Tag Archives: Jesus

JOHN 21

We hope you will find these notes helpful. Do feel free to download the material on this website for your own personal use, and also to distribute if you so wish. Please be aware that all the writing is copyright, so no alterations should be made.

Please feel free to comment on any aspect of what you find on this website using the contact form at the end of each article. We would be pleased to hear from you.

 

 

NOTES ON JOHN 21

John tells us in verse 14 that he is recording three manifestations of the Lord Jesus to His disciples after His resurrection. He also tells us of the manifestation to Mary Magdalene, but that was to her alone. Each of the four gospel writers is selective in telling us of these post-resurrection appearances, and in each case they serve the purpose for which the particular gospel is written. It is the apostle Paul who gives us the complete list in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8. Complete, that is, as to men, because the context is about the preaching of the gospel, which is the task of the brothers. The sisters often excel at bearing witness privately, as Mary Magdalene and others did in connection with the resurrection, for it was these who were chosen to bring the news of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus to the disciples. But it is not their role to publicly preach the gospel, hence their exclusion from Paul’s list.

John is a true evangelist, and wrote his gospel so that men might believe, 20:30,31. But a reading of those two verses will show that they are in a rather strange place. They represent a summary of the motive John had in writing the gospel, but do not come at the end of the gospel, where we might expect to find them. This suggests that they may form a link between what goes before and after them. In the previous verses, the Lord has manifested Himself to His disciples, breathed on them with the words, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit”, and has sent them forth “as My Father hath sent Me”, verse21. So this is the official commission of the apostles to go into the world as the Lord had gone into the world. But Thomas was not present at that meeting, and this serves to introduce a further manifestation of the Lord eight days later. He so deals with Thomas that he is constrained to confess, “My Lord and My God”. The lesson is clear, that those sent forth by the Lord do so with a view to testifying of His authority and His Deity.

John then inserts his reason for writing, which also becomes the basis of the preaching of the apostles when they went forth.

When we come to chapter 21, we find four further truths are emphasised, as follows:

1. Verses 1-14 The Lord’s complete control over the gospel preaching and its results.
2. Verses 15-17 The need for love to the Lord to motivate those who care for those who are saved by their efforts.
3. Verses 18-23 The life’s work of each servant is under the control of the Lord.
4. Verses 24,25 The gospel is so full and wonderful that all the books in the world could not exhaust it.


THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, CHAPTER 21, VERSES 1 TO 17:

21:1 After these things Jesus shewed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed He Himself.

21:2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.

21:3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

21:4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

21:5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered Him, No.

21:6 And He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

21:7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.

21:8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.

21:9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

21:10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

21:11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

21:12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask Him, Who art Thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

21:13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.

21:14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed Himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead.

21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed My lambs.

21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My sheep.

21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me? And he said unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

 

Part 1. Verses 1-14 The Lord’s complete control over the gospel preaching and its results.

21:1 After these things Jesus shewed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed He Himself.

After these things Jesus shewed Himself again to the disciples- He is going to manifest some further feature of Himself that will encourage them as they go forth into the world for Him.

At the sea of Tiberias- John tells us in 6:1 that the sea of Galilee is the sea of Tiberias. He does not mention Galilee here, to emphasise the word Tiberias. Tiberias the town was founded by Herod Antipas in about AD 20, and named in honour of Tiberius Caesar. It was a very Gentile place.

Subsequently, the Sea of Galilee became known as the Sea of Tiberias. The name is therefore one that has strong suggestions of Gentile culture, power, and influence, and no doubt John chooses this name to emphasise the contrast between the power of the world and the power of Christ. The disciples have been sent into a world opposed to God, and they need superior power on their side. The incident that follows shows them that they do have Divine power on their side, but only when they come to an end of their own power.

And on this wise shewed He Himself- to shew means to make apparent, so there is some feature of the Lord Jesus that has been present all along, but which is going to be highlighted. It is His Lordship, and the word “Lord” occurs seven times in the chapter.

The section revolves around fishing, feeding sheep, and following. All must be done under His Lordship if it is to be glorifying to Him.

21:2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.

There were together Simon Peter- they were not together as a company of disciples expecting the Lord to be in the midst. They are together because they have the common interest of fishing. Peter is always mentioned first in the lists of the apostles, but here he is first in that he takes the initiative to go fishing. He is the one who needs to learn a lesson from the incident that follows. The fact that he instigated the fishing expedition makes it even more a lesson for Peter.

And Thomas called Didymus- usually the list of disciples begins with Peter, and then follows Andrew his brother, and then James and John, as in Matthew 10:2, or Peter, then James and John, and then Andrew, as in Mark 3:16-18. This is the only place where Thomas is mentioned next to Peter. It serves to highlight the fact that just a little while before Thomas had confessed Christ to be his Lord and his God, whereas Peter had denied Him. That failure is about to be dealt with publicly. It has already been dealt with privately, Mark 16:7; 1 Corinthians 15:5.

And Nathanael of Cana in Galilee- how striking that Peter is associated with the two disciples that are noted for their bold confession of Christ, for Nathanael had exclaimed, “Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel, John 1:49, and he had done this before he had seen a miracle or heard a discourse. Peter must have felt that his own denial was all the more appalling, for he had been privileged to see the miracles and hear the doctrine.

And the sons of Zebedee- John does not list the twelve apostles, so he did not have to mention his own name in that connection. Here he disguises himself as one of the sons of Zebedee, who was the owner of a fishing business, and James and John were with him in it, Mark 1:19,20. Later on he will be described as usual in the gospel, as the “disciple whom Jesus loved”, verses 7 and 20. The leading thought here is that he is a fisherman.

And two other of his disciples- if these had been apostles they surely would have been named. Their common bond with the others was their faith in Christ on one level, and their vocation as fishermen on a lower level. It does serve to remind us that though the initial preaching of the gospel was entrusted to the apostles, it was not long before others were engaged in it. It also serves to show that the ongoing work of evangelisation does not depend on any supposed apostolic succession.

21:3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing- some have criticised Peter for this, suggesting that it shows that he was disillusioned, and wanted to go back to his old ways. But we should remember that there is no rebuke from the Lord when He meets them later, and in fact He uses the incident to teach them a much-needed lesson. We should remember that fishing was not a hobby with these men, but their means of livelihood.

They say unto him, We also go with thee- they respond to Peter’s leadership. His leadership in better things will be established in this incident.

They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately- the Lord will skilfully turn this readiness to work into service for Him. It is good if there is a willingness to serve the Lord, and immediate response to His commands.

And that night they caught nothing- this is the critical thing, for they are being taught that if they act independently of Christ they will fail. They had had this experience before, and they knew how the Lord had stepped in then, and they caught a great haul of fishes, see Luke 5:4-11. That incident had been the means of them being commissioned to be with Him, and go forth to preach the gospel of the kingdom. Now they have been sent forth to preach the gospel of God’s grace.

21:4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

But when the morning was now come- if fish are not caught during the night they will probably not be caught during the day. Their failure is total, as it needed to be, so that the lesson they are about to be taught will impress them permanently.

Jesus stood on the shore- He will show them that He can do from the shore what they totally fail to do as experienced fishermen from their boat.

But the disciples knew not that it was Jesus- this was literally true, but they are going to find that as He manifests Himself, they will know Him in a better way spiritually.

21:5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered Him, No.

Then Jesus saith unto them, Children- this word is translated like this three times in the New Testament. The second time is in Hebrews 2:13, where we hear the Lord Jesus say, “Behold I and the children whom God hath given Me”. This is a quotation from Isaiah 8:18. Isaiah had the task of warning the wicked king Ahaz of impending captivity at the hands of the Assyrians. As a sign to Israel, Isaiah was instructed by God to name his two sons in a particular way. One was to be Shear-jashub, a name which means “A remnant shall return”, and the other, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which means “In making haste to the spoil he hasteneth the prey”. So when Isaiah said to the nation, “Behold, I and the children which God hath given me”, they were a “sign and a wonder” to Israel. Maher-shalal-hash-baz was testimony that the Assyrian would indeed hasten to invade the land, and take them as a prey. The other son, however, was God’s promise that even though that happened, a remnant would return from captivity. So the idea is of successful outcome after seeming disaster. If the disciples thought on these lines, they would see that the one who stood on the shore was able to bring triumph out of disaster, whether the trivial matter of a night of fruitless fishing, or the very important matter of successful evangelism after the one who is preached had been rejected and crucified.

The third time the word “children” is found as a translation of this word is in Hebrews 2:13, where we read, “Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same”. This tells of the complete authority of Christ over the Devil, who had the power of death. Both references to children therefore are an assurance of the complete control of the one to whom they are related spiritually.

The word children expresses the vulnerability of the disciples in the face of disaster. Indeed, the particular Greek word used here is also used of the Lord Jesus when He was eight days old, Luke 21. It is also distinguished from ‘men’ in Matthew 14:21, showing that the thought in John 21 is of their vulnerability. But their relationship with Christ in resurrection would bring them through.

Whether the disciples realised these truths at the time is doubtful, but as they thought about them afterwards they would have been greatly encouraged, especially in times when they seemed to not be very successful in their role as fishers of men.

Have ye any meat? The question is prefaced with a Greek word which shows that the answer is going to be more or less in the negative. He gently indicates that He knows their situation. It is a genuine question in that He wants them to declare what the situation is, and enable them to confess the full extent of their failure.

The word meat was used in former times for any sort of food, so, for instance, the offering of Leviticus 2 was called a meat offering, even though there was no animal flesh involved. Here, the question is about fish. It shows that the Lord recognised that their fishing expedition was not a money-making venture, but was prompted by the very real need to support their families. If Peter and Andrew had really wanted to return to their old life, they could have rejoined their father in his fishing business.

They answered Him, No- what else could they say? It is true that they were far enough from the shore to prevent someone seeing their boat was empty, but they answer honestly. They confess the situation with their own mouths. We cannot hide anything from the Lord, even if we try.

21:6 And He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

And He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find- there must have been something in the tone of voice of the stranger on the shore which assured them that He was to be obeyed. In a previous and similar incident as recorded in Luke 5:4-11, Peter had protested that they had caught nothing all night, and implied that to try again was useless. We have nothing of that here.

They might well have reasoned that the right side of the ship was only a few feet from the left side of the ship, so wherein lay the difference? They will come to realise that the difference lays in obedience to Him. To cast the net in response to His command, is always to cast on the right side.

They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes- the “now” of this sentence is the same “now” of verse 10, “the fish ye have now caught”; it is His intervention that makes the difference between the toiling all night and the ‘now’ of instant success.

In Luke 5 the net brake, for the simple reason that the Lord had told them to cast nets, and they only cast one. Here, the Lord knows exactly what they will catch, and that one net will hold them all.

In this verse, and in verse 11, the word used for ‘draw’ is the same as is used in John 6:44, where the Lord says, “no man can come unto Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him”. He went on to say, “It is written in the prophets ‘And they shall all be taught of God’, Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me”. This suggests that the “net” which draws men to Christ, the Father’s appointed means, is the word of God. This is why the net did not break in this incident, for the Lord said, “The Scripture cannot be broken”. The word of God is the sure way of bringing sinners to Christ. We are not expected to devise clever schemes and strategies to present the gospel. All that is needed is the setting forth of the truth of God as found in the word of God in the power of the Spirit of God. Divine resources like these cannot fail.

The disciples were not able to draw the net, meaning they were not able to pull the fish out of the water into the boat. It was the net that caught the fish; they were only the agents used to land the fish in the boat. But this they could not do, another example of their powerlessness. Their empty net during the night showed their failure, and so did their empty boat now. In the other incident in Luke 5, they were able to bring a large catch into the boat, but not here. Their failure is manifest.

21:7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord- ever the man of insight, John realises from what has happened, (and no doubt helped by his experience in Luke 5 with the draught of fishes there), that the stranger can only be the Lord. He has knowledge beyond theirs, (even though they are experienced fishermen), and also has control over the fish of the sea in their movements. It is not too much to say that He had prevented the fish from entering their net during the night, and now He had commanded them to do so.

Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea- it seems strange to put clothes on to prepare to swim, but there is an over-riding consideration. He is about to stand before the Lord, and he knows that he must be dressed suitably for His presence. This incident teaches us that there is a dress code that is suitable for coming together. Those who are spiritual will realise that. Those who are carnal and do not realise it need to be instructed. Decorum should mark us as we meet together. And there is no reason to make weekday meetings the exception. The Lord is the same in the week as He is on Sunday.

Notice that Peter does not attempt to walk on the water here. He has denied his Lord since he did that, and perhaps is not quite confident that he deserves to be upheld on the water as before.

And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) As is common practice, a small vessel is used to row out from the shore to reach the bigger vessel that cannot come near to the water-line. It would be towed behind the larger ship, to be available when needed.

This is why John adds, as an aside, the distance from the shore. Because it was only a short distance, the water would be shallow and the larger vessel could not approach.

Dragging the net with fishes- the disciples are presented with a problem. They cannot draw the fishes over the side of the vessel, there are so many, (and Peter is not now in the boat so there is one less to help), and they cannot pull the net with the larger vessel because the water is too shallow, so they drag the net full of fishes through the water by means of the smaller boat, until they reach the shore. Perhaps we could see in this that there is room for enterprise in the making known of the gospel; but there is no room for gimmicks- the little ship was perfectly orthodox.

21:9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

As soon then as they were come to land- the meal was ready for them as soon as the reached the shore, showing that the Lord had not needed them in order to provide a meal. He is the Last Adam, and the fish of the sea are under His control, Psalm 8:8.

They saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread- He knows they will be depressed, cold and hungry, and He, as ever, has the answer. It almost seems as if they are still in the little boat when they see the fire. The boat had grounded on the beach, but they had not yet disembarked.

Of course the fire is going to bring back memories for Peter, for he had warmed himself at the fire in the High Priest’s Palace, and then denied the Lord, Luke 22:55. He will soon be given the opportunity to publicly reverse that public denial.

21:10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught- how gracious of the Lord to allow them to associate their fish with His fish. It symbolises His willingness to share in the great work of evangelism. “We are labourers together with God”, 1 Corinthians 3:9. Isaiah said, “Lord, who hath believed our report?”, Romans 10:16. Peter brought the Word of God on the Day of Pentecost, but we read that the three thousand converts “gladly received his word”, Acts 2:41. The Lord prayed for those who would believe “through their word”, John 17:20.

“Ye have now caught” highlights their previous failure on their own, and their success when instructed by Him.

He asks them to bring little fish, such is the meaning of the word, as it is in the previous verse. It would not be suitable for the disciples to bring large fish, (for they had caught many large fish), and to place them beside His small fish. The little fish in question were considered a delicacy, and were eaten with bread. The Lord will see to it that His guests feel welcome. It will also be a test of obedience and a sign of humility if only little fishes are selected and brought from amongst the large fishes they had caught.

21:11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

Simon Peter went up- was he still standing in the water, hesitating to come out now that he realised that John was right, and the stranger on the shore was in fact the Lord? It seems as if the six disciples were also hesitant, and were still in the boat, for only Peter lands the fish.

And drew the net to land full of great fishes- the net was full of great fishes, but there were enough small fishes to fulfil the request of the Lord. It would be a comparatively easy job to pull the net onto the shore now that it had been brought to shallow water.

An hundred and fifty and three- no doubt Peter did not stop to count them at first, but they must have done afterwards. He must minister to the Lord rather than be occupied with their success. Much has been written about this number, but perhaps its very strangeness is an indication that it is the fish that matter, and not their number. A single soul is worth more than the gain of the whole world, Matthew 16:26.

And for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken- as already noticed, the net did not break because the Lord only required them to cast one net. In Luke 5 the Lord had said nets, in the plural, and the disciples only cast one, so it is no surprise the net broke, to demonstrate that if we only obey partially, we must only expect partial success.

21:12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask Him, Who art Thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine- if they were still standing in the boat, then the call is to come closer and share with Him in His expression of authority and power, the loaves and the fishes.

And none of the disciples durst ask Him, Who art Thou? They did not dare to ask Him for He had made it so obvious by His words and actions that it was He. It would have been an insult to ask who He was, when what He had done was purposely designed to bring to their mind former incidents. The word “durst” is based on the verb “to dare”. It was not that they were afraid of the Lord, but they did not want to repeat the mistake Philip had made when, in the upper room, he was mildly rebuked for not knowing the Lord as he should have done, John 14:9.

21:13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.

Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise- we should remember that the Lord has taken the form of a servant for ever. It is part of His nature as a man, and He expresses this by these actions. He had said during His ministry that “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them”, Luke 37.

It is also a lesson to the disciples, for they are called to be servants too. Not only are they to catch fish in evangelism, but they are to provide comfort of soul and nourishment for those saved through their ministry.

21:14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed Himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead.

This is now the third time that Jesus shewed Himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead- that is, the third time John records in his gospel that He manifested Himself to disciples, as opposed to individuals, like Mary Magdalene.

The first time, 20:19-23, was to grant them peace, to give them the Holy Spirit, and to send them forth, as He had been sent forth of His Father.

The second time, 20:24-29, was to dispel unbelief, and to produce the testimony of Thomas, “My Lord and my God”, the attitude of heart that true evangelists should display.

The third time, 21:1-13, is to show His complete control over the fishing for men; that it must not be done in our own strength, and that those who serve Him well will know His reward.

 

2. Verses 15-17 The need for love to the Lord to motivate those who care for those who are saved by their efforts.

We now come to the reinstatement of the apostle Peter to his prominent position amongst the twelve. He had been met by the Lord at some point on the day of Christ’s resurrection, but this had been a private meeting, 1 Corinthians 15:5. (See also Mark 16:7, where the angel specifically mentions Peter, so that he would have an early indication that he was not totally rejected). Now he is to be given the opportunity to reaffirm what he no doubt said on that occasion, that he did truly love the Lord.

It would be helpful if we considered the context of Peter’s statements about his loyalty to the Lord, and the subsequent prophecy of his three denials. The four gospels present the matter as follows:

Matthew 26:31-35. “Then saith Jesus unto them, ‘All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee’. Peter answered and said unto Him, ‘Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended’. Jesus said unto him, ‘Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice’. Peter said unto him, ‘Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.”

Key points:

1. The disciples are like sheep, and they will be scattered.

2. They will all be offended, meaning that they will be led into a trap by Satan.

3. Peter states he is prepared to die with the Lord. All the disciples say the same.

Mark 14:27-31. “And Jesus saith unto them, ‘All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee’. But Peter said unto Him, ‘Although all shall be offended, yet will not I’. And Jesus saith unto him, ‘Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice’. But he spake the more vehemently, ‘If I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.”

Key point:

1. Peter asserts vehemently that he will not deny Him. With this we may compare his cursing and swearing when he did in fact deny His Lord, Mark 14:71.

Luke 22:31-34. “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren’. And he said unto Him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death’. And He said, ‘I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest Me'”.

Key points:

1. Peter and the others will be sifted as wheat. Not winnowed as those who might be chaff, but sifted or sieved as wheat which needs foreign matter separated from it; the foreign matter in this instance being the denial of the Lord. Despite the sifting, their faith will not fail, for the Lord had already interceded for them. Peter did not deny His person, as if he went back on his confession that He was the Son of God, so his faith did not fail, but his courage did.

2. When he is converted, (so the Lord has confidence that he will be recovered from his denial), he is to strengthen his brethren, so that they do not make the same mistake as he did.

3. Peter declares he is prepared to go to prison as well as death.

John 13:33-36. “‘Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek Me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another’. Simon Peter said unto Him, ‘Lord, whither goest thou?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow Me afterwards’. Peter said unto Him, ‘Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake’. Jesus answered him, ‘Wilt thou lay down thy life for My sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied Me thrice'”.

Key points:

1. The warning of denial follows the command to love one another. Peter ignores this, and concentrates on the fact the Lord is going away. He needs a lesson about love to his brethren.

2. He affirms his willingness to follow the Lord, but in the event he followed afar off, Luke 22:54.

These nine points are the background for the incident we are now to consider.

Peter’s denial reversed

21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My lambs.

So when they had dined- the Lord had prepared a fire and food for His cold and hungry disciples, and now they have enjoyed His company around the fire. This would have memories for Peter, for he had dined with the Lord in the upper room, but then had gone out and stood beside the world’s fire in the High Priest’s Palace, with those who were hostile to the Christ of God.

Jesus saith to Simon Peter- the combination of the name given to him by his father, and the name given to him by Christ, John 1:42, (Cephas being the equivalent to Peter). All believers have that which has come from our father, a sinful nature, and that which has come from Christ, the new nature. We are to put off the one and put on the other, in practical terms. Sadly, the “Simon” part of Peter had come to the fore in his denial.

Simon, son of Jonas- this is the name the Lord addressed Him by when He renamed him, John 1:42, showing that He knew who he was and what he was like, and that he eventually would be a stalwart of the faith, rock-like in his stand for Christ. It was also the name by which the Lord addressed him when he confessed that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God, Matthew 16:16,17. Again, this was an evidence of his steadfastness. But he had not been like this when a servant maid confronted him in the palace court of the High Priest. He needs to be brought back to his resolute stand for Christ, for he will confront the crowds on the Day of Pentecost, and the nation’s leaders subsequently.

Lovest thou Me more than these? There are two words for love used in these verses, but they are not different enough to warrant being distinguished in translation. Experts agree there is little difference between them, which shows that the Authorised Version is, as ever correct. They are both used of the love between the Father and the Son, (John 5:20 uses “phileo”, whereas John 3:35 uses “agapeo”. The latter is love for love’s sake, whereas the former is love because of some relationship). The one is not higher than the other, but they stand side by side.

When the Lord had exhorted His own to love one another in view of the fact that He would soon go where they could not follow, John 13:33,34, Peter was so taken up by the idea of them not being able to follow, (he thinking he was able), that he ignored the command to love one another. This oversight is now being corrected by the Lord with His questions about love.

Peter had said, “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I”, thus setting himself above the others in devotion to Christ, even though they all said they would die with Him. John has deliberately listed the disciples at the beginning of the chapter in the order “Peter, Thomas, Nathanael”, thus linking the three together. The other two had confessed the Lord, as Peter had, but they had not denied Him. Peter must humble himself to recognise that he has failed in the matter of confessing the Lord before men.

How grateful Peter must have been that just as there was provision in the trespass offering for one who had made a rash vow, so the sacrifice of Christ safeguarded him from judgement, Leviticus 5:4, where “pronounce with an oath” has the idea of speaking unadvisedly, which Peter certainly did.

He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love Thee- the first sign of Peter’s recovery is that he calls the Lord by His rightful name. When the Lord and Master had stooped to wash the disciples’ feet, Peter had protested, thinking that this was not fitting for one who is Lord. Christ teaches him otherwise. Peter is learning to take the low place. As he himself wrote later, “Yea, all of you, be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace unto the humble. Humble yourselves under the mighty had of God, that He may exalt you in due time”, 1 Peter 5:5,6. “Clothed with humility” reminds us of the Lord taking a towel and girding Himself to serve His disciples.

Peter had not stopped believing in Christ, for He had prayed for him that his faith would not fail, Luke 22:31, 32. However, he did deny that he knew Him, and this was hurtful to Christ as He stood above in the Palace. Here he is being brought back to a confession of Christ as Lord, which is the theme of the whole chapter. He must say “Yea, Lord”, three times, to show his denial was not a final repudiation, but a temporary lapse.

He saith unto him, Feed My lambs- when the Lord had foretold that the disciples would forsake Him, He quoted from Zechariah 13:7, “Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn My hand upon the little ones”. First of all He would be smitten, and the sheep would be scattered. As Peter stood below where Christ was being interrogated by Annas, he very possibly would hear Him being smitten by the palms of the hands of the high priest’s officials, Matthew 26:47. Each blow would remind Peter of the prophecy Christ had given, and the connection He made between that smiting and the disciples being offended.

Second, He would gather them together unto Him in resurrection, and because they were vulnerable would call them His little ones, meaning the lambs. Now Peter is entrusted with the same task of caring for the vulnerable. As the Lord had said to him, “when thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren”. As Peter emerges from his distressing experience, he is the stronger for it, and is in a good position to help those who are in danger of faltering in their faith.

21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My sheep.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? This is the same question, using the same word for love, the only difference being that there is no mention of “these”, the other disciples. Clearly the Lord, who reads the heart, (Thou knowest that I love Thee”), has discerned that Peter has learned his lesson about being better than the others.

Peter gives the same answer, again appealing to the fact that the Lord knows his heart, and affirming that he loves Him because there is a relationship between them.

He saith unto him, Feed My sheep- it is not now the vulnerable lambs, who need feeding and strengthening so that they do not deny their Lord. Here it is those who, like Peter, are the sheep of the Good Shepherd’s flock, (as the lambs are, of course), and He is entrusting them to one who loves Him, and therefore will love His sheep. The Good Shepherd feeds His sheep by leading them into the green pastures, so He exhorts Peter in verse 19 to follow Him. If Peter does that, and does not forsake Him and flee as he did at the arrest of Christ, he will be enabled to lead others in the paths of righteousness.

21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me? And he said unto him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed My sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? The three denials must be matched by three affirmations of loyalty and love. Is this not why He now uses the word “phileo”, the one that Peter had used in his previous two answers? He is encouraging him to use the same word again.

In the first question, it is agapeo, (the Lord)…phileo, (Peter) In the second question it is, agapeo, (the Lord)…phileo, (Peter). In the third question it is, phileo, (the Lord)…phileo, (Peter).

Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me? Some have thought that Peter is grieved because the Lord has descended to using Peter’s word, and this is love on a lower level. But this cannot be so, for as we have already noticed, it is used of the love of the Father for the Son, so cannot be an inferior love; they always love to perfection. As we have noted, the Lord uses Peter’s word to prompt him to use it again.

So why was Peter grieved? Not because of the Lord’s use of “his” word for love, but because it was the third time. The bitterness of his three-fold denial is being gently brought home to him by the Lord, not by outright and public rebuke, but by being given the opportunity to make amends by declaring his love, which springs from a very real relationship with the Lord.

And he said unto him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee if phileo is a lower word, why did Peter use it in his protest? Why did he not say, “Thou knowest that I love (agapeo) Thee?” This would have settled the matter once and for all, if agapeo was the best sort of love. Such was the genuineness of Peter’s first two assertions of love, that, even in a state of grief because he is being asked again, he does not feel the need to add to what he said before. Peter is making it clear by saying “Lord, Thou knowest all things”, that he is being genuine and sincere in his replies. He is fully aware that the Lord would know is he was being anything other than honest.

Jesus saith unto him, Feed My sheep- there is no rebuke here about using an “inferior” word for love, (since we have seen that Peter’s word was not inferior), nor is there a lesser task entrusted to him who has used it. Indeed, now that it has been used three times over, the Lord can entrust to Peter not just the feeding of sheep, but their general care as well. One who loves with that sort of intensity can be relied upon to love the flock deeply also, and minister to their every need. The third word for feed means to carry out the whole range of tasks that a shepherd would who cares for the flock.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, CHAPTER 21, VERSES 18 TO 25:

21:18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

21:19 This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He saith unto him, Follow me.

21:20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on His breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth Thee?

21:21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

21:22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me.

21:23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

21:24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.

21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

 

3. Verses 18-23 The life’s work of each servant is under His control.

21:18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

Verily, verily, I say unto thee- we might be startled by the occurrence of these words in this connection. They always introduce doctrine of prime importance in John’s gospel, so we are prepared by the use of this expression for some fresh revelation. Coming as they do before a prophecy about the manner of Peter’s death, and the long life of John, they suggest to us that there is important truth about to be imparted.

When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest- Peter is thought of first as having been young, and then in the next statement as going to be old, suggesting he was middle-aged at the time of this incident. He was marked by self-sufficiency, (girdest thyself), and determination, (where thou wouldest), in his youth, evidently. Even the word “girdest” would suggest energy and activity, for in the East a man girded up his loins for strenuous activity, tying up his flowing robes so that he could move freely. That energy and determination shows itself in Peter in the gospel records, and is one reason why he denied his Lord, for he was relying on his own strength to serve the Lord, which is always a disaster. The fact that the Lord knew this is a token of His omniscience, for it showed that He knew about Peter long before he was called to be an apostle.

But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not- not only is the Lord omniscient about his past private life, but about the future, too, for He knows what will happen to Peter when he has grown old. He knows also the way in which he will die. He would do three things, stretch forth his hands, be girded by another, (in contrast to girding himself in his youth), and be taken where he did not wish to go, (in contrast to going where he wished to go). We are told the meaning of these words in the next verse.

21:19 This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He saith unto him, Follow me.

This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God- in the Upper Room Peter said, “Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake”, John 13:37. Peter here learns that his words are going to be fulfilled in a way he did not anticipate. Peter was thinking of the time then present; indeed, the very night he spoke the words. The Lord here informs him that he will be given the opportunity of making good his word, but not for many years.

If Peter had died trying to defend the Lord from His arrest, trial and crucifixion, that would not have been a death to the glory of God, but rather would have been to the glory of Peter, for men would have admired his heroism. He is going to die by crucifixion, as is indicated by the Lord’s words here. Tradition says that this indeed took place, with Peter insisting on being crucified upside down, so that there would be no comparison with the death of His Saviour, even in the physical sense.

But where did Peter get this idea? Was it from the order of the Lord’s words of verse 18? The victim of crucifixion is first taken to the place of execution, then has his hands stretched out on a cross, and then he is bound to the cross. But the prophecy of Christ about Peter gives the order almost in reverse, the stretching forth of the hands and the girding, and then the carrying where he was unwilling to go. There is to be no mistaking Peter’s crucifixion for Christ’s; in all things He must be distinct and superior. There is no mention of being nailed to a cross either, in the case of Peter. There is only one pierced victim to whom men should look, John 19:37.

Not only did Peter vow to die for the sake of His Lord, but also that he would go to prison for His sake. Is this the girding? He is to be arrested, and commanded to hold out his hands to be handcuffed, and then put in prison. Then he will be taken from his prison cell to his crucifixion. (The word gird does not mean to dress, but is derived from the word “belt”). Instead of walking where he wished, Peter is going to be carried by another to a place he would not wish to go naturally, even to the place of execution.

And when He had spoken this, He saith unto him, Follow Me- how significant this is! It was by the Sea of Galilee that Peter had first heard the Lord’s call to follow Him, Matthew 4:18-22. He had done so for three and a half years, and when the Lord Jesus foretold His death, Peter still wanted to follow Him. We read, “Simon Peter said unto Him, ‘Lord, whither goest Thou?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now: but thou shalt follow Me afterwards’. Peter said unto Him ‘Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake’. Jesus answered him, ‘Wilt thou lay down thy life for My sake? Verily, verily I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied Me thrice'”, John 13:36-38.

Peter learns from these words that the death of the Lord Jesus is unique, for there is that about it that cannot be imitated by another. But on the other hand, Peter learns that in a lesser sense it can be imitated in its martyr-character, and Peter is going to follow the Lord to death in that way. But he is in no fit state spiritually to do that yet. He must learn his own weakness by denying His Lord. He vowed to follow, but denied his Lord with oaths before the night was out. So by bidding him to follow Him here in John 21, he is reminding him of his former promise, and encouraging him to make good that promise. Peter had not only pledged to follow his Lord, but also to go into prison and death for Him. He is being exhorted to follow that pathway now, and re-dedicate himself to the Lord, even to that extent.

21:20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on His breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth Thee?

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following- this is the final reference in the gospel to the expression “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, another name for John the apostle. He had a very real sense of the love of the Lord Jesus. It was not that the Lord did not love the others, for He had said, “as My Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love”, John 15:9. So He loved them all, but there were degrees to which each one continued in that love, enjoying it and returning it. John was one of those who appreciated the love of the Lord for him, and was confident that Jesus loved Him. It is not surprising then to note that John is said to be following; he does not need to be exhorted to follow Christ, as Peter does.

Which also leaned on His breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth Thee? The second feature about John is that he was the one that Peter had asked to enquire of the Lord about the betrayer. Significantly, he is said here to have been on the breast of Jesus at the Passover Supper. As far as position at the table was concerned, he was leaning on the bosom of Christ. In other words, as they reclined on the floor surrounding the meal-table with their legs stretched out behind them, it was John who was next to Christ, leaning back towards Him. But in order to ask the Lord about the betrayer, he then leaned back further onto Christ, close to His heart, so to speak. So it is not his position at the table that describes him here, but the way in which he was able to ask a question of Him. These two features of John are very significant in this context, and are connected. Love to the Lord will be concerned about anything and anyone that betrays Him, for love and loyalty go together, and betrayal is the opposite of loyalty. This sets the scene for the conversation that follows here.

21:21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? We should not think of this as Peter being a busy-body, and making sure everyone is doing something. Rather, it is a concern lest the death which has just been predicted for Peter is the same as John shall suffer. It is as if he says, “Will this man be girded, and taken where he would not, also?” Already Peter is showing a concern for the sheep, even if in this instance the sheep is a fellow apostle. This gives the Lord the opportunity to foretell the personal future of John. This is the last of seven mentions of Christ as Lord in this chapter. John wrote twenty chapters to show us that Jesus, the historical man of the gospel records, is the Christ, the predicted Messiah of the Old Testament records, and also the Son of God, John 20:31. In chapter twenty-one he writes to show that this same one is also Lord.

21:22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me.

Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Peter is gently told here that the one he has called Lord is indeed in control of all things. In this context He is in control of the length of the life of His saints. The Lord does not say that John will survive until the rapture, and so be one of those that shall be “alive and remain”, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 at that moment. But He does propose it as a possibility. Whatever actually happens, this does not affect Peter’s personal position. That will not be altered by what happens to John. It is the extent of the life of John that is in view here.

Follow thou Me- far from being preoccupied, however sincerely, with John’s prospects, Peter should concentrate on doing as exhorted, follow the Lord, even though that means going to a martyr’s death.

21:23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die- a misunderstanding arose from the Lord’s word, “If I will that he tarry till I come”. It is simply a statement of possibility, not a prophecy of what will definitely happen. We should beware of jumping to conclusions in any circumstance, most of all in connection with the statements of Scripture.

Yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? John repeats the words so that we may see that it was not the Lord’s statement was unclear, but that He was misunderstood.

It is true, however, that the possibility that the brethren turned into a certainty was indeed a possibility. If it had been the will of Christ, John could have survived until the Lord’s coming, if that coming had been within the span of a long lifetime. Now Peter is going to live until he is old, and then die, so John must surely be going to live until he is old also. But what purpose is to be served by this?

We noticed that the events we have looked at began with the words “Verily, verily”, and we have noted that these words always introduce important doctrine in John’s gospel. Doctrine, moreover, that is fresh and new. So what are the new truths that are being presented to us in these incidents, the first involving Peter, and then John? Remember that John’s gospel has as its theme the gift of eternal life. We learn here, however, that those who have eternal life may still die. Of course, in relation to that life they never die, as the Lord stated in John 8:52, “If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death”. Physical death to such an one is totally different, for the possession of eternal life over-rides all other considerations, making death an irrelevance in this context.

What do we learn from the word to John? Firstly that there is the possibility for all believers currently alive on the earth that they may not physically die, for the Lord Jesus is coming not only for “the dead in Christ”, but those who are “alive and remain at His coming”, 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17.

Secondly, as far as John personally was concerned, he was to be granted a long life. Now why should this be? For a very good reason. John lived on and on so that three things might happen. First, that errors about the person of Christ might arise, so that he might deal with them in his writings. Second, and connected with this, that John might condemn as heretical the writings of unbelieving men. Third, that he might be on hand to give his approval to inspired writings as they were produced and circulated.

This is a very valuable ministry, and merits the “Verily, verily” that introduces it. We may be sure that all that we receive as being the Word of God is indeed that, and does not contain anything that is spurious, for John was at hand to give it his approval. Furthermore anything that is produced after his death may be safely put to one side as being uninspired, whether written by unbeliever or believer.

4. Verses 24,25 The gospel is so full and wonderful that all the books in the world could not exhaust it.

21:24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.

This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things- there are very few who deny that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is John. The idea of testimony is strong with him, for he emphasises the eyewitness character of his writings, both his gospel, 19:35, his first epistle, 1 John 1:1-3, and even the book of Revelation, which contains what he saw as he was permitted to see into the future.

And we know that his testimony is true- the plural pronoun may pose a difficulty here, and to solve the problem, (if there is one), some have suggested that these last two verses were written by someone other than John. But if that is the case, why did that person write “we?” Who did he join with himself as he wrote the postscript to John’s writing? If he does not tell us who he is, and who else joins with him, then the veracity of the whole gospel is imperilled, for John insists that he wrote as an eye-witness, John 19:35; 1 John 1:1-3, and if the one who is endorsing John’s testimony is not himself an eye-witness, nor the others who join with him, then that testimony is undermined. Furthermore, why did this unknown person revert to “I” in the next verse?

In John 19:35 John states “he knoweth that he saith true”, affirming his own conviction that his testimony was accurate. Here in this verse there is the same assertion, but this time it is “we”. In the Third Epistle of John, the apostle is commending Demetrius, writing, “he hath a good report of all men, and of the truth itself; yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true”, verse 12. Is it not the case that John is using the “we” of authority; in this case of apostolic authority. He knows what his fellow-apostles would have thought of Demetrius if they had known him, (and in fact, some of them may have known him), and therefore he is free to say “we” as one who is speaking for them all. After all, the Lord Jesus did pray that the apostles might be one, John 17:11, and this is one way in which His prayer was answered.

This is important in the light of the fact that John’s life was prolonged so that he could give his approval to the inspired writings. If he can do this with an apostolic “we” of authority, then by so much is his testimony strengthened, for it is the combined testimony of the apostolic band.

21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did- this shows that the “these things” of verse 24 refers to the doings of the Lord Jesus when here on earth. “Did” would include His teaching. John has already written like this in 20:30, when he says “And many other signs truly did Jesus which are not written in this book”. He thus leaves room for the other inspired writings of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

The which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen- the Lord Jesus described His ministry as “so long time”, John 14:9, for compressed into those three and a half years was the whole of His work. Being a Divine person, to Him each day was a thousand years as to its opportunity and potential, 2 Peter 3:8, and whatever He did was capable of extensive comment. In fact, it will take all eternity to explore the wonders of what He did down here. No wonder John says the world would not be able to contain the books, for they would be infinite in number, enough to occupy believers for all eternity.

THE PERSON OF CHRIST: He humbled Himself

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSE 7

 “But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”.

 The structure of Philippians 2:5-11 is determined by the punctuation.  The passage consists of just two sentences, divided into seven sections as follows:

(i)    Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
(ii)    Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
(iii)    But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
(iv)    And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
(v)    Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name:
(vi)    That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
(vii)    And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

There is a symmetry about these statements: 

The first and seventh correspond: the mind of Christ in eternity, then the mind of all created beings as they enter eternity.
(i)  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
(vii) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The second and the sixth: Christ conscious of His equality with God, then all creation conscious of it and recognising it by bowing the knee.
(ii)  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
(vi) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

The third and the fifth: Christ making Himself of no reputation, then God the Father ensuring that His name or reputation is acknowledged.
(iii)  But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
(v)  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name:

The fourth and central statement:  The meeting-point of it all, the central event of time and eternity, the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(iv) And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

We come now to the phrase “but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”:

BUT
 This reminds of the previous statement, “Thought it not robbery to be equal with God”.  Despite His claim He gave up what that claim resulted in.

 The expression “made Himself of no reputation” is defined by the following two phrases, “took the form of a servant”, and “was made in the likeness of men”.  In other words, He made Himself of no reputation by doing two things, (i) taking the form of a servant, and (ii) being made in the likeness of men. This explanation is demanded by the parts of speech which are used here for “made Himself” and “took”.

 The words “made…of no reputation” are a translation of the verb “kenoo” which means “to empty”.  This has led some unbelievers to invent the Kenosis Theory, saying, blasphemously, that He emptied Himself of His Deity. 

THIS CANNOT BE TRUE BECAUSE:
1.    God changes not as to essence.  “I am the Lord, I change not”, Malachi 3:6. “But Thou art the Same”, Psalm 102:27.   God is immutable, Hebrews 6:17.  If the Son was God before, He is ever God.  If He is not God now, He was never God.

2.    As we have seen, the word “being” does not simply mean “existing”, but subsisting, or always existing.

3.    He took upon Him the form of a servant, so He added the servant’s form to what He was before, thus retaining the form of God.

4.    It is said of Him even now, that “In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, Colossians 2:9.

5.    The words “I and My Father are one” were spoken by Him when He was here in manhood, John 10:30.  The fact that the Jews immediately took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy, verse 31, shows that they understood His words to be a claim to Deity.

SO WHAT DOES “EMPTY” MEAN?
 Since the expression is expanded by the next two phrases, we may say He emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant, which involved being made in the likeness of men.

 Another way of reaching a conclusion about the phrase is to note the corresponding ones in the remainder of the section, which speak of His exaltation.

 To be given a “name which is above every name”, involves being given reputation.

 The fact that this name is given to Him by God the Father indicates it is a deserved reward.

 Every knee shall bow, thus giving to the Lord Jesus His deserved reverence.

A SERVANT EXPECTS NONE OF THESE THINGS, NOR CAN HE DEMAND THEM
 In heaven, there was the reputation of God-hood; the reward of His Father’s love; the reverence of the heavenly host.

 WHEN A SERVANT AND A MAN HE DID NOT DEMAND THESE THINGS AS HIS RIGHTS, EVEN THOUGH AS EQUAL WITH GOD HE COULD HAVE DONE SO.

We see this from the gospel records, and from the things predicted of Him, which came to pass:
No reputation
 He was known as Jesus of Nazareth, yet Nathaniel voiced the common view when he said, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46.
 The prophet said  that He would be “despised and rejected of men”, and that it would be true of Him that “they esteemed Him not”, Isaiah 53:3.
 He plied His humble trade for many years as a carpenter, Mark 6:3, and “the carpenter’s son”, Matthew 13:55.
 When He was crucified, He was “reckoned among the transgressors”, Luke 22:37, as if a criminal.  This is part of what is meant by “death of the cross”.  To die on a cross was the ultimate disgrace, the very opposite of reputation. 

No reward:
 When He was presented to the Lord in the temple at the age of forty days, His mother brought the offering of the poor, Luke 2:24; Leviticus 12:8.  As the apostle wrote, “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor”, 2 Corinthians 8:9.

  In Psalm 22, we find it predicted that He would be deprived of the company of His God; of answers to His prayers; of deliverance from His troubles; and of the respect a human being ought to receive.

 The prophet Daniel foretold that He, (despite being Messiah the Prince), would be cut off and have nothing, Daniel 9:26 margin.  And so it came to pass.

 No reverence:
 It is true that the wise men worshipped Him when He was a baby, as did the shepherds, but Herod, pretending to wish to worship Him also, in reality sought to slay Him, Matthew 2:16.

 The men of Nazareth, not having anything to charge Him with as to His life among them for so many years, nonetheless took Him to brow of the hill to cast Him over the top, Luke 4:29.

 The men of Jerusalem took up stones to stone Him on more than one occasion, John 8:59; 10:31.

 When on the cross it came to pass as was written, “All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn”, Psalm 22:7; Matthew 27:39-44.

 In the language of the parable He told, the husbandman said, “They will reverence my son”, but they took him outside the vineyard and killed him, Matthew 21:37-39.

FORM OF A SERVANT:
 Just as “form of God” means really and manifestly God, so form of servant means servant in reality and manifestation.

 The reality manifested itself clearly during His life here.  Mark’s gospel especially concentrates on this; the key verse of his gospel is “For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many”, Mark 10:45.

THREE THINGS THAT MARK A TRUE SERVANT ARE FOUND TO PERFECTION IN CHRIST:

(i)  Subjection:
“The head of Christ is God”, 1 Corinthians 11:3.

   “My Father is greater than I”, John 14:28.  This is not to say that the Father is greater morally, or essentially, but because He is not in flesh as Christ is.  The Father has not self-limited Himself in that way as Christ has.  This statement would be pointless, and redundant, if the Lord Jesus were a created being.  John writes to prove the Deity of Christ, so it is part of that aim.  The Lord Jesus said in the Upper Room, (after having washed the disciples’ feet, taking the servant’s place), “the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him”, John 13:16.

(ii)  Service:
 He could say with confidence, “I do always those things that please Him”, John 8:29. 
 His claim was “I am among you as He that serveth”, Luke 22:27.
 He said as He came into the world, “Lo, I come…to do Thy will, O God”, Hebrews 10:7.

Submission: 
 By taking the place of Servant of Jehovah, He willingly gave up His will in favour of His Father’s, as we know from His words in Gethsemane, Luke 22:42, “not My will, but Thine, be done”.
“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered”, Hebrews 5:8.
“But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do”, John 14:31.
“I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.  This commandment have I received of My Father”, John 10:18.
“For even Christ pleased not Himself”, Romans 15:3.
“For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me”, John 6:38.

HEBREWS 4

SUMMARY OF THE CHAPTER
Hebrews 4 continues the theme begun in chapter 2, namely, the movement of believers from earth to heaven, ably assisted by our captain who has led the way, 2:10, and who is our merciful and faithful high priest to support us when we are tempted, and the faithful Son over God’s house, ordering and administering for Him through His word to us.  The exhortations of chapter 3 were based on a quotation from Psalm 95, which described the attitude of the nation of Israel as they passed through the wilderness.  The emphasis in chapter 3 is on the failure of the majority, and the last verse quoted records God saying “They shall not enter into My rest”.

There is another way those words may legitimately be translated, however, as will be seen by reference to 4:3,5.  In these latter verses, instead of the impossibility of unbelievers entering into His rest because God says “They shall not”, the word is “If they shall enter”, meaning that the opportunity was open to some.  So when we come to chapter 4 we are thinking of true believers, who shall enter into rest.  There is still, however, the constant encouragement to the Hebrews to make these things good for themselves, since amongst them there were those in danger of apostatising.  They are reminded in verses 12 and 13 that the word of God that comes to them through the Son over God’s house is able to distinguish between mere profession and genuine faith.  This brings to an end the warning passage that began in 3:6.  In 4:14-16 the subject of the priesthood of Christ is resumed, as an encouragement to believers undergoing trial and temptation.

STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER

(a) Verses 1-11 Entry into the rest of God.
(b)  Verses 12,13  Exposure of false profession by word of God.
(c) Verses 14-16  Encouragement to approach the throne of God.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE OF THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 4, VERSES 1 TO 11

4:1  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

4:2  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

4:3  For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

4:4  For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

4:5  And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

4:6  Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

4:7  Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

4:8  For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

4:9  There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

4:10  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

4:11  Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

(a)    Verses 1-11    Entry into the rest of God.

4:1  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

Let us therefore fear- we are still in the warning passage that began in 3:6, so the Hebrews should realise the awful possibility of failure to enter in to what God had in store for them in Christ.  The wilderness was a testing-place for Israel, just as the world is for those who claim the name of Christ today.
Lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest- The basis of the teaching of these chapters is the incident in the wilderness when Israel refused to enter into the land of promise.  Chapter 3 has concentrated on those who did not enter in, whereas this chapter will deal with those who do.  In Numbers 14:34 God spoke of His “breach of promise”, or His refusal to allow the people to enter in because they were unbelieving.  The expression means His refusal of them, not His unfaithfulness to His promise.  Now those who are allowed in are described, for there is a promise still left, it has not been withdrawn.  In chapter 3 the writer concentrated on the middle section of his quote from Psalm 95, which dealt with the failure of the people.  Now he emphasises the beginning and end of the quotation, which deals with God’s faithfulness in continuing to speak to the people day by day, and offering them the opportunity of entering into His rest.  The promise has been left, not only in Psalm 95, but also in the ministry of Christ to Israel.
Any of you should seem to come short of it- to come short of the rest is to not enter into it, just as many in Israel came short of entering into Canaan, for their carcases fell in the wilderness.  By saying “seem”, the writer is showing he envisages some may seem genuine but are not so.  Yet he says “seem to come short”, not “seem to be those who enter in.”  This is a reminder that he is referring to God’s knowledge of their hearts, as verse 13 will say.  They may appear to others to seem to be ready to enter in, but God sees that they come short.  The word for “seem” has the idea of opinion, so it is God’s opinion of them that is in view. 

4:2  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them- Caleb and Joshua came back from spying out the land of Canaan and told good news about its fruitfulness, and that God was able to give them the land if they trusted Him, Numbers 13:25-30.  The Lord and His apostles had also preached the good news of the kingdom of God, available to Israel on the basis of repentance and faith, as 2:3,4 has reminded them.  A great salvation was offered to them, and proofs of Christ’s ability to bring in the kingdom were shown, not only by the Lord Himself, but by the apostles as well.  Interestingly the proof of the goodness of the land of Canaan was the bunch of grapes that the spies brought back with them.  Significantly, the Lord Jesus began His miracle ministry by turning water into wine, showing He could bring in kingdom conditions, John 2:1-11.
But the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it- despite the encouragement to trust in God that Caleb and Joshua gave to the people, they refused to go in.  They therefore did not profit from the good things in store in the land.  It is clear that the kingdom can only be entered by believers.  Nicodemus had to learn to come to an end of himself as a Rabbi and Pharisee, and find his all in Christ crucified.  Only when born again through faith could he be fit for the kingdom, John 3:1-16.  It was on the borders of the promised land that the brazen serpent was lifted up, so that those who were bitten by the serpent, and hence were in danger of perishing in the wilderness, could be given life, and enter the land.  It was the generation that had been spared the judgement of God on their forefathers for refusing the land that were given this provision, for they too were in danger of dying outside of the land.

4:3  For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

For we which have believed do enter into rest- clearly the rest that is spoken of in these verses is that which God calls His own, but which He invites others to enjoy.  God can only rest in what His Son achieves for His glory, and so the rest here is Christ’s kingdom on earth, when He shall administer for God as His Firstborn Son.  This has been in view ever since chapter 1:6-9.  When Israel refused to enter into the land, God said, “As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord”, Numbers 14:21.  He also described the people of Israel as those who had seen His glory, and His miracles which He had done in Egypt and the wilderness, verse 22.  The generation the writer to the Hebrews addresses had also seen the miracles and glory of the Lord, but many had refused Him.  Nonetheless He will still come to them and set up His glorious kingdom, and “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea”, Habakkuk 2:14. 
In principle, because true believers are born again, and are able to see or discern the kingdom of God, John 3:3, they enter in that sense into rest in the present.  It only awaits the manifestation of that kingdom for everything to be fully realised, and then they shall enter the kingdom of God when it is manifest, John 3:5.  The same idea is found in Hebrews 12:18, 22, where believers are said to have come, not to Mount Sinai, but Mount Zion.  To come to Mount Sinai is to come into the bondage of the law in one’s heart; to come to Mount Zion is to come to the freedom of Christ’s glorious kingdom in one’s heart.  It was not a question of coming physically to either mountain, but coming in soul.  “Do enter” is in the tense which signifies something is happening in the present.
As He said, As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest- because He has put Himself on oath, and because that oath is based on the fact that He lives, (see Numbers 14:21), then it cannot be withdrawn.  What can be withdrawn, however, is the offer to those who, by not believing, show themselves unfit for the kingdom.  The idea of wrath is not to the fore here, but it was appropriate in chapter 3 where the unbelief of the nation is emphasised.
Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world- it is interesting to notice that in chapter 1, immediately Christ is spoken of as being introduced into the earth to reign, then His work as creator of heavens and earth is mentioned, 1:10.  Instead of mentioning this when speaking of Christ as the one through whom the worlds were made, in verse 2, it is mentioned in connection with the reign of Christ.  The writer here connects the rest of God with the creation week, for Scripture makes clear that one of the primary purposes of the creation of the world was that Christ might rule over it for God, so that His glory might be displayed.  Adam had been given this task, equipped with glory and honour in order to be effective, but he failed, as chapter 2 explains.  Only Jesus can rule the habitable earth for God.  When He comes to reign He will set up His throne of glory, and judge the nations.  Those who believe in Him from among Israel, and also those from the Gentiles who are sympathetic to them, shall inherit the kingdom “prepared from the foundation of the world”, Matthew 25:34.  As Moses had said long before, “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.  For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance”, Deuteronomy 32:8,9.
So when God rested from His six days of creation-work, He did so because the scene was now set for His kingdom to be established.  Initially granting rule to Adam, He did so with a view to demonstrating that only His Son become flesh could function as ruler effectively.  And only those who are in relationship with Him shall have any share in that glorious rule.
We are not to think that the works are not yet completed, and that is why the rest is not yet entered.  The works were finished long ago at the beginning- it is man who is not ready.  The Lord Jesus is recorded as having worked seven miracles on the sabbath day, so there is a coming together in His ministry of the idea of rest, and the “powers of the age to come”, 6:5 margin.

4:4  For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all His works.

For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise-  the foundation of the world and the seventh day are spoken of together, for “in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day”, Exodus 20:11.  The creating of heaven and earth as to its material was on the first day, and then the “all that in them is” was made in the ensuing period, ending with the sixth day.  There is no allowance here for millions of years between the making of heaven and earth in Genesis 1:1, and the subsequent days of 24 hours each.  In fact, the Lord Jesus spoke of the making of male and female as being “from the beginning of the creation”, Mark 10:6.
And God did rest the seventh day from all His works- by resting on the seventh day God established a principle which shall be true to the end of time in relation to the earth.  It is not in man’s best interests to work without a break.  One of the reasons why the nation of Israel was taken into captivity was their failure to observe the sabbath, especially in regard to the cropping of the land.  As they had not let the land rest once every seven years for 490 years, then it was forcibly rested for 70 years whilst Israel was in Babylon, 2 Chronicles 36:21.

4:5  And in this place again, If they shall enter into My rest.

And in this place again, If they shall enter into My rest- the writer again quotes from Psalm 95, and links the rest spoken of there with the rest spoken of in Genesis 2:2.  He does not distract us by precise details of the place where the passage is found.  No doubt most of his readers knew where to find the words anyway.  He makes no apology for quoting from the early chapters of Genesis, believing them to be equally the word of God with the rest of Scripture, see 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
Having rested Himself on the seventh day, God invites men to rest with Him, but this cannot be while they are in unbelief.  Verse 4 speaks of God’s works, and this verse of God’s rest.

4:6  Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein- Notice the “must”, for God is determined to have others resting with Him.  This is why the invitation is still valid, 6000 years after the finishing of creation.  He must bring it to pass for He has sworn by Himself to do it, for He can only swear by Himself, 6:13.
And they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief- Abraham was not invited to rest, because the conditions were not right at that time, for “the Canaanite was then in the land”, Genesis 12:6.  He, Isaac and Jacob dwelt in tents in the land, they were not settled there, Hebrews 11:9.  The first ones to have the gospel of a rest available were those who came out of Egypt under Moses.  Sadly, as chapter 3 has described, they refused to enter in, not because the rest was not available, but because of unbelief.  The word used in this passage for unbelief has the idea of disobedience. 

4:7  Again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.

Again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time- this entry into rest is not available indefinitely, for the opportunity is limited.  The readers of the epistle might miss out if they were not alert.  “In David” means in the book of psalms, written a long time after the book of Genesis, and even the book of Numbers, which records the refusal of the land.  God has waited patiently for others to join Him in true kingdom-rest.  Even David did not bring in rest.
As it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts- ominously the hardening of hearts is brought up here again, and explains why there is such a delay in bringing in the rest.  It cannot be entered by those who have hearts hardened by unbelief, 3:12,13.  There must be the fleshy heart of one who is responsive to the word of God, Ezekiel 36:26, “And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh”.  Note the connection between Ezekiel 36 and 37, and the new birth of water and the Spirit in John 3.  (See notes on John 3 for more on this).

4:8  For if Jesus had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day.

For if Jesus had given them rest- the Greek word for Joshua and Jesus is the same.  The reference here, of course, is to Joshua, but the translation as Jesus does serve to highlight the meaning, that is, “Salvation of Jehovah”.  Joshua was originally named “Oshea”, but after he had been faithful in spying out the land, and in view of his leadership in taking the people in to the land, he was renamed by Moses.  Oshea means simply “Salvation”, but no doubt to avoid any misunderstanding as they entered the land, his new name reminded them that the salvation the land represented was of Jehovah, not Joshua.  Of course the Lord Jesus fills out the meaning of the name perfectly, for He Himself is the salvation of Jehovah.  See Matthew 1:21.  He is the captain of our salvation, 2:10.  Joshua was not able to rule for God and make the land a rest for God.  He was not even of the kingly tribe of Judah, nor did the nation possess all the land under his leadership.
Then would He not afterward have spoken of another day- clear proof that the rest was not gained through Joshua is seen in the fact that God spoke of the rest as in the future, long after the time of Joshua, in David’s day.

4:9  There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God- the conclusion of the matter is that there is still the opportunity of entering into God’s rest, as long as those concerned are genuinely the people of God, and not a mixed company, with some true and others false.  The word for rest used here is a different one, meaning “a keeping of sabbath”, thus fusing the idea of rest and seventh day together. 

4:10  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.

For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His- not only does the word for rest used in verse 9 merge together the thought of rest and seventh day, but here the idea of rest and ceasing from work as on the sabbath day are combined.  This verse speaks generally of the principle that the one who enters rest does so because he has stopped working.  But the stopping of work is deliberate ceasing, not through force of circumstances; it is a deliberate and meaningful action.  The verse does not say that the rest is entered yet, but simply that it is logical to say that someone who has entered into rest has stopped working.  So the principle established when God ceased working in creation week, is now applied to believers.  But we should not miss the implication of these words, namely that while we wait for the rest to come we should be diligently working for God’s interests, just as God worked for His interests on the six days of creation.  The next verse speaks of labouring to enter into rest, for only those who work deserve rest.  It is not work in the Epistle to the Galatians sense, where the idea of working for salvation is dealt with.  Here, work is commendable, just as God’s work was on days 1-6 of the creation week.

4:11  Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest- this shows that the rest is still future, and not some vague spiritualising of Scripture.  The idea in the word is that of diligence.  The whole epistle is designed to encourage diligent attention to Divine things.  By labouring constructively for God, we show we have the right to enter in rest.
Lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief- note the distinction between the people of God of verse 9, and any man, the latter word being used because profession is still being tested.  Those who fall would be illustrated by those who fell in the wilderness under the judgement of God, 3:17.  They illustrate the fall of those who have the kingdom presented to them, yet refuse it through disobedience.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 4, VERSES 12 TO 13

4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

4:13  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

(b)    Verses 12,13    Exposure of false profession by word of God.

4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The warning passage that is just finished exhorted the Hebrews to be responsive to the word of Christ as it came to them, and not harden their hearts when they heard it.

The word of God is the great test when the question of true or false profession is under consideration.  The following scriptures will make this clear:
“If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”, John 8:31,32.
“He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God”, John 8:47.
“But ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep, as I said unto you.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:”  John 10:26,27.
“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us”, 1 John 4:6.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful- the word of God is living and energetic, such is the statement here, and reminds us of how the warning passage began, even with the idea of the word of the Son, and the appeal to hear His voice, 3:6,7.  The word is “logos”, meaning the Word of God as one whole body of truth, as opposed to particular parts of the scriptures.  The living Word is able to expose dead profession, and the energetic word is able to expose a lack of zeal and diligence.
And sharper than any two-edged sword- the swords of men only act upon the physical body.  No matter how sharp they are they cannot reach the soul.
Piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit- probing deep within, the Word of God tests profession, whether it is just the emotion of the soul, or the genuine response of the spirit in obedience to the word of God.
And of the joints and marrow- these are the innermost parts of our body, which translate our intentions into action.  Just as the Word can divide between the non-physical parts of us, so it can separate between the physical parts that are in fact united together closely.  Our joints are vital if our body is to be serviceable and active.  But our marrow is just as important, if not more so, for we can survive without some limbs and joints, but if the marrow of our bones is not functioning as it should, the whole body is affected, and even life itself.  The point is that the Word of God is able to divide between that which is purely to do with action, and that which has to do with the life that enables and prompts the action.  The Word of God is able to tell whether any particular activity is mere formal religion, or the exercise of one who has life from God.
The reference to that which is connected with the bone structure may be a reminder that the wilderness was strewn with the bones of those whose carcases had fallen in the desert.  Every lifeless bone was the sign that a spiritually lifeless Israelite had died.  This is why the cleansing of the red heifer was needed, Numbers 21, for it had to do with defilement through touching a bone or a grave.                                                                 And is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart- the test for the genuine believer, as to the motive for labouring.  The word discerned signifies that which criticises, assesses and analyses the activity in the heart, the innermost part of man, out of which are the issues of life, Proverbs 4:23.  Just as our physical heart pumps out blood saturated with oxygen, so that life may be maintained, so the moral counterpart of our being cause the spiritual life to flourish.  There is a connection between the marrow and the heart, inasmuch as the marrow ensures a good supply of fresh blood cells, and also removes unwanted dead cells.
The thoughts of a man, and the intentions based on them, are alike known fully by God.  He looks not on the outward appearance, but on the heart, 1 Samuel 16:7.  The majority of Israel allowed their thoughts to be influenced by the ten unfaithful spies.  They then signalled their intention to enter the land by force when it was not God’s will.  Both thoughts and intentions were wrong, Numbers 13:31-33; 14:40-45.

4:13  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight- this discernment of the soul, spirit and body of man, even to the extent of knowing his thoughts, applies to all men; none is exempt.  Note the subject is now God, not the word of God, but the word is the way men are opened up to God’s view.
But all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do- not only is the external covering of man no barrier to God’s eye, but He can penetrate deep within, as the first part of the verse has said.  Not only does God constantly look to assess us, but He keeps account, for the latter phrase here may be translated “with whom is our account”.  Perhaps, if this “word of exhortation”, 13:22, was originally spoken in a synagogue, there would be white-robed Pharisees listening, who needed to be reminded that outward things count for little with God; what matters is the state of the heart.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 4, VERSES 14 TO 16

4:14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

4:15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

4:16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 

(c)    Verses 14-16    Encouragement to approach the throne of God.

The passage 4:14-5:14 deals in general with two things, first, 4:14-16, how our high priest enables us to succeed where Israel failed, then, second, 5:1-14, how Christ succeeds as high priest where Aaron failed.

4:14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest- in chapters 3 and 4 we have seen how Christ acts as the apostle of God, bringing the word of God to bear upon the hearts and consciences of the people.  (It was especially as a prophet with direct access to God that Moses was described as faithful in all God’s house, Numbers 12:6-8).  But Christ is high priest as well, and this is emphasised from now on.  He is great because of the glories described in chapter 1.  He is high because He is over His people as a man over men, as chapter 2 showed.  He is great morally, He is high officially.  In chapter 2:9 He is seen crowned with glory (official), and honour, (moral).  It was declared before His birth that He would be great, Luke 1:32, and so it has come to pass.  He is great as prophet, Luke 7:16; as priest, in this passage; as king, Matthew 5:35. He is great because He is Firstborn Son of God, He is high because He is over God’s house.
That is passed into the heavens- the word for passed here means “to travel a road which leads through a place”.  The whole passage from chapter 2 has had the passing of the believer through this wilderness world in view, and how he may navigate through it successfully.  But Christ is our Captain, our file-leader, blazing a trail through this world, and so successful has He been that He has arrived in heaven.  The road He travelled here only had one destination, and He has safely arrived.  As He Himself said, “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father”, John 16:28.  His coming forth involved His apostleship.  His going to the Father involved His priesthood.  Really speaking, the heavenly ministry of Christ begins with this verse, and extends until the end of chapter 10.
Jesus the Son of God- He is still known as this in heaven, even as He Himself indicated to Saul of Tarsus- “I am Jesus of Nazareth”, Acts 22:8.  But He is Son of God, the Firstborn charged with administering all things for God’s glory; in this instance, the ministry of priesthood.  As Jesus we may be assured of His sympathy, as Son of God we may be assured of His competency.
Let us hold fast our profession- He is the apostle and high priest of our profession, and we are encouraged to hold fast by the fact that it is He who is central to our faith.  This is a strong appeal to those who were wavering.  What greater incentive could there be to continue with Christian things, than that He is in control, and gives character to everything?  It was a feature of many in Israel that they did not hold fast or firm the profession they had made by coming out of Egypt under Moses.  The result was tragic, as we have seen, for instead of holding fast they let go.  The priestly ministry of Christ has as one of its objects the support of those who waver, lest they let slip by the things they had heard, 2:1.

4:15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities- the sentence begins with “for”, and gives the reason why we should hold fast.  Notice the two negatives here- “we have not…who cannot”.  We should not immediately turn these into a positive, for if we do we shall lose the point of the argument.  The thought is that our situation is not the same as Israel’s, for they had a high priest who was unable to sympathise with the people, being compassed with infirmity.  The implications of that fact are described in 5:1-3.  We are in a better position, therefore a greater responsibility rests upon us.
Notice He is not said to be touched by our infirmities, but by the feeling of our infirmities.  In other words, without sharing in sinful infirmities, He draws upon His experience of temptation, in which He met with, and resisted, the temptation to sin.  He knows the feeling that believers have when infirmities tempt them to sin.  Again we must emphasise that He does not have the infirmity, but from outside of Himself came incitements to sin, which found in Him no response at all.  Because He resisted these fully, He has felt the pressure of them beyond all others.  We could think of the illustration of a sea wall. One section is built far beyond specifications, with the best quality materials and workmanship.  The adjoining section is built below specifications, with second-rate materials and poor workmanship.  Which section of the wall will feel the pressure of the storm most? Clearly, the fault-free section, for the other will give way easily.  So Christ, fault free in every sense, has withstood to the utmost, and therefore has felt the force of the storm of temptation beyond anything we shall know.  So the writer does not say He is touched by the feelings we have because He had what caused those feelings Himself, but because He was tempted. 
In His temptation every aspect of a man’s attitude to God was tested.  He can be tempted in all points, because He has been made in all things like unto His brethren, (the word “points” is the same as “things” in Hebrews 2:17), and thus He suffers as a real man.  Although His temptations are over, He has taken His sympathetic heart to heaven, and fully knowing what our trials are like, can minister just the help we need. 
Are we tempted to doubt God’s goodness?  He has been tempted by the Devil in that regard.  His suggestion that Christ should turn a stone into bread carried with it the implication that His Father had not been caring for Him enough.  The promise to the Messiah was “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”, Hebrews 1:5, but the Devil suggested that the Father had not been true to His pledge, and had left His Son without resources.  God had provided for multitudes of Israelites for forty years in the wilderness, yet His own Son had only been there for forty days, and there was no food!   Later on in the ministry of the Lord Jesus, He would point out that fathers do not give their sons stones when they ask for bread, Luke 11:11, yet here was the Son Himself, surrounded by stones, yet He had no bread! 
What a trial this was, far greater than the temptation that had come to Adam with regard to food, for he was surrounded by a plentiful supply.  He did not need to eat of the forbidden fruit to save himself from starvation.  There was no dissatisfaction in the heart of the Lord Jesus, however, for He had better food than material bread.  Every word which proceeded out of the mouth of God was valued as His necessary food.  There had come no indication from the scriptures on which His soul fed, that He should turn a stone into bread, and thus He was content.  So absorbed with the word of God was He, that it is only after the temptation that He hungered physically.  By basing His reply to the Devil on God’s word, and especially since the quotation begins, “Man shall not live…”, He clearly indicates that this victory over temptation can be ours as well as His, for we can all insert our name where the word “man” occurs.  He does not assert His Divine authority and say, “Verily, verily, I say unto you”, but simply quotes what is already written, as we may do. When we are tempted to doubt God’s goodness, we should cry for help, and He will show us in God’s word those things that demonstrate the reality of God’s goodness to us.
We also may be tempted to double-mindedness in relation to God, eager to worship and serve Him, but at the same time attracted to the glamour of this passing world  To those thus tempted, and who come to Him for help, there is the example of Christ’s resolute determination to serve God with undivided heart, and an equally resolute determination to resist the Devil.  Satan had positioned himself between Christ and His Father, but the Lord will not tolerate this, and commands the Devil to get behind him, clearly refusing to bow down to him.
The kingdoms of this world will one day be Christ’s, Revelation 11:15, but He will receive them from His Father, Psalm 2:8, and not from the Devil.  Those who triumph in this aspect of temptation do so because they rest in the purpose of God.  How great would the Devil’s victory have been if he could have given the world to Christ without Calvary!
Then again, we may be tempted to wonder whether God’s promises are really true, and begin to doubt Him.  This temptation has come to our Saviour as well, but His firm rebuff to the Devil we may take up too, “Thou shall not tempt the Lord Thy God”. His word should be enough for us, just as it was for the Lord Jesus.  So the Lord refuses to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple simply to see whether God’s word is true or not.
God’s provision, God’s purpose, God’s promises- is there anything not covered by these three? Christ has been tempted in all points like as we are, and we may overcome as He overcame, by the right use of the Word of God, as we are led by the Spirit of God in ways that glorify God.
What He is said to be touched with the feeling of is our infirmities, or manifestations of lack of strength. But here again, we should not assume that He sympathises with these because He had infirmities Himself.  It is true that Paul gloried in his infirmities, so they are not necessarily sinful, but still it is not the case that Christ possessed them.  Paul’s infirmities, by which is meant bodily weakness and ailments, were a direct result of the fall of man in Adam, and the consequent subjection to vanity that came with it.  The Lord Jesus did not share in the results of the fall, even as to His body.  He was not begotten of Joseph, thus He has no link with fallen humanity, either morally or physically.
Matthew tells us that when the Lord Jesus healed the men and women of His day, there was a partial fulfillment of the words of Isaiah 53:4.  In that passage the prophet describes the Messiah as One who “hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows”.  When Peter alludes to this in 1 Peter 2:24 he quotes it as “He bare our sins”.  This is the ultimate fulfillment of the words, but Matthew is concerned with their partial fulfillment, and so prefaces his reference to Isaiah 53 with the words “That it might be fulfilled”, and then quotes Isaiah with the words, “Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses”. 
This might seem to indicate a final fulfillment, until we remember that there are three ways in which quotations from the Old Testament are introduced by writers in the New Testament. 
Where the Greek word “ina” is used, then it is “in order that it might be fulfilled”, and the prophecy has been finally fulfilled. 
Where the word “tole” is found, then it is “was fulfilled”, and indicates that the event was merely a case in point, and what happened was an illustration of what was said in the prophecy, and it might be “fulfilled” in that way on another occasion.
Where the word “opus” is used, as is the case in Matthew 8:17, it is “so that it might be”, and the fulfillment is not complete, but an event which was within the scope and intention of the prophecy. 
So Matthew is not saying that sins were borne during the life of the Lord Jesus, but he is saying that there was an event that was included in the scope of the prophecy of Isaiah, but which did not exhaust its meaning.  So when the Lord Jesus healed a person, He took upon Himself, in deep sympathy, the griefs and sorrows which that illness caused him, so that instead of the ill person bearing those sorrows, the Lord Jesus bore them for him.  Coupled with this, virtue or power went out from Christ to heal the disease that caused the sorrow, see Luke 8:46.  In this way He is touched, even now, by the feeling of our infirmities.  Remember, He is the Creator of men, and therefore is able to understand perfectly the difference between what He made man at the beginning, and what sin has made him to be now.
The Lord Jesus healed all manner of diseases, Matthew 4:23, and the power of the Lord was  present to heal all who were sick, even Pharisees, Luke 5:17.  The miracles that are recorded in detail are those that present to us some spiritual lesson, and illustrate some particular sinful condition of man.  For instance man is blind, unable to perceive the truth of God, deaf to the voice of God, dumb in the praise of God, lame as to the ways of God, defiled as to the holiness of God, and so on.  Those that are recorded in detail, however, are but a sample from the full range of disease that was dealt with by Christ.  There was nothing too hard for the Lord to deal with.
Remember also the pains of Calvary, for death by crucifixion was designed to inflict the most possible pain, for the longest possible time, in the most varied ways possible.  If anyone knew pain, it was our Saviour, especially since none of His senses was dulled by sin, unlike ordinary men. 
There are not only body-infirmities, however, but weakness of mind and spirit.  Can He be touched by these, even though He had no weakness of mind or spirit?  Indeed He can, for He has been tested in body, soul and spirit.  His mental sufferings on the cross were of the extreme kind.  Who else has been forsaken of His God?  And He the Son of God in His bosom eternally!  There could be no greater trauma than this, than to cry unto God and to receive no answer, as if He were like those who regard iniquity in their heart, Psalm 66:18.  And to be separated from God, as if He were like those whose sins have hidden God’s face from them, Isaiah 59:2.
Even in His life He knew sadness because of the sin and unbelief of men; disappointment when His disciples made such slow progress in Divine things; grief as He wept over the city that would soon reject Him, and condemn itself, as a consequence, to be levelled to the ground.
Think of the grief of heart when His loyalty to God, His desires to be subject to Divine purpose, His confidence in Divine promises, were all called into question by the Devil in the wilderness.  How true was Isaiah’s word, He is a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief.  But in all this He sinned not.
But the question remains as to how exactly our High Priest sympathises with us if He does not have what we have?  The answer is that it is precisely because He is apart from sin in any shape or form, that He is able to support, succour and save us from a position of strength.  It is not drowning men that save drowning men, but those who throw them a life-line whilst firmly standing on the rock.

But was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin- We must be very careful when considering the subject of the temptation of the Lord Jesus.  In our earnest attempt to understand it, (insofar as it is possible to do so), we must remember the uniqueness of His person.  He is the Son of God, and as such is not able to sin, or else God is able to sin.  When He took manhood, He did not cease to be what He always was.  Scripture teaches  that He who is in the form of God took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.  Note that He took the likeness of men upon Himself as one who is in the form of God.  He added manhood to His Deity.  He did not modify His Deity to accommodate His manhood.  He now possesses two natures, yet remains one person.  Now it is persons that sin, not natures, so because He remains the same person He ever was, then for that reason He is not able to sin.  Because He remains God, like God He cannot be tempted with evil, James 1:13, for it holds no attraction for Him at all.  He does not have to weigh up the situation and make a decision whether to give in or not- for Him, sinning is not an option.
He is not able to sin for a related reason also.  When He came into the world, the Son of God expressed the resolve to do God’s will, Hebrews 10:7.  The fact that He did indeed perform the will of God perfectly, is not only known by His own testimony, “I do always those things which please Him”, John 8:29; “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do”, John 17:4, (and if it were not so He would have told us, John 14:2), but also from the fact that He has returned to the throne from which He was sent, and has sat down there with Divine approval, Hebrews 10:12. 
It may be objected that the Lord Jesus did certain things which it is not possible for God the Father to do.  He slept, (But “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep”, Psalm 121:4), He hungered and thirsted, (but God needeth not anything, Acts 17:25), and He died, (but God is from everlasting to everlasting, Psalm 90:2; the Living God, Acts 14:15).  Christ did indeed experience these things, but He did so, not because His Deity was weakened or modified, but precisely because He was God, and as such could will to do these things.  It was part of what He willingly accepted when He became man.
We are told by those who believe that Christ did not sin, but could have done so, that He needs to be like that to relate to His people, who are capable of sinning.  The people of God, however, are born of God, and as such do not practice sin as a habit. 1 John 3:9.  They do, alas, commit sins, but they do so when acting after the flesh, and God does not look on His people as if they are in the flesh, but in the Spirit, Romans 8:9.  When believers commit sins they need, and have, an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One, who pleads the value of His work at Calvary.
It is true that the statement, “Jesus Christ could not sin”, is not found in Scripture.  But the truth is certainly found there, and it is implied overwhelmingly by the whole doctrine about Christ and His Person.  Is it realistic to suggest that a person who could sin would be able to pass through this world with all its temptations, be assailed by the wickedest, cleverest force for evil in the world, even the Devil himself, and not succumb?  Also, if He could sin when on earth, how are we sure that He cannot sin now?  His condition has changed, it is true, but His person has not; if He could sin then, He could sin now.  This is unthinkable.
He was tempted in all points like as we are, “yet without sin”. This latter phrase may be misunderstood, especially if we retain the word “yet”, which the Authorised Version inserts.  “Without sin” means what it does in Hebrews 9:28, namely “apart from, cut off from, sin”.  When Christ comes again, He will not re-open the question of sin, for He dealt with that effectively by His first coming.  He will come totally separate from any notion of dealing with the sin of his people, but will have only their salvation before Him.  It is the same in connection with temptation.  It is not just that sin is absent from Christ, although that is true, but rather that He distanced Himself from sin in all its forms, cutting himself off from any notion that sin may be trifled with, and indulged in.  Now it is precisely because He did this, that He is in a strong position to help us in our temptations, for He strengthens us to distance ourselves from sin too.

4:16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace- Because we have a High Priest like this, there should be a consequence, indicated by the “therefore”. His being far away in heaven does not mean He does not touch us, nor that we cannot touch Him, for we may freely approach the throne upon which He sits.  We should come with boldness to God’s throne, for it is a throne of grace and not of judgement for us.  Upon that throne is One who is for us, not against us, our sympathising high priest, and those resources which we need to enable us to overcome temptation are available for the asking.  He will show us from the Scriptures the way in which He met temptations, and so we shall be saved from falling.
Note it is a throne we approach, a place of stability and authority, where one sits who is in complete control of every situation.  It is the throne of grace, for there is no other throne that can be described thus.                                                                                                                              That we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need- The priesthood of the Lord Jesus comes in when we are in danger of giving way to temptation.  Like Melchizedec, who brought bread and wine to Abraham to strengthen him before his trial with the king of Sodom, Genesis 14:17-24, Christ ministers to us the truth as to His triumphant life, (the bread), during which He successfully resisted all temptations.  He also imparts to us the truth as to His triumphant death, (the wine), when He not only resisted unto blood, striving against sin, Hebrews 12:2-4, but also died for our sins, 9:14.  By these means our souls are strengthened for the conflict.
But He succours as we come to the throne where He is, knowing that there is abundant mercy for the asking.  He is not like the priest in the parable, who passed by on the other side instead of showing mercy, Luke 10:31.  We need mercy or pity, because we are weak and failing at best, and when we acknowledge that, and do not try to act in our own strength, we may obtain the mercy. 
We may also obtain what we seek for the present need, for the time of temptation is the time of need.  Every time when we have need of support in temptation we may find it in Christ.  The word find implies that we specifically seek for specific help; as He Himself said, “Seek, and ye shall find”, Matthew 7:7.

CHRIST AND THE CHURCH: PART 5

CHRIST AND THE CHURCH:
PART 5  CHRIST AS THE EXAMPLE

Ephesians 4:17-32    A Christ-like walk.

SUMMARY OF THE PASSAGE
The apostle now turns from the collective responsibility of members of the church as they relate to one another, to consider the individual walk of the believer in the world.  The passage looks at the subject in three ways, as follows:

STRUCTURE OF THE PASSAGE
Verses 17-19      Features of Adam in unbelievers.
Verses 20-21      Truth is in Jesus.
Verses 22-32     Features of Adam put off, features of Christ put on. Verses 17-19      Features of Adam in unbelievers.

Verses 17-19    FEATURES OF ADAM IN UNBELIEVERS

4:17    This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord- the chapter began with an exhortation on the basis of the teaching in chapters 1-3, and now a new section begins in a similar way.  The practical exhortations of chapters 4-6 are solidly and logically based on the teaching of chapters 1-3.  Paul solemnly testifies in full recognition of the Lordship of Christ.  When He is gladly owned as Lord the exhortations of the passage will be willingly complied with. 
That ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk- he begins with a negative example, and one they will easily recognize from their pre-conversion days.  Henceforth means no longer, suggesting a clean break with the past.  That they have to be exhorted like this even though they are believers shows they had not fully realized the implications of faith in Christ. 
In the vanity of their mind- the apostle begins with the mind, because that is the seat of the thoughts, and as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, Proverbs 23:7.  Vanity as used here means emptiness of results, and is in stark contrast to the reality that is found in Christ.  Whereas the natural man produces nothing that is pleasing to God, He was altogether pleasing to His Father.

4:18    Having the understanding darkened- understanding is literally a thinking through, so here the apostle reminds us that the thought processes of the unbeliever are darkened, or covered over, not allowing the light of God’s truth to penetrate.  
Being alienated from the life of God- when Adam sinned the threatened punishment fell upon him, and he died.  Despite continuing in the body for 930 years, he died the day he sinned.  The Lord Jesus taught this in John 5: 24 when He spoke of men passing from death unto life.  And since the life is spiritual life, then the death must be spiritual death.  Not that man’s spirit is dead, for spirits cannot die, and man is able to use his spirit to worship demons, but as far as communion with God is concerned, man is dead. 
Through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart- this ignorance exists because eternal life involves knowing God, and Jesus Christ, John 17:3, so those who have not this life are ignorant, however qualified they may be in the things of this world.  Because men have closed their minds to the revelation of God, they are blind in heart.  This situation is not without remedy, as John 9 illustrates.  Reading verses 17-19 should makes us truly thankful that the grace of God has reached us, and should also make us more concerned about the plight of those still in their sins all around us.  It is solemn to think that the population of the world increases by 270,000 people every day.  That is not the number of people who are born each day, but rather the number of people who are born over and above the number of those who die each day.  May the Lord give us wisdom in this situation.

4:19    Who being past feeling- as a result of this willing heart-blindness, men are not sensitive to the truth of God, and what is acceptable behaviour with Him. 
Have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness- lasciviousness is lack of restraint, the direct result of refusing the Divine laws which should govern life on earth.  See Psalm 2:3, and Romans 1:18-32.  This in its turn results in uncleanness of every and any sort, and that with an attitude of heart which longs for more and more.

Verses 20-32        TRUTH IS IN JESUS  

But ye have not so learned Christ- again the emphasis on the mind.  We learn how to sin from Adam and his race, we learn how to live worthily through Christ’s example when here on earth.  It is not simply that He taught how to live, but that He is the Life, John 14:6, for true life finds its fullest expression in Him; He is the subject of the lesson. 

4:21    If so be that ye have heard Him- through the personal testimony of apostles and prophets, and the preaching of evangelists, pastors and teachers, the Ephesian believers had heard Him, as much as if they had been on earth when Christ was. 
And have been taught by Him- literally, taught in Him.  That is, as those who by faith were in Christ, they were in a position to take advantage of the teaching.  Try as they might to imitate Christ, unbelievers have not the power to do so.  The statement “Ye must be born again” comes before Matthew chapters 5-7, so only those who are born again can fulfil Christ’s commands. 
As the truth is in Jesus- the true life is expressed in Jesus, the Man upon the earth who pleased God fully.  This phrase is often misquoted as “the truth as it is in Jesus”, but this implies that truth in someone else is different.  Christ alone is the full expression of the truth.  Paul longed that the life of Jesus might be manifest in his mortal body, 2 Corinthians 4:10.

4:22    That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man- as we learn Christ through His example, and are taught of Him through His word, we are taught to put off the old man.  In principle we did this when we turned to Christ, but there is an ongoing need for readjustment to Christ.  The words “put off” mean to take off and lay aside, and are used of those who stoned Stephen, Acts 7:58.  They took off their garments and laid them aside as being unsuitable for the task in hand.  Clothing speaks of character in the Scriptures, and so we should take off and discard the characteristics of Adam, the old and out-of-date man, for those garments are not suitable for the task in hand of living like Christ.  Our old man has been crucified with Christ, for Christ undertook to deal with what we were in Adam, and by association with Him in His death and resurrection we are freed from the consequences of what Adam did when he fell.  See Romans 6. 
Which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts- because the human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, it deceives the unbeliever into doing corrupting things, even things which will bring into ruin. 

4:23    And be renewed in the spirit of your mind- instead of being corrupted by a deceitful mind, we should be constantly adjusting to the new things that are found to perfection in Christ.  The spirit of our mind is our attitude of mind, which is so governed by the Spirit of God that it can be called the mind of the Spirit, Romans 8:5.  We must adopt the right attitude to the things mentioned here, if we are to be in the good of them.

4:24    And that ye put on the new man- this is the other side to the truth that we have been taught in Christ, for we have not only to put on, but put off as well.  No doubt the garments of the two malefactors as well as Christ’s became the property of the soldiers at the foot of the cross.  The question for us is which garments shall we put on, Christ’s, or the malefactors? 
Which after God is created- likeness to Christ has to be created in us, for it does not come naturally.  After God means with God as the model.  God’s original design for Adam was that he be in the image and likeness of God.  That likeness has been spoiled by sin, and Adam begat Seth after his likeness, not God’s, Genesis 5:1,3.  Only because of Christ’s intervention as the second man, the last Adam, can God create anew after His likeness as expressed in Christ. 
In righteousness and true holiness- this is the condition in which the new man is, ideally.  It is our responsibility to put off all those things which are incompatible with righteousness and holiness.  True holiness is holiness which is produced when we allow the truth to govern us.  The truth in question being the truth in Jesus.  The word for holiness here is not the usual one meaning separation.  It has been defined as “that quality of holiness which is manifested in those who have regard equally to grace and truth”, Vine. Notice the three ideas of righteousness, holiness and truth, which could be used as summaries of the next few verses.  They are in opposition to the corruption, lusts and deceit mentioned at the end of verse 22.

TRUTH
4:25    Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour- it is not suitable for those who claim to know Him who is the truth, to be found lying.  As verse 15 has already told us, we should not only be truthful, but live the truth.  In fact the word for lying used here suggests this, being the word for falsehood.  May we be like the psalmist and hate every false way, Psalm 119:104,128.  The apostle quotes here from Zechariah 8:16.  As an Old Testament statement, it is a requirement under the law.  How much more now that Christ has come, and grace reigns.  Zechariah has fellow-Israelites in view when he speaks of neighbours, those who hope to enter the kingdom of the Messiah. 
For we are members one of another- as fellow-members of the body of Christ we are members of His body, (for we are more than just neighbours), and what we do even with our bodies, 1 Corinthians 6:15, affects the Head in heaven.

RIGHTEOUSNESS
4:26    Be ye angry, and sin not- sometimes the cause of truth demands that we be angry, with the sort of anger that Christ showed when He saw within the hardened hearts of men, Mark 3:5.  That it is permissible for a believer to be angry at times is shown in that a bishop must not be soon angry, Titus 1:7, thus showing that controlled anger is permitted at times.  One has said, “He that would be angry at sin, let him be angry at nothing but sin”. 
Let not the sun go down upon your wrath:- justified anger is not to degenerate into that which smoulders in our hearts, for the apostle is quoting from Psalm 4:4, and the psalmist goes on to say, “Commune in your own heart on your bed”.  We are to have quiet spirits, even in times when we have strong feelings about matters which affect the honour of Christ.  “Anger resteth in the bosom of fools”, Ecclesiastes 7:9, with the emphasis on resteth. 

4:27    Neither give place to the devil- the Devil delights to provoke us into emotional outbursts, and we should be aware of this, and not give him any opportunities to exploit situations, perhaps by exaggerated language or behaviour whilst under stress.

4:28    Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth- such is the transforming power of the gospel, that it not only enables a person to renounce that unlawful activity by which he gained a living, and begin to earn that living in an honest way, but to go further, and seek to make recompense as a believer for the sin of the past by meeting the needs of the poor.  This is in the spirit of the trespass offering, which required that one who had stolen should pay back what was stolen, and add the fifth part thereto.  See Hebrews 13:16, and also Zacchaeus’ attitude in Luke 19:8,9.  The apostle himself worked with his own hands to supply not only his needs, but also the needs of those with him, Acts 20:34,35. 

4:29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth- note the absolute terms the apostle uses.  A corrupt communication is a statement which is bad and unprofitable. 
But that which is good to the use of edifying- when we see gaps in the lives of fellow-saints, we should be concerned to fill them with words that build and encourage. 
That it may minister grace unto the hearers- So we may not only benefit our fellow-believers by giving them material things, as verse 28 indicates, but we also have the opportunity of ministering to their spiritual needs too, by those things that we say.  By this means those things which God is looking for from His people in response to His grace are fostered and encouraged.

HOLINESS
4:30    And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God- every true believer is indwelt by the Spirit of God, who is a Divine person, and sensitive to the behaviour of God’s people. To grieve means to make sorry, to cause pain or grief. Note the connection with the foregoing references to corrupt communication.  The Spirit is grieved by such a thing, for He is the Spirit of grace, Hebrews 10:29.  The fact that the Spirit dwells within us should be a strong incentive to holiness, as the apostle makes clear in 1 Thessalonians 4:7,8, “for God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.  He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given us His Holy Spirit”.  The expression used of the Holy Spirit here is very strong, being literally, “His Spirit, the Holy One”.

The following things may be said about the indwelling of the Spirit of God:
1.    The Lord Jesus promised His own that the Holy Spirit would be given, John 14:16.  He is not earned or merited, but given by God in grace.  Also, He dwells within the believer, in his heart, and is not merely an external influence upon him.
2.    The Spirit of God indwells the believer the moment he believes, Galatians 3:2, where the question is rhetorical, i.e. the answer is so obvious that it needs not to be stated.  The Lord Jesus told His apostles to tarry at Jerusalem until the Spirit came, which they did.  He had said to them in the Upper Room, “If ye love Me, keep my commandments.  And I will pray the Father…John 14:15,16.  They did keep His commandments, and the Spirit came.  Now that the Spirit has come at Pentecost, when a person believes he becomes part of the one body, and is made personally to drink into one Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:13, John 4:10,13,14.
3.    The Lord Jesus promised that once given, the Spirit would never leave them, John 14:16.  The Spirit left King Saul, 1 Samuel 16:14, and David implored the Lord not to take His Holy Spirit from him, Psalm 51:11.  These references remind us that the Holy Spirit was given in Old Testament times to empower for special tasks, in these cases to be king in Israel.  If the Spirit had been taken, David would no longer have been king.  As for ourselves, the permanent indwelling of the Spirit should not be used as an excuse for unspiritual behaviour.
4.    The Spirit was to be personally in the believer.  See John 14:17, where the contrast is between the Spirit being alongside of them as He indwelt Christ who was with them, and the Spirit abiding in them, when Christ was no longer walking physically with them.
5.    The presence of the Spirit is known by the believer, John 14:17.  The worldling can only appreciate things by the physical senses because he is not born of God.  Because the Spirit cannot be physically seen, then the unbeliever cannot know Him.  The Spirit makes His presence felt in the believer’s heart by encouraging spiritual exercises, Romans 8:16.
6.     The Spirit acts as a comforter, strengthener and encourager, in the same way as the Lord Jesus acted towards His disciples when down here.  This is the force of the word “another” in John 14:16, meaning “another of the same sort”.
7.    The Spirit enables the believer to see Christ, John 14:19.  He does this by announcing the things of Christ to us, John 16:14, so that Christ is glorified.  Through this ministry of the Spirit, the Lord Jesus may be seen with spiritual insight just as really as the apostles saw Him with natural eyesight.  John writes in 1 John 1:3 so that we may share the things he saw and heard, but he gives to us no physical description of the Lord.  What really matter, therefore, are spiritual views of Him. 

Whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption- The Lord Jesus has purchased His people, and we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.  Redemption of the body we do not yet have, however, for that will happen at His coming, see Philippians 3:220,21; 1 Corinthians 15:48-53.  Note that it is unto the day of redemption, and not simply until, as if it is only a question of time.  What happened when we were saved and sealed was in view of the redemption in the future.  This is a strong reason to believe in the eternal security of the true believer, for God has done something in the past which guarantees the future.

4:31    Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice- these are features which the Spirit finds grieving, and which are contrary to Christ’s example.  The truth in Jesus is totally opposed to these things.  Clearly the anger is unrighteous anger, or else there is a contradiction with verse 26.  We should only be angry at things Christ would be angry about.

4:32    And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you- this is the positive side, as verse 31 is the negative side.  We should avoid being unkind, but also set out to be kind, for that is what God has done, taking the initiative in the matter.  God forgave in Christ, meaning He forgave in view of all Christ is to Him, and all He did for us.  Those who have been forgiven by God should be the special objects of our care, for this is Christ-like, and is the mark of a worthy walk before God. 
Notice how high the standard of forgiveness is, being nothing less that the attitude of God.  This reminds us of Peter’s question, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  Till seven times?”  Jesus saith unto him, “I say not unto thee, ‘Until seven times’: but, ‘Until seventy times seven’, Matthew 18:21,22.  Then He told the parable of the ten thousand talent debt and the one hundred pence debt.  Peter no doubt thought that to forgive seven times would be commendable; the Lord raised the standard not to 7 x 7 = 49, but to 70 to the power of 7, which is 8235430.  This is a lifetime of forgiveness.  There are 25550 days in 70 years.  There are 322 times that number in 8235430.  So if the same man came to Peter 322 times every day for 70 years, (that is every three minutes during his waking hours for the whole of his lifetime), and asked his forgiveness, then he was to forgive him.  And so are we.

It is worth remembering that genuine forgiveness on the part of the one sinned against can only follow genuine repentance on the part of the one sinning.  In the parallel passage this is emphasized- “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.  And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, ‘I repent;’  thou shalt forgive him”, Luke 17:3,4.  So both grace and truth are to be in exercise; truth which rebukes and requires repentance, grace which grants that forgiveness when these conditions are met.
So it has been with God.  His rich grace has forgiven us for the sake of Christ.  His truth demanded that we repent before we knew that forgiveness.

JOHN 12:20-50

We hope you will find these notes helpful. Do feel free to download the material on this website for your own personal use, and also to distribute if you so wish. Please be aware that all the writing is copyright, so no alterations should be made.

Please feel free to comment on any aspect of what you find on this website using the contact form at the end of each article. We would be pleased to hear from you.

Introduction to John chapter 12
John chapter 12 is a pivotal chapter, marking as it does the transition from Christ’s dealings with His own, the nation of Israel, 1:11, and His disciples, also called His own in 13:1.  He had come to His own land, as the True Isaac, His own throne, as the True David, and His own people, as the True Abraham.  His claim to the land and the throne was undisputed, but His people refused His claims.  As a result, God’s wider purpose towards the Gentiles was unfolded, and the Greeks of verse 20 are an earnest of this.  We are presented with a series of contrasts at the beginning of the chapter.  A contrast between the recognition that Mary gave to Christ, and the rejection of Him by the Jewish authorities.  The latter plotted His death, whereas Mary believed He would soon rise from the dead, and therefore would not need elaborate embalming to preserve his body.  Mary gave Him that which was precious, whereas Judas went out from that supper to ask the question, “What will ye give me?”  Attitudes at the end of the public ministry of Christ have become polarised, with strong devotion to Him on the one hand, and outright rejection of Him on the other.  This rejection, however, did not mean that Christ had relinquished His claim to be their king, so He rode into Jerusalem in that capacity, and thus fulfilled the prophecy of the scriptures, but also gave a foretaste of what would happen in the future when the whole nation rejoices, and blesses Him that comes in the name of the Lord, Matthew 23:39.  It is in this context that John introduces us to certain Greeks, which will provide an opening for the Lord to set out the terms on which He is leaving the nation of Israel, and the terms, also, on which He will be willing to receive an individual, Jew or Gentile, who will come with personal faith to Him.

Structure of the passage

(a) Verses 20-33 The interest of certain Greeks cultivated.
(b) Verses 34-41 The indifference of the nation of Israel condemned.
(c) Verses 42-50 The individuals in the nation of Israel challenged.


Structure of section (a)  The interest of certain Greeks cultivated

Verses 20-22 The desire to see Jesus.
Verses 23-24 The nearness of Christ’s death.
Verses 25-26 The results of Christ’s death.
Verses 27-28 The verdict on Christ’s life and death.
Verses 29-33 The consequences of His death.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 12, VERSES 20-33:

12:20  And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:

12:21  The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired Him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

12:22  Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

12:23  And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

12:24  Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

12:25  He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

12:26  If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honour.

12:27  Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

12:28  Father, glorify Thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

12:29  The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to Him.

12:30  Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes.

12:31  Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

12:32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.

12:33  This He said, signifying what death He should die.

 

Verses 20-22          The desire to see Jesus

12:20  And there were certain Greeks- Solomon had prayed for those from the Gentiles who would come up to the temple, see 1 Kings 8:41-43.  The greater than Solomon is now in its courts. 
Among them that came up to worship at the feast-
they associate with the Jewish worshippers, evidently impressed by the temple services.  Have they also seen the Lord purge the temple, and been impressed by His courage?  Greeks would appreciate courage and manliness.  They have much more to learn about Christ, however.

12:21  The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee- Philip is a Greek name, and Bethsaida of Galilee was a city of the Decapolis influenced by Greek culture. 
And desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus-
note their respectful tone, and their earnest request.  Religious observance had failed to satisfy their search for God, even though the religion of the Jews was originally from God.  This day is the fourth before the Passover, the day on which the Passover lamb was to be selected, and scrutinised until it was slain.  Unwittingly, these Greeks were requesting to be part of the scrutiny of the true Passover Lamb, 1 Corinthians 5:7.

12:22  Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus- did Philip feel that he needed moral support from Andrew, (whose name is Greek too), because the Lord had said that He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel?  He had instructed His servants not to go into the way of the Gentiles.  Philip did not yet realise that God was going to reach out to Gentiles so that they might be blessed without becoming Jewish proselytes.

Verses 23-24 The nearness of Christ’s death

12:23  And Jesus answered them, saying- the answer was to Philip and Andrew, but indirectly to the Greeks.  The time had not come for direct contact on Christ’s initiative; this would come after Pentecost, Ephesians 2:17; John 10:16.
The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified- the request of the Greeks brings the whole of God’s future purpose to Christ’s mind.  Note that it is not just His death that is in view, but the whole process by which He would be glorified, including His death, but also including His resurrection, ascension, and return to earth as the Son of Man.  This is typical of John’s gospel, where everything is seen in the light of what God’s glory demands.  The title Son of Man relates Christ to the whole of mankind, not just to Israel.  It tells that He is not only true man, but also the man of God’s choice to rule men.  See Daniel 7:13,14.

12:24  Verily, verily, I say unto you- a formula unique to John’s gospel, emphasising the certainty of Christ’s word as the Son of God.
Except a corn ground fall into the ground and die- to the Greeks, death was the ultimate failure, so they must learn that God’s wisdom is contrary to man’s, for the death of Christ is the path of victory.  See 1 Corinthians 1:17-25, written initially to Greeks.  To the Jews, the death of their Messiah would be a failure, but in fact it is the path to the throne. Passover time was in the month Abib, which means “green ears”, for the corn was not yet fully ripe.  Christ’s life, however, had run its full and true course.  When corn starts to fall out of the ear and drop to the ground, it means the farmer has missed the window of opportunity to harvest his grain.  So for Israel, the harvest was passing, the summer was ended, and they were not saved, Jeremiah 8:20.  Note that the corn falls to the ground before it dies, signifying the way in which the nation of Israel would plot and effect His downfall. 
It abideth alone-
as long as a grain of corn remains in the ear, it is not in suitable conditions to grow and reproduce.
But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit- note that the bringing forth of fruit depends on the dying, and not so much on the falling into the ground, although that is necessary.  The treatment of Christ by men as they brought Him into the dust of death was secondary.  The primary point is that He died, just as a seed dies once it finds itself in the darkness, warmth and moisture of the soil.  The “much fruit” means the many who will come into salvation through the death of Christ.  Only by this means can He reproduce Himself in others- it cannot happen only by His life, precious as that is to God.  See Galatians 4:19.  What men are naturally in Adam must be dealt with by His death, before new life can be granted.

Verses 25-26 The results of Christ’s death

12:25  He that loveth his life shall lose it- the principle that Christ laid down for those who would follow Him is now repeated, but with the implication that He is governed by this law too.  He will allow men to take Him and crucify Him because He does not conserve His life, but gives it in the spiritual interests of others.  The word for love is the one which means to be fond of, to like.  The notion of hating one’s life would be completely contrary to Greek culture, so these Greeks are learning that what they are naturally is of no use to God.  They could engage in religion in a natural state, but they cannot be Christians in that state.  Believers who spend their life on self, will find that at the judgement seat of Christ all that is unacceptable to God in what they have done and been, will be consumed in the fire, and they will lose it all.
And he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal- those who live for God, and thus hate the idea of living for self, will find recompense in heaven in an enhanced appreciation of eternal life, which involves the knowledge of God.

12:26  If any man serve Me- so “seeing Jesus”, (which is what the Greeks wanted to do), is not a casual thing, but involves earnest commitment.  The Greeks would perhaps prefer to be served, for that would indicate that they had made progress in life.
Let him follow Me- this will ensure that the eye is kept on Christ, and self’s interests will recede.  By following Him we only go where He would be prepared to go.
And where I am, there shall also My servant be- wherever Christ chooses to be, those who follow Him will be at hand ready to serve Him in that situation.  Compare Elisha’s servant, who left his master to run after Naaman for gain, 2 Kings 5:20-27.  Gehazi loved his life, and lost it, for he was smitten with leprosy.  Philip and Andrew, on the other hand, were available for Christ to use. 
If any man serve Me, him will My Father honour
not only is there the privilege of serving Christ in the here and now, but there is the prospect of reward in the hereafter.  Commitment to Christ has its eternal compensations.

Verses 27-28 The verdict on Christ’s life and death

12:27  Now is My soul troubled- the word for soul here is the same as life in verse 25.  Christ is the perfect example of one who makes His own soul subservient to the service of God, and the needs of others.  His commitment in this was total, even to the troubling of His soul as He anticipated the ultimate sacrifice, when His soul would be made an offering for sin, Isaiah 53:10.
And what shall I say?  Father, save Me from this hour– He is still speaking to Philip and Andrew, giving them insight into the workings of His mind.  Would they conclude from what they had seen and heard of Him during the previous three and a half years that He would consider for one moment seeking to avoid the cross? 
But for this cause came I unto this hour- a Greek would want to be delivered from trouble, but Christ was conscious of His mission from the Father.  The whole of His life was a coming to the hour.  Even at His naming, the question of sins being dealt with came up, Matthew 1:21.

12:28  Father, glorify Thy name- this expresses the real response of Christ to the coming of His hour at Calvary.  Even in such grim circumstances the glory of the Father was maintained and enhanced.
Then came there a voice from heaven- there were three words from heaven about Christ.  At His baptism, giving the Father’s approval of His private years.  This was for Him and for the people, as is clear from the different wording in Matthew, Mark and Luke.  At the transfiguration, there was given the Father’s approval of His public years, and also anticipating the kingdom.  And the third one here, which gives the seal of approval not only of the past, “I have…glorified it”, but also the future, “I will glorify it again”.
Saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again- “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but He that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him”, John 7:18.  There never was a life so completely given over to the doing of that which glorifies God, as the life of Christ. he could say, “I do always those things which please Him”, John 8:29. We too are expected to do all to the glory of God, 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Verses 29-33 The consequences of His death

12:29  The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to Him- The Lord Jesus had spoken for three and a half years, but they were still not able to recognise a voice from heaven.  How sad that they think a mere clap of thunder, or an angel’s voice, is all that He deserved!  Would an angel have answered, when Christ had spoken to His Father?  Would an angel have announced that the Lord’s ministry had glorified the name of an angel?  Would a thunderclap, a sign of judgement, (1 Samuel 7:10; Revelation 10:1-4), be an appropriate response to Christ who had come in grace?  In any case, these people had never heard an angel, so how did they recognise the voice as such?  All these considerations tell of a people ignorant of Divine communications, and who are in the dark as to what merits Divine approval.  This is just another illustration of the fact that having ears, they heard not.  A physical sound came to them, but they knew not the true nature of it.

12:30  Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes- The Lord Jesus was ever conscious of the approval of His Father, but He was given it nonetheless.  The main point of the word from heaven was that the people, even at this late stage, might realize that they were in danger of`rejecting the One who had glorified the God of Israel in their midst.  They are close to “treading under foot the Son of God”, Hebrews 10:29.

12:31  Now is the judgment of this world- this sign of ignorance on the part of the people shows that the climax of this world’s history is near.  If the covenant people, blessed with Divine interventions of various sorts for centuries, is not able to understand a word from heaven, especially when it came expressly for them and to them, then there is no hope for the rest of the world.  The word for judgement used here is “krisis”, the critical point at which a decision is made.  The world would soon make its final decision about Christ, and God would give His final verdict on the world.  Note the “now is”, and then the “now shall”; the judgement on the world was current, for the death of Christ would take place very shortly, but the casting out of the prince of this world, whilst based upon the victory of Christ at Calvary, would, in the wisdom of God, be delayed.
Now shall the prince of this world be cast out- at Calvary, the Lord Jesus deliberately put Himself into a position of vulnerability.  He could say, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness”, Luke 22:53, and He was “crucified through weakness”, 2 Corinthians 13:4, at the mercy of those who arrested and condemned Him.  It was at this point of apparent helplessness, that the Lord Jesus, faced with the vicious fury of the most evil force in God’s universe, gained His greatest triumph.  When Satan, as the one who had the power of death, thought He was entirely in his grip, then Christ utterly defeated him.  He did this by showing that He was able to go into death voluntarily, and not by force of circumstances.  No other man has power in the day of death to retain his spirit, but Christ could not only retain His spirit, but dismiss it as well, for He had authority to lay down His life, John 10:18.  He also demonstrated that the Devil was a defeated foe by rising in triumph from the dead, and ascending up far above all principalities and powers, Ephesians 1:20,21.

12:32  And I- having spoken of the world, and the prince of this world, Christ now speaks of Himself, with an emphatic “I”, emphasizing who it is shall effect the casting out of this world’s prince.
If I be lifted up from the earth- the lifting up from the earth is mentioned three times in John’s gospel, 3:14; 8:28, and here.  John’s gospel presents the Lord Jesus as one who came to the world that He might leave it, having manifest God in it, so even His death is seen as a stage in His return to heaven.  Verse 34 shows that the people understand He means His death. 
Will draw all men unto Me- because He is lifted up as Son of Man, the event has significance for all men, and not just for Israel.  The Greeks will be able to come into the good of what was done at Calvary.  This is the answer to their request to see Him.  Being lifted up implied death by crucifixion, which was a Gentile mode of execution.  To the Greeks, such a death would be a disgrace, and utter defeat, so to them naturally it would be an act of folly to accept Him as a Crucified Saviour, and not as a Conquering Hero, see 1 Corinthians 1:23.  The Greeks must see Him in that way, and by an act of faith come into the good of His death. 

12:33  This He said, signifying what death He should die- the Lord makes it very clear that by “lifted up” He does not mean lifted up in exaltation to a throne of glory, but rather lifted up on a cross of shame.  He is making the terms on which He is to be believed very clear.  There were those at the beginning who only believed because of His miracles, John 2:23-25, but saving faith goes further, and believes Him as the crucified One. 


THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 12, VERSES 34-41:

12:34  The people answered Him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?

12:35  Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

12:36  While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them.

12:37  But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him:

12:38  That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

12:39  Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,

12:40  He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

12:41  These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him.

(b) Verses 34-41 The indifference of the nation of Israel condemned


Structure of section (b)

Verses 34-36 Jesus hides from the nation of Israel.
Verses 37-41 The nation of Israel hardens its heart.

Verses 34-36       Jesus hides from the nation of Israel

2:34  The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?– the “we” is emphatic, and so is the “Thou” that follows.  They are clearly setting their knowledge of the Messiah against His.  They are also placing reliance on the Rabbis, for they say “We have heard”, and they also seem to make a difference between the Son of Man they read of in Daniel 7, and the Lord Jesus, who called Himself the Son of Man.  As Caiaphas was to soon discover, they are one and the same, see Matthew 26:63-65.

12:35  Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you- far from abiding for ever amongst them the time was soon coming when He would be absent from them.  This should have jolted them into fresh thinking about Him.  The abiding for ever was during the kingdom age, when the morning without clouds would have arrived, and the sun of righteousness had risen with healing in his wings, 2 Samuel 23:4; Malachi 4:2.  The light of His grace towards them was to be withdrawn temporarily, during their national unbelief. 
Walk while ye have the light-
there was still the opportunity to walk in the light of His person and teaching.
Lest darkness come upon you- the darkness of national rejection after AD 70.  See Isaiah 50 about walking in darkness.
For he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth- they had heard things out of the law, but if they reject His light, they would be in the darkness of blindness of heart, Romans 11:10.  The Sun of Righteousness must set in death, before a new day can dawn, based upon His resurrection.  For the believer the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth, 1 John 2:8.  He is a son of the day and a son of the light.  The sun always shines, but it is not always day.  So for the believer the sun is shining, but the day awaits Christ’s return to the earth.

12:36  While ye have light, believe in the light- this explains what walking in the light involves, even personal faith.  They thought that the light of the Messiah would shine upon them simply because they were of the seed of Abraham.
That ye may be the children of light- believing in the light brings with it the responsibility of taking character from the light in terms of purity, holiness, and the shunning of evil.
These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them- thus He gives them a brief interval when they may learn what it is like to not have Him amongst them, so that they may realise they cannot do without Him.

Verses 37-41 The nation of Israel hardens its heart

12:37  But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him- the miracles He had performed were signs, illustrating doctrine, and therefore giving light as to His person.  As always in the gospels, (except in John 5:24, where faith is in relation to the Father), the pronoun John uses is “eis”, meaning unto.  His person held no attraction for them and they were not prepared to move to associate themselves with Him.

12:38  That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled which he spake- the prophecy which is now quoted shows that the national rejection of Christ was wholly expected, so that their unbelief fulfilled the prophecy.
Lord, who hath believed our report?- the question is in the form that expects the answer, “Not many”. Isaiah was speaking for the Lord, and so the prophet’s testimony was God’s.  This makes the unbelief of the nation all the more inexcusable.  The prophet is writing as if the earthly ministry of Christ was over, and an assessment of its impact can be made.  This makes the quotation particularly apt for this point in John’s gospel, where the Lord is about to leave the nation, His mission to them over for the time being.  By describing his prophecy as a report, something heard to be passed on, Isaiah indicates that his prophecy is from God Himself, again justifying the insertion of the word Lord. 
And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?- how few there are who have seen in Christ the power of God in action!  Note the connection with the “many miracles” of verse 37.

12:39  Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again- this inability to believe was a direct result of not believing the report that Christ gave of God.  There was nothing else for God to bring forward to induce their faith.  In the face of this fact, they could not believe, since, having rejected God’s ultimate revelation to them, there was nothing further to believe.  That individuals had lost the capacity to believe is not the sense, for in the next verse we find Jews believing, and Paul and other Jews came to faith, a fact which the apostle uses in Romans 11:1,5.  The point is that a far as God having dealings with the nation as a whole was concerned, He had nothing more to say for them to believe.  Compare Isaiah 5:4, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?”

12:40  He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them- this passage is quoted in other parts of the New Testament.  In Matthew’s equivalent to John’s transitional passage, the emphasis is on refusing to see and hear, for the nation had rejected the miracles they could see, and the teaching they could hear, see Matthew 13:10-17.  In Matthew, the judgement on their national unbelief took the form of the Lord beginning to speak in parables, thus hiding the truth from those who were not interested.  I
n Acts 28:25-29, just two or three years before the rejection of the nation at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the apostle quotes Isaiah 6 to the Jewish leaders that came to him in such a way as to emphasise the closing of their eyes and ears to the truth, for they had had further opportunity to receive it.  See the parable of the fig tree in the vineyard, Luke 13:6-9.  In this place, however, the words are more severe, and the Lord is said to close their eyes and harden their heart, for the governmental anger of God was towards them because of the rejection of His Son.  Compare the similar idea in Matthew 23 where, in the parable, when the beloved Son was rejected and killed, God sent His army to destroy their city.  So the Roman army becomes God’s army to destroy Jerusalem because of their rejection of His Son.

12:41  These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him- Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord as one who would sit in His Millenial temple as a king-priest, and the whole earth would be full of His glory, Isaiah 6:1-1-3.  By rejecting Christ, the nation was rejecting their King.  Isaiah also spake of Him, not only as a result of seeing the vision of chapter 6, but also because of what he foresaw in chapter 53 of his book with regard to the person of the Messiah.  In Isaiah 6 He is glorified, in chapter 53 He is rejected, and Isaiah spoke of both things.  By refusing Christ’s testimony, they became blind to Christ’s glory.  If they had seen his glory, they would have confessed their sins, as Isaiah had done. 

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, CHAPTER 12, VERSES 42-50:

12:42  Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

12:43  For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

12:44  Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me.

12:45  And he that seeth Me seeth Him that sent Me.

12:46  I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness.

12:47  And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

12:48  He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

12:49  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.

12:50  And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak. 

(c) Verses 42-50 The individuals in the nation of Israel challenged

Structure of Section (c )

Verses 42-46 Challenge to those who hesitate.
Verses 47-50 Challenge to those who believe not.

Verses 42-46        Challenge to those who hesitate

12:42  Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him- this shows that national blindness as described in previous verses does not prevent individual members of the nation from believing in Christ.
But because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue- the sanctions imposed on those who believed in Christ were severe.  To be put out of the synagogue meant to be cut off from the economic, social and religious life of Israel.  Their reluctance to confess Christ must be seen in this light, and does not necessarily indicate that their faith was not genuine.  Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were of this sort, and yet in the end came out openly, so it is to be hoped that the men of this verse did the same.  The fact that these people are to an extent distinguished from the Pharisees may indicate that not all of them were of this party.  If some were Sadduccees, then their professed faith is all the more remarkable.

12:43  For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God- “the fear of man bringeth a snare”, Proverbs 29:25.  John is not necessarily saying their faith was not genuine, but is giving the reason they did not confess Him. Accustomed to public adulation, (see Matthew 6:2; 23:5-7), they had not learnt the lesson of self-abasement.

12:44  Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me- the individual is addressed here, “he”, as opposed to the nation in verses 34-41.  The fact that Jesus cried shows His strong feeling about the matter, and His desire that men realise the implications of believing in Him.  If they did, they would openly confess Him.  To believe on Christ is to believe on the Father who sent Him, for they are one in essence and nature. Because of this, to not believe is very serious.

12:45  And he that seeth Me seeth Him that sent Me- Isaiah’s experience is open to any who will look in faith to Christ.  To see Him is to see the Father, 14:9.  The special reference is to the miracles He performed, which unfolded who He was.  This statement is not only an encouragement to faith, but also a warning against unbelief, for to reject Christ is to reject the God of Israel.

12:46  I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness- in verse 35 the warning was to the nation, that if they rejected Him, then the darkness of God’s rejection of them as a nation would overtake them.  Here the promise is to the individual, that the national darkness can be escaped through faith in Christ personally.  Note the reference to the world, reinforcing John’s theme throughout his gospel that Christ is not just for Israel.

Verses 47-50 Challenge to those who believe not

12:47  And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world- a further encouragement to believe, for the previous words about rejecting Him and abiding in darkness might have sounded severe, as if there was no hope.  There is space given to men to hear Christ and believe on Him, before the day of judgement comes.  If in verse 45 it was a question of seeing, now it is a question of hearing, the two actions that Israel sinned about, for they closed their eyes and shut their ears, and therefore their hearts refused Christ. 

12:48  He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day- just as to not respond to Christ’s miracles was to not see who He really was, so to not respond to Christ’s words was to not understand who He was.  These words are spoken lest any should misunderstand the words, “I judge Him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world”, of verse 47.  There are consequences of not believing, but the carrying of them out awaits the day of judgement.  Note that the one who judges is the word He spoke.  So what Christ said and what He is are one, as John 8:25 had already indicated.  The word spoken when Christ was here on earth will still have validity in the judgement day, some three thousand years later.

12:49  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- this statement highlights the extreme seriousness of not believing the words of Christ, for they are words He spoke in full harmony with His Father’s commandment to Him.  As one who became subject to His Father when He became man, perfect obedience marked Him, and this should give us confidence to believe His words, for they are the Father’s words through him.  The word “say” emphasises the meaning and substance of the words, whereas “speak” emphasises the words that convey the utterance.  So not only were the thoughts given to Him by the Father, as Divine Persons communed together, but the right words to express those thoughts also. 

12:50  And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak-  Christ was fully aware that what the Father communicated to Him were words that would impart eternal life to those who believed them, hence His care in speaking to the world those things which He had heard from the Father.  He did this “even as” the Father said unto Him, so the transmission was accurate and therefore is to be relied upon.  On the other hand, to reject these words is a serious matter, for Divine persons have spoken.  How gracious of Christ to leave the nation whilst still offering them as individuals the great gift of eternal life.

 

HEBREWS 2:1-10

SUMMARY OF THE CHAPTER
The first five verses of this chapter are a warning based on the truth of chapter one.  If the word spoken by angels was disobeyed, judgement followed. Why should it be any different if the word spoken by the Son is disobeyed?  Everything in chapter one that impresses us with the glory of Christ also warns us about the danger of rejecting one so glorious as He.  In the subsequent verses, there is first of all a quotation from Psalm 8 about man, which gives the theme of the section, and then the seven-fold work of Christ as man is detailed.  This time the contrast is not with the prophets or angels, but with Adam.

STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER

Verses 1-4 First warning passage- the word through angels and the word through the Lord.
Verses 5-8 Quotation from Psalm 8- man made lower than angels.
Verses  9-10 Christ made lower than angels.
Verse 11   The path of separation from the world of Adam.
Verse 12  The path of (resurrection) life with Christ.
Verse 13  The path of faith.
Verses 14,15   The path of deliverance.
Verses 16-18 The path of victory over temptation.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 1-4

2:1  Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

 2:2  For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

 2:3  How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him;

 2:4  God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will?

Verses 1-4    FIRST WARNING PASSAGE- THE WORD THROUGH ANGELS AND THE WORD THROUGH THE LORD
2:1    Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard- one of the failings of Israel in Old Testament times was they had not listened to the prophets.  But now that the Son has spoken to them, dare they ignore Him, as they had ignored the prophets? 
Lest at any time we should let them slip- The Textus Receptus gives “lest at any time we should slip away”.  For some reason the Authorised Version does not follow it at this point.  The danger was of drifting away from the things they had heard, as those who were not taking earnest heed to them.  If persisted in, this would result in apostasy. 
In chapter one the contrast was between the fragmentary revelations through the prophets, and the full revelation through the Son.  In this chapter, however, the contrast is between the Lord speaking in grace, and angels mediating the Law at Sinai.
Israel had sat at the feet of God, Deuteronomy 33:2,3, and heard the law; Judas had listened to Christ in the upper room, but went out to betray, showing that he had apostatised.

2:2    For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast- Note the contrast between slipping away, and the steadfast word of God, in whatever age.  “Was steadfast” means “became confirmed”.  By the penalty inflicted when the law was broken, God confirmed that He meant what He said. 
And every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward- The law was confirmed by judgement, but the gospel is confirmed by acts of grace.  Not only actual transgressions were judged, but also the attitude of disobedience, the refusal to hear with the intention of obeying.

2:3    How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?- The writer groups himself with the nation as a whole.  The Lord Himself had been in their midst, for He was “a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers”, Romans 15:8.  There was no escape from just recompense of reward if the law was broken and disobeyed, so we need not expect to escape when a greater word from God is uttered.  Law works are not called for now, however, so it a question of simply ignoring the words of grace, and neglecting to believe them.  They had only to let themselves slip away from the words for the judgement to come. 
Which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord- Notice John the Baptist is not included here, for “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John”, Matthew 11:13, but here the prophets and the law are superceded.  The apostle John speaks of “that which ye have heard from the beginning”, 1 John 2:24, meaning from the beginning of Christ’s public ministry.  Note the great salvation is spoken, for it consists in doctrine.  Israel were looking for salvation in war-terms, deliverance from their political enemies.  Compare Matthew 13, where the mysteries of the kingdom begin with a parable about sowing the word of God, not judging enemies.  Note the word is spoken by the Lord, the one with as much authority as the God of Sinai, (see Matthew 5:21,27,33,38).  He is also the Lord of angels, as is indicated by the way the angel of the Lord spoke in Luke 2:11, “a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord”.  The angel’s Lord, and the shepherd’s Lord.
And was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him- This is surely decisive evidence that Paul is not the writer, for he insists that he received the truth of the gospel from the Lord Himself, and “those who seemed to be somewhat” because they had been with the Lord on earth, added nothing to him, Galatians 2:6.  The word confirmed is connected with the word translated steadfast in verse 2.  The law-threats were confirmed by acts of judgement, grace-promises are confirmed by acts of mercy.

2:4    God also bearing them witness- literally “God bearing witness with”.  So all the time the gospel was being made known by those who heard the Lord themselves, and were now bearing witness of what they had heard, God was bearing witness too. 
Both with signs and wonders and with diverse miracles- The Lord had promised that signs would follow those that believed and preached the gospel, Mark 16:17,18.  Signs are the miracles considered as significant acts, illustrations of doctrine.  Wonders are the miracles looked at as unusual and tremendous events, designed to arrest attention.  The word miracles emphasises that what is done is completely out of the ordinary, and which, because they were accompanied by words of truth, could only be caused by Divine power.  (The devil will instigate miracles to promote error, Revelation 16:14).  These three words had been used by Peter to describe those things which Christ did, and which marked Him out as approved of God, Acts 2:22.  So the witness to the apostles was the same as the witness to Christ.  The miracles were also witness to the fact that Christ was the one qualified to bring in the millenial age, for His miracles are “powers of the age to come”, 6:5, showing the sort of changes that the reign of Christ will bring in. 
And gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will- In view of what the Lord had said about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, Matthew 12:22-37, this is a reminder that the miracles and the Holy Spirit go together.  The great and wicked mistake of saying Christ worked miracles by Satan must be avoided if they are to know salvation.  Israel had seen God’s works for 40 years in the desert, yet failed to enter in to “salvation”, 3:9,17-19.  They would have another 40 years of opportunity before the fall of Jerusalem, again with works of power from God. 
The word “gifts” does not refer to the gifts given to believers to further the testimony, in the 1 Corinthians 12 sense.  Rather, the word is literally “distributions”, referring to the strategic way in which the Holy Spirit moved the apostles and others to exercise the gift of the working of miracles.  A reading of the Acts of the Apostles will show this.  The Holy Spirit also retained the right to withdraw the miracles at the time of His choosing, and this He did.  He thus acted according to His Divine will.

 THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 5-10

2:5  For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.

 2:6  But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that Thou visitest him?

 2:7  Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of Thy hands:

 2:8  Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.

 2:9  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

 2:10  For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Verses 5-8    QUOTATION FROM PSALM 8- MAN MADE LOWER THAN ANGELS
2:5    For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection- the fact that the Lord has come, and men have been sent forth with power to work miracles of confirmation and grace, shows us that angels are no longer to the fore.
The world to come whereof we speak- the habitable earth in its future condition is what the writer speaks of in 1:5-2:4.  There are three major words used in the New Testament for “world”.  There is the word cosmos, which, ideally, is the world of order, beauty and harmony as it came from God, (used in Hebrews 9:1); the opposite of cosmos being chaos.  Sadly, that world has been spoiled, and hence it is now the world, not of harmony, but of hostility.  Another word for world is “aionas”; which has to do with the passing of time, and so is the world of history.  The third word is “oikoumene”, the habitable earth, the world of humanity.  So the writer is here referring to the future state of the earth as it will be when man’s day has come to an end, and his rule over the earth is cancelled.  This is the earth as the writer has spoken of it in chapter 1:5-14.  The question is, if that world is not to be subject to angels, then to whom is it to be subject?  And if the answer is man, then the question is, which man?  Who is competent enough to manage the earth for God?  For the answer to this question the writer turns to the David’s words in Psalm 8.  Perhaps he penned the psalm after a night out on the hillside looking after the sheep near Bethlehem, his home town.  Just as centuries later shepherds would be guarding their flock on those same hillsides, when the birth of Christ was announced to them.  As David looked above, he saw the moon and stars; as he looked around, he thought of men; as he looked back he thought of Adam; as he looked forward he thought of Christ. 

2:6    But one in a certain place testified, saying- the writer does not distract us by telling us the name of the psalmist, nor the particular place where the psalm is found. 
What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?- The word used for man in Psalm 8:4 is “enosh”, frail, mortal, man.  Seemingly so fragile, and subject to death, how can God’s purpose be centred there?  He seems almost beneath being noticed by God. 
Or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?- Not only does God notice him, but visit him, to make known His ways.  From this we learn that God has great interest in man.  He not only is mindful of man, but moves towards him.  He not only has interest, but intervenes.
We should not think of this expression “son of man” as being a reference to Christ, for that is not how the psalmist uses it; he is simply describing men as sons of Adam, through their fathers, in a long line which stretches back to Adam.  Implied in this is the fact that a sinful nature is passed on from father to son. 

2:7    Thou madest him a little lower than the angels- both man and the son of man are made by God, either through creation or procreation.  Man will always be lower than angels, so the meaning “for a little while” lower, is not meant here. 
Note that it is not “made a little higher than the animals”.  Man was made on the same day as the land animals, as if to highlight the difference between them, Genesis 1:24-27.  “There is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts,”  1 Corinthians 15:39.  Prominent evolutionists may hoodwink the public that it is “proved” than man came from the lower animals, but it is they themselves who are deceived, for they have adopted a world-view which takes no account of God, and in many instances denies that He exists.  But if God does not exist then there is no logical, rational thought.  So by thinking, the atheist verifies that God exists!

Man is lower than angels because:
Angels are greater in power and might than men, 2 Peter 2:11.
Angels do not die, being pure spirit.
Angels are fitted to live in heaven.
Angels can move from heaven to earth.
Angels are not limited by an earthly body.
Angels rest not day and night, worshipping God, Revelation 4:8.

So angels are higher because of their power, permanence, privilege and praise of God.  But man is said to be only a little lower, so despite the foregoing, there are things which compensate, for man was made in the image and likeness of God, and the Son of God passed angels by, and became man.
God’s intention to make man is expressed in a unique way- “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”, Genesis 1:26.  That this applies to the male and the female is clear from verse 27.  As far as relationship with God is concerned, there is no bias with God towards the male or the female, all are equal in His sight, and both were created in God’s image and after His likeness.
The Lord Jesus in Matthew 22:15-22 referred to the head of Caesar on a coin as the image of Caesar.  In other words, the image represented Caesar and His authority, and those who used the coin were recognising this.  Part of God’s plan in making man, then, was that He might have someone to represent Him to the rest of the creation.  One of the reasons why murder should be penalised by capital punishment is that man is made in the image of God, see Genesis 9:5,6.
Man is also said to be made after God’s likeness.  It was not necessarily true that Caesar’s image on the coin was a very good likeness, but God made sure that man had the capacity to represent Him well, by giving him certain characteristics which He Himself possesses.

Man was made in the likeness of God in a three-fold way:-
God has personality, and each of the persons of the Godhead has his own particular distinctive features, by which He displays Himself.  So man was given personality, to display God through it.

God has spirituality, which not only means that He is a Spirit, see John 4:24, but also means He can appreciate His own glories.  Man was made so that he might appreciate those glories too, and worship God in his spirit.

God has rationality, which means that He reasons, plans, purposes, and decides.  Man has these abilities too; not, of course, in the sense that He could advise God, see 1 Corinthians 2:16, but so that he could order his life in relation to God’s purpose in an intelligent way.

Sadly, as the subsequent chapters show, this perfect state of things did not last long, for man sinned, and Adam “begat a son in his own likeness, after his image”, Genesis 5:3.  The original purpose for which man was created was now only partially realised, and his abilities were now diverted for his own ends. 
The remedy for this situation is found in the Lord Jesus, who became man that He might be the head of a new order of things.  He displayed to perfection those things that God looked for in man. As such He is the perfect example to those who believe.  As Ephesians 4:21 says, “the truth is in Jesus”, which means that if we would see a life lived that is true to God’s will, then we may see it in the earthly life of the Lord Jesus.  Only those who are in Christ, and as such are a new creation, are able to represent God adequately.
Some translations of Psalm 8 say that man was made a little lower than God, since the word the psalmist used was “elohim”, and this is a word used many times for God.  But it is also used in a lesser sense, even of the judges in Israel, Exodus 22:28; Psalm 82:6; John 10:34.  In any case when the inspired writer to the Hebrews came to quote the psalm in Greek, he had separate words for God and angel at his disposal, and chose the word for angel.  Does it not go without saying that man is lower than God; how could he be anything else?  And is he only a little lower? 
Thou crownedst him with glory and honour- Glory is official, honour is moral, and these two perhaps correspond to man made in the image of God, (official position), and after His likeness, (moral character).  So although lower than angels in the ranks of creation, yet man has a potential beyond all the angelic hosts.  The word used for crown here is “stephanos”, a wreath or circlet that was merited, (in contrast to the diadem that was inherited).  The crown of the one who won the race as an athlete; who won respect as a citizen; who won a battle as a soldier; who won a bride as a suitor.
And didst set him over the works of Thy hands- man was a steward, responsible for the safe keeping of the property of another, even God.

2:8    Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet- In the case of Adam this was limited to things on the earth, which the psalmist specifies, sheep, oxen, etc.  Being crowned with glory and honour should have ensured that the task was carried out faithfully.  But Adam allowed his authority to be usurped.
For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him- This shows that there is nothing put under angels, and also that the “all” is not qualified, as if it was only all of a certain range of things, for there is nothing else to be under him.  We must understand this in connection with Adam before we advance to the idea, under the guidance of the writer, that these things can only be fulfilled in Christ. 

Summarising, we may think of what the psalmist says as follows:

What is man, that thou art mindful of him?   The mystery
Thou madest him a little lower than the angels The minority
Thou crownedst him with glory and honour The majesty
Thou didst set him over the works of Thine hands The ministry
Thou hast put all things under his feet  The mastery

But now we see not yet all things put under him- a change has come in, showing that the potential of Psalm 8 has not been realised in Adam, and this situation continues, hence the word “now”.  There is also the word “yet”, telling us that there is something in prospect.  The “now” refers to conditions under Adam, the “yet” to conditions under Christ.
The emphasis in this chapter is on the manhood of Christ, as in chapter one it was on His Deity, and the remainder of the chapter sets out seven things that Jesus has been able to do by coming into manhood:

Verses 5-8 Vindicate God’s trust in man
Verse 9 Consummate God’s purpose
Verses 10-13 Elevate God’s people
Verse 14 Eradicate the Devil
Verse 15 Emancipate the slaves
Verses 16-17  Propitiate sins
Verse 18 Relate to believers’ sufferings

                                         
Verses  9-10        CHRIST MADE LOWER THAN ANGELS
2:9    But we see Jesus- The first of seven uses in the epistle of the name which emphasises His manhood.  The Son of God has been made in fashion as a man, to be all that God expected man to be from the beginning.  The writers of the New Testament are very sparing of their use of the name Jesus on its own, and only use it like that when there is a special need to do so.  The disciples never addressed the Lord as Jesus.  He Himself said, “Ye call Me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am”, John 13:13. 
Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death- here we see why the writer quoted from Psalm 8, for the full potential of that psalm is not reached in Adam, but in Jesus, who is the second man, and the Last Adam, 1 Corinthians 15:45-47.  By coming into manhood, He, the creator of angels, has become lower than they are, for “made a little lower than the angels” has now become in the writer’s mind the equivalent of saying “became a man”.  Adam was made a little lower than the angels for the enjoyment of life, but sadly, he fell, and this brought in suffering and death.  Only Jesus could remedy this, and He did it by enduring the suffering connected with death.  “For” means “with a view to”, so He became man expressly to die.  Angels do not die, and Adam’s death had no merit- only Christ’s death can deal with the situation brought in by the fall. 
Crowned with glory and honour- not only must He correspond to Adam by being made lower than angels, but He must correspond too in being crowned with glory and honour before His great work is done at the Cross, just as Adam was crowned before his great sin in disobeying God.  So there was seen in Christ the perfect representation and likeness of God that glory and honour involve, and it takes four gospel records to set just a glimpse of it forth.
We see this in the brief insight Luke gives to us of the boyhood of the Lord Jesus.  He is taken by Joseph and Mary to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.  Instead of returning with them He remained behind.  When they at last found Him He was in the Temple “sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.  And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers”, Luke 2:46,47.  See how his corresponds with what we have said about the image and likeness of God given to man at the beginning:
His personality- “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?”.  He is aware of His distinct mission from the Father, even though He had not yet been anointed for public ministry.
His spirituality- He is with the doctors or teachers in the temple as they discuss the Law.
His rationality- Hearing and answering questions in a manner which impressed the learned doctors, but without asserting Himself as superior to them, for He ever “made Himself of no reputation”. 

That He by the grace of God should taste death for every man- this phrase refers to the whole of the previous part of the verse.  Note the punctuation, with commas between phrases until the word honour, which is followed by a semi-colon.  This would suggest that “crowned with glory and honour” refers to Him during His life, for the first two statements, “made a little lower”, and, “crowned with glory and honour”, become true in order that He might taste death for every man.  He showed Himself fit to die by His life before God and men. 
Adam was made in the image of God, to represent God to creation.  This was a glory indeed.  He was also made after the likeness of God, involving, as we have seen, personality, spirituality and rationality.  These are honourable things, and they were expressed by Adam as far as man is able to manifest them.  Adam fell, however, and lost the dominion that his crown entitled him to.  There is another, however, in whom these features were seen to perfection, and with the eye of faith we discern in Christ when He was here those qualities and characteristics which make a man glorious and honourable. 
The words “every man” could be translated “every thing”, and assure us of the far-reaching effects of the work of Christ, which has guaranteed the deliverance of a groaning creation, Romans 8:20,21; Colossians 1:20.  He gave insights into this deliverance when He was here the first time, as He defeated death, disease, demon-possession, danger and distress, as Matthew 8 details.  No wonder the writer speaks of the Hebrews tasting the powers of the age to come, 6:5.  Adam tasted of the forbidden tree, and forfeited his rights over the earth, but Christ has tasted death, (on a tree, Acts 5:30), and purchased for Himself the right to have all creation subject to Himself.  As the creator of all things, He is supreme over them, but since He has become man He must prove his claim.

2:10    For it became Him- There is no disparity between God’s purpose to bring in glory for the earth through Christ, and the sufferings which He required His Son to pass through.  It is a becoming thing for Him to require, because both sufferings and glories are part of His eternal plan.  Suffering brings in perfection for Christ, and perfection is becoming to God, (“As for God, His way is perfect”, Psalm 18:30), even though it means sufferings for His Son and His people.  The higher good of a restored and delivered creation comes through suffering. 
For whom are all things- Seven times we have the mention of “things” in these verses, (if we include “every man”), and the expression signifies the sum total of all things in God’s creation which are relevant in each instance:

Verse 8  Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.
  For in that He put all in subjection under him.
  He left nothing that is not put under him.
  But now we see not yet all things put under Him.
Verse 9 That He by the grace of God should taste death for every man (thing).
Verse 10 For whom are all things.
  By whom are all things.

        
The things put under Adam are restricted to sheep, oxen, etc, Psalm 8:7,8.  Under Christ, however, are all things, whether the earth to come; angels, 1 Peter 3:22, Ephesians 1:21,22, (note the quotation from Psalm 8); all rule and authority and power, 1 Corinthians 15:24,25; and at the end of time, even death itself, 1 Corinthians 15:26,27.  Creation in its entirety is for God; it exists for His sake, and for His glory.  “For Thy pleasure they are, and were created”, Revelation 4:11.  Christ will see to it that His creation is preserved for His glory.
And by whom are all things- God is not only the reason for all things existing, but they have been brought into existence by Him, too.  Yet in chapter one the creation of all things is the work of the Son; so they must be co-equal, as a comparison between John 1:3 and Romans 11:34-36 also shows.  Since God is the originator and the goal of all things, (Revelation 1:8), then He has the right to superintend all things through Christ. 
In bringing many sons unto glory- As Firstborn Son of God, the Lord Jesus will have many brethren, Romans 8:29.  Here we learn the pathway through which they are brought to the glory of association with Christ.  Adam brought all descended from him to shame in a corrupted and vain world.  God is ensuring that the last Adam has associates who reach a position of glory.  Note there is no mention of honour here, for the glory is because of association with Christ, which guarantees it, whereas honour depends upon our conduct here. 
To make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings- “Captain” means chief leader or author.  As one who has passed through this world without mishap already, Christ is perfectly qualified (perfect) to lead His people through to their ultimate state of salvation, as well as to be the author or source of their salvation from the pitfalls along the pathway of faith.  Some in Israel wanted to appoint a captain to lead them back into Egypt when the way was hard, whereas the faithful ones were satisfied to be led into the land of Canaan under Joshua, whose name means “Salvation of Jehovah”, and is the equivalent to Jesus.  It is interesting to notice that this was not Joshua’s original name.  Went he went with Caleb and the other ten spies into Canaan he was Oshea, but Moses renamed him at that time, Numbers 13:16.  It was important that when he eventually led the people into the land that they should realise that the salvation was of the Lord, and not of a man and his military prowess. 
Just as Joseph knew sufferings in Egypt before the rest of his family did; and just as Moses knew 40 years of difficulty in the wilderness before the nation did, so Joshua had been a faithful spy, and had risked going into Canaan when it was held by the enemy.  But Joshua was met by the Captain of the host of the Lord as he entered Canaan, Joshua 5:13-15, so there is one superior to Joshua as captain.  So the Lord Jesus has blazed a trail for His people to follow.  He not only died to save from sins judicially, but lives to save from sins practically, showing us the way to tread so that we are saved from sinning.
As a result of these things, we may say that:
The mystery is solved; the minority status is sanctified; the majesty is seen; the ministry is safe; the mastery is and will be successful.  The writer now gives to us five features of this path to glory.

REVELATION 1

We hope you find these notes helpful. Do feel free to download the material on this website for your own personal use, and also to distribute if you so wish. Please be aware that all the writing is copyright, so no alterations should be made. It would be appreciated if the name of the website were to be retained at the end of the article if it is printed for distribution to others. Thank you.

You will find that if you copy the text into Libre Office Writer the formatting will be retained for printing.

Please feel free to comment on any aspect of what you find on this website using the contact form at the end of each article. We would be pleased to hear from you. ebsiourwn personal use, and also to distribute if you so wish. Please be aware that all the

The character and purpose of the Book of Revelation is simply stated by John when he tells us that he is passing on the revelation that God gave to Jesus Christ. So the book is not a series of predictions by John himself. The title “Revelation of St. John the Divine”, as given in some Bibles, is completely off the mark. That is a title added by man, for the true title is the first phrase of the book, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”. John is setting out of things given to him through the agency of an angel, and which those who serve God need to know.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 1, VERSES 1 TO 20:

1:1  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John:

1:2  Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

1:3  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

1:4  John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne;

1:5  And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,

1:6  And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

1:7  Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.

1:8  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

1:9  I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

1:10  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

1:11  Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

1:12  And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

1:13  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

1:14  His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire;

1:15  And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters.

1:16  And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

1:17  And when I saw him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

1:18  I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

1:19  Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

1:20  The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Structure of the chapter
We may divide chapter 1 into seven sections as follows:

Verses 1-3

John’s introduction

the character of the book.

Verses 4-5(a)

John’s benediction

the blessing of the book.

Verses 5(b)-6

John’s adoration

the object of the book.

Verse 7 

John’s exclamation

the theme of the book.

Verse 8 

John’s accreditation 

the endorsement of the book.

Verses 9-11

John’s commission

the communication of the book

Verses 12-20

John’s appreciation

the basis of the book.

 

Verses 1-3        John’s introduction    The character of the book.

1:1  The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John:
 
The revelation of Jesus Christ-
the word for revelation is “unveiling”, being a combination of the pronoun “apo” meaning “away from”, and “kalupsis” meaning “veiled”.  It is the taking away of a veil, so that something or someone may be revealed and manifest.

Jesus Christ has been hidden from the sight of men since He ascended back to the Father.  As He said, “I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more”, John 16:10.  This was spoken to the disciples who, later on, as they stood on the Mount of Olives, watched Him ascend to heaven, “and a cloud received Him out of their sight”, Acts 1:9. 

Hebrews 6:19,20 describes the ascension in terms of the Lord Jesus entering in within the veil, a reference to the starry heavens which God has stretched out like a curtain, Isaiah 40:22.  Like Joash the boy-king, He has been hidden in the sanctuary until it is appropriate to show Him to the world, 2 Chronicles 22:12.  God is going to bring His First begotten into the habitable earth again, Hebrews 1:6, and give Him the opportunity to show in His own times “who is that blessed and only potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords”, 1 Timothy 6:13-16. 

So there shall be a revelation in the future, and John anticipates it in verse 7 with the words, “Behold He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him; and they also that pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth shall wail because of Him.  Even so, Amen”.  We may capture by the word “behold” something of the excitement in John’s heart at the prospect of Christ’s return.  It is good for all believers to “love His appearing”, 2 Timothy 4:8, and look for it, Titus 2:13.

John describes the return of Christ to earth in Revelation 19:11-16, but the major body of His book is taken up with the way the events preceding His return reveal Him.  These previews, taken together, make up the revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave unto Him.  It is given unto Him in the sense that He has been given authority to reveal beforehand to His servants what His revelation in glory will involve.  So it is not a revelation given to Jesus Christ as if He does not know until He is told. (After all, much of the content of the Book of Revelation is anticipated in the Old Testament prophecies). Rather, it is a revelation that He is authorised to give.

John was on the island of Patmos when he wrote the book, and he might have been depressed and frustrated, being forced by the Roman authorities to do hard labour in the quarries.  He, and we, are encouraged by this fore-view of things yet to come, for we are thereby assured that God is still in control.
Which God gave unto Him- the Father is said in Scripture to give several things to the Son.  These include the following:
1.    The Son has been entrusted with the task of giving eternal life- “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.  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”, John 3:35,36
2.    The Son is given to have life in Himself for others- “For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself”, John 5:26.
3.    The Son has authority to judge men- “And hath given Him authority to execute judgement also, because He is Son of Man”, John 5:27. 
4.    The Son was given works to finish- “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which My Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father hath sent Me”, John 5:36.
5.    The Son has been given commandment by the Father as to what He should say- “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”, John 12:49.
6.    The Son has been given power over all flesh- “As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him”, John 17:2.
7.    The Son has been given glory- “And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one”, John 17:22.
8.    The Son was given the cup of suffering to drink- “Then said Jesus unto Peter, ‘Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?’” John 18:11.

The fact that these things are given to Christ in no way suggests that He is inferior to the Father.  Rather, they confirm the equality of the Son with the Father.  (Notice that all of the above quotations come from the Gospel of John, which particularly emphasises the Deity of Christ).  Only one who is Himself God could be entrusted with these responsibilities.  The giving is not an act of Divine grace, but of Divine administration, as God works out all things after the counsel of His own will.  That counsel means that it is the good pleasure of the Godhead to allot certain functions to the Son. 

To show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John- this revelation of Christ is given to Him by God the Father, 1:1, and is then transmitted to John by means of the angel described as “His angel”, (see also 22:16), and then is written down, and sent in letter form to the seven churches listed in 1:11.  The whole of the book is sent to each of these seven churches, 22:16.  His angel refers to the angel who is entrusted with the task of communicating on behalf of Christ. it may be that this angel is the personal representative of Christ in the Old Testament. So the giving of this revelation to the Son is so that God’s servants may be intelligent as to His ways in the future.  With the implication that they will be able to serve better if they know these things than if they did not.

1:2  Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

Who bare record of the word of God- there are three things which tell us further about the book John is about to write.  John testifies or bears record about the word of God, which would be the occasional statements God makes throughout the book, verse 8 being one of them. 
And of the testimony of Jesus Christ- this is either that which Jesus Christ testifies about Himself in the book, such as in verses 17 and 18, or the testimony John bears to Him on the basis of what he sees. 
And of all things that he saw- the main body of the book, which gives details of the visions John had, and which he recorded.

1:3  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Blessed is he that readeth- so there is a blessing attached to this book, just as there is a curse attached to it in chapter 22.  In the latter place a curse is pronounced on those who add or take away from it, such is the importance of what is written.  In this chapter, however, there is a threefold blessing.  For the one who publicly reads the book, with the implication he does it carefully and with reverence.  Notice that the one who reads is singular, whereas the hearers and keepers are plural, thus telling us that the reader is reading to others in the first instance.  In apostolic times copies of the Scriptures were few in number, and one person would have the task of reading to the whole company.  The apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, “and when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans”, Colossians 4:16.  Those who undertake to read the Scriptures publicly should do so with care and accuracy, to the glory of God.  As Paul exhorted Timothy, “Give attention to reading”, 1 Timothy4:13.
And they that hear the words of this prophecy- this is a blessing for the one who hears it read, and does so with attention and interest. 
And keep those things which are written therein- these are they who keep and treasure what is written therein.  It might seem strange to take delight in a book that is mainly about judgement, but those who have Christ’s interests at heart will rejoice that He is eventually to be vindicated in the earth, and will bring in universal blessedness, as well as a new heavens and new earth.  His judgements are a means to an end, and it is the end they rejoice in.  A right understanding of God’s various dealings with men is part of the keeping spoken of here.  We do not “keep” when we misunderstand Scripture.
For the time is at hand- John had learnt to think of time as God thinks of it, so he is able to say that the time is at hand, for a thousand years to God are like a single day to us.  Coupled with this is the fact that the coming of the Lord for the church can be at any moment, so His coming is always near from that perspective.

Verses 4-5(a)    John’s salutation    The source of the book.

1:4,5(a)  John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne;  and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.

John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace- John is able to send greetings to the seven churches which will result in them having an enhanced appreciation of the grace and peace which alone comes from God.  The world is destined for wrath and war, but the believer’s expectation is completely different.
From Him which is- these blessings come from the God who is ever there, ever attentive to the needs of His people, something John was no doubt comforted by as he languished in his banishment to the isle of Patmos.  God is unaffected by the passing of time.
And which was- throughout the ages of the Old Testament He had showed Himself to be faithful.
And which is to come- He will always be the Coming One, revealing Himself to His people for all eternity.
And from the seven Spirits which are before His throne- Divine blessings can only come from Divine Persons, so this rather strange description of the Holy Spirit is startling.  But it is a description of the Holy Spirit that is appropriate for the Book of Revelation to use, for it graphically presents to us the idea of fullness of spiritual power, such as is invested in the Spirit of God.  The Hebrew word for seven means fullness or completeness. The verb ‘are’ is in the singular, so just as in the first book of the Bible we find a singular verb ‘created’ used with a plural noun ‘God’, so here, the seven spirits, plural, are one in power, aim and essence, being expressions of the one Spirit of God, Ephesians 4:4.
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness- the fact that He is associated with the God of heaven by being, equally with the Father and the Spirit, the source of Divine blessings, is clear testimony to His Deity.  But He is man as well, and when on earth He maintained a faithful witness to the truth of God. 
And the first begotten of the dead- now that He is back in heaven He is there as the First-begotten from the dead, whose resurrection is a sure sign that God is well-pleased with Him, and that He is entrusted with administering for God both in heaven and on earth. 
And the prince of the kings of the earth- as the coming ruler that this book so clearly shows Him to be, He, with princely dignity, will rule over kings in a day to come.

Verses 5(b)-6    John’s adoration    The object of the book.

1:5(b),6    Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Unto Him that loved us at the thought of Christ’s faithful witness, John cannot restrain himself, but breaks out into an expression of praise and worship.  The word witness gives us the word “martyr”, and John is reminded of the sufferings of Christ as He maintained a faithful witness to God and His truth to the very end.  John sees in this the expression of Christ’s deep love for His people.  John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, not because Christ did not love the others, but because John returned that love with enthusiasm.  Despite that, he says “loved us” and not “loved me”, because he wants to draw out from his readers the same expression of adoration as is in his heart.  The fact that Jesus Christ was the first begotten from the dead reminds John of the lengths, and depths, to which His love took Him.
And washed us from our sins in His own blood- the idea of being washed from sins in literal blood is not found in the Old Testament rituals.  However, Greek prepositions not only have physical meanings, but also moral meanings suggested by the physical.  “In” considered morally, signifies “in the power of”.  The blood of Christ has the power to cleanse because it is the blood of one who is free of sins Himself, and whose sacrifice is accepted by God on our behalf.  The effect of the Day of Atonement ceremonies was that the uncleanness of the children of Israel was dealt with, “for on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord”, Leviticus 16:30.  Allied to this is 1 John 1:7, “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin”.

Notice that the loving comes before the washing, for this is the order of God’s purpose.  He loved, then sent His Son to die, so that sins might be cleansed.  As the hymn-writer puts it, “How hopeless and helpless lost sinners had been, if He never had loved us till washed from our sin”.  Divine love and Divine Light have both been satisfied in Christ’s dealings with us.

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father- John is deeply grateful that believers have been made kings and priests to God and His Father.  He sees this as something that Christ has done for His Father, and this gives character to the Christian priesthood, whose task is to gratify the heart of Christ’s Father too.  The Father seeks worshippers, John 4:23.  It was God’s original intention that the nation of Israel should be a kingdom of priests, Exodus 19:6, but they forfeited that privilege by worshipping the golden calf.  As a result, only one family, that of Aaron, could officiate as priests before God.  Now all is different, and all believers are Christian priests.  No believer needs a mediator from among men.  The only mediator he needs is Christ.
The believer is made a king as well. This has a two-fold aspect, present and future. As to the present, the apostle Paul writes, “they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ”, Romans 5:17. Instead of sin reigning over him, the believer himself is in control, under God, and can live a life of kingly dignity even now. But there is a future aspect, for the apostle Paul writes elsewhere, “if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him”, 2 Timothy 2:12.
To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen- John realises that such is the value of Calvary, that only eternal glory is enough to recompense for it.  And such is the decisive victory gained there, no opposition shall succeed, but Christ and His Father shall reign unopposed for all eternity.  Every believing heart will join with John in saying Amen to that.

Verse 7        John’s exclamation    The theme of the book.

1:7  Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.  Even so, Amen.

Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him- John had watched the Lord Jesus return to heaven, and a cloud had received Him out of sight, but He is coming back, as the angel said He would.  Only the disciples saw Him ascend, but when He comes to reign every eye shall see Him.  He will come secretly for the church, but even those in hell shall see Him come to earth, as the Lord indicated to Caiaphas, Matthew 26:64.  In contrast to the worship the coming of Christ for the church evokes, we now learn the wail and lamentation of sinful men.
And they also which pierced Him- the coming of Christ to reign will have special relevance for the nation of Israel, who, two thousand years after the event, are still characterised here as being “they also that pierced Him”.  That wicked sin has not been removed yet, but one day will be, for “they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.  In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem…in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the House of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness”, Zechariah 12:10,11; 13:1.

John had quoted some of these words when he recorded what had happened at Calvary.  A soldier with a spear had pierced Christ’s side, so that it might be fulfilled in the future that “they shall look on Him whom they pierced”, John 19:37.  John also records what did not happen, for His legs were not broken so that the scripture which said “a bone of Him shall not be broken” could be fulfilled.  The latter scripture is fulfilled already, the former scripture awaits His coming.  It is interesting to notice the change of pronoun in Zechariah 12:10.  “They shall look upon Me…they shall mourn for Him”.  The personal pronoun Me is remarkable, since it is Jehovah who is speaking, 12:1, and yet He describes Himself as pierced.  How can this be?  Only because there is one who is equal to Him, who is the “Him” of the next phrase, the one mourned for as only begotten sons are mourned for.

If it be asked why persons living 2000 years after Calvary are held to account for what happened then, the answer is two-fold.  First, they will have had their guiltiness as a nation pressed home to them by the 144000 sealed evangelists spoken of in chapter 7.  And also, they will have had opportunity to choose between Christ and Antichrist, and because Daniel 9:27 (margin) speaks of “the many”, we know that the majority in Israel will choose antichrist, and in effect re-affirm what they did to Christ long before.
And all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him- what trouble shall fill the hearts of men as they realise their great mistake in rejecting the Messiah when He came the first time.  Now they will have to meet Him as their judge, whereas before they could have met Him as Saviour.
Even so, Amen- at the end of the book the apostle anticipates the coming of Christ for the church, and says “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”, 22:20. He was responding to the words,  “Surely I come quickly”. Notice , however, that he does not ask that Christ may come to earth quickly to judge, for he knows that before that time great judgements will fall upon the dwellers upon the earth.  Nevertheless he does express his desire that it should happen, for Christ’s glory’s sake, but refrains from asking that it come quickly, because he had a concern for those as yet not saved.

Verse 8        John’s accreditation    The endorsement of the book.

1:8  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord- as John begins to write he is reminded by God Himself of the importance of what he is penning.  John will use the Greek alphabet to write the word of God, but he must remember that God is the source of language, and more than that, is the source of the thought behind the language.  If there is no God, there is no thought, reason or logic.  All is random chaos. The fact that we are able to think logically and coherently is proof of the existence of God.

As the Alpha, (the first letter of the Greek alphabet), God is the beginning of all that is worthwhile and meaningful.  As the Omega, (the last letter), He brings all things to a conclusion.  He is the cause and root of all, and the goal and consummation of all.  The letters of the alphabet are indispensable, we cannot do without them if life is to be meaningful.  So with God, we cannot do without Him in spiritual things.  They are also inexhaustible, for there is no limit to the thoughts that may be expressed in words using letters.  There is no limit to God’s thoughts either, and He is pleased to reveal them to His people in the measure in which they are able to understand.  They are also immutable, for words are fixed in meaning, and can be used to express timeless truths.  God has unfolded His eternal counsels to us in His word, and in this way we may become intelligent as His purpose.
Which is, and which was, and which is to come- He is not only the Alpha and the Omega in the realm of thought, but also in the realm of time also, for in the past He was there, in the present and future too, He imposes Himself on every situation.  And because He is the Almighty, none can stay Him in His onward course; none can resist the finalising of all He proposes within Himself.

How encouraging these things would have been to John, for as he writes he is conscious of writing the words of God, which bear the impress of His nature upon them.  Conscious, too, that even though it may take centuries, God’s purpose shall be realised, for He is always there as the Almighty, and nothing and no-one can ruin His plans.  So it is that at the end of the book, with Christ speaking this time, He can declare Himself to be the Alpha and Omega still; and not only the beginning and the ending, as in this chapter, but also the first and the last, the one who stands at the forefront of everything, and who stands as the climax too, 22:12.  It is such a God that endorses the book, and indeed John himself.

Verses 9-11    John’s commission    The communication of the book.

1:9      I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 

I John, who also am your brother- in verses 1-3, John is referred to using a pronoun in the third person, as the one who received the truth contained in the book.  In verses 4-6 he simply names himself and then goes on to speak of God.  In verse 9, however, he begins with an emphatic “I”, not to enhance himself, but to enhance his ministry as one commissioned by the Lord.  He describes himself in a three-fold way- as brother, as companion in tribulation, and as companion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. 

In his gospel John wrote as a disciple, John 21:24; in his first epistle as an apostle, (“manifest unto us”, 1 John 1:1:3, refers to the apostles as a company); in his second and third epistles as an elder, 2 John 1; 3 John 1.  Here he writes as a brother.  Proverbs 17:17 says “a brother is born for adversity”, and he knows that those to whom he writes are suffering for the sake of Christ.  As a true brother, he is writing so that they may be encouraged in their adversity.
And companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ- John calls himself a companion or fellow-partaker in three things.  First, in their tribulation.  He will write later of “the great tribulation”, an expression which has two definite articles, so that we may understand it to mean “the tribulation, the great one”.  This is the unparalleled period of trial to come upon the world in the last three and half years before the end of the age.  No church believer will go through that period, for then God’s dealings will be with Israel and the world, not the church.  The tribulation John refers to here is that which the Lord Jesus fore-warned His disciples about when He said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation;  but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”, John 16:33.  John was certainly experiencing this tribulation, and so were his readers, and until the Lord comes would constantly do so, for the world never changes.

But he is also companion in other things, namely, the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.  Even though the kingdom of Christ is not yet manifest in the world, John was part of it.  Hebrews 3:14 describes believers as partakers or companions of Christ, 3:14.  As such we share His prospects.  And we share His hopes too, for He is patiently waiting for His Father’s time for Him to set up His kingdom. When His disciples asked Him, just before His ascension, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power”, Acts 1:6,7.  So Christ is patiently waiting for that time, and so should we be also. Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians believers was, “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ”, 2 Thessalonians 3:5.

John encourages his readers with the thought that although men and devils may seem to have the upper hand now, it will not always be so.  They should not make the mistake of trying to set up that kingdom prematurely.  Peter was rebuked by the Lord Jesus for trying to prevent His arrest by the authorities.  When Pilate questioned Christ about His kingship, He was able to point out that if His kingdom were of this world, His servants would “keep on fighting”, (literal translation), whereas He had rebuked them for this in Gethsemane, John 18:36.  The wars this world engages in are no business for the Christian, whether as conscripts or volunteers.
Was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ- John is of clear conscience in his banishment.  He was not slaving in the stone-quarries as a convicted criminal.  His only “crime” was to serve Christ, and he was found where he was on account of his loyalty to the word of God, and the testimony it gave about Jesus Christ.  It is good for believers if they are only located where the word of God can be upheld, and Jesus Christ honoured.

1:9,10    I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day- as he mused upon the return of Christ to reign, in spirit John projected his thoughts to the time when the day would rightly be called the Lord’s.  As the apostle Paul made clear in 1 Corinthians 4:3, (where “judgement” may be understood as “day”), today is man’s day, whereas in the future this will change.  Then the will of Christ will be paramount.  It will truly have the stamp of His lordship upon it, which is the sense of the adjective “Lord’s”. 

So why did the apostle not use the well-known expression “Day of the Lord”?  The expression “Day of the Lord” includes part at least of the tribulation period, as is shown by a comparison between Joel 2:2, “there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be ever after it”, (a reference to the Day of the Lord), with Matthew 24:21, “then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be”.  So it is perfectly proper for John to use a different phrase, since he has just spoken of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, and Him coming in clouds to reign.  John’s phrase applies after man’s day has finally come to an end.  During the first part of the Day of the Lord Antichrist the usurper will still be holding sway with the Devil’s power behind him.  Joel 2:31 speaks of “the great and the terrible day of the Lord”, which is perhaps a specific 24-hour day at the end of the tribulation period.
So we may distinguish:
1.    The Day of the Lord, which lasts more than a thousand years, including as it does part at least of the Tribulation Period.
2.    The Great and Notable Day of the Lord, which lasts 24 hours.
3.    The Lord’s Day, which begins with Christ’s coming to earth, and lasts just 1000 years, and is followed by the Day of God, 2 Peter 3:12.

There are those who will strongly advocate that the first day of the week should be called the Lord’s Day, and that we should be in the Spirit on that day to serve the Lord.  Several things should be borne in mind:
First, every true believer is in the Spirit on every day, whatever condition he is in.  This is the plain testimony of Romans 8:9, which states that “ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit”.  The true believer may walk after the flesh or after the Spirit, and it is this that determines whether he is carnal, (fleshly), or spiritual. But every true believer is in the Spirit, for that is his standing before God, which does not depend upon behaviour, but should influence it. So if every believer is characteristically “in the Spirit”, he cannot become in the Spirit on a particular day or occasion, for it is the normal and constant position of a believer.
Second, nowhere in the New Testament is the first day of the week called the Lord’s Day.  It would be strange indeed if after some 60 years of Christian testimony a new name was to be adopted.  Colossians 1:25 indicates that the ministry of the apostle Paul fulfilled the word of God- there was nothing to add as to principles after his writings were finished. 
Third, it was not until Constantine professed Christianity and introduced paganism into Christendom that the first day of the week began to be called the Lord’s Day.  The “lord” in question originally being the sun god.
Fourth, the day upon which the Christians met to partake of the Lord’s Supper was called “the first day of the week”, Acts 20:7.

And heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last- John’s musings in spirit on the future reign of Christ over the earth were interrupted, for a voice behind him arrests his attention.  We learn from verse 12 that he turns back.  Before he writes of the way the kingdom will be introduced into the world he must write of the seven churches.  So he is brought back from the future to consider the present.  Again the thought of God as Alpha and Omega is presented as John is about to write, and again the thought that Christ is the first and the last, being totally in command of every situation, and in particular, the situation in individual churches.

Verses 12-20    John’s appreciation    The basis of the book.

1:12        And I turned to see the voice that spake with me.  And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me- John was clearly aware that the voice as of a trumpet was the voice of Christ, for the one who spoke announced who He was, so he turns to see Him.
And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks- we ought not to think of these vessels as being holders for candles, but holders for lamps, those lamps being bowls into which olive oil could be poured to feed the light.  The candlesticks are not branches of a lampstand as in the tabernacle or temple, but individual stands. 

When God made a covenant with Abraham, He was one party to the covenant, and Christ was the other, Galatians 3:17, and He was represented in Genesis 15:17 by the burning lamp that passed between the parted pieces of covenant sacrifice.  Isaiah later on stated that as far as Jerusalem was concerned, the Messiah would be “the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth”, Isaiah 62:1, (where the word for salvation is “yeshua”, the equivalent to “Jesus”).
David was prevented by his followers from going out to battle when he was older, “that thou quench not the light (lamp) of Israel”, 2 Samuel 21:17.  So the lamp was a symbol of rule, as found ultimately in the Messiah.  In the Old Testament, before Christ had come, this principle of rule was vested in the kings of Judah.  Now that Christ has come to earth and been rejected, His rule is exercised only amongst His people, hence the churches are depicted as lamps.  Once He has returned to earth as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, rule will once again be exercised by the true Prince of Judah, the Lord Jesus Himself.

1:13    And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man- in his gospel John emphasises the Lord Jesus as Son of God, for He came to reveal the Father.  As the Son He is uniquely able to do this, and also to impart the life of God to those who believe on Him.  The title Son of God links Him to heaven, and God, whereas the title Son of Man links Him to earth, and men.  It is entirely appropriate, then, that He should be revealed in this way, for God is about to have dealings with the earth, and He entrusts the task of judging and administering the earth to His Son.

This title of Son of Man also has relevance to John himself, and the churches to whom he writes.  John was banished to the isle of Patmos  because of his stand for Christ.  He would be greatly encouraged by a vision of the ascended and glorified Christ.  One, moreover, who stood ready to judge the earth, and vindicate His people.  Others of God’s servants had been encouraged in this same way also.  Isaiah, grieving after the death of King Uzziah, is granted a vision of the True King, and is delivered from despondency by the sight, Isaiah 6:1.  Ezekiel, about to learn that the glory has depart from Israel, would be fortified by a sight of heaven’s throne, and “a man above upon it”, Ezekiel 1:26.  Daniel, troubled by the thought of fierce Gentile despots crushing his people, would be strengthened by seeing one like the Son of Man approaching the throne of God to receive a kingdom, and then coming in the clouds of heaven to exercise His kingship on the earth, Daniel 7:13,14.  And Stephen, too, with stones about to rain down on his head, is heartened no doubt by the sight of Christ in glory, Acts 7:55,56.
Clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle- this would speak of His dignity as the prince of the kings of the earth.  Not girded at the waist with a towel so that His long robes can be tucked into it for servant activity, stooping to wash the disciples’ feet, (as John had seen Him in the Upper Room), but girded about the breasts so that the whole garment in its beauty is visible.  He still has a girdle, however, but this one is of gold, telling of the Deity of the one who shall serve as King in the earth.  As already mentioned, the Son of Man who is seen coming to reign in Daniel 7 is also called the Ancient of Days, a Divine title.

1:14    His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire;

His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow- it is said of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9, that “the hair of His head” was “like the pure wool”, and here the description is the same of Christ.  The scripture says that “a hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness”, Proverbs 16:31, and this is certainly the case here.  He is “Christ the wisdom of God”, 1 Corinthians 1:24, and was always found in the way of wisdom and righteousness.  He can be relied upon to give a wise and righteous verdict on everything He is called upon to assess.  This gives great confidence to those who are true to Him, but cautions those who are not. 
And His eyes were as a flame of fire- this would speak of penetrating insight, coupled with a readiness to burn up that which is worthless.  When the tabernacle had been constructed it is said that Moses looked upon it, Exodus 39:3.  So is it with all that men do, including believers.

1:15    And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters.

And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace- “burned in a furnace” could be understood as “glowed white-hot in a furnace”.  Brass speaks of that which can stand the test of the fire, and this one has certainly done that, whether the fire is that of the testings of Satan, or the supreme test of Calvary itself.  He retains that character, for His feet still glow.  Having passed through the ultimate testing Himself, He is able to judge in the light of that experience.
And His voice as the sound of many waters- Enoch prophesied as follows- “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him”, Jude 15.  Daniel foretells that the Antichrist will have a mouth “speaking great things”, and shall “speak great words against the Most High”, Daniel 7:8,25, but he will be silenced by Christ.  “Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure”, Psalm 2:5.  The Son of Man is coming with a voice that can drown out the ungodly speeches of men.

1:16    And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

And He had in His right hand seven stars- these seven stars are said in verse 20 to be the angels of the seven churches.  This is the Divine explanation, so we do not need a further one, such as human messengers.  Just as the living creatures of chapters 4 and 5 are representative of life on earth, so these stars would represent those angels who have been allotted a special superintendence over individual churches.  (Note that the apostle Paul wrote of elect angels in connection with the behaviour of elders, in 1 Timothy 5:21).  We should not be surprised at this, given the kind of way the churches are looked at, namely as those who are in a place of profession, entrusted with the task of maintaining the rule of God in the earth.  God’s rule is not acknowledged by men in the world, but it should be by believers.  This idea of there being a heavenly counterpart to earthly rule is confirmed by the fact that each nation on earth has its own angel.  We learn this from Daniel 10:13,20, which speaks of the princes of Persia and Grecia, and also in chapter 12:1 where Michael is described as the “great prince that standeth for the children of thy people”. 
And out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword- this is a figurative expression of course, and signifies that Christ’s way of exercising His authority is by His word.  We know from Hebrews 4:12,13,  that the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword of men, for it can divide between the non-material parts of man, and discern thoughts and intents, which are quite out of the range of earthly, physical swords.  So when He judges, the Son of Man will not do so by assessing externals, but motives and thoughts.  “He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes”, Isaiah 11:3.  This applies to men generally, and also to His professed people.  He cannot be deceived. 
And His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength- this tells of the severity of His wrath against all that opposes righteousness.  Psalm 19:6 says of the sun that “there is nothing hid from the heat thereof”, and James 1:11 speaks of the sun “rising with a burning heat”.  Nothing can escape the wrath of the Son of Man.

1:17    And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead- the cumulative effect of these various features was enough to strike extreme fear into the soul of the apostle, who, we must remember, was the one who leant on Christ’s bosom as His beloved disciple.  This change of aspect causes him great dread.  What then shall it do to sinners when they see Him?
And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last- the right hand of authority now becomes the right hand of strength for the apostle. Nothing is beyond the bounds of His control, so there is no need for fear on the part of those who are truly the Lord’s, who seek to do that which is pleasing to Him.  There is everything to fear for those who are against Him. 

1:18    I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 

I am He that liveth- seven things are calculated to dispel the apostle’s fear.  The first and second are in the previous verse, for He is the first, and also the last.  Third, He is the Living One, “that eternal life which was with the Father”, 1 John 1:2, eternal life personified, 1 John 5:20, and was manifested on earth in manhood, Jesus Christ come in the flesh.  As such He was able to go into death. 
And was dead- so real was this experience that He actually became dead, such is the force of the expression “was dead”.  The fact that He was prepared to go into death is a sure sign that He was confident that He could deal with it, and is the fourth reason why John should not fear.
And, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen- The “behold” arrests the apostle’s attention so that he takes in the tremendous implications of the fact that the Son of man is alive for evermore.  This must mean that the power He has will never be taken away from Him, for He has defeated death itself, and has risen triumphantly over it, to die no more.  This is the fifth reason why John should not fear.  If the “behold” is to arrest John’s attention, the “amen” is to affirm Christ’s assertion; none can deny Him His position. 
And have the keys of hell and of death- these are the sixth and seventh reasons not to fear.  John will be greatly encouraged by the fact that Christ has the keys of the realm of the dead.  He locks hades, so that no believer of this age shall go there; He has the key, so that Old Testament saints may be released from there at the appropriate moment; He has the keys of death so that none of His saints shall go into death without His permission and control.  Anyone who has such authority must be master of all, and so He is.

1:19    Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Write the things which thou hast seen- This verse may very well be thought of as giving the plan of the Book of Revelation.  The things John saw were the things of chapter 1.  He had already been told to write about what he saw, in verse 11, and this is repeated here. 
And the things which are- these are the things that pertain to the conditions prevailing amongst the seven assemblies in particular, but in the Christian profession as a whole, represented by them. 
And the things which shall be hereafter- these are the things which shall be after the present things, namely the events to take place from the beginning of chapter 4, after the rapture of the church.
The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks.  The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches- there is a mystery about the seven stars, for they need to be explained.  There is nothing in the New Testament previous to this that will indicate what their significance is, for even John does not know.  This is why the mystery needs to be explained here, so that John may learn that there are angels allotted to each church.  There is a mystery about the seven lamp-stands, too, for they represent, (as we have suggested when considering verse 12), companies of believers as those responsible to recognise the rule of Christ, and to uphold that rule in the churches.  Failure to do this will result in the lamp being removed.  If a company of supposed believers fails to uphold the principles of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”, which are the essential features of the kingdom, Romans 14:17, then their lamp will be removed.  The assembly is in a location on earth, but the lamp-stands are in heaven, where Christ can walk amongst them.  A company may seem to flourish on the earth, but if they pass the point beyond which Christ is no longer prepared to tolerate them, then the lamp will be removed in heaven.

The vision of chapter 1 has relevance to the seven churches to whom John is commanded to write.  For in six cases out of seven, the Lord introduces Himself to the individual churches using features found in Him in chapter 1, as follows:

Ephesus

He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand”.

Smyrna

The first and the last, which was dead and is alive”.

Pergamos

He which hath the sharp sword with two edges”.

Thyatira

Who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass”.

Sardis

He that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars”.

Philadelphia

Features not found in chapter 1.

Laodicea

These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God”.

Because He appears as the Son of Man, and that title is never used in the church epistles, we understand that profession is being tested.  In church epistle terms an assembly only consists of believers, but because He is presenting Himself to them as Son of Man, there is the possibility that some are not genuine.  This is why certain phrases are used which may cause disquiet.  For instance, “him that overcometh, I will not blot out his name from the book of life”, 3:5.  This need cause the true believer no alarm, but the false professor is to be startled by this possibility, and to react by coming to true faith in Christ.  So it is that the way the Son of Man will present Himself to the world is used in these two chapters to caution and awake the counterfeit Christian.  In this way the Son of Man reveals Himself before His revelation to the world at large at His coming to earth. These three revelations together, to John, to the churches, and to the world, make up the revelation which God gives to Him to make, and which He communicates through His angel to His servant John.

(c)  www.Christian-gospel.info

 

 

 

 

TRUE WORSHIP

TRUE WORSHIP AS DETAILED IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 4:1-26

SURVEY OF THE PASSAGE
In these verses the Lord Jesus unfolds to the woman of Samaria important truths about worship.  He does so because He has been given the task of administering all things for His Father, as Firstborn Son of God.  As the Only begotten Son of God, Christ is unique in His person and in His relationship with the Father.  He is alone in the consciousness of His Father’s affections.  As Firstborn, however, He has an unrivalled position as the one charged with the task of administering for God.  In John chapter 4, we find Him administering for God in four ways: Giving the Spirit; Granting forgiveness; Guiding the worshippers; Governing the harvest field. 
The one who typifies Christ as only-begotten, is Isaac.  The one who typifies Him as Firstborn, is Joseph.  So it is that having told us that all things are committed into the hands of His Son, (it is an interesting study to note what Joseph did with his hands), then John shows us His “Joseph” character, as follows:
Sychar is near to Shechem, Joseph’s portion as firstborn, Genesis 48:21,22.
 Joseph was envied by his brothers, just as the hostility of the Pharisees was implied in John 4:1.
 It is said of Joseph that “God sent a man…made him lord”, Psalm 105:17,21.  So in this chapter there is a Man who is weary, yet John gives Him the Divine title of Lord.
 Jacob said that Joseph was a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches ran over the wall, Genesis 49:22, and in John 4 the Saviour is sitting by a well, and His fruitfulness extends even to those the other side of the wall, like the Samaritans.
 The name that Pharoah gave to Joseph meant “Revealer of secrets”, Genesis 41:45, and in John 4 the Son not only reveals the secrets of the Samaritans woman’s heart, “Come, see a man, that told me all things that ever I did”, verse 29, but also the secrets of His Father’s heart, “The Father seeketh such to worship Him”, verse 23.
 Joseph’s new name also means “Saviour of the world”, so we find that the men of Samaria hailed the Lord Jesus with this title, verse 42.
 Joseph’s birth name also has two meanings.  His mother exclaimed “God hath taken away my reproach”, and so Joseph’s name means “Taker away”, Genesis 30:23.  The Samaritan woman found the reproach of her situation was taken away, too.
 Joseph also means “He will add”, so in John 4 we find that the Lord Jesus adds truth about Himself; adds the gift of the Spirit; and adds truth about worship.

The Samaritan nation originated from those people that the King of Assyria had transported into the Land of Israel after he had taken the ten tribes of Israel into captivity, 2 Kings 17:21-34. When Ezra refused their offer of help in building the temple at Jerusalem, Ezra 4:1-5, they built a rival temple on the top of Mt. Gerizim where they carried on a form of worship.  The Lord Jesus deliberately positions Himself within sight of this mountain in order to highlight important truths about Samaritan worship, Jewish worship, and the Christian worship which would replace them both.
He also positions Himself at a well, for He uses the water of the well as a figure for the Holy Spirit, and it is by His power alone that true worship can be sustained.
One other thing should be noted.  Before true worship can be offered, the offerers must have come to an end of themselves.  So it is that the secrets of this woman’s life must be exposed, so that, having repented of her sin, she may receive the great gift of the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul summarises these things for us in Philippians 3:3, where he speaks of the worship of God in the Spirit, boasting in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh.  The woman of Samaria was enabled to do these things as the Lord deals with her in grace.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN CHAPTER 4, VERSES 1-26

4:1 When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

4:2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but His disciples,)

4:3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

4:4 And He must needs go through Samaria.

4:5 Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

4:6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

4:7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give Me to drink.

4:8 (For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

4:9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him, How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.

4:11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast Thou that living water?

4:12 Art Thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

4:15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

4:16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

4:17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

4:18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

4:19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet.

4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

4:25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things.

4:26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He.

 STRUCTURE OF THE PASSAGE

Verses 1-15.

Water offered

 

Verses 16-19

Waywardness confessed

 

Verses 20-26

Worship sought

Verses 1-15  WATER OFFERED
4:1    When therefore- this follows on from 3:26, where the Jews tell John the Baptist that Jesus baptised also, and “all men come to Him”.  The Jews are clearly concerned about the popularity of the Lord Jesus.  John adds to their concern by pointing out that the Lord Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy, and in that case He must increase until He occupies the throne of Israel, and John must decrease, since he is merely the herald of the King.  The Lord knew- the apostle John has only used the word “Lord” once before, and this in a quotation from the Old Testament in 1:23.  Clearly the Lord in that verse means Jehovah, the God of Israel, but now John is using this word of the Lord Jesus without qualification, or apology.  Everything he has written so far is calculated to teach us that Jesus of Nazareth is equal with God.  See, for example, John 1:1-4; 14-18.  This is very significant in this context, for only the persons of the Godhead can give the Holy Spirit, who is Himself a Person of the Godhead. Only God can give God!  And this is what the Lord Jesus claims to be able to do, for the living water He gives is nothing less than the Spirit of God.  See John 7:38,39; 1:32-34.  How the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptised more disciples than John- the Jews had clearly reported back to the Pharisees after speaking with John, 3:26.  Note that the report used the word Jesus in a purely natural sense, for it was the name He was commonly known by.  John the apostle uses this name in an historical sense, for he is writing of real events which took place when the Lord Jesus was on earth.  The New Testament epistles, however, use the single name Jesus in a very specialised way, (see, for instance, the 7-fold mention of Jesus in the Epistle to the Hebrews), and not as the normal mode of address.  Even when He was here on earth, we never read of the disciples addressing Him as Jesus.  How much more should believers now address Him with His full titles, for “God hath made that same Jesus…both Lord and Christ”, Acts 2:36.

4:2    (Though Jesus Himself baptised not, but His disciples)- this is one of those expressions referred to as “John’s asides”, being words of explanation which the apostle is guided to include in the narrative.  It would not have been appropriate for the Lord Jesus to personally baptise those who repented in preparation for His coming, since this would have detracted from the unique ministry of John the Baptist.  It was important that there be no confusion introduced at this critical time.  Note the way John the Baptist deals with the question of an apparent rivalry between him and Christ, in John 3:25-36.

4:3    He left Judea- the word for leave indicates a leaving with no intention of returning in the near future.  The centre of Judaism is rejecting Him, for they feared that His popularity would mean their downfall.  They need not have worried, for He “made Himself of no reputation”, and deliberately withdrew.  How solemn to be left by the Lord; just as solemn as when the glory departed in Ezekiel’s day.  And departed again into Galilee- note the “again”, for John has already recorded His first journey into Galilee, 1:43.  It is important to remember that the events of John 1:19-4:54, (a period of 10 months), took place between verses 13 and 14 of Luke 4.

4:4    And He must needs go through Samaria- It is true that the road from Judea to Galilee does indeed go through Samaria, but there are other reasons that make this route a necessity:-
 He must show Himself to be different to the Pharisees, who made a lengthy detour, crossing the Jordan and travelling up the further side in order to avoid “contamination” from the Samaritans.  The Lord is teaching us that sanctification and isolation are not the same.
 He is preparing the way for the spread of the gospel into Samaria after His ascension, Acts 8:4-25.  The hostility of the Jews to the Samaritans must not be shared by believers. 
 He must address the matter of the Samaritan worship- where better to do it than within sight of Mt. Gerizim, at the top of which they worshipped.

4:5    Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph- Here is another reason for the “must needs” of verse 4.  This spot is important because of its symbolic meaning.  It is near Mt. Gerizim indeed, but it also near the parcel of ground which Jacob gave to Joseph to signify that he was his firstborn, and therefore had the right to a double portion.  His words were, “Moreover I have given thee one portion above thy brethren”, Genesis 48:22.  Now the word “portion” is the word Shechem.  It was here that Joseph was eventually buried, after Israel had conquered the land under Joshua, Joshua 24:32.  But significantly it is not as Joseph’s burying place that John notices this parcel of ground, but as the sign that Joseph was the firstborn of Jacob, with the right to administer everything for the father.  This is exactly how the Lord Jesus is described in John 3:35, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand”.  As God’s Firstborn Son, (as well as his Only-begotten), the Lord Jesus administers everything for His Father.  And this is what He is doing in the passage before us, for He is ensuring that the Father’s desire for worshippers is satisfied.

4:6    Now Jacob’s well was there- John uses the word fountain for this well, and the Lord Jesus uses the same word for the fountain of spiritual water which He gives.  The woman, however, uses a word that simply means a pit, or cistern.  Clearly, Jacob had discovered that there was an underground spring in this place, and had dug a shaft down to it.  The woman, however, only looked upon it as a pit of water- she was not interested in the source of the water, nor the energy which caused it to spring forth from the rock.  Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey- He was Lord, and as such was the creator of the ends of the earth, who fainteth not, neither is weary, Isaiah 40:28.  But He had come into real manhood, and as such had accepted the limitations that being having a body involves.  He now has two natures, but is still one Person.  This is a great mystery, but the believing heart accepts what Scripture says even though it cannot explain it.  How relevant are these things to the subject of this chapter, for it is precisely because God has been manifest in the person of His Son, that we are able to intelligently worship Him.  Christ has given to us the fullest expression of who and what God is, that we might have the material to be able to worship Him acceptably.  Sat thus on the well- He sat on the well just as He was, wearied, yet Lord of all.  He neither desired, nor needed, to pretend to be anything other than what He was.  It was in this state of readiness to work for his Father, even though He was weary in body, that the woman discovered Him.  Notice His word in :28, “Other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours”.  And it was about the sixth hour- whether this was according to Roman or Jewish reckoning, the fact remains it was daylight, and a public place.  The Lord Jesus was prepared to meet with a man like Nicodemus at night, but, being supremely circumspect, would not do the same with a woman.  He abstained from all appearance of evil, 1 Thessalonians 5:22. 

4:7    There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water- Whereas Nicodemus, a religious Jew, had come to Him, He had come to this Gentile woman.  The fact that she came to the well was secondary to His coming to meet her.  He “must needs” come to this place to do so.  The purpose for which the woman came provides the Lord with the opportunity to speak of the water He alone is able to give.  Jesus saith unto her “Give me to drink”- This initial request introduces the three themes that immediately follow.  “Give” reminds us that He also is willing to give.  “Me” reminds us as to who He is.  “To drink” reminds us that what He gives is indeed living water. 

4:8    (For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat)- another of John’s “asides”, words of explanation.  He is excusing the disciples for not being at hand to minister to their Master’s needs.  No doubt the woman would have been disconcerted to find twelve or more men at the well-side.  She would have felt intimidated, especially as she would discern they were Jews. 

4:9    Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him- we learn from this expression that this woman was not only a woman “out of” Samaria, :7, who might merely be a Jewess visiting the place, but that she belonged to Samaria, and therefore is a Samaritan, as she herself implies at the end of the verse.  As such she was a Gentile.  How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?- Because of their origins, and the fact that they had built a rival temple on Mt. Gerizim, the Jews detested the Samaritans, and the feeling was mutual.  To her credit, the woman does not seem to harbour this prejudice.  The Lord Jesus had come into the world to save sinners, of whatever race, creed, or persuasion.  How did she know He was a Jew?  Either by His dress, with its border of blue, in accordance with Numbers 15:37-41; or by His features; or by His speech.  “Give Me to drink” in Aramaic is “Teni lischechoth”.  A Jew would pronounce the “s” as “sch”, whereas the Samaritan would simply pronounce it as an “s”. Compare Judges 12:6; Mark 14:70.  For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans- Whilst it is true that the Lord was not sent but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, nevertheless as the True Joseph, His branches ran over the wall to bless the Gentiles, Genesis 49:22.  This is seen in its fulness after Pentecost, Acts 1:8. 

4:10    Jesus answered and said unto her, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink- Notice two things she did not know.  First, what the gift of God was, and secondly, who was offering her that gift.  It is true that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and in that sense He is the gift of God, yet the Lord distinguishes between this gift and Himself.  The nearer context suggests that the gift is the giving of all things into the hands of the Lord Jesus.  And one of the things He gives is the Holy Spirit.  Second, she did not know who He was, God’s Son, the Lord of all, the One given the task of administering everything for His Father.  Thou wouldest have asked of Him- if she had known He alone was able to give the most desirable things, she would have made her request before He made His.  And He would have given thee living water- thus the water of the well becomes a parable, leading this woman on to higher things.

4:11    The woman saith to Him, Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence hast Thou that living water?- The woman for the moment is only thinking on a natural level.  She has noticed He has no leather bucket like the travelling caravans carried with them to draw water with.  The well was deep, so the water was out of reach without a bucket.  And, she assumes that He, a Jew, will not be prepared to use the same bucket as her, a Samaritan.  She perhaps thinks He knows where the spring is that feeds the well, and this would be all that “living water” meant to her as yet.

4:12    Art Thou greater than our father Jacob which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?- Have you greater knowledge about wells than even Jacob had, who secured for himself a water supply independent of the wells of the strangers around him at that time?  A supply, moreover, which was abundant, for it satisfied him and his family, and was enough for all his herds as well. 

4:13    Jesus answered and said unto her, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:- since she insists on limiting her thoughts to the well they were both beside, the Lord compares its water to the water He is able to give.  All natural things fail to satisfy permanently.  No matter how abundant the supply, the waters (joys) of earth can never give enduring pleasure.

4:14    But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst;- the expression “never thirst” is very strong, and may be translated “in no wise thirst for ever”.  For no reason will one who drinks of this water ever at any time need to drink again.  The “whosoever” of verse 13 means “everyone that”, meaning the whole multitude of those who, like Jacob, his sons and his cattle, all drink from this well, they shall thirst again, and need to come again to fetch water.  However, the whosoever of verse 14 is individual, and emphasises that the drinking of the water Christ speaks of is an act of personal faith.  But the water that I shall give him- in contrast to the natural water, hence the “but”.  Shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.- Instead of coming to an external source of natural water, the believer in Christ has the source within himself.  Note the energy and force of this water as it gushes forth in the believer’s heart; and this from a physically weary Saviour!  The water is the Holy Spirit, and with Divine energy He introduces the believer to the whole range of things that having everlasting life, (the life of God), involves.  The foremost of these is the knowledge of God.  The Lord Jesus, in His prayer to His Father in John 17 said this-“And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent”, John 17:3.  The following things should be noted about that verse.  First, life eternal is put in contrast to the natural life which unsaved persons have, those who are only “flesh”, verse 2, and who are therefore weak and mortal.  Eternal life, on the other hand, is the Life of the Eternal God, and as such is strong and everlasting.  When a person is born again, John 3:3, he is born of God, John 1:13, and now has the life of his Father in his soul, being one of His children.  Second, the life a natural man in the flesh possesses enables him to appreciate the natural world around.  Eternal life, however, enables a person to know the things of God.  Third, the word “that” used by the Lord Jesus in John 17:3 means “in order that”.  Once a person has eternal life they know God in principle.  But God gives eternal life so that the recipient may get to know Him increasingly well, a process that stretches into eternity.  We see now the significance of the words “springing up into everlasting life”, in John 4:14.  The Spirit of God enables us to appreciate God in increasing measure, and thus we are equipped to worship God intelligently.

4:15    The woman saith unto Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw”- If the Samaritan woman had simply said, “Sir, give me this water”, we would have thought she had grasped the meaning of the Saviour’s words, and was asking for spiritual water.  As it is, the Lord Jesus has to uncover the secrets of her heart, so that the repentance which always accompanies true faith in Him may be produced.

4:16-19    WAYWARDNESS CONFESSED
4:16    Jesus saith unto her, “Go, call thy husband, and come hither”- It is said of the Lord Jesus in John 2:24 that “He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man”, and the woman now discovers this to be true, for He knew her circumstances, but acts to get her to confess them.  One of the basic things that God requires from those who worship Him, is that they have come to end of themselves, or as Philippians 3:3 puts it, “have no confidence in the flesh”.  This only happens when a person repents of their sin, confessing it to God.  This the Samaritan woman is about to do.

4:17    The woman answered and said, “I have no husband”- A statement which may, if spoken to anyone else, have led them to believe she was single.  On the other hand, Christ’s response would suggest otherwise.  Jesus said unto her, “Thou hast well said, I have no husband.  The tense of the verb “Said” implies that there had been a pause in the conversation after the woman had stated that she had no husband.  The fact that the Lord Jesus commends her for saying that, (even though her status, as He now reveals, is not that of a single person), would indicate that the pause was on account of her obvious signs of repentance.  He would not have commended her for trying to deceive Him. 

4:18    For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly”- Romans 7:2 states “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of the husband.  So then, if while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man”. We are not told whether each of the husbands mentioned here had died, thus enabling her to marry another man legitimately.  But we know certainly that her current state was unlawful, since the emphasis is on the word “thy”, implying that he was someone else’s husband.  She, then, has honestly stated the situation when she said she had no husband.  Hence the Lord is able to say to her that when she said she had no husband she was speaking truly, and not trying to deceive Him. 

4:19    The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet”- She has claimed a connection with Jacob in verse 12, and he, of all the patriarchs, did the most prophesying.  See Genesis 49, for instance, where he foretells what will happen to the tribes of Israel in the last days.  She realises that He has the ability to speak for God.  He has already done it in regard to her own sin, and now, there is growing in her heart a desire to know the God He represents.  As yet, she does not know the relationship between this stranger and God, but she acts on the light she has.

4:20-26    WORSHIP SOUGHT
4:20    Our fathers worshipped in this mountain- Note she is appealing to the force of tradition.  She feels that what has been going on for a long time is correct.  Yet she realises there are differences of opinion on the subject, as she goes on to imply.  And ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship- She believes that He is a Jew, and therefore puts the emphasis on the word “ye”, meaning, “ye Jews”.  She is about to discover that whilst He will defend the Old Testament worship of Israel, for it was ordained of God, He will introduce her to something far better. 

4:21    Jesus saith unto her, “Woman, believe Me”- with these words the Lord Jesus emphasises two things.  First, that worship will be open to women on the same basis as it will be to men.  Both the Samaritan and Jewish system allowed only the men a prominent part.  (Of course, in the assembly gatherings it is required by God that the sisters remain silent, but that by no menas implies that they cannot worship.  One of the most beautiful examples of worship is found in John 12, when Mary anointed the Lord Jesus prior to the cross.  Yet she never spoke a word!)  Second, those who worship God in the future will not rely on natural, seen, things to help them.  Those who subsequently believed in Israel were greatly tried by the fact that they had no visible temple and altar. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews encourages them by the fact that entrance into the presence of God is in the full assurance of faith, they need have no misgivings about leaving the visible, earthly temple behind, see Hebrews 10:22.  The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father- First of all, there is information for her as a Samaritan worshipper.  He announces with authority that there is a time coming when she will not worship on the top of Mt. Gerizim.. But that does not mean she will transfer to Jerusalem.  Something far more radical than that awaits.  The hour referred to is this present age, whose beginning was marked by two things.  First, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, by which He set aside the things of the First Covenant, Hebrews 10:1-14.  Second, the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, that He might indwell God’s people and empower them to worship.  Note the way in which God is described here.  When Abraham was at Shechem, he built an altar to the Lord, or Jehovah, who had appeared to him, Genesis 12:6,7.  When Jacob was there, he built an altar to El-Elohe-Israel, or God, the God of Israel, Genesis 33:18-20.  Now the Lord Jesus is near Shechem, and speaks of the worship of the Father.  It is the same God who is spoken of in each instance, but revealed in a different way.  The highest revelation of God that there ever could be is through His own Son, John 1:18.  Hence He is to be worshipped in His character as Father.  How profound are the truths being revealed to this Gentile Samaritan woman!

IMPORTANT NOTE ON WORSHIP: 
Definition of worship
The New Testament word for worship means “To kiss towards, implying acknowledgement and affection.  The Old Testament word for worship means “To bow down”, implying reverence.  Worship is closely connected with sacrifice, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.  The first use of the word worship, (although not the first instance of worship), is when Abraham went to one of the mountains of Moriah to worship, Genesis 22: 2,5.  But he went there to offer sacrifice.  In Hebrews 10:1,2, those who came to Israel’s altar with their offerings are called worshippers.
Range of worship
The range of forms of worship open to the believer is great.  There is the sacrifice of praise, Hebrews 13:15; the sacrifice of sharing, Hebrews 13:16; the sacrifice of service, Philippians 2:17, and the sacrifice of self, Romans 12:1.
Preparation for worship
There must be the Spirit indwelling the heart if true worship is to be offered, and this the Samaritan woman discovers, as the gift of the Spirit is offered to her. 
There must be inward cleansing, so her sins must be exposed.  Believers are to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and examine themselves before coming before the Lord, 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Corinthians 11:28.  The psalmist said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me”, Psalm 66:18.  And the Lord Jesus commanded that those who come to the altar with a gift, and then remember that a fellow-believer has something against them, they are to put it right first, and then offer the gift, Matthew 5:23,24.
There must also be intelligence as to Christ, for He is the substance of the believer’s worship of the Father.  The priests of old were skilled at putting the parts in order upon the altar, and so should we be skilful is presenting the varied features of Christ to our Father, for His pleasure.

4:22    Ye worship ye know not what- what was lacking in the Samaritan worship was a personal knowledge of God.  And this stemmed from its beginnings.  When the Assyrian king transported people from Assyria to the land of Israel, they brought their gods with them.  In superstitious fear of the God of Israel, however, they worshipped Him too!  See 2 Kings 17:24-34.  So it was that they were confused and in ignorance as to the nature of the True God; for He cannot be worshipped as if He is one of many gods.  We know what we worship- The Lord Jesus defends the Old Testament system of worship as being one where God revealed Himself to His worshippers, and clearly set out His requirements if they were going to know Him and worship Him.  This the Samaritans had rejected by building a rival temple, even though they accepted the books of Moses as Scripture.  For salvation is of the Jews- The Jews had been protected from idolatry by God, and as such, ideally, were an example of that salvation from false worship which the other nations of the earth should have learnt from.

4:23    But the hour cometh- the “but” prepares for the change that is to be brought in at a season soon to start.  And now is- Now we know what the Lord Jesus was doing as he “sat thus on the well”.  Without adopting any special posture; or putting on special clothes; with no temple or altar, He, wearied by His journey, worshipped God in the energy of the Spirit of God.  As such, He becomes the example of a present-day true worshipper of God, who needs no earthly means to enable worship to be given to God.  When the true worshippers- so this new mode of worship will render all others outmoded.  Only Christian worship is “true”, that is, corresponds to reality.  Hebrews 8:2 says that the Lord Jesus is now the minister in the true tabernacle, and in spirit those who worship God are able to come into that sanctuary.  Shall worship the Father in spirit – They will be enabled to enter into the very presence of God in heaven, by the power of the Spirit of God.  They will not need the things of time and sense to help them, (the things which the natural man appreciates), but their faith will lay hold on spiritual realities.  And in truth- the idea of the word is that of full development.  Now that the Lord Jesus has made God manifest, the ideal situation has arrived.  The Lord Jesus accused those of His day of drawing near to God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him, Matthew 15:8, but the true worshippers will come to God in sincerity and reality.  They will also come near to God in submission to the truth which He has revealed about Himself, and not be influenced by error.  For the Father seeketh such to worship Him- How affecting to the hearts of God’s people that they are in a position to satisfy this strong desire on the part of their Father.  He had made man so he might glorify Him, but Adam and his race seek their own glory.  There has been a blessed Man down here, however, who could honestly say that He sought the glory of Him who had sent Him, John 7:18; 8:49,50. 

4:24    God is a Spirit- Although the Scriptures speak of God as if He has arms, eyes, and so on, this is simply to enable us to appreciate His spiritual features using earthly language.  Since God is the Supreme Spirit Being, those who worship Him must be enabled by the Spirit so to do- they cannot worship God by natural means.  And they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth- Not only does the Father seek this sort of worshipper, as verse 23 indicates, but now we learn that these are the only ones that can worship Him aright, they must worship like this if they are to worship at all.

4:25    The woman saith to Him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things”-This statement shows that she was intelligent as to the hopes of Israel, even though the Samaritans only accepted the first five books of the Bible, and the first mention of Messiah is in 1 Samuel 1.  She is clearly interested in spiritual things, despite the fact that her life-style might suggest otherwise.

4:26    Jesus saith unto her, “I that speak unto thee am He”- At last the one has arrived who, being God’s Only Begotten, is able to fully tell out God so that we may intelligently worship Him.  One, moreover, who is God’s Firstborn Son also, given the task of bringing God’s family into the privilege of worshipping Him in spirit and in truth.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

WORSHIP IN SPIRIT:
Because God is Spirit, meaningful worship must engage with Him on that level, by the power of the indwelling Spirit.
The Holy Spirit works in the believers spirit to encourage and empower true worship.
Worship is not the product of natural gift, like musical ability, or oratory.
Worship is not sensual, with sights and sounds and smells to excite the senses.
Worship is not engaged in on earth, but the believer’s spirit draws near to the very presence of God.
Worship is not ritualistic, with certain set words, liturgy, posture, and positions to adopt. 
Worship is not natural, for unbelievers cannot worship God.

WORSHIP IN TRUTH:
Truth is that which corresponds to reality, things as they really are as disclosed by God in His Word.
Worship is not now after the style of the Old Testament, with holy buildings, a priestly class, outward ornamentation, distinctive dress.  All such things were rendered obsolete by the sacrifice of Christ.  Those who cling to such things display ignorance of the true nature of Christianity.
Worship is not to be in hypocrisy, with men drawing near to God with their lips, but with their hearts far from Him, Matthew 15:7-9. 
Worship is not to be in wilful rebellion, such as when Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire to God, “which He commanded them not”, Leviticus 10:1.

May the Lord help His people to so occupy themselves with the things of Christ, that they are able to offer intelligent, meaningful, heartfelt worship to their Father, so that His great desire for worshippers is realised.

JOHN 5:1-15

We hope you will find these notes helpful. Do feel free to download the material on this website for your own personal use, and also to distribute if you so wish. Please be aware that all the writing is copyright, so no alterations should be made.

Please feel free to comment on any aspect of what you find on this website using the contact form at the end of each article. We would be pleased to hear from you.

NOTES ON JOHN 5:1-15

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN, CHAPTER 5, VERSES 1-15:

5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

5:2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

5:3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

5:4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

5:5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

5:6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

5:7 The impotent man answered Him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

5:8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

5:9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

5:10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

5:11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

5:12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?

5:13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in that place.

5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

5:15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

 

Survey of the chapter

John chapter five records three important matters.  First, in verses 1-15, the healing of an impotent man at the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem; second, in verses 16-29, the Lord’s discourse explaining the issues which come out of that miracle; third, in verses 30-47, the vital matter of witnesses to the truth.

Structure of the chapter

SECTION 1  5:1-15     Work by the Son and the Father.
SECTION 2  5:16-29   Word about the Son and the Father.
SECTION 3  5:30-47   Witness to the Son by the Father.

SECTION 1  5:1-15  Work by the Son and the Father

5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem- when the religious feasts were detailed in Leviticus 23, they were called the Feasts of the Lord.  Here, however, John can speak only of a feast of the Jews.  It is as if the Lord has been sidelined, and the Jews have come to the fore.  God has been removed from the centre of the life of the nation, and man is now central.  This situation is about to be challenged, for God manifest in flesh is about to move in the very centre of the Jew’s religion, and set out His claim to be in control, on behalf of His Father. 
John records more of the Lord’s ministry in Jerusalem than any of the other gospel writers.  He tells of one who has come to His own things, 1:11, and this includes the capital city of His own country, and the temple, which was the focal point of the religious life of the nation.  The repeated mention of Jerusalem in John’s gospel is in striking contrast to the lack of mention in Matthew’s gospel, which is the gospel of the king.  The Lord Jesus is not found in Jerusalem, (which He Himself described as the ‘city of the great king’, Matthew 5:35), until He goes there to die. 
Returning to John 5, we notice that John does not tell us what feast it was.  This might puzzle us, until we remember that the list of seven feasts in Leviticus 23 is preceded by the mention of the Sabbath.  The healing of the impotent man was done on the Sabbath, and provoked the hostility of the Jews, and provided the starting-point for the Lord’s discourse about His work and the Father’s work, which continued even on the sabbath, the day of rest for Israel.

5:2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches- as he builds up a picture of the scene for us, John is using Old Testament ideas to help us understand the significance of the miracle he is about to relate.  Thus he speaks of Jerusalem, the capital city established under David and Solomon; the sheep market, where animals would be bought to be used as sacrifices; and even the name of the pool in the Hebrew tongue, the language of the Old Testament.  We shall see other references as we proceed. 
John describes Christ’s miracles as signs, for they had deep spiritual significance, and they demonstrated that the historical Jesus was the Christ or Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, and that He was indeed the Son of God, as expounded in the New Testament; see John 20:30,31. The miracle after Christ’s resurrection was to demonstrate His Lordship, which is referred to eight times in John chapter 21.
These miracles were not only performed so that unbelievers might learn from them and believe. They were done “in the presence of His disciples”, John 20:30, which assures us not only that they were witnessed at first hand, but also that the miracles have a lesson for believers as well as unbelievers. As the Lord said to His disciples, “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake”, John 14:11.
So it is that in the city of Jerusalem, near to where the sheep would be brought from the market to be sacrificed, that the Lord finds a sorry collection of infirm folk.  And all this in Bethesda, which means loving-kindness!  Yet the Lord Jesus is going to be very selective as to who He heals.

5:3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
5:4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.  For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had- impotent folk are people who have no strength, and the way in which this lack of strength manifested itself is told us, for some were blind, some were unable to walk properly, and some had no energy at all.  How like Israel under the law this was.  For Romans 8:3 speaks of the inability of the law to enable men to walk in obedience to God, and the cause of that inability was not a fault in the Law, but rather the weakness of the flesh.  Man is unable to live for God without Divine strength.

5:5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years- this is the man that the Lord singles out.  But why?  Because of the time he has been infirm.  For 38 years was the period of time that the nation of Israel of Israel had wandered in the wilderness, after they had refused to go into the land because of unbelief, Deuteronomy 2:14.  Now in the Epistle to the Hebrews a connection would be made between God resting on the seventh day after His work of creation, and the rest that Israel will enjoy when they eventually receive their Messiah and enter the land under His benevolent rule.  See Hebrews 4:1-10.  The sabbath day, therefore, was a reminder that God had rested, but also that “there remaineth now a rest (the particular word meaning ‘a keeping of sabbath’), for the people of God”, Hebrews 4:9.  And the Lord Jesus is working to bring them in to that rest.  Hence the discussion a few verses later about the sabbath, and work.

 5:6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?  Joshua said that the people had “dwelt in the wilderness a long season”, Joshua 24:7.  Similarly, this man has been unable to enjoy the rest of the sabbath because of his disability; he is still “in the wilderness”.  It is strongly implied in the words the Lord spoke to him afterwards that his infirmity was the result of some particular sin, which he is commanded to forsake, verse 14.  So, too, the people of Israel had, by their own confession, sinned by not entering the land when God commanded, Deuteronomy 1:41, and as a result wandered outside of the land, (the “rest”), for 38 years.  The Lord’s words to the man served to introduce the subject of being made whole, and caused the man to review his options, either self-help to get into the pool, or the help of another.  As yet, he does not realise there is a third option, which will enable him to be healed without recourse to the pool.  In the Old Testament angelic interventions had occurred fairly frequently, but now the Lord of the Hosts of angels is present in lovingkindness.

 5:7 The impotent man answered Him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me- what a sad commentary on the men of religious Jerusalem!  Obsessed with their rituals, they forgot the weightier matters such as mercy, Matthew 23:23.  What better way to remember the sabbath day and sanctify it to sacred uses, than to lower the man into the pool, if the waters moved that day.  He would then have been able to keep sabbath, and worship God in an undistracted way.  On two occasions the Lord found it necessary to quote the words of Hosea 6:6 to the people, “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice”.  By which is meant, not, that there was a choice between bringing sacrifice or showing mercy, but rather, that sacrifice without mercy was not pleasurable to God.

 5:8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walkthe three things the man is commanded to do have special significance, since greater works than these are spoken of in verse 20.  He who can cause a man to rise from his bed, can also raise men from the dead.  He who can give a man strength to carry his bed in ordinary life, can also quicken with eternal life.  He who can warn the man that if he sins further a worse thing will come upon him, verse 14, will bring worse things by way of judgement on all unbelievers at the Great White Throne, verse 29.
These three things also have significance when we link them to what the Lord Jesus said about this miracle months afterwards, in John 7:19-24.  The Jews were angry about what He had done.  The Lord, however, exposed their inconsistency, for they were fully prepared to circumcise a male child on the Sabbath if he was born on a Friday, in order that Moses’ eighth-day rule be not broken.  But that work of circumcision only gave the boy nominal entrance into the nation of Israel under the Old Covenant, whereas the truth expressed by Christ’s healing of the impotent man makes “every whit whole”, and gives entrance into the rest of God. Moreover, circumcision is a wounding, and partial, and physical, whereas Christ’s work is restoring, and complete, and spiritual.
Pursuing this line a little further, we may compare the three commands to the man, with the three aspects of circumcision presented to us in Scripture, seeing that the Lord will link this miracle with the idea of circumcision in John 7:21-24. The first command was “Rise”, and we may link this with the circumcision of Joshua, to whom the word came, “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan”, Joshua 1:2.  Having done this, the people were circumcised at Gilgal, on the further bank of the river.  The circumcision of Christ brings into the reality of this, as Colossians 2:11,12 indicates, for the believer is associated with a risen Man, and as such is spiritually circumcised, being cut off from his former life.
The second command was “Take up thy bed”. By saying these words, the Lord Jesus deliberately set His authority against that of the Jews.  They had hedged the sabbath about with their regulations, which they had elevated almost to the level of the law itself.  The man, as he obeyed Him, becomes a living example not only of the superior authority of Christ over the leaders in Israel, but also of the superiority of grace over law. The circumcision of Christ not only frees us from our past, but also from the traditions of men, and even the law of Moses itself, which the circumcision of Moses placed men under. See Galatians 5:1-6, 6:12-16.
The third command was “Walk”. This would remind us of the circumcision of Abraham, for the apostle Paul speaks of him as “the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised”, Romans 4:12. The walk of a believer should be a separated one, following in the footsteps of a man committed to walking by faith in the path marked out for him by God.  Taking all these things together, we see what the Lord means when He speaks of making the man every whit whole.

 5:9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath- Instead of waiting for intermittent angel ministry, or the help of men who are indifferent to his plight, the man finds someone who shows him kindness, so that the pool of Bethesda truly was the House of Loving-kindness that day.

 5:10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed- note that the Jews are not overjoyed that the man has been made whole at last, and is strong enough now to walk and carry his bed.  They are only concerned with the fact that he is carrying his bed on the sabbath day. In fact to carry one’s bed on the Sabbath day carried the death penalty according to their regulations.

5:11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk- though the Jews ignore the fact that the man is now whole, the man himself cannot, so connects the healing with the command.  If his benefactor had power to make whole, He must have power to command, so he reasons, and rightly.  It is a question of authority that is developed in the next section.  The Jews feel that their authority is being questioned and overturned, and that at Feast time.

 5:12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?

5:13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in that place.

Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?  And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place- taking advantage of the crowds, the Lord had conveyed Himself away, no doubt in order that the questioning of the man might take place, and the issues involved might become clear.  He is not interested in the praise of men for what He had done, but rather that they see the significance of what He had done, and, believing, come into the good of the rest of heart and conscience He bestows.  Only in this way could they know true “sabbath”.

 5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee- not only does the Lord identify Himself as the man’s healer, but also as his judge if sin is returned to.  And this is very relevant, for in His subsequent discourse, He shows that He not only has power to give life, but also to judge as well.

5:15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole- perhaps it is understandable that the man should have a certain amount of fear for the authorities, given that, as already mentioned, they demanded the death penalty for sabbath breaking.  And not just sabbath breaking in the limited sense of breaking God’s law, but also for breaking their additions to the law.

 

JOHN 4:1-54

We hope you will find these notes helpful. Do feel free to download the material on this website for your own personal use, and also to distribute if you so wish. Please be aware that all the writing is copyright, so no alterations should be made.

Please feel free to comment on any aspect of what you find on this website using the contact form at the end of each article. We would be pleased to hear from you.

NOTES ON JOHN 4:1-54

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN CHAPTER 4, VERSES 1 TO 19

 4:1  When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

4:2  (Though Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples,)

4:3  He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

4:4  And He must needs go through Samaria.

4:5  Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

4:6  Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

4:7  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give Me to drink.

4:8  (For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

4:9  Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him, How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of Me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

4:10  Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.

4:11  The woman saith unto Him, Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast Thou that living water?

4:12  Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

4:13  Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

4:14  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

4:15  The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

4:16  Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

4:17  The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

4:18  For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

4:19  The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet.

Structure of the chapter

Section 1 Verses 1-19        The gift of the Holy Spirit.
Section 2 Verses 20-26      Truth about worship.
Section 3 Verses 27-42      Truth about service.
Section 4 Verses 43-54      The miracle at a distance.

SECTION 1               VERSES 1-19        The gift of the Holy Spirit

Survey of section 1

In these verses the Lord Jesus unfolds to the woman of Samaria important truths about worship. The Samaritan nation originated from those people that the King of Assyria had transported into the Land of Israel after he had taken the ten tribes of Israel into captivity, 2 Kings 17:21-34. When Ezra refused their offer of help in building the temple at Jerusalem, Ezra 4:1-5, they built a rival temple on the top of Mount Gerizim where they carried on a form of worship.  The Lord Jesus deliberately positions Himself within sight of this mountain in order to highlight important truths about Samaritan worship, Jewish worship, and the Christian worship which would replace them both.
He also positions Himself at a well, for He uses the water of the well as a figure for the Holy Spirit, and it is by His power alone that true worship can be sustained.
One other thing should be noted.  Before true worship can be offered, the offerers must have come to an end of themselves.  So it is that the secrets of this woman’s life must be exposed, so that, having repented of her sin, she may receive the great gift of the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul summarises these things for us in Philippians 3:3, where he speaks of the worship of God in the Spirit, boasting in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh. The woman of Samaria was enabled to do these things as the Lord deals with her in grace.

Structure of section 1

Verses 1-15      Water offered.
Verses 16-19    Waywardness confessed.

Verses 1-15  Water offered

4:1  When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

When therefore- this follows on from 3:26, where the Jews tell John the Baptist that Jesus baptised also, and “all men come to Him”.  The Jews are clearly concerned about the popularity of the Lord Jesus.  John adds to their concern by pointing out that the Lord Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy, and in that case He must increase until He occupies the throne of Israel, and John must decrease, since he is merely the herald of the King. 
The Lord knew-
the apostle John has only used the word “Lord” once before, and this in a quotation from the Old Testament in 1:23.  Clearly the Lord in that verse means Jehovah, the God of Israel, but now John is using this word of the Lord Jesus without qualification, or apology.  Everything he has written so far is calculated to teach us that Jesus of Nazareth is equal with God.  See, for example, John 1:1-4; 14-18.  This is very significant in this context, for only the persons of the Godhead can give the Holy Spirit, who is Himself a Person of the Godhead. Only God can give God!  And this is what the Lord Jesus claims to be able to do, for the living water He gives is nothing less than the Spirit of God.  See John 7:38,39; 1:32-34. 
How the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptised more disciples than John-
the Jews had clearly reported back to the Pharisees after speaking with John, 3:26.  Note that the report used the word Jesus in a purely natural sense, for it was the name He was commonly known by.  John the apostle uses this name in an historical sense, for he is writing of real events which took place when the Lord Jesus was on earth.  The New Testament epistles, however, use the single name Jesus in a very specialised way, (see, for instance, the 7-fold mention of Jesus in the Epistle to the Hebrews), and not as the normal mode of address.  Even when He was here on earth, we never read of the disciples addressing Him as Jesus.  How much more should believers now address Him with His full titles, for “God hath made that same Jesus…both Lord and Christ”, Acts 2:36.

4:2  (Though Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples,)

4:2 (Though Jesus Himself baptised not, but His disciples)- this is one of those expressions referred to as “John’s asides”, being words of explanation which the apostle is guided to include in the narrative.  It would not have been appropriate for the Lord Jesus to personally baptise those who repented in preparation for His coming, since this would have detracted from the unique ministry of John the Baptist.  It was important that there be no confusion introduced at this critical time.  Note the way John the Baptist deals with the question of an apparent rivalry between him and Christ, in John 3:25-36.

4:3  He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

He left Judea- the word for leave indicates a leaving with no intention of returning in the near future.  The centre of Judaism is rejecting Him, for they feared that His popularity would mean their downfall.  They need not have worried, for He “made Himself of no reputation”, and deliberately withdrew.  How solemn to be left by the Lord; just as solemn as when the glory departed in Ezekiel’s day.
And departed again into Galilee- note the “again”, for John has already recorded His first journey into Galilee, 1:43.  It is important to remember that the events of John 1:19-4:54, (a period of several months), took place between verses 13 and 14 of Luke 4.

4:4 And He must needs go through Samaria

And He must needs go through Samaria- it is true that the road from Judea to Galilee does indeed go through Samaria, but there are other reasons that make this route a necessity for Him, as follows:-
(i)  He must show Himself to be different to the Pharisees, who made a lengthy detour, crossing the Jordan and travelling up the further side in order to avoid “contamination” from the Samaritans.  The Lord is teaching us that sanctification and isolation are not the same.
(ii) He is preparing the way for the spread of the gospel into Samaria after His ascension, Acts 8:4-25.  The hostility of the Jews to the Samaritans must not be shared by believers.
(iii) He must address the matter of the Samaritan worship. Where better to do this than within sight of Mount Gerizim, at the top of which they worshipped.

4:5  Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph-

Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph- here is another reason for the “must needs” of verse 4.  This spot is important because of its symbolic meaning.  It is near Mount Gerizim indeed, but it also near the parcel of ground which Jacob gave to Joseph to signify that he was his firstborn, and therefore had the right to a double portion.  His words were, “Moreover I have given thee one portion above thy brethren”, Genesis 48:22.  Now the word “portion” is the word Shechem, and this was the name of a place near Sychar.  It was here that Joseph was eventually buried, after Israel had conquered the land under Joshua, Joshua 24:32.  But significantly it is not as Joseph’s burying place that John notices this parcel of ground, but as the sign that Joseph was the firstborn of Jacob, with the right to administer everything for the father.  This is exactly how the Lord Jesus is described in John 3:35, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand”.  As God’s Firstborn Son, (as well as His Only-begotten), the Lord Jesus administers everything for His Father.  And this is what He is doing in the passage before us, for He is ensuring that the Father’s desire for worshippers is satisfied.

4:6  Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

Now Jacob’s well was there- John uses the word fountain for this well, and the Lord Jesus uses the same word for the fountain of spiritual water which He gives. The woman, however, uses a word that simply means a pit, or cistern.  Clearly, Jacob had discovered that there was an underground spring in this place, and had dug a shaft down to it.  The woman, however, only looked upon it as a pit of water- she was not interested in the source of the water, nor the energy which caused it to spring forth from the rock. 
Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey-
He was Lord, and as such was the creator of the ends of the earth, who fainteth not, neither is weary, Isaiah 40:28.  But He had come into real manhood, and as such had accepted the limitations that having a body involves.  He now has two natures, but is still one Person.  This is a great mystery, but the believing heart accepts what Scripture says even though it cannot explain it.  How relevant are these things to the subject of this chapter, for it is precisely because God has been manifest in the person of His Son, that we are able to intelligently worship Him.  Christ has given to us the fullest expression of who and what God is, that we might have the material to be able to worship Him acceptably.
Sat thus on the well- He sat on the well just as He was, wearied, yet Lord of all.  He neither desired, nor needed, to pretend to be anything other than what He was.  It was in a state of readiness to work for His Father, even though He was weary in body, that the woman discovered Him.  Notice His word in verse 28, “Other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours”.  And it was about the sixth hour- whether this was according to Roman or Jewish reckoning, the fact remains it was daylight, and a public place.  The Lord Jesus was prepared to meet with a man like Nicodemus at night, but, being supremely circumspect, would not do the same with a woman.  He abstained from all appearance of evil, as believers should do, 1 Thessalonians 5:22. 

4:7  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give Me to drink.

There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water- whereas Nicodemus, a religious Jew, had come to Him, He had come to this Gentile woman.  The fact that she came to the well was secondary to His coming to meet her.  He “must needs” come to this place to do so.  The purpose for which the woman came provides the Lord with the opportunity to speak of the water He alone is able to give.
Jesus saith unto her “Give Me to drink”- this initial request introduces the three themes that immediately follow.  “Give” reminds us that He also is willing to give.  “Me” reminds us who He is.  “To drink” reminds us that what He gives is indeed living water.

4:8  (For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

(For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat)- another of John’s “asides”, or words of explanation.  He is excusing the disciples for not being at hand to minister to their Master’s needs.  No doubt the woman would have been disconcerted to find several men at the well-side.  She would have felt intimidated, especially as she would discern they were Jews.

4:9  Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him, How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of Me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him- we learn from this expression that this woman was not only a woman “out of” Samaria, verse 7, who might merely be a Jewess visiting the place, but that she belonged to Samaria, and therefore is a Samaritan, as she herself implies at the end of the verse.  As such she was a Gentile. 
How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?-
because of their origins, and the fact that they had built a rival temple on Mount Gerizim, the Jews detested the Samaritans, and the feeling was mutual.  To her credit, the woman does not seem to harbour this prejudice.  Her heart is good ground into which the Word of God will soon fall and spring up. The Lord Jesus had come into the world to save sinners, of whatever nationality, creed, or persuasion.

How did she know He was a Jew?  Either by His dress, with its border of blue, in accordance with Numbers 15:37-41, or by His features, or by His speech.  “Give Me to drink” in Aramaic is “Teni lischechoth”.  A Jew would pronounce the “s” as “sch”, whereas the Samaritan would simply pronounce it as an “s”. Compare Judges 12:6; Mark 14:70. 
For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans-
whilst it is true that the Lord was not sent but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, nevertheless as the True Joseph, His branches ran over the wall to bless the Gentiles, Genesis 49:22.  This is seen in its fulness after Pentecost, Acts 1:8.

4:10  Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.

 Jesus answered and said unto her, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give Me to drink- notice two things she did not know.  First, what the gift of God was, and secondly, who was offering her that gift.  It is true that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and in that sense He is the gift of God, yet the Lord distinguishes between this gift and Himself.  The nearer context suggests that the gift is the giving of all things into the hands of the Lord Jesus, as stated in 3:35.  And one of the things He gives is the Holy Spirit.
Second, she did not know that He was God’s Son, the Lord of all, the One given the task of administering everything for His Father.
Thou wouldest have asked of Him- if she had known He alone was able to give the most desirable things, she would have made her request before He made His. 
And He would have given thee living water-
thus the water of the well becomes a parable, leading this woman on to higher things.

4:11  The woman saith unto Him, Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast Thou that living water?

The woman saith to Him, Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence hast Thou that living water? the woman for the moment is only thinking on a natural level.  She has noticed He has no leather bucket like the pilgrims in the travelling caravans carried with them to draw water with.  The well was deep, so the water was out of reach without a bucket.  And, she assumes that He, a Jew, would not be prepared to use the same bucket as her, a Samaritan.  She perhaps thinks He knows where the spring is that feeds the well, and this would be all that “living water” meant to her as yet.

4:12  Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

Art Thou greater than our father Jacob which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? she is saying in effect, “have you greater knowledge about wells than even Jacob had, who secured for himself a water supply independent of the wells of the strangers around him at that time?”  A supply, moreover, which was abundant, for it satisfied him and his family, and was enough for all his herds as well.  Notice she claims Jacob as her father, since the Samaritans had interbred with those Israelites who had not gone into captivity, but had remained in the land.

4:13  Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

Jesus answered and said unto her, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again- since she insists on limiting her thoughts to the well they were both beside, the Lord compares its water to the water He is able to give.  All natural things fail to satisfy permanently.  No matter how abundant the supply, the waters (joys) of earth can never give enduring pleasure.

4:14  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst- the expression “never thirst” is very strong, and may be translated “in no wise thirst for ever”.  For no reason will one who drinks of this water ever at any time need to drink again.  The “whosoever” of verse 13 means “everyone that”, meaning the whole multitude of those who, like Jacob, his sons and his cattle, all drink from this well, they shall thirst again, and need to come again to fetch water.  However, the whosoever of verse 14 is individual, and emphasises that the drinking of the water Christ speaks of is an act of personal faith. 
But the water that I shall give him-
in contrast to the natural water, hence the “but”.
Shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life- instead of coming to an external source of natural water, the believer in Christ has the source within himself.  Note the energy and force of this water as it gushes forth in the believer’s heart; and this promise is from a physically weary Saviour!
In John 7:39 the apostle makes it clear that when the Lord Jesus spoke of rivers of living water He was speaking of the Spirit of God.  Isaiah 44:3 also uses water as a figure of the Holy Spirit of God- “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses”. The Jewish rabbis taught that this was a Messianic passage, and that the water was the Holy Spirit.
Some have difficulty with the idea of asking for the Spirit, seeing that the Holy Spirit is definitely given immediately a person believes and is saved.  That this is so is seen from Galatians 3:2, where the apostle asks, “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”  If the Spirit was not given when a person heard with the hearing of faith, then the argument of the apostle totally falls down.  There is no difficulty, however, for when a soul gets saved it is not a question of asking for each blessing individually.  Every blessing is granted immediately, so the cry for salvation on the part of a repentant, believing sinner, includes them all.  The asking is only specific here because of the way the Lord Jesus instigated the conversation, even by asking for a drink.  It is not that there is a time lapse between conversion and receiving the Spirit, as if the Spirit is only received after a while, and when specifically asked for.
The water, then, is the Holy Spirit, and with Divine energy He introduces the believer to the whole range of things that everlasting life, (the life of God), involves.  The foremost of these is the knowledge of God.  The Lord Jesus, in His prayer to His Father said this, “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent”, John 17:3.  The following things should be noted about that verse:

First, life eternal is put in contrast to the natural life which unsaved persons have, those who are only “flesh”, verse 2, and who are therefore weak and mortal.  Eternal life, on the other hand, is the Life of the Eternal God, and as such is strong and everlasting.  When a person is born again, John 3:3, he is born of God, John 1:13, and now has the life of his Father within, being one of His children.
Second, the life a natural man in the flesh possesses enables him to appreciate the natural world around.  Eternal life, however, enables a person to know the things of God.
Third, the word “that” used by the Lord Jesus in John 17:3 means “in order that”.  Once a person has eternal life they know God in principle.  But God gives eternal life so that the recipient may get to know Him increasingly well, a process that stretches into eternity.  We see now the significance of the words “springing up into everlasting life”, in John 4:14.  The Spirit of God enables us to appreciate God in increasing measure, and thus we are equipped to worship God intelligently.

4:15  The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

The woman saith unto Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw”- if she had simply said, “Sir, give me this water”, we would have thought she had grasped the meaning of the Saviour’s words, and was asking for spiritual water.  As it is, the Lord Jesus has to uncover the secrets of her heart, so that the repentance which always accompanies true faith in Him may be produced. It is because she has not realised that she is a sinner that she does not understand.

4:16-19 Waywardness confessed

4:16  Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

Jesus saith unto her, “Go, call thy husband, and come hither”- it is said of the Lord Jesus in John 2:24 that He “knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man”, and the woman now discovers this to be true, for He knew her circumstances, but acts to get her to confess them.  One of the basic things that God requires from those who worship Him is that they have come to end of themselves, or as Philippians 3:3 puts it, “have no confidence in the flesh”.  This only happens when a person repents of their sin, confessing it to God.  This the Samaritan woman is about to do.

4:17  The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband”- a statement which may, if spoken to anyone else, have led them to believe she was single.  On the other hand, Christ, with His full insight into her heart, knew otherwise.
Jesus said unto her, “Thou hast well said, I have no husband- the tense of the verb “said” implies that there had been a pause in the conversation after the woman had stated that she had no husband.  The fact that the Lord Jesus commends her for saying that, (even though her status, as He now reveals, is not that of a single person), would indicate that the pause was on account of her obvious signs of repentance.  He would not have commended her for trying to deceive Him.

4:18  For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly”- Romans 7:2,3 states “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.  So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man”.   There are no exceptions to this doctrine, or else the point of the  argument is lost. We  are not told whether each of the husbands mentioned here in John 4:18 had died, thus enabling her to marry another man legitimately.  So we are not able to derive any lessons from the fact that she had had five husbands, for we do not know if her relationship with them had been appropriate or not.  But we know certainly that her current state was unlawful, since the emphasis is on the word “thy”, implying that the man she was living with was someone else’s husband.  She, then, has honestly stated the situation when she said she had no husband.  Hence the Lord is able to say to her that when she said she had no husband she was speaking truly, and not trying to deceive Him.

4:19  The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet.

The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet”- she has claimed a connection with Jacob in verse 12, and he, of all the patriarchs, did the most prophesying.  See Genesis 49, for instance, where he foretells what will happen to the tribes of Israel in the last days.  She realises that He has the ability to speak for God.  He has already done it in regard to her own sin, and now there is growing in her heart a desire to know the God He represents.  As yet, she does not know the relationship between this stranger and God, but she acts on the light she has.  The Samaritans only accepted the five books of Moses, and therefore when she referred to a prophet she meant the one promised in Deuteronomy 18:17-19.  But Peter in Acts 3:22,23 and Stephen in Acts 7:37 make it clear that that prophet is Christ.  So she has now come to the conclusion that He is the Messiah, the prophet.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN JOHN’S GOSPEL CHAPTER 4, VERSES 20-26:

4:20  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and Ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

4:21  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

4:22  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

4:23  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.

4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

4:25  The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things.

4:26  Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He.

 SECTION 2        VERSES 20-26       Truth about worship


4:20  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and Ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain- note she is appealing to the force of tradition.  She feels that what has been going on for a long time is correct.  There are many still who fall into this trap.  Yet she realises there are differences of opinion on the subject, as she goes on to imply.
And ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship- she believes that He is a Jew, and therefore puts the emphasis on the word “ye”, meaning, “ye Jews”.  She is about to discover that whilst He will defend the Old Testament worship of Israel, for it was ordained of God, He will introduce her to something far better.  There is no reason to suggest that she was using the question of where to worship as a means of evading the question of sin, for she has repented by this time.

4:21  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Jesus saith unto her, “Woman, believe Me”- having disclosed the secrets of the woman’s heart, He now proceeds to unfold the secrets of His Father’s heart in regard to worship. In the Old Testament, Joseph was given the title “Revealer of secrets”, because he could interpret dreams, Genesis 41:39,40,45.  And this incident took place near Joseph’s inheritance, and a greater than Joseph is now revealing secrets.  With these words the Lord Jesus emphasises two things.  First, that worship will be open to women on the same basis as it will be to men.  Second, those who worship God in the future will not rely on natural, seen things to help them.  Those who subsequently believed in Israel were greatly concerned by the fact that they had no visible temple and altar. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews encourages them with the truth that entrance into the presence of God is in the full assurance of faith, so they need have no misgivings about leaving the visible, earthly temple behind, see Hebrews 10:22.
The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father- first of all, there is information for her as a Samaritan worshipper.  He announces with authority that there is a time coming when she will not worship on the top of Mount Gerizim.  But that does not mean she will transfer to Jerusalem.  Something far more radical than that awaits.  The hour referred to is this present age, whose beginning was marked by two things.  First, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, by which He set aside the things of the First Covenant, Hebrews 10:1-14.  Second, the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, that He might indwell God’s people. Note the way in which God is described here.  When Abraham was at Shechem, he built an altar to the Lord, or Jehovah, who had appeared to him, Genesis 12:6,7.  When Jacob was there, he built an altar to El-Elohe-Israel, or God, the God of Israel, Genesis 33:18-20.  Now the Lord Jesus is near Shechem, and speaks of the worship of the Father.  It is the same God who is spoken of in each instance, but revealed in a different way.  The highest revelation of God that there ever could be is through His own Son, John 1:18.  Hence He is to be worshipped in His character as Father.  How profound are the truths being revealed to this Gentile Samaritan woman!  When Joshua was at Shechem, he appealed to the people to worship God in sincerity and truth, and this they resolved to do, Joshua 24:1,14-28.

4:22  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

Ye worship ye know not what- what was lacking in the Samaritan worship was a personal knowledge of God.  And this stemmed from its beginnings.  When the Assyrian king transported people from Assyria to the land of Israel, they brought their gods with them.  In superstitious fear of the God of Israel, however, they worshipped Him too!  See 2 Kings 17:24-34.  So it was that they were confused and in ignorance as to the nature of the True God; for He cannot be worshipped as if He is one of many gods. 
We know what we worship-
the Lord Jesus defends the Old Testament system of worship as being one where God revealed Himself to His worshippers, and clearly set out His requirements if they were going to know Him and honour Him.  This the Samaritans had rejected by building a rival temple, even though they accepted the books of Moses as Scripture. 
For salvation is of the Jews-
the Jews had been protected from idolatry by God, and as such, ideally, were an example of that salvation from false worship which the other nations of the earth should have learnt from.  And inasmuch as He was a Jew, and was enlightening her as to the future mode of worship, salvation from future errors in relation to worship was of the Jews also.

4:23  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.

But the hour cometh- the “but” prepares for the change that is to be brought in at a season soon to start. 
And now is-
now we know what the Lord Jesus was doing as He “sat thus on the well”.  Without adopting any special posture; or putting on special clothes; with no temple or altar, He, wearied by His journey, worshipped God in the energy of the Spirit of God.  As such, He becomes the example of a present-day true worshipper of God, who needs no earthly means to enable worship to be given to God. 
When the true worshippers-
so this new mode of worship will render all others outmoded.  Only Christian worship is “true”, that is, corresponds to reality.  Hebrews 8:2 says that the Lord Jesus is now the minister in the true tabernacle, and in spirit those who worship God are able to come into that sanctuary. 
Shall worship the Father in spirit-
they will be enabled to enter into the very presence of God in heaven, by the power of the Spirit of God acting upon their spirits.  They will not need the things of time and sense to help them, (things which the natural man appreciates, such as splendid buildings, ornate rituals, costly vestments), but their faith will lay hold on spiritual realities.
And in truth- the idea of the word is that of full development, and full conformity to things as they really are.  Now that the Lord Jesus has made God manifest, the ideal situation has arrived.  The Lord Jesus accused those of His day of drawing near to God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him, Matthew 15:8, but the true worshippers will come to God in sincerity and reality.  They will also come near to God in submission to the truth which He has revealed about Himself, and not be influenced by error.
For the Father seeketh such to worship Him- how affecting to the hearts of God’s people that they are in a position to satisfy this strong desire on the part of their Father.  He had made man so he might glorify Him, but Adam and his race seek their own glory.  There has been a blessed Man down here, however, who could honestly say that He sought the glory of Him who had sent Him, John 7:18; 8:49,50.  Those who believe in Him are enabled to do this, too, in their measure.  The book of Leviticus, “the priest’s handbook”, begins with God calling from within the sanctuary to Israel, that they might come and worship Him, Leviticus 1:1,2.

4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

God is a Spirit- This expression should not be read “God is Spirit”.  Although the Scriptures speak of God as if He has arms, eyes, and suchlike, this is simply to enable us to appreciate His spiritual features using earthly language.  Since God is the Supreme Spirit Being, those who worship Him must be enabled by the Spirit so to do, for they cannot worship God by natural means. 
And they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth-
not only does the Father seek this sort of worshipper, as verse 23 indicates, but now we learn that these are the only ones that can worship Him aright; they must worship like this if they are to worship at all.  It follows that those who do claim to worship God, but who cling to the mixture of Old Testament and pagan rituals that makes up the worship of Christendom, are mistaken if they think they glorify God by such means.

4:25  The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things.

The woman saith to Him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things”- this statement shows that she was intelligent as to the hopes of Israel, even though the Samaritans only accepted the first five books of the Bible, and the first mention of Messiah is in 1 Samuel 2:10.  She is clearly interested in spiritual things, despite the fact that her life-style might suggest otherwise.

4:26  Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He.

Jesus saith unto her, “I that speak unto thee am He”- at last the one has arrived who, being God’s Only Begotten, is able to fully tell out God so that we may intelligently worship Him.  One, moreover, who is God’s Firstborn Son also, given the task of bringing God’s family into the privilege of worshipping Him in spirit and in truth.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON WORSHIP

Definition of worship.
In the Old Testament the word used for worship means to bow down, suggesting self-effacement and holy fear, whilst the word used in the New Testament is “to kiss towards”, suggesting love, (kiss), acknowledgement, (towards), and reverence. 

Display of worship
Worship is closely connected with sacrifice.  In Hebrews 10:1,2 those who come to the altar with their sacrifices are called worshippers.  The Christian worshipper comes, not with an animal, but with the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips which confess the name of Christ, Hebrews 13:15.
They may also come with other sacrifices that please God, even acts of kindness, and material help,  for the word is, “But to do good and communicate, forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased”, Hebrews 13:16.  A miserly spirit is not a worshipping spirit, however grand the words uttered in the hearing of men may be.
Furthermore, there is required of the Christian the sacrifice of his body, for it is to be a living sacrifice, Romans 12:1.  Formerly that body was the headquarters of the sin-principle, Romans 6:6, and self’s desires and ambitions were advanced through it.  Now the body has been set free from the tyranny of sin through association with the crucifixion of Christ, and can be used in the service, not of self and sin, but of God.
Service also is worship.  Sometimes a distinction is made between these two things, but the fact is that service is a priestly activity, and should be conducted with dignity and reverence. The apostle Paul refers to the service of the Philippian believers as “the sacrifice and service of your faith”, Philippians 2:17. Paul spoke of preaching the gospel as a worshipful service, for such is the precise meaning of the word for serve that he used in Romans 1:9.
We see then that worship is not to be confined to an hour or two on Sunday, but is to be the constant attitude and activity of the believer.  Even the necessary duties of daily life should be sanctified to God as rendered unto Him. The apostle Paul reminds the believing slaves at Colosse that they served the Lord Christ as they slaved for their earthly masters, Colossians 3:24.

Preparation for worship
John chapter 4 indicates to us four necessities before genuine worship can be engaged in.
First, the worshipper must have the indwelling Spirit of God.
It is only those who have the Spirit of God within them that can truly worship God.  To be a true worshipper means to worship in a manner that corresponds to the reality of the demands that God makes on us.  The Holy Spirit is said in John 4:14  to spring up into everlasting life, or, in other words, energetically lead the believer’s heart into the things connected with everlasting life, which are the things of God.  True worship is not sensual and self-satisfying, but gratifies the heart of God.  Such worship is boring and tedious to the unbeliever, so the religions of men have to accommodate the desires of the natural man in some way.  To some, contemporary music is the answer, and noises indistinguishable from a modern pop concert are passed off as being the worship of God.  Of course, nothing can be further from the truth.  To others, chanting and solemn droning fulfils their need, as if worship is a miserable occupation.  This too is false.  Only occupation with the glories of God and His Son, as prompted by the Spirit of God, can be called true worship.
The Spirit of God energises the believer to approach God the Father and give to Him His due.  This only can be described as the worship of God in the Spirit, Philippians 3:3.  All other is worship in accordance with the doctrines and thoughts of men, and as such is vain and pointless, Matthew 15:8.
Second, the true worshipper has known inward cleansing.
This principle is set out in the dealings of the Lord Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well.  The Holy Spirit is not given to those who have not repented of their sins.  Nor can He do His work of prompting and energising worship all the time the believer harbours unconfessed sin in his heart.  The psalmist said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me”, Psalm 66:18.
Third, the true worshipper has insight into the person of Christ.  This was indicated when the Lord said to the woman, “If thou knewest…who it is that saith to thee give Me to drink…” John 4:10. The Spirit of God delights to take of the things of Christ and reveal them unto the believer, that he may have material with which to express the glories of the Son of God in His Father’s ear.  The Father is the Seeker of worship, the Son is the Subject of worship, and the Spirit is the Sustainer of that worship.
Fourth, the true worshipper has intelligence as to the way worship is to be offered.  This is seen in the two-fold description of worship as being in spirit and in truth.
True worship is in spirit because God is a Spirit, and we must worship Him in a way that is compatible with His nature and character.  Worship is not sensual, but spiritual, being the moving of the believer’s spirit towards God is acknowledgement and reverence for Him, and in adoration for the manifestation of Himself that He has given in His Son.  Those who know not God need rituals, ornaments, impressive buildings, rousing music, singing, and richly-robed priests in order to worship.  Such should not deceive themselves that they are worshipping God in this way, for the worship of God in this present age is not connected with anything earthly or sensual at all, but is offered in the heavenly sanctuary, which is not available for the natural senses to appreciate.  A reading of Hebrews 10:19-22 will confirm this.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN CHAPTER 4, VERSES 27 TO 42

4:27  And upon this came His disciples, and marvelled that He talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest Thou with her?

4:28  The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,

4:29  Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

4:30  Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him.

4:31  In the mean while His disciples prayed Him, saying, Master, eat.

4:32  But He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

4:33  Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him ought to eat?

4:34  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.

4:35  Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

4:36  And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

4:37  And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.

4:38  I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

4:39  And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

4:40  So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days.

4:41  And many more believed because of His own word;

4:42  And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

SECTION 3 VERSES 27-42 Truths about service


4:27  And upon this came His disciples, and marvelled that He talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest Thou with her?

And upon this came His disciples, and marvelled that He talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest Thou with her?  Their first reaction was to wonder what the woman was doing speaking to the Lord.  Then they wondered why He was speaking to her.  Sadly, the Jews were prejudiced against women, and the disciples seemed to share this wrong attitude.  They marvel not so much that He spoke with that particular woman, but that He spoke with a woman at all.  The Lord Jesus came to deliver from every sort of captivity and wrong attitude, and Christianity, rightly understood and practised, elevates womanhood to the highest level possible.  Something held them back from voicing their queries.  Hopefully this was out of politeness, and an unwillingness to embarrass the woman by discussing her when she was present.

4:28  The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
4:29  Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?  The disciples are clearly not able to deal with this situation, and have nothing to contribute to the conversation.  Sensing this, perhaps, and filled with her new-found joy, the woman returns to her city.  She left her waterpot, for she now had water that was not to be found in any well, but was within her, a fountain of water springing up.  As a result, she was eager to communicate the source of true joy to others.

4:30  Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him.

Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him- the men begin to come out of the city.  They wish to hear Him themselves, and not indirectly.  They would find, however, that the woman’s testimony was true.  All who know the Lord and therefore speak of Him should be faithful in their witness.

4:31  In the mean while His disciples prayed Him, saying, Master, eat.

In the mean while His disciples prayed Him, saying, Master, eat- the conversation of verses 31-38 takes place whilst the Samaritans were travelling to Sychar.  Having used the water of the well to impart important doctrine about worship, the Lord is about to use the subject of food to tell important things to His disciples about service.

4:32  But He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

But He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of- just as He spoke of living water to the woman, so He speaks of spiritual food to the disciples.  Up to that point they had not learnt about these things, and would not fully do so until chapter 6.

4:33  Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him ought to eat?

Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him ought to eat?  Like the woman beforehand, they persist in thinking on natural lines, not realising that the Lord is teaching them an important lesson about spiritual food.

4:34  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work- meat was the old word for food, and included flour, Leviticus 2, and fish, John 21:5,6.  In His temptation experience, the Lord showed that He was sustained to do God’s will, even though He did not have physical food.  Clearly they are not able to supply that sort of food.  All will be explained in chapter 6, and especially when He says, “As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me shall live by Me”, John 6:57.

4:35  Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest- they might in everyday conversation quote proverbs about the natural harvest, but He is speaking on a higher level, and about spiritual harvests.  No doubt the Samaritans as they approached were the harvest in view to the Lord at that moment, but an earnest also of the Gentiles who would be saved in the age of grace.

4:36  And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

4:37  And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.

And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.  And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth- those who bring in the sheaves to be threshed, and those who sowed the seed in the first place, may both rejoice together at threshing time in the fruits of their combined labours.  Part of the reward for those who work to produce that harvest is to eat of the threshing-floor.  Even oxen were provided for by God, Deuteronomy 25:4, and see 1 Corinthians 9:9.  There are those who patiently sow the seed of the word of God in the hearts of men, and there are also those who come along after that has taken place and finalise the process, and souls are saved, and receive the great gift of eternal life.
The mention of life eternal indicates that the subject of the teaching is spiritual in character.  The Lord is preparing His disciples for the time when they will go forth amongst the Gentiles preaching the gospel of God.  They must not expect to be reaping always, but may have to persevere in the sowing.  They should not be disappointed if they do not see any results from their labours in the short-term, but God’s word will always accomplish God’s will, as Isaiah 55:10,11 declares, and this will be evident eventually, either in time or in eternity.  Lack of immediate results should not deter the believer from earnest sowing of the seed.  “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season”, 2 Timothy 4:2.

4:38  I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours- we saw in 3:23 that Aenon was in the territory of Samaria, and John the Baptist had laboured much there as he preached the gospel of the kingdom.  Now the Samaritans, their hearts prepared by John’s labours, are ready to hear and believe.  It would be the same at a subsequent time, when Philip would go to Samaria, (in obedience to the Lord’s command in Acts 1:8), and many would respond to the message he brought them. So the men who laboured were John the Baptist and the Lord Himself.

4:39  And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did- His insight into the heart of the woman at the well would tell them that He knew their hearts too, and thus their faith was accompanied by repentance, as must always be the case in true conversion.  They did not shrink from the exposure of their sins in the light of His presence, as those do who love darkness, John 3:20.

4:40  So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days.

So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days- we cannot but notice the difference between this incident and the one recorded in Luke 9:51-56.  The reason the Samaritans were hostile then was because Christ was going up to Jerusalem, and this brought to the fore their religious prejudice.  Now, however, they have learnt from the woman that worship in Jerusalem is to be rendered obsolete.  The stay of only two days was surely because He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Matthew 15:24, but where there was an earnest seeking after Him, He would not turn away. 

4:41  And many more believed because of His own word;

4:42  And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

And many more believed because of His own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world how blessed is the age in which we live, for Christ promised to be present with those whom He would send out into the world, Matthew 28:20.  So it is that Mark 16:20 records that when the apostles went forth, the Lord was working with them.  In line with this, He said to the apostles, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me; and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me”, John 13:20.
Perhaps the Samaritans did not understand the full meaning of the title they gave to the Lord, and simply meant that He was sometimes prepared to bless Gentiles like themselves.  Passages like Ephesians 2:11-22 and Colossians 1:21-23 show how wide the scope of this title is.  John takes it up in his epistle, and describes the Lord as the one the Father sent to be the Saviour of the world, 1 John 4:14, so it was not a secondary purpose, but part of the eternal purpose of God to bless Gentiles, Ephesians 3:6,11.
It was said of Joseph that his branches ran over the wall, Genesis 49:22, no doubt in reference to the way he had been used of God to bless the Egyptians as their governor.  But Christ has gone further, and broken down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, Ephesians 2:14.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 4, VERSES 43-54

4:43  Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galailee.

4:44   For Jesus Himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in His own country.

 4:45  Then when He was come into Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went to the feast.

4:46   So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine.  And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.

4:47  When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto Him, and besought Him that He would come down, and heal his son:  for he was at the point of death.

4:48  Then said Jesus unto him, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe”.

4:49  The nobleman saith unto Him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

4:50  Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

4:51  And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

4:52  Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.

4:53  So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

4:54  This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judaea into Galilee.

SECTION 4 VERSES 43-52  The miracle at a distance

4:43  Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galailee.

Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galilee- the words are literally, “after the two days”, that is, those mentioned in verse 40. The journey mentioned here is a continuation of the one referred to in verse 3.  It is apparent from Mark 1:14 that the ministry of the Lord Jesus which Matthew, Mark and Luke record at the beginning of their account, only began after John was cast into prison. Therefore their account is not the same as the Galilean journey recorded in John 1:43 to 3:21.  John makes this clear in 3:24 when he states that John the Baptist had not been cast into prison, yet Christ had ministered in Galilee already, according to his account. John thereby deals with any misapprehension that might have grown up on this point.

4:44   For Jesus Himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in His own country.

For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in His own country- a critical time has been reached both in the ministry of John the Baptist, and that of the Lord Jesus.  John is soon to be imprisoned, and the enemies of Christ would be encouraged by that to turn their attention to Christ Himself.  It is important that the situation be kept calm, for the time for His death is not yet.  Accordingly, the Lord withdraws from where His influence is increasing, in Judea, 3:22, 4:1-3, to where His reception would be limited to wonderment at His miracles. When the Lord went back to His home-town of Nazareth, Luke 4:24,  He stated that “no prophet is accepted in His own country”, so that defines for us what His own country is. Later on, Capernaum became “His own city”, as we see when we compare Matthew 9:1 with Mark 2:1.

4:45  Then when He was come into Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went to the feast.

Then when He was come into Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went to the feast- once again there is that attitude of heart which the Lord Jesus rebuked in John 2:23-25 by not committing Himself to them.  The miracles were a means to an end, not the end in themselves.  The persistence of this attitude explains why the Lord Jesus was so severe in His rebuke in verse 48.  See note on that verse.

4:46   So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine.  And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.

So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum- note the special mention of Cana.  Only two miracles are recorded at this place, which was the town of Nathanael, John 20:2.  The first miracle had to do with the instantaneous production of wine from water, without the long process by which a vine tree turns rainwater into wine.  The Lord shows Himself to be the master of time, and the master of matter too, being able to change one substance into another.  In this second miracle, He shows that the space between Himself and the sick child is no matter to Him.
Now in Genesis 1:1 we are presented with the three things which go to make up the universe, namely, time, (“in the beginning”), space and matter, (“the heavens and the earth”).  He who was there in the beginning creating all things, is now showing Himself to be in control of them still, even though He has become man.
The man of Cana is a nobleman or courtier, probably of Herod, for Cana of Galilee was part of Herod’s jurisdiction, Luke 23:6,7. Herod, even if he has not already imprisoned John the Baptist, will soon do so.  The Lord sends a signal to him, that even though he has control over His herald, he has not ultimate control, for that lies in the hands of Christ, who can deliver the son of one of his very own courtiers from death.

4:47  When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto Him, and besought Him that He would come down, and heal his son:  for he was at the point of death.

When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto Him, and besought Him that He would come down, and heal his son:  for he was at the point of death- notice the words and phrases indicating movement, confirming Christ’s mastery of space- “went unto Him…come down…go thy way…went his way…now going down…met him…”  The courtier needs to come from Cana to Capernaum to ask for blessing, but does not yet realise that Christ does not need to go from Capernaum to Cana to give the blessing.

4:48  Then said Jesus unto him, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe”.

Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe- the apostle Paul wrote, “The Jews require a sign”, 1 Corinthians 1:22, for they saw in it God at work, and could subject it to their critical examination.  yet the Lord said, “Blessed are they who have not seen, yet have believed”, John 20:29.  We see certain matters relating to faith in these verses, as follows:

Verse 48     Faith tested.
Verse 50     Faith rewarded.
Verse 50     Faith displayed.
Verse 53     Faith confirmed.
Verse 53     Faith continuing.
Verse 53     Faith influencing.

Note the Lord adds the word “wonders” here, the only occurrence in John’s gospel, emphasising that with the majority there was a superficial view of things, for they only looked for stimulation of the natural senses.  The apparently severe response to this distraught man’s request was designed, no doubt, to test him, and to bring out the genuine faith the Lord is looking for, and not mere wonderment.  It is important to note that “ye” is plural, so the Lord is addressing the man as if he represents Galilee as a whole.
This shows that the Lord had indeed come to a place where he would have no proper honour, for He had to rebuke the people severely, an act which would certainly not gain Him popularity.

4:49  The nobleman saith unto Him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die- the man is convinced that if the child dies all is over, whereas other miracles show that this is not the case, for Christ raised the dead.  Writing dispassionately about the event, John calls the child the man’s son, verse 46.  When appealing to the Lord to help him, the man speaks of him as his “(little) child”.  Once the Lord has dealt with the spurious attitude of the Galileans that this man represents, He is able to manifest His grace by healing the son.

4:50  Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way- the Lord now gives the child the dignified title of son, which accords with the dignified utterance, “Go thy way.  Thy son liveth”, words of power and sympathy.  The word is not a curt dismissal, but an assertion that He does not need to travel to the scene of the sickness, the man must travel, but He need not.
Note the change from “ye” in verse 48, to the man as representative of Galilee, to a personal “thy” to the man as an individual.  To believe the word of Christ is asserted to be the means of gaining eternal life in the next chapter, 5:24.
Many of Christ’s miracles were more dramatic than this one, but this one is recorded here because it represents the climax of an examination John is making of different types of faith.  Here, a Galilean is prepared to accept the Lord’s word, and believes without actually seeing the result of the miracle for himself.
Does “thy son liveth” imply he would have died otherwise?  The man clearly almost despaired of the Lord arriving in time, before the child died, for he was at the point of death, verse 47.  It was not the Lord’s purpose to allow the child to die, as He would allow Lazarus to die in John 11, for it was evidently not yet the time to reveal the truth as to His power to raise the dead.  (This would certainly gain Him honour, and he was not seeking this). There is a certain progression however, for here is a child at the point of death, Jairus’s daughter was the same, but died before the Lord arrived at her bedside, Luke 8:42,49, the widow of Nain’s son was being carried out to be buried, Luke 7:12, and Lazarus had been in the grave four days, John 11:39.  In each case the power of Christ over the seemingly unstoppable march of death was evident.  It is noticeable in these accounts that Christ is perfectly unhurried in the face of death.  The Lord stops to talk to the widow before raising her son, Luke 7:13, in Luke 8:43-48 He heals the woman on the way to seeing Jairus’s daughter, and especially with Lazarus, where He waited two days before setting out to raise him from the dead, John 11:6.  It cannot be that the Lord of Life and glory should be defeated by death and corruption, for He came to bring life and immortality (incorruptibility) to light, 2 Timothy 1:10.

4:51  And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth- the servants use yet another word, not the one of tender affection, nor the title of dignity, but simply the word which means a member of the family.  Note that they use exactly the same expression as the Lord, “Thy son liveth”, except they use a different word for son as suited their position in the household, as already noted.
Their testimony is completely unsolicited, for they make their announcement before the man asks, such is their excitement.

4:52  Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.

4:53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.  So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house- to amend means to get better; not a gradual improvement, or else the servants would not be able to say “Thy son liveth” with confidence.  The child was now doing well.  By the correspondence between the hour the Lord spoke the words, and the time the servants realised he was better, the man knew when the recovery had taken place.  He had believed before, but now his faith was confirmed, and he became a steadfast believer.  But this steadfast faith was shared by his household, for the action of the Lord at a distance had penetrated right into the man’s house.  Needless to say the members of the household must have been old enough to believe, for the idea of some that a man’s household is automatically reckoned to be believing is contrary to the scripture which says that “the just shall live by his faith”, Habakkuk 2:4.  No-one can believe for another, for faith is an intensely personal thing.

4:54  This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judaea into Galilee. 

This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judaea into Galilee- the Lord had done many miracles between the first one at Cana, and this one, see John 2:23.  This is the second one to be done after coming into Galilee from Judaea, the first one being in John 2:1.  Isaiah had especially mentioned Galilee as being where the Messiah would come during His ministry, Isaiah 9:1,2, with Matthew 4:15,16.