Doctrinal: The Son supersedes failed Judaism in every way (Life)
John 3 – 7
John 3 – 7
Doctrinal (John 3 – 7). In these chapters we have the Lord Jesus is presented as the surpassing replacement for Judaism. We have the Son as the life in ch.3-7, and as the light in ch.8-12.
- John 3 – Lesson: no teaching of the Law is sufficient to reform the first man; all must be born again!
- John 4 – Lesson: natural religion is unable to satisfy the human heart and produce true worship. Christ is sufficient for both!
- John 5 – Lesson: the law is utterly futile to meet man’s need. The sovereign grace of the Son of God can meet that need!
- John 6 – Lesson: natural man is incapable of living without an object. The Son of man is presented to be the object of faith!
- John 7 – Lesson: man’s religion is unable to bless. The Son’s promised return to the Father and sending of the Holy Spirit makes believers into channels of blessing.
- Man’s Dark Condition & Christ’s Perfect Knowledge of it (2:23-25)
- Nicodemus: man’s need for new birth, and the work of the cross
- Man’s Need of New Birth (vv.1-3)
- How the New Birth is Caused (vv.4-6)
- Israel’s Need of New Birth (vv.7-10)
- The Father & Son’s Desire to Testify of Heavenly Things (vv.11-13)
- The Cross: God’s Sovereign Provision for Man’s Salvation (vv.14-17)
- Faith: Man’s Responsibility to Believe on the Son of God (vv.18-21)
- John the Baptist’s Testimony of The Son (3:22-36)
- Simultaneity of John’s Baptism and Jesus’ Baptism (vv.22-24)
- A Question raised about the greatness of Jesus (vv.25-26)
- A Seven-fold vindication of the Lord’s Ministry (vv.27-35)
- #1 – John could take no credit for his ministry as it was given to him of God.
- #2 – The ministry of Jesus didn’t contradict john’s, but complemented it.
- #3 – John felt about Jesus as a friend of a bridegroom.
- #4 – John knew the relative greatness of Jesus demanded a change.
- #5 – John’s ministry was earthly, the Lord’s was heavenly, thus far greater.
- #6 – God had specially marked Jesus out by permanent sealing of the spirit.
- #7 – the Father’s disposition toward “the son” is unmatched and incalculable.
- Conclusion: What does all this mean for man? (v.36)
Man’s Dark Condition & Christ’s Perfect Knowledge of it (2:23-25)
¶ 23 And when he was in Jerusalem, at the passover, at the feast, many believed on his name, beholding his signs which he wrought. v.23 These were people that were impressed by what was outward. There was no inward work of faith in their souls. There is a difference between human belief and real faith. For example, I read in the news that the Patriots have won the Superbowl… and I give mental assent to the fact. That is different than faith, which is a gift of God. Faith simply receives God’s testimony (John 3:33). The darkness can receive something about the Superbowl, but it cannot receive the things of God.
24 But Jesus himself did not trust himself to them, because he knew all men, vv.24-25 This is evidence of His omniscience. Even as a man on earth, Jesus knew everything! God did not need to test man to see what was in man, because God already knew. But the dispensational testing of the first man showed us our utter failure, and puts us into a guilty place before God. Jesus “did not commit Himself” to those who required evidence to believe, because that is not genuine faith. Their belief was founded on the wrong thing, and the Lord would not fellowship with that.
25 and that he had not need that any should testify of man, for himself knew what was in man. v.25 He didn’t need anyone to tell Him about man in the flesh… He was the omniscient Logos! And what was in man that Jesus knew was there? A little smidgen of good? A spark of “preparatory light”? (See note on “lighteneth every man”, John 1:9). No. He knew that in man was in spiritual darkness without any light whatsoever.
Nicodemus: man’s need for new birth, and the work of the cross
Nicodemus came to Jesus thinking that his real need (and Israel’s real need) was for better teaching. He could see that the state of Israel was one of apostasy. But the Lord Jesus shows him that no amount of teaching could improve the first man, and instead lost man needs to be born again, as does the nation of Israel. New birth is a sovereign work of God to impart spiritual life where there was none before. It is striking that God uses Nicodemus to bring out the truth of new birth. He could have used a heathen (Rom. 1), but instead He used the most upright of men to teach man’s need of new birth. If this man needed to be born again, then what about the rest of us? No doubt the Lord’s words continued to work int to Nicodemus’s soul, and we read of him again in John 7:50, taking a cautious but decided step toward the light.
John 2 & 3. John 2 presents the untrustworthiness of the flesh. God isn’t going to start in ch.3 with the flesh and try to improve it… rather He is going to start with something new. Chapter 3 really begins the main division of the book, which is the Son of God presented to meet man’s need. The very first step in bringing man back to God is new birth.
Jesus often taught by contrast. In ch.3, Jesus used the most upright of pharisees to teach man’s need of new birth. In ch.4, Jesus used the most degraded woman in Samaria to teach the privileges of Christian worship. In ch.5, Jesus used an impotent man to teach His life-giving power. In ch.6, Jesus used a hungry crowd to teach that He alone can satisfy the hungry soul.
Man’s Need of New Birth (vv.1-3)
¶ But there was a man from among the Pharisees, his name Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; v.1 The chapter begins with “but“. The condition of man is one of utter darkness, yet God is able to work to bring a single man to Jesus. Nicodemus was “a ruler“, which means he was part of the Sanhedrin, which made the decisions for the nation, etc. But the Sanhedrin was corrupt, and later would crucify their own Messiah (Matt. 26:59). God worked in certain of the Sanhedrin to draw them to Jesus, such as Nicodemus, Joseph of Aramathea, and later Saul of Tarsus.
2 he came to him by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that thou art come a teacher from God, for none can do these signs that thou doest unless God be with him. v.2 He came by night because he did not want the Sanhedrin to know. But it is better to come by night than to not come at all. He was being drawn by the Father (John 6:44) and he was in earnest. The miracles had proven that Christ was a teacher come from God. His admission “we know” proved the guilt of the Sanhedrin; down deep they knew that Jesus was real.
3 Jesus answered and said to him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except any one be born anew he cannot see the kingdom of God. v.3 Often gospel preachers use this verse is if Jesus is telling Nicodemus that he must rise up a do something. Really, he is telling Nicodemus that there is nothing the flesh can do… the first man is bankrupt. The only hope is a new impartation of life from God, called new birth. just as we had nothing to do with our natural birth, so man has no part in spiritual birth. He says, without new birth, you can’t even “see” (perceive/understand) the kingdom… that is, spiritual eyesight or discernment. see note above on the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God refers to a moral kingdom of those who own the authority of Christ. the kingdom was “come” when Christ is personally with his people, whether at his first coming (Mark 1:15, Matt. 12:28) or his second coming (Luke 22:18). Read more… However, in the intervening time, the kingdom of God exists in a mystery phase, and the subjects of the kingdom participate in its principles of: “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (rom. 14:17). In this way, a person can be “in the kingdom of god” (John 3:5), but only those who are born again can “see” (perceive/understand, v.3) or “enter” (be saved, v.5) the kingdom of god.
How the New Birth is Caused (vv.4-6)
4 Nicodemus says to him, How can a man be born being old? can he enter a second time into the womb of his mother and be born? v.4 Nicodemus feels totally blocked. To him it is incomprehensible. he knows himself that his own question is ridiculous, as to one having a second birth from his natural mother. Not only is it physically impossible, but that corrupted source could only give the same corrupted life.
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except any one be born of water and of Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. v.5 Natural birth is “of blood and of the flesh.” We know this because “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11). The new birth is “of water” not physically (baptism), but spiritually, as a symbol of the Word of God (Eph. 5:26). Some would contest that the “water” here means the Word of God. Read Jam. 1:18 and 1 Pet. 1:23 which both insist on the role of the Word of God in causing the new birth. New birth is also by the power of the Spirit of God. Therefore, The Word of God and the Spirit of God work in perfect harmony to cause the new birth. The water cleanses and the Spirit gives life. The nation of Israel needs to be reborn as well, see v.7, Ezekiel 36:24-32, and Isa. 44:3.
What Word? There is some disagreement among Bible students as to the “water” of the Word that is required for new birth. Is is restricted to the written Word? That would mean that all those without access to the written Word are never quickened. I think we can set this aside easily by looking at the Patriarchs, who never had the written Word, and yet many of them were certainly born again. What did they have? There was no written Word until Moses. The Patriarchs had the Word passed down orally, and they had various appearances of God in dreams or visions (theophanies). What about God’s Word in creation? Psalm 19:3-4 says that God’s voice in creation has gone over the whole world; “There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” Is God’s Word in creation enough for the Spirit to quicken someone without access to the oral or written Word? There is some disagreement on this. It is clear from Romans 1 that creation is enough to make the heathen responsible to believe God, but we have no examples of individuals who believed on the basis of creation alone. Perhaps we will never know for sure. Personally, I tend toward thinking that the Spirit does use creation to quicken. In Revelation 14:6 we get an indication that God use creation in some way to cause men to receive the “everlasting gospel” in the Great Tribulation. However, I think it is important to see that a person cannot be “saved” in the full sense of salvation through creation alone, without knowing Jesus, and the Father, and without being sealed by the Spirit.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. v.6 the Lord now makes it very clear that the two natures (born of flesh and born of spirit) are altogether distinct and never merge into one another. the new nature (“spiritual”) takes its character from the holy Spirit, and the old nature (“fleshly”) takes its character from the corrupted flesh.
Israel’s Need of New Birth (vv.7-10)
7 Do not wonder that I said to thee, It is needful that “ye” should be born anew. v.7 it is not now “a man” (v.3) but plural, “ye must” referring to the nation of Israel. a reformation of Israel would not solve their issues. as a nation, they need to be reborn (see ref. in v.10). it is god’s sovereign work.
8 The wind blows where it will, and thou hearest its voice, but knowest not whence it comes and where it goes: thus is every one that is born of the Spirit. v.8 The Lord uses the wind as an illustration of the spirit of God. “wind” and “spirit” are the same Greek word (G4151, Pneuma), an invisible and powerful force, outside of the control of Man. “blows where it will” – This is a proof of the sovereignty of God in salvation. the “sound” or effect is heard, but there is a mystery to the working of the Spirit of God in new birth. It is no less mysterious than the miracle of natural birth. We cannot pinpoint when and where a person is born again. the immediate effects of new birth are: (1) sorrow for sin, (2) repentance, and (3) seeking for light… NOT joy yet.
9 Nicodemus answered and said to him, How can these things be? v.9 it is difficult for the religious man to accept that new birth is a soverign action of God. it seems contradictory to his whole framework of soteriology… but that is because his system is contrary to the word of god (v.10).
10 Jesus answered and said to him, Thou art the teacher of Israel and knowest not these things! v.10 Rightly translated, Jesus was calling Nicodemus “the teacher” in Israel; in other words, the best teacher they had. He ought to have understood from the Old Testament the truth that Israel needed new birth. See Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 11:19; 36:24-32; Hos. 6:2; & Isa. 44:2-3, etc.
— we are getting a contrast between new birth and eternal life —
The Father & Son’s Desire to Testify of Heavenly Things (vv.11-13)
11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that which we know, and we bear witness of that which we have seen, and ye receive not our witness. v.11 “We” – Jesus is speaking on behalf of the Father and Son. The things that Jesus spoke were absolute truth, known by the father and son. The old testament was a limited revelation of God, and “the teacher” in Israel didn’t know those scriptures. Now Jesus was here to fully reveal the father in his public ministry, and “ye” (the nation of Israel) refused that witness (John 1:11). because they rejected it, the offer would now go to “whosoever” (vv.14-17).
12 If I have said the earthly things to you, and ye believe not, how, if I say the heavenly things to you, will ye believe? v.12 The Lord had been speaking of “earthly things” when he spoke of New birth – it was a matter necessary for the earthly restoration of Israel, and it was contained in Old Testament prophecy. but he had been sent from the Father to reveal heavenly blessings never known in the old testament (eternal life). since Israel could not believe the earthly, much less the heavenly.
13 And no one has gone up into heaven, save he who came down out of heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. v.13 “no man” other than the “son of man” could be a competent witness of heavenly things, for two reasons. (1) he was sent from heaven. even Though Enoch and Elijah had ascended to heaven, they had never come down from heaven, as the Lord had. (2) Furthermore, the son of man “is in heaven” at the same moment he is personally on earth. he alone was fully acquainted with all that heaven held! This is one of the mysteries of John’s gospel, and it shows the uniting of Godhead and Manhood in the blessed person of Christ.
The Cross: God’s Sovereign Provision for Man’s Salvation (vv.14-17)
vv.14-15 the cross meeting man’s need – the death of the son of man
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, thus must the Son of man be lifted up, v.14 see notes on the brazen serpent above. the son of man lifted up accomplished two things for us: (1) it takes the guilt of our sins away, and (2) it makes him the object for our faith.
15 that every one who believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal. v.15 “whosoever” – an expression that goes beyond the limits of Israel to include the poor GENTILES. New birth was required to “see” the kingdom of God, but eternal life is a gift to those who believe on the Son of Man lifted up. “believe in him” – in a person (Rom. 3:22), in Jesus Christ as the eternal son.
vv.16-17 The Cross manifesting God’s Heart – the gift of the son of God
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal. v.16 God’s heart of love for this world was finally displayed when he gave His only begotten Son. “So loved” – The measure of the love is evidenced by and commensurate with the greatness of the gift, His only-begotten Son. There is no higher measure of love than what God gave. c.p. v.35… there is no qualifier on the Father’s love for the Son, even though he loves us as much (John 17:23). Those who believe in the son will: (1) not perish – because our sins are gone, and (2) have eternal life – to be given a life that is characterize by fellowship with divine persons, bringing us into the sphere of heavenly blessing. Perish – eternal separation from God, contrasted with eternal life (knowing the father and the son).
17 For God has not sent his Son into the world that he may judge the world, but that the world may be saved through him. v.17 god was now manifesting Himself as a Savior God in His Son. as such, he sends the gospel to the whole world, although not all will believe (see vv.18-21). “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (II Cor. 5:19).
The brazen serpent. In vv.14-15 the lord now uses an Old Testament type to illustrate two things: (1) the necessity of the cross in order to save man, and (2) the son of man lifted up is the proper object of faith. In the type given in num. 21:5-9, the people sinned against the lord, and the result was fiery serpents sent among them. When bitten, a person would die. This corresponds with I Cor. 15:56, “the sting of death is sin” because sin leads to death. But it goes on to say “the strength of sin is the law” because the law occupies a person with themselves, and only can result in the inflammation of the sin nature (Rom. 7:7-11). In order to “live” and “not perish” the children of Israel needed two things: (1) they needed to be healed of the poison, and (2) they needed an object to look to. God told Moses to make a brazen serpent. Brass – a type of Christ under the judgment of god. A serpent – fashioned like the ones that had bit the people, Christ as “made sin for us” (II Cor. 5:21)… substitution. Lifted up – foreshadowing the crucifixion. in The cross we see two great things:
- his death puts our sins away (I Pet. 2:24)
- Christ becomes the object of faith (John 12:32, Gal. 2:20).
Lifted up. not only was the Lord physically lifted up, but he was put in a place outside the earth in judgment. rejected ignominiously by man, but at the same time he was presented as a victim on the altar to God.
Eternal life. This expression is translated “everlasting life” or “life eternal”. the word “eternal” does not define the duration of a life, but it defines the character of a life. it couldn’t be the idea of living forever because even the unsaved life forever. It is the highest character of life that one can ever know, because it is the life that the father and son enjoy together (John 17:3, I John 1:3). New birth is a necessity for faith, but eternal life is a gift to those who believe. in Old Testament times God imparted life, but eternal life comes in after the cross, and after the spirit.
John 3:16. this verse is the gospel in a nutshell. Martin Luther called John 3:16 the “miniature gospel”. only 25 words long, it is the most famous verse in the bible. The first half of the verse describes god’s part: the “loving” and the “giving”… twelve words. The second part of the verse describes man’s part: the “believing” and the “having… twelve words. The central word is “son”. c.p. Job 34:14 in JND translation, which is the “opposite” verse to John 3:16.
Faith: Man’s Responsibility to Believe on the Son of God (vv.18-21)
18 He that believes on him is not judged: but he that believes not has been already judged, because he has not believed on the name of the only-begotten Son of God. v.18 the point of this verse is that believing or not believing on the Son of God is the criteria for judgment. Notice that it is “the Name of”. The name stands for a person in their revealed character. In other words, to be saved a sinner needs to believe on the Person of Christ in the character of His Divine Sonship. It isn’t enough to believe that Jesus was a good person… you must believe that He is the Son of God. “Already judged” – Man puts himself in the place of judgment by his action of rejecting the gospel. see note on Christ is now the hinge-point. the word “condemned” here should be “Judged”. see note on judgment vs. condemnation. It is impossible to be “condemned already”.
19 And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men have loved darkness rather than light; for their works were evil. v.19 What is the judgment (or, conclusion) about a person as a result of their rejecting the gospel? Is the following: (1) light has come into the world in the person of the Son of God, but (2) faced with the choice of believing on him, they refused, which revealed that people were not just ignorant of the light, but they loved darkness (v.19) and hated the light (v.20).
20 For every one that does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light that his works may not be shewn as they are; v.20 Those who refuse to come to the light do so not because they are ignorant, but because they want to keep practicing evil. Light manifests man’s true moral condition (Eph. 5:24), and this is why men hate it. This proves that God is just in judging evildoers, because their course is not a “mistake”, but a conscious preference of darkness over light, so that they can continue in their sin.
21 but he that practises the truth comes to the light, that his works may be manifested that they have been wrought in God. v.21 If one has nothing to hide, then he does not fear the light. Nathanael illustrates this in John 1:47-48. Having “no guile,” or deceitful covering up of evil, he could come with confidence to the Lord Jesus. Perhaps even Nicodemus was one who “came to the Light” even though he “came by night”. Perhaps this is a subtle encouragement to Nicodemus.
Christ is now the hinge-point. those who reject are “already judged”… a Christ rejector puts himself in the place of judgment by his action of rejecting the gospel. Man is no longer on probation, as was Israel under law. The coming of Christ changed everything. The Law had proven man guilty, and Christ has taken the place of the guilty under judgment at the cross. If one therefore receives Christ, he is saved: if he refuses Christ, he refuses salvation, and chooses to be left under the judgment he deserves.
What think ye of Christ?
by John Newton
What think ye of Christ? is the test
To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest,
Unless you think rightly of him;
As Jesus appears in your view,
As he is beloved or not,
So God is disposed to you,
And mercy, or wrath are your lot.
To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest,
Unless you think rightly of him;
As Jesus appears in your view,
As he is beloved or not,
So God is disposed to you,
And mercy, or wrath are your lot.
judgment vs. condemnation. Judgment means the sentence has been passed, condemnation means the punishment has been executed. Condemnation is final, permanent, and irrevocable. A believer was never under condemnation, “and shall not come into condemnation” (John 5:24, Rom. 8:1). unfortunately the kjv confuses them (Also, L.F. #200). but Unbelievers are under the judgment of God today, but will only come under condemnation when they are cast into the lake of fire. Judgment precedes condemnation. Rom. 5:16 says “the judgment was of one to condemnation.” Remaining under the judgment of God will result in Condemnation.
John the Baptist’s Testimony of The Son (3:22-36)
John the Baptist. In order for john’s mission to be complete, it was fitting that his own lips should give utterance to the incontestable supremacy of the Lord Jesus in presence of his own disciples. his disciples were very loyal to him, and their loyalty was blinding their eyes to the greatness of Christ, although even they could not miss the obvious truth. He gives a faithful and beautiful treatise on the superiority of Christ and his heavenly ministry, and this fittingly closes the ministry of John the Baptist.
Simultaneity of John’s Baptism and Jesus’ Baptism (vv.22-24)
¶ 22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he abode with them and baptised. v.22 these verses give us a view of what was going on previous to the public Galilean ministry of our Lord, which is covered in detail in the three Synoptic Gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not touch on any ministry of the Lord before John’s imprisonment. Between verses 21 and 22 some time has evidently elapsed, during which the Lord and His disciples had left Judea, and now return there. This baptism must have been of the same character as that of John, that is, “unto repentance,” (Mark 1:4) outwardly separating a person from the apostate nation of ISrael. They were not two different baptisms.
23 And John also was baptising in Aenon, near Salim, because there was a great deal of water there; and they came to him and were baptised: v.23 this shows us the John’s ministry overlapped with the Lord’s.
24 for John was not yet cast into prison. v.24 The Lord’s Public ministry does not properly begin until John is off the scene. john was not the sower (matt. 13), but the plowman. It is been said that john’s hand held the plow, but not the seed. the Lord was the sower, and so we can see how his ministy dovetailed perfectly with John’s.
A Question raised about the greatness of Jesus (vv.25-26)
25 There was therefore a reasoning of the disciples of John with a Jew about purification. v.25 the Jews rightly connected baptism with purifying, although it is only outward purifying. Perhaps this question was not directly answered, or perhaps the question was with regard to the legitimacy of the Lord’s baptism? For some reason, these disciples had not left John to follow Jesus.
26 And they came to John and said to him, Rabbi, he who was with thee beyond the Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, he baptises, and all come to him. v.26 The Jews were somewhat alarmed, not only by the Lord’s growing ministry, but by His attractive power… “all men come to him”. They took occasion to apprise John of this activity of the Lord, attempting to incite some jealous rivalry in John. John’s response is beautiful. He never wavers, always taking the low place, always pointing to the light, and insisting on the greatness of his person.
A Seven-fold vindication of the Lord’s Ministry (vv.27-35)
#1 – John could take no credit for his ministry as it was given to him of God.
27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing unless it be given him out of heaven. v.27 whether it was John or any other man, their ministry was given them from God. This simple fact sets aside all strife, envy, jealousy, and Pride!
#2 – The ministry of Jesus didn’t contradict john’s, but complemented it.
28 Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but, that I am sent before him. v.28 John had never claimed to be the Christ. He had claimed to be the forerunner of the Messiah. John’s ministry was designed by God to be left unfinished by him, and to be resumed by Jesus, who would unfold heavenly things.
#3 – John felt about Jesus as a friend of a bridegroom.
29 He that has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices in heart because of the voice of the bridegroom: this my joy then is fulfilled. v.29 John knew that they were missing the whole point, so he uses the illustration of a wedding. See note above on “the bridegroom“. The bride here is the faithful remnant of Israel! John was witnessing, and even helping facilitate, the calling out of the Jewish remnant to receive the messiah. John was the most favored of prophets who looked forward to this day (matt. 11) and so is called “the friend” of the Bridegroom. It is not only right and proper for the bridegroom to “have the bride” but it is a source of joy to all his friends! Completely selfless, John’s joy was fulfilled to see the remnant flocking to Christ, and to anticipate being present at the earthly wedding.
The Bridegroom in the gospels. The Lord Jesus is presented as the bridegroom of earthly Israel in every case except one (Matt. 25) where the context is the Kingdom in Mystery… notice that the Bride isn’t even mentioned. We need to remember that that the mystery of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:25) had not been revealed yet.
- The Sons of the bridechamber (Matt. 9:15, Mark 2:19-20, Luke 5:34-35). In this case Christ is the bridegroom of Israel, and the sons of the bridechamber are the faithful remnant.
- The Ten Virgins (Matt. 25:1-10). In this case Christ is the bridegroom of the church, but the bride isn’t mentioned. Instead, the ten virgins are a picture of the Christian testimony through the ages. See also Matt. 22:1-14.
- The marriage of Cana (John 2:9). This is a millennial picture, and Christ is the bridegroom of restored Israel. The bride isn’t even mentioned.
- The friend of the bridegroom (John 3:29). Christ is the bridegroom of Israel, and the faithful remnant is the bride.
#4 – John knew the relative greatness of Jesus demanded a change.
30 He must increase, but I must decrease. v.30 it was not that John had a premonition of the coming change. Rather, he knew the greatness of Jesus’ person demanded that he would increase, and that john would fade in proportion.
#5 – John’s ministry was earthly, the Lord’s was heavenly, thus far greater.
31a He who comes from above is above all. He who has his origin in the earth is of the earth, and speaks as of the earth. v.31a the point John makes next is that the origin of the ministry defines its greatness. John (and all of Adam’s race) was of the earth, and therefore his ministry to do with Israel and their earthly blessings. The Lord was from heaven, and he spoke of heavenly blessings (vv.12-13).
31b He who comes out of heaven is above all, 32a and what he has seen and has heard, this he testifies; vv.31b-32a because he came from heaven to earth, he was a valid “EYE WITNESS” OF HEAVEN (see v.13). John understood that the incarnation made Jesus the one and only witness of heavenly things.
32b and no one receives his testimony. 33 He that has received his testimony has set to his seal that God is true; vv.32b-33 there were two responses to the Lord’s ministry:
- The general response (v.32b) – “no one receives his testimony” – though crowds may have flocked to Him, the Lord’s testimony was generally not received (see John 6:66). But there were some individuals who believed…
- The response of faith (v.33) – “He that has received his testimony” – anyone who (by sovereign grace) did receive His testimony was simply and honestly from the heart attesting that God is absolutely true. Taking God’s side regardless of my will or understanding (c.p. John 2:22-25). This verse has been rightly called “a definition of faith“!
#6 – God had specially marked Jesus out by permanent sealing of the spirit.
34 for he whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives not the Spirit by measure. v.34 the words of Jesus were the words of God, because he was “the sent one”. He was marked out as such by God’s gift of the spirit… not a partial measure (as in Old Testament times) but the full demonstration of the spirit’s power.
God giveth not the Spirit by measure. Note that “unto Him” is in italics. the sealing of the spirit was of course true of our Lord, but not only of Him. It is the character of the order introduced by the Son of God, that of those who receive the Spirit to indwell them.The sealing of the Spirit in the New Testament is not a partial measure as in Old Testament times when the Spirit would “come upon” a person for a season, even when:
- someone was going on well, like Gideon (Jud. 6:34) or Jephthah (Jud. 11:29) or David (I Sam. 16:13), or
- someone was going on poorly, like SAMSON (JUD. 14:19), or
- someone was not even a believer but was being used by god, like BALAAM (NUM. 24:2) or SAUL (I SAM. 10:10).
But the Spirit of God in the New Testament comes not “upon us” but “into us” and takes us a permanent dwelling place (I Cor. 6:19). The Spirit will not indwell a person until they have “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1-11). The spirit will be in us until the rapture (Rev 22:17)… the Spirit & the bride say, “Come”.
– – – – – t h e a p o s t l e j o h n i n t e r p o s i n g – – – – –
#7 – the Father’s disposition toward “the son” is unmatched and incalculable.
¶ 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things to be in his hand. v.35 not only is he the Messiah, the Bridegroom, and the heavenly prophet, but rising far above all that, he is “the Son,” the special object of Divine affection and honor. His love for the son is manifested in making him heir of all things. but No qualifiers; “loves the Son and” vs. “so loved the world that”.
Conclusion: What does all this mean for man? (v.36)
36 He that believes on the Son has life eternal, and he that is not subject to the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him. v.36 the consequences of this for man are eternal. There is no chance for those who hear the gospel to take a middle ground. you either “believe on”, or you “believe not on” (reject) the son:
- Believers – have eternal life as a present possession (John 17:3).
- Rejecters – remain in their guilt awaiting eternal punishment.
vv.35-36 are the apostle John’s words. It is fitting that:
- The earthly man, John the Baptist, yet with a ministry from God, would stop his testimony with what he had heard, read in the prophets, and saw (vv.27-34).
- The apostle John, a Christian, sealed himself with the Holy Ghost, interposes and concludes this section.
- Only a person with eternal life could speak about it.
Summary of this section. the important points in this section are thE FOLLOWING:
- John could take no credit for his ministry
- the ministry of Jesus didn’t contradict john’s
- John felt about Jesus as a friend of a bridegroom
- the relative greatness of Jesus demanded a change.
- John’s ministry was earthly, the Lord’s was heavenly
- God marked HIM out by permanent sealing of the spirit.
- the Father’s disposition toward “the son” is unmatched and incalculable.
Conclusion: what does all this mean for man? Jesus is now the hinge point of man’s salvation, and the choice each must make has eternal consequences.