5:32 There is another that beareth witness of Me; and I know that the witness which He witnesseth of Me is true.
5:33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.
5:34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.
5:35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.
5:36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father hath sent Me.
5:37 And the Father Himself, which hath sent Me, hath borne witness of Me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape.
5:38 And ye have not His word abiding in you: for whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not.
5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.
5:40 And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.
5:41 I receive not honour from men.
5:42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
5:43 I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
5:45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
5:46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of me.
5:47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?
SECTION 3 5:30-47 Witness to the Son by the Father.
Verses 30-39 Appeal to witnesses.
Verses 40-47 Analysis of unbelief.
SURVEY OF SECTION 3
In a court of law, statements that are made must be supported by the witness or testimony of others. In Jewish law, a man’s own testimony was not allowed, unless accompanied by the witness of others. This explains the apparent discrepancy between verse 31, and 8:14. The testimony of Christ, if it were unsupported by others, would not be valid, but since it is supported, then it is allowable. And since it is the Father who witnesses in various ways, then the evidence could not be stronger. The case for Christ’s claim to Deity is undeniable.
Verses 30-39 Appeal to witnesses.
5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me. This verse links sections 2 and 3 together, for what the Lord Jesus had said about not being able to do anything of Himself in verse 19, is repeated here in connection with judgement. What He does is judge, but only as He hears His Father judging. He singles out the speaking that causes most animosity, that of judging, and assures His hostile listeners that when He judges He does so perfectly fairly and truly, since His will is in harmony with God the Father’s. They would readily admit that Jehovah’s judgement was right, for Abraham had said so, Genesis 18:25, so if He is equal with God, His judgement is right, too.
5:31 If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. The first witness is Himself, although this verse seems to deny it. The sense however, is “If I bear witness of Myself without any support from anyone or anything else, My witness is not allowable as evidence in My case”. Jewish law would not allow a man to for testify himself, unless there was at least one other to support him. That the Son has Another, is seen in the next verse.
5:32 There is another that beareth witness of Me; and I know that the witness which He witnesseth of Me is true. Because He is conscious of His relationship with the Father, He knows that what He witnesses about Him is true to fact. Those who deny His relationship deprived themselves of the benefit of the proof they give. When he was told that scientists had proved that it was possible for the Red Sea to be parted, a Rabbi said, “To the believer no proof is necessary; to the unbeliever no proof will ever be enough”.
5:33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. John the apostle never writes of John the Baptist under that title, but always as a testimony bearer. See, for instance, how he introduces him to us in 1:6-8. The words “witness”, testimony”, and “record”, mean the same. John is a secondary witness, in that he simply passes on what he has been told, either from the Old Testament, (so he knew he was making straight the way of “The Lord”, 1:23, Isaiah 40:3, or through the voice from heaven at Christ’s baptism, Matthew 3:17, and the descending dove, John 1:32-34. They could not say they did not know these things, for they had sent unto John to find them out, 1:19-28. Whichever way John heard the truth, it was from God, and passed on faithfully.
5:34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. Being only a man, John’s testimony was valuable, but received from another. As such, in important matters as the truth as to the person of Christ, his testimony is not the first line of argument. John did not really know the details of verses 19-29. Even though John’s testimony was secondary, the Lord advances it if by any means He may bring them to salvation.
5:35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. In support of this appeal to John, He reminds them that John was a burning and shining light, bearing testimony with enthusiasm (burning), and effect, (shining). But he was only a lamp, as the word light means; for just as a lamp only burns because it has been supplied with oil from another vessel, so John only bore testimony because of what he had been told. They were prepared to rejoice in what John had to say for a time, all the while he raised expectations about a coming King. But when he bore faithful testimony to who that King was, his message was rejected by the authorities. They wondered whether he himself was the Messiah, Luke 3:15, which shows what a low view of Messiahship they had, even though John was a great man. Notice the past tense “was”, for by now John is in prison, his time of testimony over.
5:36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent Me. There is now an appeal to the works that the Lord Jesus had done. They were not the testimony of fallible men, but the undisputed actions of one who must be God. Only the creator can turn water into wine by His own power. He was given works to finish, or “that He might perfect them”. It is significant that the last miracle the Lord performed was to heal the ear of Malchus, Luke 22:50,51. So work and hearing are brought together at the close of His ministry, just as works with significance, and the teaching of that significance for men to hear, were brought together during His ministry.
5:37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of Me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape. John later wrote, “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater”, 1 John 5:9. The voice had come from heaven at His baptism, the Spirit had descended in bodily shape like a dove upon Him, but despite this two-fold testimony to Christ they had not laid hold of it by faith, so it was as if they had not heard the voice nor seen the shape. To see Christ is to see the Father, John 14:9, so to not see the Son is to not see the Father.
5:38 And ye have not His word abiding in you: for whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not. The one who testified on the banks of the Jordan was the same as He who had spoken in the Old Testament scriptures. They were rejecting both testimonies. The word spoken by God in Old Testament scriptures was not abiding in their hearts as a believed and loved truth. This is shown conclusively by the fact that they did not believe the one who was predicted in the scriptures as coming. When the subject is the word of Christ, then to hear with faith is to believe the Father, verse 24. Here the one to be believed is the Son, when the Father is heard giving testimony.
5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. The rendering in the Textus Receptus is “Ye are searching the scriptures”. They thought that the more detailed their knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures was, the more correctly they could obey God, and thus earn eternal life for themselves.
5:40 And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life. They were prepared to go to the Old Testament scriptures, to learn how to gain life by trying to keep the law, but they were not prepared to go to Him, to gain eternal life as a free gift, such is the pride and perversity of the human heart.
5:41 I receive not honour from men. He did not invite them to come to Him so that He could gain prestige, but rather so that they might gain life and salvation. When they offered Him this sort of prestige, He turned it away, as seen in 6:15, when they wanted to make Him king.
5:42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. Because He is the Son of God, He is fully aware of man’s attitude to God His Father. He knew perfectly well that the love of God was not in their hearts, even though they avidly studied the scriptures. He said later on, “If God were your Father ye would love me”, John 8:42. John would afterwards write, “everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love”. 1 John 4:7,8. Since God is love, those who have life from God will love the Son He loves.
5:43 I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. To come in another’s name is to fully represent that person. The solemn truth is that the very Son of God has come amongst men, manifesting God His Father to them so perfectly, that He could say that the one who had seen Him had seen the Father, 14:9. The human heart, perverted by sin, inclines always to sin and error, and is ready to believe a lie before it will believe the truth. (Jacob believed his sons when they told him a lie about Joseph, but when those same sons told him the truth about Joseph, he did not believe them. Genesis 37:31-33; 45:26). There will come one in the future who will present himself to the nation as their Messiah, and the majority of them will believe him. However, he will be, not Christ, but antichrist, Matthew 24:24, and he will certainly not come in the name of the Father, but will seek to elevate himself. Perhaps there is a suggestion here that the Anti-christ will withhold from men that he comes in the Devil’s name, all the while honouring Satan in secret, see Daniel 11:38,39.
5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? The honour which only comes from God, is the honour of possessing eternal life, and being in the family of God. Their mindset was only to accept and give honour to one another on a carnal level. So entrenched was this attitude, that until they turned from it, they could not believe in Him. They “loved the praise of men more than the praise of God”, John 12:43.
5:45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. Having spoken of the witness that there is to His person, the Lord now shows that they are the accused, and the stronger the testimony to His person, the stronger the case against them. They trusted in the writings of Moses to give them light on the subject of being right with God, but those very scriptures accused and condemned them as sinners.
5:46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me. The testimony of Moses was to one who would come and unfold the truth to them. The rulers wondered if John was this Prophet, 1:21, but it was Christ, as Acts 3:22 and Acts 7:37 show. This is why Moses accuses them because the one who did not receive the words of the Prophet whom God would send, was to be cut off from the people, Deuteronomy 18:18,19.
5:47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? Because the testimony of Moses and Christ is identical in this matter, to believe the one is to believe the other. So since they did not believe Moses, but preferred to strive for their own salvation through law-works, they did not rely in faith on what he said about the coming Messiah. And when that Messiah arrived, they still preferred to work rather than believe Him.