The "Commentary on John" completes my series "The Good News of Jesus". My exegetical interpretation is written for students, for pastoral co-workers, for the faithful. This new commentary is intended to provide a deeper and more profound understanding of biblical text - always and everywhere. Ein profunder, praxisnaher Johanneskommentar für heute!
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THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS,
THE CHRIST AND THE SON OFGOD,
ACCORDING TO JOHN
A COMMENTARY ON THE FOURTH GOSPEL
FOR THE LITURGY, CATECHISM
AND CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY
© 2015 epubli GmbH, Berlin
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- The Three Stages in the Formation of the Inspired Gospels
- From Exegesis to the “Hearts” as the Hermeneutic of the Word of God
0. The Macrostructure/Composition of the Gospel according to John
2. First Part of John’s Gospel: “Book of Signs” as Jesus’ Public Ministry/Self-Revelation in the World(1:19–12:50)
2.1Christological Basic Chapter (1:19–51)
2.1.1“First Day”: The Identity and Authority of John the Baptist –His Mission Declarationto the Jewish Authority of Jerusalem (vv. 19–28)
2.1.2“Second Day”: John the Baptist at Sight of Jesus (vv. 29–34)
2.1.3“Thirdand Fourth/FifthDay”:The Call of the FirstDisciples of Jesus(vv. 35–51)
2.2From Cana to Cana (2:1–4:54)
2.2.1The Marriage at Cana“on the Third Day”(2:1–12)
2.2.2Jesus’ Cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem (vv. 13–22)
2.2.3Third Comment by the Evangelist(vv. 23–25)
2.2.4The Theological Discourse between Nicodemus and Jesus (3:1–21)
2.2.5First Setting as a Journey Note (vv. 22–24)
2.2.6John the Baptist and theMessiah (vv. 25–36)
2.2.7First Setting as a Journey Note (4:1–3)
2.2.8The Discourse betweenJesus andtheSamaritanWoman (vv.4–42)
2.2.9First Setting as a Journey Note (vv. 43–45)
2.2.10Jesus’DistantHealing of the Royal Official’s Son from Capernaumin Cana(vv. 46–54)
2.3Jesus and the Jewish Feasts (5:1–10:42)
2.3.1His Second Journey (to Jerusalem) (5:1)andtheHealing at the Pool (vv. 2–18)
2.3.2Jesus’Self-Revelation as Son of God (vv. 19–47)
2.3.3Jesus’ Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish and the Feeding of 5,000 (6:1–15)
2.3.4Jesus’ Walking on the Water (vv. 16–21)
2.3.5Jesus’ Discourse about the “Bread of Life” from Heaven (vv. 22–59)
2.3.6Variety of Reactions and Division of His Disciples (vv. 60–71)
2.3.7Jesus’ Self-Revelation in Jerusalem (7:1–52)
2.3.8The Adulterous Woman and Jesus’ New Chance for Her (7:53–8:11)
2.3.9Jesus’ Self-Revelation: “I am the Light of the World” and the Hearing by the Pharisees (vv.12–20)
2.3.10Jesus’ Discussion about the Coming Judgement with“the Jews”(vv. 21–29)
2.3.11The Dialogue between Jesus and His Believers and His Opponents (vv. 30–59)
2.3.12Jesus’ Healing of the Man Born Blind on the Sabbath (9:1–41)
2.3.13Jesus’ Self-Revelation: “I am the Good Shepherd”Including the Reactions(10:1–21)
2.3.14Jesus at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem (vv. 22–39)
2.3.15First Setting as a Journey Note(vv. 40–42)
2.4 Jesus’ Journey to the last Passover in Jerusalem (11:1–12:50)
2.4.1The Raising of Lazarus (11:1–44)
2.4.2Summary of the Reaction of the By-standers in Bethany (vv. 45–46)
2.4.3The Reaction of the Chief Priests and Pharisees as their Council against Jesus (vv. 47–53)
2.4.4Jesus’ Reaction as Retiring to Ephraim (vv. 54–57)
2.4.5Jesus’Anointingby Maryat Bethany (12:1–8)
2.4.6The Plot against Lazarus (vv. 9–11)
2.4.7Jesus’Entrancein Jerusalem (vv. 12–19)
2.4.8The so-called “Hellen Speech” by Jesus(vv. 20–36)
2.4.9Jesus’ Fulfilment of Isaiah’s Prediction (vv. 37–43)
2.4.10The Self-Judgement for the Believers and Not-Believers in Jesus(vv. 44–50)
3. Second Part of John’s Gospel: “Book of Glory” (13:1–20:31+ “Appendix” in21:1–25)
3.1 Jesus’ Self-Revelation for His Disciples (13:1–17:26)
3.1.1Washing the Feetas the Master’s Example(13:1–20)
3.1.2Jesus’Foretelling of His Handing Over(vv. 21–30)
3.1.3The New Commandment of Loveby Jesus(vv. 31–35)
3.1.4Jesus’ Foretelling ofPeter’s Denial (vv. 36–38)
3.1.5The Farewell Discourses (14:1–16:33)
3.1.6The Intercessory Prayer (17:1–26)
3.2 The Passion and Death of Jesus (18:1–19:42)
3.2.1Jesusand His Disciples in the GardenAcross the Kidron(18:1–11)
3.2.2Jesus before the Sanhedrin (vv. 12–14, 19–24) and Peter’s Denial (vv. 15–18, 25–27)
3.2.3Jesus before Pilate (v.28–19:16b)
3.2.4At the Crossof Jesus and His Death (vv. 16c–37)
3.2.5TheBurialof His Body through Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus(vv. 38–42)
3.3Jesus’Resurrection Appearances in Jerusalem at Easter (20:1–29)
3.3.1The Risen Jesus and Mary of Magdalene in the Garden of the Tomb(vv.1–18)
3.3.2Jesus’ Appearance to His Disciples in Jerusalem (vv. 19–29)
3.4Epilogue –First Conclusion of the Fourth Gospel (vv. 30–31)
3.5.1Jesus’ Appearances to His Disciplesby the Sea of Tiberiasin Galilee (vv. 1–14)
3.5.2SimonPeter and “the Beloved Disciple” and theirRoles(vv. 15–23)
3.5.3Epilogue of the Appendix –Second Conclusion of the Fourth Gospel (vv. 24–25)
4.1 The Evangelist – Who is“John”respectivelythe so-called “Beloved Disciple”?
4.2 Time Line – When was theFourthCanonicalGospel Written?
4.3 The Audience/Receiver ofJohn’s Gospel – Where and for Whom Did theFourthEvangelist Write his Gospel?
5.1 Edition Translation, Concordance, Linguistic Works of Reference, Dictionary
5.2 Short-List of Commentaries
5.3 Biblical Dictionaries
5.5 “Documents” of the Catholic Church and other Churches
5.6 Exegetical Literature
6.1 The Christian Bible
6.2 Three Stages in the Formation of the Gospels
6.3 The Babylonian and Jewish View of the World
6.4 The Structure/Conception of the Gospels – “Who (do you say) I am”?
6.5 Jesus’ Actions in Word and Deed according to John
6.6 Timetable of the Last Days of Jesus in Jerusalem
6.7 Last Days of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem about 30 A.D.
6.7.1The View of the Four Canonical Gospels
6.7.2The View of the Fourth Gospel
6.8 Stations of the Cross
6.9 Personal Information about Jesus of Nazareth
6.10 Places of John’s Gospel
6.11 The Apostles’ Creed and some Biblical References
6.12 Liturgical Aspect of Scripture Reading
6.12.1The Gospel of John during the Liturgical Years of the Roman Catholic Church
6.12.2The Gospel of John during the Liturgical Years of the Anglican Church
6.12.3The Gospel of John in the Daily Scripture Readings during the Liturgical Year of the Greek Orthodox Church
6.12.4The Gospel of John in tqhe Daily Scripture Readings of the Coptic Orthodox Church
In the years 2013 and 2014,Ipublishedthree commentariesonMatthew, Markand Lukefor the liturgical yearsA,B, Cwithepubliin Berlin.NowIhave writtenmyfourthcommentary for you and for your liturgical, catechetical and spiritual service – the commentary onthe Fourth Gospel (according to “John”)which is usedduring the Liturgical Years (A, B, C) of the Roman Catholic Church(cf. 6.12.1 andduring the Liturgical Years (A, B, C) of the Anglican Church(cf. 6.12.2) andbythe other Churches (cf. 6.12.3–6.12.6), andI hope it will be useful and helpful to you. My hope is that I have graspedJohn’s spirit and that this spirit can inspire us as His followers/disciples here and now.
All my commentaries are intended to provide a better, deeper and more profound understanding of biblical teachings and to help preach and teach the Good News more convincingly in word and deed, always and everywhere.Therefore it is necessary to prepare ourselves in five steps of the “Lectio Divina” according to Pope Benedict XVI1(Verbum Domini, Rome 2010, no. 87): to read (lectio) the “Word of God”, meditate/reflect on it (mediatio), pray with it (oratio) and internalize it (contemplatio), as well as live the biblical message (actio). The aim of these more synchronic commentaries is to improve the biblical, historical, linguistical, rhetorical and etymological background of the ancient biblical texts and to help the understanding of the theological, spiritual “Word of God” today. Whether you are a priest, a deacon, a catechist, a lay minister or a seminarian, this work will have achieved its goal if it succeeds in complementing and helping you in your preaching and/or in your teaching. This e-book/these e-books can be the basis for your self-study and ongoing formation programme.
I especially want to thank the German Catholic institution missio Aachen for their “sponsoring” of my project in the context of the evangelization with my commentaries on the Gospels (Luke, Matthew and John) to bring the Good News to the people.
I would like to thank Bishop Dr Paul Hinder, OFM Cap as the initiator of this project and also Mrs Alison Müller (text) and Mrs Gisela Schardt (bibliography and appendix) for their proof-reading and their suggestions for this work.
Limburg/Germany, on29thJune 2015,Solemnityof Saints Peter andPaul
Dr Manfred Diefenbach
All Christians – both clergy and laymen – are called to be witnesses of the “Word of God” (cf. Luke 1:2) and faith. We are “ministers” of the Word of God. We should be teachers of the faith in order to open hearts to conversion, so that those whom we teach may hear and receive the “Word of God”. Let us keep in mind that we are first, receivers of the Word, and then disciples and “servants”/“co-workers” of Jesus Christ in preaching and/or teaching the message of the Good News. To be a minister of the Word of God and of His Love is to receive first, and then to “hand on” (the meaning of the Latin word “traditio”) what has been received. The truth that saves our life kindles the heart of the receiver with a neighbourly love that should motivate us to communicate our experience of faith to others.
Jesus was a teacher, preacher, catechist, biblical scholar and a storyteller. He talked about, and explained in parables, “the Kingdomof Heaven”, taking into account people’s different kinds of backgrounds and understandings. In His preaching, Jesus used parables like the parable of the sower (cf. Mark 4:3–8/Matthew 13:4–8/Luke 8:5–8) who sowed seeds in various soils. Through His interpretation (cf. Mark 4:13–20/Matthew 13:18–23/Luke 8:11–15) Jesus helped His disciples to understand,receive, believe, accept and live this parable. We, the faithful who want to spread and share the “Word of God”, must be sowers who preach and teach His Word as the message of God and His Kingdom, now, as it was then. The seed is the Word of God, His message. With His help, the Good News of God will fall on good soil, in the heart of men (cf. Matthew 13:19). In the same way, the seed that has fallen into the hearts of the disciples of Jesus – now as it was then – is fruitful, ranging up to 100 per cent depending on their disposition.
The Word of God must appear in its entire splendour, even if it is “expressed in human language” (Dei Verbum 13), that is the task of all preachers in the Church and teachers and catechists in schools. May we be guided in our preaching and teaching by Jesus Christ who opened the minds of the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:27) and the other disciples (cf. v. 45) to the understanding of the scriptures, making their hearts burn within them (cf. v. 32) with the desire to glorify God.
- THE THREE STAGES IN THE FORMATION OF THE INSPIRED GOSPELS2
The Gospels tell us about the life of Jesus of Nazareth, who was born in Bethlehem, the town of King David in 7 or 6 B.C. (cf. Matthew 1:18–2:18; Luke 2:1–20) He healed the sick and taught people about God as “Abba, Father” (Mark 14:36). God (cf. 1:11; 9:7) proclaimed Him: the “Christ” (cf. John 1:17, 41;4:25–26; 7:26–27, 31, 41–42; 10:24–30; 11:27; 17:3; 20:31), the “Son of God” (cf. 1:34, 49; 3:18; 5:25; 10:36; 11:4, 27; 20:31).
After His Death and His Resurrection on “Easter Sunday”, the second stage in the development of the Gospels was the oral tradition of the Good News in the preaching of His disciples and Galilean women, such as Mary Magdalene. What could they tell the people? The Acts of the Apostles says: “Someone must join us as a witness to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He must be one of the men who has accompanied us during the whole time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning with John’s baptism until the day when Jesus was taken from us” (Acts 1:21–22) and “ascended into Heaven” (1:11).
The Evangelists Mark, Matthew, Luke and John wrote the canonical Gospels under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They related the story/history of Jesus of Nazareth as both the “Son of God” and the “son” of Joseph and Mary and His message of salvation, by selectingsome of the many elements which had been handed on, either orally or already in written form, through the Holy Spirit (= inspiration).
- FROM EXEGESIS TO THE “HEARTS” AS THE HERMENEUTIC OF THE WORD OF GOD
The Bible is like a library. We find two parts in the Holy Scriptures: the “Old Testament” – the “Hebrew Bible” – and the “New Testament” which were written between 1000 B.C. and about 100 A.D. The Holy Bible is based on factual information, and at the same time it is from the eternity of God and it leads us back to His eternity. On the other hand, the reader or the listener of the Bible who wants to understand the words and deeds in it, should read, study, and understand the texts of the ancient world in their original historical context, and project herself/himself into Antiquity, 2000 or even 3000 years ago.
People today find themselves in the same situation as the first century Ethiopian in the Acts of the Apostles. They need an interpreter to understand the biblical texts (cf.Acts 8:30–313): Philip asked the Ethiopian: “Do you understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian replied: “How can I unless someone guides me?” Therefore the “Word of God” has to be made understandable in our time and culture with the help of the Holy Spirit by the works of the scholars, preachers, teachers/professors, catechists, and parents. For example, in the New Testament, what is the intention of John? The distance between this ancient text of the end of the first century/beginning of the second century and the reader of the 21stcentury has to be bridged in order to arrive at the authentic sense of the sacred text. Christians also hear Christ’s voice in the readings and homilies which explain the texts of the Bible in today’s language. They are thus invited to apply these inspired biblical words/texts in their lives. Their different forms – parables, healings, the narratives of His Passion and Resurrection as well as their context (who wrote it, to whom, why), are a personal message from God. We must enter the ancient world so that the written text– the Bible –can become living wordin the context of today’s people in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat, Kuwait City, London, New York, Munich ...
The Apostle Paul(1)spoke “on Christ’s behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:20) as God’s “mouthpiece” (Galatians 1:10) and placed himself completely at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel. He preached the Good News(2)of the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ without compromise (cf. Romans 8:35–37 or 2 Corinthians 11:23–27).
As His “servant”, Paul was His instrument because he only wanted God and Christ to be the focus of his life. He was not a self-centred “minister of the Word of God”. The Spirit of God and Jesus Christ lives in us and is taught through us in words and deeds by means of personal testimony.
According to the “communication model”4, our role as a SENDER/transmitter (1) and as a “minister of the Word of God” is to reach the members of the Church, the RECEIVERs/ addressees (3) of the apostolic MESSAGE – the Good News (2).
Bishops, priests, deacons, professors, catechists, parents(1)and all the faithful should learn, through frequent reading of the Sacred Scripture(s), to bring the message of the Bible(2)to the ears and hearts of people(3)of our own time. First, we are receivers(3), and then we can act as God’s servants and Christ’s disciples, and co-workers(1)in the preaching and/or teaching of the message of the Good News(2). A faithful and true minister of the Word of God receives and hands on what has been received. The truth that saves his life inflames the heart of the receiver with neighbourly love, and motivates him to pass on to others what he has freely received. The principal functions in the pastoral ministry can be distinguished: catechesis, preaching, and the biblical apostolate; the Word of God has to be made understandable in our time and culture – in preaching and/or teaching as well in the biblical apostolate.
How can we guide the people who want to hear and understand the Good News? We have to avoid two extremes5when interpreting the Bible:
- on the one hand, we have to protect the interpretation of the Bible from attacks by science which analyses words of the Bible – the so-called “historical-critical methods” – as if they were ordinary writings without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit;
- on the other hand, there is the so-called “mystical exegesis”. This way of understanding the Bible is all symbolic and spiritual as if it had nothing to do with historical facts and the world we live in, and believes that there is no need for science to help in interpreting the Bible. So the Bible is read as if the Spirit dictated it word for word.
“For the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse, just as the word of the eternal Father, when He took to Himself the flesh of human weakness, was in every way made like men” (Dei Verbum 13)”. That is the task of all preachers in the Church and teachers and catechists in schools.
May we be guided in our preaching and teaching by Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God who opened the minds of the disciples of Emmaus (cf.Luke 24:27) and the other disciples (cf.v. 45) to the understanding of scripture(s), making their hearts burn within them (cf.v. 32):
“Christ has no hands, only our hands to do His work.
He has no feet, only our feet to lead people on His way.
Christ has no lips, only our lips to tell people about Him.
He has no help, only our help to bring people to His side”.
So runs the prayer of Saint Teresaof Ávila (1515–1582 A.D.).
In this way, we Christians have to present and represent – with body and soul – Jesus Christ, the “Son of God”, the “Christ”, the incarnate “Word of God” so that we already bring a little bit of Heaven to earth.
The Gospel according to “John” composes his story about the life of Jesus who is the “Christ” and the “Son of God” (11:27; 20:31), in two6parts after the “Prologue” (cf. 1:1–18):
- The so-called “Book of Signs” (cf. 1:19–12:507) as Jesus’ public ministry in the world and
- The so-called “Book of Glory” (cf. 13:1–20:318]) as Jesus’ return to His heavenly Father.
With John 21:1–25, we have a second conclusion of “John” in the form of an “appendix”which was later (probably in the second or third century) added to the original Gospel to “John”.
The Fourth Evangelisttells about Jesus’ public ministry in words and deeds in Galilee, in Samaria and in Judea/Jerusalem (cf. 1:19–12:50) as a “teaching about His role” as the “Son of God” concerning His Passion (cf. 13:1–19:42) on earth. The Evangelist as an ancient author concludes with the Crucified (cf. 19:16b–42) and the Risen/Glorified Jesus (cf.20:1–31/21:25).
We agree – more or less – with the renowned catholic biblical scholar Raymond E. Brown’s structure of John’s Gospel. Therefore we slightly modify the composition of the Gospel “according to John” in allusion to Raymond E. Brown as follows:
1.Prologue/Beginning (John 1:1–18)
2. First Part of John’s Gospel: “Book of Signs” as Jesus’ Public Ministry/Self-Revelation in the World (John 1:19–12:50)
2.1 Christological Basic Chapter (1:19–51)
2.2 From Cana to Cana (2:1–4:54)
2.3 Jesus and the Jewish Feasts (5:1–10:42)
2.4 Jesus’ Journey to the last Passover in Jerusalem (11:1–12:50)
3. Second Part of John’s Gospel: “Book of Glory” (13:1–20:31+ “Appendix” in 21:1–25)
3.1 Jesus’ Self-Revelation for His Disciples (13:1–17:26)
3.2 The Passion and Death of Jesus (18:1–19:42)
3.3 The Day of Christ’s Resurrection (20:1–20:29)
3.4 Epilogue (vv. 30–31)
3.5 “Appendix” (21:1–25)
The passage of 1:19–51 is structured with the help of the phrase “the next day” in verses 29, 35, 43. Verses 6–8 are a part of the prologue (cf. vv. 1–18). The keyword “witness” in verses 7a, b, 8b emphasizes in verse 19 the mission declaration of John the Baptist in the form of his juristic investigation by the Jewish Temple “police” from Jerusalem as a dialogue (cf. vv. 19–28). Between verses 6–8 and 19 the Fourth Evangelist meditates about (incarnate) Jesus as the light of the world (cf. vv. 9–18). He uses some verbs of the conversation in the context of the investigation between the Temple “police” of Jerusalem and John the Baptist with regard to John’s identity (cf. vv. 19–23) and his authority (cf. vv. 24–27): The verbs to“ask” in verses 19d, 21a, 25a and to “say” in verse 22a, d are used for the delegation from Jerusalem; however the Evangelist uses the two special terms of the jurisdiction to“confess” in verse 20a, c, to“deny” in verse 20b and the verbs to “answer” in verses 21g, 26a, to “say” in verses 21d, 26a as well as to “reply” in verse 23a in the view of John the Baptist. He answers four of five questions (cf. vv. 19d, 21a–b, d, 22; 25) in the negative (cf. vv. 20b, 21c, e, 26c, 27b). A comment by the Evangelist concludes the juristic hearing and it localizes John the Baptist’s ministry at the river Jordan near Bethany (cf. v. 28).
John 1:19–51 contains a list of witnesses to Jesus by John the Baptist to two of his disciples (cf. vv. 19–28, 29–34) and by Andrew to Simon (cf. vv. 40–42), one of his own disciples, who follows Jesus (cf. vv. 35–42) of “Nazareth” (v. 45), “the Lamb of God”14(vv. 29, 36) as well as by Philip to Nathanael (cf. vv. 43–51) with the help of the phrase “the next day” in verses 29, 35, 43. After the call of His first two disciples (cf. vv. 35a–39c), a comment by the Evangelist (cf. vv. 39d–40) emphasizes the call of Simon Peter (cf. vv. 41–42) which differs from the synoptic versions of the call of His first disciples (cf. Mark 1:16–20; Matthew 4:18–22 in contrast to Luke 5:1–11).
Microstructure of John 1
The background of the prologue is the principal question: Who is Jesus? The “chief actor” of the “hymn” is the original “word” (in Greek “lógos” in vv. 1a, b, c, 14a) like in Wisdom 9:1–2 which is described with the attributes of a hero or of God.
- Strophe 1: The (Divine) Logos-Hymn(vv. 1–5)
vv. 1–2:In allusion to Genesis 1:1a, the Fourth Evangelist introduces the so-called “Prologue” as a “hymn” with the same words “in the beginning” in verses 1a, 2 (cf. Proverbs 8:22–24[LXX]; Jesus Sirach 24:9[LXX]) – note the inclusion15! The keywords “lógos” (= word in vv. 1a, b, c, 14a) and “theós” (= God) are used as a “concatenation” (in Latin “concatenatio”16) as follows:
“In the beginningwas theWORD,
This wasin the beginning withGOD” (cf. John 17:5; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16–17; Hebrews 1:2; 1 John 1:1; 2:13; Revelation 3:14).
As in Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 29, the monotheistic17God (cf. John 5:18) had spoken this “Word” as His own decision during His creation of the world (cf. Revelation 19:13).
- Jesus is the Creating Word(vv. 3–5)
v. 3:In this way, “all” things – Heaven (for example, the sun, the moon, the star) and earth (for example, the plants, the animals, men) – were “made”18/created “through” God, the Creator of all (cf. Genesis 1:1–2:4a and Wisdom 1:14; 9:1; 11:24; Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 3:9; 4:10; Colossians 1:16–17, 20; Hebrews 1:2–3; 2:10; Revelation 4:11). Note the play on the verb (infinitive “gínomaɩ”) in Aorist “egéneto” (= made) in verse 3a, b, c:
“All” things were “(made)throughHim( )” – note the parallelism with verse 10b,
that/was/made”. All things in creation are sacred since they originated in God’s Word.
v. 4:So, the heavenly God(’s Word) has spent the “life” (in Greek “zoé”19in v. 4a, b andin6:63; 8:12; 11:25; 14:6; 20:31) which was the “light” (in Greek “phõs” in vv. 4b, 5a, 7b, 8a, b, 9a andin3:19–21; 5:26; 8:12; 9:5; 11:9–10; 12:35–36, 46 – cf. Genesis 1:3–5; Psalm 119:105) “of men” respectively human beings on earth. This “light” as His life-giving power enlightens the people/every (wo)man like a plant “through Him” (cf. Colossians 1:16).
v. 5:A contrast20– “light” versus “darkness” (in Greek “skotía” in v. 5a, b andin6:17; 8:12; 12:35, 46 – cf. Isaiah 9:1) – concludes the first strophe of the hymn with the help of an antithetic parallelism:
“…The light(shines)” – note the present tense! – “in thedarkness( )” of the world,
“and thedarkness” of Satan has “not grasped21/overcome” the divine light (cf. John 3:19).
- Strophe 2: The Roles of John the Baptist and Jesus(vv. 6–13)
“God sent” John the Baptist, “his messenger”, “to prepare his people for Christ’s coming” (cf. vv. 6–8), “but the role of” the pre-existent, incarnate, transcendent-immanent22Jesus, “his only Son”, “is to make God known”23(cf. v. 18).
+ John the Baptist – the Role as a Witness for the Light respectively Jesus(vv. 6–8)
v. 6:“John”24the Baptist (cf. Mark 1:4–5; Matthew 3:1; Luke 3:2) is like an “angel”/messenger (cf., for example, Luke 1:19, 26) respectively the “forerunner”/“precursor”(v. 23 and Isaiah 40:3–5[LXX]; Malachi 3:1; Mark 1:2–3; Matthew3:3; Luke 3:4–6) who has been “sent” (in Greek “apostéllo” in v. 6b and in 3:28 and “pémpo” in v. 33b) by God or like an apostle who has been “sent” by Jesus (cf., for example, Luke 9:2; 10:1, 3 or especially John 20:21) in contrast to the “sending” of the delegation by the Sanhedrim in Jerusalem (cf. 1:19b, 24): John the Baptist was a “man” of “God” – a “man…from” and for “God” like Jesus (cf. 3:17; 5:36, 38; 10:36; 11:42; 17:3, 8, 18, 21, 23, 25; 20:21).
v. 7:John’s task was to “testify” (in Greek “marturéo” in vv. 7b, 8b, 15a, 32a, 34a andin3:26; 5:33) “the light” (vv. 4b, 5a, 7b, 8a, b, 9a andin3:19–21; 5:35; 8:12; 9:5; 11:9–10; 12:35–36, 46) – Jesus – in the “darkness” (cf. v. 5a, b andin3:19–21; 8:12; 11:9–10; 12:35, 46) of the “world” (in Greek “kósmos” in vv. 9c, 10a, b, c, 29c andin3:19; 9:5; 12:46). The purpose/aim of his “testimony”25as a witness was/is that everyone (in Greek “pántes”in v. 7c and “pánta”in v. 9b) – then and nowadays – “believes” (in Greek “pɩsteúo” invv.7c, 12d, 50d andin20:31;Acts 19:4) in Jesus Christ, the “light” (cf., for example, John 8:12), as a universal26invitation – for Christians, Jews(, Muslims, …)
v. 8:He is defined with the help of a correction27(“not…but”) in the sense of an understatement like in verses 20–21, 27 as being “not… the lightbutto testify” as His witness “about the light” (cf. 5:35) – Christ Jesus.
+ “To be or not to be” in the “pre-existent”, incarnate Jesus, “the True Light”(vv. 9–13)
v. 9:The incarnate Jesus is described in the metaphoric words as “the(true28)light( )” (cf. 1 John 2:8 and Isaiah 49:6) for the people as their ray/flicker of hope who illuminates the “darkness” (cf. v. 5a, b) “in the world”. He is like the “shining”29(cf. Matthew 4:16) of the life-giving sun “into the world” (cf. John 3:19; 6:14; 10:36; 11:27; 12:46–47; 16:28; 17:18; 18:37 or 8:12; 9:5; 11:9; Matthew 5:14) respectively
v. 10:“in the world” (vv. 9c, 10a, b, c, 29c) – note here the concatenation (in Latin “concatenatio”30) in verses 9c–10a as in verses 1–2. In the same words in verse 3a – “expressis verbis”: “… (made)through Him( )” – are used in verse 10b. So, the author emphasizes that Jesus (of Nazareth), the divine “only Son” (vv. 14d, 18b) of God, was involved in the creation of the world by God, the Creator of all things in Heaven and on earth. However, the so-called “world” did “not know” (in Greek “gɩnósko”31) respectively ignored/ignores Jesus (cf., for example,John14:17; 16:3 or 1 Corinthians 2:8; 1 John 3:1).
v. 11:In verses 11–12 two groups are described in view of an “either-or-decision”32: On the one side the group which did not accept Jesus as the “only Son” of God (cf. v. 11) and on the other side the group of the believers in Him (cf. vv. 12–13).Eithersomeone trusts in Jesus (cf. vv. 12–13, 16–18 and 20:30–31)ors/he turns against Him by not believing in Him (as the refusal of Him – cf. vv. 10c–11b).
The antithetic parallelism with the noun “tàídɩa” in verse 11a and the term “ídɩos” in verse 11b – note the same root of word – underlines the “controversy”/“conflict” between Jesus and the “Chosen People” (cf. Matthew 21:38) from the beginning:
“(He came)in/toHis/own( ),
and/His/own/people did/not receive33/accept[Him]” like a stranger (cf., for example,John3:11, 32; 5:43).
v. 12:However, everyone who “received”/receives “Him” and “believed”/believes “in(His)name( )” (20:31 and 3:18; 5:43; 10:25; 12:13; 14:13–14, 26; 15:16, 21; 16:23–24, 26) will becalled “children of God” (cf. John 11:52; Romans 8:16, 21; 9:8; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 3:1–2, 10; 5:2, 13 and Matthew 5:45; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 1:5)
v. 13:because everyone is God’s creature (v. 13d: “ek theoũegennéthesan” – “from God/were/born” – cf.John3:3, 5–6; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23). Note the contrast between the heavenly God and the human beings on earth with the help of a correction34(ouk…oudé…oudé…allá): “neitherof” blue-“blooded” human beings “norof/the/will/ofthe/fleshnorof/the/will/of/man” (= human reflections/ideas/plans, desires …), “butofGod…”
- Strophe 3: The Incarnated Jesus in the World(vv. 14–18)
“A divine being (God’s Word[1:1,14], who is also the light[1:5,9] and God’s only Son [1:14,18] comes into the world and becomes flesh.”35“The Word” (vv. 1a, b, c, 14a) “was made flesh and lived among us”, so the “Angelus” prayer. The phrase “became flesh” is an expression of Jesus’ incarnation – the meaning of the Latin word is to “be(come) in flesh” – as the divine God’s Son on earth. Christ is the eschatological, authentic Revealer of “truth”36(in Greek “alétheɩa” in vv. 14e, 17b) and Saviour sent from God who was/is born through Mary as a human being like us – the Christmasstoryof Jesus of Nazareth is the historyof the incarnate “Son of God” who was/is one of us in “flesh”37(vv. 13a, 14a) and blood. He “dweltamong us” (v. 14b) in the midst of human beings and in solidarity with us in allusion to the Jewish nomads who lived in tents (cf., for example, Exodus 29:45; Leviticus 26:11–12; Numbers 35:34; Ezekiel 37:27). He was a human being under human beings38. In Jesus, God is present in the world and He links the divine world with the earthly world39. The so-called doctrine of the “Hypostatic Union” at the Council of Chalcedon in 45140refers in allusion to John 1:1, 14 that the one person Jesus Christ had/has two distinct natures: Jesus of Nazareth was ahumanbeing, a man (100 per cent – cf. Romans 1:3; 8:3; 9:5; Philippians 2:7; Colossians 1:22; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 4:2; 2 John 7) and He is the Christ, thedivine“Son of God” (100 per cent – cf. Romans 1:4; 8:3; 9:5; Philippians 2:6; 1 John 4:2).
+ The Witness of John the Baptist for Jesus(v. 15)
John the Baptist (cf. vv. 6–8) is also a witness of Jesus – note the verb “marturéo” (= to testify) in verses 7b, 8b, 15a, 32a, 34a. The pre-existence of Jesus45in contrast to him is described with the help of an antithetic parallelism:
Jesus “comes” temporally “after” him (vv. 15d, 27a, 30b and Mark 1:7; Matthew 3:11),
but He ranks “before” him,
because “[He was]/the/first...” divine One.
+The Relationship to Jesus by His Believers(vv. 16–18)
v. 16:We agree with Michael Theobald to define the phrase “we all” (in Greek “pántes” in vv. 7c, 16b) with the “graceful” believers (cf. Ephesians 3:19) in Jesus as the Christ and “theonly” Son of God – then and nowadays as readers/hearers in the sense of the “receivers” (vv. 12a, 16a2) of the Good News according to the Fourth Gospel46.
v. 17:We also agree with Theobald that the parallelism of verse 17a – “throughMoses” – and verse 17b – “throughJesus Christ” (cf.John17:3; 20:3147) is not to be understood as an “antithesis”48(“aut – aut” – either-or) of “Law”49/“Torah” (vv. 17a, 45c) – the first part of the Hebrew Bible, the so-called “TaNaK”: theTorah, the prophets (nebiim), the writings (ketubim) – versus “grace and truth”50(cf. Exodus 34:6; Psalm 25:10; 40:11; 85:11[LXX]; Romans 5:21), but rather it is to be read in the positive sense of “et – et” (cf. Matthew 5:17–18; 7:12) that means both – “Law”/“Torah” & “grace and truth” – complement one another.
v. 18:The Johannine Prologue concludes with the theological statement that the pre-existent “Jesus Christ” (v. 17b) and the incarnate “Son of God” (cf. 14a, d) had only “(seen)” (in Greek “horáo”) “God( ),the only God” (cf. Exodus 33:20 and John 3:32; 5:37; 6:46; 12:45; 14:9; 1 Timothy 1:17; 1 John 4:12). This One is like an “exegete”51(v. 18c) who could explain, interpret God and report about Him because of His (mutual) relationship with His divine “FATHER”. The believers in “Jesus Christ” (v. 17b) and “children of God” (v. 12c) are the receivers of His “explanation”, “interpretation” of the monotheistic God respectively His “report” about Him.
2.1.1“First Day”52: The Identity and Authority of John the Baptist – His Mission Declaration to the Jewish Authority of Jerusalem(vv. 19–2853)
Where:the river Jordan near Bethany54near Jericho and Qumran (v. 28)
Who:John the Baptist (cf. vv. 6, 19a) as an individualversusthe group of the Jewish delegation – probably the Temple “police”55– from Jerusalem (v. 19b) who was composed of priests56, Levites57(v. 19b), Pharisees58(v. 24)
A delegation “from Jerusalem” (v. 19b) on behalf of the authority in Jerusalem questioned (cf. vv. 19e, 21b–c, f; 22b–d; 25b–d) “John the Baptist” who clearly answered them in the form of three59negative (cf. vv.20d, 21e, h) and two positive sayings (note v. 23b–c as a quotation of the prophet Isaiah 40:3[LXX]andvv. 26b–27c).
-The Identity of John the Baptist(vv. 19–23)
v. 19:Two comments of the Evangelist John in verses 19 and 28 come before and after the juristic hearing (cf.John9:13–34; 10:22–30; 18:19–24, 28–19:16b) between the Jewish Temple authorities and John the Baptist. Verse 19 is the setting of the actors of the interview (cf. vv. 19–28) in the view of the judicial inquiry whether the public ministry of John the Baptist on behalf of God was allowed according the Law of Moses (cf. Leviticus 24:10–16, 23; Numbers 15:30; Deuteronomy 18:15–20): John the Baptist and the delegation of priests, Levites (cf. v. 19b), and Pharisees (cf. v. 24) as the Jewish Temple-“police” “from Jerusalem”.
Verse 28 located the place of this event. For the sake of the Law and inner peace (cf. John 11:47–53; 18:1–19:16), they tested John the Baptist whether he was authorized to preach the baptism of the repentance (cf. vv. 23, 26, 28). The first part of the interview is that they asked60him who called to account like a policeman for his identity on behalf of the Jewish authority61in Jerusalem (cf. vv. 21–22):
“Who are you?” (cf.v.22b andJohn8:25; 12:34; 21:12 – cf. 19:9) – note the Greek interrogative pronouns “tís” (= who) in verses 19d, 22b and “tí” (= what) in verse21b.
v. 20:John the Baptist clearly gave them an account. So he did not deny his special prophetic ministry, in contrast to Peter (cf. 13:38; 18:25, 27: “arnéomaɩ”) and “confessed” – note the Greek verbum compositum “homo-logéo” inJohn9:22; 12:42 and 1 John 1:9; 2:23; 4:2–3, 15; 2 John 7), in a negative way: “I am not62Christ” (Greek)/the “Messiah” (Hebrew) – cf. vv. 17b, 20c, 25c, 41b and especiallyJohn20:3163.
v. 21:Second, the delegation “from Jerusalem” (v. 19b) also asked him two questions which are like the first question of their interview in verse 19d:
“What (are you) now?” and the second one is a specifically refers to the prophet Elijah –
“Are you Elijah?” (in Greek “Elías” in vv. 21c, 25d andinMark 6:15; 8:28; 9:4–5, 11–13; 15:35–36; Matthew 11:14; 16:14; 17:3–4, 10–12; 27:47, 49; Luke 1:17; 4:25–26; 9:8, 19, 30, 33).
Again He said “NO” that he is not the “prophet”64(cf. vv. 21e, 23d, 25d; Deuteronomy 18:15, 18), the “new prophet Elijah”65(cf. v. 25 and Malachi 3:1, 23).
v. 22:Thirdly, they asked him in the context of their interview again:
“Who are you”? – note the question in verse 19d.
Then the delegation “from Jerusalem” – probably including some Pharisees66– explained to him why they had to ask him. They requested him to answer them with his own statement of his identity.
v. 23:He answered their question with the help of the quotation from Isaiah6740:368. “Desert”69is the place of John the Baptist’s ministry –Bethany(cf. John 1:28) and/or “Aenon” near “Salim” (3:23) – from his youth (cf. Luke 1:80). He had his own disciples70. He preached and called for theconversion or a renewal of life(-style) by a ritual washing in the Jordan as a visible sign of this, in combination with the public confession and the forgiveness of sins. His aim is to be the (eschatological) messianic “preacher of repentance”71. John the Baptist never tires of talking about [the Coming of] Christ and of preparing the Day of the Lord as well as the people to accept Jesus as the “Christ” and “God’s Son”. So his self-assessment is to be the “messenger” of [the Coming of] Christ as a precursor on earth. For this, the Evangelist John rereads and quotes the text of the Hebrew Bible – our so-called Old Testament – Isaiah 40:372as a fulfilled prophetic promise and prediction of the relationship between the “precursor”, John the Baptist and the “redeemer”, Jesus of Nazareth.
John the Baptist is the one who preceded the Lord, prepared His way, and pointed to Jesus as the Messiah – note the right side of the pictures of the so-called “Isenheimer Altar” by the painter Matthias Grünewald between 1506 and 1515 B.C.: Jesus said about Himself: “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). His chief interest was the revelation of Jesus’ identity – “the Lamb of God” (v. 29). In this way, he is a model of total witness to Christ (cf. vv. 6–8). The sense of the quotation is also that people should give up their selfish way of living, renounce and repent their sins, seek God’s forgiveness, and establish a good relationship with God. They, then in John’s time, and we, today, have to be ready for the Second Coming of Christ.
+ The Authority of John the Baptist(vv. 24–27)
v. 24:The job of the Pharisees was to test all people who were neither from the priestly class nor qualified in the Law, for all who preached and acted in the name of God YHWH in a public ministry. In this way the Evangelist suggests they straighten out the matter by order of Sanhedrim for the correct use of the Law, and also on behalf of the occupying power of the Roman Empire, for peace within Palestine. In Jesus’ time the Pharisees did not have this authority but in the Evangelist’s time they did. Especially the Pharisees are pictured in the Fourth Gospel as responsible controllers of the Law (cf. John 7:32, 45, 48; 8:3, 13; 9:13, 15-16, 40; 11:46–47, 57; 12:19, 42).
v. 25:The Pharisees sum up the first part of their investigation by saying that John the Baptist is neither the Christ of Daniel 9:25 (cf. v. 20b) nor the expected Elijah of Malachi 3:23 (cf. v. 21c) nor the Mosaic prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15, 18 (v. 21e), and they introduce the second part of the judicial inquiry with the question of his authority – for example, Jesus in John 2:18 after His cleansing the Temple in Jerusalem –: “Why then does he baptize?”
vv. 26–2773:He answers them in a negative way (cf. vv. 26c, 27b) again – with the help of a self-confident “I” (vv. 20b, 23a, 26b) – and he testifies the Coming Christ (cf. v. 27a) – “unsaid” Jesus. The special actions of John the Baptist were: to preach and to “baptize”74(vv. 25b, 26b, 28b, 31c, 33b) (only) with “water”75(vv. 26b, 31c, 33b – cf. Acts 1:5) from the brook/river Jordan76in the desert. John’s baptism with water prepared the people to receive Jesus’ ministry in word and deed.
v. 27:Afterwards he describes the role of Jesus with the help of an understatement of himself. He replies in his self-assessment that he is unworthy77to “untie … the( )sandal78(strap79)” (cf. Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; Acts 13:25) of the one coming after him – Jesus (cf. vv. 6–8). He wants to say that Jesus, the Christ, would be infinitely greater than he. This was the beginning of the spiritual process, and in this way, Jesus finished and fulfilled all that John had begun and prepared.
v. 28:The Fourth Evangelist had the questioning of John the Baptist by the delegation “from Jerusalem” and his answering (cf. 1 Peter 3:15) in “Bethany”80– take place not near Jerusalem (cf. John 11:1, 18; 12:1) but – “on the other side of/across the Jordan”81(v. 28 and 3:26; 10:40).
2.1.2 “Second Day”82: John the Baptist at Sight of Jesus(vv. 29–3483)
- The Setting(v. 29a)
Who:John the Baptist, Jesus, the crowd of“Israel” (v. 31), a dove – symbol for the Holy Spirit (vv. 32–33), God who sent John the Baptist (v. 33)
Where:“Bethany on the other side of the Jordan” (v. 28) near Jericho and Qumran
When:during Jesus’ baptism – note Luke’s remark that Jesus of Nazareth “was about thirty years old when He began His” public “ministry” (3:23)
v. 29:On a new (“next)day” (cf. vv. 29a, 35a, 43a and 6:22; 12:12), when Jesus came to “John the Baptist”84– a son of the priest Zechariah and Elizabeth (cf. Luke 1:5–25, 57–80) and His cousin (cf. Luke 1:36) –, at the beginning he proclaimed Jesus as “the Lamb of God” (in Latin “Agnus Dei” – cf. Isaiah 53:7) – note verse 36 in the context of the call of His disciples from John’s fellowship – “who takes away the sin of the world”, and at the end, he underlined that Jesus is “the Son of God” (v. 34b).
Every morning and evening, a one-year-old lamb was sacrificed in the Temple of Jerusalem for the sins of the people (cf. Exodus 29:38–42). The prophets Jeremiah (cf. 11:19) and Isaiah (cf. 53:7) prophesied that the Messiah, God’s servant, would be led to the slaughter like a lamb – in this way, Jesus as the “Servant of God” (cf. Isaiah 42:1; 49:3; 50:10; 52:13) is also the “Lamb of God”. To pay the penalty for sin, a life had to be given – and God chose to provide the sacrifice Himself/Jesus like a “scapegoat” which took all the sins of the Jewish people and took them away/send them into the desert on the “Day of Atonement” (cf. Leviticus 16:10). The “sin(s)of the world” (cf. 1 John 3:5) were removed when Jesus died as the perfect sacrifice (cf. John 19:14, 36 and 1 Peter 1:19) as the Passover Lamb and the sins of all85people – Jews and Gentiles in the whole world – were forgiven in the “soteriological”86sense (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7) forever. This is an interesting aspect because of the destruction of the Temple in the year 70 A.D. and the end of the daily sacrificing oflambs in Jerusalem. According to the Fourth Evangelist, the Passover87Feast was soon (cf.John2:13) and the Jewish people should smear the doorposts with the blood of the slain lamb on the night in memory of the exodus when they left Egypt (cf. Exodus 12:12–14). Besides in thiscontext of the Evangelist, Jesus passed Bethany like a (flock of) lamb(s) which will serve as sacrifices for the Passover Feast88.
v. 30:As in verses 20 and 26–27, an understatement of John the Baptist emphasizes Jesus’ special role as the “Lamb of God” (vv. 29c, 36b) and the “Son of God” (v. 34b) in the sense of the pre-existence of Jesus by God (cf., for example, John 16:5): “After me” (= John the Baptist – note in Greek “opíso mou” in vv. 15c, 27a) “comes” – note the present tense! – “a man” (= Jesus) who “was before me” (v. 30c, d). Therefore Jesus should be infinitely greater than John the Baptist because He finished and fulfilled all that John had begun and prepared.
v. 31:John the Baptist underlines his role as Jesus’ forerunner with the help of a correction89(“not…but”): “( )I/did/ (not)know Him” – note the parallel with verse 33a – cf. v. 26d –, “but…Ibaptized” (vv. 25b, 26b, 28b, 31c, 33c) only “with water” (cf. vv. 26b, 33c) as the sign of the cleansing and repentance of “Israel”90(v. 31b). His baptism with water was preparatory, because it was for repentance and symbolized the washing of sins.
v. 32:John the Baptist “testifies”91/“convinced” (cf. vv. 7b, 8b, 15a, 34a) that he “saw”92(vv. 32b, 33e, 34a) Jesus as the “Son of God” (v. 34b) like a “witness”93(cf.John19:35; 21:24), because the Holy “Spiritcomes down” (vv. 32b, 33e, 51e ) “from Heaven” (cf. Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 61:1 – note also John 6:58) “as a dove”94(cf. Luke 3:22a/Matthew 3:16 and less Mark 1:10) during Jesus’ baptism “and remains on Him” (v. 33d) in public. The Holy Spirit was with Jesus permanently from then on (cf. John 14:17 and 6:56; 8:31; 15:4–10) in the sense of Ezekiel 36:26–27 and not as a momentary inspiration at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in word and deed. That is the message of John the Baptist as the “precursor” of Jesus, the “redeemer” and “Saviour” (cf.John3:16).
v. 33:As in verse 31a, John the Baptist emphasizes again with the help of a second correction95(“not…but”) that he “( ) /did/(not)know Him” – note the same words in verse 31a –, “but” he “who has been sent” by God “to baptizewith water” – note again verse 26b and especially verse 31c as an earthly-immanent event. However, He explains that the “Spirit coming down” – note the same words in verse 32b –as a dove (from Heaven) which “remained on Him” – note the parallel with verse 32c – as the heavenly-divine/transcendental act of God’s Holy “Spirit” is a sign of the “Lamb” and the “Son of God” (v. 34b) in Jesus. Note the climax: John’s Baptism with “water” here (vv. 26b, 31c, 33c) – Jesus’ Baptism with the “Spirit” there!
2.1.3“Third”98and “Fourth/Fifth Day”99: The Call of the First Disciples of Jesus(vv. 35–51)
- The Call of Andrew and His Brother Simon Peter (vv. 35–42)
+ The Setting(vv. 35–37)
Who:John the Baptist (vv. 35–36), his two disciples (vv. 35, 37–39), Andrew and his brother Simon Peter (vv. 40–42), Philip (vv. 43–46), Nathanael (vv. 45–51)
Where:“Bethany” (v. 28)
When:after Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan (vv. 29–34)
vv. 35–37:The Evangelist connects the “following”100(cf. vv. 37b, 38b, 40c [, 43e]) of His first disciples by repeating John the Baptist’s testimony as a proclamation (cf. 1:29–34) that Jesus is “the Lamb of God”101(vv. 29b, 36b) and with the help of “two”102(in Greek “dúo” in vv. 35, 37a, 40a andinMark 6:7; 11:1; 14:13[; 15:27; 16:12]; Matthew 4:18, 21; 18:16, 19–20; 21:1[; 27:38]; Luke 7:18; 10:1; 19:29[; 23:32]; 24:4, 13) of his own “disciples” (vv. 35, 37a) who “heard” (cf. vv. 37a, 40b) his witness about Jesus. John the Baptist who pointed to Jesus with his eyes103(non-verbal – cf. v. 36a) and his words (verbal – cf. vv. 36b–37a, 40a) is the reason and the guide that “Andrew” and another unnamed of his disciples (cf. v. 40a) followed Jesus (cf. vv. 37b, 38b, 40b) in contrast to the call of Andrew according to Mark 1:16–18 respectively Matthew 4:18–20 in which Jesus took the initiative.
+ The Following of Andrew including a Comment by the Evangelist(vv. 38–40)
v. 38:Jesus realized His “followers” (v. 38b) and introduced a dialogue with them with a question: “What do you seek/look for”? – cf. John 18:4, 7–8; 20:15. They respectfully answered with a query:
“Rabbi,where104are you staying105”?) – note the Jewish title “rabbi”106in verse 49b by Nathanael or in 3:2c by Nicodemus.
v. 39:Jesus replied briefly and invited them:
“Come” – note the imperative in present tense! –
“andyou willsee” (in future! – cf. v. 46d).
Immediately they did it because “Jesus is the answer”. Their question found an answer in their following:
“Theycameand saw” (cf. v. 39b, c)
“where he was staying” – note the parallel with verse 38f.
The Fourth Evangelist comments that “they stayed with” Jesus (everywhere else) – it was about 4107o’clock in the afternoon as inJohn4:6; 19:14.
v. 40:The name of “one of the two” anonymous John the Baptist’s disciples: “Andrew” (in Greek “Andréas”108in vv. 40a, 44b andin John6:8; 12:22; Mark 1:16, 29; 3:18; 13:3; Matthew 4:18; 10:2; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13), “the brother of Simon Peter” (v. 41a), who accepted John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus (verbal – cf. v. 37a) by “following” Him (non-verbal – cf. v. 37b). Who is the second anonymous (cf.John21:2) “follower”?109Is it Philip (cf. vv. 43–46, 48 and 6:5, 7; 12:21–22; 14:8–9), the so-called “beloved disciple” (cf. 13:23; 19:26–27; 21:7, 20–24) respectively the “other disciple” (cf. 18:15–16; 20:2–10) or somebody else (of His disciples)? Both found that what they sought (cf. v. 38c) – the “Lamb of God” (vv. 29b, 36b), the “Son of God” (v. 34b), the “Rabbi” (vv. 38e, 49b).
+ The Call of Simon Peter(vv. 41–42)
v. 41:“First” Andrew “found”110(vv. 41a, c, 43c, 45a, d) his “brother” (v. 40a andJohn6:8; Mark 1:16; Matthew 4:18; 10:2; Luke 6:14) and he informed him (cf., for example, John 4:28; 20:24–29; Acts 4:20; Romans 10:17) about the “finding” of “theMessiah” (Hebrew – in Greek “ho Chrɩstós” – cf. vv. 17b, 20c, 25c, 41c) that means “the anointed” (v. 41d andJohn4:25).
v. 42:Andrew led his brother “Simon”111(in Greek “Símon” in vv. 40a, 41a2, 42c) to “Jesus” who “looked at” (v. 36a) the “newcomer” and welcomed him, saying: “Simon,the sonof” (cf. v. 45e) “John” (cf. 21:15b, 16b, 17b). Then He directly gave him the new (nick-)name “Kephãs” (in Hebrew for “rock” – cf. 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Galatians 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14) respectively “Pétros”112(in Greek in vv. 40a, 42e and cf. Mark 3:16/Luke 6:14; Matthew 16:18). So we have a double way to identify twoveryimportantpersons (VIP) of the Fourth Gospel in verses 41–42: First, Andrew titled Jesus with the messianic title “Messiah”/“Christ”, however Jesus named Simon “Cephas”/“Peter”.
The call of the first three disciples (Andrew, the other unnamed disciple, Simon Peter) is like a “domino effect”113or a “wild fire”:
John the Baptist→Andrewand a second one (cf.vv. 35–37) –
Jesus→Andrew and the unnamed one (cf.vv. 38–39/40) –
Andrew→Simon (cf.vv. 41–42a) –
Jesus→Simon (cf.v. 42b–d).
- The Call of Philip and Nathanael(vv. 43–51)
In the same way, Jesus first “found
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