Category Archives: JOHN 3:22-36.

John the Baptist and his final testimony to Christ

JOHN 3:22-36

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NOTES ON JOHN 3:22-36

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN CHAPTER 3, VERSES 22-36:

3:22  After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judaea; and there He tarried with them, and baptized.

3:23  And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

3:24  For John was not yet cast into prison.

3:25  Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying.

3:26  And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to Him.

3:27  John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

3:28  Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him.

3:29  He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth Him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

3:30  He must increase, but I must decrease.

3:31  He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all.

3:32  And what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth; and no man receiveth His testimony.

3:33  He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

3:34  For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.

3:35  The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.

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

SECTION 2 Verses 22-36
John the Baptist’s conversation about Christ.  “I must decrease”.

3:22    After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judaea; and there He tarried with them, and baptized.

At this critical moment, the paths of the Lord Jesus and John the Baptist converge, and that for the last time.  They met when Christ came to be baptized, when John announced Him as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, when John’s disciples left him to follow Christ, and now there is the last occasion before John’s imprisonment.  We are not told that they met, but it would surely be strange if they did not for this last time.  Just as the Lord had come to be baptized of John to sanction his baptism as being of God, so now the same thing is done, for the baptism of Christ was of the same sort as that of John, it was not Christian baptism, as practised now.  If Christ’s baptism were different, then surely this would have been revealed to John, and he would have ceased baptizing. 

3:23    And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

At that particular spot there was much water available even in the dry season.  This provides further confirmation that the baptism was by immersion, or else a plentiful supply of water would not be essential.   Significantly, the name “Salim” means “completeness”, and John the Baptist is indeed completing his ministry, and his final testimony is to the superiority of Christ.

3:24    For John was not yet cast into prison.

In a few days time the Lord Jesus will go into Galilee, 4:43.  So what John has recorded for us in chapters 1-3 takes place before the other gospels begin their account of Christ’s public ministry.  So we read in Mark 1:14 that it was after John the Baptist had been cast into prison that He began His public preaching.  So the Galilean ministry we read of in Matthew and Mark is not the same as is recorded in John 1:43-2:12.  When we read Matthew 4:11 and 12, we must remember that John’s account comes in between those two verses.  And when we read Luke 4:13 and 14, we must remember that the returning mentioned there is not from the temptation experience, but from being in Judea after His first Galilean tour. 

3:25    Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying.

We are not told why this dispute arose, but possibly the Jews mistook the baptism in the Jordan as a purifying rite, rather than an act of repentance.  They may have connected it with the story of Naaman, and how he washed in the Jordan at the command of Elisha, and was clean, 2 Kings 5:10.  They may even have been linking it with the Lord’s words to Nicodemus about being born of water, and Ezekiel’s words about clean water making clean, Ezekiel 36:25.

3:26    And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to Him.

The sentence begins with “and”, so there is a connection between the dispute of verse 25, and what is said now.  The matter of the relative popularity of John and Christ becomes an issue in the dispute.  The Jews had come to John in chapter 1:19-27, and he had been adamant that he was not the Christ, but was only sent to herald Him.  This incident will tell us whether he is still prepared to take the humble place.  Those who come to John in this verse have not taken in what he had to say in chapter 1 about the greatness of Christ, so he takes the opportunity to remind them.

3:27    John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

John affirms that he, or anyone else who acts for God, can only carry out what has been commanded from heaven.  He had not been commanded to make a name for himself.  His work was done in the strength God gave him, for he had no strength of his own.

3:28    Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him.

He refers them to his previous testimony, as found in 1:19-27.  Nothing had changed.  They knew of his witness, for they refer to it in verse 26, but just as they had ignored John’s testimony to Christ’s role as the sin-bearer, and His Deity, on that occasion, so now they do the same.  This gives one reason why the Lord gives very clear testimony to His Deity in chapter 5.  The one John prepared the way for was “the Lord”, or Jehovah, as Isaiah 40:3 had said.  They are not even prepared to give Christ a name, simply calling Him “He that was with thee beyond Jordan”.  They are far from believing on “the name of the Only begotten Son of God”, verse 18.

3:29    He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

John uses a series of terms about the Lord Jesus all of which serve to show that He is superior to John.  In verse 28 by inference He is the Christ, or Messiah.  Here He is likened to a bridegroom, whose relationship to the bride is so much closer than that of the friend of the bridegroom.  This latter expression is a Judean one, whereas “children of the bridechamber”, Matthew 9:15, is a Galilean one.  The mystery of Christ and His bride, the church, was not revealed until the time when Ephesians 5 was written, so we cannot insert this truth here.  Even though John the apostle would have known it by the time he wrote the gospel, the figure is used by John the Baptist.  Note the emphasis John places on the bridegroom’s voice, in preparation for what is said in verse 32.  Clearly John had taken note of the teaching of Christ, and rejoiced because of it.  Full joy comes when Christ comes, and is known, 1 John 1:4.

3:30  He must increase, but I must decrease.

How fitting that John should close his ministry with such a statement.  His humility is impressive, and we would do well to follow his example.  We notice the ways in which this decrease is manifest in this passage:
Verse 28 John decreases because he is not the Christ, and Christ has come.
Verse 29 He decreases because he is only a friend, not the bridegroom.
Verse 31 He decreases because he is of the earth, and speaks of the earth.
Christ must increase in prominence, as His public ministry develops, whereas John must decrease in prominence, and so he is soon imprisoned, and then murdered.  John must decrease because he did no miracle, John 10:41, whereas Christ’s miracles were ongoing.

3:31    He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all.

John must decrease because he can only speak of the earthly kingdom of the Messiah, whereas Christ came to bring truth to fit men for the heavenly kingdom Paul referred to in 2 Timothy 4:18.  He does this perfectly because He is above all, as one who possesses Deity, having been with the Father in eternity, 1 John 1:2. John the Baptist’s father had spoken of Christ as the Dayspring from on high, Luke 1:78.  The Lord had already referred to this matter of coming down from heaven in verse 12, in His conversation with Nicodemus.

3:32    And what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth; and no man receiveth His testimony.

This is similar language to 1 John 1:1-5, where the apostle shows that the Son of God had come to impart to others what He had eternally known and enjoyed.  That joy is known through what He  said and who He is.  The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, because they are foolishness unto him, and he cannot understand them until he is prepared to receive Divine wisdom, see 1 Corinthians 2:14.  By “no man” is meant men who are not willing to respond to God; it is not an absolute statement, because the one who wrote it had received the testimony.  Note that the Lord Jesus is spoken of here as a testimony bearer or witness, a term that John the apostle had used of John the Baptist, so he was decreasing even in this way.

3:33    He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

To receive the spoken testimony of Christ is to acknowledge that what He said was true.  But He spoke the words His Father gave Him, so to believe Christ is true in His statements, is to believe that God is too.  The converse is the case, for to believe not, is to make God a liar, 1 John 5:10.

3:34    For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.

The following scriptures bear out the first statement of this verse:
“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me”, John 7:16.
“I have many things to say and to judge of you: but He that sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him”, John 8:26.
“Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things”, John 8:28.
“For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.  And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak, therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak”, John 12:49,50.
The reason why Christ speaks the words of God is because He has been given the Spirit without measure.  He has unlimited resources as the Son of God made flesh to fully tell out that truth from God it was God’s will should be known at the time.  He was anointed by the Holy Spirit to preach, Luke 4:18.  There was further truth to be imparted, and this would be done by the Holy Spirit leading the writers of the New Testament into all the truth, John 16:13.

3:35    The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.

Such is the intense and eternal love of the Father for the Son, and such is the perfection of the return of that love to the Father, that the Son has shown Himself competent to handle everything for the Father.  He is not just the Only begotten Son of God, but the Firstborn Son too, and as such all things have been committed to Him for their faithful discharge.  The pleasure of the Lord prospers in His hand, Isaiah 53:10.  Whether the first creation, or the new creation, all is in the hands of Christ, the Firstborn Son of God, Colossians 1:12-19.

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

To believe on the Son is to rely on the one the Father relies on, with the result that eternal life is imparted to the soul.  To not believe is not simply a negative of the positive belief of the beginning of the verse.  Here the idea is that unbelief takes the character of disobedience, for if Christ has been charged with administering everything for God, He must have been given a position over all, including men.  Those amongst them who are not prepared to respond to Him in that character are disobedient, and duplicate the sin of our first parents in Romans 5:19.  It  is no surprise to find that those who are so daring as to disobey God’s Firstborn Son, have His wrath hanging over their heads.  Their only hope is to stop disobeying, and believe to life eternal.