, as Geber, Enosh, Ish. Shemot Rabba, sect. Zohar in Lev. John And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
And the word was made flesh, So the human nature of Christ was of God's pitching, and not man's; and though it looked mean without, the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in it, as well as a fulness of grace and truth; in the face of Christ the glory of God is seen, and through him, even the vail of his flesh, saints have access unto him, and enjoy his presence; and by him their spiritual sacrifices become acceptable to God: or this is observed, in allusion to the feast of tabernacles, when the Jews dwelt in booths, in remembrance of their manner of living in the wilderness: the feast of tabernacles was typical of Christ, and of his tabernacling in our nature.
Solomon's temple, which was also a type of Christ, was dedicated at the time of that feast; and it seems probable, that our Lord was born at that time; for as he suffered at the time of the passover, which had respect unto him, and the pouring forth of the Spirit was on the very day of Pentecost, which that prefigured; so it is highly probable, that Christ was born at the time of the feast of tabernacles, which pointed out his dwelling among us; and is therefore very pertinently hinted at, when mention is here made of his incarnation.
However, reference is manifestly had to the Shekinah, and the glory of it, in the tabernacle and temple; and almost the very word is here used. The Targumists sometimes speak of the Shekinah of the word dwelling among the Israelites: so Onkelos in Numbers where the Israelites are threatened with flesh, until they loath it; because, says the paraphrast, "ye have loathed "the word of the Lord", whose Shekinah dwelleth among you.
Jonathan ben Uzziel, on the same place, expresses it thus, "because ye have loathed the word of the Lord, the glory of whose Shekinah dwelleth among you. And it follows here, and we beheld his glory; the glory of his divine nature, which is essential to him, and underived, is equal to the Father's glory, is transcendent to all creatures, and is ineffable, and incomprehensible; some breakings forth of which there were in his incarnate state, and which were observed by the evangelist, and his companions; who, in various instances, saw plainly, that Christ was possessed of divine perfections, such as omniscience, and omnipotence; since he knew the thoughts of the heart, and could do the things he did: his Father declared him to be his beloved Son; and the miracles he wrought, and the doctrines he taught, manifested forth his glory; and not only there were some beams of his glory at his transfiguration, which were seen by the apostles, among which the Evangelist John was one, and to which he may have here a particular reference; but even at his apprehension, and death, and especially at his resurrection from the dead.
The Jews speak of the glory of the Messiah to be seen in the world to come. They say h , "If a man is worthy of the world to come, i. And of Moses, they say i , "there was or will be no generation like that in which he lived, until the generation in which the King Messiah comes, which shall "behold the glory" of the holy, blessed God, as he. Beracot, fol. John 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. John bare witness of him, Which was his office and business, for which purpose he was sent, John John And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
And of his fulness have all we received, Faith is the hand which receives Christ, and grace from him; and the act of receiving, being expressed in the past tense, seems to regard first conversion, when faith is first wrought, and along with it abundance of grace is received; for a believer has nothing but what is given him, and what he has, is in a way of receiving; so that there is no room for boasting, but great reason for thankfulness, and much encouragement to apply to Christ for more grace, which is the thing received, as follows: and grace for grace: according to the different senses of the preposition different interpretations are given of this passage; as that signifies a substitution of a person, or thing, in the room of another, the sense is thought to be, the Gospel, instead of the law; or the grace of the present dispensation, instead of the grace of the former dispensation; grace, different from the former grace, as Nonnus expresses it.
Some think the phrase only designs the freeness of grace, and the free and liberal manner in which it is distributed, and received; along with which, I also think, the abundance of it, at first conversion, with all after supplies, is intended; and that grace for grace, is the same with grace upon grace, heaps of grace; and that the phraseology is the same with this Jewish one k , , "goodness upon that goodness", an additional goodness; so here, grace upon grace, an abundance of it, an addition to it, and an increase of it: so l , joy upon joy, is an abundance of joy, a large measure of it; and "holiness upon holiness" m , abundance of it, k Zohar in Exod.
John For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. For the law was given by Moses, Both moral and ceremonial. The moral law was given to Adam, in innocence, which having been broken, and almost lost out of the minds, and memories of men, was given by Moses, in a new edition of it in writing; and points out what is man's duty both to God and men; discovers sin, accuses of it, convicts of it, and condemns for it; nor could it give strength to perform its demands; nor does it give the least hint of forgiveness; nor will it admit of repentance: and hence is opposed to grace; though it was a benefit to men, being in its own nature good and useful in its effects.
The ceremonial law pointed out the pollution of human nature, the guilt and punishment of sin; was a type and shadow of deliverance by Christ, but could not give the grace it shadowed, and therefore is opposed both to grace and truth. Now both these were given by Moses to the people of the Jews, not as the maker, but the minister of them: it was God who appointed each of these laws, and ordained them in the hand of the mediator Moses, who received them from him, by the disposition of angels, and delivered them to the people of Israel; and a very high office this was he was put into, and a very great honour was conferred upon him; but Jesus Christ is a far greater person, and in an higher office: but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ: by grace and truth, is meant the Gospel, in opposition to the law; which is called grace, because it is a declaration of the love, and grace, of God to men; it ascribes salvation, in all the parts of it, to the free grace and favour of God; and is the means of implanting and increasing grace in the hearts of men.
And "truth", not only because it contains truth, and nothing but truth, it coming from the God of truth; and the substance of it being Christ, who is the truth; and being revealed, applied, and led into by the Spirit of truth; but because it is the truth of the types, and the substance of the shadows of the law: or these two may mean distinct things; grace may design all the blessings of grace which are in Christ, and come by him; and truth, the promises, and the fulfilment of them, which are all yea, and amen, in Christ: and when these are said to be by him, the meaning is, not that they are by him, as an instrument, but as the author of them; for Christ is the author of the Gospel, and the fulfiller of the promises, and the giver of all grace; which shows the superior excellency of Christ to Moses, and to all men, and even to angels also.
John No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. No man hath seen God at any time, The Jerusalem Targum on Genesis says almost the same of the word of the Lord, as here, where it introduces him saying, "the word of the Lord God said, lo, the man whom I created, the only one in my world, even as I am, "the only one", or, as the word is sometimes rendered, "the only begotten", in the highest heavens.
And to the same purpose the Targum of Jonathan, and also Jarchi, on the same place. The Syriac version here renders it, "the only begotten, God which is in the bosom of the Father"; clearly showing, that he is the only begotten, as he is God: the phrase, which is in the bosom of the Father, denotes unity of nature, and essence, in the Father and Son; their distinct personality; strong love, and affection between them; the Son's acquaintance with his Father's secrets; his being at that time, as the Son of God, in the bosom of his Father, when here on earth, as the son of man; and which qualified him to make the declaration of him: he hath declared him.
The Persic and Ethiopic versions further add, "to us"; he has clearly and fully declared his nature, perfections, purposes, promises, counsels, covenant, word, and works; his thoughts and schemes of grace; his love and favour to the sons of men; his mind and will concerning the salvation of his people: he has made, and delivered a fuller revelation of these things, than ever was yet; and to which no other revelation in the present state of things will be added. Somewhat like this the Jews n say of the Messiah, "there is none that can declare the name of his Father, and that knows him; but this is hid from the eyes of the multitude, until he comes, "and he shall declare him".
He is come, and has declared him: so Philo speaks of the "Logos", or word, as the interpreter of the mind of God, and a teacher of men o , n R.
Moses Haddarsan in Psal. John And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And this is the record of John, The evangelist proceeds to give a large, and full account of the testimony John the Baptist bore to Christ, which he had hinted at before, and had signified was his work, and office, and the end of his being sent, When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem, to ask him, who art thou? The Jews that sent were the great sanhedrim that sat at Jerusalem, whose business it was to inquire into, examine, and try prophets, whether true or false p ; and John appearing as a prophet, and being so esteemed by the people, they deputed messengers to him to interrogate him, and know who he was.
The persons sent were very likely of their own body, since priests and Levites were in that council. Such a sanhedrim is a lawful one; but priests and Levites, if such could be found, that had proper qualifications, were to be admitted in the first place.
Sanhedrin, c. Juchasin, fol. Jarchi in Isaiah John And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And he confessed, and denied not, He freely, and without any reserve, declared, and in the plainest and strongest terms professed to the messengers before all the people, that he was not the Messiah; nor did he retract his confession, or draw in his words again, or drop any thing that looked doubtful or suspicious, but confessed, I am not the Christ: he stood to it, and insisted on it, that he was not that illustrious person; nor had they any reason to entertain such an opinion of him; nor would he have them do so; they might assure themselves he was not Christ.
John And they asked him, What then? And they asked him, what then? Jeremiah, whom some of the Jews t have thought to be the prophet Moses spoke of, in Deuteronomy and expected that he would appear about the times of the Messiah; see Matthew or any one of the ancient prophets risen from the dead, which they also had a notion of, Luke or, as it may be rendered, "art thou a prophet? Siphre in Jarchi in Jer. John Then said they unto him, Who art thou?
Then said they unto him, who art thou? Since, as yet, he had only answered in negatives, who he was not, that he was not the Christ, nor Elias, nor that prophet; they desire he would give them a positive account who he was: that we may give answer to them that sent us; that their labour might not be in vain; that they might not come so far for nothing, without knowing who he was; and that they might be capable of giving an account of him to the sanhedrim: what sayest thou of thyself?
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John He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And he said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, These words are cited by the other evangelists, and applied to John the Baptist; but then they are only to be considered as their citation, and as an application of them to him by them: but here they are used by John himself, who both expresses them, and interprets them of himself; and in which he was undoubtedly under the infallible direction of the blessed Spirit; and which confirms the sense of the evangelists, who apply the words to him.
The Jews give a different interpretation of the words; though one of their celebrated commentators u owns, that the comforts spoken of in the preceding verses are what will be in the days of the King Messiah: one of them w interprets, "the voice", of the Holy Ghost; and so far it may be true, as John was filled with the Holy Ghost, and he spake by him in his ministry: and another x , of the resurrection of the dead, or the voice that will be heard then, which will be the voice of the archangel: though another of y them better explains it by, , "they are they that bring glad tidings", or good news; such are Gospel preachers; only it should have been in the singular number: for the text speaks but of one voice; of one person crying; and of John the Baptist, who brought the good news, and glad tidings, that the Messiah was coming, yea, that he was already come, and that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.
The words this voice cried were, make straight the way of the Lord; he called upon persons to reform their ways, and walk in the way of the Lord, to repent of their sins, believe in Christ, and submit to the ordinance of baptism: the Ethiopic version reads, "the way of God"; and such was the person he came to prepare the way for, even the Son of God, and who is truly and properly God, as said the prophet Esaias, in Isaiah John And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.
And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. Who were the straitest sect of religion among the Jews; were very zealous of the traditions of the elders, and professed an expectation of the Messiah; and were famous in the nation for their knowledge and learning, as well as for their devotion and sanctity: and many of them were in the sanhedrim, as appears from John ; see Gill on Matthew John And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
And they asked him, and said unto him, They put a question, by saying to him, why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? The ordinance John administered was such, as they apprehended that no one ought to practise, unless he was the Messiah, or his forerunner, or some eminent prophet; they insist upon it therefore, that since he denied he was either of these, that he would show his credentials, and what commission he had from God to baptize; or they suggest he was liable to be called to an account by their sanhedrim, and be condemned as a false prophet, or an innovator in religious affairs.
Nizzachon, p. John John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; John answered them, saying, I baptize with water, Or in water, so the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions render it. The Ethiopic version renders it, there is one about to stand among you, as he did the next day: though the meaning of the phrase may only be, that he was then in being, and dwelt somewhere among them, and not that he was personally present at that time: whom ye know not; neither from whence he is, nor who he is, or what is his work and office; neither the dignity of his person, nor the end of his coming into the world, nor the nature of his business in it.
John He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. He it is who coming after me, Both into the world, and into the ministry of the word; for John was before Christ, in both these respects, though greatly behind him in others, and therefore he adds, is preferred before me: being not only of a more excellent nature, the Son of God, and of an higher extract, the Lord from heaven; but in an higher office, and having greater gifts, and the Spirit of God without measure on him; and also being more followed by the people; for John decreased, but he increased: or rather the words may be rendered, who was before me; being the eternal Son of God, whose goings forth were of old, from everlasting; who was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was; the firstborn, or first bringer forth of every creature; and therefore must be before all things, which are created by him; see Gill on John Whose shoes latchet I am not worthy to unloose; which was one of the meanest services done by a servant to his master; see Gill on Matthew John These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
These things were done in Bethabara, And which, as it must be a very convenient place for the administration of baptism by immersion, used by John, so it was very significant of the use of this ordinance; which is, as it were, the passage, or entrance, into the Gospel church state; for persons ought first to be baptized, and then be admitted into a Gospel church, according to the example of the primitive Christians, Acts but whether there was a place of this name, where the Israelites went over Jordan, is not certain; and if there was, it does not seem so likely to be the place here designed, since that was right over against Jericho; whereas this seems to be rather further off, and over against Galilee: there were several passages of Jordan, Judges There was a bridge over it, between the lake of Samochon and Gennesaret, now called Jacob's bridge, where Jacob is supposed to have wrestled with the angel, and to have met with his brother Esau; and there was another over it at Chainmath, near Tiberias, and in other places: and it might be at one of these passages, by which they went over into Galilee, that John pitched upon to continue preaching and baptizing at; partly because of the number of people that went over, to whom he had the opportunity of preaching; and partly, for the sake of baptizing those who became proper subjects of that ordinance through his ministry.
Some have thought, that this place is the same with Bethbarah, in Judges , which was either in the tribe of Ephraim or of Manasseh, and not far from the parts where this place must be, but was on this side Jordan; and so Beza says the words should be rendered; and those who came to John at Jordan, are not said to pass over that river: others are of opinion, that Bethabara is the same with Betharabah, Joshua , since this is called Bethabara by the Septuagint, in Joshua However, be it what place soever, and wheresoever, it was no doubt very proper for John's purpose; and therefore he chose it, and for a while continued at it: and here, says Jerom a.
John The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, Not to be baptized, for he had been baptized before by him. Malachi Abraham ben David in Misn. Ediot, c. Menachem, fol. John This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. This is he, of whom it is said, Either the day before, as in John , or some time before that, John , when he first began to baptize, even before Christ came to be baptized by him, and before he personally knew him; see Matthew After me cometh a man; not a mere man, but the man God's fellow: and this is said, not because he was now a grown man, or to show the truth of his human nature; but seems to be a common Hebraism, and is all one as if it had been said, "after me cometh one", or a certain person: for the sense of this phrase, and what follows; see Gill on John John And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
And I knew him not, John And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And John bare record, The same day that he said the above things, and at the same time: saying, I saw the Spirit; that is, of God, as is said in Matthew and which Nonnus here expresses; and the Ethiopic version reads, "the Holy Ghost", descending from heaven like a dove; at the time of his baptism; see Gill on Matthew And it abode upon him; for some time; so long as that John had a full sight of it, and so was capable of giving a perfect account of it, and bearing a certain and distinct testimony to it.
John And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
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That is, before he came to be baptized by him; when it was secretly suggested to him who he was, and the following signal was given him, to confirm him in it: but he that sent me to baptize with water; or "in water"; that is, God; for John's mission was from God, as in John , and his baptism from heaven; he had a divine warrant and commission for what he did: the same said unto me; either by an articulate voice, or by a divine impulse on his mind, or by the revelation of the Spirit: upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost; that is, the Messiah; See Gill on Matthew , Matthew John And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
And I saw, The Spirit descending from heaven as a dove, and lighting upon Jesus, and remaining some time on him; this he saw with his bodily eyes: and bore record; at the same time, before all the people that were with him, when he baptized Jesus: that this is the Son of God; the natural, essential, and eternal Son of God; who being sent in the fulness of time, had assumed an human nature, in which he became subject to all ordinances, and had the Spirit without measure bestowed on him; and which was an evidence who he was, and of what he came about.
John Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; Again, the next day after, The third day from the priests and Levites having been with John, to know who he was. The Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions, leave out the word "again": stood, and two of his disciples; one of these was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, as appears from John and very likely the other was the Evangelist John, the writer of this Gospel, who always chooses to conceal himself. John the Baptist stood, and these disciples by him, in some certain place near Jordan, where he was preaching and baptizing.
And looking upon Jesus as he walked, Either by them; or as he was going from them to his lodgings; it being toward the close of the day, when John had finished his work for that day, and the people were departing home: John fixed his eyes intently on Christ, with great pleasure and delight, and pointing at him, he saith, behold the Lamb of God; as in John , where it is added, "which taketh away the sin of the world"; and which the Ethiopic version subjoins here.
John And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.