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(C) Believed to be in the Public Domain

                        HIS RECORD OF CHRIST

                        BY W. E. VINE, M.A.
                        First Edition 1948


  chapter 1 (continued) - 14

  CHAPTER V - 36

  chapter v (continued) - 40
    A REVIEW - 50



  CHAPTER X - 99

  CHAPTER XI - 109

  CHAPTER XV - 139

  A SUMMARY OF 18:28 to 19:16 - 173
  chapter XVIII (continued) - 174

  CHAPTER XX - 181


     (Editor's note: During the editing the "long e" for eta and "long 
o" for omega in the transliteration were left as "e" and "o".)



     Among the four Gospel writers two, Luke and John, mention the
purpose for which they wrote. The former mentions his in the opening
paragraph (1:4); the latter mentions his as he draws to a close. He
states as his object: "that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in His Name" (20:31).

     The place of this is uniquely significant. No preface to the Gospel
is required to express its object and scope. The very nature of the
transcendent subject precludes such an opening. Here at the end, where 
the details are retrospective, there are recalled to the reader's mind
the preceding unfoldings of the glories of the Person who constitutes
the great subject the Apostle has had before Him: (1) His Deity, He is
"the Son of God;" (2) His humanity, He is "Jesus;" (3) His Messiahship,
He is "Christ." Here, too, the Apostle recalls that which the Gospel
has repeatedly recorded in respect of human responsibility towards the
Person: "that ye may believe;" and the effect, "that believing ye may
have life."

          The Great Subject

     Each of these particulars is readily traceable throughout the
Gospel. The paramount subject is Christ's relationship with the Father
as the Son of God. In this respect the main parts of the Gospel present
Him as follows:

  I. Pre-existent and manifested in the flesh (1:1 to 1:14);
  II. Manifested as the Son revealing the Father in word and deed in
public testimony (1:15 to 12:50);
  III. Manifested as such privately to His disciples (13:1 to 17:26);
  IV. Manifested as such in His Betrayal, Trial and Death (18:1 to 19:42);


  V. Vindicated as the Son of God in His Resurrection, and the
subsequent revelation of Himself to His disciples (20:1 to 21:25).

     The words and deeds of the Lord cannot be rightly appreciated,
nor can their significance be understood, apart from the disclosures in
the Prologue, of the facts relating to the Person. It has been well
said that "What Christ did and said becomes explicable only by knowing
what Christ is." The unfolding of the facts of His Deity and His
Incarnation in the Prologue throw light upon His ways as recorded in
the rest of the Gospel. What, from the point of view of His humanity,
might appear, in some of the incidents in the Gospel narrative, to be
contradictory to the fact of His Deity, becomes an evidence of a perfect
and indissociable combination of both. We may take, for example, the
statement, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt (or tabernacled) among
us." "Became," be it noted, not "was made," as the A.V. renders it. He
took upon Him the real and complete nature of man. This union of Godhood
with manhood remained indissoluble for ever.

     This should prevent the unscriptural ideas that Christ did such
and such a thing as God, and such and such a thing as man. We do well
to remember that where His human qualities, characteristics and acts
are prominent, these never involved the abandonment of any of His
attributes of Deity.

     The Revised Version has been used throughout, but is especially
noted in certain places.


               CHAPTER I

             VERSES 1 TO 18

             THE PROLOGUE

     The gospel begins by speaking of Him as "the Word" (_Logos), and
the Apostle proceeds not only to declare facts of His Godhood in this
respect, but to identify Him thus as "the only begotten Son of the
Father" (v. 18). Doubtless this introductory presentation was designed
to counteract the erroneous teachings which had sprung up even in the
Apostle's times.

     "In the beginning was the Word," He was uncreated and eternal:
this opposes the Gnostic teaching that the Logos was created and
temporal; "and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." He was
personal and Divine: this opposes the conception of the Platonic
philosophy that the Logos was ideal and abstract. Verse 2 repeats
the clauses of verse 1 "in the beginning" and "with God" for the sake
of emphasis.

     "All things were made by Him;" He was Creator and Cause: this
opposes the Judaistic philosophy, of which Philo was the great exponent,
that "the Word" was the type and idea of God in creation; "and without Him was not anything made that hath been
made." He was unique and was universally Creative: one sect of the
Gnostics taught that the Word was dualistic and only partially
instrumental in creative acts.


     "In Him was life" (v. 4). This statement, the truth concerning
which is developed throughout the Gospel, predicates, not simply that
life existed in Him who is the Word, the Son of God, but that it was
unoriginated and eternal, in respect of, and by reason of, His
self-existence as One in the Godhead. In this sense life is the very
essence of Godhood. The implication of this is that He is the Author,
Source and Cause of life. The statement is retrospective, looking back
to the fact of creation (v. 3),


and prospective, in that "the life was the light of men." Physically
life and light are distinct; light ministers to life. Spiritually the
principle of life and the principle of light are indissociable. Life
and Light, essential in the Son of God, are together communicated to those who believe upon Him.

     The communication of life, spiritual and eternal, comes with the
new birth, and that by faith, so that those who believe on His Name
become there and then "children of God" (v. 12, R.V.). As the Light He
reveals to us the nature and the will of God. He discloses to us
ourselves, our sins and errors; He reveals the remedy for our fallen
condition and the salvation provided for us in Himself. He makes us
glad with His countenance. Through what He has undertaken for us as
the Son we are brought into relationship and union with Him as
children of God.

     Accordingly, in the first three chapters we are shown (1) the
provision of life through the coming of the Light (1:9); (2) the means
of life through the acceptance of the Light (1:12); (3) the necessity
for life, in that without the Light men abide in darkness (3:15-19);
(4) the evidence of life, in coming to the Light (3:20, 21).


     The facts that are predicated of Him in verses 1 and 2 as "the
Word" lead to the identification of Him as the Light that "shineth in
the darkness" (v. 5).

     "and the darkness apprehended it not." The word might mean that
the darkness did not understand it (A.V., "comprehended"). Judging,
however, from 12:35 (where the same word in the Greek (_katelambano)
is rendered "overtake"), the meaning is 'did not seize upon it' (see
the R.V. margin). The darkness would thus signify the spiritual
condition of the world as influenced by the spiritual powers of

     The subject of witness-bearing is a characteristic of the writings
of this Apostle, and the paramount purpose in this respect is to testify
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (cp. John 3:31). There is first the
witness of John the Baptist. He was "a man sent from God" and "came for
witness, that he might bear witness of the Light, that all might believe
through him" (vv.6 to 8). This is introductory. It is followed by the
record of his actual testimony (vv. 15, 19, 29).


     "He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the
light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every
man, coming into the world."

     Because of Christ's "coming into the world," He is a Light for 
everyone. The R.V. of this verse is important, and the comma placed
after "every man" should be noted; it serves to attach the phrase 
"coming into the world" to the mention of the light; the A.V. connects
it with "every man," which lends support to the erroneous view that
every one is possessed, from birth, of an inner light, which simply
requires development; moreover the clause "that cometh into the
world," if predicated of "every man," becomes meaningless, as
suggesting a distinction between those who come into the world and
another class of men that do not.

          CHILDREN   OF  GOD

     "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the 
world knew Him not" (v. 10). The word _kosmos, world, has various 
meanings in the N.T. Besides signifying an ornament (1 Pet. 3:3) and
the ordered universe (Rom. 1:20), and the inhabitants of the earth (v.
29; 4:42), it means the earth, as in the second statement in this 
verse, and the world of men alienated from God, as in the last
statement. They ought to have known Him. The verb rendered "knew" is
_ginosko, to get to know, to recognize. The world did not acquire
knowledge of Him. "He came unto His own (neuter plural, His own
property) and His own (masculine plural, His own people) received Him
not." Men in general did not recognize Him, but the Jews, to whom He 
was especially sent, did not receive Him (_paralambano, a strong word,
'did not give Him a welcome'). "But as many as received Him (_lambano,
a simple but spontaneous acceptance from individuals, whether Jews or
Gentiles, and so a simpler verb than that used before of the Jewish
nation), to them gave He the right to become children of God,"--not
_dunamis, power, but _exousia, a right (dunamis expresses the faculty,
the capacity, but the right is bestowed to those who receive Him),
"even to them that believe on His Name" (v. 12). Believers become
children of God by faith. Christ did not become the Son of God, He was
that in eternal pre-existence. The preposition _eis expresses more than
"on," it indicates motion towards, and rest upon, the object of


belief. It therefore expresses the strongest belief, involving a union
with Him. His Name expresses His attributes, character and actings.

     "which were born," or rather, 'begotten,' "not of blood," the
element which is the means of physical life (Lev. 17:11): the plural
"bloods" in the original is idiomatic and emphatic, it does not
indicate the two sexes: "nor of the will of the flesh," i.e., not from
a natural impulse: "nor of the will of man," the word stands for the
male sex, and stresses the human determination; "but of God." Three
times John declares that human generation has nothing to do with
Divine and spiritual generation.

     From this the Prologue passes to the fact of the "Word" as
becoming Incarnate (v. 14). "The Word became flesh, and dwelt (Greek,
'tabernacled') among us." He was possessed of real and permanent
manhood: this was counteractive of the theory held by the Docetic sect
of the Gnostics, that "the Word" was intangible and visionary.

          GRACE,  TRUTH,  GLORY

     In contrast to all these heretical views the Prologue of this
Gospel proceeds step by step to demonstrate the identification of
"the Word" with "the Son of God." According to the A.V. and R.V.
rendering what follows is put in brackets and the clause "full of
grace and truth," at the end of the verse, is taken as in connection
with "dwelt among us." That fact is true indeed. There is, however, no
need to separate it from the immediately preceding words (in spite of
a certain grammatical irregularity); it would thus describe His
character and acts, i.e., His glory, as in the relationship mentioned.
Grace is seen in connection with Him as the life, and truth as the

     "and we beheld His glory,"--glory, when used of God, the Father,
or the Son, is the shining forth of nature and power, of character and
operation. So it was in all the ways of the Son of God. Here John
describes it as "glory as of the only begotten from the Father" (v.
13). The R.V. margin is to be noted. Literally the description is 'an
only begotten from a Father.' There are no definite articles in the
original, and their absence serves to lay stress upon what is
specified in the nouns.

     "John beareth witness of Him, and crieth saying, This was he of
whom I said, He that cometh after me is come before me, for


He was before me" (v. 15), i.e., 'He who comes after me as to date (in
His birth and ministry) has become before me (in dignity and
pre-eminence), for He was before me (in eternal pre-existence).' Here
the Baptist declares Christ's superiority both in position and time.
His pre-existence issued in His becoming before him (R.V.). The first
word "before" is _emprosthen, which here means superior in dignity;
the second word "before" is _protos, which refers to time; the phrase
is literally 'first of me,' which is an idiom. Not priority of birth
is indicated but uniqueness in the matter of time, and this double
superiority is confirmed by the explanation immediately given; "For of
His fulness we all received, and grace for grace." The fulness
signifies the totality of the attributes and powers of God. Out of
that fulness every believer is supplied (see Eph. 1:23 and Col. 1:19).
Here John the writer is speaking and not the Baptist. The phrase
"grace for grace" may be understood either as one grace leading on to
another or perhaps, rather, grace answering to the grace which is His

     "For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus
Christ." The Apostle adds truth to grace as in verse 14, for Christ
was the Revealer of all truth as well as the Minister of grace.


     This statement, to the effect that the truth became known by 
Jesus Christ, leads at once to the confirmatory double declaration,
first negative, that "No man hath seen God at any time," second 
positive, that "the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the
Father, He hath declared (or rather, interpreted) Him" (v. 18). This
closing statement of the introduction to the Gospel, as to the visible
manifestation of the invisible God, the way by which grace and truth
came, brings to a consummation the subject of the Incarnation of the
Word. (There is strong MS. evidence for the rendering "the only
begotten God".) [Many would disagree with this last statement on the
basis of Doctrinal evidence as well as grammatical evidence.--Ed.]

     The phrase rendered "which is in the bosom of the Father" (lit.,
the One being in ...) describes a timeless state, an eternal condition
and relation of the fullest intimacy, affection and fellowship, and
implies the unbroken continuation of it in the days of His flesh. He
it is who has become the manifestation and representation of all that
the Father is. The clause sets forth the eternally pre-existent
Sonship of Christ.


          VERSES  19 TO 51


     Following the introduction, or prologue, comes the first main
division of this Gospel, from 1:19 to the end of chapter 12. This
especially narrates the public testimony of Christ, by word and work.
The narrative begins by resuming the witness of John the Baptist, now
to priests and Levites sent by the Pharisees to Bethany beyond Jordan
where John was baptizing.

     John had by this time drawn the attention of the Sanhedrin. He
had proclaimed the approach of a new era (Matt. 3. 2). Hence the
sending of the priests and Levites to enquire whether he himself was
the Messiah. These came from the Pharisees; the Sadducees were not so
interested, they were more submissive to the Roman power. For the
Baptist it was a time of crisis. Hence his emphatic declaration, that
he was neither the Messiah nor Elijah nor "that prophet" (Deut.
18:15) but "the voice of one crying in the wilderness (an intimation
of the spiritual state of the nation), Make straight the way of the
Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet" (v. 23).

     Then came the question as to the reason for his baptizing. It had
the appearance of treating Jews as if they were mere proselytes, and
of implying that they were defiled and needed cleansing. The answer he
gives reveals that to him the Lord Jesus is more than all his
credentials. He has no time to argue about himself; his answer is to
point them to Christ. "I baptize with water; in the midst of you
standeth One whom ye (emphatic) know not, even He that cometh after
me, the latchet of whose shoe (i.e., the thong of whose sandal) I am
not worthy to unloose" (vv. 26, 27), one of the most menial acts of slaves.

          THE LAMB OF GOD

     Verse 29 begins the Baptist's testimony to the people, by reason
of Christ's coming on the scene in Person on the following day.
And now He who has been described as the Word, the Creator, the Son of
God, is pointed out as "the Lamb of God," the One "who taketh away the
sin of the world." The "Behold" is an interjection, not a command. His
hearers would understand what the mention of a Lamb signified, and
might recall the language of Isaiah 53. But they must know that He is
the Lamb of God, and


that as such, that is by the atoning efficacy of His sacrifice, He
takes away, not merely the sin of Israel (my people," Isa. 53:8), but
the sin of the world. Christ will restore the world's broken relation
with God. In this matter it has been necessary for God to take the
fact of sin into consideration, but Christ's sacrifice will be the
eternal foundation of the renewed relation.

     It was given to John the Baptist for the first time to designate
Him as "the Lamb of God." The phrase is not found in the Old
Testament, though typical intimations and foreshadowings abound
therein. The nearest expression is in Genesis 22:8. The verb rendered
"taketh away" denotes either to lift and bear or to take away; here
both senses may be combined, for the word points to Christ's expiatory
sacrifice and its effects. This is here said of "the sin of the
world;" not the sins, but that which has existed from the time of the
Fall, and in regard to which God has had judicial dealings with the
world; hereafter the sin of the world will be replaced by everlasting

     John recalls his testimony of the previous day (v. 15) and the
reason why he baptized with water (v. 31); it was that Christ was to
be manifested to Israel. But there was more than this. That which
would identify to the Baptist the Person in a twofold way was the
descent of the Holy Spirit upon Him.

          THE SON OF GOD

     This was the crowning point of his witness, namely, that the Lamb
of God is the Son of God: "And John bare witness, saying, I have
beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven; and it (He)
abode upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He (God the Father) that sent
me to baptize with water, He said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt
see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon Him, the same is He that
baptizeth with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen, and have borne
witness that this is the Son of God" (1:31 to 34). The two facts
regarding Him were that He was the One who would baptize, not in
water, but with the Holy Ghost, and that was none other than the Son
of God. He says "I have seen," in contrast to "I knew Him not."

     The three Persons in the Godhead combine in making John the
Baptist the instrument of this witness. The Father sent him as His
messenger (1:6); the Holy Spirit directed him by His


supernatural demonstration; Christ Himself was the centre and object
of the testimony, as to (1) His Deity as the Son of God (v. 34), (2)
His humanity, "a Man which is become before me" (v. 30), (3) His
atoning death as the Lamb of God (v. 29), (4) His exaltation as "the
Baptizer with the Holy Spirit" (v. 33).

          THE THIRD  DAY

     Now comes the third day (v. 35). On the first Christ was
proclaimed; on the second He was pointed out; on the third He was
followed by disciples. John still proclaimed Him as the Lamb. "He
looked (fastened his gaze) upon Jesus as He walked (not now coming to
him) and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God" (v. 36). Nothing is added
now. That was a sufficient intimation to the two who had been his
disciples that a greater than he must now become their Master.
Christ's first disciples were won by the testimony to His atoning
sacrifice. He is mentioned as the Lamb elsewhere only in 1 Peter 1:19
and in the Apocalypse. There, however, the word is always _arnion (not
_amnos as here), a diminutive term, but the diminutive idea is not to
be pressed; it lost its diminutive significance.! The difference
between amnos and arnion lies in this, the amnos points to the fact,
the nature and character of His sacrifice; arnion presents Him, on the
ground indeed of His sacrifice, but in His acquired majesty, dignity,
honour, authority and power.


     The two disciples who "followed Jesus" were Andrew and, no doubt,
John (the writer). From the conversation that ensued (vv. 38, 39) two
things arise. Firstly, just as the disciples' knowledge of Christ only
gradually increased (they knew Him just as the Messiah, v. 41), so he
who receives Christ by faith receives Him in the fulness of His
Person, but the perception of His excellences, His power and glory is
gradual. Secondly, Christ's knowledge of them and His direction of
their lives give intimation of His authority and Headship. "And Jesus
turned, and beheld them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?"
He did not ask "Whom seek ye?" That they were seeking Him was evident.
He asked them what they sought in Him. His invitation and their
acceptance, resulting in their abiding with Him for that


day, must have meant a wonderful unfolding by Him of the truth
relating to Him.

     That third day produces three, if not four, disciples, Andrew,
John, Peter, and perhaps James. Peter was not the first to become one.
Cephas (v. 43) is the Aramaic name. _Petros, Peter, denotes, not a mass
of rock, but a detached stone or boulder (easily thrown or moved); in
Matthew 16:18 the word _Petra, a mass of rock, is used of Christ,
figuratively of a sure foundation, not of Peter, who is spoken of as

     On the fourth day a new circumstance arises; for the Lord Himself
goes to seek a disciple. Hitherto they had come or had been brought to
Him. Now "He was minded (or as the word _thelo commonly means, He
willed) to go forth into Galilee." He finds Philip, who was of the
same city as Andrew and Peter and bids him follow Him. Philip finds
Nathanael (a name meaning gift of God) and gives a special testimony
to Christ, firstly, as the Subject of the Law and the prophets,
secondly as to His coming from Nazareth, thirdly as to the belief
about His being the son of Joseph.

          nathanael's confession

     To say the least, Galileans were the objects of contempt owing to
their lack of culture, their rude dialect and their association with
Gentiles. Hence Nathanael's surprised question, "Can any good thing
come out of Nazareth?" Philip does not stop to argue but bids him come
and see. At the interview the Lord immediately reveals His Divine
powers of knowledge, which at once elicits the confession, "Rabbi,
Thou art the Son of God; Thou art King of Israel." The absence of the
definite article before "King," while grammatically serving to stress
His Kingship, perhaps indicates Nathanael's hope of an earthly King.

     The fig tree under which he was is doubtless figurative of the
nation of Israel, fruitless under the old Covenant, though Nathanael
himself is representative of the godly remnant in the nation. In this
connection the promise that he and other believers would see the
"Heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon
the Son of man," points to the coming day when Christ will come in His
glory and manifest Himself as the King of Israel in a far higher
sphere than was in the mind of Nathanael. The Lord was thinking of
Millennial scenes.


               CHAPTERS II TO IX


     The following four events which took place as recorded in
chapters 2, 3, and 4 are significant in their order. There is first
the marriage in Cana; next the cleansing of the Temple; then the
testimony to Nicodemus; finally the conversation with the woman of
Samaria. The four events form a counterpart to the victories of Christ
over Satan's temptation in the wilderness. The first of these was the
suggestion to turn stones into bread to satisfy Himself (Matt. 4:3);
now He turns water into wine to satisfy others. The second temptation
was to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple to declare to
the people below His supernatural power; now, instead of performing a
miracle outside the Temple for His own glory, He cleanses the inside
for the glory of His Father. The third temptation was an offer to have
all the Kingdoms of the world on the single condition that He should
fall down and do an act of worship to His tempter; now to Nicodemus 
He is giving teaching concerning the Heavenly, Spiritual and eternal
Kingdom, a Kingdom of far wider scope and importance than the
Kingdom of this world. Finally in the fourth chapter He is occupying
the attention and interest of a Samaritan woman with the subject of
worship to the Father.

     There is something very suggestive about all this as recorded in
the Fourth Gospel. In this Gospel Christ is revealed especially as the
Son of God; that is just the relationship concerning which the evil
one challenged Him in the wilderness, saying, "If Thou be the Son of
God." Again, this fourth Gospel marks the Lord especially as
delightedly fulfilling the will of His Father instead of fulfilling
Satan's suggestions that He should act according to His own will.


               CHAPTER II

             VERSES 1 TO  11


     The "third day" (2:1) was the third day of His stay in Galilee,
making a week altogether (1:29, 35, 43). There is much in the details
of the marriage feast in Cana that is indicative of things beyond the
actual circumstances. The third day is suggestive of the coming period
of resurrection life and Millennial glory. In a special sense in the
future celebration on earth of the spiritual and Heavenly marriage
between Christ and His saints, the water of purification for Israel
(i.e., the godly remnant of the nation) will be turned into the wine
of joy. Then indeed the nation will say "Thou hast kept the good wine
until now."

     Again, the word to His mother, "Woman what have I to do with
thee? Mine hour is not yet come," can only be rightly understood in the
way it points to His relation to Israel. His mother was the natural
connection with the nation under the Law. His relation with Israel
will in a coming day be a matter of grace. But that could be brought
about only through His sacrificial and atoning Death. To that He
referred when He said "Mine hour is not yet come." That "hour" would
and will be the means of bringing about the new relationship of grace.
Figuratively and anticipatively therefore He indicates that which will
be greater and more blessed than the natural tie of kinship.

          HIS SIGNS

     That all this, and more, is indicated, is set forth in the
statement, "This beginning of His signs did Jesus ... and manifested
His glory" (v. 11). The word _semeion is rightly rendered "sign;" it
is more than a miracle; it is a miracle with a significance. Christ's
signs were (1) evidences of His combined Godhood and Manhood, (2)
evidences of the character of His mission, (3) symbolical of spiritual
truths. Eight are recorded by John. This at Cana was


the first; and being a sign, its details conveyed the spiritual
teachings above mentioned. In this, too, He manifested His "glory."
The glory of the Lord is the shining forth of His character and His
power, the presentation of His nature and His actings. The
manifestation of His glory was at the same time the manifestation of
the glory of His Father.

     He graces our gatherings with His Presence spiritually, not only
at the marriage of two of God's children, but wherever any are
gathered in His Name. He never fails to fulfil His promise to be "in
the midst." His sanctifying presence imparts the utmost blessedness at
every such gathering.

     He gives His best to the lowly. They were a humble folk at the
Cana feast. There was no outstanding display. Cana itself was an
obscure village. It was in the rustic home that the Lord displayed
the glory of His power. He "came to minister." He loves "to revive the
spirit of the humble" (Isa. 57:15).

          A FULL SUPPLY

     His power is ready to meet our needs. The need was great. To run
short of wine, to be unable to provide adequate entertainment, was a
grievous predicament. Our lives are largely made up of needs. He knows
them all. They are designed to cast us upon Him. Nothing is too hard
for the Lord.

     He gives a full supply. "Fill the waterpots with water." "They
filled them up to the brim." That was what He intended. There would be
enough for all. If our hearts and lives are empty of self, His fulness
will fill us.

     He transmutes natural things, making them ministers of joy and
gladness. He makes water become wine. Our daily routine of work, so 
often dull and even dreary in our poor estimate, our round of labour,
our "common task," can all become radiant with joy and gladness if we
live in the light of His countenance and enjoy true fellowship with

     He uses home circumstances as a means of blessing to others. The
closing statement of the narrative is, "His disciples believed on Him" 
(v. 11). They were guests at the wedding. What the Lord had wrought
had marked effect on them. It established their faith in Him. Thus the
union of the married pair was made by Him a means of blessing to
others than those of the family circle.


               VERSES  12 TO 22


     This was the public display of Christ's authority and power. His
glory had been exhibited privately at the marriage at Cana. Now He
comes forth in official manifestation to the place where God had set
His Name in the nation, the place where He would dwell among them,
where shone the glory of His own uncreated light. At Cana He had
manifested His grace; now He was about to manifest His truth.

          THE  OCCASION

     The occasion was "the passover of the Jews" (v. 13). Three times
the Apostle (and he alone of the Gospel writers) designates the
passover feast thus (see 6:4 and 11:55, and cp. 5:1 and 7:2), a plain
reflection upon the deplorable condition of the people and their
religious rulers. What was by His own declaration "the Lord's
Passover" (Exod. 12:11), had become by national departure and the
desecration of the Temple, "the Passover of the Jews."

     Pilgrims had assembled in Jerusalem in immense numbers for their
great national feast. On the eve of the occasion the head of every
family had assiduously collected all the leaven in the house and given
the dwelling-place a general cleansing. How vastly different was the
condition of God's House at this time! Again, the Divinely appointed
half-shekel atonement money would be paid into the Temple treasury.
The payment sealed to each his status as a member of the Divinely
chosen nation, and religious fervour reached its height. But now the
offering was desecrated by the jingling of the coins of the
money-changer swindlers. The glory of the Temple had been robbed of
its spiritual significance and power. How could a man bring his lamb
to God amidst the hindrances of such unholy confusion? Commerce,
supported by the priests, robbed the poor of their privileges.

     This kind of corruption has been reproduced in Christendom.
Priest-craft, perhaps commercially the most paying concern in the
world, has perverted the cause of the humble believer, by striding
across the path of his free access to God through the One Mediator on
the ground of His expiatory sacrifice.



     Now the Lord suddenly comes to His Temple. He finds in the Temple
those that sold oxen and sheep and doves and the changers of money
sitting. The place of prayer for all nations resounds with the noisy
traffic of a cattle market, with all its filth and stench. The
covetous hearts of the dealers in small change gloat over their
ill-gotten gains. What a sickening sight for the devoted pilgrim as he
entered the court of the Temple! How he must have longed for the time
when the promise would be fulfilled, "there shall be no more a
Canaanite (a trafficker) in the House of the Lord of Hosts" (Zech.
14:21)! How much greater was the holy indignation of Him who thus
beheld the unutterable desecration of His Father's House!

     In the midst of all the desecration He appears whose "eyes are as
a flame of fire," and whose heart burned with zeal for the glory of
His Father's House. He makes a scourge the instrument of the exercise
of His authority. Was it emblematic of a greater scourge destined to
chastise rulers and people, when the Romans would destroy both Temple
and city? Certainly the paramount significance of this cleansing
process, this Divine attack upon the vested interests of the
evil-doers, was the vindication of the Name of God and the honours of
His House, His hatred and condemnation of sin. And on this account the
Lord's act was the presage and pledge of God's mercy to men in the
eventual freedom of access into His presence on His conditions of
grace in and through Christ. While the actual cleansing was not that
of the inner sanctuary (the _naos) but of the precincts, the outer
Court, yet it stood for the reconsecration of the entire building for
the holy purposes designed of God.


     But there was a deeper significance in this supernatural act; for
such it was. The expulsion by a single Person of the hosts of
avaricious traffickers and their belongings, the overthrow of the
tables and scattering of their money piles, notwithstanding the fact
that their sordid business had the sanction and support of those who
had legal possession of the whole place, was proof of His Divine
power; this indeed was tacitly acknowledged by


the surprised religious authorities in their question recorded in
verse 18. And the deeper significance is this, that whatsoever is
consecrated to God for His service is to be freed from mere worldly
profit. The veneer of religion is often but a covering to hide the
selfish interests of those who promote it. Personal advantage can only
act as a defiling influence in any church or assembly. The sheep, the
oxen and the doves were sold for sacrificial purposes, but the motive
and methods of the business were an abomination in the eyes of the
Lord. Mere Conformity to religious rites and ceremonies may make their
appeal to the natural, the religious, the sentimental mind, but human
motives and ambitions are doomed to meet the exposure and judgment of
Him who searches the hearts.

     A church is a temple of God, the dwelling-place of His Spirit (1
Cor. 3:16), and he who mars it will be marred of its Owner (v. 17). "For the temple of God is holy, which
temple ye are."


     The Temple authorities dared not question the moral rectitude of
the Lord's action in cleansing it. Taken by surprise at the display of
His power and authority, they decided to ask Him for a sign in
confirmation thereof. For them the value of a sign would consist in
its being simply indicative of the triumph and greatness of the chosen

     Their blindness, consequent upon their hardness of heart, is
evinced in their failure to recognize that He was, by the very
character of His dealings, the greatest possible sign Himself.
According to their request (He absolutely refused it later when their
persistent refusal to recognize His claims had reached its height,
Matt. 16:1 to 4), He gives them a sign, but not in accordance with
their expectations: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will
raise it up" (naos is the word here, the inner sanctuary, not _hieron,
the entire building), and this was appropriate to His reference to
"the temple of His body." And such His body was. In it shone the
abiding Shechinah, the glory of the Lord. "In Him dwelleth all the
fulness of the Godhead bodily."

     Voluntarily He would hand over this holy Temple for them to
"destroy" (_luo, to loosen, was sometimes used with reference to a
structure; cp. Eph. 2:14, where it is used of the breaking down


of a wall). How constantly His impending death and what it involved
formed the subject of His utterances! Here also He mentions "the glory
that would follow," foretelling withal His own part in His
Resurrection. This, too, was a clear indication, for those to whom the
fact would be revealed, of His oneness with the Father in Godhood. For
in the act of His Resurrection the Father and the Son were, as ever,
inseparable. The Jews eagerly laid hold of what they considered a
discrepancy in His utterance. Conviction, however, eventually was
borne in upon them. That is recorded by Matthew (27:63).


     The significance of His act of cleansing the Temple was realised
by the disciples immediately. They remembered that it was written,
"The zeal of Thine House shall eat Me up" (R.V.). The significance of
His reply to the Jews was realised after His Resurrection. The
disciples then remembered His utterance "and they believed the
Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said." As for the people, many
believed on Him, but with a shallow if sincere credence.

     Here, then, we observe the contrasting effects which so
constantly marked the Lord's public ministry of work and word, and
still mark those of His faithful witnesses, namely, rejection and
reception. If by grace we have received Him, let us on our part follow
the path He trod.

     There were more signs wrought by Him at that time in Jerusalem,
purposively unrecorded in this Gospel, and these caused many to
believe on His Name, by way of sincere conviction, a natural 
recognition of facts; but this did not alter their spiritual
condition, and "Jesus did not trust Himself to them." "He knew all
men" and "He Himself knew what was in man." The same emphasis "He
Himself" should be expressed in both statements. The Lord knew the
state and character of every man. He knew man's moral nature.


               CHAPTER III

             VERSES 1 TO 21


     "But there was a man" who was an exception. Chapter 3 continues
the last paragraph of chapter 2 by this contrast. The connecting word
should be "But," not "Now," as in the R.V. (it should not be omitted
as the A.V. does). "Now" suggests a completely new subject.

     The contrast was twofold. Nicodemus was not a case of mere
acknowledgement of the facts about Christ because of the signs He
wrought. His conscience was reached; he felt his soul's need. And
Christ on His part, in response to this need, opened His heart to meet
it, trusting Himself in this way to his enquirer.

     Nicodemus begins by expressing an assurance concerning Jesus,
based upon the signs He did (v. 2). This utterance was an evidence of
exercise of heart which he dared not disclose to his fellows. It is
"night" with us when we fail to witness for fear of the world. The
Lord goes at once to the root of the matter. He did not stop to give
mere mental instruction to him. How can anyone be spiritually blessed
by patching up the "old man"? The old is carnal and cannot discern
spiritual things. Nicodemus doubtless thought the Lord's signs were
indications of the approaching earthly kingdom. Hence the reply,
"Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The
word _anothen may mean "from above" (R.V. margin), as in 19:11; Jas.
1:17; 3:15, 17 (a very probable meaning here), or "again," anew, as in
Gal. 4:9.


     The thoughts of Nicodemus are occupied with the natural (v. 4).
The Lord points to the spiritual: "Except a man be born of water and
the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." He first said "cannot
see," for Nicodemus was occupied with the visible. Now He goes deeper.
Water is a means of cleansing. Cleansing is


by the Word of God. "Ye are clean," says the Lord, "through the word
which I have spoken unto you." Christ sanctifies the Church by
cleansing it "through the washing of water by the Word." The Spirit of
God applies the Word of God to the heart. There is another possible
interpretation. The _kai, "and," may mean "even," as it does
sometimes. The effect of regeneration by the Holy Spirit is to produce
a corresponding spiritual life. What God creates may be material; but
what He begets partakes of His spiritual nature and likeness. "That
which is born of the Spirit is spirit." The origin determines the
nature. Accordingly baptism cannot produce the new birth and beget a
child of God. Baptism is first a sign of death. The Lord gives the
illustration of the wind (the R.V. and A.V. renderings are doubtless
right). How could "the teacher (the representative of such) of
Israel" grasp heavenly things, if notwithstanding his reading of the
prophets, he did not understand earthly things? Christ and those
associated with Him spoke what they knew (the "we" is not the plural
of majesty); they bore witness of that which they had seen,--a witness
rejected. The origin was Heavenly. No one had ascended into Heaven to
receive these Heavenly things and bear witness of them. The only One
possible was He who "descended out of Heaven," and who while still on
the earth, was "the Son of Man, which is in Heaven." He was the very
embodiment of the Heavenly and in His combined Godhood and Manhood was
the manifestation of the Heavenly to men. Therefore to understand
these things Nicodemus must be related to Christ by the new birth, and
that would involve a share in the witness.

          THE MEANS  OF LIFE

     But the Lord has a further and still more explicit word to say
about the new life (imparted in the new birth), and gives "the teacher
of Israel" a fact from the Old Testament (which he had often read
without getting any further than the earthly circumstance), in order
that he may perceive the great foundation application and realize its
eternal importance: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the
wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever
believeth may in Him have eternal life" (vv. 14, 15). There is
something necessary then before the new birth can take place.  Truly
the new birth brings


life eternal, and this comes by faith. But this can be brought about
only by the remission of sin. There could be no life without that. For
that purpose this very Person, the Son of Man, whom Nicodemus had
sought, "must be lifted up." He must be made sin to take sin away. He
must become a curse, the very antitype of the serpent in the
wilderness. For this purpose He had come down from Heaven. Whosoever
rejected Him, for such there could be no remission of sins, no removal
of the curse, no new birth, no eternal life, no entrance into the
Kingdom. The Son of God, the Son of Man, alone knew the character and
requirements of God against whom man had sinned and from whom he was

     The great fact of the means for this is immediately stated in
another way. To accomplish this, and meet the need of the new birth
for Nicodemus and for all who are brought to realize their need, "God
so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoeverr
believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life." Man's
sinful condition and God's holy character and requirement, and His
infinite love, all meet at the Cross. (The present writer regards the
passage from verse 16 to verse 21 as a continuation of the Lord's
discourse to Nicodemus, rather than remarks made by John the writer of
this Gospel.)

     All this goes beyond the limits of His dealing with the Jewish
people: God sent His Son into the world "not to judge the world; but
that the world should be saved through Him" (v. 17).

     The purpose of Christ's coming was not to pass sentence but to
bring salvation. As for the believer no sentence can be passed on him; as
for the unbeliever, he stands self-condemned, for he has refused to
accept the self-revelation, the Name, "of the only begotten Son of
God." His Name is the expression of His very Person (v. 18).


     But it is more than a case of refusal to accept the Divine
testimony; "men loved the darkness rather than the light;" that is to
say, they hated the light; and that because their works were evil
(_ponera, a word which combines the ideas of base and baneful;
_poneros describes the character of Satan as "the evil one," 17:15;
1 John 2:13, 14; 3:12; 5:18, 19). "For every one that doeth (_prasso
means to practise, to do a thing by way of constant activity) ill
(here the word is _phaula, which signifies worthless things,
good-for-nothing) hateth the light, and cometh


not to the light (a hatred exhibited in a deliberate refusal to come),
lest his deeds (his works) should be reproved (or rather, convicted,
i.e., of being what they actually are, by being exposed in their true
character and so meeting with condemnation)."

     The contrary is the case with the true believer. As to the nature
of his activity, he "doeth the truth" (the truth in its moral aspect).
As to the character of his walk, he "cometh to the light" (he loves
the presence and fellowship of Him who is the Light). As to the
purpose of his coming, "that his deeds may be made manifest (he is
attracted to that which marks the character of his doings), that they
have been wrought in God," that is, in fellowship with, in the
presence of, and by the power of, God.

               VERSES  22 TO 36


     The next part of the chapter gives a beautiful picture of John
the Baptist, by reason of his
faithfulness and devotion to Christ, his delight in Christ's
superiority in antecedence, in position, and in purpose, and his joy
in the privilege appointed to him of being as near to Him as he was.
To him Jesus was everything; His exaltation and His interests were his
consuming object. When a question arose between John's disciples and a
Jew about purifying, and they reported that Christ was attracting
everybody, he presented with true humility and with manifest
satisfaction (1) the truth as to the source of any revelation (v. 27),
(2) the facts of his past witness (v. 28), and its present fulfilment
(v. 29), (3)_the contrast in position: he was simply a forerunner,
sent before the Messiah Himself, (4) the contrast in relationship:
Christ was the Bridegroom, John was but the friend of the Bridegroom,
His devoted attendant and listener, (5) his joy of heart in every word
spoken by the Bridegroom (v. 29), (6) the increase of the One for
whose sake he testified, (7) his own decrease in the very path of his
devotedness (v. 30).

     In this lowliness and satisfaction John the Baptist is an example
to us. The intimacy of our relationship to the Bridegroom is no doubt
greater positionally than his. It should be so with us as it was with
him, the only thing that should matter should be that


Christ is glorified by us and in all our ways and circumstances. That
Christ may be magnified in our bodies,--if that dominates our desires,
aims and ambitions, all will be well with us, no matter how greatly we
may be despised, no matter how great may be our suffering and trial.


     The closing part of the chapter continues the contrasts, first in
regard to Christ and John, then between the effects of the witness,
and finally between the eternal destinies of men. Firstly, Christ came
from above and bore witness of what He had seen and heard. John's
witness was that of one whose origin and condition were of the earth.
Secondly Christ's witness was generally rejected; whosoever received
His witness "hath set his seal to this, that God is true" (v. 33); he
solemnly confirms his acceptance of, and adherence to, the great fact.
And the evidence of the fact is seen in the testimony of the Lord
Jesus as the One whom God sent. "For He whom God hath sent speaketh
the words of God," not the testimony in general but each detail of
each statement of it; moreover this is the operation of the Holy
Spirit. Firstly, not only was He sent by God, there is deeper fuller
truth than this; He is the Son, to whom the Father "hath given all
things." This is introductory to the statement of the third contrast,
between destinies. For since all things are in the hands of the Son,
the destiny of every human being is under His control. But this,
again, depends upon the attitude of each towards Him. "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" (v. 36).

     All this from verse 22 to the end is introductory to the more
public testimony of the Lord. There was a special beginning of this
after John was cast into prison (3. 24). The introductory character of
that portion lies in this, that it has stated the way in which He
came, His position, His glory, the nature of His witness, the great
purpose of His coming, His being "lifted up," man's condition
regarding this, the Father's love for Him and His committal of all
things into His hands. The following chapters illustrate and amplify
the closing statement as to those who believe and have life and those
who refuse and endure Divine wrath.


               CHAPTER IV

            VERSES 1 TO 42


     The "therefore" in the first verse of chapter 4 connects this
chapter, not merely with 3:22 and the details of the baptizings by
John and by Christ's disciples, but with all the last part of chapter
3. There is another change of scene, but now Christ begins a ministry
outside the limits of the Jewish people. The jealousy of the Pharisees
leads to this, but whatever the Lord did always had a significance
beyond the actual doing. This visit to and ministry in Samaria recalls
the "whosoever" of 3:15, 16, and the wide sphere of the world, 3:17,
and gives a foreshadowing of the worldwide message after His Ascension
and the coming of the Spirit. Again, the fact that "He left Judaea,"
though only for a time, was suggestive of an attitude caused by the
hardened condition of the Jews. The word rendered "left" signifies
more than mere departure, it really means 'He let it go,' i.e., He
left it to itself.

     Everything was by Divine counsel and appointing, each fact the
Son's fulfilment of the Father's will: the weariness, the thirst, the
locality (the plot of land bought by Abraham, given by Jacob to
Joseph, and Joseph's burying place, Gen. 33:19; 48:22; Josh. 24:32).
Christ's ministry of grace there was a particular fulfilment of Gen.
49:22, "a fruitful bough by a well" and a Branch running "over the
wall," i.e., of Judaism. The side of the well, the time of day,
everything was ready for the one who now becomes the object of God's
grace and mercy.


     The beginning of the flowing forth of the fountain of grace was
by way of a request, "Give Me to drink." The blessed Saviour had a
spiritual thirst as well as the physical. His request had more than a
natural significance. How satisfying to the spirit is the salvation of
a soul!


     There is no discrepancy between the statement that "Jews have no
dealings with Samaritans" (there are no definite articles in the
original) and the fact that the disciples had gone into Samaria to buy
food. Even the Pharisees allowed fruit, vegetables, etc., to come from 
Samaria. Moreover Galileans were less strict.

     The surprise of the Samaritan woman meets with the response, "If
thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is (not who I am) that saith
to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He
would have given thee living water." This combines the glory of His
Godhood with the evidences of the reality of His Manhood, and the
lowliness of His stoop in that respect. The combination enhances the
grace by which the Lord seeks to meet her spiritual need. For the
"living water" compare with the following verses from the R.V.:
  Gen. 26:19 But when Isaac's servants dug in the valley and found
there a well of springing water, (lit. living water)
  Lev. 14:5 and the priest shall command them to kill one of the birds
in an earthen vessel over running water. (lit. living water)
  Jer. 2:13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken
me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for
themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
  Jer. 17:13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake thee shall be
put to shame; those who turn away from thee shall be written in the
earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.
  Zech. 14:8 On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem,
half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea;
it shall continue in summer as in winter.


     Her thoughts are occupied solely with her natural circumstances
and surroundings. "The natural man understandeth not the things of the
Spirit." That Jacob gave the well, as she said, was a Samaritan
tradition. In her opinion the well was good enough for him and his;
could this tired person provide a better one? "Art Thou greater ...?"
The "Thou" is very emphatic. He does not answer her question
concerning comparative greatness, He develops His subject, pressing
home the contrast between the natural and the spiritual, between that
which provides no permanent satisfaction and that which involves the
placing of the spiritual well within a person himself. "Every one that
drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of
the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that
I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto
eternal life." There is a noticeable change of tense: "every one that
drinketh" (v. 13) is in the present tense, drinketh habitually; but the
verb in the original in "whosoever drinketh" (v. 14) is in the perfect
tense, "whosoever hath drunk," an act with an abiding result. The
negative in "--shall never thirst" is very strong, and the rendering 
might well be "shall certainly not thirst forever."

     This would surely take her mind off the natural. But no! Whatever
it is He can provide let it provide an antidote to thirst


and put an end to her daily toil and weariness, so that she does not
"come all the way hither to draw" (RV).


     Now begins the second stage of His dealings. He will now deal
with her conscience. One word, and it leads to the tremendous
disclosure that her whole life lies open to His eye. Her limited
recognition, that He was a prophet, makes clear that she realized that
she had come face to face with a Messenger from God. Yet she shrinks
from anything further along this line and _turns to the subject of the
right place for worship.

     The Samaritans claimed that on mount Gerizim Abraham offered up
Isaac and here he met Melchizedek. The Lord speaks no more of her
sinful life, but leads her thoughts again, and in another way, to the
spiritual realm, taking up the question to which she had turned. This
was grace indeed, and wisdom, too, for He would lead her to the
realities of His own Person, and it is this great revelation which
brings the blessings of salvation. Sufficient had been said to bring
home the sinfulness of her life. The Lord would not probe that

     He shows that it is not a question whether Jerusalem or Gerizim
is the appointed spot for worship. The Samaritans were ignorant even
of the Person to be worshipped. It was not so with the Jews; for
"salvation is from the Jews." They were God's people, and salvation
comes from them by reason of promises to Abraham and Isaac. True
worship must accord with the nature of Him who is to be worshipped.
"God is Spirit" and must be approached by means of that part of our
being which is spirit. There are no limitations of space and locality
with Him. He must be worshipped in truth, not in ignorance,
superstition, and sectarianism. There must be submission of thought,
feeling and desire to His
will; "spirit and truth" present two aspects of the one fact. "For
such (an emphatic word) doth the Father seek to be His worshippers,"
that is to say, true worship must answer to the nature of His being.
And how this is to be brought about has been made known by grace in
the Person and work of His Son.

     It was not in any spirit of contradiction to the Lord's words "ye
know not" (v. 22) that the woman now said "I know." She was thoroughly
arrested in her ideas by the great truth which


Christ had just uttered. She was sure that all this and more would be
declared by the Messiah when He came. This instruction concerning
worship would be confirmed by Him and everything else would be made


     Now comes the climax. For this the Lord had been preparing. It
is when Christ is revealed to the needy soul that the work of grace
accomplishes its end. So it had been in other ways with John the
Baptist, with Nathanael and other disciples, and with Nicodemus. So it
was now with the woman. "Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee
am He." There are immediate evidences that His saving work was done.
The water of life had been poured into her soul. She forgot her
waterpot and the temporal requirements. The customary toil gave place
to a quick step back to the city. She becomes a messenger to others.
An invitation had not long since been given to a very different
person, "Come and see." "Come, see," she says, "a man, which told me
all things that ever I did. Can this be the Christ?" (the R.V. is
correct). Her heart was occupied with Him and He became her satisfying
portion. She confessed Him with her mouth and thus confirmed her
faith. She attracted the men of the city to Him.


     While they "were coming to Him" (v. 30), the disciples, who had
come upon the scene marvelling, were begging Him to allay His hunger.
He found His nourishment from another source. His food consisted in
doing the will of Him who sent Him and accomplishing His work. They
were occupied with mundane matters. Firstly, they wondered whether,
while they had come with food which they had gone to Samaria to buy,
someone else had supplied Him. Secondly, they were discussing the time
of the year and the prospect of harvest. They must wait four months
before bread became cheaper (perhaps they had paid a good price for
what they had brought from the city).

     But there was reaping to be done that day, for the spiritual
fields were "white unto harvest." There were wages for labourers and
"fruit unto life eternal." Those who had prepared by sowing


and those who enjoyed the counterpart by reaping could "rejoice
together." The Baptist had sown, Christ had sown, and now the woman
had sown. The disciples could join in the reaping. That was better
than buying food. It is one thing to trade with folks, and quite
proper withal, but another thing to win their souls to Christ. The
woman's testimony produced abundant fruit. Many believed on Christ
(there must have been a large crowd from the city). They asked Him to
go back with them and stay, and He stayed two days. More reaping was
done. Many more believed, rejoicing in having the witness of the woman
confirmed by hearing Him themselves, and acknowledging Him as, more
than the Messiah, "the Saviour of the world" (v. 42).

               VERSES 43 TO 54


     After the two days He goes to Galilee, where the people'received
Him because they had seen the things He did in Jerusalem. It did not
mean that they honoured Him. He knew they would not (v. 44), but He
did not go there to get that, He went to bear witness. And He bore
witness by another sign.

     The "second sign" which Christ did in Galilee, the healing of the
"nobleman's" son, has at least this significance, that it marks a
striking difference between the ground upon which faith was now
exercised and that which created faith in the heart of the Samaritan
woman and her fellow townsfolk. This nobleman (or rather, King's
officer, R.V., margin, an official under Herod Antipas, a tetrarch who
held his father's title of king) urged Him to come and heal his dying
son. His faith rested upon the signs and wonders wrought by Christ,
news of which had reached him from Judaea (v. 47). That this was so is
clear from the Lord's remonstrance, "Except ye see signs and wonders
ye will not believe." A faith based on miracles was not of such value
as that manifested by the woman, which was the result, not of news of
His wonderworkings in Judaea, but of His own testimony and teaching.
She and the other Samaritans believed because of the truth He spoke;
the officer rested his hopes upon Christ's miraculous acts. The Lord
would not reject his faith, but He found less


pleasure in that which rested on His power to deliver from calamity
than in that which rested in His own Person, and was established by
His character and teaching.

     Christ did not go to the sick bed to accomplish the healing and
receive acknowledgement as acting in the capacity of a healer. He
simply said, "Go thy way; thy son liveth," and the man departed

     The different words used to describe the sick lad are 
characteristic: the father speaks of him as his _paidion (v. 49), a
term of endearment; the servants use the word _pais, a boy, a term of
ordinary familiarity (v. 51); the Lord and the writer John call him
_huios, "son," a term of dignity.


     The important point in the discovery that the healing was
coincidental with the Lord's utterance, is the power of His word. That
which caused the man and his household to believe was not so much the
fact of the supernatural deed, but the Personal word of the Lord. The
Person Himself is ever greater than the deeds wrought by Him.

    The two signs wrought in Galilee represent the twofold way in
which the Lord manifested His delivering power and grace when on
earth, and will yet manifest them in the restoration of His earthly 
people. The one was by intervention in circumstances of difficulty,
the other by healing. The Jews will yet find in Him the One who can
remove their natural difficulties and can give them spiritual


              CHAPTER V

            VERSES 1 TO 9


     The occasion the Lord chose for this sign was "a feast of the
Jews." Various suggestions have been made as to which feast it was.
It could scarcely have been that of Purim, as there was no sabbath
connected with that feast. That of Pentecost, "the feast of weeks"
(Deut. 16:10 to 16), seems not unlikely, especially if the Lord used
in turn the three greatest feasts in the year for the fulfilment of
the witness which Moses bore to Him. The first was the Passover
(2:13); the third was the feast of Tabernacles (7:2).

     The Apostle John, however, does not specify the time, simply
mentioning it as "a feast of the Jews," their religious functions
being observed with punctilious exactitude, as if all was right with
God. Yet their ways were not His ways, nor their thoughts His


     Perhaps they considered that the miraculous powers of the pool of
Bethesda in their city were a token of their enjoyment of the Divine
favour. Thither accordingly the Lord goes to give a sign that a
different kind of healing was necessary for "the daughter of Zion"
from that which the Bethesda waters indicated. The pool is to be
disregarded. The Healer Himself was in their midst. Their
sabbath-keeping would avail nothing for their salvation. As has been
well said, "The poverty of the pool is exposed. It is seen to be
nothing but a beggarly element. It has no glory by reason of the glory
that excelleth ... Jesus is there standing ... in contrast with all
that system of ordinances and observances which had gone before, and
He exposes them in all their impotency and poverty."

     There among the multitude of the diseased and infirm in the five
porches or colonnades, He singles out the man who shall be


both the object of His compassion and the means of His witness. He is
touched with the feeling of his infirmity. He knew all about his past,
and his constant disappointments. There is no entreaty on the man's
part. Christ takes the initiative. He asks him "Wouldst thou be made
whole?" He knew what the answer would be, knew that the invalid's
thoughts would still be concentrated on the pool. It is futile
expectancy that looks for other resources than the Lord.


     Most frequently Christ made some remark concerning the requisite
of faith. In this case He immediately bids him "Arise, take up thy
bed, and walk." Faith was indeed necessary, and faith was there. The
word was with power, power to heal, power likewise to elicit the
obedience of faith. "And straightway the man was made whole, and took
up his bed and walked." Here was faith without wavering, faith that
turned from the pool to the Person.

     The carrying of his mat was a testimony to his miraculous
restoration. More than this, it declared the boldness of a faith that
ignored the startling spectacle of a Jew carrying a "burden" on a
sabbath! It bore eloquent testimony to his sense of indebtedness to
his Healer.

               VERSES 10 TO 15


     The sabbath day! The Jews at once seized upon the breach of the 
Law. It was enough for him that His Healer had bidden him carry his
mat. The Healer was in his eyes greater than the law of the sabbath,
and the Healer Himself testified on another occasion that He, the Son
of Man, was "Lord of the sabbath," a repudiation of the punctilious
observances of their traditional exactitudes, regarding the letter of
the Law to the neglect of the spirit of it (Matt. 12:8). They do not
ask the man as to who cured him, but as to who told him to break the

     The Lord "conveyed Himself away," not to escape from danger, but
to avoid the applause of the crowd, and with the object of


dealing further with the man in private. Augustine remarks that "it is
difficult in a crowd to see Christ; a certain solitude is necessary
for our mind."


     The Healer of his body finds him in the Temple to deal with his
soul. "Behold," He says, "thou art made whole: sin no more (continue
no longer in sin), lest a worse thing befall thee," He who "searcheth
the hearts" knew the past history of the man's life. The disclosure
involved in this command was more than a conclusion drawn simply from
the nature of the man's disease. "He knew what was in man." Upon this
"the man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus which had made
him whole."

     The connection between this and the warning just given him by the
Lord does not afford sufficient ground for an assumption of any spirit
of retaliation on the man's part. He had probably come into the Temple
to fulfil the duty of thanksgiving. He may have felt himself under an
obligation to show obedience to the religious authorities.

     There was, however, the danger of falling back into sin. Past
habits of evil have a way of reasserting themselves after deliverance.
Only the power of Christ and His word can give sufficient strength for
overcoming. Was not His warning given to the man with this very
design? And to us the Spirit of God has been imparted that we may heed
the injunction "Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust
of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit
against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that
ye may not do the things that ye would" (Gal. 5:16, 17).

               VERSES 16 TO 47

     That this miracle was wrought on a sabbath day roused the fierce
hostility of the Jews. They were "up in arms to defend their favourite
piece of legalism." "For this cause did the Jews persecute (imperfect
tense, continued to persecute) Jesus, because He did these things on
the sabbath." Their religious zeal utterly


outweighed any consideration of the marvellous deliverance granted to
the cripple and his joy and comfort in his healing. Religion is the
greatest persecuting force in the world. From the days of Cain onward
it is in religion that the innate enmity of the natural mind towards
God is particularly manifested, and as each sign disclosed something
of what God is in the Person of His Son there was a rising tide of
opposition to the One thus revealed and the great incomprehensible
depths of mercy and grace of God.


     With sublime dignity and calm the Lord, in response to their
antagonism, begins to disclose His great prerogatives as the Son of
God, His perfect oneness with the Father, the love of the Father for
Him, the uninterrupted communion existing between them, and His entire
and delighted submission to the Father's will.

     He here makes no comment on the sabbath law, as on other
occasions. He had something more important to deal with, and His
testimony constitutes an essential feature of the fabric of this
Gospel. "My Father," He says, "worketh even until now, and I work" (v.
17). This reveals the character of the sign just accomplished. It was
one instance of the co-work of the Father and the Son. That God should
break the sabbath law was impossible. In censuring the Son they were
censuring the Father. The work of the Son was as indispensable as that
of the Father, and was the Father's work. The declaration exposed at
once the untenable character of their position.

          LAW AND GRACE

     But more than the one incident was involved. The co-work was
"even until now." God could not find rest where sin existed, save by
the atoning sacrifice of His Son. Had it not been so the race must
have perished entirely. Ever since sin entered, God had anticipatively
wrought in grace. Of this the miracle of healing just wrought was an
instance. So the work of the Son was the work of the Father with Him.
The obligation regarding the sabbath under the Law did not nullify the
actings of grace. Nay, the Law, by its inability to justify men and 
give them true rest,


served to enhance the power of grace. The Jews' method of keeping the
sabbath must be exposed and set aside, to reveal the mercy of God in
Christ and the true nature of the mercy in the joint operation of the
Father and the Son.

     The claim made in His statement is at once clear to them. It
intensifies their antagonism. They cannot deny the miracle. Ignoring
its significance, they resort to the additional charge of blasphemy
and endeavour to act accordingly. "For this cause the Jews sought the
more to kill Him, because He not only brake the sabbath, but also
called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."



     The way is now open for the most comprehensive public witness
given by the Lord concerning the Father and Himself and Their dealings
with man, both now and hereafter.

     The Lord's discourse consists of two parts: (A) verses 19 to 29,
(B) verses 30 to 47. In (A) He speaks of (1) His relation to the
Father in Their unity of counsel and action (vv. 19, 20), (2) His
resulting dealings with individuals as Life-Giver and Judge (vv. 21 to
27), (3) His position and power in the future resurrection of the dead
to life or judgment (vv. 28, 29).
  (B) consists of (1) a restatement of His entire dependence on the
Father, involving, firstly, the righteousness of His judgment,
secondly, the fact that He does not bear witness from Himself (vv. 30
to 31), (2) a declaration of the witness borne to Him (vv. 32 to 39),
(3) a remonstrance against the unbelief of His hearers (vv. 40 to 47).

               VERSES  19 TO 29


     The first part, (A), is characterized by a threefold "Verily,
verily" (vv. 19, 24, 25). This is a translation of the Hebrew word
"Amen," which signifies "truth." The repeated word (used by the Lord
twenty-five times as recorded in this Gospel and not found thus
elsewhere in the New Testament) always introduces a solemn
pronouncement demanding the utmost attention.


     The first of the three in this discourse is followed by
declarations which govern all that follows. They are foundation,
truths predicating (1) the impossibility of His acting independently
of the Father: "the Son can do nothing of Himself," (2) the intimacy
and unbroken continuity of their communion--"but what He seeth the
Father doing," (3) the coincidence and coextension of Their work:
"for what things soever He doeth, these the Son doeth in like manner,"
(4) the love of the Father for the Son as the causative element
characterizing this unity, communion, and co-operation: "For the
Father loveth the Son (note the connecting word, "For," gathering up
the preceding truths into the underlying cause), and sheweth Him all
things that Himself doeth:" as the Son does nothing without the
Father, so the Father keeps nothing secret from the Son; this, coupled
with the earlier statement as to the pre-existent co-operation, "My
Father worketh even until now, and I work," clearly establishes the
eternal pre-existence of the relationship; (5) the increasing nature
of the work as further revealing the intimacy now made known, and
challenging the acknowledgement of the beholders: "and greater works
than these will He show Him, that ye may marvel." These "greater
works" are mentioned in what follows.


     Having made known that what He did represented the joint work of
the Father with Himself (as exemplified in the healing of the impotent
man on the sabbath), and that the great feature of this Divine
co-operation was the love of the Father for Him, a love which involved
the unbroken and most intimate communication to Him of all that the
Father did (5:19, 20), the Lord now confirms all this, for the
attention of His critics, by instancing the most transcendent 
operations of God, those, namely, of resurrection, spiritual, and
physical; these He describes as "greater works" (i.e., than those of
healing the sick). This is dealt with in the first part of the
discourse (vv. 21 to 29), first as to spiritual resurrection (vv. 21
to 27), then as to the physical (vv. 28, 29).

     "For as the Father raiseth the dead and quickeneth them, even so
the Son also quickeneth whom He will." This at once constitutes a
positive and explicit claim to Deity. Not only are the Father and the
Son conjointly engaged in the salvation of the


souls of men and the impartation to them of spiritual life from their
dead condition, but this impartation is the effect of the will of the
Son, not apart from the Father, but determined in equality of mind and
counsel with Him. This is the significance also in His "whom He will,"
that there is no limit to His life-bestowing power to those who accept
the condition of faith in Him, a condition which He is just about to


     As the quickening involves the raising, there is a definite
connexion between His power as the Imparter of life and His capacity
as Judge, as is obvious from the "For" introducing verse 22: "For
neither doth the Father judge any man, but He hath given all judgment
unto the Son." And the connexion surely lies in this, that, as the
bestowment of spiritual life depends upon the will and act of the Son,
His knowledge as to who is to receive life from Him and who is to
remain without it, constitutes Him an infallible Judge in determining
the destiny of all. Hence He says (though not without a prior and very
important declaration, v. 23), "Verily, verily I say unto you, He that
heareth My Word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath eternal life,
and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life"
(v. 24, R.V.). Note that it is not" believeth on Him," as in the A.V.,
but "believeth Him," that is to say, 'believeth God's Word respecting
His Son.'

     Now this makes clear that the "whom He will" in verse 21 is not a
matter of arbitrary selection. Each one is responsible to decide
whether he will believe and thus receive life, or not. This is open to
all who hear. God's interposition in and through His Son has alone
made it possible. The case of the impotent man was illustrative of
this. His condition was the outcome of sin and was hopeless, but for
Christ's intervention. His "Wilt thou be made whole?" is typical of
the human responsibility to accept. Nevertheless salvation must be the
effect of His Word. The obligation rested with His hearers to see the
significance, and to place themselves among the recipients of life
from Him.


     The Lord precedes this glorious truth of the Gospel by a
statement as to the great reason why the Father has committed all


judgment to Him. It is not simply that He may act as the Judge of men,
nor that He may give eternal life to all who believe, but "that all
may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father," and this He
substantiates by the declaration, "He that honoureth not the Son
honoureth not the Father which sent Him" (v. 23). This is of paramount
importance in view of the variety of tenets, arguments, and propaganda
which detract from the honour of the Son. He it is against whom the
arch-spiritual foe exerts his fiercest and unremitting antagonism.

     "The obligation of honouring the Son is denned to be just as
stringent as the obligation of honouring the Father. Whatever form
that honour may take, be it thought, or language, or outward act, or
devotion of the affections or submission of the will, or that union of
thought and heart and will into one complex act of self-prostration
before Infinite Greatness, which we of the present day usually mean by
the term adoration, such honour is due to the Son no less than to the
Father. How fearful is such a claim if the Son be only human! how
natural, how moderate, how just, if He is in very deed Divine!" (Liddon).

     Since the Father does nothing apart from the Son, and the Son
nothing apart from the Father (vv. 19, 20), this unity of operation
demands equality of honour. To this honour of the Son all will be
inevitably constrained, either in full and gladsome recognition by
those who have eternal life, or compulsorily in the case of all
rejectors, human and spiritual. It is the unthwartable determination
of God that every tongue shall "confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the
glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:11).


     The hour, of verse 25, is already 1900 years long. The authority
of "the voice of the Son of God" in the bestowment of life on dead
souls rests upon two great facts, (1) that "as the Father hath life in
Himself, even so gave He to the Son also to have life in Himself,"
(2) that "He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the
Son of Man" (vv. 26, 27). The first does not imply that the Father had
imparted life to the Son, it declares that as the Father is the Source
of life, so the Son in Incarnation is the Source, by reason of the
appointment of the Father. Life stands here for the vivifying power.
The life, the Divine counsels


and operations, everything centres in Christ, and by reason of this
and of His Incarnation and what results from it, spiritual life
becomes communicable only through Him.

     The second statement, that His authority to act as the Judge of
all men is based upon the fact that He is "the Son of Man" (not here
indicating His Messiahship but His humanity) receives especial stress
from the absence of the article in the original before both "Son" and
"Man." He will judge as being in full understanding experimentally of
human conditions, sin apart, and thus as sharing the nature of those
He judges. Being Son of God He knows, what only God knows, the
possibilities of man (Matt. 11:21). He who is Judge must be God and


     The astonishment of the Jews at such claims met with a still more
startling proclamation. "Marvel not at this," He says, "for the hour
cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and
shall come forth; they that have done (_poieo) good, unto the ('a')
resurrection of life; and they that have done (_prasso, have
practised) ill, unto ('a') resurrection of judgment." The two
resurrections, distinct in character (stressed by the absence of the
article in each case), are shown in other Scriptures to be separated
in time, e.g., Rev. 20:4 to 6. What the Lord had already taught
governs the statements as to doing good and ill. Doing good (plural)
is that which marks the lives of those who have believed and so have
passed from death unto life (v. 24); doing evil (plural) is that which
characterizes unbelievers, the unregenerate (Rom. 3:9; Gal. 3:10). The
distinction between "have done" (_poieo) and "have practised"
(_prasso) lies in this, that _poieo denotes an act complete in itself,
while _prasso denotes a habit. Cp. 3:20, 21, where the same
distinction is made.

               VERSES 30 TO 38

     Having declared His authority to execute judgment upon all men,
the Lord repudiates any idea that this is a matter simply of His own
will and doing, reiterating what He had said in v. 19. There, however,
He said, "What I see the Father doing I do;"


now He says, "As I hear, I judge." This is an additional attestation
of the essential unity of the Father and Himself. Nevertheless He was
here in entire and delighted subjection to the Father's will, which in
itself was the guarantee of the infallible equity of His judgment:
"and My judgment," He says, "is righteous; because I seek not Mine own
will, but the will of Him that sent Me" (v. 30). The judgment passed
by the Jews was perverted because they sought their own will. The
accuracy of our judgment in anything depends upon our entire
subservience to the will of God.

     In the latter part of this discourse (vv. 31 to 47) the Lord
pointedly rebukes the unbelief of the Jews. The great force of His
rebuke lies, however, in the continuation of His claims to His oneness
with the Father, still answering the charge that He had made Himself
equal with God.

     The chief point in this vindication is


     "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. It is
Another that beareth witness of Me: and I know that the witness which
He witnesseth of Me is true" (vv. 31, 32). As to the question who this
"other" is, the answer is provided in verse 37. He designedly
postpones the actual mention of the Person, so that it may come the
more forcefully by reason of the contrast to human witness,
particularly that of John the Baptist, concerning whom they had sent
making special inquiries (1:19). Moreover, the immediate necessity was
to rebut any imputation that He was the sole source of His testimony.
In that case, while the testimony would be true, it would be invalid.
So for the moment He speaks of "Another," and proceeds with "and I
know (_oida, I have perfect knowledge) that the witness which He
witnesseth of Me is true." The essence of His knowledge consisted in
His unity with Him to whose voice He listened and whose will was His
unremitting delight.


     He valued, as He alone could, and far more than they did, the
witness of the Baptist; "he hath borne witness (perfect tense,


expressing the enduring effect) unto the truth." "He was the lamp
(_luchnoa, not a torch, but a portable lamp) that burneth and shineth"
(v. 35). Christ Himself is the Light. From Him John, the human lamp,
derived his light. Their rejoicing in John's witness was ephemeral and
unproductive. If only they would realize and recognize that the Source
of his light was now testifying to them! "I say these things that ye
may be saved." How wonderfully this exhibits the tender compassion of
His heart, even towards the hard-hearted' and antagonistic! Verily
these are words of One who was "full of grace and truth."

     And now the Lord leads up to the definite statement as to the
witness borne to Him by the Father, by speaking of the witness of His
works. They are not simply His own doing: "the works which the Father
hath given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do bear witness of
Me that the Father hath sent Me." This recalls verse 20, and, in the
light of that, the works clearly are comprehensive not only of those
of healing and similar signs but of the impartation of life, affecting
the character and conduct of His followers, works accomplished by His
teaching (as in the case of the conversion of the Samaritan woman, see
4:34). In His prayer in chapter 17 He sums up all, including the
sacrifice of the Cross, in the phrase "the work" ("the work which Thou
hast given Me to do," 17:4).

     The comprehensive character of His reference to His works here is
intimated in His statement that they are those "which the Father hath
given Me to accomplish," lit., "in order that I may accomplish." This
being so, the way is now open for Him to make clear to whom He had 
referred when He said, "It is another that beareth witness of Me" (v.
32). "And the Father which sent Me, He hath borne witness of Me."
There is the strongest emphasis both upon "the Father" and upon "He."
This is


as to the various kinds of witness borne to Him. It manifests His keen 
pleasure in glorifying the Father. The witness of the Father was given
not simply by the works which He wrought through Christ, it was
especially borne, for instance, on the occasion of His baptism, when
"a voice came out of heaven, Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am
well pleased" (Luke 3:22).


     Now, in His capacity as their Judge, He proceeds to pronounce His
judgment upon them. His remonstrances follow in solemn sequence. "Ye
have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. And ye
have not His word abiding in you: for whom He sent Him ye believe not"
(vv. 37, 38). This is all closely connected. That they had neither
heard the Father's voice nor seen His form, is reminiscent of God's
words concerning Moses in Numbers 12:8, Moses combining in himself the
promulgation of the Law and the function of the prophet. The Jews, who
had neither understood nor heeded the voice of God to their nation,
and especially that of Moses, on whom they had set their hope (v. 45),
failed now to apprehend that the Father was speaking to them in and
through the Son (cp. Heb. 1:2), and that the Son, whom they were
refusing, was Himself the manifestation of the Father (_eidos, the
visible form or representation).

     The connection between the voice and the form is repeated in what
follows. As to the voice, "Ye have not His word abiding in you;" as to
the Person, "whom the Father sent ye believe not."

               VERSES 39 TO 47

     The Lord had spoken to His critical and unbelieving audience of
three kinds of witness which had been borne to Him, that of John the
Baptist, that of the Father, and that of His works. John's witness 
they simply made the subject of an inquiry. To the witness of the
Father their unbelief blinded them. The witness of the works of Christ
met with their criticism of His Person and His claims, a criticism
fostered by the misconceptions and prejudices of human tradition.


     There was a further witness to Him, one with which they had been
longer and more intimately acquainted than those already mentioned. To
this He now draws attention. "Ye search the Scriptures," He says,
"because ye (emphatic) think that in them (emphatic) ye have eternal
life; and these (emphatic—the objects of your search) are they which
bear witness of Me; and ye will not (ye are not willing to) come to
Me, that ye may have life"


(vv. 39, 40). Whether the opening verb be regarded as indicative, "Ye
search," or imperative, "Search" (and either is possible), the great
point is that, while the Scriptures were theirs for their guidance,
they were so out of touch with the mind of God therein revealed, that
they failed to grasp their purport, that, namely of witnessing to
Christ. They imagined that they had life simply by their possession of
the Word of God, by their devotion to the letter of the Law, and by a
formal perusal of the Scriptures, the real and Divine purpose of which
is to lead the reader to the Life-Giver. In this lies the connection
between His statements "these are they which bear witness of Me," and
"ye will not come to Me that ye may have life." The revelation and
ministry of Christ to the soul are ever the paramount objects and
power of the sacred page.


     The Lord follows this with the statement, "I receive not glory
from men." As to the bearing of this upon the course of His remarks,
the preposition _para, "from," in this construction, indicates the
source or origin. This at once suggests that the source of any glory
He received was not human; it was Divine, it came from God (v. 44).
Even the Scriptures, the import of which the Jews grievously missed in
not finding them a means of coming to Him to obtain eternal life, were
not of human origin.

     Now the true recognition of this and the consequent apprehension
and application of the Scriptures as pointing to Christ, would produce
the love of God in the heart, as they ever do when so applied. In all
this His hearers utterly failed. "But I know you," He says, "that ye
have not the love of God in yourselves" (v. 42). It was all very well
to boast in the Scriptures, but what did their use of them avail when
they had not the love of God and refused to receive His Son, to whom
the Scriptures bore witness? He had come in His Father's Name (as the
Personal presentation of, and with the authority of, the Father), and
they received Him not.

     But there was more than this in His declaration that He received
not glory from men. That was just where the Jews erred. And their
error lay at the root of their unbelief.  "How


can ye believe," He says, "which receive glory one of another, and the
glory that cometh from the only God ye seek not?" It was not want of
proof that hindered faith on their part, it was pride, vanity and
earthly desires, alienating their heart from God. Their rejection of
Christ nationally would ultimately put them under the delusive power
of the Antichrist: "If another shall come in His own name, him ye will
receive." While that points on to the future national reception of the
man of sin, the evil principle was working in their own hearts, and
they were forerunners of the nation's final apostasy. To come in one's
own name is to attract honour to oneself and seek human applause, and
that is the very negation of the love of God. Christ had come to
manifest the Father and to do nothing but His will. Hence the Father's
glory ever shone transcendently in Him. With them there was neither
the love of God nor the faith which worketh by love (v. 44). There is
no neutral ground. Men must either receive Christ or suffer the
blinding delusions of the powers of darkness and stand on the side of
His foes.


     At the close of His discourse the Lord knocks away the very
foundation of their false confidence. He increases the force of His
blow by preceding it with the negative statement that He will not
Himself act as their Accuser to the Father (v. 45). Nay, His immediate
object was their salvation (v. 34). Their accuser was Moses, on whom
they had "set their hope." They imagined that in accusing Christ of
breaking the Sabbath they were defending the Law of Moses, which,
however, condemned them (cp. Deut. 31:21, 26; 32:28). Their rejection
of Christ was, in point of fact, a rejection of Moses. "For if," He
says, "ye believed Moses, ye would believe Me; for he wrote of Me."

     In this He states the outstanding subject of the whole
Pentateuch, testifying at the same time to its authorship, authority
and Divine Inspiration. The emphasis may be brought out by the
rendering "It was of Me that he wrote." His statement (which recalls
His words as to all the Scriptures, v. 39) affords us the great guide
to a right understanding of the much-criticized and misunderstood
Pentateuch. Happy is he who, assured of a response, breathes the


     Teach me to love the sacred page
     And view my Saviour there.

     With what solemn abruptness the Lord closes His discourse! "For
if ye believe not his writings how shall ye believe My words?" It is
virtually an exclamatory protest, and in it He puts the writings of
Moses in the same Divine category as His own words. He demands the
acceptance of each as a matter of faith. Refusal means the loss of
valid hope of salvation.

               A review

     Reviewing this discourse we may observe that it contains twelve
great subjects:
  (1) The essential relation between the Father and the Son (vv. 19 to 21);
  (2) The commission, authority and dignity of the Son (vv. 22, 23);
  (3) The everlasting blessings of those who believe (v. 24);
  (4] Spiritual resurrection (v. 25);
  (5) Christ the Lawgiver (v. 26);
  (6) Christ the Judge (v. 27);
  (7) Universal physical resurrection (vv. 28, 29);
  (8) The infallible judgment of Christ (v. 30);
  (9) Witness to Christ, by the Father, John the Baptist, Christ's
works, the Scriptures (vv. 31, 39);
  (10) Man's perverse will and consequent ruin (vv. 38, 40 to 43);
  (11) The love of man's praise as the cause of unbelief (v. 44);
  (12) The importance, claims and object of the writings of Moses (vv. 45, 46).


               CHAPTER VI


     In chapter 5 the Lord is seen as the Source of Life, and that in
respect of His relation to the Father. In chapter 6 He is seen as the
Supporter of Life, and that by reason of His relation to the believer.
In this chapter there is again, as in chapter 5, first a sign, or
miracle, and then a discourse arising from it, but now the results of
the discourse are narrated. In addition to the sign given in public,
that of the feeding of the five thousand, there is a sign privately to
the disciples, that of His walking on the water.

               VERSES 1 TO 25

     Again the Lord turns His back on Judaism and goes to Galilee. The
Lord had been doing signs continually (the verb rendered "He did," v.
2, is in the imperfect tense, "He was doing"), especially in the
healing of the sick. As a result of this "a great multitude" was
following Him. As the Passover, here called "the feast of the Jews,"
was drawing near, there would be large numbers of people going up to
Jerusalem, and it is just possible that the crowd would be augmented

     Now it seems evident from verse 1 that the Lord had gone away to
get rest and quiet, and to pray (see Matthew and Mark). When, however,
He saw the multitude toiling up the hill, whither He had gone with His
disciples, His heart, instead of being disturbed by the interruption,
was moved with compassion. He had known everything beforehand and His
many signs were wrought so as to lead up to this great act with all
its spiritual significance.


     But the Lord had His eye on the disciples, and especially now
upon Philip. So He asks him, "Whence are we to buy loaves that these
may eat?" the object being to test his faith and turn his


mind from mere material resources to Himself as the great Personal
means of meeting every need, and so lead him to be occupied more with
Himself, His power and grace, than with circumstances. That is just
what we all need. The heart must realize its dependence upon Christ
Himself and be occupied with Him more than with difficulties and
exigencies. He desired to make Philip and his fellow-disciples grasp
the fact that, though they had neither loaves nor money adequate for
the occasion, they had the Lord Himself.

     Philip remarked that even about £8 would not buy enough loaves
for all that multitude. Andrew, like Philip, is occupied with material
things and their insufficiency. How meagre are such thoughts! And what
a majestic contrast is presented by the Lord as He says, "Make the
people sit down" (v. 10)! The word _anthropous is rightly rendered
"people," for it includes both sexes, whereas in the latter part of
the verse the word is _andres, men. That was His one preparation for
the manifestation of His powers of Godhood, and of His grace and


     As the people, now in orderly groups, witnessed how He gave
thanks and how their need was more than supplied, they were preparing
to make Him their Messianic King, regarding Him as the promised
Prophet, foretold in Deuteronomy 18:15. There was one thing that must
have impressed the disciples especially, if not the people themselves,
in that, while He could minister bountifully, it was not a case of
mere lavishness, this was economy: nor a case of mere wonder-work,
every detail had a Divine significance. The fragments must be gathered
up "that nothing be lost." What need was there for this, considering
that the Lord could multiply food at His will? There was the lesson to
be learnt, that there must be no waste. No idea must be entertained
that, considering what was possible as to further acts of bounty,
there must be no disregard for what might naturally be considered as
superfluous. For everything had a significance; no act was without its
meaning. The provision of such supplies of bread was introductory to
spiritual teaching of the utmost importance concerning the Bread of

     In this connection John purposely omits reference to the
fragments of fish (whereas Mark mentions them, Mark 6:43), for the


spiritual application to follow is a matter of that life of the
nourishment of which the bread was symbolical.


     And now the great Provider has to withdraw from all this popular
excitement regarding Him. Instead of becoming the people's King, and
that in a way contrary to the Father's will and to Scripture
testimony, He takes a position which sets Him forth as the High Priest
of His people. He goes up into the mountain, from whence He can
consider the needs of His followers, pray for them, and come to their
assistance in a time of danger (v. 15).

     Evening had come on; it had become dark; the disciples had
entered a boat and were well on their way across the sea to go to


     So now, having become the Object of their faith in the matter of
providing food, He makes Himself the Object of their faith amidst
peril. The Creator of bread was likewise the Creator of the waters,
and whether they were too tempestuous or calm His power was to be in
evidence in each respect. The trust of His followers must be

     He stills their fears with His "It is I; be not afraid," and
stills the storm. His will to pass them by (Mark 6:48), to deepen
their confidence in Him, issues in their will to receive Him into
their boat. "They were willing" to do so (R.V.). But there is an
additional act in the sign given to them. The boat immediately arrives
at its destination. Distance is nullified by His powers. His presence
is both protection and deliverance. So He bringeth them at once "to
their desired haven."

     There follows the incident of the efforts of the multitude to
seek for Jesus. They had remained in the locality where the Lord had
provided the bread, and next day, finding that He and the disciples
had gone, the people took boats and came to Capernaum, astonished to
find that He was there already. All this, and their question as to
when He came across, is both the sequel to what had taken place on the
mountain slope, and introductory to His discourse concerning Himself
as the means of life.



                    6:26 TO 59


     This discourse is divided into two parts: (1) verses 26 to 40 (2) 
verses 43 to 59. The first answers the application of the multitude to 
Him because of the miracle that He had wrought; the second is a reply 
to the murmuring of the Jews.

     Each part contains the same two leading truths, (1) that Christ 
is the bread of life, (2) that as such He came from Heaven to earth to 
give life to men. These subjects are conveyed in four distinct 
statements in each section. They are as follows.

          In the first part:

     (1) "My Father giveth you the true bread out of Heaven" (v. 32); 
     (2) "The bread of God is that which cometh out of Heaven and 
giveth life unto the world" (v. 33); 
     (3) "I am the bread of life" (v. 35); 
     (4) "I am come down from Heaven" (v. 38).

          In the second part:

     (1) "I am the bread of life" (v. 48);
     (2) "This is the bread which cometh down out of Heaven, that a 
man may eat thereof and not die" (v. 50); 
     (3) "I am the living bread which came down out of Heaven: if any 
man eat of this bread he shall live for ever" (v. 51); 
     (4) "This is the bread which came down out of Heaven ... he that 
eateth this bread shall live for ever" (v. 58).

          Other Similar Details in each Part

     In addition to these statements concerning Christ as the Bread 
of Life, 
     (1) each division of the discourse contains "Verily, verily" 
twice: those in the first part both introduce denials of the 
suppositions entertained by the Lord's hearers (vv. 26, 32); those in 
the second part introduce the conditions for the possession of eternal 
life (vv. 47, 53). 
     (2) In each He speaks of the provision of life for the world 
(vv. 33, 51). 
     (3) Each contains a twofold statement concerning coming to 
Christ; they are as follows: "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise 
cast out" (v. 37); in the second part: "No man can come to me, except 
the Father 


which sent Me draw him" (v. 44); "everyone that hath heard from the 
Father and hath learned, cometh unto Me" (v. 45). 
     (4) Again, in the first part there are two statements concerning 
seeing the Father; the two in the first part form a contrast: "ye have 
seen Me, and yet believe not" (v. 36); "everyone that beholdeth (a 
different word from that in v. 36, which we notice later; the 
difference is missed in the A.V.) the Son and believeth on Him ..." 
(v. 40). The distinction is between unbelievers and believers. In the 
second part the Lord speaks of Himself as the only One who has seen 
the Father, "Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is 
from God, He hath seen the Father" (v. 46). 
     (5) Each of the divisions contains a reference to the provision 
of the manna in the wilderness (vv. 32, 58). 
     (6) Each contains the assurance that the Lord Himself will raise 
from the dead those who believe upon Him (vv. 40, 54).

          Outstanding Facts and Contrasts

     The whole discourse may be viewed under the following headings:

     (i) The contrast between natural bread and Christ the Spiritual 
Bread (vv. 26 to 35).

     (ii) Christ the Spiritual Bread in relation to the Father 
(vv. 32, 40).

     (iii) The contrast between the manna and Christ the Spiritual 
Bread, with an extended definition of the latter (vv. 43 to 51).

     (iv) The flesh and blood of Christ (with reference to His Death), 
the means of spiritual nourishment: a final contrast between the manna 
and Christ the Spiritual Bread (vv. 53 to 58).

               VERSES 26, 27

     Discarding the question of the multitude, the Lord replies by 
exposing to themselves their actual motive for seeking Him, and 
proceeds to urge upon them the deeper needs of their souls. He begins 
with a "Verily, verily," lit., "Amen, Amen," a mode of arresting 
attention which was frequently upon His lips.  It


introduces a subject of pressing urgency by reason of its essential 
importance, and usually because it runs counter to, or exceeds, the 
ideas in the minds of His hearers.

     "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek Me," He says, "not 
because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were 
filled. Work not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which 
abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you: 
for Him the Father, even God, hath sealed" (vv. 26, 27). His "Work 
not" has a comparative force: the spiritual nourishment is a matter of 
far greater concern than the material. And what toil they had given 
themselves in endeavouring to find Him! With a view doubtless to 
obtaining more bread! His injunction was certainly not against earning 
their living; the R.V. rightly has "work" instead of "labour," as the 
same word is used by His hearers in the next verse. Let their pursuits 
be directed to obtaining the spiritual food. It abides. A hint perhaps 
against their idea of getting continual supplies of material bread from 
Him! The spiritual bread abides unto eternal life: it sustains for 
ever. And there it was for the having. Let them do the real seeking 
and they shall find. The Son of Man gives it. He is the Provider of 
the vastly more important spiritual sustenance.


     The sealing here signifies the authentication, the commissioning 
with authority, by God, of the Son of Man as the sole Giver of eternal 
life. The allusion may be to the impress of a mark by bakers upon 
their loaves, or, with a typical reference, to the testing and sealing 
of lambs for sacrifice, foreshadowing Christ as the Passover Lamb 
(other suggestions seem less satisfactory).

          VERSES 28 TO 35

     The Lord's admonition to the Jews to "work ... for the meat which 
abideth unto eternal life," elicited from them the apparently 
acquiescent inquiry (earnest enough, we may suppose), "What must we do 
that we may work the works of God?" They perceived that His remarks 
had a moral implication in contrast to their materialistic 
conceptions. How then should they


act so as to do works pleasing to God and then obtain the imperishable 
spiritual bread?

          "and that not of yourselves"

     His reply strikes immediately at the idea, so innate in the 
hearts of men, that the favour and mercy of God are conditional upon 
human merit and self-effort. Man's fallen condition should of itself 
suffice to demolish such expectations. But that is just what men fail 
to recognize. Man must be ruled out; God alone can meet the need. And 
God has met it, and that in the Person and work of His Son, His Sent 
One. But this requires a Divine revelation. God has given it. He has 
"spoken unto us in His Son." But this again requires faith. And God 
who bestowed upon man the faculty of faith, has given "assurance unto 
all men (this word _pistis in Acts 17:31, which ordinarily denotes 
faith, here signifies a ground for faith), in that He hath raised Him 
from the dead."

     Accordingly, the Lord states directly and specifically that "This 
is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent" (v. 29). 
The reply is anticipative of the great doctrine for which the Apostle 
Paul contends in Romans and Galatians, justification by faith, in 
contrast to the futility of works. It is not "do" but "trust."

     The Jews, like many others, could not look upon things that way. 
They must have tangible evidence, something for the natural vision. 
Seeing is believing. Such is blind unbelief. "What then," they say, 
"doest Thou for a sign, that we may see, and believe Thee? What 
workest Thou?" Moreover, had not their fathers been granted through 
Moses something for the natural sight, and bread for the natural man. 
If then the One who addressed them was the Messiah and therein greater 
than Moses, would He not demonstrate this by a confirmatory sign?

          "the true bread"

     Again, the Lord repudiates their ideas with a "Verily, verily, I 
say unto you," and with a denial and a contrast: "It was not Moses 
that gave you the bread out of Heaven: but My Father giveth you the 
true bread out of Heaven." The word _alethinos


denotes true, not in the sense of actual, or true to fact (alethes), 
but of that which is ideal, as well as genuine; it is also used of 
Christ in 1:9; 15:1; 1 John 2:8; 5:20 (thrice); Rev. 3:7, 14; 19:11. 
Just as to the Samaritan woman He had contrasted the "living water" 
with that of the well sacred to the name of Jacob, so now He contrasts 
Himself, as the true Bread, with that which they attributed to the provision made by Moses.

     Reserving for the moment the specific identification of Himself 
as this "true Bread," He confirms its character as follows: "For the 
bread of God is that which cometh down out of heaven, and giveth life 
unto the world" (v. 33). Two contrasts stand out in this: 
  (1) whereas the manna is spoken of as "bread from Heaven" (Psa, 
78"24), and "the bread of Heaven" (Psa. 105:40), the Lord stresses His 
"coming down out of Heaven," attesting the fact of His descent to 
earth by His Incarnation as the Son of Man and as the One sent by the 
Father (vv. 27, 29); 
  (2) whereas the manna could not prevent their "fathers" from dying 
("their carcases fell in the wilderness"), the true Bread imparts an 
imperishable life; and whereas the manna was the exclusive privilege 
of Israel, the true Bread ministers life to the world, that is to all 
who partake of it, racial distinctions being ruled out.


     This elicits from them the request, "Lord, (why was it not 
rendered "Sir," as in the utterance of the Samaritan woman in 4:15? 
They were not addressing Him as humble followers in willing submission 
to His authority), evermore give us this bread." The request was 
sincere enough; they believed in His power, though they disbelieved 
His mission.

     The Lord answers this by a climax of stupendous disclosures 
concerning Himself, which constitute the remainder of the first part 
of this discourse. As, again, to the Samaritan woman, He had turned 
upon Himself the full light of His revelations, when He said, "I that 
speak unto thee am He," so now He says to the people, "I am the bread 
of life: he that cometh to Me shall not hunger, and he that believeth 
on Me shall never thirst." This claim, so unambiguous, so 
authoritative, so imperative, could have but one of two effects upon 
His hearers. Life abundant, unendingly sustained, would be theirs upon 
believing on Him by


coming to Him. Refusal, with its evidence of lack of appetite for the 
bread He gives, involved the spiritual death of separation from Him. 
Their choice is made clear in the rest of the chapter. The 
alternatives still remain for all to whom the offer comes.


     The Lord's two statements are in the couplet form of Hebrew 
parallelisms. In the original each contains the same strong double 
negative (ou me, "by no means"), and the combined declarations close 
with the strongly stressed "never" (popote), which, standing in its 
emphatic position at the end, governs both, as if to say, "He that 
cometh to Me shall by no means hunger, and he that believeth on Me 
shall by no means thirst, no never." As hungering and thirsting 
express what can be met conjointly by natural supplies, so coming to 
Christ and believing on Him are the indissociable means of the supply 
of spiritual need.

     The figure He uses is of paramount significance. Bread means 
nourishment, sustenance, strength, the building up of the very tissues 
of life. And this, spiritually, is what Christ becomes to the 
believer. Communicating His life to us He becomes part of our very 
selves, the strength of our soul. He is the adequate supply of every 
spiritual need, the full satisfaction of every spiritual desire. We 
cannot live the natural life without bread. We cannot live the 
spiritual life without Christ. He who is thus sustained by Him can say 
with the Apostle "Christ liveth in Me." And what possibilities this 
holds for one who knows the joy and power of this holy union of life 
and love! Such can truly say, "I can do all things in Him that 
strengtheneth me."

          VERSES 36 TO 40

     The promises, conditional upon coming to Christ, of never 
hungering or thirsting, were hindered of fulfilment in the case of the 
Jews by their persistent unbelief. This He forcibly brought home to 
them by His contrasting statement, "But I said unto you, that ye have 
seen Me, and yet believe not" (6:36), the reference probably being to 
their having seen Him as the miraculous Provider of bread, without 
their having entered into any


relation with Him by faith (vv. 26 to 29). Their hearts, naked and 
open to Him, entirely lacked any appreciation of the real character of 
His Person, His acts, and His ways. How many hear of Him and get no 
farther than they did!


     His next words make clear, however, that their unbelief did not 
argue any frustration of His mission: "All that which the Father 
giveth Me shall come to Me: and him that cometh to Me I will in no 
wise cast out" (v. 37). This sublime utterance conveys _two 
fundamental facts regarding God and man, (1) the eternal foreknowledge 
and electing purpose of God in salvation, (2) the exercise of human 
free will to accept God's conditions or to reject them. Human 
experience confirms both verities. There is no inconsistency therein. 
The twofold operation is expressed in the well known words, "the grace 
of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and 
working with us, when we have that good will."

     Note the change from "all that which" to "him that." The former, 
expressed in the neuter, views the whole body of believers as an 
entity and unity foreseen and predetermined by the Father, stressing 
this apart from the offer made to, and accepted or refused by, 
individuals (see also v. 39, and cp. the same use of the neuter in 
17:2, "whatsoever," and 17:24, "that which Thou hast given Me"). Then 
follows the masculine, speaking of each individual who, exercising his 
will to accept the offer, decides to come to Christ (cp. again the 
same change to the personal in 17:2 and 24).

     There is a change also in the verbs rendered "shall come" and 
"cometh." The former (heko) stresses the arrival and the being 
present, and here from the Father's point of view; the latter 
(erchomai) presents the act of coming and marks the voluntary decision 
of the comer.

     The strong negative "in no wise" suggests that, so far from 
casting out a believer, the Lord will embrace and protect him; it 
conveys something more than the promise to receive, it carries with it 
the assurance of eternal security, and intimates the delight of the 
Lord in this grace towards what is given Him by the Father (for the 
confirmation of the irreversible and unending security of the 
believer, see also 11:25, 26).



     All this, with His assurances of resurrection, He now bases upon 
(1) the fact of His having come from Heaven to do the Father's will, 
(2) the design of His will. He says, "For I am come down from Heaven, 
not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is 
the will of Him that sent Me, that I should lose nothing, but should 
raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that 
every one that beholdeth the Son and believeth on Him, should have 
eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (vv. 38 to 40).

     The significance of the connecting "For" lies in this, that His 
having come from Heaven to carry out the will of the Father in the 
eternal salvation of those who come to Him, rules out the possibility 
of His casting out one such. Four times the Lord speaks of His coming 
down from Heaven, here and verses 50, 51, 58. He thus precludes the 
idea that He is expressing simply His own opinion or speaking for 

     Again the neuter is used, signifying the complete company of 
believers viewed as an entity. That He will not lose any implies His 
guarding care. Cp. 17:12; 18:9. This negative is followed by the 
positive declaration of His consummating act in their resurrection, an 
act which confirms the assurance of their eternal security.

     The statement as to resurrection is repeated, with the same 
change as has been noted above. When He says, firstly, that it is the 
Father's will that He should raise up at the last day all that which 
He has given Him (the entire company), He is declaring the salvation 
of believers from the Father's point of view. When He repeats His 
assurance, and says "I will raise him (the individual believer) up at 
the last day" He is regarding the matter from the point of view of the 
believer himself, as one that "boholdeth the Son and believeth on 
Him." In the first pronouncement He gives the assurance that He will 
lose nothing, all is the gift of the Father; in the second each one 
has eternal life, as the result of his faith.


     This pledge that everyone will be raised, as the result of having 
been given Him irrevocably, utterly refutes the erroneous doctrine


that certain believers will be cast into the outer darkness during the 
Millennium on account of their state of unwatchfulness at the time of 
His Second Coming.

     The verb rendered "beholdeth" is _theoreo (not the simple verb 
_horao, to see, as in the A.V.); it indicates a close contemplation or 
careful perusal, and the meaning is, 'everyone who contemplates the 
Son with the effect of believing on Him.' It was not so with the Jews. 
They had seen Him (horao) and did not believe. A person cannot believe 
in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved without that measure of 
consideration of His Person and work of redeeming grace which results 
in faith in Him. No mere passing consideration is sufficient.

     As to the phrase "at the last day," the word is used to mark the 
time in which all who have part in the first resurrection will be 
raised, both those at the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:16) and those who, 
having suffered death during "the time of Jacob's trouble" or "the 
great tribulation," will be raised subsequently (Rev. 20:4 to 6). The 
Lord did not disclose such details to the Jews. Nor would they have 
received it. And though He revealed the subject more fully to His 
disciples later in the Upper Room, the full revelation was reserved 
for Apostolic ministry after churches had been formed. This gradual 
process of the unfolding of prophetic truth at different times in the 
course of Divine revelation demands consideration in order for a right 
perspective of the purposes of God.

          VERSES 41 TO 46

     The interruption in the Lord's remarks, by the murmuring of the 
Jews, is suggestive of their dissatisfaction with His exposure of the 
condition of their hearts. The immediate reason was His claim 
involving their deprivation of eternal life through their refusal to 
accept Him. They evidently felt this. As a matter of fact, His 
guarantee of resurrection to life is the crowning point of the truth 
that He is the Bread of Life.


     Unbelief is ever ready to make excuses.  Accordingly, ignoring 
the implication of His assurances of life eternal and resurrection


for those whom He contrasted with their own guilty attitude, they 
support their self-complacency by the mutterings of their presumed 
acquaintance With the circumstances of His birth: "Is not this Jesus, 
the Son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How doth He now 
say, I am come down out of Heaven?" Their plausible questioning, 
virtually impugning His veracity, was simply an evasion of the chief 
point of His testimony.


     While briefly rebuking their grumbling, He does not answer their 
objections, nor does He convey the facts of His Birth, or repudiate 
the calumnies of the Jews concerning it. To do so would have but 
plunged them deeper into their darkness. The matters of immediate and 
paramount importance are their own spiritual need and danger, not the 
mode of His coming into the world, but the means of their coming to 
Him. What a lesson for the preacher of the gospel when confronted with 
sceptical arguments on side issues of theology!

     "Murmur not among yourselves," He says. "No man can come to Me, 
except the Father draw him." This necessity of the drawing power of 
the Father presses home again the sovereignty of God, while what 
follows enforces the responsibility of man to come to, that is, to 
believe on, His Son (vv. 45 to 51), just as the same two facts were 
combined in verse 37. The power of the Father to draw is available for 
those who are willing to come.

     Then, for the third time, stressing the tremendous importance of 
the fact for His hearers, He declares that He will raise up at the 
last day him who comes. The Divine attracting begins the work of 
salvation; resurrection will complete it.


     He now directs them to the Scriptures, with a deeply significant 
connection with, and continuance of, the subject of coming to Him: "It 
is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. 
Everyone that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh 
unto Me" (v. 45). Here the Lord uses the prophecy of Isaiah 54:13 (a 
passage foretelling Millennial blessing)


to show that God draws men by teaching, not by legal statutes, nor by 
outward vision, nor by mere action on the emotions, but by gracious 
instruction, and that His teaching has Christ Himself as its object. 
His quotation does not imply that the Scripture provides Him with His 
doctrine; nay, He confirms His doctrine by appealing to the Scripture.


     Later on to the disciples He says, "No one cometh unto the 
Father but by Me" (14:6). Now He says, No one cometh unto Me but by 
the Father (v. 44). Yet it remains the responsibility of men to hear 
and learn, and so, by the Father's instruction, to come to the Son, in 
whom all the counsels of grace and glory centre.

     But why does He now say, "Not that any man hath seen the Father, 
save He which is from God; He hath seen the Father"? Firstly, to 
prevent any idea that the Son is to be dissociated from the Father. 
Their unity He stresses in a subsequent discourse (10:30). Secondly, 
to show that the revelation of the Father is by the Son: "The only 
begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared 
Him" (1:18): "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" (14:9). 
Thirdly, to show that any access to the Father is to be distinguished 
absolutely from that open, immediate and uninterrupted vision enjoyed 
alone by the Son. He thus puts Himself above Moses, whom the Lord knew 
only "face to face" (Deut. 34:10). Fourthly, to enforce upon His 
hearers not only the fact of His Deity as the Son, but the necessity 
of coming to the Son as the One Who, in virtue of this, can alone be 
the means of spiritual life and subsistence.

     The preposition _para, "from," in the phrase "He which is from 
God," signifies "from beside," "from (being) with;" it indicates 
source of origin (cp. 15:26, of the Holy Spirit). While pondering over 
such phraseology, we need to bear in mind the unity of the Three in 
the One Godhead. As has been well said, They are "neither three Gods, 
nor three parts of God. Rather they are God Threefoldly, God 
Tri-personally. The personal distinction in the Godhead is a 
distinction within, and of, unity; not a distinction which qualifies 
unity, or usurps the place of it, or destroys it." All this remained 
true and in continuity throughout the life of Christ on earth.


          VERSES 47 TO 51

     In verse 47 we come to the Lord's third "Verily, verily," each 
being, as we have noticed, designed to arrest the attention of His 
hearers in a particular way. In what follows He declares still more 
explicitly certain facts which He had before stated. Albeit His 
teaching leads up to a point (concerning His "flesh") which, owing to 
their unbelief and hardness of heart, becomes judicially more 
difficult and unacceptable to their prejudiced minds. And this, as we 
shall see, increases as He proceeds further towards the close of His 
discourse. Persistent unbelief makes truth all the harder to grasp.


     "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth hath eternal 
life. I am the bread of life." The first statement recalls more 
definitely what He said in verse 40. It is now not "should have" but 
"hath." His second statement reiterates what He said in verse 35. The 
repetition is due to the fact that this was the special point of their 
murmuring (v. 41). He then refers again to the subject of the marina. 
When they had remarked that their fathers "ate the manna in the 
wilderness," His reply presented the subject from the point of view of 
gifts from God, both the manna and Himself, the true Bread as the gift 
of the Father. Now He states the contrast in regard to the receivers. 
Their fathers ate the manna and "died." Even the manna, the typical 
bread, did not suffice to maintain physical life in perpetuity. He, 
the Antitype, is "the bread which cometh down out of Heaven, that a 
man (anyone) may eat thereof and not die (the Divine purpose, and the 
unbounded provision)." "I am," He says, "the living Bread which came 
down out of Heaven" (vv. 50, 51). It is important to notice the 
difference between the present tense, "cometh down," and the aorist, 
the past definite, "came down." The former does not signify a 
continual coming down, it indicates the inherent characteristic of the 
Bread, defining (as the article with the present participle does) that 
which is essential to its nature and to the circumstances indicated. 
The past tense denotes the historic fact of the descent, the act by 
which He became incarnate (cp. v. 33). In verse 38 the perfect tense 
is used, "I have come down,"


expressing the fact with stress upon the abiding effects.

     Again, in each part of this discourse the Lord couples with the 
fact that the Father sent Him His own voluntary act in coming, in 
delighted fulfilment of the Father's will. He "sent Me" (v. 44): "I 
... came down" (v. 51). We must note, too, the change from "I am the 
bread" (v. 48) to "This is the bread" (v. 50), and the change from 
that again to "I am" in verse 51. The "This is" suggests a 
demonstrative reference to their ignorant reasoning, "Is not this 
Jesus, the son of Joseph?" (v. 42).


     Further, He had hitherto said "I am the bread of life" (vv. 35,
48). Now He says "I am the living Bread," with special stress on 
"living." There is a difference. The former statement stresses the 
impartation of life by reason of the characteristic nature and 
productive power of His Person: the latter stresses the essential 
principle and quality of life which is inherent in Himself.

     What a contrast to the lifeless manna, which, under certain 
conditions, went to corruption! It sustained life just for the day. 
For those who by faith receive Christ, the living Bread, He becomes in 
them a veritable principle of imperishable life, causing them to live 
for ever.

     This confirms positively the preceding negative, "that a man may 
live and not die." So that more than spiritual life is therein 
assured. To live for ever involves the resurrection life hereafter, 
the eternal life of the whole person, body, soul and spirit. With this 
in view He had given the assurance, "I will raise him up at the last 
day" (v. 40).


     His teaching now reaches a climax, in statements more difficult 
of apprehension for His incredulous hearers than anything He had said 
hitherto. And the difficulty increases as He proceeds after their 
interruption. He says, "Yea, and the bread which I will give is My 
flesh, for the life of the world." His "nosh"! In this addition lay a 
staggering difficulty for them, and they are not alone in experiencing 


     The statement, coupled with what follows, is exhaustive and forms 
the subject of the next chapter.  We may now notice the parallelism 
between verses 48 to 50 and 51.

  (a) "I am the bread of life," v. 48:
  (b) "I am the living bread," v. 51.

  (a) "Your fathers did eat manna and died." v. 49:
  (b) "If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever," v. 51.

  (a) "which cometh down out of Heaven," v. 50:
  (b) "which came down out of Heaven," v. 51.

  (a) "that a man may eat thereof and not die," v. 50:
  (b) "the bread which I will give is My flesh, for the life of the
world," v. 51.


     How fully He is able to supply our spiritual needs! What an 
infinite wealth of provision resides in Him for our growth and 
development, our strength and refreshment, enabling us to "grow up 
into Him," becoming conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29)! And all the 
outcome of His going down into death that we, having been identified 
with Him therein, and "becoming conformed unto His death," might here 
and now, in the power of His resurrection, walk in newness of life. 
May we ever feast upon the Living Bread. Only so can we in any measure 
here and now "attain unto the resurrection from the dead" (Phil. 3:11).

          A SUMMING UP

     The Lord now sums up His discourse by reaffirming, with three 
reminders, the main facts of His discourse: 
  (1) He is "the bread which came down from Heaven," 
  (2) their fathers ate manna and yet died, 
  (3) "He that eateth this bread (Himself 'the true Bread,' v. 32, 
'the living bread,' v. 51) shall live for ever." He thus makes a 
closing appeal for faith in Him.

     All this was said in the Capernaum synagogue. The congregation 
included a considerable number of disciples (many more than


the twelve), not a few of whom regarded His speech (logos would seem 
to include the discourse as a whole), as "hard," i.e., difficult to 
accept, an obstacle to their faith; who could listen to it? They were 
talking to one another in a low tone.

     "But Jesus, knowing in Himself (intuitively perceiving) that His 
disciples murmured at this, said unto them, Doth this cause you to 
stumble? What then if ye should behold the Son of Man ascending where 
He was before?" He refers to His Ascension. He does not say that they 
would see it. His rhetorical question did, however, apply to those in 
the company who actually witnessed it.

     His question carries with it the implication of His Resurrection 
and the certainty of His Ascension. That event would be the complete 
vindication and ratification of all His testimony.

     Having conveyed the fact of the spiritual and vital import of 
what He had stated regarding Himself as the bread of life and His 
flesh and blood as the means of life, He reveals the separative effect 
of His message, separative because of the faith of some and the 
unbelief of others: "But there are some of you that believe not." He 
"knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and," among 
them, in contradistinction to the eleven of His inner circle of 
disciples, "who it was that should betray Him." He knew in precise 
detail the way in which His death would be accomplished.  The shadow 
of Calvary ever lay across His soul.


     The separative power of His ministry is seen in regard not only 
to believers but to professed followers. For, following upon His 
repeated declaration that no one could come to Him "except it be given 
of the Father (all who believe are known to God as such before and to 
those it is given to come), many of His disciples went back and walked 
no more with Him." Defection or devotion? The choice lies with us in 
our day.

     So it has ever been. The gospel is either the word of life to 
those who accept it, or a ministry of death to those who refuse: it is 
"the power of God" to those "who are being saved," but "foolishness" 
to "them that are perishing."


          VERSES 52 TO 71

     When the Lord said to His unbelieving hearers "the bread which I 
will give is My flesh," He knew that this would meet with a stronger 
objection on their part than anything He had said previously. Their 
unbelief retributively made the unfolding of the mystery of His Person 
and the purpose for which He had come into the world the more 
difficult for them to understand. And the difficulty was enhanced 
when, after their altercation with one another and the sceptical 
nature of their question, "How can this man give His flesh to eat?" He 
went further and said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat 
the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have not life in 
yourselves. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal 
life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat 
indeed, and My blood is drink indeed," an astonishing statement to 
Jews in view of Leviticus 17:10 to 16!

     What was a stumbling-block to them, and has been the subject of 
much misinterpretation in Christendom, receives its true 
interpretation, not from the bias of ecclesiastical tradition, but 
from the Scriptures themselves, and indeed from the Lord's subsequent 
remarks to His disciples. The Jews persistently took His statements to 
refer to literal blood and flesh and to the physical acts of eating 
and drinking. This erroneous view He repudiated in the explanation, 
"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the 
words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life. But there 
are some of you that believe not."


     His "flesh" stands here, not simply for His bodily frame, but 
for the entire manhood, spirit, soul and body of the Son of Man, Who, 
by giving Himself up to the death of the Cross, provided Himself 
thereby as the means of eternal life and sustenance. His "blood" 
represents, not simply the physical element, but the giving up of His 
life by atoning sacrifice, in the shedding of His blood. The blood is 
essential to life. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood ... for 
it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of life" (Lev. 17:11, 
R.V.). Thus the saving efficacy of the Death of Christ depends upon 
the fact that by the shedding


of His blood He gave His life (Matt. 20:28), that "He gave Himself up" 
(Gal. 2:20).


     What He says in this sixth chapter has no reference to the Lord's 
Supper. And for the following reasons: 
  (a) Had the Supper been in view, to eat of the bread of the Supper 
would constitute the participant a partaker of eternal life apart from 
the condition of faith in Christ; 
  (b) the paramount subject in this part of the discourse is eternal 
life: that subject is never mentioned in connection with the Lord's 
  (c) to take His teaching to refer to that, is to give a literal 
application, whereas He plainly indicates that His words concerning 
His flesh and blood were not so intended; 
  (d) He says that the giving of His flesh is "for the life of the 
world;" the Lord's Supper was instituted not for the world but for His 
  (e) in His instruction concerning the Supper He speaks of His body, 
whereas here He speaks of His flesh.


     The solemn warning in verse 53 of the consequences of not 
partaking of His flesh and blood is followed by a series of gracious 
assurances as to the blessedness of doing so:

     (1) To eat His flesh and drink His blood, that is, to appropriate 
to oneself the saving efficacy of His death, is to be in possession of 
eternal life. In verse 54 the word for eating is changed from 
the general term _phago, which was used previously, to _trogo, which 
is used in the rest of the discourse. This verb, primarily signifying 
to chew, lays stress upon the process of eating; it is thus more 
intensive than _phago, and the change marks an increase in the 
difficulty of His language for His sceptical audience.

     (2) He will raise him up at the last day.   For the third time, 
and with evident joy in the repetition and in the assured prospect of 
His mighty act, the Lord looks on to His final victory over death.

     (3) "For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed"
-- or, closely to the original, "true food" and "true drink" (see R.V. 
margin), cp. verse 32.


     (4) "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in 
Me, and I in him," a mutual indwelling of which the Lord speaks more 
fully to the disciples later in the upper room, a permanent oneness of 
life and the deepest intimacy of communion.   The believer finds his 
life in Christ, and Christ imparts His to the believer.

     (5) "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the 
Father;  so he that eateth Me, he also shall live because of Me." The 
phrase "the living Father" implies His self-existence and describes 
Him as the One in whom life, unoriginated, resides essentially. He is 
therefore also the Centre and Source of life. So with the Son, Who is 
one with the Father (10:30).  Here He testifies that, as the Son, the 
sent One, who had become Man, He lives "because of (or by reason of, 
not 'by,' as in the A.V.) the Father" (see 5:26).  And since the Son 
communicates life to the one who by faith appropriates Him to himself, 
the believer lives and ever will live by reason of Him.


     In verses 67 to 71 there is a distinction between the twelve and 
those disciples who ceased to walk with Christ. This is the first 
mention of the twelve as such. Here Peter's fidelity becomes 
conspicuous. When the Lord says "Would ye also go away?" (not "will 
ye?" as if a future possibility), He means "Surely ye also do not 
desire to go." He knew their loyalty. The whole passage marks His 

     Peter's answer has three reasons why they cannot leave Him, and 
these in designed order: 

  (1) His uniqueness as the Master, 
  (2) His fulness as the Teacher, 
  (3) His Divine Personality: 

  (1) "to whom shall we go?" (no teacher remained since the Baptist 
had gone); 
  (2) "Thou hast (the) words of eternal life;" He is sufficient to 
meet all need; 
  (3) "And we have believed and know (have come to know, _ginosko) 
that Thou art the Holy One of God;" He fulfilled His Messiahship 

     Christ's answer is to them all (v. 70): "Did not I choose you, 
the twelve?" Both pronouns are emphatic. The question mark should come 
here. He then reveals His Divine knowledge of the character and course 
of Judas, by which he identified himself with the arch-spiritual foe. 
The Apostle adds a striking confirmatory testimony, marking him as 
"one of the twelve."


               CHAPTER VII


          VERSES 1 TO 24

     In chapter 7 the scene of Christ's controversy with the Jews 
shifts from Galilee to Jerusalem. The crisis grows in intensity. The 
circumstances are now connected with the Feast of Tabernacles, with 
its immense concourse of the people, and, as we have already remarked, 
the Jewish feasts in the Gospel of John in connection with the Lord's 
testimony seem to occur in their chronological order. While in 
Galilee, His brethren, who, in their worldly wisdom, did not believe 
on Him, had bidden Him go into Judaea, that He might give an 
exhibition of His works to His followers, manifest Himself to the 
world, and so restore the national glory of Israel. To this He 
pointedly replied that their ideas and ways were contrary to His. They 
were yet on the side of the world (though that attitude was not to 
continue indefinitely). He bade them go to the feast; He Himself would 
be absent from its beginning. After they had gone He went up Himself, 
"not publicly, but as it were in secret," fully cognizant of the trend 
which the renewed controversy would take, and purposely ordering His 
movements with the eventual issues in view leading to His death. He 
knew that the Jews would be seeking Him at the feast, and so they did 
(v. 11).


     To the crowds, and particularly those who had come up from 
Galilee, He was the subject of much discussion and of very divergent 
ideas. There was "much murmuring among them." Some regarded Him as "a 
good man," but they had to keep their discussions quiet through fear 
of the religious leaders and their "Gestapo" agents. Others declaimed 
Him as a deceiver and dangerous. The close of this part of the 
controversy issues in an actual attempt, instigated by the hierarchy 
through the said


agents, to seize Him, an attempt in which some of the multitude 
themselves were ready to take part (vv. 30, 32, 44, 45). At the 
appointed time, the midst of the feast, the Lord goes right up into 
the Temple and begins to preach. In what follows in this and the next 
few chapters the Lord reveals Himself as the Source of Truth and 
Light, just as in the preceding discourse He had revealed Himself as 
the Source and Support of Life.

     There are really four public discourses in chapter 7, the first 
in reply to the Jews (vv. 14 to 24), the second in reply to some of 
the people in Jerusalem (vv. 25 to 31), the third after the officials 
from the Sanhedrin had come to take Him (vv. 32 to 36), the fourth, on 
the last day of the feast (vv. 37 to 39).


     The teaching He gave in the Temple aroused the astonishment of 
the Jews: "How knoweth this man letters," they said, "having never 
learned?" "This man" was contemptuous, as in 6:42. Their astonishment 
lay in the fact that He had manifested such learning without having 
attended the Rabbinical schools, to receive the Usual instruction from 
the recognized representatives of traditional religion. The Lord, ever 
delighting to glorify the Father (see 17:4), at once replies, "My 
teaching is not Mine, but His that sent Me" (cp. 5:19, as to His 
deeds; 5:30, as to His judgment; 6:38, as to His will; 6:57, as to His 
life; 8:26, 28, 38, as to His words).

     How insignificant was the Rabbinical instruction compared with 
this! Here was a source unique; for it lay in the absolute and 
unbroken oneness of the Son with Him who had sent Him. Both the 
evidence of His teaching and His own testimony concerning it should 
have silenced all cavils.


     He proceeds at once to bring home to them the responsibility to 
receive His teaching and the condition upon which that responsibility 
can be discharged: "If any man (anyone) willeth (not simply the future 
"will," but the exercise of the human will, the definite intention) to 
do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God, or 
whether I speak from Myself" (v. 17).


To know that He spoke from God was to realize that His teaching was 
the voice of God to men. His teaching and our doing are to be 
conjoint. And the condition for this lies in our willingness. The 
doing of God's will is not merely a matter of faith, but of a heart in 
harmony with Himself. It is neither mechanical nor compulsory, but 
intelligent and voluntary. This was not to be obtained simply in the 
Rabbinical schools; nor is it acquired merely by courses of 
theological study.

     The Lord now states the motival evidence of the source of His 
teaching. The test of its validity lay in its motive. "He that 
speaketh from (not 'of,' in the sense of 'concerning') himself seeketh 
his own glory: but He that seeketh the glory of Him that sent Him, the 
same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him." This was true only of 
Christ. Human teachers who are possessors of the highest motives, are 
not thereby free from error. Any ambassador who seeks the glory of his 
master is "true," and carries out his commission righteously. But the 
Lord alone perfectly fulfilled the criterion. His, and His only, was 
undeviatingly Selfless obedience to the Father.

     In the next verse He does not pass to a different subject, He 
illustrates what He has just said by the utter contrast in their case. 
They gloried in the Law as being distinctively their national 
possession, and had they sought the glory of God they would have been 
possessed of a will to fulfil His commandments. With them it was 
otherwise. "Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you doeth 
the Law? Why seek ye to kill Me?" (cp. Acts 7:53).

     Once in seven years, at the Feast of Tabernacles, the whole Law 
was publicly read daily (Deut. 31:10 to 13). Whether that took place 
on this occasion or not (though it is quite possible), there was 
doubtless a reference to it in the charge He made. The first part of 
the Law as customarily read, namely, Deuteronomy 1:1 to 6:3, contained the command, "Thou shalt not kill," an 
injunction they were breaking in their intention concerning Him.


     At this, the multitude, whether ignorant of the fact, or under 
the influence of their religious leaders, broke in with the insulting 
rejoinder of His being demon-possessed.  With what dignified


meekness He meets it! Meekness under insult is the most potent weapon 
to bring home the guilt of the offence. He simply recalls their 
attitude on the occasion of His healing of the impotent man at the 
pool of Bethesda, and their accusation against Him of 
sabbath-breaking. "I did one work," He says, "and ye all marvel. For 
this cause (the text is to be preferred to the R.V. margin) hath Moses 
given you circumcision (not that it is of Moses, but of the fathers;)" 
perhaps a reference to the Rabbinical technicalities of 
interpretation; the Rabbis had a saying that 'Circumcision gives away 
the sabbath'; "and on the sabbath ye circumcise a man. If a man 
receiveth circumcision on the sabbath, that the Law of Moses may not 
be broken, are ye wroth with Me, because I made a man every whit whole 
on the sabbath? Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous 
judgment" (vv. 21 to 24).

     If the sabbath yielded place to a ceremonial ordinance, how much 
more a deed of mercy! (The word _cholao, here only in the New 
Testament, signifies to be bitterly resentful; cp. Eng. "choler"). His 
gracious act was a breach of the sabbath only in outward appearance. 
Their view of the deed was the negation of righteous judgment.

          VERSES 25 TO 38

     The Lord's vindication of Himself and His work of healing (7:21 
to 24) was again interrupted by a questioning on the part of some of 
the Jerusalem residents (perhaps proud of their local connection, in 
contrast to the numerous visitors) as to why the rulers (the 
hierarchy) had not taken measures against Him. Surely they could not 
"have come to know" (ginosko) that He was the Messiah (v. 26). "
Howbeit," they say, "we know (oida, we are perfectly aware of) this 
man whence He is, but when the Christ cometh, no one knoweth whence He 
is." In their opinion that was a sufficient answer to their question. 
They may have referred to His parentage. The belief had been 
disseminated among the Jews that since the Messiah would appear in the 
manner foretold, e.g., in Daniel 7:13 and Malachi 3:1, His origin 
would be unknown.



     Taking up the words of their objection the Lord concedes to them 
their knowledge as to the external facts concerning Himself, but they 
lack the all important knowledge, the higher truths of His Being: 
"Ye both know Me, and know whence I am; and (here a word of contrast, 
as often in John's writings) I am not come of Myself, but He that sent 
Me is true (i.e., He has fulfilled His Word in sending Me), whom ye 
know not. I know Him (oida, I have absolute knowledge of Him), because 
I am from Him and He sent Me" (cp. vv. 16, 17).


     He declares His complete consciousness of His eternal Sonship, 
His un-originated pre-existence with the Father, and His combined 
Deity and humanity as the Father's sent One.

     This aroused an intense enmity against Him on the part of the 
fanatical Jews, who would have seized Him there and then, and were 
only just not bold enough to do so, through force of circumstances. 
Their action was impossible because "His hour was not yet come." The 
attitude of the multitude was different. Many had been favourably 
impressed and "believed on Him," admitting, that is to say, His claim 
to be the Messiah (v. 31). This was too much for the hierarchy. 
Christ's influence was clearly in the ascendant. Accordingly they 
issued a warrant for His arrest and sent Temple officers to seize Him 
(the chief priests are here mentioned for the first time by John). 
This He calmly and boldly met with a declaration anticipative of His 
death, at the same time continuing His testimony as to the Father and 
intimating the terrible doom of His opponents: "Yet a little while am 
I with you, and I go unto Him that sent Me. Ye shall seek Me, and 
shall not find Me; and where I am ye cannot come." An impassable 
barrier would be placed between Him and them, both as to any purpose 
or desire regarding Him, whether hostile or otherwise, and as to any 
possibility of their ever being in His presence in His Father's glory 
(cp. 8:21; 13:33; and Luke 17:26).



     This met with scorn. Where would "this man" (a scoffing epithet) 
go? Would He go to their Hellenistic fellow-nationals scattered among 
Gentile peoples? Would He, forsooth, even teach the Gentiles? How 
ignorantly their sarcasm anticipated the very thing He would do by the 
mission of the Spirit through His gospel messengers after His 

     The controversy died down till the last day, "the great day of 
the Feast," the Hosanna Rabba. The eighth day was, like the first, 
observed as a sabbath (Lev. 23:39); special sacrifices were offered 
(Num. 29:36 to 38). During the seven days preceding, pilgrims, leaving 
their booths, marched in procession seven times round the city, 
shouting "Hosanna." Crowds followed the priests and Levites daily 
bearing the golden vessels to the brook of Siloam to carry the water 
thereof up to the Temple, where it would be poured into a silver 
vessel on the eastern side of the altar of burnt offering, and all to 
the chanting of Isaiah's words, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye 
to the waters," and "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of 

     This ritual was apparently not observed on the eighth day, for 
whereas the preceding ritual symbolized the water from the rock in the 
wilderness, the eighth day commemorated their entrance into the "land 
of springs of water."


     This day therefore provided the occasion for the Giver of the 
water of life to interpose His invitation to the spiritually needy. 
Standing before the crowds with a solemn and authoritative dignity, 
and with a kindly summons that rang out over the whole scene, He 
cried, "If any man thirst, let Him come unto Me, and drink. He that 
believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall 
flow rivers of living water" (v. 38).

     The Lord thus promises a twofold source of refreshment and 
satisfaction: He Himself satisfies the thirsty soul, and by the 
indwelling Holy Spirit the believer is to be the means of satisfying 
others. To the Samaritan woman He had spoken of the water bestowed by 
Him as becoming in the recipient "a well of water springing up unto 
eternal life;" now He enlarges the promise:


the believer is to be a channel of the fulness of life-giving ministry 
and enrichment to needy souls. He does not say "a river of living 
water," but "rivers." What a contrast to the ewer of water poured out 
each day of the Feast!

     How great the possibilities of a Spirit-filled life! How 
important that we should permit nothing to clog the channel! This 
being "filled with the Spirit" is not an attainment securing a 
condition of permanent freedom from any defect on our part, it 
necessitates recourse to the efficacy of the cleansing blood of Christ 
(1 John 1:7), and the renewing of our mind (Rom. 12:2). The purpose of 
the Spirit is to glorify Christ (John 16:14) and this ministry He 
fulfils in and through the believer who, seeking to refrain from 
grieving the Spirit, presents his body to God as a living sacrifice.

     So let us thirst, come, be filled, and be a channel of supply. 
The "living waters" were figurative of the Holy Spirit (v. 38) and the 
Lord was promising what would, and did, take place at Pentecost, and 
from that time onward. The Spirit would not be given thus till the 
Lord Jesus was glorified. There is no mention here of the Church; only 
the individual believer is in view. Further, what is here mentioned is 
not the Spirit's work of regeneration. He was to be a gift to those 
who were already believers when Christ was on earth. What takes place 
since Pentecost is that when we believe and are born of the Spirit, He 
indwells us and becomes a river flowing through us in blessing to 


     The reasonings and discussions which follow concerning Christ on 
the part of the multitude (vv. 40 to 44) are only samples of what has 
occurred ever since. The world by its wisdom, religious or otherwise, 
knows Him not.

     The "multitude" are to be distinguished from "the Jews." The 
latter desired to take His life. Some of the people would have 
arrested Him. In another respect the effects of His testimony upon the 
people afforded a sample of what has ever taken place since: "there 
arose a division because of Him." Such divisions have been numerous. 
Just as failure to understand His teaching produced such divisive 
results, so failure to understand and accept the Scriptures concerning 
Him have produced the numerous sects and parties of Christendom.


     The officers sent by the chief priests and Pharisees to arrest 
Him failed in their purpose, apparently through timidity. His 
testimony was such as to prevent His being taken before the Divinely 
appointed time. "Never man so spake." True it was, and ever has been. 
His words have ever had differing but decisive effects, either 
winning the heart or hardening it.

     The religious leaders, the Sanhedrin, condemned all who dared to 
differ from them or who rejected their authority, a great 
characteristic of the potentates of traditional ecclesiastical 
systems. The multitude, regarded as ignorant of the law, were 
accounted "accursed." Even Nicodemus, who could speak from a position 
of equality and pointed out that while they were pleading for "the 
law" they were themselves breaking it (v. 51), became the object of 
their scorn. Was he, forsooth, of Galilee? No prophet, they said, 
arose from Galilee. But Jonah came from Galilee, and probably Hosea 
and Nahum, to say nothing of others.


               CHAPTER VIII

          VERSES 1 TO  11


     As to the narrative concerning the woman brought by the scribes 
and Pharisees to the Lord because of adultery, whatever may be said 
about the MSS. and Versions, the narrative bears its own witness to 
the likelihood of the facts. The criticisms against its validity are 
plainly futile. The enemies of the Lord were not bringing her before 
Him as a judge to try a case involving the presence of witnesses; 
their appeal was to one regarded as a prophet, who should know the 
mind of God and speak accordingly. They were filled with madness 
against Him. They had just failed to have Him seized openly (7:32 to 
40). They therefore contrived an ingenious plan by which He either 
would, by condemning the woman, give evidence of lack of grace and 
failure to act as a Saviour the "Friend of publicans and sinners," and 
thus bring condemnation upon Himself in this respect, or, by letting 
her go, fail to uphold the Law. The people must choose Moses or Him, 
and they would cling to Moses. If His foes entangled Him they could 
have a pretext for bringing Him before the Sanhedrin.

     They little knew that they were dealing with One who Himself 
searches the heart, and who knew the secret history of their own 
lives. The Lord makes no oral answer at first, thereby the more 
forcibly to bring them to commit themselves. They could not have 
considered Him embarrassed; at first they gave the appearance of 
misunderstanding Him, and kept plying their question. Can they have 
discerned what He wrote on the ground? If so they must have hardened 
their hearts against His testimony.


     He lifts Himself up (not standing erect) therefore and addresses 
them. He does not nullify the edict of the Law of Moses; let it


be obeyed, but those who execute it must have unstained hands and pure 
hearts. "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone 
at her." This is the voice of a Teacher, not a judge. Moreover a judge 
has to deal with the accused, not with the executioner. This Teacher 
deals with the accusers. He finds them out, and uses the Law to do it. 
And as for the manifestation of grace, about which they sought to 
expose Him, they were the very ones who needed it.

     Again He stoops down and writes on the dust of the floor, the 
very dust being a veritable suggestion of their physical doom. 
Conviction is designed to lead to repentance. But their hearts know 
nothing of this. They flee from the light; it is too much for them. 
"The wicked shall be silenced in darkness." The elder ones go out 
first, they would be the older in sin; the younger follow. The Lord is 
left alone and the woman by Him where they had brought her. He says to 
her, "Woman where are they? did no man condemn thee? And she said, No 
man, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; 
from henceforth sin no more."

     Here then was a notable example of His fulness of "grace and 
truth;" truth in that instead of counteracting the Law He maintained 
it: grace in that in the rights of His own prerogative He did not 
condemn the woman but bade her sin no more.


     Clearly, then, this passage is seen to be an integral part of 
this Gospel. It is essentially connected both with what precedes and 
with what follows. As to the former, it was the Pharisees who had 
failed in their open attack upon Him (7:44 to 49), and it was the 
Pharisees who, changing their tactics, adopted the subtle method of 
attack. They failed again, and that because His holy light had shone 
into their seared consciences, and into the woman's soul. In contrast 
therefore to the darkness of His foes, who were under the Law, and 
breakers of it, He immediately says to the people, "I am the light of 
the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in the darkness, but 
shall have the light of life" (8:12). This constituted a direct claim 
to be the Messiah.



          VERSES 12 TO 18

     Not improbably this statement in verse 12 had reference to 
another ceremony of the Feast of Tabernacles, just as His proclamation 
concerning the "living water" had reference to the carrying of water 
from the pool of Siloam. On the evenings of the Feast, except the 
last, the Court of the Women was brilliantly illuminated, in 
commemoration of the Pillar of Fire which guided Israel in the 
trackless desert, and the night was given up to dancing and festivity. 
Christ had appropriated to Himself the type of the Rock; now He does 
the same with the Pillar of Fire. The city shone in the glow of the 
ceremonial light; He declares Himself to be "the Light of the world." 
The Fiery Pillar was Israel's guide for night journeying; to be a 
follower of Jesus is to have "the Light of life."

          LIGHT AND LIFE

     Day by day, step by step, he who "follows His steps" (1 Pet. 
2:21) will "see light in His light." Yea more, since Christ is Himself 
the light of life, the light that dispenses life, he who lives in Him 
and partakes of His life, himself becomes light, 'light in the Lord,' 
walking as a 'child of light' (Eph. 5:8). And this is to love even as 
He loves. "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there 
is none occasion of stumbling in him." Christ taught, then, that He 
was the Bread of life, for nourishment; the Water of life, for the 
thirsty; the Light of life, for His followers.


     And now there follows a whole series of interruptions in His 
discourse. The controversy becomes keener. The claim to be the Light 
of the world, and to minister the light of life, aroused a fierce 
objection on the part of the Pharisees: "Thou bearest witness of 
Thyself; Thy witness is not true." They were doubtless recalling His 
words, "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness


is not true" (5:31). With that His present reply, "Even if I (the 
pronoun is emphatic) bear witness of Myself, My witness is true," is 
perfectly consistent. In 5:31 He had referred to their law of 
evidence, and had declared His fulfilment of its requirements.

     The evidence of one may be perfectly true, but is not valid 
without corroboration which is afforded in the fuller way. The Lord's 
testimony was never single: "I am One that beareth witness of Myself," 
He says, "and the Father that sent Me beareth witness." He shows that 
His evidence is true, because of the unique character of His Being and 
destiny. In 5:31 He appealed to the dual witness of His Father and His 
own. Now, when He precedes the reaffirmation of this by saying that 
even if he does bear witness of Himself His witness is true, He shows 
that in the very essentials of His Being the knowledge of His critics 
is deficient. For His own testimony is the outcome of His Divine 
pre-existence, His Divine consciousness and futurity. Of all this they 
were entirely ignorant. About it only He Himself could bear witness. 
"My witness is true," He says, "for I know whence I came, and whither 
I go; but ye know not whence I come, or whither I go." The change of 
tense from "I came" to "I come" is to be noted. As to His own 
knowledge He refers to His pre-existence and His Incarnation. In 
regard to their ignorance He speaks of His coming as in the present. 
Accordingly, though they could not know the former, they could 
recognize the present evidences and acknowledge the authority of the 
One who had sent Him.

     They judged "after the flesh," treating Him as a mere man and so 
rejecting His witness as invalid. "I judge no man," He says. He had 
come not to judge but to save. "Yea, and if I judge, My judgment is 
true; for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me." The 
requirement as to the twofold witness was therefore fulfilled. But why 
does He say "your law," and not "the Law," in the matter of the 
validity of the witness of "two men"? (Deut. 19:15.) He was in no way 
repudiating the Law; the point of the "your" lay in this, that they 
were professed expounders of it and charged Him with failure to fulfil 


          VERSES 19 TO 25


     Christ's constant testimony to the fact that the Father had sent 
Him elicits, in 8:19, the scornful question, "Where is Thy Father?" as 
if to suggest 'Granted, then, that you are one witness; let us see the 
other, Him of whom you speak as your Father. Thus you will 
evidentially fulfil the requirements of the Law!' This is an instance 
of the use of the Word of God to support erroneous ideas and 
prejudices! How very differently, on a later occasion, one of His 
disciples made the request, "Show us the Father" (14:8)!

     The Lord replies, "Ye know neither Me, nor My Father; if ye knew 
Me, ye would know My Father also." Their ideas of the dual witness to 
which He had referred were utterly awry. His statement conveys a vital 
truth. To ignore Him in the reality of His Person and work is to be 
ignorant of God the Father. It is through the Son that the Father 
reveals Himself. The Son is the one and only means of knowing the 
Father. To claim God as Father while neglecting the Son is fatal 
blindness. Men are largely ready to talk about God, and to appeal to 
God, while failing to recognize and acknowledge His Son, Jesus Christ, 
and His demand that all men should "honour the Son, even as they 
honour the Father" (5:23).

          DYING IN SIN

     The dialogue was in public. The crowd could hear it. Christ was 
speaking "in the Treasury," called so because of the bronze chests 
placed for the reception of gifts in the Court of the Women, one of 
the most frequented parts of the Temple. Close by, the Sanhedrin was 
in session planning His arrest. Their object failed "because His hour 
was not yet come" (v. 20).

     Accordingly He continues His teaching, and now with solemn 
denunciation of His detractors. "I go away," He says, "and ye shall 
seek Me, and shall die in your sin: whither I go, ye cannot come." 
"Away" is the right rendering; there is no pronoun representing "My" 
in the original.  There is special stress on the


"I," however. The feast was drawing to its close. Considerable numbers 
of the people would be leaving for various destinations. So, in the 
hearing of the crowd, He says to His critics, "I (I too) am going 
away," not that He was leaving there and then. His words had another 
significance, as is clear from His solemn declaration that whither He 
was going they could not come.

     They would die in their sin: the singular, the right rendering of 
the original, points to the state of sin, not here to the acts, as in 
verse 24. The singular is used again in verse 34 and presents sin as a 
unity in essence though the effects are manifold.

     They ignore His warning as to their sin, and ask, with malicious 
scorn, indicative of increasing hardness of heart, "Will He kill 
Himself, that He saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come?" The implication 
in this was that by suicide He would utterly perish, and therefore of 
course they, as Abraham's descendants bound for Paradise, could 
certainly not go where He was going.

          THE "I AM"

     The Lord showed at once that He knew their hearts, and says "Ye 
are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of 
this world." These statements are not parallel, as if "from beneath" 
is the same as "of this world." The first contrast presents extreme 
opposites, and is to be understood in the light of His words, "Ye are 
of your father the devil" (v. 44). Here in verse 23 the Lord passes, 
for the moment, from the more solemn declaration of their evil 
spiritual connection, to their identification with the world as 
alienated from God. And having thus patiently met their scornful 
remark, He impugns their refusal to believe, as the reason why they 
would suffer eternal doom: "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall 
die in your sins (plural now, expressing, not a condition, as in verse 
21, but details of the life which mark conduct); for except ye believe 
that I am He, ye shall die in your sins."

     There is no word in the Greek representing "He." We must 
therefore take the "I am" as it stands; and while there is perhaps a 
connection with His word "I am from above," there is more in it than 
this. He is disclosing the essential nature of His Being, as in the 
Name Jehovah, the "I am" of Exodus 3:14. It conveys the thought, "I am 
what I am," and carries with it the truth of


His unoriginated pre-existence and immutability. See verse 58 and the 
sequel. This acceptance of the fact of His Deity is essential to 


     The declaration is so stupendous that they ask, with malicious 
violence, and with great emphasis on the "Thou," "Who art Thou?" or, 
more expressively, "Thou, who art Thou?" Their ignorance was their 
death. To know Him is "life eternal" (17:3).

     His reply is rendered in the A.V., "Even the same that I said 
unto you from the beginning," and in the R.V., "Even that which I have 
spoken unto you from the beginning?" Certainly He did not mean that He 
was what He had told them at first. In the clause "Even that which I 
have spoken unto you," the tense is not the perfect but the present, 
and the meaning, thus far, is that He is the embodiment, the Personal 
expression, of what He speaks. His doctrine is Himself, it is 
inseparable from His Being, His attributes and character. He says "I 
am that which I speak." Now as to the phrase rendered "from the 
beginning," in the clause in the original there is nothing 
representing "from." The Lord is not referring to what He had said 
from a special beginning, but to the essential character of what He 
speaks to them. The phrase has the meaning "absolutely" or 

     Accordingly the meaning is "I am essentially and undeviatingly 
what I speak to you." It stood in direct contrast to the character of 
their religious leaders, and to all with whom principles are one thing 
and practice another, to anyone who has the effrontery to intimate to 
his hearers that they must do as he says but not as he does. But of 
Christ alone could it be true that altogether what He spoke was the 
expression of what He was. This is in keeping with the main trend of 
all His testimony in these discourses (see especially the immediately 
following verses, 26, 28, 29), and with His later declaration, "I am 
the truth."


          VERSES 26 TO 35


     Had it not been for their hardness of heart, Christ might have 
enlarged upon the matter of discipleship and explained more fully the 
nature of His Being. Instead of this He has matters about which to 
speak concerning themselves. Hence the apparent break in the 
connection. They wanted to find out something by which they could 
judge Him. He shows that there are things in their own life which He 
has to reveal, and upon which He has to pronounce judgment: "I have 
many things to speak and to judge concerning you" (v. 26). Let the 
critic of Christ and the denier of His Deity beware. Such will yet 
find Him to be their Judge.

    The time for His judicial dealings with the Pharisees had not 
come. His immediate object was to continue bearing witness concerning 
the Father and His unity with Him. Accordingly He proceeds with 
declarations to this end: "howbeit He that sent Me is true: and the 
things which I heard from Him, these speak I unto the world." What 
they needed was a right understanding of His ministry and of its 
source. Had they apprehended this it would have adjusted their views 
in conformity with the teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures. But 
just here they failed, as many have done since: "They perceived not 
that He spake to them of the Father" (v. 27). Their hearts were so 
hardened that His words produced no awakening of their conscience.

     Accordingly He at once points to the consummating act of their 
iniquity, and its effects, declaring at the same time His power to 
reveal the future: "Jesus therefore said, When ye have lifted up the 
Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am, and that I do nothing of 
Myself, but as the Father taught Me, I speak these things." His 
crucifixion (cp. 3:14; 12:32, 34) would issue in the manifest 
vindication of the truth relating to His Person ("I am") and therefore 
to His Messiahship as the One sent of the Father. It would issue, too, 
in their recognition of what He had taught concerning His relationship 
with the Father in regard both to His works ("I do") and His words ("I 
speak"). All this was fulfilled at Pentecost and subsequently, and 
will have its final accomplishment hereafter in the restored nation.



     To confirm it all He declares that He who had sent Him was with 
Him, a fact utterly incomprehensible to minds occupied with merely 
mundane expectations. Yet it expressed His own consolation and His joy 
in the love of the Father amidst the sorrow of His pathway to Calvary: 
"The Father hath not left Me alone (the aorist is perfective in 
meaning, and should not be rendered 'did not leave'); for I do always 
the things that are pleasing to Him." Here are two co-extensive and 
simultaneous conditions, undeviating fulfilment of the Father's will, 
and consequently uninterrupted enjoyment of His Presence. And the 
principle holds good for those who are Christ's followers, though we 
come far short of His perfect standard. Our realization and enjoyment 
of the presence of the Lord is conditioned by our devoted obedience to 
Him. Let us then make it our aim ever "to be wellpleasing unto Him" 
(2 Cor. 5:9).

          THE EFFECTS

     The ministry of Christ had widely different effects, as has ever 
since been the case with testimony concerning Him. A difference is 
noted by the Apostle as he makes a break in the record of the 
discourse in chapter 8. This is brought out in the R.V. of verses 30, 
31. What Christ had said caused many to believe "on Him." It is 
otherwise with those Jews mentioned in verse 31; they had merely 
"believed Him." The former had full faith in Him; the latter were 
simply disposed to believe what He said.

     To these the Lord applies a test designed to raise their credence 
to a higher level. One crucial point, one essential condition, and 
their credence collapsed: "If ye abide in My word," He says, "then are 
ye truly My disciples." Faith that saves produces discipleship. 
Discipleship depends upon the permanent application of His teaching to 
oneself. Passing impulses do not make disciples. The first "ye" and 
the first "My" have special emphasis: "If you on your part abide in 
the word that is Mine. ..."



     Now comes that part of the test that disclosed the actual state 
of their hearts: "and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall 
make you free." How true it is! Acceptance of, and adherence to, the 
Word of God shake off the shackles not only of sin, but of human 
tradition, ecclesiastical bondage, and mere religion. Every truth 
received prepares for the unfolding of more truth, and each brings its 
own liberating power. Behind the acceptance is the will to accept. Let 
the will be unfettered, and we shall enjoy the liberty of devoted 
subjection to His will.

     The idea of being made free was too much for their pride. They 
answered Him, "We be Abraham's seed, and have never yet been in 
bondage to any man: how sayest Thou (emphatic), Ye shall be made 
free?" Pride blinds the mind to facts. What about their times of 
oppression, their captivity, and their then present subjugation to the 
Roman yoke? The Lord, however, goes deeper than all this. The needs of 
the soul outweigh material considerations: "Jesus answered them, 
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Everyone that committeth sin is the 
bondservant of sin. And the bondservant abideth not in the house for 
ever: the Son abideth for ever" (vv. 34, 35).

     The tense of the verb rendered "committeth" signifies not the 
committal of an act, but a course of sin; the better rendering would 
be, "Everyone who continueth to do sin." That is what constitutes 
slavery to sin (so in 1 John 3:4, 6, 7, 9, which should be read in the 
R.V.). True it is that the wilful committal of a sinful act indicates 
a condition of heart which involves slavery to sin, but that differs 
from being overtaken by temptation and the committal of an 
unpremeditated act. Such bondage was the condition of His hearers, 
despite their high national ancestry.

          VERSES 36 TO 44

     Just as a slave is not a member of a family and has no claim to 
be in the house, so they, Jews though they were, were outside God's 
spiritual family. To be sons of God we must be spiritually related 
and united to the Son of God by faith. Thus it is that the Son makes 
us free from bondage to sin.  Whosoever is


begotten of God does not continue the practice of sin (1 John 3:9). If 
a person practises sin, whatever his profession may be, he has not 
been born again.

     Identification with the ever-abiding Son gives us ever-abiding 
freedom. Hence He says, "If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye 
shall be free indeed," in reality (v. 36). It is "the law (or 
invigorating principle) of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" that 
makes us "free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2).

     Accordingly, the Lord exposes to them the entire inconsistency of 
their illusory appeal to Abraham with their determination to kill Him. 
And the secret of it all was that His word had "no free coarse" in 
them (v. 37, R.V.).


     He then applies a further test to them: "I speak the things which 
I (emphatic: I on My part) have seen with My Father," and reveals 
their actual and appalling spiritual parentage: "and ye (emphatic: you 
on your part) also do the things which ye heard from your father." 
Though the definite article is used for the possessive pronoun in each 
part in the original, the English Versions are right in supplying the 
possessive pronouns, as they are really involved in the emphatic words 
"I" and "ye." The "also" is likewise to be noted. It stresses the 
parallel in the principle involved in the relationships. Yet how great 
are the contrasts! He, in the infinitely blessed, ineffable, and 
eternal union as Son with the Father, representing Him here and 
delighting in fulfilling with unclouded vision His will: they, in a 
relationship consequent upon their sinful state and their wilful 
persistence in evil, characterizing themselves, in their murderous 
intent, with the characteristics of the evil one!

     The change of the tense is to be noted: "I have seen" (perfect 
tense), indicating Divine counsels in the timeless past, carried into 
permanent effect in His teachings: "ye heard" (aorist or point tense), 
a communication proceeding from the Devil, made when they became the 
bondslaves of sin, and issuing in the foul act they were ready to 
carry out and eventually accomplished!

     They repeat their claim in respect of Abraham (v. 39), and 
then make the higher claim of having "one Father, even God" (v. 41).  
This indicates that their statement "We were not born


of fornication" had a spiritual reference to idolatry, with perhaps a 
hint as to the Samaritans (cp. v. 48). He repudiates both claims. They 
did not the works of Abraham. The principle of like father like son had no 
application in that respect. And as to the greater claim, He says: "If 
God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I came forth and am come 
from God; for neither have I come of Myself, but He sent Me" (v. 42).


     What a proof this gives of the falsity of the doctrine of the 
universal Fatherhood of God! What a rebuke to the rationalist who 
professes belief in the Fatherhood of God and yet sets Christ aside! 
Such belief is pure assumption, void of any foundation of fact. The 
relationship is dependent upon faith in Christ (Gal. 3:26), and is 
evidentially established by devotion to Him, not in mere sentiment but 
in true discipleship. To miss the object for which the Father sent 
Him, and to fail in the response of love to Him, is to be void of any 
claim to have God as one's Father. True children of God necessarily 
love Him who is the Son of God.

     The Lord's statement, "I came forth and am come from God," is 
anticipative of His similar and still more comprehensive words later 
to His disciples, "I came forth from the Father. I came out from the 
Father, and am come into the world" (16:27, 28). The two passages show 
that He was in eternally pre-existent relationship as the Son with 
the Father, and that this relationship did not take inception at His 

     His necessarily stern denunciation of these opposing Jews reveals 
more even than previously their terrible spiritual condition. They 
could not hear His word (logos, the matter or substance of His 
speech), and hence could not understand His speech (lalia, the manner 
of language of His speech), verse 43. Refusal to listen to the voice 
of the Lord dulls the intelligence. 'They were of their father the 
Devil, and the lusts of their father it was their will to do' (R.V.). 
Compare 1 John 3:8, 10, which perhaps recalls Christ's words. Their 
resemblance to the evil one as his spiritual offspring was twofold: 
"He was a murderer from the beginning (i.e., from the time of his 
jealous attack upon the human soul at the Fall, and permanently 
since), and stood not in the truth;" the true reading is probably 
"standeth not," as in the R.V.


margin, which is confirmed by the next statement, "because there is no 
truth in him." That is to say, he continues to be what he was at the 
beginning referred to. "When he speaketh a lie (not that he ever 
speaks the truth, for, as the Lord has just stated, it is not in him), 
he speaketh of his own (the fallen nature and qualities which are 
characteristically his); for he is a liar {e.g., Gen. 3:4) and the 
father thereof" (or, rather, as it may be rendered, "of him," i.e., 
of the liar--that with which the Lord was charging them).


     Of these two sins, then, they were guilty: they were murderers 
because of their determination to do away with Him; they were liars 
because they said God was their Father (see vv. 54, 55, where He marks 
this as their lie). "But," He says, "because I say (lego, referring to 
all His teaching) the truth, ye believe Me not" (v. 45). The "I" is 
very strongly emphatic, as the order in the original brings out--"But 
I (or, as for Me), because I say the truth." Just as the Devil does 
not stand in the truth through his natural dissociation from it, so 
they, by reason of their relationship to him, refused to accept the 
truth from Christ's lips.

     The absolute truth of His teaching was the effect of His 
sinlessness. His sinless life gave proof of the truth of His doctrine. 
Accordingly, untruthfulness being sin, He issues the challenge, "Which 
of you convicteth Me of sin?" (not simply the sin of falsehood) and 
waits (so we may gather) for an answer. Only Christ, the sinless One, 
could utter such a challenge. And with what sublime majesty and 
dignified patience He does so! What grace and humility to submit such 
a question to such men!

     No answer on their part is recorded. Accordingly He proceeds with 
the cogent question, "If I say truth, why do ye (emphatic) not believe 
Me." Since He was free from sin, He was free from falsehood. What then 
was the reason for their unbelief? His question was not so much an 
appeal for their faith as a preparation for the consummating proof 
that they were not God's children: "He that is of God heareth the 
words of God: for this cause ye hear them not, because ye are not of 
God" (v. 47).

     Instead of yielding to the gracious, though firm, humility by 
which the Lord resisted their pride, they proceed further in evil


and vilify and blaspheme, charging Him with being "a Samaritan" 
(ignorant, that is to say, of the God of Israel and apostate from the 
faith), and with being demon possessed.


     His reply was the essence of meekness and forbearance. He first 
simply denies their foul second vilification and then passes to the 
vindication of the Father's honour, and to words of warning and 
virtual appeal. He does not reply to the accusation of being a 
Samaritan; He refrains from any denial which would endorse their 
contempt of the Samaritans. Had He not Himself carried on a 
life-giving ministry among them (ch. 4)? We will quote His words, and 
then Peter's comment upon His meekness. And let us seek to carry home 
to our hearts the lesson of His example. He says "I have not a demon; 
but I honour My Father, and ye dishonour Me (i.e., 'you dishonour My 
Father in dishonouring Me'). But I seek not Mine own glory (i.e., 'My 
saying that you dishonour Me does not imply that I am seeking My own 
glory'): there is One that seeketh and judgeth (that is to say, 'He it 
is who seeks glory for Me and pronounces judgment on you'). Verily, 
verily, I say unto you, If a man keep My word, he shall never see 
death." This last, which was still addressed to them, graciously held 
out an offer of mercy.

     Such a reply is one outstanding illustration of the testimony 
afterwards borne by Peter to Him, in that "when He was reviled, 
reviled not again; when He suffered He threatened not" (1 Pet. 2:23). 
In this the Apostle exhorts us to "follow His steps," that the example 
He left us may have its character-shaping effects upon us.


     To keep His word is not merely to bear it in mind, but to pay 
such regard to it as diligently to obey and fulfil it. The combined 
phrases in the original, rendered "never," are very strong and the 
statement more fully rendered would be "shall certainly not see death 
for ever," i.e., shall not know the experience of death. The negation 
is a way of expressing the positive assurance of eternal life. For in 
11:26 the Lord makes clear that it is solely conditional upon 
believing upon Him (cp. 5:24 and 6:40).  


He who thus receives Christ enters upon a life which is essentially 
characterized by keeping His word. This was what He now held out to 
His hearers. He referred, not to physical death, but to a life in 
which physical death, so far from causing a cessation, "issues 
immediately in a fuller realization of life.

     The Jews construed His words as if they signified physical death, 
and exaggerated His language accordingly, changing His "see" into 
"taste of." Then, repeating their blasphemous calumny, they charged 
Him with vainglory. This He repudiates, declaring its worthlessness, 
and the fact that it is the Father who glorifies Him, whom they 
claimed as their God (v. 54). The Father glorified His Son by His 
double testimony, at His Baptism and His Transfiguration, "This is My 
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17 and 17:5), and by 
the signs and wonders which He wrought (Acts 2:22), and by His 
resurrection and exaltation (1 Pet. 1:21).


     In His next statement there is a noticeable difference in the 
verbs rendered to know, a difference which makes an immeasurable 
distance between Him and them. He says "and ye have not known Him 
(ginosko, to get to know: they had not even begun to know Him): but I 
know Him (oida, here, of Christ, to have full knowledge; (cp. 6:6, 
64), i.e., 'I know Him absolutely;' a knowledge not progressive but 
essential)." To deny this (and it made Him greater than Abraham and 
the prophets) would, He says, have made Him, like them, a liar. So He 
says again "but I know Him," and adds "and keep His word," the very 
condition (perfectly fulfilled in Him) which He had laid down as 
essential for the relation of His followers to Himself.

     And as to Abraham, he exulted (that is the force of the word 
rendered "rejoiced") in the anticipation of the Coming of the Christ 
("My Day," the day when Christ in Person would fulfil in both His 
Advents the promises made by God). That was the goal towards which 
Abraham's life was set (cp. Heb. 11:10).


               CHAPTER IX


     The opening words of chapter 9 shows that the healing of the man 
who had been blind from his birth took place immediately after the 
Lord's controversy with the Jews in the Temple, as recorded in the 
preceding chapter, and therefore at the close of the Feast of the 
Tabernacles. His opponents had been just about to stone Him. But He 
"hid Himself, and went out of the Temple." This was a judicial 
blindness inflicted upon them, and indicative of their spiritual 
blindness, which refused to recognize His claims and the evidences He 
gave of their validity.

          VERSES 1 TO 41

     He had claimed to be the Light of the world (8:12). They had 
refused this testimony, and accordingly the Lord, seeing a blind man 
as He passed by, decided to use his case both as illustrative of the 
condition of the Jews and as a means of vindicating His claim. This 
would confirm the faith of the many who had believed and might be the 
means of carrying home the truth to the heart of  sceptics.


     Previous to the act of healing, the disciples asked Him who had 
sinned, as the cause of his blindness. Repudiating the thought that 
the man's condition was the outcome of some special sin, the Lord 
reveals the Divine purpose of it all, namely, "that the works of God 
should be made manifest in him."

     There is a lesson for us in this. There may be a lurking tendency 
to seek to find some reprehensible cause for another person's 
suffering, to say nothing of the possibility of a natural feeling of 
self-satisfaction with the case. The Lord's reply is a rebuke to all 
that kind of thing, and points the way to finding a means of dealing 
effectually with sorrow and misery.



     There is something suggestive in this connection in the Lord's 
remark, as rendered in the R.V., "We must work the works of Him that 
sent Me." The most authentic texts have the plural of the pronoun (not 
infrequently the more difficult reading has the better MS. evidence). 
While He here refrains from identifying His disciples with His mission 
from the Father, He does associate them (and ourselves too) with 
Himself in fulfilling the works of God. He was sent by the Father, but 
He Himself sent His disciples (20:21). There lay the distinction.

     The work must be done "while it is day," not merely the natural 
period as distinct from the night, but the period of opportunity 
afforded during the lifetime. The Lord applies this to Himself in 
regard to His life here in the days of His flesh, and connects it with 
the immediate act He was about to perform, in relation to the great 
subject of His testimony to Himself as the Light: "When (different 
from 'while' or 'so long as,' as in verse 4) I am in the world, I am 
the light of the world." The absence of the emphatic personal pronoun 
in the original stresses the fact and effects of His presence in the 
world rather than His Person.


     The facts that the Lord, instead of restoring the man's sight by 
a word, spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed 
the man's eyes with the clay, telling him to go and wash in the Pool 
of Siloam, have a special significance. Doubtless all would help the 
man's faith. At the same time the process adopted by the Lord suggests 
the character of the spiritual condition of the Jews, to whom light 
must come by a process, granted that they were willing even yet to 
receive His testimony. The man must needs grope his way to get to the 
pool, a circumstance illustrative of the darkness that blinded the 
eyes of the Jews. Moreover, that the meaning of the name Siloam (sent) 
is given in the Gospel narrative, is undoubtedly purposive. The 
meaning is evidently to be connected with Christ's valid claim to be 
the Sent One.

     Again, as to the man himself, the method the Lord chose to use 
must have brought home to his heart his need of cleansing,


as he went on his way to the water. Here then were the great 
requisites for salvation, a Saviour to save, the realization of need, 
and the obedience of faith. The sequel introduces us to the next great 
controversy between Christ and the Pharisees. The Lord had given a 
practical demonstration of His power to heal, and with it a vivid 
parable of His power to give the light of life to men, as well as a 
testimony to His authority as Lord of the sabbath.


     The curiosity, not to say perplexity, of the neighbours is 
aroused. Their question is twofold. How was the healing done? and 
where was the Healer? The man can answer the first but not the second. 
So now he is brought to the Pharisees. The consequent discussion is 
full of interest. They first affirm that a sabbath-breaker cannot be 
from God. Some of them argue, however, that the accomplishment of such 
signs was impossible on the part of a sinner. Hence a division among 
them. And this is by no means unique. The Person and work of Christ 
have constantly been matters of controversy and of divided opinions. 
Happy are those who have the confidence of faith and the experience of 
Christ's power to deliver, and are able to bear such a courageous 
testimony as was given by this subject of the Lord's healing mercy.

     The man's parents did not share that courage, fearing 
excommunication by their religious leaders. Their son shall answer for 
himself. So the man is called again, and receives a command and a 
confident statement about his Healer: "Give glory to God. We know that 
this man is a sinner." The man knew better than to give glory to God 
by agreeing to this. Regardless of scorn, and altogether independent 
of the opinions of his examiners, he meets their bullyings with 
trenchant argument and even sarcasm. The facts of his healing were 
incontrovertible. How futile and foolish to deny them! Yet the only 
answer of these "blind leaders of the blind" was to denounce him as 
"altogether born in sins" (as if forsooth their own state was quite 
otherwise), and scornfully to repudiate the very idea of his teaching 
them. Accordingly they excommunicate him from all attendance in the 
Temple and synagogues, and from participation in all religious 



     The Lord makes a special point of finding him after this, so as 
to reveal to him more fully who He Himself was. He would more than 
make up to him for what he had lost. To know Him is life eternal, and 
to enjoy the secret of His friendship outweighs everything else that 
the natural mind deems valuable.

     This spiritual opening of his eyes made him at once a worshipper, 
and upon this the Lord issues a declaration in the very hearing of the 
Pharisees who were present, which introduces the discourse recorded in 
chapter 10. "For judgment," He says, "came I into this world, that 
they which see not may see; and that they which see may become blind" 
(v. 39). These are the two companies formed by contact with Christ, 
the seeing and the blind. Christ is the great Divider as well as the 
great Uniter. This is the twofold effect of testimony concerning Him. 
The self-satisfied, whether religious or otherwise, confident in their 
complacent imaginings that they have true sight, remain in their 
blindness; the humble souls who realize their actual spiritual 
condition and, exercising their simple faith, become His followers, 
have their eyes opened.

          FOUR LESSONS

     Obedience to Christ's call to come for cleansing, life and light, 
leads to personal acquaintance and relationship with Him. Refusal to 
accept the call means death and darkness. That is the first great 
lesson of the miracle. 

     Mere religion and the traditions of men blind their adherents 
to true spiritual conception. Mere ritualistic ordinances are as 
futile as the clay on the blind man's eyes would have been if he had 
never washed. That is the next [or second] great lesson. 

     Thirdly, we cannot but marvel at the gracious desire and loving 
care shown by the Lord to beget faith in the heart. His patience, 
forbearance and long-suffering render the state of the impenitent all 
the more terrible. 

     Fourthly, the design of the grace that enlightens the soul is to 
make the recipient a simple but effective witness to Christ. Such a 
one finds no place or time for discussions with rationalistic 
quibblers. He has no place for the wisdom of words as a means of 
dealing with sceptics. Christ is made to him "wisdom from God, and 
righteousness and sanctification and redemption."


               CHAPTER X

          VERSES 1 TO 10

     The tenth chapter is a direct continuation of the Lord's 
controversy with the Jews arising from His healing of the man born 
blind, but in this chapter the Lord goes more deeply than before into 
the joy of the relationship between Himself and those who have been 
brought from nature's darkness to become His followers. He expresses 
His delight in having them as His own and in what He becomes to them, 
and what will issue similarly in the case of others as the result of 
the laying down of His life for them. All this He sets forth in what 
is really an allegory (or an enlarged metaphor, called in our Versions 
a "parable," margin "proverb"), under the figure of the shepherd and 
the sheep. *1

     (*1 A parable literally denotes "a placing alongside," and 
consists of putting one thing beside another by way of comparison. It 
is generally, as in the present instance, a narrative drawn from 
nature or human circumstances, in order to convey a spiritual lesson. 
We must carefully enter into the analogy if we are to gather the 
instruction. Two dangers are to be avoided in regard to the 
interpretation, firstly, that of ignoring the important features, and 
secondly, that of seeking to make every detail mean something.)


     In His collision with His critics, whom He has just charged with 
abiding in a state of sin (the very thing that they had imputed to the 
man to whom the Lord had given sight, 9:34), the Lord introduces His 
allegory by a clear intimation that spiritually they belong to the 
class of the thief and the robber. He begins with His characteristic 
"Verily, verily, I say unto you." The Pharisees were bad shepherds; 
the blind man had found the good Shepherd. They had not entered by the 
door into the fold of the sheep, but, like the thief and the robber, 
had climbed up some other way.

     The Lord applies two details in the allegory to Himself, in 
unfolding its meaning. He first says "I am the door" (vv. 7, 9), and 
then "I am the good Shepherd" (vv. 11, 14). If it is necessary to 
obtain an interpretation as to the porter (v. 3), it seems best


to regard the figure as signifying the Holy Spirit, for it is His work 
to introduce sheep into the fold. In the East the intimacy between a 
shepherd and his sheep is very close, and the practice of the naming 
of the sheep is quite ancient. With the Lord's word, "He calleth His 
own sheep by name," we may compare Isaiah 43:1; 45:3; 49:1; and 
Revelation 3:5.

     Two words are used to express the act of the Shepherd in regard 
to the going forth of the sheep. "He leadeth them out" (v. 3) by going 
before them, but he first "putteth them forth" (v. 4). There is a 
striking significance in the latter expression. The verb in the 
original is the same as that rendered "they cast him out" (9:34, 35). 
False shepherds put them out to lighten the burden of caring for them; 
true shepherds put them forth to see that they are well fed. The 
intimacy just referred to is beautifully set forth further, first, by 
the fact that the shepherd goes before the sheep and they follow him 
(just as Paul, the faithful under-shepherd, could say "Be ye imitators 
of me even as I am of Christ," 1 Cor. 11:1; cp. Phil. 3:17; 1 Thess. 
1:6; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9); secondly, in that they know the voice of their 
shepherd in contrast to that of strangers, from whom they flee. A 
Scottish traveller once changed clothes with a Jerusalem shepherd and 
endeavoured to lead the sheep; they refused however to follow the 
shepherd's clothes on the stranger, in spite of all that he did to 
draw them, but they readily followed the voice of their own shepherd, 
in spite of the change of his garment.


     The Pharisees failed to understand what the Lord had been talking 
about (v. 6). Their treatment of the man whose sight was restored made 
clear that their characteristics were entirely foreign to those of 
true shepherds. Accordingly the Lord now repeats the allegory, 
unfolding the special details and applying them to Himself. "Jesus 
therefore said unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am 
the door of the sheep." The "I" bears special emphasis, just as in 
4:26; 6:35, 41, 48, 51, etc. In each case what the Lord implies is, "I 
and no other." Here He declares that He is the one and only Door 
through which both sheep and shepherds enter. His next statement, "All 
that came before Me are thieves and robbers," refers not, of course, 
to those who had


previously been sent of God, but to those who had misled the people, serving their own ends instead of God and 
His truth, false prophets who had come in sheep's clothing, but 
inwardly were ravening wolves (Matt. 7:15), men who had shut the 
Kingdom of Heaven, neither entering themselves, nor suffering others 
to enter (23:13), who took away the key of knowledge and hindered 
people from possessing it (Luke 11:52). The present tense, "are," 
indicates that they were the men of the time when He was upon earth; 
compare however Ezekiel 34. "But the sheep did not hear them." There 
were many who listened to them, but His own followers, the remnant in 
Israel, found nothing to benefit in what these ecclesiastical 
authorities taught.


     Now He states the blessedness of those who do enter in, and 
precedes it with an emphatic repetition of the fact that He is the one 
and only Door. "By Me," He says, "if any man enter in, he shall be 
saved, and shall go in and go out, and find pasture." He does not say 
"If any man enter in by Me," but puts the "by Me" first, placing the 
greatest stress upon the uniqueness and absoluteness of His own 
Person. How comprehensive is His word, "If any man (or, rather, 
anyone)!" His mind goes beyond Jews to Gentiles. There are not 
limitations either of sex or nationality.

     He who enters in "shall be saved." This is more than being 
delivered from perdition; it points to the state of salvation 
consequent upon the step of entering. To go in and to go out is 
suggestive both of security and liberty. The double expression is used 
frequently in the Old Testament for describing the free activity of 
daily life. See, e.g., Deuteronomy 28:6, 19; 31:2; 1 Samuel 18:16; 
Psalm 121:8; Jeremiah 37:4. The same Hebraistic phrase is used in Acts 
1:21; 9:28. The finding of pasture is descriptive of the feeding upon 
Christ, both by means of the Scriptures and in the daily appropriation 
of Christ in the life of communion with Him. The benefits are 
threefold: deliverance, freedom, and nourishment.


     All this is followed by one of the most striking contrasts in 
Scripture. It lies between the motives and acts of the thief and


those of the good Shepherd. The former are described by way of a 
climax of selfish cruelty--stealing, killing, destroying--selfishness, 
bloodlust, brutality. The killing is not for sacrificial purposes, as 
some suggest, but for murderous intent. The destroying is more than 
the killing, it means the utter ruin of the flock.

     The twofold motive of the good Shepherd is in inverse antithesis 
to all that. He came (1) that they might have life; that stands in 
contrast to the killing and destroying; He does not take life, He 
gives it; (2) that they might have it "abundantly" (not "more 
abundantly," as in the A.V.: the word "more" has no MS. authority: it 
is not a matter of greater instead of less, but of a full supply of 
all that sustains life); instead of stealing He imparts abundance.

     But there are two more contrasts. There is that of the emphatic 
"I," purposely set in contrast to "the thief." Then there are the 
different tenses. The thief "cometh;" he pays his visits, whensoever 
he finds possibility of attempting his fell design; "I came," says the 
good Shepherd; He had come by one great voluntary act of grace and 
compassionate love.

          VERSES 11 TO 21

     "I am the good Shepherd." The word _kalos, "good," conveys all 
the attributes and characteristics of what is ideal, or of what is 
well adapted to its purposes because it is intrinsically good. Christ 
is the "good" Shepherd in each respect. His character is manifested, 
and His purpose fulfilled, in laying down His life for the sheep. His 
description of Himself, as more fully rendered, is strikingly 
expressive: "I am the Shepherd, the good one;" this stands out in 
contrast to the hireling.

     At the same time it breathes His delight in, and tender thought 
and care for, His flock. They are "His own," as intimated in His 
negative descriptions of the hireling who is "not a shepherd" and 
"whose own the sheep are not."

          THE HIRELING

     The hireling acts simply in his own interests. He saves his life 
by leaving the sheep to their destroyer. The good Shepherd lays


down His life that His sheep may not perish. The one saves himself by 
sacrificing his charge; the Other sacrifices Himself to save His 
charge. Just there lay the difference between the religious 
authorities and Christ, in their respective treatment of the blind 


     In verse 14 He repeats His statement, "I am the good Shepherd,"
but now to introduce the subject of the intimacy between Himself and 
His sheep. There should be no break between verses 14 and 15, the one 
runs on into the other: "I know Mine own, and Mine own know Me, even 
as the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father." The mutual "knowing" 
is thus twofold, and the former has its source in the latter. The 
mutual intimacy between Christ and His followers is but the overflow 
and extension of the unoriginated and infinite mutual intimacy between 
the Father and the Son.

     The verb in each of the four statements is _ginosko, expressing 
knowledge existent through constant experience (and here involving 
mutual appreciation), as distinct from _oida, which conveys the idea 
of complete or absolute knowledge. As the Father delights in the full 
recognition and appreciation of all that the Son is to Him, and the 
Son in all that the Father is to Him, so the Son, as the good 
Shepherd, delights in the full recognition and appreciation of all 
that His sheep are to Him, and the sheep in their recognition and 
appreciation of what He is to them. This latter mutuality finds its 
basis in the great sacrificial act of the Shepherd, and for this 
reason He says again, "I lay down My life for the sheep."


     In view of His death His thoughts and tender affections go out to 
those "other sheep," other than Jewish believers. They were already 
His own though they had not come into being. They had been given to 
Him by the Father (17:7). Hence He says "Other sheep I have" (cp. Acts 
18:10; 28:28). The Jews had derisively asked, "Will He go ... and 
teach the Greeks?" (7:35). He affirms that there are His own among the 
despised Gentiles. As Bengel remarks, "He does not say, who are out of 
or in another fold." And in His statement "which are not of this 
fold," the


emphasis is upon "fold," not upon "this" (which readers frequently 
stress). There is not a Gentile fold.

     "Them also," He says, "I must bring (or rather, 'lead'), and they 
shall hear My voice (see v. 3), and they shall become one flock, one 
Shepherd." Not "one fold," but "one flock." The oneness is not to be 
brought about by an external union of the sects and systems of 
Christendom (described in mistaken religious parlance as The Church). 
Scripture never speaks of "the Church on earth," consisting of all the 
believers in the world. The phrase "the Church on earth" is utterly 
unscriptural, and is responsible for many a mistaken idea. The Church 
has never been on earth; Heaven is its destiny and dwelling-place. For 
its true unity and destination, see 17:22 to 24. This is the will of 
the "One Shepherd," that "where I am, they also may be with Me; that 
they may behold My glory." That is the destiny.


     Therefore, in repeating the fact of the laying down of His life, 
He adds that of His resurrection, and that by His own power: "That I 
may take it again," assigning this as a special reason for the 
Father's love: "Therefore doth the Father love Me, because I lay down 
My life, that I may take it again." Speaking of the temple of His body 
He had said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it 
up" (2:19, 21). This power in His resurrection He shares with the 
Father: "No one taketh it away from Me, but I (with special emphasis) 
lay it down of Myself. I have power (or authority) to lay it down, and 
I have power to take it again. This commandment received I from My 
Father." His resurrection was therefore an essential act in fulfilment 
of the Father's will, which He had come to accomplish (6:38).

     For this reason He is "the Good Shepherd," "the Great Shepherd," 
"the Chief Shepherd," and will be the "One Shepherd," with His one 
complete "flock."

          NEVER PERISH

     So in the next statement, "My sheep ('the sheep which are Mine') 
hear My voice (cp. 10:4) and I know them, and they follow Me: and I 
give unto them eternal life." Not "I will give,"


as if the bestowment of life was a promise conditional upon following 
Him. That interpretation has been put forward by some, but it is 
contradictory to 5:24, where the Lord declared that eternal life was 
imparted upon hearing His word and believing. The present tense 
indicates the possession of life already enjoyed. The enjoyment of 
life hereafter is a continuation of present spiritual life: "And they 
shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand." The 
negative is very emphatic: "they shall never by any means perish" (so 
in 8:51 and 11:26). There are, in two respects, 


  As to the sheep: 
  (a) they hear His voice, 
  (b) they follow Him, 
  (c) they shall never perish; 

  and as to the Shepherd: 
  (a) He knows them, 
  (b) He gives them eternal life, 
  (c) He holds them securely in His hand.

     Then, as usual, the Lord leads up to teaching concerning the 
Father, whom He ever glorified: "My Father, which hath given them unto 
Me, is greater than all;" not here with reference to the Son (as in 
14:28), for see the next verse, but as having complete control over 
all adverse powers. That His sheep are the gift of the Father ensures 
their eternal safety. Note the perfect tense, "hath given," denoting 
an accomplished act with permanent results.

     "And no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I 
and the Father are one" (vv. 29, 30). Those who are in the hands of 
the Son, having been given to Him by the Father, remain likewise in 
the hands of the Father, and this is a potent demonstration of the 
unity of the Two. The Father and the Son, being one in Godhood, are 
therein one in the infinitude of power, a power exerted against all 
adversaries. As Liddon says, "a unity like this must be a dynamic 
unity, as distinct from any mere moral and intellectual union, such as 
might exist in a real sense between a creature and its God. Deny this 
dynamic unity, and you destroy the internal connection of the passage. 
Admit this dynamic unity, and you admit, by necessary implication, a 
unity of essence. The power of the Son, which shields the redeemed 
from the foes of their salvation is the very power of the Father: and 
this identity of power is itself the outflow and the manifestation of 
a oneness of nature."



               CHAPTER X (Continued)

          VERSES 22 TO 39

     The preceding discourse produced a division among the Jews. Some 
blasphemously accused the Lord of being demon-possessed and mad; 
others repudiated the idea, on two grounds, His teaching, and His cure 
of the blind man. This was the third division resulting from His 
testimony. The first was among the multitude at the Feast of 
Tabernacles (7:43); the second was among the Pharisees, consequent 
upon His act of imparting sight on the sabbath day (9:16); the third 
was among the Jews, for the reasons just mentioned (10:19 to 21).

     It was now "the feast of the dedication," a feast observed to 
commemorate the purification and restoration of the Temple after its 
defilement by Antiochus Epiphanes. It lasted eight days, from December 
20th. The mention of its being winter (v. 22) seems to be connected 
with the fact that "Jesus was walking in Solomon's porch," a cloister 
on the east side of the Temple.


     The occasions of the Feasts mark a progress of hostility to Hfm 
till the climax is reached. At the first Feast they prosecuted Him and 
sought to kill Him (5:1, 16, 18). At the next the chief priests and 
Pharisees took the step of sending officers to take Him (7:2, 14, 32). 
On the present occasion the Jews prepared to stone Him, and attempted 
to lay hands on Him (10:31, 39). At the last they accomplished His 
death. The occasions, therefore, which had been designed for the glory 
of God and the blessing of His people, were turned by their hardness 
of heart into occasions for the utter rejection of His Son.

     So now they come round about Him and say, "How long dost Thou 
hold us in suspense?  If Thou (with special stress on the


word) art the Christ, tell us plainly." To this He replies, "I told 
you, and ye believe not"--a completed testimony, a continued 
unbelief--"the works that I (with stress on the pronoun) do in My 
Father's Name, these bear witness of Me" (v. 25). Cp. 5:36. The clause 
"in My Father's Name" has this significance, that, contrary to their 
ideas and expectations concerning the Christ, He had come as His 
Father's Representative, and His works, wrought in this capacity, 
revealed His true character as the Christ, that is to say, what kind 
of a Christ the Father had actually sent.


     He now resumes the subject about which He had spoken to them 
before concerning His sheep. This and the preceding discourse are 
therefore closely connected. "But ye (with stress on the word) believe 
not, because ye are not of My sheep," an emphatic phrase, more 
literally, "the sheep which are Mine."

     There are no persons so obdurate as religious fanatics. The Jews 
prepare to stone Him. To this He replies, with calm dignity: "Many 
good works have I showed you from the Father: for which of these works 
do ye stone Me?" They base their act on what they regard as His one 
claim to Deity. The Lord knew all their arguments. They failed to 
discern that His works were part and parcel of His Divine Nature 
itself, and were not the acts of a kindly man. They were essentially 
a witness to His Deity. To prove the validity of their charge they 
ought to have prepared to stone Him on the ground of His works as much 
as on the ground of His statement.

          A FINAL WORD

     He has one word more for them before leaving them. The manner in 
which He absolutely rebuts the charge of blasphemy evinces His Divine 
wisdom. He refers them to Psalm 82:6, speaking of the quotation as 
part of "your law." They prided themselves in their knowledge of 
Scripture. How little they really apprehended its truth! From their 
own principles and from the Scriptures they were wrong: "If He (God) 
called them gods, unto whom the Word of God came (and the Scripture 
cannot be broken),


say ye of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, Thou 
blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" It is abundantly 
clear that the Jews did not expect the Messiah to be possessed of 
Deity. The whole controversy between Christ and them shows that.

     Accordingly, the Lord, in closing, makes His claim as clear as it 
could be made: "If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not. 
But if I do them, though ye believe not Me, believe the works: that ye 
may know and understand, that the Father is in Me, and I in the 
Father." That statement brought the matter to a climax. It was both 
retrospective and anticipative: retrospective regarding all His 
"signs," and especially that of giving the blind man sight: 
anticipative regarding the next and last sign, the raising of a man 
from the tomb. See 11:42.

     They made one more effort to take Him, but it was true for some 
days that His "time had not yet come." Escaping therefore from their 
grasp, He went beyond Jordan, where John had baptized, and abode 
there. Many came to Him and believed on Him.


               CHAPTER XI


     This was the consummating act of the Lord's signs recorded in 
this Gospel, as a testimony to His Deity as the Son of God (v. 4). The 
narrative exhibits both His tender compassion and His almighty power, 
evidences at once of His veritable Godhood and His true Manhood.

          faith's testing

     This crown of His miracles was both a witness to His critics and 
a means of establishing the faith of His followers. True faith is 
tested faith. Hearing that Lazarus was sick, Jesus "abode at that time 
two days in the place where he was" (R.V.). The Lord's testings are 
always proofs of His love. "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and 
Lazarus ... Therefore He abode ... where He was." But beyond His love 
for them He honoured them by putting them in the furnace of affliction 
for the completion of His final witness to the people.

     The case with His disciples was different. Upon His decision to 
go, they would have stayed Him so as to deliver Him from danger. The 
Lord uses their devoted representations to give them a lesson 
concerning the highest motive of service. To be faithful to God is to 
walk in the light. To be governed by mere expediency is to walk in the 
darkness and to stumble.


     But everything must be the outcome of faith and, as with the 
sisters, that was the immediate need of the disciples. So, after an 
explanation of the actual meaning of His statement "Our friend Lazarus 
is fallen asleep," He says, "I am glad for your sakes that I was not 
there, to the intent ye may believe." Thomas was anxious to believe. 
His "Let us also go, that we may die with Him," evoked by Christ's 
decision to go, was not a case of melancholy foreboding, but of 
downright and cheerful loyalty.


Jesus was more to Him than life itself. What a lesson for us! Activity 
in His cause is valueless if it is not subordinated to love for Christ 
Himself. Let the preciousness of His person ever be the dominating 
motive of our service for Him.

          JESUS WEPT

     This intense attachment to Him is touchingly evinced in both 
Martha and Mary. The one goes to meet Him, the other stays to receive 
Him. Martha's attitude is that of reverent confidence and entire 
submission. She combines the recognition of His power with that of His 
love: "And even now I know that whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God 
will give it Thee." His question, "Where have ye laid him?" betokened, 
not a lack of knowledge, but a kindly design to kindle their 
expectations. "They say unto Him, Lord, come and see,"--a combination 
of expectancy and earnest desire, but withal a natural ignorance of 
the actual power possessed by Him. "Jesus wept." There was more than 
the sight of human sorrow in this, more even than sympathy with the 
sorrowing. Sympathy there was indeed. He knew the feelings and 
emotions of every heart in the company, but He knew more than this. He 
knew all the circumstances of fallen humanity that brought about death 
and all its woe. The sin and ignorance of all were laid open to His 
infinite mind. The touching detail, so briefly told, discloses His 
combined Deity and humanity.

     The Jews regarded His tears merely as the evidence of His love 
for Lazarus. Others were sceptical. One who had given sight to a man 
born blind could surely have prevented Lazarus from death. Since He 
let him die, how could He really love him so much? "Jesus therefore 
again groaning in Himself (a preferable rendering to the R.V. margin) 
cometh to the tomb."

          THE  GLORY  OF  GOD

     His command to take away the stone would have two different 
effects. It would encourage faith, for it was clear that something was 
about to be done. At the same time, to touch a grave would be running 
the risk of defilement, so faith might be tested. Yet the act of 
obedience indicated that He had drawn them into harmony with His will.


     Martha's shrinking from the effects draws forth His gentle rebuke 
to her unbelief: "Said I not unto thee that, if thou believedst, thou 
shouldst see the glory of God?" This gathers up what He had said in 
the course of His conversation, concerning the glory of God (v. 4) and 
of the assurance of resurrection (vv. 25, 26). To know that they were 
going to see the act which would exhibit the glory of God, must have 
banished all misgivings.

     The stone having been removed, the Lord lifts up His eyes and 
says, "Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me, and I (with 
special stress on the pronoun) knew that Thou hearest Me always; but 
because of the multitude which standeth around I said it, that they 
may believe that Thou (with stress also) didst send Me." By this the 
Lord intended that all around should know that what He was about to do 
was combined work of the Father and Himself, and that the impending 
event was of such importance, that it would finally substantiate His 
claims for the acceptance of faith. He had never preceded a miracle by 
any such utterance.


     And now the mighty deed is done. He cries with a loud voice, 
"Lazarus, come forth." The spirit returns to the body. The resurrected 
brother comes forth, the grave cloths still around him. This and the 
command to loose him were designed to give directions and force to the 
testimony. That he was still bound with the cloths was convincing 
proof to any sceptical and hostile Jews that he had actually been 
dead. He is to be "let go," suggesting his retirement from immediate 
and idle curiosity.

     The miracle foreshadowed the Death and Resurrection of Christ, 
which would effect both the present spiritual resurrection of 
believers with their loosening from the binding power of sin, and 
their coming physical resurrection, when with His mighty shout He 
brings all together to meet Him in the air.

     But the immediate effect was decisive. It was the crisis which 
finally gave rise to the greatest crime in the nation's history. Many 
of the Jews believed on Him. But some went their way to report it all 
to the Pharisees. Thus did Christ become, as He has ever been, the 
dividing line among men.


                         CHAPTER XII

                         VERSES 1 TO 25

     The 12th chapter forms an interlude between the last great sign 
accomplished by the Lord in the resurrection of Lazarus and His 
private discourses to His disciples in the upper room.

     All the details in this chapter have a bearing in one way or 
another upon the subject of His Death. These details with their 
accompanying circumstances we will now consider.


     The first is the scene in the house in Bethany six days before 
the Passover, the last of these great  feasts before Christ Himself 
became our Passover. At the supper which was made for Him, Martha 
served, Lazarus sat (i.e., reclined) at the table (R.V., "at meat"). 
Mary took the opportunity of using her pound of ointment of very 
precious spikenard to anoint the feet of Jesus and wipe them with her 
hair--three positions, serving, reclining and affectionate devotion, 
the last of the three being the greatest.

     They all have lessons for us. Each has its place in our Christian 
life, whether of service or of rest or of intimate devotion to His 
Person. It was this last by which "the house was filled with the odour 
of the ointment." So in the spiritual house, an assembly of God's 
people, occupation with Christ Himself in heart devotion is that which 
lends its fragrance to the whole gathering. Where each believer is in 
the enjoyment of being occupied with Christ in loving devotion during 
the week the effect cannot but be felt when we gather together to meet 
Him and worship in spirit and truth, while "at His table sits the 


     Now comes the Lord's own reference to His Death, and this is the 
outcome of the murmuring of covetous, treacherous Judas.


Of the four Gospel writers John alone points out Judas as the 
grumbler. His complaint that the ointment had not been sold for three 
hundred pence (about £10 12s. 6d.) and given to the poor, was sheer 
hypocrisy; he had no care for the poor, but was a thief and robbed the 
common purse of Christ and His disciples of some of the contents from 
time to time. The Lord did not expose Him but simply remonstrated 
saying "suffer her to keep it against the day of my burying" (R.V., 
margin, "let her alone: it was that she might keep it against the 
day"). "For the poor ye have always with you; but Me ye have not 

     This does not imply, of course, that Mary did not use the whole 
of the ointment at that time. She poured it all out upon Him. Her 
spending was keeping. Her devotion was deeper than to hold the 
ointment for His embalming. Her discerning mind knew what the issue of 
the hatred of the Jews would be. She would manifest her affection 
while her Lord was living and able to appreciate it. He was everything 
to her. Should He not be so to us?


     The rest of the narrative reveals a variety of attitudes towards 
Him. There was the curiosity of "the common people;" there was the 
murderous envy of the chief priests; and now the excited enthusiasm of 
the multitude. There were often, it is said, some three million 
persons at Jerusalem at Passover time. His great miracle of the 
raising of Lazarus must be celebrated by a procession into the city. 
That would be quite to their liking. Moreover, who could this great 
Person be but the King of Israel?

     The Lord, fully knowing the issue, was willing to offer Himself 
as their King-Messiah, and thus fulfil the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. 
The people would have the opportunity of receiving Him, though His 
thoughts were not their thoughts. His arrangements were not made by 
the suggestion of the disciples. They, for the time being, did not 
understand why He chose this manner of declaring His Messiahship.


     The issues would involve the bringing in of Gentiles. There were 
certain Greeks who had come to worship in Jerusalem. They


were proselytes, Gentiles by birth, and had adopted the Jewish 
religion. They wanted to see Jesus, not simply to get a view of Him, 
that was easy enough, but to have an interview with Him, probably as 
to whether He could satisfy their aspirations. Now Philip had a Greek 
name, and being "of Bethsaida, of Galilee" ("Galilee of the nations"), 
he knew their language well, so they approached him; he saw the 
meaning of their request sufficiently to associate Andrew with himself 
in applying to Christ. Moreover, would the Lord be willing, 
considering that on a recent occasion He had bidden His disciples not 
to go among Gentiles?

     Gentile wise men from the east came to Christ's cradle; Gentile 
men from the west came to His Cross. His reply to Philip and Andrew 
was not a refusal. The Cross was occupying His heart. It was the only 
means of securing for Gentiles far greater benefits than these Greeks 
were seeking, the blessings of their salvation; and to secure this 
would be His very glory. Accordingly He immediately says, "The hour is 
come, that the Son of Man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say 
unto you, except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it 
abideth alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit." The enquiring 
Greeks would get to know Him, and to realise His power, and thus would 
have the fulfilment of more than their aspirations, and that not by 
His miracles but by His death.

     The Lord gives two lessons in His reply. His death provides the 
productive power of the life that is in Him, risen and exalted. That 
is His first lesson. But while His falling into the ground, with the 
consequent fruitfulness of His act, was unique and absolute, it 
provided an illustrative principle, to be realised in the lives of His 
faithful followers. That is His second lesson. In this respect He says 
"He that loveth his life, loseth it; and he that hateth his life in 
this world shall keep it unto life eternal." If the "seed grain is 
eaten instead of being sown, it produces no' fruit. If we consume our 
lives for our self-gratification, neither are we fruitful here, nor 
shall we reap the reward in the life beyond. He who sows his life for 
Christ on behalf of others loses much worldly advantage but keeps it 
in the fruit it produces unto eternal life, the effect and power of 
which he himself will enjoy for ever.


          VERSES 26 TO 36

     The occasion of the desire of some Greeks to make Christ's 
acquaintance leads to His last two testimonies in public. This, the 
last but one (vv. 26 to 36), contains constant references to His 
impending death.

          A HIGH CALLING

     Following His promise that he who hates his life shall keep it 
unto life eternal, a promise which He had illustrated by fruitfulness, 
He shows, firstly, what this means in practical experience, what kind 
of life we are called upon to live, and, secondly, what is the special 
feature of the life beyond. "If any man serve Me, let Him follow Me." 
There is emphasis on the "Me" in both clauses. It is He who is the 
object of the heart's true devotion and it is He Who has trod the path 
before. His example has been set. True service means hating one's life 
instead of loving it. Self-love is self-destruction. He has given up 
His life for us; let us give up our lives to Him, cost what it may. 
This estimate of our life does not mean carelessness in the matter of 
our body and health, but it does mean absolute self-denial. It means 
taking up our cross and following Him, and that daily. See Luke 9:23 
and 14:27. If we follow not the path He has trod we walk in darkness.

     As to the future, He says, "where I am, there shall also My 
servant be." That is not merely future. It is the height of present 
privilege, honour and bliss. "'Tis heaven where Jesus is." That is so 
now. It will be so in eternity. It is Christ Himself Who will make 
Heaven our delightful Paradise.

     He then says, "If any man serve Me, Him will the Father honour." 
Here the emphasis is on the verbs "serve" and "honour." It is the 
Father's will ever to glorify His Son; therefore service for the Son 
will receive honour from the Father. We should ever seek to realise 
what the apostle Paul calls "the prize of the high calling of God in 
Christ Jesus."



     The Lord's mention of His approaching death leads to an utterance 
which has been described as the prelude of the conflict in Gethsemane. 
It marvellously combines the deepest trouble with the highest desire. 
He says "Now is My soul troubled (lit., has been and is troubled); and 
what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour. But for this cause 
came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy Name" (vv. 27, 28).

     Some would put a question mark after "hour," as if the Lord meant 
'Shall I say, Father save Me from this hour?' While this is possible, 
the rendering as it stands in our Versions seems right. The hour was 
the time of the impending sufferings of His atoning sacrifice, and of 
the Divine judgment for sin upon His sinless soul. He knew all that 
was coming upon Him. That was sufficient to elicit the prayer "Father, 
save Me from this hour." It was an expression of the utmost stirring 
of His soul. It seems inappropriate to regard it as a question, as if 
the Lord was deliberating as to what He should say. He similarly 
prayed in Gethsemane, "If it be possible, let this cup pass away from 
Me" (Matt. 26:39). There too He said immediately "Nevertheless, not as 
I will, but as Thou wilt." That prayer conveyed no deviation from 
submission to the Fathers will. So in the present instance He at once 
asserts the reason for His coming to that hour: "But for this cause 
came I unto this hour." Is not the cause the laying down of His life 
that the Father's Name might be glorified (combining what He had 
taught in verse 25 with what immediately now follows in verse 28)? Not 
simply in submission to the will of the Father, but in His heart's 
perfect devotion to Him He says, "Father, glorify Thy name."


     That was ever His undeviating motive, and His prayer meets with 
an immediate double response: "I have both glorified it, and will 
glorify it again." The Father had glorified it in the past life of the 
obedience of His Son, reaching its climax in His death, which seems to 
be included in that statement as an accomplished fact. It covers both 
His life and His death. He would also glorify it in raising Him from 
the dead and seating Him at His right hand.


     The crowd around imagined there had been a clap of thunder. Some 
thought an angel had spoken to Him. He declared that the Voice had 
come especially for their sakes, with the object that they might 
believe (see v. 36). His thoughts centre again in His death. "Now is 
the judgment of this world." The "now" vividly points to that which is 
impending. The judgment of this world means the sentence to be passed 
upon it, not the opinion expressed by it. While in God's love and 
mercy He gave His only-begotten Son to die for the world, there could 
be nothing else than condemnation for all rejecters, both those who 
actually determined upon His death, and all since who by unbelief have 
taken sides with them.

          VERSES 37 TO 50

     The closing portion of chapter 12 consists of two parts: 
  (1) verses 37 to 43, describing, as a climax, the persistent unbelief 
of the Jews, 
  (2) verses 44 to 50, giving as a consummation the Lord's public 
testimony to them. These form the two great subjects of all the 
preceding part of this Gospel from 5:10 to 12:36, and they are 
mentioned here by way of bringing the record of these circumstances to 
a head. The crisis had been reached. 
  (1) The Christ-rejecting Jews must go on in their darkness. 
  (2) Yet He holds out hope for any who would even now believe and 
turn to Him. His testimony is the very height of long-suffering and 
merciful warning.

     As to the multitude, "though He had done so many signs before 
them, yet they believed not on Him." The Apostle declares that this 
unbelief was in order that two prophecies of Isaiah might be 
fulfilled, 53:1, and 6:10 (so, by the way, Isaiah wrote both parts of 
that book!).


     Now this seems, at a cursory glance, as if the Jews were helpless 
in the matter; Isaiah had foretold their state, so it must be! Such an 
idea loses sight of the great foundation fact of the absolute 
foreknowledge of God. God foreknew that the Jews would harden 
themselves, spurning His long-suffering and mercy, despising their


privileges and forgoing their responsibility. God, foreseeing their 
perverseness and the consequent necessity of His retributive dealings 
in blinding their eyes and hardening their heart, caused Isaiah to put 
it all on record centuries before. That was the infallible Word of 
God. It could not "be broken." Being His Word it must be fulfilled. 
The foreknown and foretold issue was inevitable, not because God had 
determined their condition, but because of their sinful self-will and 
their own determination to reject His overtures and offers. Their 
unbelief was their own act.

     There is a limit to God's long-suffering, a limit consistent with 
His perfect character and attributes. When a man oversteps that limit 
he comes under judicial hardening by God. The most striking instance 
of this is the case of Pharaoh. See the R.V. in Exodus 7:13 (the 
correctness of which is confirmed by V. 14); 7:22; 8:15, 19; 9:7. At 
that juncture he overstepped the limit and 9:12 declares that God 
hardened his heart (see also 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4).

     That Isaiah spoke of the blindness and hardening of Israel in his 
own time, after the death of Uzziah, is clear in the passage in 
chapter 6. That John applies it to the Jews in the time of Christ and 
declares that Isaiah saw the glory of Christ and spake of Him, shows 
that, as with many other prophecies of the Old Testament, there is a 
double application, one immediate, the other remote, to be fulfilled 
in a later period.

          THE FEAR OF MAN

     Amidst the general apostasy many even of the rulers believed in 
Christ, but feared to confess Him lest the religious leaders should 
excommunicate them: "they loved the glory of men (R.V.) more than the 
glory of God." This snare is easy to fall into. Let us guard against 
allowing our attitude to God to be governed by human considerations. 
To set a greater value upon the esteem of men than upon the glory of 
God blights the spiritual life. Let Christ's love dominate our 
affections and we shall not fear man, but shall esteem reproach for 
His sake our highest honour.


          AN EPITOME

     Verses 44 to 50 give the Lord's testimony in the form of an 
epitome of all that He had taught, every word as He spoke it, but not 
necessarily after the occasion in verse 36 when He hid Himself from 
the multitude. The great points in the epitome are as follows:

     Firstly, the true believer He directs to the Father (vv. 44, 45). 
He ever sought to glorify Him. The glory of the Father is the great 
theme of the whole passage.

     Secondly, as to the believer's own condition, His having come as 
a Light safeguards him against abiding in darkness (v. 46). "I am come 
a light into the world." There is great emphasis on the "I."

     Thirdly, as to the unbeliever, the rejecter of His sayings, let 
none "be surprised at His refraining from passing sentence of 
condemnation upon such; He had come, not as Judge but as Saviour (v. 
47). Judgment will come in the last day, and then everything will 
depend upon the way His word has been treated (v. 48). His "word" is 
the sum and substance of all His teaching. To reject that must bring 
sentence of condemnation. So it is with the gospel, which ever since 
has, in its fulness, proclaimed all that He taught.

     Fourthly, the gravity of the rejection lies in this, that all 
that He uttered was by commandment of the Father, both the doctrine 
("what I should say") and the phraseology in which it was expressed 
("what I should speak"), verse 49. The R.V. "from myself" is 
preferable to the A.V., "of Myself," which might mean "about Myself." 
Christ was not Himself the source of His teaching.

     Fifthly, the Father's commandment, here signifying, not a 
specific command, but all that Christ had been given to speak, has as 
its object the bestowment of life eternal (v. 50). That is the 
gracious purpose of the Father's commission to the Son and of the 
Son's faithful ministry.

     This brings to a close the first part of this Gospel. The public 
witness has been given, the works have been accomplished, the judgment 
has been pronounced. All must now be concentrated privately upon the 


                         CHAPTER XIII

                         VERSES 1 TO 17

     The first verse of chapter 13 contains, by way of introduction, 
the prominent ideas found in the five chapters 13 to 17. There are 
five particulars: 
  (1) the time: "Now before the feast of the Passover," 
  (2) the Person: "Jesus," 
  (3) His foreknowledge, "knowing that His hour was come that He 
should depart out of this world unto the Father," 
  (4) the objects of His love, "having loved His own which were in the 
  (5) the continuity and degree of His love: "He loved them unto the 

     His thoughts centre, not in His impending sufferings, but in the 
Father and "His own." This latter phrase refers to different objects 
from "His own" in 1:11; there it spoke of His natural property and 
kin, here it speaks of those who were the Father's spiritual gift to 
Him.  The great key word here is "love."

     As to the immediate circumstances, the A.V., "supper being ended" 
does not represent the original. There are only two possible 
renderings, either "when supper was come" or "when supper was taking 
place." The R.V. "during supper," is probably right. The indication is 
that it was the early part of the meal. The opening words of the 
chapter point to the supper as being that of the paschal feast. The 
scene is full of preparations. The Lord, who knew all that was coming 
upon Him, and who had, only a day or two before, told the disciples 
that in this Passover period He would be delivered up to be crucified 
(Matt. 26:1), had prepared all the arrangements for this upper room 
occasion. Satan had been preparing. He had already put it into the 
heart of Judas Iscariot to betray Him. Other human agents of the evil 
one were busy making preparations, and holding a council of death.

          "JESUS KNOWING"

     What is said about the Devil and Judas is followed by a statement 
for the second time as to the Lord's knowledge, and the


two very different subjects are combined as an introduction to the 
washing of the disciples' feet; "Jesus, knowing that the Father had 
given all things into His hands, and that He came forth from God, and 
goeth unto God, riseth from supper, and layeth aside His garments; and 
He took a towel, and girded Himself." This was another preparation, a 
preparation, first by act and then by teaching, for the life the 
eleven were to live after He had gone, and the testimony they were to 
give in their service after the coming of the Holy Spirit at 
Pentecost. Hence the three statements as to the Lord's knowledge.

     The vivid present tense is used, almost entirely, to depict the 
circumstances. Every act had its special significance. His laying 
aside His garments spoke of the fact that He who ever was "in the form 
of God" took "the form of a servant" (Phil. 2:6, 7). It does not seem 
to have entered the minds of the disciples that they might wash one 
another's feet. Indeed they do not appear to have been in a mood for 
it (see Luke 22:24). If, as Edersheim thinks, Judas, as the manager 
for the company, took the first place, the Lord may have washed his 
feet first. In any case here was malice met with kindness. Here was 
long-suffering manifested with grace and dignity. It has been well 
remarked, "Jesus at the feet of the traitor--what a picture!  What 
lessons for us!"


     The feet-washing was designed to teach two distinct things in the 
Christian life, first the need of cleansing from sin, second the need 
of serving one another with humility. The first is brought out by 
Peter's exclamatory question, "Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?" by his 
impetuous remonstrance, "Thou shalt never wash my feet;" and (on 
hearing that without this he can have no part with Him) by his 
impulsive desire, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my 

     In answer to the question, the Lord says, "What I do thou knowest 
not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter." The "I" and the "thou" 
are emphatic. The R.V. brings out the distinction between the verbs, 
_oida, to perceive intuitively, and _ginosko, to understand by 
learning. In the reply to the remonstrance the Lord reveals the deep 
significance of the washing. To have no part with Him means the lack 
of more than the external


washing of the feet. The answer to the impulsive desire makes clear 
the difference between the initial removal of the defilement of sin at 
the time of the new birth, and the need of renewed cleansing 
consequent upon the committal of an act.

     The Lord immediately distinguishes between the condition of the 
eleven, who had all been bathed and were thus "clean every whit," and 
the one who, because his heart was defiled, had not been bathed. So, 
knowing who would betray Him, He said, "Ye are not all clean" (v. 11). 
After resuming His place at the table He gives the second explanation 
of His act. "Ye call Me," He says, "Master (Teacher, a term of respect 
and recognition of instruction) and Lord (a term of honour and 
recognition of authority)." If He, with all that these titles meant, 
did what He had now done, there rests upon them, as upon us all, a 
sacred obligation, consequent both upon His example and upon the 
claims of nature common to all ("one another").


     The Apostle Peter recalls this scene, when he says, "Yea, all of 
you, gird yourselves with humility to serve one another" (1 Pet. 5:5). 
It speaks of freedom from high-mindedness, of self-forgetting love, of 
submitting to one another in the fear of God, of putting on "a heart 
of compassion, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering. 
"For a servant is not greater than his lord, nor one that is sent 
greater than he that sent him." "ye know these things," He says (and 
they did, and we do), "blessed are ye (a better rendering than 
'happy,' as it conveys not mere joy but the sense of Divine favour 
that carries its reward) if ye do them."

          VERSES 18 TO 30

     There was now to be another kind of purification. The spiritual 
atmosphere must be cleansed before the Lord's Supper could be 
instituted, and the eleven prepared for that ministry for which they 
were to be sent into the world. How could one be so prepared who had 
definitely identified himself with the world? The statement "I speak 
not of you all" seems to be connected with


what He had just said about sending. Judas was not to be "one that is 
sent." Moreover, Christ was going to say something further about 
sending (v. 20).

     Judas could not deceive Him: "I (emphatic) know whom (plural) I 
have chosen" (or, as it should be, I chose), He says. He knew them 
all, each one, and as for Judas see 6:70, 71. He chose them to be His 
immediate companions and followers. He chose Judas by a Divine 
deliberation in the fulfilment of His Father's will, and, consistently 
with it, in fulfilment of Psalm 41:9. His object in telling them 
beforehand was for their best interests, and their best interests lay 
in their faith in Him. "I tell you ... that, when it is come to pass, 
ye may believe that I am." There is no pronoun "He" after "I am." They 
would find both that He was all that he had declared concerning His 
essential attributes, and that He was to them all that He had promised 
to be, as the One who would send them. They would know Him in their 
experiences in this respect. And this was so important that He 
attaches a "Verily, verily" to it: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He 
that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Him that sent Me" (v. 20). 
They could not enjoy a more intimate union with Him and with the 


     It cost the Lord much to make the disclosure as to who would be 
the instrument of His betrayal: "He was troubled in spirit (in 11:33, 
in seeing the sorrows of others, 'He troubled Himself'), and 
testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you 
shall betray Me." The statement evinces His sorrow more than the guilt 
of the act. More than this, it shows the voluntary nature of His 
suffering. He could have suggested a way of escape, or some mode of 
prevention or resistance; but there is nothing of all this. It was 
part of the pre-determined path towards the accomplishment of that for 
which He came into the world.

     The disciples are stirred to sorrowful and bewildered anxiety (an 
emotion absent from Judas) as to which of them would be the cause. 
Peter makes a sign to John (who was leaning on the bosom of the Lord) 
to find out, and says "Tell us who it is of whom He speaketh." So 
John, " leaning back (a different word from that in verse 23, 
'reclining'), as he was, on Jesus' breast,


[the R.V. 'as he was' represents the single word, _houtos, 'thus,' 
(which the A.V. omits), but this adverb would rather indicate that 
John, having paid attention to Peter's request, did what he wished 
(the 'thus' referring to his so doing as Peter had desired), and, 
leaning back again (the change in the tense, to the aorist, points to 
this)] saith unto Him, Lord, who is it?"

     "Jesus therefore answereth (and the narratives in Matthew and 
Mark show that the answer was not given privately to John alone), He 
it is, for whom I shall dip the sop, and give it to him." The definite 
article "the" is to be noticed. It specifies the regular act at the 
feast of the Passover (the A.V. "a sop" misses this, and gives the 
idea of a passing act). According to custom, the sop, prepared by the 
head of the household, was delivered at the proper moment to the 
person chosen by him. Apparently Judas had dipped his hand in the dish 
(Matt 26:23, R.V.). The Lord dips the sop and hands it to him. Quite 
possibly Judas had chosen the chief couch for himself, and acted 

          "THAT THOU DOEST"

     Thereupon Satan enters into him. He had prepared himself for this 
climax. The Lord was fully cognisant of this act on the part of the 
spiritual foe: "Jesus therefore (i.e., because of Satan's entry) saith 
unto him, That thou doest, do quickly." All that was required for the 
removal of the traitor was said; nothing more, nothing less. All is 
known between Christ and Judas. Judas sees both that the Master is not 
deceived and that he himself is discovered. Yes, discovered, but not 
exposed; he has admonition, but freedom to act; separation, but not 
expulsion. Much was prevented which would have deprived the disciples 
of that ministry which they were about to receive. Self-humbled, they 
are not roused to animosity against the culprit. He allows their ideas 
to be mistaken (vv. 28, 29).

     What an example (an additional example) the Lord set us! What 
self-restraint, what forbearance, what freedom from severity of 
judgment and strong judicial action! Much would never have happened in 
the past, much would not be taking place now, if the spirit the Lord 
manifested had characterised believers.

     The language of the original in Christ's command "That thou 
doest, do quickly" is striking. Firstly, there is a change of 


tenses in the verb: the first is the present continuous, i.e., 'What 
thou art doing' (what thou art engaged in doing); the second is the 
aorist tense, the tense of definite act, i.e., 'go and do it.' The 
first views the doing, the process of betrayal, as a whole; the second 
views it as a single deed. Again, the word "quickly" is in the 
comparative degree (lit., 'more quickly'), suggesting the possibility 
of interruptions or hindrances, which might arise from Christ's 
intervention. But He will not so interfere. He is the Controller of 
the whole situation.

          "IT WAS NIGHT"

     Judas, "having received the sop went out straightway: and it was 
night:"--nature's night around him, moral and spiritual, night in his 
soul, the precursor of a darker night to follow, and all to do with 
the darkest and greatest crime in human history.

     And now the atmosphere is cleansed. The immediate burden is 
lightened. The reserve, hitherto necessary, can yield place to the 
outflow of affection, to the unfolding of the deepest truths, and, 
almost at the beginning of it all, the institution of that love-feast, 
"the Lord's Supper."

     The opening statements disclose the highest truths, truths that 
are basic to all that follows to the end of the seventeenth chapter: 
"Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." In the 
original the verbs are in the aorist tense, which gives the literal 
rendering "Now was the Son of man glorified, and God was glorified in 
Him" (see the R.V. margin). But they are not simply statements of past 
events. What is indicated is that the events that are to follow, both 
the immediate events in connection with the Cross, and the succeeding 
events in both the near and the distant future are regarded and spoken 
of as assured and accomplished facts. The Lord was looking through all 
that was then actually in course of preparation for His Death, and the 
circumstances and effects of His Death. And having used this 
comprehensive form of expression, He proceeds to a direct statement of 
the future: "and God shall glorify Him in Himself, and straightway 
shall he glorify Him." In all that the Father is essentially, in His 
own Being, the Son will ever be glorified in perfect oneness with Him. 
He straightway glorified Him in that 'He raised Him from the dead and 
gave Him glory."



     Taking into consideration the Synoptic narratives of the 
Institution of the Lord's Supper, and the circumstances recorded by 
John in chapter 13, it seems probable that this institution took place 
just after Judas had gone out, and Christ had made the immediately 
consequent remarks mentioned in verse 32, and previously to His 
addressing the disciples as mentioned in verse 33. This is more 
probable than after what He says in verse 35, as verse 36 is linked 
with verse 33.

     The omission is purposive. The teachings of the Lord in that room 
do not refer to sacrifice for sin, the body and the blood of Christ, 
and the new covenant. The leading subjects are our immediate relations 
with Him. There are manifest correspondences and connections between 
the Institution and the Lord's discourses, as, for instance, in the 
instruction concerning His Coming again.


     How suitably, after they had partaken from His hands the emblems 
of His body and His blood, the symbols of His death, and had heard His 
promise to return, come the words, "Little children, yet a little 
while I am with you.... A new commandment I give unto you, that ye 
love one another; even as I have loved you,... I go to prepare a place 
for you, And ... I come again, and will receive you unto Myself !"

     He had announced to His enemies His going, but had forewarned 
them of eternal separation from Him (8:21); His announcement here to 
His disciples of His going is accompanied by the assurance of eternal 
reunion. He addresses them as "Little children" for the first time. 
John uses it seven times in his First Epistle. It conveys four ideas, 
  (1) affection, 
  (2) parental care. 
  (3) compassion, 
  (4) family intimacy.

     He gives a "new commandment" to love one another according to the 
standard of His own love (v. 34). Seven times in the whole discourse 
He speaks of His commandments, and in each place associates them with 
the subject of love (here; 14:15; 14:21; 14:23; 15:10; 15:12; 15:14 
with 13). His love provides both the motive and the measure of our 
love. As exhibited in us it both displays the character of real 
discipleship and gives the testimony


of it to the world: "By this shall all men know that ye are My 
disciples, if ye have love one to another." In this we are to be His 
representatives here.

     The word _kainos, "new," signifies not newness in time, recent 
(neos), but newness of nature and quality, superior to the old. The 
love of which the Lord speaks is therefore not obedience to the letter 
of the Law but the very spring and power of the new life, "the law of 
the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus."

     Peter is occupied especially with the staggering fact that the 
Lord was going away. His answer elicits that disciple's impetuous but 
faithful assurance of the utmost loyalty. This, in turn, produces 
another revelation of the Lord's complete foreknowledge, and now of 
all that would affect the circumstances of them all.

     The Lord checks mere impulse and self-confidence. His prediction 
of Peter's threefold denial does this. But both this prediction and 
other details of His disclosures produce foreboding in the hearts of 
all. It was all purposively preparatory on His part to the words of 
consolation and blessed assurance He would minister to them and to all 
His own ever since, and the revelation of Himself, His character, His 
ways and doings, which form the great essence of the following 


                         CHAPTER XIV

                         VERSES 1 TO 11

                         UNITY OF THE GODHEAD

     Consolation and revelation: this is His double ministry 
throughout. They are the features of His twofold message which opens 
that part of His discourse at the beginning of chapter 14: "Let not 
your heart be troubled;" that is the consolation; "ye believe in God, 
believe also in Me:" that is revelation. Consolation to the hearts of 
His followers, revelation of His own heart! Since, however, the verb 
rendered "Ye believe" has also the form of the imperative, and since 
His ministry is that of consolation to troubled hearts, it is better 
to regard each part as a command: "Believe in God, believe also in 
Me." It is a faith that goes much further than an acceptance of a 
truth, it cleaves to the Speaker. And what the Lord reveals is the 
unity between the Father and the Son. Faith in Both is a necessity. 
Without this there is no salvation in any sense of the term.

     The unity of the Persons and yet their distinctive Personalities 
are further declared: "In My Father's House" means that what is the 
Father's is likewise the Son's, and it is the prerogative of the Son 
both to prepare the abode and to come and convey thither those for 
whom it is prepared: "I go to prepare a place for you ... I come again 
(vivid present tense in both parts, giving assurance of the future 
facts), and will receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye 
may be also." This is more than a reception to meet Him in the air (1 
Thess. 4. 17). That will be so, but He takes us, surely, from the 
place of meeting in the air, into the Father's House, to be with Him. 
He says, "where I am;" this is "within the veil, whither as Forerunner 
Jesus entered for us" (Heb. 6:20). That place is "the Father's House." 
See also 17:24.


     The Lord is not referring to the falling asleep of the individual 
believer. He is speaking of the time of the Rapture of all believers 
at the completion of the Church. He thus, at the beginning


of His discourse, carries the thoughts of the disciples right on to 
the time of consummation, so that this promise may cast its rays upon 
all that intervenes, as dealt with in the remainder of His teachings.

     In His wisdom the Lord states the assumption that they know the 
way He is going: the R.V. is right, "And whither I go, ye know the 
way." He knew that this would cause Thomas to demur (v. 5). Christ had 
ready His Self-revelation, so Personal, so comprehensive: not, "I make 
the way, I reveal the truth, I give the life," but "I am the way, and 
the truth, and the life." And the fact that He is the truth and the 
life because He is the way, is confirmed by His additional statement, 
"No one cometh unto the Father, but by Me;" that has to do with the 
way alone, it is the way to the Father, and means the consequent 
experience of Christ as the truth and the life.

     He thus goes further than the way to the Father's House. He 
occupies our thoughts with the Father Himself and the present 
experience of coming voluntarily and by faith to Him, through Christ. 
"By Me" conveys the twofold thought both of His immediate Personal 
Mediation and of what He has wrought so as to bring this about, that 
is, His Incarnation, Life, Atoning Death, Resurrection and Ascension 
(see Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:13, 15, 18; Heb. 7:25; 10:19 to 21). Accordingly 
this statement goes far beyond what it had meant for Old Testament 
saints to come to God.


     The Lord now presses home the profound truth He had uttered in 
public (8:19), but with a difference. Here He says, "If ye had known 
(ginosko) Me, ye would have known (oida) My Father also. The first 
verb expresses a knowledge progressive and gained, the second a 
knowledge immediate and perceptive. In 8:19 the verb is _oida in both 
parts. With the opposing Pharisees the very idea of getting to know 
Him is altogether set aside. No knowledge whatever was possible to 
them. To the disciples He can and does say, "from henceforth ye know 
Him" (ginoskete, ye are getting to know); they had entered upon the 
process and would increase in the acquisition. Moreover they had "seen 
Him." Christ, as the Son, was the Personal manifestation of the 
Father, and in reply to Philip's earnest request that Christ would 
show Him He says, "he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" (v. 9).


     Here again a different verb, _horao, is used from that in 12:45 
(theoreo). _Theoreo denotes to be a spectator of; it stresses the 
action of the beholder, _horao lays more emphasis on the object 
beheld, upon the direction in which the vision goes. This is 
especially exemplified in the Lord's word here to the disciples, that 
the Father manifests Himself in the Son (cp. 1:17, 18). It must be so 
by reason of the mutual indwelling, "I am in the Father, and the 
Father in Me," repeated here and again in 17:23, in the prayer. The 
essential unity of Their nature in the Godhead, involving unity of 
mind, will and action, is conveyed in this great foundation statement 
by the Lord.


     True, this unity, this mutual indwelling, exceeds the limits of 
natural comprehension, and for this very reason He adds "believe Me 
for the very works' sake." This He had said in public (10:37, 38), but 
here there is more to follow. First the Person, then the works,--these 
are the combined motives for faith. To the Jews they had been 
presented as alternatives; to the disciples the works provide a 
supplementary motive to the faith: "believe Me on account of {i.e., by 
reason of, not for the sake of, as in the Versions) the very works." 
Nicodemus draws a conclusion from the works (3:2), and that by way of 
observation and reasoning. The disciples acknowledge Him apart from 
His works (1:41 to 48). Our highest occupation is with Christ Himself 
and our personal and increasing knowledge of Him. This is strengthened 
by the experience of His dealings with us.

          VERSES 12 TO 31


     From the mention of His works He opens their minds again to the 
future, but now concerning their service. He passes from Himself as 
the Object of faith to their life of faith in dependence upon His 
presence with the Father. And again the greatness and newness of the 
theme is marked by His "Verily, verily, I say unto you." His 
Self-revelation continues: "he that believeth on Me, the works that I 
do shall He do also; and greater works than


these shall he do; because I go unto the Father" (v. 12). There is 
continuity and increase, but He is the Author and Means of both. The 
fact that the works will be greater is due to His exaltation. They 
also become greater because of their extent in the world and because 
by them the Church, the Body of Christ, is in process of formation, 
the greatest of all the creative works of God.


     In this connection the Lord associates prayer with works, 
indicating the necessity of the former for the effectiveness of the 
latter. There are three factors essential in this respect: 
  (1) requests are to be made in His name; 
  (2) He will Himself fulfil them; 
  (3) the Father is thus to be glorified in the Son. 
In this repetition of the first two He says, "If ye shall ask Me 
anything in My Name" (v. 14, R.V.), expressing in another way His 
unity with the Father in the Godhead.

     To make a request in His Name does not mean simply appending the 
phrase to a petition or prayer, it involves the experience of that 
relationship to, and fellowship with, Him, that resemblance to His 
character and delight in His will which His Name implies; it means the 
appropriation of His merits, His rights, His claims. This imparted a 
new character and power and sweetness to prayer which they had not 
experienced hitherto.

     With this His next statement is not disconnected, "If ye love Me, 
ye will keep My commandments." Asking in His Name is a mere shibboleth 
if we do not keep His commandments. For in departing from them we fail 
to represent Him and therefore fail to do anything in His Name.

          THE TRINITY

     But for this we cannot rely upon our own wills, however 
determined we may be to be obedient. Accordingly it is just here that 
the Lord introduces the subject of the promised presence and power of 
the Holy Spirit: "Ye will keep My commandments, and I will pray the 
Father ('make request of'--a different word from "ask" in verses 13 
and 14: _aiteo, there, suggests the petition of an inferior to a 
superior; _erotao, here, suggests a right to expect the fulfilment), 
and He shall give you another Comforter (not _heteros,


another of a different kind, but _allos, another of similar nature), 
that He may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth."

     Obedience, then, is the obedience of love, love that expresses 
itself in act that fulfils His will. The authority of His will and the 
affections of the heart are as cause and effect in those who are "in 
law (ennomos, the literal word in 1 Cor. 9:21) to Christ." For this He 
promises the Holy Spirit. In this matter again He reveals His oneness 
and equality with the Father. For in verse 26 He says, as here, "Whom 
the Father will send in My Name." In 15:26 and 16:7 He says, "Whom I 
will send." What is this but the Trinity, the Three acting in One? For 
what He is going to reveal concerning the Holy Spirit is nothing short 
of a predication of His Deity. The Father acts in and through the Son, 
the Son acts as in the Father, and the Spirit acts in perfect unison 
of Being and action with the Father and the Son.


     The Name given to the Spirit is "the Paraclete," lit., one 
called to the side (of another); but the word expresses the purpose 
for which He comes, the kindly act He does. There are two meanings, 
the one signifying, as it does in the four occurrences in this part of 
the Gospel, one who by His presence and companionship imparts 
encouragement, strength and support. "Comforter" is the right 
rendering, only it means more than merely giving comfort. The other 
meaning is Advocate, one who undertakes our cause and pleads for us; 
that is its meaning in 1 John 2:1.

     When He says "another Comforter" (using "the word which means 
another of like nature), He is recalling the fact that He has been to 
them all that the word signifies in the first of the two meanings just 
mentioned. The same ministry will be continued by the Spirit, and that 
"for ever," both here and hereafter. He is "the Spirit of truth;" that 
is to say, He will be the Power in their testimony to the truth, thus 
fulfilling both the Divine counsels and human needs. For in a world of 
darkness, Devilry and deception, man's great need is the truth. For 
this Christ came into the world (8:32) and He is Himself, as He has 
just said, "the Truth." "The Spirit beareth witness," witness to 
Christ and all that this means, "because the Spirit is truth" (1 John 



     Just here it is that the Lord contrasts them and the world. The 
world "cannot receive" the Spirit; "for it beholdeth Him not, neither 
knoweth Him." The very condition of the world rendered impossible any 
recognition of Him. The disciples did behold in Christ and His ways 
and works the manifestation of the Holy Spirit's Person and power. 
Instead of knowing Him, the world charged Christ with being 
demon-possessed (8:52). The disciples knew the Spirit, for they had 
already experienced His power, as well as seeing His works in their 
Master: "He abideth with you," that was already true, "and shall be in 
you," that would be true from Pentecost onward. They would realise Him 
as the Comforter, empowering their witness and operating in the 
written testimony of such as would take part in the completion of the 
Scriptures of truth. "With" and "in!" What a power for every 
experience in life!

     But that did not mean that He would take the place of Christ 
Himself. He assures them of this immediately, and says, "I will not 
leave you desolate (lit., orphans): I come unto you." The Spirit 
Himself is the very Minister of Christ. If the Spirit of Christ 
indwells us, Christ Himself does. This means a vision of Christ; not 
physical, but very real. The spiritual would replace the physical for 
the disciples. "Yet a little while, and the world beholdeth Me no 
more; but ye behold Me." The world had seen Him only to mistake Him, 
because of their sinful state. The disciples, and we like them, have 
a different faculty of sight, the sight of faith.

          LIFE INDEED

     But His Presence with us and in us, according to His promise, is 
just the very essence and vitality of life, spiritual life: "because 
I live, ye shall live also." That means, in the later words of the 
Apostle Paul, "To me to live is Christ." It carries with it more than 
mere spiritual life. It is the constant personal experience of the 
risen and living Christ, producing His living power within our daily 
life. In the present enjoyment of this it is given to us to enjoy 
the blessed promise, "Ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in 
Me, and I in you" (v. 20). For the further experience of this mutual 
indwelling see 15:4 to 7.


     All this is a matter of carrying out His commandments; not mere 
sentiment, but the enjoyment of love as the spring of obedience, and 
obedience as the proof of love. So the Lord says, "He that loveth Me 
shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest 
Myself unto Him" (v. 21). This practical love on the part of a 
believer brings a special manifestation of the love of the Father and 
the Son, and not only of their love but of their very nature and 
character as revealed in the Son. "In the keeping of His commandments 
there is great reward," and there can be no greater reward than the 
communion enjoyed in the fulfilment of this promise. There comes a 
wonderful disclosure to the true heart. The verb rendered "I will 
manifest" is not the ordinary word _phaneroo, it is _emphanizo, which 
suggests more than an appearance, it carries the thought of a 
disclosure of what the Person is in His own nature, character, counsel 
and work.


     This drew forth an enquiry from Judas (not Iscariot) as to what 
had happened to bring about this distinction between themselves and 
the world (v. 22). Publicity, self-advertisement to gain applause, is 
characteristic of mere religion, it is the negation of the character 
and way of Christ. Accordingly His reply shows how utterly impossible 
what He had in mind for them is for the world. The world has no room 
for Christ all through this period, any more than it had for Him when 
He was on earth. It has its religious ideas of Him, but their 
conception of Him is radically distinct from what He is Himself. Jesus 
answered him, "If a man love Me, He will keep My word (not My words, 
but the whole word as an entity); and My Father will love him, and We 
will come unto him, and make Our abode with him" (v. 23). There is now 
a dwelling place on earth both for Father and Son. It is in the heart 
and life of anyone who carries the whole truth of the Word of God, not 
some particular doctrine or practice, nor a special set of doctrines, 
attaching importance to some while making little or nothing of others. 
The "word" is the whole teaching.

     This brings from the Father and the Son, not an external display 
of power and attractive activity, but the inward disclosure of Their 
love, producing likeness to the character of Him


who is "meek and lowly in heart," and the real power of the Spirit of 
God. The idea of an "abode" is not something ephemeral, but habitual 
and permanent. So John wrote later, "He that abideth in the teaching, 
the same hath both the Father and the Son" (2 John 9, R.V.). And the 
Lord finished His reply by combining, in a negative statement, the 
love and the obedience: "He that loveth Me not keepeth not My words 
(plural now, the various parts which make up the whole): and the word 
which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me." It was 
indeed Christ's word but only as it was that of the Father, in their 
perfect unity.


     What He had told them was only a beginning. They themselves must 
have felt the need of more, and He assures them that the need would be 
met. His teaching would not end with His being here with them: "But 
the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My 
Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all 
that I have said unto you" (vv. 25, 26). This makes clear that the 
Spirit is not a mere influence, He is a Person, who Himself acts as 
the Minister of comfort and instruction. The two are inseparable. 
Instruction imparts all that is conveyed by the comprehensive term 
"comforter." He would teach all things, that is, the truth of 
Scripture in its entirety, and would recall all that Christ taught. 
This latter contains the basis of all the truth that was to follow, 
from the Acts to the Apocalypse (cp. Heb. 2:3). All the rest of the 
N.T. serves to confirm the authenticity of the Gospels.

     This promise pointed to the responsibility of the disciples to 
recollect what Christ had taught, but this as being under the 
superintending control of the Holy Spirit (cp. 12:16). This places the 
writings of the Apostles beyond the scope of mere recollection and 


     Following this assurance the Lord ministers a word of strong 
comfort to them. When He says "Peace I leave with you" (v. 27), He is 
not giving them simply a farewell message. The word rendered "I leave" 
is the same in the original as when He said


"I will not leave you desolate." The peace is a bequest, and that not 
merely of freedom from anxiety as to circumstances, but of all that 
makes for mental and spiritual welfare.

     But there is a special character about the peace. When He further 
says, "My peace I give unto you," He uses a phrase the force of which 
is not expressed in our Versions. Literally it is 'the peace, the 
Mine,' a very emphatic way of speaking of His peace as that which 
characterises Him in a special manner and to a special degree, an 
inward peace which is His own possession, a peace not to be upset by 
foes or by the world. More than this, it is that which He imparts as 
being in accordance with His own nature. It has been described as 
consisting of "the composure of a holy affection, the sunshine of a 
settled purpose, and the sunshine of unclouded communion with God." He 
describes His love and His joy in the same phraseology (15:10, 12).
     "Not as the world giveth," He says, "give I unto you." There is 
more than one contrast. As to the mode of giving, the world gives it 
conventionally, and often merely superficially. As to the means, it 
does not possess real, lasting peace, and it cannot give what it has 
not got. As to the source, the peace the Lord gives has been procured 
for us at the cost of His atoning sacrifice; this provides the right 
for believers to receive it from Him. As to the nature, it is not only 
a peace of conscience, it is a peace of rest in the will of God, not 
merely resignation to it, but delight in it, rest in all His dealings.


     He then adds an exhortation against that which is the very 
negation of peace, namely, a troubled or a fearful heart. He here 
repeats what He said at the beginning (there in a different 
connection) and adds the words, "neither let it be afraid." The verb 
is _deiliao (here only in the N.T.), not a passing fear, but a 
condition of fearfulness. Cp. 2 Timothy 1:7.

     All fearfulness should yield place to love, for two reasons, 
  (1) because Christ has gone to the Father, 
  (2) because He is coming again (cp. 14:3). 
  "Ye heard how I said unto you, I go away, and I come unto you. If ye 
loved Me, ye would have rejoiced, because I go unto the Father: for 
the Father is greater than I" (v. 28). This last statement gives the consummating


reason for love to, and joy in, Christ, as powers that banish anxiety 
and fear. That the Father is "greater" is not said with regard to the 
relations in the Persons of the Trinity. The Lord has been speaking of 
Himself as the One sent by the Father, and who fulfils His 
commandments, the Way that leads to the Father, and the One who 
reveals the Father. Of all this the Father is the Authority and the 
Object. In all these respects the Father is greater than the Son, but 
not greater in essence and Godhood.

     That these assurances actually created the love and rejoicing to 
which the Lord exhorted them is told out in Luke 24:53 and in the 
opening chapters of the Acts. We should so live, too, that these 
blessings may operate in our hearts continually and give effect to our 

     But all is a matter of faith, faith that realises and 
appropriates the Unseen: "And now I have told you before it come to 
pass, that when it is come to pass ye may believe" (v. 29).


     For the disciples the scene was about to change; this 
companionship and intimate converse were about to terminate for the 
time. The powers of darkness were mustering for the attack. "The 
prince of the world" was coming; he had come to Him with a claim to 
this title in the wilderness at the beginning of His public testimony. 
The claim was not then denied by the victorious Lord. And now with his 
permitted authority over rebellious man, over the world in its 
persistent hardness of heart against all Divine revelation and 
command, Satan was hastening to the crucial attack, and using the 
leading human powers among the Jews as his instruments.

     Yet if this prince of the world had claims upon men, he had none 
upon the Son of God: "and he hath nothing in Me," He says; he could 
not find, as he did in the world, something that would answer morally 
to his own nature; the very fact that men are sinners makes them 
partakers with the evil one, who "sinneth from the beginning." So it 
was with the first human sin, and men have ever since thrown open the 
avenues of their being to him. But he found no means of ingress in Him 
in whom "is no sin." Therefore while Satan could make an attempt, 
subject to the permissive will of God, he had no right to do so.



     That he should do so at this time was, by such permission, 
voluntarily granted. Therefore there must be a Divine purpose in it. 
This is seen in the Lord's next words, "but that the world may know 
that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I 
do" (v. 31). Therefore the doing was not merely by voluntary consent, 
but by loving obedience. Here was a display of grace indeed. This is 
something more than the fact that God so loved the world that He gave 
His only begotten Son for the salvation of anyone who would believe. 
The world was to know that, in giving up His life that men might be 
saved, He was giving evidence of His love to the Father. Here then was 
a proof of the grace of Father and Son towards a guilty world.

     That the Lord now said "Arise, let us go hence," does not 
necessitate the idea that the company immediately left the room. The 
greater likelihood is that they lingered there or at least in the 
premises while He continued His discourse and praved His prayer. 
Perhaps at this point they sang the Hallel. If after they rose they 
stayed in the recesses of the house, there would very likely be a vine 
growing on the sides, and this may have led to His remarks at the 
beginning of chapter 15. What is noticeable is that immediately upon 
His mentioning that "the prince of the world was coming," He says, 
"Arise, let us go hence," suggesting His readiness to meet the attack 
and fulfil all that was now to be accomplished.

     The purpose in the narrative, however, is clearly the continuity 
of the discourse; there is so much in what follows that recalls and 
expands what He had previously spoken of, and this He now applies by 
way of practical exhortation, and that not only for the eleven but for 
all believers.

     The great subject of the next two chapters is the relation of 
believers to the Lord Himself as the One by whose power their lives 
are to be lived. The relationship is fivefold; they are sharers in His 
life and fruitfulness as His members (vv. 1 to 8), in His love and joy 
as His friends (vv. 9, 19), in His work and ways as His associates (v. 
20 to 16:3), in His ministry and spirit as His disciples (16:4 to 15), 
in His conflict and victory as His adherents (16:16 to 33).


                         CHAPTER XV

                         VERSES 1 TO 8


     In speaking of Himself as "the true vine" (lit., the vine, the 
true one) He signifies that He is the One who is the very essence of 
spiritual life and fruitfulness, and from whom alone these can be 
possessed and produced. The nation had become barren and dead. He was 
the twig out of the stump (Isa. 11:1, 2). But He changes the 
metaphors, because now He includes all those who, as His members, 
partake of His life and its products, showing that there is a vital 
union between Himself and them.

     But this union and fruitfulness must be maintained in practical 
apprehension by their abiding in Him. Yet fruitfulness does not lie 
merely within their own power. They are entirely dependent on the 
Vine. Hence, He says, "My Father is the Husbandman." There are two 
sorts of branches, the non-fruitbearing and the fruitbearing. The 
former He takes away, the latter He cleanses. There is no thought here 
of the loss of eternal life. The Lord is picturing the use of the 
pruning-knife, in the one case, and the removal of such things as 
parasites and mildew, in the case of the other. "He shows the 
disciples that, walking on earth, they should be pruned by the Father, 
and be cut off if they bore no fruit; for the subject here is not that 
relationship with Christ in Heaven by the Holy Ghost, which cannot be 
broken, but of that link which even then was formed here below, which 
might be vital and eternal, or which might not. Fruit should be the 
proof" (J.N.D.).

          ABIDING IN HIM

     The eleven disciples were already clean; their faith in Christ 
had made them branches in the Vine. They had become clean because of 
the word He had spoken to them. They would yet need cleansing to bear 
"more fruit." The secret of all this lay in His command "Abide in Me." 
This implies the exercise.-of


the will, a voluntary and conscious perseverance, and makes clear the 
possibility of spiritual dangers, lest anything should be allowed to 
interrupt or hinder the continual experience of this union. Moreover 
the relation is mutual. There is a promise conditional upon fulfilment 
of the command. He says, "Abide in Me, and I in you." This is a 
condition, not of sentiment but of activity. In 14:20, "ye in Me, and 
I in you" signified a state. Here the relation is that which expresses 
itself in practical result, the activity being the outcome of the 
realisation of the state.

     Thus soul-energy finds its effect in loving obedience to all His 
commands, and this is the life of Christ bearing fruit: "As the branch 
cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither 
can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He 
that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for- 
apart from (i.e., severed from) Me ye can do nothing" (vv. 4, 5).


     A distinction is necessary between the subject of the life of the believer as being inseparable from 
Christ from the day on which he receives Him by faith, and the 
relation of the believer to Him in the matter of spiritual 
fruit-bearing. As to the former the Lord made the imperishable life of 
the believer clear in chapter 10, in declaring that His sheep could 
never perish. What He is now showing is that no believer can bring 
forth fruit from his own resources or by his own initiative. As the 
Apostle Paul says, "I laboured ... yet not I, but the grace of God 
which was with me." "We are not sufficient of ourselves to think 
anything as of ourselves." "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in 

     The Lord compares one who abides not in Him to a withered branch. 
That kind of branch men gather and burn. The aorist tenses of the 
verbs rendered "he is cast forth" and "is withered," suggest a twofold 
  (1) the decisive character of the acts (no other course being 
  (2) the all-knowing mind of the Speaker (as One who knew what must 
take place before it became a fact).

     The fruitlessness may be caused by lethargy of soul, or by 
unbelief, or by wilful apostasy. The latter had been the case with the 
betrayer; avarice, then discontent, then definite antagonism!

pp 141


     Now the Lord deals with the fruitfulness of enjoyed union and 
communion, and shows that the indwelling of His words means power in 
prayer, and that the truly prayerful life is the fruitful life: "If ye 
abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask* whatsoever ye will, and it 
shall be done unto you" (v. 7). (*The better reading in the original 
is _aitesasthe, the aorist imperative, "ask Me.") His words are vital 
principles; they are designed to inspire our motives and to direct our 
thoughts and prompt our acts. To have His words abiding in us gives us 
such communion with God that we can count upon His answers to our 
prayers. And this inevitably means productiveness. It is the very 
opposite to fruitlessness.

     This asking and obtaining never affords self-gratulation. What it 
does effect is true discipleship of Christ, whose one and only motive 
was the glory of the Father. "Herein is My Father glorified, that ye 
bear much fruit; and so shall ye be My disciples" (v. 8). Their 
discipleship had begun, but there was to be development and progress.

               VERSES 9 TO 13


     Passing for the moment from His subject of the Vine and the 
branches, with its significance of vital and constant union of His 
members with Himself for fruitfulness, He now speaks of His love for 
them as His friends, and its practical effect in them. "Abiding" is 
the continued keynote. As they must abide in Him as their Life, so 
they must abide in His love.

     Firstly, as to the source, "Even as the Father hath loved Me;" 
  secondly, as to the mediating bestowment, "I also have loved you;" 
  thirdly, as to the enjoyed element, "Abide ye in My love," 
  fourthly, as to the means, "If ye keep My commandments ye shall abide 
in My love:" 
  fifthly, as to the example, "even as I have kept My Father's 
commandments, and abide in His love" (vv. 9, 10).

     All this makes clear that our obedience does not create the 
Lord's love, any more than walking in sunshine creates the sun's


light. The light is there, His love is there all the time. Obedience 
gives the realisation of it. Disobedience, turning from the path of 
His commandments, hinders our enjoyment of His love. It rests upon him 
who walks as He walked.

          HIS JOY

     It is just this which leads on to the subject of His joy; for it 
was His joy to do the Father's will, and in our case a life of 
obedience is a life of joy: "These things have I spoken unto you, that 
My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be fulfilled" (v. 11). 
That the former purpose means that the joy which is His own may be 
imparted to them (rather than that His joy in them may continue) is 
confirmed in two respects: 
  firstly, by the striking character of the full phrase in the 
original, which describes the uniqueness of His joy, lit., "the joy, 
the Mine;" 
  secondly, by His prayer in 17:13, "that they may have My joy 
fulfilled in themselves." It is not "that your joy may be full;" that 
rendering misses the important point. That His followers would live 
and work in full fellowship with Him in seeing the extension of His 
Kingdom, would mean that His joy, in the outworking of the will of the 
Father, would be fulfilled in each of their lives.

     This is abundantly illustrated in the Epistles. To take one 
example, when Paul says of the Thessalonian believers "Ye are our 
glory and joy" (1 Thess. 2:20), this is but the Lord's own joy being 
fulfilled in the hearts of the Apostle and his fellow-labourers.

          HIS FRIENDS

     But it is to be fulfilled by the mutual love of fellow-believers, 
and this it is which leads to His reminder that those who act like 
this are His friends: "This is My commandment, that ye love one 
another, even as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, 
that a man lay down his life for his friends" (vv. 12, 13). He uses 
again the same kind of striking phrase concerning His commandment as 
He has done of love, joy and peace: 'This is the commandment, the 
Mine' ('that which is especially Mine').

     The question has been raised as to whether, in this 13th verse,


the Lord was actually making reference to His own atoning sacrifice, 
or whether, in enjoining upon the disciples the exercise of mutual 
love, He was simply giving the highest example of merely human 
self-sacrifice. This calls for careful consideration. True it is that 
there is no other direct reference, in this discourse in the Upper 
Room, to His Death. It has been asked, too, whether, since Christ died 
for all men, "died for the ungodly," died for the whole world, He 
would have spoken of His Death as a giving up of His life for His 


     It is necessary first to consider the main purpose of the Lord's 
message to His disciples. One cannot read through this discourse 
without noticing that His great object was to comfort, strengthen and 
instruct them in view of their coming experiences, trials, and 
vicissitudes, after He had gone to the Father, and so to prepare them 
for their service and testimony. This would not mean the entire 
withholding of an intimation of His Death (that would be improbable), 
but it would mean keeping the subject in a certain amount of reserve. 
The circumstances and meaning of His Death they had already known to 
some extent ("the way ye know"), but the facts and their implications 
would be clear in a few hours, and in due time their full explanation 
would be made known to them. For that immediate occasion there was 
manifested therefore in His messages a Divinely wise economy of 
treatment. To have handled the subject of His Death as an offering for 
the world, a giving up of His life "for the ungodly," would have been 
to exceed the scope and method of His immediate teachings.

     Consistently with this, and so far from keeping secret the 
subject of His death, He addresses His disciples as His "friends" in 
this connection. He had used that term for them long before (Luke 
12:4). While therefore He is instructing them as to how they should 
manifest their love one to another, it is in keeping with the nature 
of His instructions that He should include a reference to His own 
Death as the giving up of His life for His "friends." Such indeed it 
was with regard to the eleven who were listening to Him, and there is 
nothing theologically erroneous, or doctrinally inconsistent with the 
subject of His expiatory sacrifice as set forth elsewhere in 
Scripture, in regarding His


general statement, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay 
down his life for his friends," as including a reference to His own 
act with its special significance. The fact that its general 
character, as bearing upon their love one to another, involved the 
mention of the giving up of life as the act of "a man," in no way 
detracts from the expiatory efficacy of His Death, as if suggesting 
that His act was that of a mere man. On the contrary the natural 
illustration involved the use of such phraseology. As a matter of fact 
the word "man" is not in the Greek in any part of the verse. The words 
are "no one" and "anyone."

     The crowning exemplification made the inclusion of His own deed, 
with its special instruction, most appropriate. And how wisely and 
suitably He intimated it! That His statement did not preclude an 
intimation of His own act, with its expiatory uniqueness, is confirmed 
by what His "beloved disciple" says in his First Epistle, in words 
which surely contain an echo of the very words of Him on whose breast 
he leaned, "Hereby know we love, because He laid down His life for us: 
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:16). We 
may observe that the Apostle narrows the subject to believers, instead 
of referring to the world as that for which the Lord died, just as 
Christ Himself did on the evening when He spoke to His disciples.

               VERSES 14 TO 16


     In the deeper intimacy established by the Lord in this discourse 
He now unfolded more fully to His disciples what their being His 
"friends" involved. He had already made clear that it meant their 
doing all that pleased Him. But there was to be more than this. 
Accordingly He says, "No longer do I call you servants; for the 
servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you 

     This did not mean that they were no longer His servants. Such 
they continued to be, and they ever delighted so to describe 
themselves (douloi, bondservants; see 1 Pet. 1:1; Jude 5:1; Rom. 1:1). 
With the believer the capacity of being a servant


carries with it the intimacy and communion of friendship. The servant 
(doulos) as such does not know what his master is doing; his knowledge 
is limited to his duty. If, however, his master takes him into his 
confidence, the scene is changed. There is cooperation and sympathy 
and fellowship. A friendship is established. And this is just what the 
Lord now says: "I have called you friends: for all things that I heard 
from My Father I have made known unto you" (v. 15).

     By this communication of the Father's counsels and ways, a 
communication constantly being made to us by the Spirit through the 
Word, Christ brings us into partnership with Himself; in His purposes, 
interests and operations, we are His friends. This is more than the 
friendship produced by loving obedience. To be partners is a greater 
privilege than to be servants.

     His next word provides a beautiful connection. In making them His 
friends to share in His thoughts and purpose He it was who took the 
initiative: "Ye did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, 
that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: 
that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My Name He may give it 
you" (v. 16). This is not election to eternal life, it is choice for 
service and fruitfulness. The statement looks back to two facts, one 
to the immediately preceding subject of the combined service and 
friendship, consequent upon the communication of the Father's counsels 
and operations made to the disciples through the Son, the other to the 
first part of the chapter, where the Lord was speaking of the union 
with Himself as the requisite for fruitbearing.


     This metaphor is resumed. The word rendered "appointed" is, 
literally, "set in" (i.e., 'I set you in Me'). But now there is more 
than the union of branches with the stem. There is all the consequent 
activity of the mission which lay before them.

     With all true believers there is the double condition necessary, 
first the privacy of vital and intimate communion, with the 
realisation of partnership with Him, and then, and then only, the 
spiritual and visible activity of producing results for His glory; not 
for spectacular display, but by the quiet yet earnest response to the 
guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.   Such


fruitfulness goes on from time into eternity. And the secret of it all 
is the power of prayer, prevailing prayer.

               VERSES 17 TO 27


     The renewal of the command in verse 17 to love one another is a 
connecting link between what has preceded and what now follows (cp. 
14:25; 15:11; 16:1, 25, 33). As to the preceding, the one thing 
compatible with those who know what union and friendship with the Lord 
are, is that they should love one another. But this the more so owing 
to the antagonism of the world (cp, 1 John 3:11 to 14). Outer hatred! 
Inner love! In all this their identification with Christ is 
exemplified. "If the world hateth you, ye know that it hath hated Me 
before it hated you" (v. 18). This introduces certain principles, 
spiritual truths governing the condition; these principles are the 
subject of 15:18 to 27.  In 16:1 to 15 the Lord gives details of 

     We have seen how He speaks to His own, first as His members 
participating in His life, then as His friends participating in His 
love. Now He shows that they are to be His followers, participating in 
His work. But this last means opposition and hatred from the world and 
consequent experiences of suffering and trial. But that means triumph 
and glory through the ministry of the Comforter.

     "If the world hateth you;" the "if" expresses, not a possibility, 
but a fact. And the explanation is clear: "If ye were of the world, 
the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but 
I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (v. 19). 
There is in the world a pervading characteristic, a sort of affection 
for those who naturally belong to it, and this is indicated by the 
phrase "its own." The verb _phileo, here used of its love, indicates 
what is merely natural, in contrast to _agapao, to love by way of 
moral choice. The fellowship created by Christ in choosing His 
disciples out of the world and uniting them to Himself, conforming 
them to His own likeness, is radically and essentially contrary to the 
spirit of the world. Therefore it hates both Him and them.  The 
fivefold mention of the "world"


emphasises what He says of it.  Similarly five times John speaks of it 
in his First Epistle.

     The Lord now reminds them of what He had already said, "A servant 
is not greater than his lord." Before, this statement inculcated 
likeness to His in lowliness of service; now it speaks of 
identification with Him in treatment by the world: "If they persecuted 
Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word (which they had 
certainly not done), they will keep yours." The change to "they" is 
noticeable; the term "the world" suggested its oneness in nature and 
attitude, the plural suggests its varied antagonistic efforts: "But 
all these things will they do unto you for My Name's sake (because of 
My Name)." His Name is expressive of His character and ways, all being 
contrary to those of the world.


     In both respects He revealed the Father who sent Him. In both 
respects His followers represent Him. Having no real knowledge of the 
Sender, the world failed to recognise the Sent. The Sent One came in 
Person and spoke to them; hence the extreme degree of their sin. "If I 
had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they 
have no excuse for their sin." The Lord thus showed that He was ready 
to make allowance were it possible. Their sin was unbelief. They could 
not plead ignorance. Their unbelief developed into hatred.

     The evidence He had given was twofold and overwhelming. He had 
Himself borne witness that He and the Father were One. In hating Him 
they hated His Father also (v. 23). Then there was the witness of His 
works: "If I had not done among them the works which none other had 
done, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen and hated both 
Me and My Father." Their unbelieving malice had therefore a double 

     Behind all this witness was that of the Scripture, which He 
speaks of as "their law." They boasted in it, blind to the fact that 
it testified against themselves: "They hated Me without a cause."



     This instruction concerning the world and its treatment of them 
had been imparted with regard to the witness that was yet to be given 
in it by them. For this object adequate provision would be made. The 
contrasting "But" connects the past with the future: "But when the 
Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the 
Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall bear 
witness of Me, and ye also bear witness, because ye have been with Me 
from the beginning " (vv. 26, 27).

     There is strong emphasis on the pronouns "I" and "He," the first 
stressing the Lord's own action, the second the importance of the Holy 
Spirit's action. The Lord speaks of Him now as "The Spirit of truth;" 
this is additional to what He mentioned in 14:16 and 26, and is 
appropriate to the subject of the witness to be given, for the truth 
describes the matter of the witness. Also He "proceedeth from the 
Father;" this describes a going forth that is constant, but of which 
His coming at the promised time was to be a special act. The witness 
of the Apostles would be by reason of their having been with Christ 
from the beginning, that is, from the beginning of His public 
manifestation and ministry (Acts 1:2, 21, 22; 5:32; 1 John 1:1 to 3).


                         CHAPTER XVI

                         VERSES 1 TO 11


     The very fact that they would be witnessing to Him amidst fierce 
hostility produces the reminder that He was about to leave them, and 
that this was necessary if they were to experience the provision He 
was about to make for them, so that they might be both delivered and 
empowered. If they were to have the help they must be alive to the 

     "These things have I spoken unto you (i.e., especially verses 18 
to 27 of chapter 15) that ye should not be made to stumble" (16:1); 
the word here is a warning, not against being tripped up in the path, 
but against a sorrowful reaction of thought in being disappointed at 
not seeing the Kingdom set up in the world through the conversion of 
Israel. Let not their faith be staggered by the hostile fanaticism of 
Jewish leaders in excommunicating them, and even killing them as an 
act of service to God (vv. 1, 2). Let them bear in mind the reason for 
it all, namely, ignorance of the Father and Himself. Let them 
remember, when the antagonism burst upon them, that it was but 
fulfilling what He had foretold, and thus let the very adversities be 
but reminders of His ministry of love that very evening (vv. 3, 4).

     "These things," He says, "I said not unto you from the beginning, 
because I was with you." The phrase 'from the beginning" is to be 
noted; it is not "at the beginning" (as in the A.V.). He had told them 
"at the beginning" (see Matt. 10:16 to 25), but He had not continued 
all along to do so and thus disconcert their minds. For He was with 
them, and what they needed was His Person and His teachings concerning 
Himself. One forewarning was enough.

          A WARNING

     This has its lesson for us. We must never allow difficulties and 
distresses in the future so to preoccupy our minds that we shall


lose our enjoyment of His own Person and love and power. Let not dark 
circumstances obscure the light of His countenance and glory.

     Now He was going to Him who sent Him, and, instead of faith and 
hope, nothing but sorrow filled their hearts. True they had asked 
whither He was going (13:36 and 14:5), but the enquiries were by way 
of despair and perplexity, not of hope. "Nevertheless," He says, "I 
tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away (the 
pronouns 'I' are emphatic): for if I go not away, the Comforter will 
not come unto you; but if I go, I will send Him unto you." It was 
expedient in more ways than one. The very loss would be gain. Sight 
would give place to faith, the all important factor in present 
service. They would pass from a stage of training to qualified 
activity. Their earthly companying with the Lord would be exchanged 
for the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, ministering Christ to 
and through them.

     Two different words are rendered "go" in verse 7; twice the verb 
_apeltho indicates departure from the place left, i.e., from the 
world; the last verb _poreutho indicates the journey to the place and 
the object in view, Heaven and God. The former suggests the 
inevitable, the latter the purposive.


     Verses 8 to 15 present two contrasting operations of the Holy 
Spirit after His coming. The former has to do with the world, the 
latter with the disciples. As to the world He would convict it "in 
respect of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment: of sin, because 
they believe not on Me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, 
and ye behold Me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this 
world hath been judged." The significance of the word rendered 
"convict," is to bring home the evils of false notions and gross 

     The three subjects pertain to the realm of conscience. They have 
to do with the state and attitude of man in regard to God and His 
claims. They are factors in the ancient and continued controversy 
between God and man from the beginning of human sin onward. But the 
Lord shows that, since His own coming into the scene, a new and 
special test is applied. The test relates to, and centres in, Himself. 
It is applied by the Holy Spirit. As to


the first, conviction in respect of sin is not of a transgression of 
God's Law; it goes deeper, it goes to the root of sin, namely, 
unbelief. For all sin is essentially unbelief. That was so with Adam 
and Eve and had been so all along. But now, with the new test, the 
evil consists in refusal to believe on Christ: "because they believe 
not on Me."

     As to the second, conviction in respect of righteousness is not 
because man has departed from the right ways of God. That is so. But 
now in Christ righteousness had been realised in man for the first 
time and was duly to be vindicated by His enthronement at the right 
hand of God: "of righteousness, because I go to the Father" (a 
different word again for "go;" _hupago, which might fully be rendered 
'I go My way;' cp. John 8:21; 16:5). The world had refused to 
recognise His righteousness; they counted Him a demon-possessed 
blasphemer and numbered Him among the transgressors. As to His right 
to be raised from the tomb, with the issues at the right hand of the 
Father, they concocted a lying fable about that. The Lord adds very 
significantly "and ye behold Me no longer" ("behold," _theoreo, is the 
word). That meant faith; and the life of faith is a life of practical 
righteousness; it is a witness to the world of what true righteousness 
is. Therefore it is a veritable part of the convicting work of the 
Spirit in regard to the world. Appropriately therefore the Lord 
associates the life of believers here with His presence with the 
Father, as an essential factor in this second process of conviction.

     As to the third, conviction in respect of judgment is the 
crowning operation. The world dares to pronounce its judgment on its 
affairs as if its directing policy would issue in the vindication of 
the rights of humanity. The present is "man's day," that is, the time 
in which man seeks to walk by the light of his own counsels. But man's 
estimate is marred by his alienation from God. "The whole world lieth 
in the evil one" (1 John 5:19, R.V.). The world will yet find that 
out. But the evil one, its prince, met his doom at the Cross. Then was 
fulfilled the word of the Lord, "the prince of this world cometh, and 
hath nothing in Me." The triumph of Christ at Calvary meant the 
casting out of Satan (cp. Col. 2:15). Since the being who is the 'the 
deceiver of the nations' (Rev. 20:3) has been judged, the world is to 
be convicted by the Spirit in respect of judgment, the falseness of 
its own judgment and the righteous judgment of God.


          VERSES 12 TO 15

     As to the Spirit's work in the case of believers, the Lord had 
much to say, but that was not the time: "Ye cannot bear them now" 
(_arti, just at the present time). There is a Divine economy in the 
process of revelation. The Lord had now disclosed matters which He had 
hitherto withheld. Truth is tempered to suit the mind's stage of 
development. The fulness of truth was to be given when further 
experiences relative to Christ had fitted the disciples for it. 
"Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you 
into all the truth: for He shall not speak from Himself; but what 
things soever He shall hear, these shall He speak: and He shall 
declare unto you the things that are to come" (v. 13).


     The first "He" is emphatic (ekeinos, the Person, not an 
influence). He is "the Spirit of truth." Truth is His nature, and that 
is the guarantee of the character of what He teaches. He would not 
only be sent, He would "come," by His own power. He would guide into 
the truth, leading into its facts and their meanings by Divinely 
arranged progress. Moreover it would be completely given to them in 
their lifetime. Nothing would remain to be added by the Church. It 
would be sufficient for all generations (Jude 3, R.V.). Just as Christ spoke that which He heard from the 
Father (8:38; 15:15), so would the Spirit. He is not a separate Deity, 
originating truth. The Three are One. He would declare the coming 
things, i.e., all things relative to this period and the coming ages.

     As to the world the Lord said, "He shall bear witness of Me," and 
as to the mode of His ministry, "for He shall take of Mine (more 
fully, out of that which is Mine), and shall declare it unto you" (v. 
14). The whole of the New Testament is the great proof of the 
fulfilment of this, and by means of the entire Scriptures the Spirit 
of truth has been fulfilling it to and through believers ever since. 
Yet not all has been unfolded thus far. The _ek, out of, is to be 
taken literally. There remains yet more in the ages to come.

     He gives a reason for this promise in repeating it, and the 
reason is this: "All things whatsoever the Father hath are Mine"


(v. 15). He thus shows not only the unity between the Father and 
Himself in Godhood, but points out the vastness of the storehouse of 
Divine possessions from which the revelations and unfoldings are to be 
made. "The Spirit searches all things, yea the deep things of God."

               VERSES 16 TO 33


     The ministry of the Spirit would be given amidst seasons of 
sorrow and trial for all believers. The Lord now prepares the 
disciples for this. He first reminds them that He is about to leave 
them, but there is joy to come from His own Person: "A little while, 
and ye behold Me no more; and again a little while, and ye shall see 
Me" (v. 16). The first "little while" was a few hours, and then after 
some days He would cease to be seen of them (in the sense of the verb 
_theoreo, a visible beholding). He would be seen by the eye of faith 
indeed. But there is surely more than this in the _opsesthe, "ye shall 
see (Me)." The Apostle John uses this very verb and the same tense in 
1 John 3:2, and the Lord doubtless had in mind His future return, as 
He had said in 14:3. For the time being the disciples were perplexed. 
The Lord noticed that they were enquiring among themselves, and 
satisfied their questionings by His further disclosures (vv. 17 to 

     They would indeed weep and lament, while the world rejoiced, but 
Christ Himself, first by His resurrection and appearances, would turn 
their sorrow into joy, and since everything centred in His death and 
resurrection, the very cause of their sorrow would be the cause of 
their joy. For Him and for them the experiences found their analogy in 
the birth pangs of a woman in her travail with the resulting joy in 
the birth of her son. His own bitter hours on the Cross and the 
triumphant joy of the vacant tomb were to have their counterpart in 
their experiences, for He had identified them with Himself. He saw of 
the travail of His soul and was satisfied. God loosed the birth pangs 
of death, because it was not possible that He should be holden of it 
(Acts 2:24).


     He did see them again, their heart did rejoice, and no one could 
take their joy from them (see, e.g., Acts 5:41). But what was 
experienced in that way, and has been ever since, is not the complete 
fulfilment of the Lord's reassuring words of promise. The best, the 
complete, fulfilment will be brought about when He comes to receive us 
to Himself and takes us into His Father's House above.


     The Lord now completes His confirmatory comfort and assurance. 
The intercourse they had enjoyed with Him in bodily presence was about 
to be changed, not to end, but to continue in a different condition. 
There was an intercourse during the forty days after His resurrection 
(Acts 1:1 to 8), but the new experience was to be marked by a 
different mode of access and by a new mode of communion. "And in that 
day ye shall ask Me nothing (margin, ask Me no question). Verily, 
verily, I say unto you, if ye shall ask anything of the Father, He 
will give it to you in My Name. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My 
Name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be fulfilled" (vv. 
23, 24). This all combines immediate access and mediation (see Eph. 
2:18; 3:12).


     There is a change in the verbs to ask. The first, _erotao, 
primarily means to ask by way of enquiry, and then by request. The 
second, _aiteo, means to ask by way of petition. A nearer relation is 
involved in _erotao than in _aiteo. _Erotao had been used of the 
disciples with regard to Christ (v. 19) and is used in verse 26 of 
Christ's address to the Father; so in 17:9, 15, 20; cp. the change in 
1 John 5:16. The Lord did not mean that no prayer must be offered to 
Him afterwards. They did address Him in prayer, Acts 1:24; 7:59; 9:13, 
etc. What He does stress particularly is His own ministry of mediation 
and the effect of prayer addressed to the Father. What He gives He 
does so in the Name of the Lord Jesus, that is, by reason, of all that 
the Name implies in relation to the Father (see on 14:14; 14:26; 
15:16). The conditions for prayer being thus fulfilled, the answers 
are designed to fill the heart with joy, a joy of which no foe, no 
adverse circumstance, can deprive us.


     But there was to be a change in the nature of the unfoldings of 
truth. The Lord would not again adopt the use of "proverbs," a word 
including different modes of figurative language. He would speak 
"plainly" of the Father. The word is to be taken in its wider sense of 
freedom of speech. The time for fulness of utterance was coming. No 
longer would the mind be needing a gradual process of training. The 
communications would impart a full assurance of understanding. All 
this became characteristic of the ministry of the Spirit to and 
through the Apostles. The subject is "the Father," and the Lord at 
once communicates plain and direct truth concerning Him.

     He says, "In that day ye shall ask in My Name, and I say not unto 
you that I will pray (make request of) the Father for you: for the 
Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me and have believed 
that I came forth from the Father" (vv. 26, 27). Firstly, He does not 
say He will not pray the Father; He actually proceeded to do so (ch. 
17), and He "maketh intercession for us" (Rom. 8:34); His negative way 
of putting it "I say not ..." is simply a way of preparing for the 
strong positive assurance which immediately follows. Secondly, the 
preposition _peri here means "concerning" ("I will pray the Father 
concerning you"). The same preposition He has just used in regard to 
telling them concerning the Father. Thirdly, He gives a reason for His 
interest concerning them, in that the Father Himself loves them 
because of their love for Christ and their faith regarding Him.


     Now follow His plain statements concerning the Father and 
Himself, fundamental facts of the utmost importance, a climax in His 
communication: "I came out from the Father, and am come into the 
world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father" (v. 28). 
These four facts summarise the history of Christ. The first takes us 
to His past eternity. There is a significant change of preposition. In 
verse 27 He said, "Ye have believed that I came forth from (para, from 
with) the Father" (so the R.V., instead of "from God"). But now He 
says "I came out from (ek) the Father." This is a deeper truth, it is 
more than a recognition of the faith of the disciples. The _ek 


indicates a complete oneness of essence, of the Father and the Son, in 
the past eternity. Those who deny the pre-eternal Sonship of Christ 
fail, for one thing among others, to discern the significance of this 
_ek; it definitely implies the essential relationship of Christ as the 
Son of the Father before He became Incarnate, He did not become the 
Son at His Birth.

     The second covers the facts of His Birth, Incarnation, Death, 
Burial and Resurrection. The third marks His Ascension, the fourth His 
return to the Father, to the One standing in the same relation to Him 
as in the eternal past. His coming out and His return are each 
inseparable from His Sonship. The coming out does not suggest that the 
Father ceased to be with Him. It could not be so. He said "I and the 
Father are One." "The Father hath not left Me alone."

     The doubts were cleared away from the minds of the disciples. 
They use a third form of preposition in asserting their faith that He 
came from God, the preposition _apo, the least definite of the three; 
it gives the general view, as stated by the disciples; _para is more 
close in the relation; _ek, 
the Lord's other word, is the most intimate.


     His answer, "Do ye now believe?" (not a statement, 'Ye do now 
believe') is not a doubt or denial. It is equivalent to an 
exclamation, in view of what He is going to state as to the impending 
danger and their being scattered: "Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is 
come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall 
leave Me alone; and yet," He says, in giving a closing message of 
comfort, "I am not alone, because the Father is with Me." This He 
designed to be a reassuring word for them and for all those who, like 
Him, pass through conditions of trial and solitude. For He says, with 
reference both to this word and all that He had given them, "These 
things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye may have peace. In the 
world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome 
the world" (v. 33).

     This sums up much of what He had said. He had given them a 
legacy of His own peace (see 14:27). He had reminded them of world 
antagonism (15:18 to 25; 16:1 to 4). He had assured them of the issue 
in His own case (14:3; 14:18, 20, 21; 16:22)


and of His victory over the prince of the world (14:30). His very word 
"Be of good cheer" suggests that naturally there would be cause for 
depression of heart. But against this He is Himself the antidote. He 
had been through it all, and had defeated the influences of the world. 
He had vindicated truth and righteousness in the face of its deceit 
and iniquity. The morrow was to see the crowning triumph, over the 
Devil, the world and death, and His word "I have overcome" looks to 
the accomplished victory.

     But they were to share the victory, and we are to share it, and 
the means for this is to fulfil our identification with Him and thus 
to obey His command of promise and assurance, "Be of good cheer." We 
are to be "more than conquerors through Him that loved us." And our 
victory that overcomes is faith (1 John 5:4, 5). It is just our joy in 
Christ Himself, our good cheer, that gives us to be more than mere 
conquerors. Christ points to this very super-victory in this His 
closing word. Victory can bring content. Joy in Christ gives more than 
the satisfaction of victory. See Rev. 3:21.


                         CHAPTER  XVII

                         VERSES 1 TO 3


     "These things spake Jesus: and lifting up His eyes to Heaven, He 
said, Father the hour is come." The mention of His lifting up His eyes 
immediately upon His closing word to the disciples, shows that there 
was no break in the circumstances. The prayer follows the discourse as 
a consummation of the teaching given, linking it all with the Throne. 
All that has preceded receives now its interpretation and 
ratification. The disciples hear how the Father and the Son 
contemplate their condition, how their prospects are regarded by Them, 
how their highest interests are the subjects of effective 
intercession, and how others with them are to be brought into the same 
sphere of eternal blessing and into the bliss of ineffable oneness in 
both Father and Son.

     In this prayer there is nothing giving the slightest intimation 
of infirmity, demerit or defect. Even the tone of entreaty is absent. 
There is nothing but the consciousness of a life of the constant, 
uninterrupted fulfilment of the Father's will, summed up in the 
statement, "I have glorified Thee on the earth." This is but one of 
the many such statements of the perfect accomplishment of the Divine 
will and counsel: "I have finished the work." "I have manifested Thy 
Name." "I have given them the words." "I have kept (them)." These are 
declarations and assertions of will impossible to a mere human being. 
When He says "Father, I will," He expresses a claim with the complete 
consciousness of the right of its accomplishment, as being equally the 
will of Him whom He is addressing.

     It is the prayer of our "Apostle and High Priest," the Apostle as 
sent from God to men, the High Priest interceding for men to God.

     There are three interwoven subjects, 
  (1) concerning Himself (especially vv. 1 to 5): 
  (2) concerning His followers and messengers (vv. 6 to 20); 
  (3) concerning other believers (vv. 20 to end). 
Matters concerning Himself involve those relating to the Apostles


and others. These three correspond to those mentioned after Judas had 
gone out; (1) 13:31, 32; (2) 13:33; (3) 13:34, 35. This marks the 
order and connection throughout.


     The opening words at once indicate that everything is based upon, 
and determined by, the eternal relation "Father ... Thy Son." There is 
also the consummating word of time, "The hour." It is the 
predetermined hour, fulfilling the past, conditioning the future. It 
is the hour of the overthrow of Satan, the hour of atonement and 
redemption, bearing their eternal issues. "The hour is come; glorify 
Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee." The answer is seen in His 
Resurrection, Ascension, and Mediatorial work, and in giving Him all 
authority in Heaven and on earth. In the exercise of this authority 
and work, with all that it accomplishes; the Son glorified and will 
glorify the Father.

          LIFE ETERNAL

     But this receives its especial expression in what follows: "even 
as Thou gavest Him authority over all flesh (i.e., all mankind in its 
weak state), that whatsoever Thou hast given Him, to them He should 
give eternal life" (v. 2). The "whatsoever" is, lit., "all that 
which," viewing the gift in its collective aspect and not in its 
individual parts. Cp. 6:28 and see again 17:23, 24. But in the giving 
of eternal life the individual recipients are in view. Cp. 10:10, 28. 
The life is not mere existence, it is an enjoyed possession of 
capacities and activities, of affection and devoted energy. This is 
brought out in His next words (and His own words they are, despite 
arguments assigning them to the writer). This is His own pronouncement 
of what really constitutes eternal life: "And this is life eternal, 
that they should know Thee the only true God, and Him whom Thou didst 
send, even Jesus Christ" (v. 3). The word _ginosko, "know," indicates 
a knowledge acquired by experience. The tense of the verb here 
signifies a continuous course of progressive knowledge. Moreover, it 
is a knowledge of Persons, not simply of facts, and this involves 
personal contact and intercourse. It is our mind answering to His 
mind, our heart to His heart, our appropriating to ourselves


all that God makes known to us, the Father and the Son revealing 
themselves to us by the Holy Spirit.


     The oneness of Christ with the Father in Godhood is implied in 
what the Lord says in regard to the experience of knowing Him, and is 
confirmed by the Apostle's testimony, "We know that the Son of God is 
come, and hath given us an understanding, that we know Him that is 
true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. 
This is the true God and eternal life" (1 John 5:20). There is no such 
thing as knowing the Father without knowing the Son. No one can know 
the true God apart from the Son whom He sent, and who is in Himself 
the Personal embodiment and manifestation of the true God. His two 
Names Jesus Christ, here mentioned by the Lord concerning Himself in 
His prayer, contain the title of Deity, the work for which He came, 
and the confirmation of it by God the Father. Hence the 
appropriateness of the Names to His immediate utterances. It is His 
coming as the Son from the Father and all that His Names convey that 
make the knowledge of the One inseparable from the knowledge of the 

     He is "the true God." All other objects of veneration are false 
gods, and any conception of God which does not accept the oneness of 
the Son with the Father in the Godhead, and the oneness of the Spirit 
in the same Godhead, as taught by the Lord and in the Scriptures of 
truth, is a misconception. There is no eternal life possible without 
the knowledge of the Father and the Son in this oneness by the 
operation of the Spirit.

               VERSES 4 AND 5


     The statement "whom Thou didst send" leads to the mention of the 
fulfilment of that for which He was sent: "I glorified Thee on the 
earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do." 
Up till now he had used the third person with reference to Himself, 
giving an introductory review of the


great facts concerning His relation as the Son, and the plan of the 
ministry of eternal life through Him. Now He changes to the first 
person "I." The contrast of circumstances is striking. "I glorified 
Thee:"--a life of unsullied brightness of glory in fulfilling the 
Father's will: "on the earth,"--a scene of grossest darkness in the 
human rejection of Himself and His testimony. He finished the work, 
not simply bringing it to an end, but perfectly fulfilling it and 
achieving its object. It was His meat to do the will of Him who sent 
Him and to accomplish His work (4:34). This is His example for every 
true follower who realises that what he engages in doing is given him 
to be fulfilled for His glory.


     And now comes the sequel, expressed in a desire certain of its 
fulfilment, a desire that, looking to the immediate future, goes back 
to the eternal past: "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine 
own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" 
(v. 5). There are three parts to this which call for reverent 
  (1) the bestowment of honours merited by, and consequent upon, the 
perfected work--"glorify Thou Me:" 
  (2) "with Thine own self," not "by," but "with," _para, expressing 
presence with (the same word as in the next clause, "with Thee"):
  (3) "with the glory which I had with Thee," not merely before He 
came as the Sent One, but before the world had its being from the 
Creator's hands. This is the glory of essential and unoriginated 
Deity, of a Being uncreated, a Personal Being and not an ideal 
existence, and an eternal relationship as the Son; for it is a glory 
"with Thee," the Father--a clause in itself exposing the errors of 
Arianism, Socinianism, present-day cults, and the denial of the 
eternal Sonship of Christ. It was a glory which "I had," not which "I 

               VERSES 6 TO 8


     The Lord now mentions seven facts concerning His followers: 
  (1) He had manifested the Father's Name to them; 
  (2) they were the Father's gifts to Him out of the world; 


  (3) they had kept His word; 
  (4) they had known that what belonged to the Son came from the 
  (5) the words given them by the Son were given Him by the Father; 
  (6) they had received them; 
  (7) they knew that He came forth from the Father as sent by Him.

     It is clear that the purpose in all this was to prepare these men 
for their service as instruments in bearing testimony for Him, with 
all its consequences. In manifesting the Name he had declared all that 
God is, His nature, counsels, and ways and works (cp. 1:18). His 
disciples were given Him "out of the world," humanity in its 
alienation from God and in its darkness. They belonged to the Father, 
not merely as being foreknown by Him, but by being actually and 
personally related to Him. They were given to Him not merely by Divine 
purpose, but as delivered by the Father to Him for His possession, 
care and instruction. With joy He could say, that they had responded 
to it; "they have kept Thy word." And not merely the teaching as a 
whole but the very words of which it consisted.

     These teachings were not simply His; He taught every detail as 
that which He received from the Father. In receiving His words they 
had accepted the truth concerning His Person as the One who came forth 
from the Father and was sent by Him. That was the great preparation 
for their mission. They were raised above the perplexities, the cavils 
and criticisms of false teachers.

               VERSES 9 TO 19


     They were to be left, but not without the Divine help they would 
need. So the Lord begins with His own High Priestly intercession: "I 
pray (erotao, I make request) for them (the 'I' is especially 
emphatic): I pray not for the world, but for those whom Thou has given 
Me; for they are Thine." The distinction is solemn and radical:--the 
disciples--the world. Not that He had not the interests of the world 
before Him. He was about to send them into it that all men might 
believe and be saved. But the uppermost and immediate interests are 
those of His own. They are equally the Father's and His: "and all 


things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine." To say, "whatever 
is mine is Thine," is possible for any believer, but no one but the 
Son of God could ever say, "all things that are Thine are Mine."

     The next words "and I am glorified in them" would seem to refer 
to the disciples; for Christ was, and continued to be, glorified in 
them. It is possible, however, to read thus: "All things that are 
Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them," for God orders all things 
so that they may be for the glory of His Son.

          KEPT IN THE NAME

     Now comes the special point of His intercession for the disciples 
as those who are to be still in the world, with all that this entails: 
"And I am no more in the world, and these are in the world, and I come 
to Thee; Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me, 
that they may be one, even as We are" (v. 11). He had Himself 
experienced all the hostility and adverse conditions of the world, and 
He feels for those who are to be in it still. It is full of everything 
unholy and unwholesome, baneful to the spiritual life and antagonistic 
to endurance and power. All the time He was with them, He kept them, 
"in Thy Name," He says, "which Thou hast given Me: and I guarded them, 
and not one of them perished, but the son of perdition; that the 
Scripture might be fulfilled" (v. 12). How He kept them, teaching and 
training them amidst all the circumstances of an adverse character in 
the nation's condition is brought out in the narratives of the 
Gospels. So to the end; see 18:8, 9.

     But He kept them in the Name the Father had given Him. That is 
the better reading. Since the Name conveys all that God is as revealed 
in Christ, all the truth concerning Him, in nature, character and 
ways, had been the very sphere and element in which the Lord had 
guarded, taught and trained these men. For the subject of the Name see 
further at verse 26 and at Exodus 33:19 and 34:5, 6. The fulness of the Name is again and again mentioned in 
the Epistles as "Christ Jesus (or Jesus Christ) our Lord" (see, e.g., 
Rom. 5:11, 21; 6:11, 23). In all that this meant He made request that 
they might still be kept. And on their behalf He addresses the Father 
as "Holy Father;" for they were, and we are to be, holy, for He is 
holy. They were, and we are, by nature unholy and in an unholy world.



     Holiness is a quality which is essential to true spiritual unity; 
anything short of it makes for division and discord. The unity is 
designed for believers, and will be manifested hereafter. It is not 
simply likemindedness, nor mere acknowledgment of the truth, it is the 
very character of God manifested in all circumstances and activities.

     The "son of perdition" stands out in contrast. That kind of 
phrase describes the character and effect of a man's moral state, as 
the manner of his life (e.g., 1 Sam. 25:17; Matt. 23:31; Luke 6:35; 
Eph. 2:2), and not a destiny. The Scripture, being God-breathed, has 
the character of accurate prediction; it has never been, and could not 
be, falsified. Christ had shown, in regard to this very person that 
He, the Living Word, was possessed of Divine powers of knowledge 


     But they were not only to be kept, it was His desire that they 
might be filled with joy, His own joy experienced in them: "But now I 
come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may 
have My joy fulfilled in themselves" (v. 13). This plainly intimates 
that the Lord purposely spoke these things in their hearing. But why 
does He say "in the world" instead of "in their hearing"? He had 
expressed the same desire to them directly (15:11). The world, 
however, was the scene of so much that would tend to cast down and 
depress (and He was leaving them in it), that He repeats this great 
desire, addressing it to Him to whom He was coming, that the joy that 
characterised Him might continue and be fulfilled in them.

     But not only was His own sustaining joy to be theirs, it would be 
maintained by the word He had given them, the Father's word. The Word 
of God, accepted and kept, ministers joy to the heart. To keep His 
word is, however, contrary to the spirit of the world and produces its 
hatred: "I have given them Thy Word; and the world hated them, because 
they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not 
that Thou shouldest take them from the world, but that Thou shouldest 
keep them from the evil one" (vv. 14, 15). To remove them from


the world would leave the effects of their presence and of their very 
mission unaccomplished. But the negative way first of making the 
request served only to stress the urgency of the positive desire. For 
the being who had sought to hinder and defeat Him was still active, 
and would be, in spite of his initial overthrow at the Cross. There 
lay, and there lies, the great danger.

          THE EVIL ONE

     The Lord had spoken of the evil one (Matt. 13:19), not as a 
sinister influence, but as a person, and the Epistles bear this out in 
frequent passages. The Apostle Paul assures the church at Thessalonica 
that God would guard them "from the evil one" (2 Thess. 3:3). The 
Apostle John speaks of him five times thus and says in the closing 
passage of his First Epistle, in words which re-echo the Lord's, "We 
know that whosoever is begotten of God sinneth not (present continuous 
tense, 'doth not go on doing sin'); but He that was begotten of God 
(i.e., the Son of God, 4:9) keepeth him (R.V.), and the evil one 
toucheth him not. We know that we are of God, and the whole world 
lieth in the evil one" (1 John 5:18, 19).

     The preposition "from" in "from the evil one" is _ek, out of, and 
is used of deliverance from persons, e.g., Acts 26:17.


     In verse 16 the Lord says again, "They are not of the world, even 
as I am not of the world," and this precedes a request for their 
deliverance: "Sanctify them in the truth: Thy word is truth." 
Sanctification is a state of separation to God; all believers enter 
into this state when they are born of God; but sanctification is also 
used of the practical experience of this separation to God, and is the 
effect of the Word of God as learned by the Holy Spirit, and is to be 
pursued by the believer earnestly, 1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 12:14. In 
this sense of the word the Lord prays here; and here it has in view 
the setting apart of believers for the purpose for which they are sent 
into the world: "As Thou didst send Me into the world, even so send I 
them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they 
themselves also may be sanctified in truth " (v. 18, 19). That He set 
apart Himself for the purpose


for which He was sent, is both the basis and the condition of our 
being set apart for that for which we are sent (cp. 10:36). His sanctification is the pattern of, and the 
power for, ours. The sending and the sanctifying are inseparable. The 
words "in truth" mean "in reality," i.e., in practical experience (as 
in Matt. 22:16; Col. 1:6; 2 John 1).

               VERSES 20 TO 24


     "Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe 
on Me through their word." The Lord uses the present tense "them that 
believe," as He views the vast company forming the Church, the outcome 
of their initial ministry by tongue and by pen, the latter inclusive 
of the Gospels as well as the Epistles. In this connection the 
foundations of the future city of glory have on them the names of "The 
Twelve Apostles of the Lamb." The purpose of the request is the same 
as that made for those who were listening to Him that evening, "that 
they all may be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, 
that they also may be in Us" (v. 21), lit., 'one thing' in us 
(neuter), not indicating the elimination of individual life, but the 
oneness as of a body in its various members, each developing its 
activity as part of the whole.

     The great object looks on to the time when the Church will be 
completed and manifested with Him in glory at His Second Advent. The 
world will then be brought to accept all the facts involved in His 
being sent, and that for the very purpose He has expressed. There are 
three purposes, 
  (1) oneness in themselves as with the Father and Son; 
  (2) oneness in Them ("in Us"), the essential sphere and relation of 
the oneness; 
  (3) recognition by the world.


     This is confirmed and expanded in His next words, "And the glory 
which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them; that they may be one, 
even as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be 
perfected into one; that the world may


know that Thou didst send Me, and lovedst them, even as Thou lovedst 
Me" (vv. 22, 23). What this imparted glory is receives an explanation 
from 1 Peter 1:21, "God ... raised Him from the dead and gave Him 
glory." It is the glory therefore of resurrection and reception into 
His presence. How the Lord Jesus will impart this glory to all 
believers is stated in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. He will "fashion anew 
the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of 
His glory" (Phil. 3:21). At that moment and from that time believers 
will be one, even as the Father and the Son are one. The fulfilment 
and completeness is to be realised in the indwelling of Christ and the 
Father in each and all: "I in them, and Thou in Me." The perfecting 
into one will be accomplished by, and consist in, our being "like Him; 
for we shall see Him even as He is" (1 John 3:2). There will be a 
participation by all in this perfect likeness. Then will be fulfilled 
the word, "whom He justified, them He also glorified" (Rom. 8:30).

     Then will the world be made to recognise not only the great 
truths concerning Christ as the One sent by the Father (see v. 21), 
but that all that is accomplished is the effect of the love of God the 
Father towards believers, as definite as His love for His Son (see v. 
26). For the fulfilment in regard to the world see, e.g., 2 
Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 1:7. For the love of Christ as that 
which is to be recognised by the world, see Revelation 3:9.

          THE LORD'S WILL

     Thus far the Lord has said three times "I pray" (I make 
request); now He says "I will:" "Father, that which Thou hast given 
Me, I will that, where I am, they also may be with Me." This and what 
follows are a consummation of all that has preceded regarding those 
who are His. It brings everything to the complete fruition of all the 
Divine counsels and operations on their behalf. Accordingly His 
desires now find their expression in a word which conveys the equality 
of the Son and the Father in counsel and purpose. Again He speaks of 
His people first as a totality, a complete entity, "that which Thou 
hast given Me," and then as a company of individuals, "that they may 
be with Me."

     His will concerning them is twofold: (1) their being with Him,


(2) that they may behold His glory; each is involved in his relation 
to Him. Of the first He had given them a promise (14:3), and now His 
will completes all that He has added: "that they may behold My glory, 
which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of 
the world" (v. 24). This is the glory already mentioned in verse 22, a 
glory given, and now as a proof that the Father loved Him "before (not 
'from,' as in Matt. 25:34, as to the earthly Kingdom) the foundation 
of the world." To behold His glory will be to be like Him (cp. Psalm 

               VERSES 25, 26


     Just as the title "Holy Father" was used as appropriate to the 
holiness of His followers (v. 11), so now regarding the world and its 
unrighteous state of ignorance of God, the Lord says, "O righteous 
Father." God had endowed man with a capacity for knowing Him, with 
resulting fulfilment of His will and obedience to His command. He 
would thus have been "right with God." The world refused to have Him 
in knowledge (Rom. 1:28). To the Jews He said "ye have not known Him, 
but I know Him" (8:55). So now He says "the world indeed (kai) knew 
Thee not, but I knew Thee (looking back on the contrast experienced in 
the days of His flesh); and these knew that Thou didst send Me" (v. 

     Then comes the close; it is retrospective, prospective and 
purposive. That which He had been doing for His own, He will continue 
to do, and that with one great object: "and I made known unto them Thy 
Name (cp. 15:15), and will make it known (see 14:26 and 16:13); that 
the love wherewith Thou lovedst Me may be in them, and I in them." He 
continued to make the Name known during the forty days after His 
resurrection; He continued to do so by the Holy Spirit through the 
Apostles after Pentecost; He has done so ever since by the ministry of 
the Spirit in and through the Scriptures of truth; and this will not 
cease in the ages to come.

     Finally, as to the purpose, the love of the Father to Him is 
designed to dwell in us by reason of the perpetual indwelling of


Christ Himself. Were our hearts in such a condition that this love 
might be the controlling power over our lives, we should learn to love 
as He loves, to love one another fervently with a pure heart, and so 
to manifest the very life and character of Christ. That kind of life 
it is which will meet with the highest reward hereafter.


                         CHAPTER XVIII

                         VERSES 1 TO  11

     It was in a garden where God had walked with man in perfect 
communion that man treacherously handed over the springs of his being 
to the spiritual foe and was at enmity with God. It was again in a 
garden, where Christ had held communion with His disciples, that one 
of them, having treacherously handed over his being to the human foe, 
manifested his enmity against the Son of God and betrayed Him.


     Judas had had experience of the power of Christ in various ways. 
Determined therefore to make sure of the carrying out of his object, 
he obtained "a band of soldiers," a Roman cohort together with 
officers, or the Temple guard, from the chief priests (Luke includes 
some of the latter themselves) and Pharisees, and guided this large 
company, carrying lanterns and torches, to the familiar spot. These 
elaborate preparations were perhaps made because of the possibility 
that Jesus might do as He had done before, and hide Himself and 
escape. There was no need for all this precaution: "Jesus ... knowing 
all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth, and saith unto 
them, Whom seek ye? They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith 
unto them, I am He."

     Three facts stand out conspicuously in these circumstances. The 
form of the verb rendered "betrayed" in verses 2 and 5 indicates the 
whole process of the treachery of Judas. It is, literally, 'the one 
betraying Him,' and while it is almost equivalent to a title, it 
indicates the whole course of his procedure.


     Secondly, that Jesus went forth to meet the company indicates the 
voluntary character of His sacrifice. The hour had come for


the great fulfilment of His becoming obedient even unto death. Hence 
the significance of His word to Peter, "Put up the sword into the 
sheath; the cup which the Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" 
(v. 11).

     Thirdly, there is the striking effect of the Lord's reply to His 
foes, who stated that they were seeking Jesus of Nazareth. The words 
_ego _eimi, "I am," were to Jewish ears the equivalent of the name 
Jehovah. That the company went backward and fell to the ground, was 
the effect, not of guilt confronted with innocence, but of the majesty 
and power of His utterance. The fact that He permitted them to rise 
again and seize Him serves to confirm the voluntary character of His 
giving Himself up to death.

     And now He shows His loving care for, and His power to defend, 
His followers, as a shepherd cares for his sheep: He says, "if 
therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way," thus fulfilling His own 
word in 17:12, with a change from "not one of them perished" to "I 
lost not one," which brings out forcibly the Lord's own act in 
intervening on their behalf.

               VERSES 12 TO 27


     The Lord is seized by the cohort ("the band") under their 
commander, the military tribune, "the chief captain," as well as the 
Jewish officials, and taken before Annas. He was the most influential 
member of the hierarchy. He secured the high-priesthood for Caiaphas, 
his son-in-law, and for five of his own sons, the last of whom, also 
named Annas, put James to death. There were several deposed high 
priests in the Sanhedrin, Annas was the acting president. The attitude 
Caiaphas would adopt was clear from his statement in 11:50, an 
unconscious prophecy; doubtless too an advice that if Jesus were put 
to death the Romans would postpone their enslavement of the nation and 
devastation of the land.

     The court into which Christ was taken, and into which the 
disciple mentioned in verse 15 (almost certainly John) entered was 
quadrangular, and around it the high priest's house was built. There was a passage running from the street 


through the front part of the house. This was closed at the street end 
by a gate with a wicket, which on this occasion was kept by a maid. 
The rooms round the court were open in front; in one of these Jesus 
was being examined, and the Lord could see and hear Peter. John had 
seen Peter following at a distance and went to the maid with a request 
to let him in. She, knowing that the one was a disciple, naturally 
greets Peter with the question, "Art thou also one of this man's 
disciples?" In confusion at being confronted by such a hostile crowd, 
and remembering the blow he had struck in the garden, Peter denies any 
such connection. One denial prepared for more.


     The impetuous act of using the sword in the garden was no 
inconsiderable factor in bringing about the terrible circumstances of 
these denials. We need to be on our guard against acting by sudden 
impulse on any occasion. One act of mistaken zeal in the energy of the 
flesh may have a bearing upon ensuing circumstances which are fraught 
with dire consequences.

     Had Peter been void of self-confidence, and had he heeded the 
Lord's warning, he might have acted otherwise than remaining in the 
company of the servants and officers warming himself with them by the 
fire. That was a position full of danger. The repetition of the fact 
in the record is very suggestive: "Peter also was with them, standing 
and warming himself" (v. 18), and again, after an interval, "Now Simon 
Peter was standing and warming himself" (v. 25).

     In the conversation his Galilean accent was readily detected. 
"They said therefore unto him, Art thou also one of His disciples?" 
That produced a second denial. In the groups was a servant of the high 
priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off. "Did not I 
see thee," he says, "in the garden with Him?" Peter therefore denied 
again: and straightway the cock (rather, "a cock") crew. This, Luke 
tells us, was about an hour after the second denial. Then it was that 
the Lord turned and looked on Peter, either from the room looking out 
into the court, or as He was being led across the court. That brought 
Peter to himself and he went out and wept bitterly. The tenderness of 
the look brought home the terrible nature of the guilt, and saved him 
from blank despair.


     This is all written for our admonition, a warning against 
self-confidence, against planning our own steps, against associating 
with the world even with a good motive, and a strong reminder that, 
should we fail to take heed to ourselves and fall, He who went to the 
Cross for our sakes, yearns for our restoration and has provided the 
means for it.


     The record of the trial before Annas and Caiaphas is brief. 
Nothing could be done until Pilate's ratification. Every detail of the 
trial was illegal. It was illegal to hold it at night at all. The high 
priest asked Jesus both about His disciples and about His teaching. He 
answers nothing concerning them, shielding them from the unscrupulous 
ways of these foes. Concerning Himself His statements as to the 
openness of His teaching stand in contrast to their secret method. 
"Why askest thou Me?" He says. "Ask them that heard Me" (not the 
disciples, but witnesses present). Witnesses for the defence should be 
heard first.

     The act of the attendant officer who struck Jesus with the palm 
of his hand (not with a rod, as R.V., margin) was particularly noted 
by John. The meek yet firm reply of the Lord was sufficient to finish 
that part of the proceedings. "Annas therefore sent Him bound unto 

               A SUMMARY OF 18:28 TO 19:16


     John describes this scene at some length. He records what is 
elsewhere omitted, the conference between Pilate and the Jews (18:28 
to 32) and the two private examinations by Pilate (18:33 to 38 and 
19:8 to 11).

     Caiaphas had passed sentence of death on Christ, and now they led 
Him into the Praetorium, the official residence of the Procurator. The 
circumstances which follow are partly outside this place, partly 
inside: in verses 28 to 32 Pilate deals with the Jews, the accusers 
outside; in 33 to 37 he deals with Christ inside; in 38 to 40, with 
the accusers outside; in 19:1 to 3, with Christ inside (now the 
scourging and cruelty take place); in 4 to 7 outside with


the accusers; in 8 to 11 with Christ, inside (when the Lord's 
testimony produces a climax); in 12 to 16, with the Jews outside.

          VERSES 28 TO 40

     The significance of the statement in verse 28, "and it was 
early," is as follows. A Roman court could be held after sunrise. The 
occasion being critical, Pilate would be ready to open the court, say, 
between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. The Sanhedrin officials were in a 
difficulty, as a whole day must intervene between their sentence and 
execution. Hence they go at once to Pilate. If he agrees to execute he 
can fix the time. So they transferred the breach of their law from 
themselves to him.

     Their supercilious adherence to the Law prevented their entering 
a polluted house, uncleansed from leaven (Exod. 12:15). "Pilate 
therefore went out unto them," lit., "went out ... outside unto them," 
with emphasis on the verb "went out," marking his concession to their 
religiousness and his anxiety to avoid disturbance.


     His question as to the accusation (v. 29) has an air of judicial 
formality. At the same time the Prisoner looked very unlike a 
criminal. On their refusing to name their charge, and with a 
combination of contempt and irritation, he tells them to judge Him by 
their law. Upon this they raised an accusation with regard to the 
Roman power, that He forbade to give tribute to Caesar and claimed to 
be a king. Could they not have stoned Him otherwise? However that may 
be viewed, the point is that Christ had foretold by what manner of 
death He would die. They said it was not lawful for them to do the 
execution. He had said He must be "lifted up."

     The private interview inside the Praetorium therefore takes 
place, and Pilate puts the question "Art Thou the King of the Jews?" 
There is stress on "Thou," and the question indicates surprise. Christ 
demands that the responsibility of making the charge should be put 
upon the right persons (v. 34). Pilate says, "Am I a Jew?" (with 
stress on the "I"), brusquely repudiating the idea that he has any 
interest in Jewish affairs. So he emphatically


says, "Thine own nation (the nation that is thine) and the chief 
priests delivered Thee unto me. What hast Thou done?"

     Three times over in His reply the Lord says, with similar 
emphasis, "The Kingdom that is Mine," and likewise, "The servants (or 
officers) that are Mine," setting Himself and His affairs in direct 
contrast to the world. The "now" in verse 36 indicates that there is 
to be a Kingdom hereafter. He shows therefore that His Kingdom could 
not engage in conflict with the Kingdom represented by Pilate. The 
latter scornfully asks "Art Thou a king, then?" with stress on the 
"Thou." If he had any lurking fear of some secret society, it is 
removed by Christ's reply, that a King He is, that He had been born 
for this, and has come into the world also to bear witness to the 
truth. There is special emphasis upon the "I" in the statement "I have 
been born to this end." Moreover, He has authority, His voice has 
power; everyone who is of the truth (the characteristic of His 
Kingdom) is subject to Him, listens to His voice.


     All this is essentially different from what Pilate had expected. 
There is nothing but innocence in such statements. And as for truth, 
that sort of thing has no place in the Roman Procurator's mind. With a 
sort of combination of impatience and pity, and not in jest or serious 
enquiry, he says "What is truth?" Upon this he goes out again to the 
Jews, declaring the innocence of the Prisoner and suggesting His 
release, according to custom at the Passover. To pronounce the accused 
guiltless and then to try and propitiate the savage accusers was the 
extreme of weakness. Injustice removed the one means of resisting 
their blood-thirstiness.


     Barabbas was popular, he was a bandit (lestes), a man of violence 
(not a thief). He rose against the Romans, that which Christ refused 
to do. The accusation by the Jews was that Jesus was dangerous to the 
Roman government; in reality one great reason for their antagonism was 
that He was not against the Government.


                         CHAPTER XIX

               Verses 1 to 16

     According to Luke 23, Pilate had sent Christ to Herod before 
this, and Herod, with his troops, maltreated Him and sent Him back to 
Pilate. Pilate "took Jesus, and scourged Him." This was not the 
immediate preliminary to execution. He doubtless hoped that this might 
somehow satisfy the fury of the Jews. This form of Roman scourging 
(not that of the lictors' rods; Pilate had no lictors) was barbarously 
cruel. The heavy thongs were loaded with metal, and bone was woven 
into them, a piece of metal being fastened at the tip. Every cut tore 
the flesh from the bones, chest and back (see Psa. 22:17). Eusebius 
tells how he saw martyrs sinking down in death under the lashes of 
this kind of scourging.


     Upon this followed the cruelty of the soldiers, who "plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, 
and arrayed Him in a purple garment" (a military cloak), and saluting 
Him in mockery as a king, put, as Matthew says, a reed (a stout rod, 
as a sceptre) in His right hand, spat upon Him, and taking the reed, 
one after another, from His hand, smote Him on the head (imperfect 
tense in the Greek, i.e., they kept on doing it). See Isaiah 50:6. All 
was intentionally a cruel caricature of Jewish hopes of a king.

          ECCE HOMO

     Pilate now brought Him out, still arrayed (previously he had left 
Him inside), and declared again His guiltlessness. With pity rather 
than contempt he says "Behold the man." The chief priests and the 
Sanhedrin officers, perhaps fearing some signs of compassion among the 
people, begin at once to shout "Crucify, crucify." Pilate, goaded into 
taunting them, tells them to do it themselves, a thing he knew they 
dared not do. They were clever enough 


to advance a new accusation, held in reserve, which might appeal to 
his fears. When therefore, they brought the accusation that He made 
Himself the Son of God, and so broke their law, fear laid hold of 
Pilate, by very reason of this word (_logos, not a mere saying, 
_rhema). There was the combination of his wife's message, the 
awesomeness of Christ's demeanour throughout, the possibility that, 
even according to Roman religion, he had been dealing with the 
offspring of a god. Apprehensive about it all he took Jesus into the 
Praetorium again and said "Whence art Thou?"

     To this Christ gave no answer. For one thing, the information 
would have been useless in Pilate's case. For another, the injustice 
of his actions could now have only one issue: no explanation would 
have altered what was a foregone conclusion. In the next question, 
"Speakest Thou not unto me?" the special emphasis is on "me." The 
Roman governor could naturally claim power to release or to crucify. 
And now, in Christ's last word to him, He shows His judge that He is 
Himself the Judge. Any exercise of power by Pilate depended on the 
permissive will of a Power "from above." And his Prisoner could 
pronounce and measure guilt. The sin of Caiaphas was declared to be 
greater than Pilate's.


     Going again outside he made efforts (more than one, as the 
imperfect tense shows) to release Him. At this the accusers played 
their last card. To release the Prisoner would endanger the governor's 
position. A report would go to a suspicious Emperor (his fear of the 
Emperor was real). The political argument succeeded. Pilate brought 
Christ out and prepared to pass sentence; it must be passed in public. 
He sat down on the judgment-seat (probably a temporary one; there is 
no definite article, as everywhere else in the N.T. with _bema), on a 
tessellated pavement, called in Aramaic Gabbatha (or raised). His 
"Behold, your king !" was uttered in bitter irony. They shouted in one 
loud cry (aorist or definite tense), "Away with Him, away with Him, 
crucify, crucify."

     In declaring that their only king is the heathen Emperor, the 
chief priests, the official exponents of Israel's religion, with 
blasphemous callousness renounce the faith of their nation. If Pilate


was guilty of judicial murder, they were guilty of suicide. In his 
delivering Christ "unto them to be crucified" (v. 16), the actual 
execution would be done by soldiers.

               VERSES 17 TO 37


     "They took Jesus (paralambano, to receive, is used in 1:11 of not 
receiving the Father's gift of His Son; here, of receiving Him from 
Pilate; in 14:3, of His coming to receive His own to Himself); and He 
went out, bearing the cross (stauros, a single beam, a stake, a tree 
trunk, not a two-pieced cross, a thing of later arrangement from pagan 
sources), for Himself," R.V. (the A.V. misses this point), that is to 
say, like the vilest felon. Yet there is in this an underlying 
intimation of His voluntariness.


     The name Golgotha, "The place of a skull," refers to the 
configuration and markings of the place. At the same time it suggests 
the emptiness of all mere human ideas, methods, aims and schemes. John 
describes more fully than the Synoptists the fact that the Cross of 
Christ was the central one: "They crucified Him, and with Him two 
others, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst" (v. 18). The 
position assigned may have been a Roman mockery. Yet it serves to make 
prominent both the contrasting sinlessness of Christ, and His actual 
bearing of our sins, His being "made sin" for us. But further, it 
indicates the eternal separation between repentant, saved sinners, as 
represented by the converted robber on the one side, and unrepentant, 
unsaved sinners, represented by the other on the other side.

     Pilate carried on further mockery, writing a title in Hebrew, 
Latin and Greek, for the cosmopolitan crowd to read, and putting it on 
the Cross: "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." The Septuagint 
in Psalm 96:10 has that "the Lord reigned from the tree." Pilate's 
contemptuous reply to the objection raised by "the chief priests of 
the Jews" (a phrase here only in the N.T.)


shows that, now that his personal interests were not at stake, he 
could be obstinate instead of vacillating.


     Four soldiers (a small force was sufficient, as there was no more 
danger of an outbreak of the mob) divided Christ's garments. These 
were the legal perquisites of soldiers who carried out executions. In 
casting lots for the seamless tunic they fulfilled Psalm 22:18. As the 
high priest's robe was seamless (Exod. 28:6 to 8), the detailed 
mention of this by the Apostle John would suggest that this garment of 
Christ was symbolic of His High Priesthood (Heb. 8:3).

     In the Greek in the closing statement of verse 24 and the first 
statement of verse 25, there are two particles setting in marked 
contrast the callous doings of the four soldiers and the devoted 
attitude of the four women standing by the Cross. This is partly 
expressed by the "But." That John here again calls himself the 
disciple whom Jesus loved is definitely connected with the Lord's 
loving committal of His Mother to him. It was a mark of Christ's love 
for His disciple, that He should thus give him a mother and her a son. 
John takes her at once to his own home, sparing her from seeing the end.

          "I THIRST"

     One prophecy remained to be fulfilled. True, He experienced in 
terrible measure the physical anguish of thirst. Spiritually, too, He 
felt the drought of the condition of being forsaken of God. What, 
however, John mentions is that He said "I thirst, knowing that all 
things are now finished (or rather have been completed), that the 
Scripture might be accomplished."

     The stupefying draught mentioned in Matthew 27:34 He refused. He 
did not refuse the vinegar or hyssop. Hyssop was appointed in 
connection with the passover lamb (Exod. 12:22). Thereupon He said "It 
is finished;" all the will of the Father, all the types and 
prophecies, all the redemptive work, He declared to have been 
fulfilled; "and He bowed His head," He reclined (klino) His head, 
putting it into a position of rest, with face turned Heavenward, 
indicative of the rest He found in the fulfilment of the will of His 
Father, "and gave up His spirit," a voluntary act,


committing His spirit to the Father. No other crucified person ever 
died thus. In every other case the head dropped forward helplessly on 
the chest. He had said of His life, "No one taketh it from Me, but I 
lay it down of Myself" (10:18). The request of the Jews, in their 
scrupulosity as to the sabbath, had been forestalled in the case of 
Christ by Psalm 34:20; Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12. But a soldier 
pierced His side with a spear, "and straightway there came out blood 
and water." God, overruling the act of human enmity, testified to the 
efficacy of the Death of Christ. The blood speaks of redemption, and 
cleansing, the water speaks of the new birth and separation. Both tell 
of life, life bestowed through the giving up of His life in 
propitiatory sacrifice; "it is the blood that maketh atonement by 
reason of the life" (Lev. 17:11, R.V.), and life is bestowed by the 
water of regeneration (Titus 3:5). Accordingly the Apostle lays 
special stress on his own evidence: "his witness is true (alethine, not simply truthful, but real, genuine, 
fulfilling the conditions of valid evidence), and he knoweth that he 
saith true (alethe, true things), that ye also may believe" (v. 35).

          VERSES 38 TO 42

     Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, of whom we hear nothing 
afterwards, are representatives of a future remnant of repentant 
Israel. Nicodemus would now certainly understand the significance of 
the Brazen Serpent (3:14). The tomb was "new" (kainos, fresh, not 
newly hewn out), no body ever having been laid in it. Matthew speaks 
of its newness, Luke of its freshness.


                         CHAPTER XX

                         VERSES 1 TO 10


     The first day of the week, the third from the burial, was the day 
on which Abraham typically received his son as from the dead; it was 
also the day of Jonah's deliverance, and is the day of Israel's future 
revival (Hos. 6:2). Mary Magdalene knew Christ as yet only "after the 
flesh." Hence her message to Peter. What he saw on entering the tomb 
was the evidence, in the very condition of the clothes, of 
resurrection. There had not been a tidying of the wrappings. They had 
not been disturbed, any more than the tomb and the stone, when the 
Lord arose. His body, possessed of supra-natural resurrection power, 
left the wrappings, not in a heap, but in the shape in which they had 
been. Every detail gave proof of resurrection. That revealed the fact 
to both Peter and John (vv. 6 to 8). What they failed to learn and 
understand from the Scripture they realised from what they saw. There 
was no need to stay and make enquiry: so they went home.

               VERSES 11 TO 18


     The outstanding fact about Mary Magdalene is the utter absorption 
of her mind and heart in the Person of Christ, whom she regards as 
dead and whose lifeless body she wants. She "continued standing," 
after the others had gone. Even the appearance of the two angels in 
the tomb did not startle her, nor did their question to her distract 
her from her preoccupation. Even though she was thinking only of the 
body, the lifeless form was still to her "my Lord." Turning herself, 
and thinking that the Person who asked her the same question as did 
the angels, was the gardener (Christ's risen body was so changed that 


He was not recognised by those who had known Him), she wanted to know, 
should he have taken the body out, where he had put it (she says 
"Him") and she would take Him away, the wrappings and the hundred 
pounds weight of spices and all! "Jesus saith unto her, Mary." That 
awakened the ecstasy of her heart. "He calleth His own sheep by name." 
She turned again (she had evidently turned away while thinking she was 
talking to the gardener), addressed Him as "Rabboni," in the language 
used by the Lord and His followers, and reached out to hold Him. His 
command, rendered "Touch Me not," is used in the present continuous 
tense and is to be understood with the meaning "Do not hold Me" (or 
"Do not be clinging to Me"). "For I am not yet ascended," He says, 
"unto the Father." The former intermittent intercourse is to be 
replaced by the new and continuous intercourse, but this cannot be 
till He is with the Father.

     He was going to place them in the same position as His own, of 
relationship with His Father and His God. Hence He sends this devoted 
soul as His first messenger to His "brethren," to say "I ascend unto 
My Father and your Father, and My God and your God." Heavenly, eternal 
and infinitely intimate relationship, with all the joy of the love of 
the Father and the power of God realised and enjoyed in Christ.

               VERSES 19 TO 23


     The "therefore" in verse 19 indicates that it was owing to her 
testimony that the disciples assembled. If the news reached the 
authorities it would excite their hostility. They gathered "for fear 
of the Jews." It was "evening," late in the day; it was "that day," 
the memorable day, but it was still "the first day of the week" (not 
the second, though the second had begun in the evening by Jewish 
reckoning). A new week-period had begun; it was the Resurrection day; 
not the sabbath, there was beginning a perpetual sabbath-keeping of 
rest in Christ (Heb. 4:9). "The doors were shut;" that marks two 
things, a protection against the Jews and the supernatural entrance of 
the Lord. "Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, 


Peace be unto you." Peace was His last message to them before He went 
with them to Gethsemane; it was His first word to them after His 

     He then shewed them "His hands and His side," and Luke says His 
feet (24:39). Whatever other scars there had been were obliterated at 
His Resurrection, but not these marks of His crucifixion and the 
significant wound in the side. Their sorrow Is turned into joy. He 
repeats to them what they had heard Him say to the Father (v. 21 and 
17:18). Thereupon "He breathed on them." The same word (here only in 
the N.T.) is used in the Septuagint in Genesis 2:7; that was more than 
natural life, it was spiritual life as well.

     His word "Receive ye the Holy Spirit" (R.V. margin) referred not 
merely to His own breath, it was symbolic of the Holy Spirit as about 
to be sent at Pentecost. It was connected with their being sent into 
the world, and with the effect of their ministry of the Gospel in the 
forgiveness of sins by the Spirit's power, or the retention of sins by 
the rejection of the message (vv. 23, 24). It was a prophetic act as 
well as symbolic.

               VERSES 24 TO 31


     When Thomas, who had been absent, rejoined his brethren, they 
repeatedly told him (imperfect tense, _elegon, they kept telling him) 
that they had seen the Lord. He had only one reply to make (aorist 
tense; _eipen), it was decisive. Doubtless they told him that Christ 
had bidden them handle Him and see. Hence his persistent asseveration, 
"Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my 
finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I 
will not (a strong negative, I will in no wise) believe."

     A week later, the next first day of the week, Thomas being 
present, the Lord appears again in the midst, and shows him, by 
quoting his words, that He had heard the condition he laid down. This 
draws forth immediately the acknowledgment of the authority of Christ 
as his Lord and of His Deity as God. Christ accepts both Titles (just 
as He accepted the charge of the Jews in 5:18,


that He made Himself equal with God), and proclaims the blessedness of 
the multitudes of those who, not having seen, have yet believed.

     Here the Apostle looks back over the whole book he has been 
writing, recording the fact that the Lord did many other signs (a 
miracle was a sign) in the presence of His disciples. What he wrote 
was not a history of Christ, or the life of Christ, but just those 
facts which would enable readers throughout this period to believe 
"that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (the outstanding fact and 
feature of this Gospel); and that believing ye may have life in His 
Name." Were He not the Son of God, He would not be the Christ, the 
Messiah. Jehovah's Anointed must be very God as well as very man. "In 
His Name" indicates that the gift of life comes by reason of His 
character, His attributes and His dealings.


                         CHAPTER XXI

                         VERSES 1 TO 14


     The narrative (miscalled an epilogue) continues the proofs of the 
reality of Christ's resurrection. The manner in which the Lord 
manifested Himself at the Sea of Tiberias after His resurrection, 
forms the closing act, as recorded in this Gospel, of the preparation 
of His disciples for their service. On this occasion there were seven 
of them. What memories the lakeside had for them! There they had 
listened to His teaching. There they had seen wonders of His glory. 
Thither their boat had been safely and suddenly brought from out of 
the storm that threatened to overwhelm them.

     Deciding to pursue their former occupation they had gone "a fishing," had toiled all night, and taken 
nothing (cp. Luke 5:5). Natural skill and persistent effort avail 
nothing apart from the will and power of the Lord. God brings us to an 
end of ourselves that He may give us to see His all-sufficiency to 
meet our need. "Man's extremity is God's opportunity."


     "But when day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach: howbeit 
the disciples knew not that it was Jesus" (v. 4, R.V.). As He had 
dealt with Mary Magdalene at the tomb and with the two on the road to 
Emmaus, so now with these seven. In each case the initial withholding 
of His identity had the design of imparting the greater assurance, in 
the immediately succeeding manifestation, of the fact of His 
resurrection. The brightness of a light is rendered more vivid by an 
antecedent darkness. As the natural dawn that morning shone out upon 
the darkness of the weary night, so He first veiled the reality of His 
Person that the power of the disclosure might be the more effective.

     Accordingly, permitting them to regard Him as an ordinary 
bystander, He addresses them in the customary and familiar


manner of such. Our English Versions render His question "Children, 
have ye aught to eat?" (A.V., any meat). The word _paidion, translated 
"children," was used variously, e.g., of a new-born infant, a more 
advanced child, a son. In affectionate, colloquial address, as in the 
present instance, our term "lads" would almost represent it.

     In response to their somewhat cheerless "No," He says, "Cast the 
net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find." There was still 
nothing in that to make His identity known, nothing more than the 
natural interest any stranger might take in a fishing enterprise.


     But now the surprising and magnificent haul, rendering it 
impossible to draw the net into the boat, immediately effects in "that 
disciple ... whom Jesus loved" the recognition characteristic of 
strong and intimate attachment. John's frequent mention of himself in 
this way was not, as some have suggested, indicative of the soft character 
of a weakling. How could it be so? Was he not described by His Master 
as "a son of thunder"? Nor was it a vaunt of superiority over his 
fellow-disciples. He does seem to have had a readier, if not fuller, 
grasp of spiritual verities. "It is the Lord," he says to Peter. 
Ardent, impetuous Peter, first at the sepulchre, and now first to make 
for the Lord, girds his coat about him and casts himself into the 
water. He had cast himself before into the waters of the same lake to 
reach Him in very different circumstances. Acts reveal character. The 
impulse which made him leave all behind to go to His Master was the 
eagerness of love. This was a renewal, with the added attractiveness 
of the Risen Christ, of that former renunciation of all things for 
Him, concerning which he had afterwards said, "Lo, we have left our 
own, and followed Thee" (Luke 18:28, R.V.).


     Leaving the larger boat in which they had spent the night, the 
other disciples come "in the little boat ... dragging the net full of 
fishes." Getting out upon the land, with the net and its catch left 
for the moment in the water, they see "a fire of coals ...


and fish (less in size than the 'great' fish of their catch) laid 
thereon, and bread." Their Guide becomes their Host.

     Nothing is said as to how the Lord provided the repast, and 
surmisings are fruitless. There is no indication of the miraculous in 
this respect. That He bade them bring of the fish which they had taken 
would remove feelings of mere awe and prevent any misgivings. This 
token of fellowship on His part added to the homely intimacy of the 
feast. Besides this, the kindly gesture serves to remind us how the 
Lord delights to use our co-operation in His ministrations, the more 
fully to reveal Himself to us in His grace and love.


     Then there were the lessons of their entire dependence upon 
Himself in all that lay before them, and of His sufficiency to meet 
their needs in all the details of their life and service. That is what 
the Lord would likewise have us learn. How futile are our own schemes 
for bettering ourselves! How constant and ready are the provisions of 
our great El Shaddai!

     The details were so vividly impressed on the mind of the Apostle 
John that some sixty years later he could remember the precise number 
of fish caught. Speculations as to the significance of the number tend 
to obscure the true force and meaning of the facts. The very 
simplicity of the narrative, the brevity in the recounting of the 
details, the freedom from undue enlargement upon the miraculous, give 
eloquent evidence of the reality of His risen Person. That was the 
Lord's design in all that He did, besides the confirmation of their 
faith in Him and in His power to meet their need.


     After the counting, the customary thing with the fishers upon 
occasion, the Lord bids them "Come and break your fast." The 
homeliness of the welcome, given in the same gracious tone with which 
they were familiar in days gone by, at once leads to the statement, 
"And none of the disciples durst inquire of Him, Who art Thou? knowing 
that it was the Lord." There might have been some ground for the 
question. The Lord's body was not the former natural body, though 
still real, corporal, and tangible. But the 


character of His utterances and His acts, His ministration of the 
bread and the fish, together with the marks of His identity, dispelled 
all possible misgivings, and the way was now opened for further and 
different ministry.

     "We walk by faith, not by sight." "Blessed are they that have not 
seen and yet have believed." It is ours not only to believe in the 
fact of the resurrection of Christ, but to experience the joy and 
power of His presence, as the Apostles did of old when, after His 
Ascension, His promise was fulfilled for them, as it is for us, "Lo, I 
am with you all the days even unto the end of the age." Let us lay 
hold of the significance for us of this post-resurrection sign. Let us 
learn day by day our entire dependence upon Him both for our temporal 
needs and for all that is involved in our occupations as His followers 
and servants. May we realise that the same loving heart that planned 
for the disciples, cared for them with tender affection, taught and 
disciplined them and attached them to His own glorious Person, does 
the same for us if we, as they did, follow Him with Spirit-filled 

               VERSES 15 TO 25


     Peter's relation to his Master had been established. He is now to 
be reinstated in view of his responsibility as an Apostle and as one 
who could strengthen his brethren, his self-confidence having been 
banished. Three times he had denied his Lord. Three times the Lord 
says "Lovest Thou Me." The first time he says "Lovest thou Me more 
than these?" Grammatically the "these" might refer either to persons, 
fellow-disciples, or to things. But
  (1) Peter had boasted that he was a more ardent disciple than the 
others: they might deny their Master, but he would not;
  (2) to speak of loving the matters connected with fishing does not 
give a sufficient application to the meaning; 
  (3) would the Lord be likely to ask the question with this in mind, 
considering that the moment Peter saw it was the Lord he left the boat 
and the nets and swam ashore to be with his Master?



     As to the change of verb in Peter's reply to the Lord's question, 
"Lovest thou Me?" Christ uses _agapao in His first two questions; 
Peter uses _phileo in all three answers. _Phileo expresses a natural 
affection, and in this Peter is perfectly sure of himself, and is 
keenly desirous of stating his affection, particularly after his 
denials. This the Lord fully appreciates; but He is thinking of the 
practical manifestations and effects as well, as is evident from His 
commands. And the verb _agapao combines the two meanings: it expresses 
a real affection, but likewise raises it to the thought of an active 
and devoted exercise of it on behalf of others. Accordingly He first 
says "Feed My lambs" (showing that the love is the expression of mind 
in action). So again, when Peter adheres to _phileo, Christ replies, 
"Tend My sheep." Shepherd work (all that is involved in tending sheep) 
must exhibit the love. The commands show how fully reinstated Peter 

     The third time the Lord adopts Peter's word, and this grieved 
him. It was not that Christ had asked three times, but that now the 
third time, in using Peter's word, He should even seem to question the 
deeply felt, genuine affection he felt for Him. This is confirmed by 
the statement Peter makes, "Thou knowest all things ('Thou knowest 
intuitively,' _oida); Thou knowest (_ginosko, 'Thou dost recognise') 
that I love Thee (phileo).


     In what the Lord now says he takes up both the aspects of love, 
the practical and the deep-seated, affectionate and emotional love. 
First He adheres to the practical: "Feed My sheep." Then He foretells 
how Peter will manifest his affection in laying down his life after 
all for his Master's sake. Thus it would be given him to do what he 
had in self-confidence boasted he would do. And it was devotion to His 
Master that made him say it. The being girded and carried "whither 
thou wouldest not" did not imply unwillingness to die, but a natural 
shrinking from a cruel death, especially crucifixion as a criminal.

     That the Lord said to him "Follow Me" (v. 19) may have had a 
literal meaning, as the same word in the next verse has, but it 
certainly had a figurative sense; it was a call to follow in


the path of testimony and suffering (see 13:36). The Apostle now 
clearly discloses his identity. In telling how, as the Lord moved 
away and Peter after Him, John himself followed, intimating his own 
devotion, he recalls how he leaned on Christ's breast at the supper, 
and asked as to who would betray Him.


     In John's record concerning Peter and the Lord's reply to his 
question regarding himself, we cannot but note the continued and 
special intimacy between these two disciples, an intimacy which would 
be seen in the earliest apostolic testimony. Noticeable also are the 
Lord's combined foreknowledge of, and authority over, the future lives 
of His servants. He not only foretells Peter's martyrdom, but says 
that the length of John's life depends upon what He wills (vv. 22, 
23). In verse 22, the "he" and the "thou" are emphatic and set in 
contrast: 'whatever concerning him My will may be, thou must follow 
Me.' In the last utterance of Christ recorded in this Gospel He speaks 
of His Coming, and the Lord holds out to us the possibility that it 
may take place during our lifetime.

     As to the statement in verse 24, the mode of expressing his 
identity is characteristic of John. The "these things" probably refers 
to all the contents of this Gospel. The change of tense from "beareth 
witness" to "wrote," shows that though the writing was finished, the 
witness was continuing. The use of the plural "we" in "we know" is 
quite in keeping with John's style; cp. 1 John 5:18 to 20; as there so 
here, he includes all the believers of his time.

     The last verse expresses a note of appreciation and admiration 
regarding all that Christ wrought during the whole course of His life 
here including the period after His resurrection, and an overwhelming 
sense of the infinitude of His Person and His activities.


                      GREEK WORDS AND SYNONYMS

agapao & phileo, 146, 189
aiteo & erotao, 131, 154, 162
aitesasthe, 141
alethes & alethinos, 57, 58, 180
allos & heteros, 130, 131
aner & anthropos, 52
anothen, 28
apeltho, hupago & poreutho, 150, 151
amnos & arnion, 16
apo, ek & para, 152, 155, 156, 161, 165
arti, 152 
bema, 177 
cholao, 75 
deiliao, 136 
doulos, 143, 145 
dunamis & exousia, 11
ego eimi, 171 
eidos, 47 
eis, 11 
ekeinos, 152
emphanizo & phaneroo, 134
emprosthen & protos, 13
ennomos, 132
erchomai & heko, 60
ginosko & oida, 11, 45, 71, 75, 94, 103, 121, 129, 159, 189
horao & theoreo, 62, 130, 151, 153
hieron & naos, 22, 33
huios, paidion & pais, 35, 186
houtos, 124
kai, 26, 168
kainos & neos, 127, 180
kalos, 102
klino, 179
kosmos, 11
lalia, 91
lambano, 11
lego, 92, 183
lestes, 175
logos & rhema, 9, 68, 91, 177
luchnos, 48
luo, 23
ou me & popote, 59
para, 48 64, 155, 161
paralambano, 11, 178
peri, 155
petra & petros, 17
phago & trogo, 70
phaulos & poneros, 27
pistis, 57
poieo & prasso, 27, 44
semeion, 19
stauros, 178
thelo, 17

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