COMMENTARY
ON THE
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN

BY JOHN CALVIN


A NEW TRANSLATION, FROM THE ORIGINAL LATIN,
BY THE REV. WILLIAM PRINGLE


VOLUME FIRST


CHRISTIAN CLASSICS ETHEREAL LIBRARY
GRAND RAPIDS, MI
http://www.ccel.org
THE TRANSLATOR’S PREFACE
COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN are numerous, and some of them are written with great learning and ability. Rarely has a separate and extended interpretation been given to any of the other three Gospels, which are, indeed, so closely interwoven with each other, that it is scarcely possible to expound one of them in a satisfactory manner, without bringing the whole into one view, comparing parallel passages, accounting for apparent contradictions, and supplying the omissions of each narrative, to such an extent as to produce what shall be in substance, though not always in form, a HARMONY OF THE THREE EVANGELISTS.
Few of these difficulties meet the expositor of John’s Gospel, in which the slender thread of narrative — until it reaches the period of the last sufferings of our Savior — does little more than connect long discourses, which He delivered to the multitude and to his disciples. Whatever opinion may be formed as to the theory of the elder Tittmann, that JOHN, wrote his work for the express purpose of proving the supreme Divinity of Christ, we cannot avoid being struck with the fact, that the miracles which he selects are distinguished by peculiar grandeur, and that the discourses which he relates contain the most abundant and delightful exhibitions of the glory of the Son of God, and of the nature of his mediatorial office, which our great Master was pleased to make during his personal ministry.
Lampe, Hutcheson, and Tittmann, are better known, and more highly esteemed, in this country than any other Commentator on JOHN that could be named. The three quarto volumes of Lampe are a monument of judicious toil, and present such stores of philological, historical, and theological learning as ought never to be mentioned but with respect and gratitude. Though not free from the faults of the Cocceian School, of which his miscellaneous treatises afford some unhappy proofs, his Commentary displays generally such caution and judgment, that it deserves to be not only consulted, but perused throughout, and carefully studied. Hutcheson wanted both the acuteness and the industry requisite for the successful elucidation of the Holy Scriptures, but is justly admired for the copiousness, variety, and excellence of his practical observations.
Tittmann’s Meletemata Sacra in Evangelium Joannis, now happily rendered accessible to the English reader, f1 I must be regarded as one of the most valuable contributions of modern times to biblical interpretation. Accurate scholarship, elegant and flowing language, deep reverence for the inspired volume, and a warmth of affectionate piety closely resembling that of the disciple whom Jesus loved, have gained for that work a reputation which is likely to increase. To the reader who is chiefly desirous to ascertain the meaning of Scripture, and who willingly dispenses with what serves no other purpose than illustration: Tittmann’s exposition of the first four Chapters of JOHN’S Gospel will be highly acceptable; though it must be acknowledged that the remaining portion of the work — not executed till towards the close of the life of the venerable author — is somewhat less attractive, and, if it has been prepared with equal care, yet, in consequence of extreme unwillingness to bring forward explanations which had been already given, it will sometimes disappoint one who only dips into an occasional passage, and has not made himself familiar with the profound views unfolded in the earlier pages.
These and other eminent writers have been deeply indebted to CALVIN’S Commentary on JOHN’S GOSPEL, but have left its claims to the attention of all classes of readers as strong and urgent as ever. Where they differ from him, they often go astray, and where they agree with him, they generally fall below the instructive power of his own pen; for few can equal his clear and vigorous statements. When he places in a just light — as he frequently does — those texts which had been wrested for the confutation of heretics, none but eager and unscrupulous controversialists will complain. Every honorable mind will admire the unbending integrity of our Author, which, even in the defense of truth, disdains to employ an unlawful weapon, and devoutly bows to the dictates of the Holy Spirit.
The present Work brings under review some of the most intricate questions in theology; and in handling them he is not more careful to learn all that has been revealed than to avoid unauthorized speculation. They who know the difficulty of the path will the more highly appreciate so skillful a guide, who advances with a firm step, points out the bypaths which have misled the unwary, conducts us to scenes which we had not previously explored, and aids us in listening to a Divine voice which says, This is the way, walk, ye in it.
In the HARMONY OF THE THREE EVANGELISTS, the reader is so constantly referred to this Commentary, which appeared two years sooner, that the benefit of the former cannot be fully reaped, unless the latter be at hand. The Author’s references are sometimes vague, but the Translator has endeavored to discover and point out the page in which the desired information may be obtained.
W.P.
AUCHTERARDER, 10th April, 1847.
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE
THE LORD ROBT. DVDLEY,
EARLE OF LEYCESTER,
BARON OF DENBIGH, MAISTER OF THE HORSE TO THE QUEENE’S MAIESTIE,
KNIGHT OF THE NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER, AND ONE OF THE
QUEENE’S MAIESTIE, MOST HONORABLE PRIUIE COUNSEL,
CHANCELOUR OF THE MOST FAMOUS VNIUERSITIE
OF OXFORD, CHRISTOPHER FETHERSTONE,
WISHETH ENCREASE OF SPIRITUALL
GIFTES, LONG LIFE, HAPPY
DAYES, AND ENCREASE
OF HONOUR
IT is an old saying, (Right Honorable,) and no lesse true then olde, that saleable wines neede no iuie bush which prouerb importeth thus much, that thinges which are of themselues good & commendable haue not any, at leaste no greate need of commendation. If, therefore, I should with fine filed phrases, with gay geason woords, with straunge examples, and notable hystories, compound some long Prologue and tedious Preface in commendation of this most excellent work and Commentarie, of that famous member and faithfull Doctour of God’s Church, Maister Iohn Caluine, I might cause your Honour to suspect the fondnesse thereof: I my selfe should seeme to doubte of the goodnesse thereof: and, finally, minister occasion to many to condemne me of folly. Omitting, therefore, that which is needlesse, I descend vnto that which is needefull: to wit, to excuse my selfe of arrogancie wherof some may accuse me, in that I dare presume to dedicate vnto your Honour this my translation, vnto whom I am altogether vnknowne. The loade stone, as men say, writers do testifie and experience doth teach, hath in it selfe such power, force, and vertue, that it draweth iron vnto it though it be farre distant; right so, vertue doth drawe men vnto it, and the reporte thereof causeth men to loue those whome they haue not seene, and to reuerence those of who they haue onely heard, which thing, sithence it is so, there is no cause why I shoulde either be accused of arrogancie or condemned of impudencie for approching so boldly vnto your Honour, and for suffering this my translation to appeare in your name. For your friendes confesse, and your foes cannot Justly denie, that God hath placed in your noble breast great aboundance of most heroicall vertues, I omit to speake of that rare report of your vnfeigned religion which resoundeth euery where, and redoundeth to your prayse. I should be tedious if I should set downe particularly the most vndoubted testimonies of your faithfulness toward your dread Soueraigne: I should seeme to flatter if I would extoll that godly magnanimiti, wherwith the Lord hath endued you to maintaine his truth, to defend the realm, to subdue those proud aspiring Papists. That great and earnest care which your Honour hath alwaies had, and euen now hath, to support the poore ministers of the Word and Gospell of Iesus Christ in God’s cause, and in good causes, hath in it selfe sufficient force to enforce not onely me, but all thankfull heartes, by word and writing, to bewray all thankfulnesse and dutifulnesse towards your good Honor, as this, so that singular liberalitie vsed at all times by your Lordship towards my friends, hath caused me, in dedicating of this booke to your Honour, to testifie some parte of my thankfull minde in their behalfe. And heere I am to craue pardon of you, whiche I hope I shall easily obtaine, for that I haue not behaued my selfe finely as I might though faithfully as I ought in this my worke. And thus, fearing prolixitie, I conclude, praying; unto the Lorde God of heauen and earth, that King of Kinges and Lorde of Lordes, that he will graunt vnto your Honour and to the rest (whom he hath placed in the like degree of dignitie) his Holy Spirite, that Spirite of wisdome and vnder-standing, that you may thereby be so directed that all your thoughts, woordes, and workes, may tend to the setting foorth of God’s glory, the maintenance of true religion, the preseruation of the realme. So shall England haue wealth, be voide of woe, enjoy, solace, be free from sorrow, possesse plentie, nor tast of pouertie, inherite pleasure, and not see paine. Which God graunt.
Your Honour’s most humble and obedient,
CHRISTOPHER FETHERSTONE
TO THE READER
BEING instantly requested (gentle reader) by my godly zealous friendes, to enterprise the translating of this most learned Commentarie of M. Iohn Caluine, and being perswaded thervnto by many godly reasons, whereof God’s glory and the profite of his Church should be the cheife, I could not nor would not refuse to take that charge vp on me, vnlesse I should haue forgotten my dutie towardes God, his Church, and my friendes; and now, forasmuch (gentle reader) as the principal recompence of my paines shal be that profit which thou shalt reape by the reading of this my translation, I beseech thee refuse not to take some paines in reading the same. I have not stuft it full of strange words deriued of the Latine, which might no lesse molest thee then if they continued Latine as they were. I haue not racked the phrases to make them runn smoothly to please daintie eares, and so digressed from the truth and meaning of the authour; but, so much as possible I could, I haue translated worde for worde, which the learned by conference shall wel perceiue. Long time haue the godly desired to haue this worke published in the English tongue, and seeing they haue their desire now, my request vnto them is to accept of my paines herein. I dare not, good reader, presume so farre vpon mine owne skill as to saye that there is no faultes committed heerein, but I am earnestly to desire thee rather courteously to amend them then curiously to condemne me for them. And thus, trusting to thy curtiesie, I committe thee to the tuition og the Almightie, who so direct thee by his Spirite, that by reading thou maiest profite.
Thine in the Lorde,
CHRISTOPHER FETHERSTONE
THE AUTHOR’S EPISTLE DEDICATORY
To The
TRULY HONOURABLE AND ILLUSTRIOUS LORDS,
THE SYNDICS AND COUNCIL OF GENEVA,
JOHN CALVIN
SUPPLICATES FROM THE LORD THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND FIRMNESS, AND A PROSPEROUS ADMINISTRATION.
I NEVER call to remembrance that saying of Christ, in which he sets so high a value on the duty of receiving strangers with kindness as to reckon it done to himself, without considering, at the same time, the extraordinary honor which he has been pleased to confer on you, by making your city the resort, not of one or a few individuals, but of his Church at large. Among heathen countries hospitality was always commended, and was even accounted one of the principal virtues; and, accordingly, when they intended to denounce any people as barbarians and savages of the lowest stamp, they called them, ajxe>nouv, or — which means the same thing — inhospitable. But far higher praise is due to you that, in these troublesome and unhappy times, the Lord has appointed you to be the persons whose support and protection should be solicited by godly and inoffensive men banished and driven from their native countries by the wicked and cruel tyranny of Antichrist. And not only so, but he has also dedicated to his name a sacred dwelling-place among you, where his worship may be maintained in purity.
Whoever attempts, in the slightest degree, openly to invade, or secretly to take from you, these two advantages, not only labors to deprive your city of its brightest ornaments, but beholds its existence and safety with an envious eye. For though the kind offices which are here performed towards Christ and his scattered members excite the barking of wicked men against you, still you ought to look upon yourselves as abundantly compensated by this single consideration, that angels bless you from heaven, and the children of God bless you from every quarter of the world; so that you may boldly despise the foul slander of those men who are not restrained either by scruples of conscience, or by shame, from pouring out more outrageous insults on God himself than on you, — nay, who, when they wish to calumniate you, begin with blaspheming God. Though this very occasion f2 kindles the rage of many people against you, yet you have no reason to dread any danger arising from it, so long as their fury shall be counteracted by the protection of His hand who hath promised that He will be the faithful Guardian of those cities in which the doctrine of His Gospel shall remain, and in which godly men, whom the world cannot endure, shall be permitted to dwell. I say nothing as to its being unnecessary to give yourselves any uneasiness about conciliating this class of enemies; for there is no man that is hostile to you for the sake of the Gospel, who would not desire to see you ruined or oppressed on other grounds. But granting that there were no other reason why you are hated by the avowed enemies of sound doctrine, than because they see you employed in defending it, still, disregarding their stratagems and threatenings, you ought resolutely to defend those two impregnable bulwarks, the purity of religious worship, and a godly anxiety to maintain the Church which Christ has placed under the shelter of your wings.
So far as relates to the slanders which are thrown at us by the Pope’s hired brawlers — that we have apostatized from the Church, because we have withdrawn from subjection to the See of Rome — I wish it were as much in our power to protest with unshaken confidence before God and the angels, that we are at the greatest possible distance from that filthy puddle, as we can easily and readily defend ourselves from the crime which they are in the habit of laying to our charge. They boast, indeed, of the name of the Catholic Church, though no part of the whole doctrine of the Law and the Gospel has been permitted by them to remain free from shameful corruptions, though they have profaned the whole worship of God by the filth of their superstitions, and have not scrupled to debase all the ordinances of God by their inventions. Nay more, so Catholic — so universal — is the mass of errors by which they have overturned the whole of religion, that it would be enough to destroy and swallow up the Church a hundred times over. We can never, therefore, extol, in terms so lofty as the matter deserves, the unbounded goodness of God, by which we have miraculously escaped from that destructive whirlpool, and have fixed the anchor of our faith on the firm and everlasting truth of God. f3 And, indeed, this Commentary will itself, I trust, be a sufficient proof that Popery is nothing else than a monster formed out of the innumerable deceptions of Satan, and that what they call the Church is more confused than Babylon.
Yet I will candidly acknowledge — what is actually true — that we are not at a sufficient distance from that filthy pit, the contagion of which is too widely spread. Antichrist complains that we have fallen away from him; but we f4 are compelled to groan that too many of the pollutions with which he has infected the whole world remain amongst us. God has graciously restored to us f5 uncontaminated purity of doctrine, religion in its primitive state, the unadulterated worship of God, and a faithful administration of the Sacraments, as they were delivered to us by Christ. But the principal cause which hinders us from attaining that reformation of conduct and of life which ought to exist is, that very many persons, remembering that unbridled licentiousness in which the Papists indulge in opposition to the command of God, cannot become accustomed to the yoke of Christ. Accordingly, when our enemies, in order to excite against us unfounded dislike among the ignorant, raise a vexatious outcry that we have broken all discipline, their calumny is abundantly refuted (even though we should remain silent) by this single consideration, that at home we have no contest more severe than about — what is considered, at least, by many people to be — our excessive severity. But since you are the most competent witnesses for myself and my colleagues, that we are not more rigid and severe than the claim of duty demands and even compels us to be, as we freely submit to the decision of your conscience respecting us; so, on the other hand, you will easily perceive at a glance the singularly ridiculous impudence of our enemies on this subject.
I shall now say a few words about myself as an individual. Though I trust that my numerous writings will be a sufficient attestation to the world in what manner I have taught this Church, yet I have thought that it would be of very great importance for me to draw up a special record on this subject inscribed with your name; for it is highly necessary that the kind of doctrine which you acknowledge to be taught by me should be exhibited to the view of all. f6 Now though, in all the books which I have hitherto published, it has been my endeavor that you and the people under your charge should derive advantage from them even after my death, and though it would be highly unbecoming that the doctrine which has emanated from your city to foreign nations should yield fruit extensively, but be neglected in the place of its abode, yet I trust that this Commentary, which is especially dedicated to you, will take a firmer hold of your memory. For this purpose I pray to God to inscribe it so deeply with His own finger on your hearts that it may never be obliterated by any stratagem of Satan; for to Him does it belong to crown my labor with success, who has hitherto given me such courage as to desire nothing more than to watch faithfully over the safety of you all. Farther, as I freely acknowledge before the world that I am very far from possessing the careful diligence and the other virtues which the greatness and excellence of the office requires in a good Pastor, and as I continually bewail before God the numerous sins which obstruct my progress. Do I venture to declare that I am not without an honest and sincere desire to perform my duty. And if, in the meantime, wicked men do not cease to annoy me, as it is my duty — by well-doing — to refute their slanders, so it will belong to you to restrain those slanders by the exercise of that sacred authority with which you are invested. Wherefore, my Illustrious and highly honored Lords, I recommend you to the protection of our good God, entreating Him to give you always the spirit of prudence and virtue for governing aright, and to make your administration prosperous, so that His name may be thereby glorified, and that the result may be happy for you and yours. f7
GENEVA,
1st January, 1553.
THE ARGUMENT
OF THE
GOSPEL OF JOHN
The meaning of the Greek word, eujagge>lion (Gospel) is well known. f8 In Scripture it denotes, by way of eminence, (kat j ejxoch<n,) the glad and delightful message of the grace exhibited to us in Christ, in order to instruct us, by despising the world and its fading riches and pleasures, to desire with our whole heart, and to embrace when offered to us, this invaluable blessing. The conduct which we perceive in irreligious men, who take an extravagant delight in the empty enjoyments of the world, while they are little if at all, affected by a relish for spiritual blessings, is natural to us all. For the purpose of correcting this fault, God expressly bestows the name Gospel on the message which he orders to be proclaimed concerning Christ; for thus he reminds us that nowhere else can true and solid happiness be obtained, and that in him we have all that is necessary for the perfection of a happy life.
Some consider the word Gospel as extending to all the gracious promises of God which are found scattered even in the Law and the Prophets. Nor can it be denied that, whenever God declares that he will be reconciled to men, and forgives their sins, he at the same time exhibits Christ, whose peculiar office it is, wherever he shines, to spread abroad the rays of joy. I acknowledge, therefore, that the Fathers were partakers of the same Gospel with ourselves, so far as relates to the faith of a gratuitous salvation. But as it is the ordinary declaration made by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures, that the Gospel was first proclaimed when Christ came, let us also adhere to this mode of expression; and let us keep by that definition of the Gospel which I have given, that it is a solemn publication of the grace revealed in Christ. On this account the Gospel is called
the power of God to salvation to every one who believeth, (<450116>Romans 1:16)
because in it God displays his righteousness. It is called also an
embassy, by which he reconciles men to himself,
(<470520>2 Corinthians 5:20)
and as Christ is the pledge of the mercy of God, and of his fatherly love towards us, so he is, in a peculiar manner, the subject of the Gospel.
Hence it came that the histories which relate that Christ appeared in the flesh and died, and was raised from the dead, and at length was taken up into heaven, have peculiarly obtained the name Gospel. For although, for the reason already stated:, this word means the New Testament, yet the name which denote, the whole has come, by general practice, to stand for that part of it which declares that Christ was manifested to us in the flesh, and died, and rose from the dead. But as the bare history would not be enough, and, indeed, would be of no advantage for salvation, the Evangelists do not merely relate that Christ was born, and that he died and vanquished death, but also explain for what purpose he was born, and died, and rose again, and what benefit we derive from those events.
Yet there is also this difference between them, that the other three are more copious in their narrative of the life and death of Christ, but John dwells more largely on the doctrine by which the office of Christ, together with the power of his death and resurrection, is unfolded. They do not, indeed, omit to mention that Christ came to bring salvation to the world, to atone for the sins of the world by the sacrifice of his death, and, in short, to perform every thing that was required from the Mediator, (as John also devotes a portion of his work to historical details;) but the doctrine, which points out to us the power and benefit of the coming of Christ, is far more clearly exhibited by him than by the rest. And as all of them had the same object in view, to point out Christ, the three former exhibit his body, if we may be permitted to use the expression, but John exhibits his soul. On this account, I am accustomed to say that this Gospel is a key to open the door for understanding the rest; for whoever shall understand the power of Christ, as it is here strikingly portrayed, will afterwards read with advantage what the others relate about the Redeemer who was manifested.
John is believed to have written chiefly with the intention of maintaining the Divinity of Christ, in opposition to the wicked blasphemies of Ebion and Cerinthus; and this is asserted by Eusebius and Jerome, in accordance with the general opinion of the ancients. But whatever might be his motive for writing at that time, there can be no doubt whatever that God intended a far higher benefit for his Church. He therefore dictated to the Four Evangelists what they should write, in such a manner that, while each had his own part assigned him, the whole might be collected into one body; and it is our duty now to blend the Four by a mutual relation, so that we may permit ourselves to be taught by all of them, as by one mouth. As to John being placed the fourth in order, it was done on account of the time when he wrote, but in reading them, a different order would be more advantageous, which is, that when we wish to read in Matthew and the others, that Christ was given to us by the Father, we should first learn from John the purpose for which he was manifested.
COMMENTARY
ON THE
HOLY GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
ACCORDING TO
JOHN
CHAPTER 1

JOHN 1:1-5
1. In the beginning was the Speech, and the Speech was with God, and the Speech was God. 2. He was in the beginning with God. 3. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

1. In the beginning was the Speech. In this introduction he asserts the eternal Divinity of Christ, in order to inform us that he is the eternal God, who was manifested in the flesh, (<540416>1 Timothy 4:16.) The design is, to show it to have been necessary that the restoration of mankind should be accomplished by the Son of God, since by his power all things were created, since he alone breathes into all the creatures life and energy, so that they remain in their condition; and since in man himself he has given a remarkable display both of his power and of his grace, and even subsequently to the fall of man has not ceased to show liberality and kindness towards his posterity. And this doctrine is highly necessary to be known; for since apart from God we ought not at all to seek life and salvation, how could our faith rest on Christ, if we did not know with certainty what is here taught? By these words, therefore, the Evangelist assures us that we do not withdraw from the only and eternal God, when we believe in Christ, and likewise that life is now restored to the dead through the kindness of him who was the source and cause of life, when the nature of man was still uncorrupted.
As to the Evangelist calling the Son of God the Speech, the simple reason appears to me to be, first, because he is the eternal Wisdom and Will of God; and, secondly, because he is the lively image of His purpose; for, as Speech is said to be among men the image of the mind, so it is not inappropriate to apply this to God, and to say that He reveals himself to us by his Speech. The other significations of the Greek word lo>gov (Logos) do not apply so well. It means, no doubt, definition, and reasoning, and calculation; but I am unwilling to carry the abstruseness of philosophy beyond the measure of my faith. And we perceive that the Spirit of God is so far from approving of such subtleties that, in prattling with us, by his very silence he cries aloud with what sobriety we ought to handle such lofty mysteries.
Now as God, in creating the world, revealed himself by that Speech, so he formerly had him concealed with himself, so that there is a twofold relation; the former to God, and the latter to men. Servetus, a haughty scoundrel belonging to the Spanish nation, invents the statement, that this eternal Speech began to exist at that time when he was displayed in the creation of the world, as if he did not exist before his power was made known by external operation. Very differently does the Evangelist teach in this passage; for he does not ascribe to the Speech a beginning of time, but says that he was from the beginning, and thus rises beyond all ages. I am fully aware how this dog barks against us, and what cavils were formerly raised by the Arians, namely, that
in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,
(<010101>Genesis 1:1)
which nevertheless are not eternal, because the word beginning refers to order, instead of denoting eternity. But the Evangelist meets this calumny when he says,
And the Speech was with God. If the Speech began to be at some time, they must find out some succession of time in God; and undoubtedly by this clause John intended to distinguish him from all created things. For many questions might arise, Where was this Speech? How did he exert his power? What was his nature? How might he be known? The Evangelist, therefore, declares that we must not confine our views to the world and to created things; for he was always united to God, before the world existed. Now when men date the beginning from the origin of heaven and earth, do they not reduce Christ to the common order of the world, from which he is excluded in express terms by this passage? By this proceeding they offer an egregious insult not only to the Son of God, but to his eternal Father, whom they deprive of his wisdom. If we are not at liberty to conceive of God without his wisdom, it must be acknowledged that we ought not to seek the origin of the Speech any where else than in the Eternal Wisdom of God.
Servetus objects that the Speech cannot be admitted to have existed any earlier than when Moses introduces God as speaking. As if he did not subsist in God, because he was not publicly made known: that is, as if he did not exist within, until he began to appear without. But every pretense for outrageously absurd fancies of this description is cut off by the Evangelist, when he affirms without reservation, that the Speech was with God; for he expressly withdraws us from every moment of time.
Those who infer from the imperfect tense of the verb f9 which is here used, that it denotes continued existence, have little strength of argument to support them. Was, they say, is a word more fitted to express the idea of uninterrupted succession, than if John had said, Has been. But on matters so weighty we ought to employ more solid arguments; and, indeed, the argument which I have brought forward ought to be reckoned by us sufficient; namely, that the Evangelist sends us to the eternal secrets of God, that we may there learn that the Speech was, as it were hidden, before he revealed himself in the external structure of the world. Justly, therefore, does Augustine remark, that this beginning, which is now mentioned, has no beginning; for though, in the order of nature, the Father came before his Wisdom, yet those who conceive of any point of time when he went before his Wisdom, deprive Him of his glory. And this is the eternal generation, which, during a period of infinite extent before the foundation of the world, lay hid in God, so to speak — which, for a long succession of years, was obscurely shadowed out to the Fathers under the Law, and at length was more fully manifested in flesh.
I wonder what induced the Latins to render oJ lo>gov by Verbum, (the Word;) for that would rather have been the translation of to< rJh~ma. But granting that they had some plausible reason, still it cannot be denied that Sermo (the Speech) would have been far more appropriate. Hence it is evident, what barbarous tyranny was exercised by the theologians of the Sorbonne, f10 who teased and stormed at Erasmus in such a manner, because he had changed a single word for the better.
And the Speech was with God. We have already said that the Son of God is thus placed above the world and above all the creatures, and is declared to have existed before all ages. But at the same time this mode of expression attributes to him a distinct personality from the Father; for it would have been absurd in the Evangelist to say that the Speech was always with God, if he had not some kind of subsistence peculiar to himself in God. This passage serves, therefore, to refute the error of Sabellius; for it shows that the Son is distinct from the Father. I have already remarked that we ought to be sober in thinking, and modest in speaking, about such high mysteries. And yet the ancient writers of the Church were excusable, when, finding that they could not in any other way maintain sound and pure doctrine in opposition to the perplexed and ambiguous phraseology of the heretics, they were compelled to invent some words, which after all had no other meaning than what is taught in the Scriptures. They said that there are three Hypostases, or Subsistences, or Persons, in the one and simple essence of God. The word; uJpo>stasiv (Hypostasis) occurs in this sense in <580103>Hebrews 1:3, to which corresponds the Latin word Substaatia, (substance) as it is employed by Hilary. The Persons (ta< pro>swpa) were called by them distinct properties in God, which present themselves to the view of our minds; as Gregory Nazianzen says, “I cannot think of the One (God) without having the Three (Persons) shining around me. f11
And the Speech was God. That there may be no remaining doubt as to Christ’s divine essence, the Evangelist distinctly asserts that he is God. Now since there is but one God, it follows that Christ is of the same essence with the Father, and yet that, in some respect, he is distinct from the Father. But of the second clause we have already spoken. As to the unity of the divine essence, Arius showed prodigious wickedness, when, to avoid being compelled to acknowledge the eternal Divinity of Christ, he prattled about I know not what imaginary Deity; f12 but for our part, when we are informed that the Speech was God, what right have we any longer to call in question his eternal essence?
2. He was in the beginning. In order to impress more deeply on our minds what had been already said, the Evangelist condenses the two preceding clauses into a brief summary, that the Speech always was, and that he was with God; so that it may be understood that the beginning was before all time.
3. All things were made by him. Having affirmed that the Speech is God, and having asserted his eternal essence, he now proves his Divinity from his works. And this is the practical knowledge, to which we ought to be chiefly accustomed; for the mere name of God attributed to Christ will affect us little, if our faith do not feel it to be such by experience. In reference to the Son of God, he makes an assertion which strictly and properly applies to his person. Sometimes, indeed, Paul simply declares that all things are by God, (<451136>Romans 11:36) but whenever the Son is compared with the Father, he is usually distinguished by this mark. Accordingly, the ordinary mode of expression is here employed, that the Father made all things by the Son, and that all things are by God through the Son. Now the design of the Evangelist is, as I have already said, to show that no sooner was the world created than the Speech of God came forth into external operation; for having formerly been incomprehensible in his essence, he then became publicly known by the effect of his power. There are some, indeed, even among philosophers, who make God to be the Master-builder of the world in such a manner as to ascribe to him intelligence in framing this work. So far they are in the right, for they agree with Scripture; but as they immediately fly off into frivolous speculations, there is no reason why we should eagerly desire to have their testimonies; but, on the contrary, we ought to be satisfied with this inspired declaration, well knowing that it conveys far more than our mind is able to comprehend.
And without him was not any thing made that was made. Though there is a variety of readings in this passage, yet for my own part, I have no hesitation in taking it continuously thus: not any thing was made that was made; and in this almost all the Greek manuscripts, or at least those of them which are most approved, are found to agree; besides, the sense requires it. Those who separate the words, which was made, from the preceding clause, so as to connect them with the following one, bring out a forced sense: what was made was in him life; that is, lived, or was sustained in life. f13 But they will never show that this mode of expression is, in any instance, applied to creatures. Augustine, who is excessively addicted to the philosophy of Plato, is carried along, according to custom, to the doctrine of ideas; that before God made the world, he had the form of the whole building conceived in his mind; and so the life of those things which did not yet exist was in Christ, because the creation of the world was appointed in him. But how widely different this is From the intention of the Evangelist we shall immediately see.
I now return to the former clause. This is not a faulty redundancy, (perittologi>a) as it appears to be; for as Satan endeavors, by every possible method, to take any thing from Christ, the Evangelist intended to declare expressly, that of those things which have been made there is no exception whatever.
4. In him was life. Hitherto he has taught us, that by the Speech of God all things were created. He now attributes to him, in the same manner, the preservation of those things which had been created, as if he had said, that in the creation of the world there was not merely displayed a sudden exercise of his power, which soon passed away, but that it is manifested in the steady and regular order of nature, as he is said to uphold all things by the word or will of his power, (<580103>Hebrews 1:3). This life may be extended either to inanimate creatures, (which live after their own manner, though they are devoid of feeling,) or may be explained in reference to living creatures alone. It is of little consequence which you choose; for the simple meaning is, that the Speech of God was not only the source of life to all the creatures, so that those which were not began to be, but that his life-giving power causes them to remain in their condition; for were it not that his continued inspiration gives vigor to the world, every thing that lives would immediately decay, or be reduced to nothing. In a word, what Paul ascribes to God, that in him we are, and move, and live, (<441728>Acts 17:28,) John declares to be accomplished by the gracious agency of the Speech; so that it is God who gives us life, but it is by the eternal Speech.
The life was the light of men. The other interpretations, which do not accord with the meaning of the Evangelist, I intentionally pass by. He speaks here, in my opinion, of that part of life in which men excel other animals; and informs us that the life which was bestowed on men was not of an ordinary description, but was united to the light of understanding. He separates man from the rank of other creatures; because we perceive more readily the power of God by feeling it in us than by beholding it at a distance. Thus Paul charges us not to seek God at a distance, because he makes himself to be felt within us, (<441727>Acts 17:27.) After having presented a general exhibition of the kindness of Christ, in order to induce men to take a nearer view of it, he points out what has been bestowed peculiarly on themselves; namely, that they were not created like the beasts, but having been endued with reason, they had obtained a higher rank. As it is not in vain that God imparts his light to their minds, it follows that the purpose for which they were created was, that they might acknowledge Him who is the Author of so excellent a blessing. And since this light, of which the Speech was the source, has been conveyed from him to us, it ought to serve as a mirror, in which we may clearly behold the divine power of the Speech.
5. And the light shineth in darkness. It might be objected, that the passages of Scripture in which men are called blind are so numerous and that the blindness for which they are condemned is but too well known. For in all their reasoning faculties they miserably fail. How comes it that there are so many labyrinths of errors in the world, but because men, by their own guidance, are led only to vanity and lies? But if no light appears in men, that testimony of the divinity of Christ, which the Evangelist lately mentioned, is destroyed; for that is the third step, as I have said, that in the life of men there is something more excellent than motion and breathing. The Evangelist anticipates this question, and first of all lays down this caution, that the light which was originally bestowed on men must not be estimated by their present condition; because in this corrupted and degenerate nature light has been turned into darkness. And yet he affirms that the light of understanding is not wholly extinguished; for, amidst the thick darkness of the human mind, some remaining sparks of the brightness still shine.
My readers now understand that this sentence contains two clauses; for he says that men are now widely distant from that perfectly holy nature with which they were originally endued; because their understanding, which ought to have shed light in every direction, has been plunged in darkness, and is wretchedly blinded; and that thus the glory of Christ may be said to be darkened amidst this corruption of nature. But, on the other hand, the Evangelist maintains that, in the midst of the darkness:, there are still some remains of light, which show in some degree the divine power of Christ. The Evangelist admits, therefore, that the mind of man is blinded; so that it may justly be pronounced to be covered with darkness. For he might have used a milder term, and might have said that the light is dark or cloudy; but he chose to state more distinctly how wretched our condition has become since the fall of the first man. The statement that the light shineth in darkness is not at all intended for the commendation of depraved nature, but rather for taking away every excuse for ignorance.
And the darkness did not comprehend it. Although by that small measure of light which still remains in us, the Son of God has always invited men to himself, yet the Evangelist says that this was attended by no advantage, because seeing, they did not see, (<401313>Matthew 13:13.) For since man lost the favor of God, his mind is so completely overwhelmed by the thralldom of ignorance, that any portion of light which remains in it is quenched and useless. This is daily proved by experience; for all who are not regenerated by the Spirit of God possess some reason, and this is an undeniable proof that man was made not only to breathe, but to have understanding. But by that guidance of their reason they do not come to God, and do not even approach to him; so that all their understanding is nothing else than mere vanity. Hence it follows that there is no hope of the salvation of men, unless God grant new aid; for though the Son of God sheds his light upon them, they are so dull that they do not comprehend whence that light proceeds, but are carried away by foolish and wicked imaginations to absolute madness.
The light which still dwells in corrupt nature consists chiefly of two parts; for, first, all men naturally possess some seed of religion; and, secondly, the distinction between good and evil is engraven on their consciences. But what are the fruits that ultimately spring from it, except that religion degenerates into a thousand monsters of superstition, and conscience perverts every decision, so as to confound vice with virtue? In short, natural reason never will direct men to Christ; and as to their being endued with prudence for regulating their lives, or born to cultivate the liberal arts and sciences, all this passes away without yielding any advantage.
It ought to be understood that the Evangelist speaks of natural gifts only, and does not as yet say any thing about the grace of regeneration. For there are two distinct powers which belong to the Son of God: the first, which is manifested in the structure of the world and the order of nature; and the second, by which he renews and restores fallen nature. As he is the eternal Speech of God, by him the world was made; by his power all things continue to possess the life which they once received; man especially was endued with an extraordinary gift of understanding; and though by his revolt he lost the light of understanding, yet he still sees and understands, so that what he naturally possesses from the grace of the Son of God is not entirely destroyed. But since by his stupidity and perverseness he darkens the light which still dwells in him, it remains that a new office be undertaken by the Son of God, the office of Mediator, to renew, by the Spirit of regeneration, man who had been ruined. Those persons, therefore, reason absurdly and inconclusively, who refer this light, which the Evangelist mentions, to the gospel and the doctrine of salvation.

JOHN 1:6-13
6. There was a man sent by God, whose name was John. 7. He came for a testimony f14, that he might testify of the light; that by him all might believe. 8. He was not that light, but that he might testify concerning the light. 9. The true light was that which enlighteneth every man who cometh into the world. 10. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11. He came into his own, and his own received him not. 12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God; namely, to those who believe in his name; 13. Who were born not of bloods f15 nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

6. There was a man. The Evangelist now begins to discourse about the manner in which the Son of God was manifested in flesh; and that none may doubt that Christ is the eternal Son of God, he relates that Christ was announced by John the Baptist, as his herald. For not only did Christ exhibit himself to be seen by men, but he chose also to be made known by the testimony and doctrine of John; or rather, God the Father sent this witness before his Christ, that they might more willingly receive the salvation offered by him.
But it might at first sight appear ridiculous that Christ should receive testimony from another, as if he needed it; while, on the contrary, he declares that he does not seek testimony from man, (<430534>John 5:34.) The answer is easy and obvious, that this witness was appointed, not for the sake of Christ, but for our sake. If it be objected that the testimony of man is too weak to prove that Christ is the Son of God, it is likewise easy to reply, that the Baptist is not adduced as a private witness, but as one who, having received authority from God, sustained the character rather of an angel than of a man. Accordingly, he receives commendation not for his own virtues, but for this single circumstance, that he was the ambassador of God. Nor is this at variance with the fact, that the preaching of the gospel was committed to Christ, that he might be a witness to himself; for the design contemplated by the preaching of John was, that men might attend to the doctrine and miracles of Christ.
Sent by God. He does not say so for the purpose of confirming the baptism of John, but only mentions it in passing. This circumstance is not sufficient to produce certainty, since many run of their own accord, and boast that God has sent them; but the Evangelist, intending afterwards to speak more fully about this witness, reckoned it enough, for the present, to say in a single word, that John did not come but by the command of God. We shall afterwards see how he himself affirms that God is the Author of his ministry. We must now recollect — what I formerly noticed — that what is asserted about John is required in all the teachers of the Church, that they be called by God; so that the authority of teaching may not be founded on any other than on God alone.
Whose name was John. He states the name, not only for the purpose of pointing out the man, but because it was given to him in accordance with what he really was. There is no room to doubt that the Lord had reference to the office to which he appointed John, when he commanded by the angel that he should be so called, that by means of it all might acknowledge him to be the herald of divine grace. f16 For though the name ˆnjwhy f17 (Jehohannan) may be taken in a passive signification, and may thus be referred to the person, as denoting that John was acceptable to God; yet for my own part, I willingly extend it to the benefit which others ought to derive from him. f18
7. He came for a testimony. The end of his calling is briefly noticed; which was, that he might prepare a Church for Christ, as, by inviting all to Christ, he shows plainly enough that he did not come on his own account.
8. He was not that light. So far was John from needing commendation, that the Evangelist gives this warning, lest his excessive brightness might obscure the glory of Christ. For there were some who gazed so eagerly upon him that they neglected Christ; just as if a person, enraptured with beholding the dawning of the day, would not deign to turn his eyes towards the sun. In what sense the Evangelist employs the word light we shall immediately see. All the godly, indeed, are light in the Lord, (<490508>Ephesians 5:8,) because, in consequence of their being enlightened by his Spirit, they not only see for themselves, but likewise direct others by their example to the way of salvation. The apostles likewise are peculiarly called light, (<400514>Matthew 5:14,) because they go before, holding out the torch of the Gospel, to dispel the darkness of the world. But here the Evangelist speaks of him who is the only and eternal source of illumination, as he immediately shows more clearly.
9. The true light was. The Evangelist did not intend to contrast the true light with the false, but to distinguish Christ from all others, that none might imagine that what is called light belongs to him in common with angels or men. The distinction is, that whatever is luminous in heaven and in earth borrows its splendor from some other object; but Christ is the light, shining from itself and by itself, and enlightening the whole world by its radiance; so that no other source or cause of splendor is anywhere to be found. He gave the name of the true light, therefore, to that which has by nature the power of giving light.
Which enlighteneth every man. The Evangelist insists chiefly on this point, in order to show, from the effect which every one of us perceives in him, that Christ is the light. He might have reasoned more ingeniously, that Christ, as the eternal light, has a splendor which is natural, and not brought from any other quarter; but instead of doing so, he sends us back to the experience which we all possess. For as Christ makes us all partakers of his brightness, it must be acknowledged that to him alone belongs strictly this honor of being called light.
This passage is commonly explained in two ways. Some restrict the phrase, every man, to those who, having been renewed by the Spirit of God, become partakers of the life-giving light. Augustine employs the comparison of a schoolmaster who, if he happen to be the only person who has a school in the town, will be called the teacher of all, though there be many persons that do not go to his school. They therefore understand the phrase in a comparative sense, that all are enlightened by Christ, because no man can boast of having obtained the light of life in any other way than by his grace. But since the Evangelist employs the general phrase, every man that cometh into the world, I am more inclined to adopt the other meaning, which is, that from this light the rays are diffused over all mankind, as I have already said. For we know that men have this peculiar excellence which raises them above other animals, that they are endued with reason and intelligence, and that they carry the distinction between right and wrong engraven on their conscience. There is no man, therefore, whom some perception of the eternal light does not reach.
But as there are fanatics who rashly strain and torture this passage, so as to infer from it that the grace of illumination is equally offered to all, let us remember that the only subject here treated is the common light of nature, which is far inferior to faith; for never will any man, by all the acuteness and sagacity of his own mind, penetrate into the kingdom of God. It is the Spirit of God alone who opens the gate of heaven to the elect. Next, let us remember that the light of reason which God implanted in men has been so obscured by sin, that amidst the thick darkness, and shocking ignorance, and gulf of errors, there are hardly a few shining sparks that are not utterly extinguished.
10. He was in the world. He accuses men of ingratitude, because of their own accord, as it were, they were so blinded, that the cause of the light which they enjoyed was unknown to them. This extends to every age of the world; for before Christ was manifested in the flesh, his power was everywhere displayed; and therefore those daily effects ought to correct the stupidity of men. What can be more unreasonable than to draw water from a running stream, and never to think of the fountain from which that stream flows? It follows that no proper excuse can be found for the ignorance of the world in not knowing Christ, before he was manifested in the flesh; for it arose from the indolence and wicked stupidity of those who had opportunities of seeing Him always present by his power. The whole may be summed up by saying, that never was Christ in such a manner absent from the world, but that men, aroused by his rays, ought to have raised their eyes towards him. Hence it follows, that the blame must be imputed to themselves.
11. He came into his own. Here is displayed the absolutely desperate wickedness and malice of men; here is displayed their execrable impiety, that when the Son of God was manifested in flesh to the Jews, whom God had separated to himself from the other nations to be His own heritage, he was not acknowledged or received. This passage also has received various explanations. For some think that the Evangelist speaks of the whole world indiscriminately; and certainly there is no part of the world which the Son of God may not lawfully claim as his own property. According to them, the meaning is: “When Christ came down into the world, he did not enter into another person’s territories, for the whole human race was his own inheritance.” But I approve more highly of the opinion of those who refer it to the Jews alone; for there is an implied comparison, by which the Evangelist represents the heinous ingratitude of men. The Son of God had solicited an abode for himself in one nation; when he appeared there, he was rejected; and this shows clearly the awfully wicked blindness of men. In making this statement, the sole object of the Evangelist must have been to remove the offense which many would be apt to take in consequence of the unbelief of the Jews. For when he was despised and rejected by that nation to which he had been especially promised, who would reckon him to be the Redeemer of the whole world? We see what extraordinary pains the Apostle Paul takes in handling this subject.
Here both the Verb and the Noun are highly emphatic. He came. The Evangelist says that the Son of God came to that place where he formerly was; and by this expression he must mean a new and extraordinary kind of presence, by which the Son of God was manifested, so that men might have a nearer view of him. Into his own. By this phrase the Evangelist compares the Jews with other nations; because by an extraordinary privilege they had been adopted into the family of God. Christ therefore was first offered to them as his own household, and as belonging to his empire by a peculiar right. To the same purpose is that complaint of God by Isaiah:
The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib, but Israel knoweth me not, (<230103>Isaiah 1:3;)
for though he has dominion over the whole world, yet he represents himself to be, in peculiar manner, the Lord of Israel, whom he had collected, as it were, into a sacred fold.
12. But to as many as received him. That none may be retarded by this stumbling-block, that the Jews despised and rejected Christ, the Evangelist exalts above heaven the godly who believe in him; for he says that by faith they obtain this glory of being reckoned the sons of God. The universal term, as many, contains an implied contrast; for the Jews were carried away by a blind vaunting, f19 as if they exclusively had God bound to themselves. The Evangelist declares that their condition is changed, because the Jews have been rejected, and their place, which had been left empty, is occupied by the Jews; for it is as if he transferred the right of adoption to strangers. This is what Paul says, that the destruction of one nation was the life of the whole world, (<451112>Romans 11:12;) for the Gospel, which might be said to have been banished from them, began to be spread far and wide throughout the whole world. They were thus deprived of the privilege which they enjoyed above others. But their impiety was no obstruction to Christ; for he erected elsewhere the throne of his kingdom, and called indiscriminately to the hope of salvation all nations which formerly appeared to have been rejected by God.
He gave them power. The word ejxousi>a here appears to me to mean a right, or claim; and it would be better to translate it so, in order to refute the false opinions of the Papists; for they wickedly pervert this passage by understanding it to mean, that nothing more than a choice is allowed to us, if we think fit to avail ourselves of this privilege. In this way they extract free-will from this phrase; but as well might they extract fire from water. There is some plausibility in this at first sight; for the Evangelist does not say that Christ makes them sons of God, but that he gives them power to become such. Hence they infer that it is this grace only that is offered to us, and that the liberty to enjoy or to reject it is placed at our disposal. But this frivolous attempt to catch at a single word is set aside by what immediately follows; for the Evangelist adds, that they become the sons of God, not by the will which belongs to the flesh, but when they are born of God. But if faith regenerates us, so that we are the sons of God, and if God breathes faith into us from heaven, it plainly appears that not by possibility only, but actually — as we say — is the grace of adoption offered to us by Christ. And, indeed, the Greek word, ejxousi>a is sometimes put for ajxi>wsiv, (a claim,) a meaning which falls in admirably with this passage.
The circumlocution which the Evangelist has employed tends more to magnify the excellence of grace, than if he had said in a single word, that all who believe in Christ are made by him sons of God. For he speaks here of the unclean and profane, who, having been condemned to perpetual ignominy, lay in the darkness of death. Christ exhibited an astonishing instance of his grace in conferring this honor on such persons, so that they began, all at once, to be sons of God; and the greatness of this privilege is justly extolled by the Evangelist, as also by Paul, when he ascribes it to
God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love
with which he loved us, (<490204>Ephesians 2:4.)
But if any person shall prefer to take the word power in its ordinary acceptation, still the Evangelist does not mean by it any intermediate faculty, or one which does not include the full and complete effect; but, on the contrary, means that Christ gave to the unclean and the uncircumcised what appeared to be impossible; for an incredible change took place when out of stones Christ raised up children to God, (<400309>Matthew 3:9.) The power, therefore, is that fitness (iJkano>thv) which Paul mentions, when he
gives thanks to God, who hath made us FIT (or MEET) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints, (<510112>Colossians 1:12.)
Who believe in his name. He expresses briefly the manner of receiving Christ, that is, believing in him. Having been engrafted into Christ by faith, we obtain the right of adoption, so as to be the sons of God. And, indeed, as he is the only-begotten Son of God, it is only so far as we are members of him that this honor at all belongs to us. Here again the notion of the Papists about the word power is refuted. f20 The Evangelist declares that this power is given to those who already believe. Now it is certain that such persons are in reality the sons of God. They detract too much from the value of faith who say that, by believing, a man obtains nothing more than that he may become a son of God, if he chooses; for instead of present effect they put a power which is held in uncertainty and suspense.
The contradiction appears still more glaring from what immediately follows. The Evangelist says that those who believe are already born of God. It is not therefore, a mere liberty of choice that is offered, since they obtain the privilege itself that is in question. Although the Hebrew word, µç (Name) is sometimes used to denote power, yet here it denotes a relation to the doctrine of the Gospel; for when Christ is preached to us, then it is that we believe in him. I speak of the ordinary method by which the Lord leads us to faith; and this ought to be carefully observed, for there are many who foolishly contrive for themselves a confused faith, without any understanding of doctrine, as nothing is more common among the Papists than the word believe, though there is not among them any knowledge of Christ from hearing the Gospel. Christ, therefore, offers himself to us by the Gospel, and we receive him by faith.
13. Who were born not of blood. f21 Some think that an indirect reference is here made to the preposterous confidence of the Jews, and I willingly adopt that opinion. They had continually in their mouth the nobleness of their lineage, as if, because they were descended from a holy stock, they were naturally holy. And justly might they have gloried in their descent from Abraham, if they had been lawful sons, and not bastards; but the glowing of faith ascribes nothing whatever to carnal generation, but acknowledges its obligation to the grace of God alone for all that is good. John, therefore, says, that those among the formerly unclean Gentiles who believe in Christ are not born the sons of God from the womb, but are renewed by God, that they may begin to be his sons. The reason why he uses the word blood in the plural number appears to have been, that he might express more fully a long succession of lineage; for this was a part of the boasting among the Jews, that they could trace their descent, by an uninterrupted line, upwards to the patriarchs.
The will of the flesh and the will of man appear to me to mean the same thing; for I see no reason why flesh should be supposed to signify woman, as Augustine and many others explain it. On the contrary, the Evangelist repeats the same thing in a variety of words, in order to explain it more fully, and impress it more deeply on the minds of men. Though he refers directly to the Jews, who gloried in the flesh, yet from this passage a general doctrine may be obtained: that our being reckoned the sons of God does not belong to our nature, and does not proceed from us, but because God begat us WILLINGLY, (<590118>James 1:18,) that is, from undeserved love. Hence it follows, first, that faith does not proceed from ourselves, but is the fruit of spiritual regeneration; for the Evangelist affirms that no man can believe, unless he be begotten of God; and therefore faith is a heavenly gift. It follows, secondly, that faith is not bare or cold knowledge, since no man can believe who has not been renewed by the Spirit of God.
It may be thought that the Evangelist reverses the natural order by making regeneration to precede faith, whereas, on the contrary, it is an effect of faith, and therefore ought to be placed later. I reply, that both statements perfectly agree; because by faith we receive the incorruptible seed, (<600123>1 Peter 1:23,) by which we are born again to a new and divine life. And yet faith itself is a work of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in none but the children of God. So then, in various respects, faith is a part of our regeneration, and an entrance into the kingdom of God, that he may reckon us among his children. The illumination of our minds by the Holy Spirit belongs to our renewal, and thus faith flows from regeneration as from its source; but since it is by the same faith that we receive Christ, who sanctifies us by his Spirit, on that account it is said to be the beginning of our adoption.
Another solution, still more plain and easy, may be offered; for when the Lord breathes faith into us, he regenerates us by some method that is hidden and unknown to us; but after we have received faith, we perceive, by a lively feeling of conscience, not only the grace of adoption, but also newness of life and the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. For since faith, as we have said, receives Christ, it puts us in possession, so to speak, of all his blessings. Thus so far as respects our sense, it is only after having believed — that we begin to be the sons of God. But if the inheritance of eternal life is the fruit of adoption, we see how the Evangelist ascribes the whole of our salvation to the grace of Christ alone; and, indeed, how closely soever men examine themselves, they will find nothing that is worthy of the children of God, except what Christ has bestowed on them.

JOHN 1:14
14. And the Speech was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

14. And the Speech was made flesh. The Evangelist shows what was that coming of Christ which he had mentioned; namely, that having been clothed with our flesh, he showed himself openly to the world. Although the Evangelist touches briefly the unutterable mystery, that the Son of God was clothed with human nature, yet this brevity is wonderfully perspicuous. Here some madmen amuse themselves with foolish and trivial subtleties of this sort: that the Speech is said to have been made flesh, because God sent his Son into the world, according to the conception which he had formed in his mind; as if the Speech were I know not what shadowy image. But we have demonstrated that that word denotes a real hypostasis, or subsistence, in the essence of God.
The word Flesh expresses the meaning of the Evangelist more forcibly than if he had said that he was made man. He intended to show to what a mean and despicable condition the Son of God, on our account, descended from the height of his heavenly glory. When Scripture speaks of man contemptuously, it calls him flesh. Now, though there be so wide a distance between the spiritual glory of the Speech of God and the abominable filth of our flesh, yet the Son of God stooped so low as to take upon himself that flesh, subject to so many miseries. The word flesh is not taken here for corrupt nature, (as it is often used by Paul,) but for mortal man; though it marks disdainfully his frail and perishing nature, as in these and similar passages, for he remembered that they were FLESH, (<197839>Psalm 78:39;) all FLESH is grass, (<234006>Isaiah 40:6.) We must at the same time observe, however, that this is a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole; for the lower part includes the whole man. f22 It was therefore highly foolish in Apollinaris to imagine that Christ was merely clothed with a human body without a soul; for it may easily be proved from innumerable passages, that he had a soul as well as a body; and when Scripture calls men flesh, it does not therefore deprive them of a soul.
The plain meaning therefore is, that the Speech begotten by God before all ages, and who always dwelt with the Father, was made man. On this article there are two things chiefly to be observed. The first is, that two natures were so united in one Person in Christ, that one and the same Christ is true God and true man. The second is, that the unity of person does not hinder the two natures from remaining distinct, so that his Divinity retains all that is peculiar to itself, and his humanity holds separately whatever belongs to it. And, therefore, as Satan has made a variety of foolish attempts to overturn sound doctrine by heretics, he has always brought forward one or another of these two errors; either that he was the Son of God and the Son of man in so confused a manner, that neither his Divinity remained entire, nor did he wear the true nature of man; or that he was clothed with flesh, so as to be as it were double, and to have two separate persons. Thus Nestorius expressly acknowledged both natures, but imagined two Christs, one who was God, and another who was man. Eutyches, on the other hand, while he acknowledged that the one Christ is the Son of God and the Son of man, left him neither of the two natures, but imagined that they were mingled together. And in the present day, Servetus and the Anabaptists invent a Christ who is confusedly compounded of two natures, as if he were a Divine man. In words, indeed, he acknowledges that Christ is God; but if you admit his raving imaginations, the Divinity is at one time changed into human nature, and at another time, the nature of man is swallowed up by the Divinity.
The Evangelist says what is well adapted to refute both of these blasphemies. When he tells us that the Speech was made flesh, we clearly infer from this the unity of his Person; for it is impossible that he who is now a man could be any other than he who was always the true God, since it is said that God was made man. On the other hand, since he distinctly gives to the man Christ the name of the Speech, it follows that Christ, when he became man, did not cease to be what he formerly was, and that no change took place in that eternal essence of God which was clothed with flesh. In short, the Son of God began to be man in such a manner that he still continues to be that eternal Speech who had no beginning of time.
And dwelt. Those who explain that the flesh served, as it were, for an abode to Christ, do not perceive the meaning of the Evangelist; for he does not ascribe to Christ a permanent residence amongst us, but says that he remained in it as a guest, for a short time. For the word which he employs (ejskh>nwsen) is taken from tabernacles. f23 He means nothing else than that Christ discharged on the earth the office which had been appointed to him; or, that he did not merely appear for a single moment, but that he conversed among men until he completed the course of his office.
Among us. It is doubtful whether he speaks of men in general, or only of himself and the rest of the disciples who were eye-witnesses of what he says. For my own part, I approve more highly of the second view for the Evangelist immediately adds :
And we beheld his glory. for though all men might have beheld the glory of Christ, yet it was unknown to the greater part on account of their blindness. It was only a few, whose eyes the Holy Spirit opened, that saw this manifestation of glory. In a word, Christ was known to be man in such a manner that he exhibited in his Person something far more noble and excellent. Hence it follows that the majesty of God was not annihilated, though it was surrounded by flesh; it was indeed concealed under the low condition of the flesh, but so as to cause its splendor to be seen.
As of the only-begotten of the Father. The word as does not, in this passage, denote an inappropriate comparison, but rather expresses true and hearty approbation; as when Paul says, Walk AS children of light, he bids us actually demonstrate by our works that we are the children of light. The Evangelist therefore means, that in Christ was beheld a glory which was worthy of the Son of God, and which was a sure proof of his Divinity. He calls him the Only-begotten, because he is the only Son of God by nature; as if he would place him above men and angels, and would claim for him alone what belongs to no creature.
Full of grace. There were, indeed, other things in which the majesty of Christ appeared, but the Evangelist selected this instance in preference to others, in order to train us to the speculative rather than the practical knowledge of it; and this ought to be carefully observed. Certainly when Christ walked with dry feet upon the waters, (<401426>Matthew 14:26; <410648>Mark 6:48; <430619>John 6:19,) when he cast out devils, and when he displayed his power in other miracles, he might be known to be the only-begotten Son of God; but the Evangelist brings forward a part of the approbation, from which faith obtains delightful advantage, because Christ demonstrated that he actually is an inexhaustible fountain of grace and truth. Stephen, too, is said to have been full of grace, f24 but in a different sense; for the fullness of grace in Christ is the fountain from which all of us must draw, as we shall have occasion shortly afterwards to explain more fully.
Grace and truth. This might be taken, by a figure of speech, for true grace, or the latter term might be explanatory, thus: that he was full of grace, which is truth or perfection; but as we shall find that he immediately afterwards repeats the same mode of expression, I think that the meaning is the same in both passages. This grace and truth he afterwards contrasts with the Law; and therefore I interpret it as simply meaning, that the apostles acknowledged Christ to be the Son of God, because he had in himself the fulfillment of things which belong to the spiritual kingdom of God; and, in short, that in all things he showed himself to be the Redeemer and Messiah; which is the most striking mark by which he ought to be distinguished from all others.

JOHN 1:15-18
15. John testifieth f25 of himself, and cried, saying, This is he of whom I spoke; who, coming after me, was preferred to me, for he was more excellent than I. f26 16. And out of his fullness have we all received, and grace for grace. 17. For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18. No man hath ever seen God: the only-begotten Son himself, who is in the bosom of the Father, hath declared him.

15. John testifieth. He now relates what was the preaching of John. By using the verb testifieth (marturei~) in the present tense, f27 he denotes a continued act, and certainly this doctrine must be continually in force, as if the voice of John were continually resounding in the ears of men. In the same manner he afterwards uses the word cry, to intimate that the doctrine of John was in no degree obscure or ambiguous, and that he did not mutter among a few men, f28 but openly, and with a loud voice, preached Christ. The first sentence is intended to convey the statement, that he was sent for the sake of Christ, and therefore that it would have been unreasonable that he should be exalted, while Christ was lying low.
This is he of whom I spoke. By these words he means that his intention was, from the beginning, to make Christ known, and that this was the design of his public discourses; as, indeed, there was no other way in which he could discharge his office as ambassador than by calling his disciples to Christ.
Who, coming after me. Though John the Baptist was older than Christ by a few months, yet he does not now speak of age; but as he had discharged the office of prophet for a short period before Christ appeared in public, so he makes himself the predecessor with respect to time. With respect, therefore, to public manifestation, Christ came after John the Baptist. The words which follow might be literally rendered, he was made before me, for he was before me; but the meaning is, that Christ was justly preferred to John, because he was more excellent. He therefore surrenders his office to Christ and — as the proverb runs — “delivers to him the torch,” or gives way to him as his successor. But as he arose later in the order of time, John reminds his hearers that this is no reason why he should not be preferred to himself, as his rank deserved. Thus, all who are superior to others, either in the gifts of God or in any degree of honor, must remain in their own rank, so as to be placed below Christ.
16. And out of his fullness. He begins now to preach about the office of Christ, that it contains within itself an abundance of all blessings, so that no part of salvation must be sought anywhere else. True, indeed, the fountain of life, righteousness, virtue, and wisdom, is with God, but to us it is a hidden and inaccessible fountain. But an abundance of those things is exhibited to us in Christ, that we may be permitted to have recourse to him; for he is ready to flow to us, provided that we open up a channel by faith. He declares in general, that out of Christ we ought not to seek any thing good, though this sentence consists of several clauses. First, he shows that we are all utterly destitute and empty of spiritual blessings; for the abundance which exists in Christ is intended to supply our deficiency, to relieve our poverty, to satisfy our hunger and thirst. Secondly, he warns us that, as soon as we have departed from Christ, it is ill vain for us to seek a single drop of happiness, because God hath determined that whatever is good shall reside in him alone. Accordingly, we shall find angels and men to be dry, heaven to be empty, the earth to be unproductive, and, in short, all things to be of no value, if we wish to be partakers of the gifts of God in any other way than through Christ. Thirdly, he assures us that we shall have no reason to fear the want of any thing, provided that we draw from the fullness of Christ, which is in every respect; so complete, that we shall experience it to be a truly inexhaustible fountain; and John classes himself with the rest, not for the sake of modesty, but to make it more evident that no man whatever is excepted.
It is indeed uncertain whether he speaks generally of the whole human race, or means only those who, subsequently to the manifestation of Christ in the flesh, have been made more fully partakers of his blessings. All the godly, no doubt, who lived under the law, drew out of the same fullness; but as John immediately afterwards distinguishes between different periods, it is more probable that here he especially recommends that rich abundance of blessings which Christ displayed at his coming. For we know that under the Law the gifts of God were more sparingly tasted, but that when Christ was manifested in flesh, they were poured out, as it were, with a full hand, even to satiety. Not that any of us has obtained a greater abundance of the grace of the Spirit than Abraham did, but I speak of God’s ordinary dispensation, and of the way and manner of dispensing. John the Baptist, that he may the more freely invite his disciples to come to Christ, declares that in him is laid up for all an abundance of the blessings of which they are destitute. And yet if any one choose to extend the meaning farther, there will be no absurdity in doing so; or rather, it will agree well with the strain of the discourse, that all the fathers, from the beginning of the world, drew from Christ all the gifts which they possessed; for though the law was given by Moses, yet they did not obtain grace by it. But I have already stated what appears to me to be the preferable view; namely, that John here compares us with the fathers, so as to magnify, by means of that comparison, what has been given to us.
And, grace for grace. In what manner Augustine explains this passage is well known - that all the blessings which God bestows upon us from time to time, and at length life everlasting, are not granted as the reward due to our merits, but that it proceeds from pure liberality that God thus rewards former grace, and crowns his own gifts in us. This is piously and judiciously said, but has nothing to do with the present passage. The meaning would be more simple if you were to take the word for (ajnti<) comparatively, as meaning, that whatever graces God bestows on us, proceed equally from the same source. It might also be taken as pointing out the final cause, that we now receive grace, that God may one day fulfill the work of our salvation, which will be the fulfillment of grace. For my own part, I agree with the opinion of those who say that we are watered with the graces which were poured out on Christ; for what we receive from Christ he does not bestow upon us as being God, but the Father communicated to him what would flow to us as through a channel. This is the anointing with which he was anointed, that he might anoint us all along with him. Hence, too, he is called Christ, (the Anointed,) and we are called Christians.
17. For the Law was given by Moses. This is an anticipation, by which he meets an objection that was likely to arise; for so highly was Moses esteemed by the Jews that they could hardly receive anything that differed from him. The Evangelist therefore shows how far inferior the ministry of Moses was to the power of Christ. At the same time, this comparison sheds no small luster on the power of Christ; for while the utmost possible deference was rendered to Moses by the Jews, the Evangelist reminds them that what he brought was exceedingly small, when compared with the grace of Christ. It would otherwise have been a great hindrance, that they expected to receive from the Law what we can only obtain through Christ.
But we must attend to the antithesis, when he contrasts the law with grace and truth; for his meaning is, that the law wanted both of them. f29 The word Truth denotes, in my opinion, a fixed and permanent state of things. By the word Grace I understand the spiritual fulfillment of those things, the bare letter of which was contained in the Law. And those two words may be supposed to refer to the same thing, by a well-known figure of speech, (hypallage;) as if he had said, that grace, in which the truth of the Law consists, was at length exhibited in Christ. But as the meaning will be in no degree affected, it is of no importance whether you view them as united or as distinguished. This at least is certain, that the Evangelist means, that in the Law there was nothing more than a shadowy image of spiritual blessings, but that they are actually found in Christ; whence it follows, that if you separate the Law from Christ, there remains nothing in it but empty figures. For this reason Paul says that
the shadows were in the law, but the body is in Christ,
(<510217>Colossians 2:17.)
And yet it must not be supposed that anything was exhibited by the Law in a manner fitted to deceive; for Christ is the soul which gives life to that which would otherwise have been dead under the law. But here a totally different question meets us, namely, what the law could do by itself and without Christ; and the Evangelist maintains that nothing permanently valuable is found in it until we come to Christ. This truth consists in our obtaining through Christ that grace which the law could not at all bestow; and therefore I take the word grace in a general sense, as denoting both the unconditional forgiveness of sins, and the renewal of the heart. For while the Evangelist points out briefly the distinction between the Old and New Testaments, f29A (which is more fully described in <243131>Jeremiah 31:31,) he includes in this word all that relates to spiritual righteousness. Now this righteousness consists of two parts; first, that God is reconciled to us by free grace, in not imputing to us our sins; and, secondly, that he has engraven his law in our hearts, and, by his Spirit, renews men within to obedience to it; from which it is evident that the Law is incorrectly and falsely expounded, if there are any whose attention it fixes on itself, or whom it hinders from coming to Christ.
18. No man hath ever seen God. Most appropriately is this added to confirm the preceding statement; for the knowledge of God is the door by which we enter into the enjoyment of all blessings; and as it is by Christ alone that God makes himself known to us, hence too it follows that we ought to seek all things from Christ. This order of doctrine ought to be carefully observed. No remark appears to be more common than this, that each of us receives, according to the measure of his faith, what God offers to us; but there are few who think that we must bring the vessel of faith and of the knowledge of God with which we draw.
When he says that no man hath seen God, we must not understand him to refer to the outward perception of the bodily eye; for he means generally, that as God dwells in inaccessible light, (<540616>1 Timothy 6:16,) he cannot be known but in Christ, who is his lively image. This passage is usually explained thus that as the naked majesty of God is concealed within himself, he never could be comprehended, except so far as he revealed himself in Christ; and therefore that it was only in Christ that God was formerly known to the fathers. But I rather think that the Evangelist here abides by the comparison already stated, namely, how much better our condition is than that of the fathers, because God, who was formerly concealed in his secret glory, may now be said to have rendered himself visible; for certainly when Christ is called the lively image of God, (<580103>Hebrews 1:3,) this refers to the peculiar privilege of the New Testament. In like manner, the Evangelist describes, in this passage, something new and uncommon, when he says that the only-begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, hath made known to us what was formerly concealed. He therefore magnifies the manifestation of God, which has been brought to us by the gospel, in which he distinguishes us from the fathers, and shows that we are superior to them; as also Paul explains more fully in the Third and Fourth chapters of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. For he maintains that there is now no longer any vail, such as existed under the Law, but that God is openly beheld in the face of Christ.
If it be thought unreasonable that the fathers are deprived of the knowledge of God, who have the prophets daily going before them and holding out the torch, I reply, that what is ascribed to us is not simply or absolutely denied to them, but that a comparison is made between the less and the greater, as we say; because they had nothing more than little sparks of the true light, the full brightness of which daily shines around us. If it be objected, that at that time also God was seen face to face, (<013230>Genesis 32:30; <053410>Deuteronomy 34:10,) I maintain that that sight is not at all to be compared with ours; but as God was accustomed at that time to exhibit himself obscurely, and, as it were, from a distance, those to whom he was more clearly revealed say that they saw him face to face. They say so with reference to their own time; but they did not see God in any other way than wrapped up in many folds of figures and ceremonies. f30 That vision which Moses obtained on the mountain was remarkable and more excellent than almost all the rest; and yet God expressly declares,
thou shalt not be able to see my face, only thou shalt see my back, (<023323>Exodus 33:23;)
by which metaphor he shows that the time for a full and clear revelation had not yet come. It must also be observed that, when the fathers wished to behold God, they always turned their eyes towards Christ. I do not only mean that they beheld God in his eternal Speech, but also that they attended, with their whole mind and with their whole heart, to the promised manifestation of Christ. For this reason we shall find that Christ afterwards said, Abraham saw my day, (<430856>John 8:56;) and that which is subordinate is not contradictory. It is therefore a fixed principle, that God, who was formerly invisible, hath now made himself visible in Christ.
When he says that the Son was in the bosom of the Father, the metaphor is borrowed from men, who are said to receive into their bosom those to whom they communicate all their secrets. The breast is the seat of counsel. He therefore shows that the Son was acquainted with the most hidden secrets of his Father, in order to inform us that we have the breast of God, as it were, laid open to us in the Gospel.

JOHN 1:19-23
19. And this is f31 the testimony of John, when the Jews sent Priests and Levites to Jerusalem, to ask him, Who art thou? 20. And he confessed, and denied not; he confessed, I say, I am not the Christ. 21. They then asked him, What art thou then? Art thou Elijah? And he said, I am not. Art thou a Prophet? f32 And he answered, No. 22. They said therefore to him, Who art thou, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? 23. He saith, I am the voice of him who crieth in the wilderness, f33 Prepare the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah.

19. And this is the testimony. Hitherto the Evangelist has related the preaching of John about Christ; he now comes down to a more illustrious testimony, which was delivered to the ambassadors of the Priests, that they might convey it to Jerusalem. He says, therefore, that John openly confessed for what purpose he was sent by God. The first inquiry here is, for what purpose the Priests put questions to him. It is generally believed that, out of hatred to Christ, they gave to John an honor which did not belong to him; but this could not be the reason, for Christ was not yet known to them. Others say that they were better pleased with John, because he was of the lineage and order of the priesthood; but neither do I think that this is probable; for since they expected from Christ all prosperity, why did they voluntarily contrive a false Christ? I think, therefore, that there was another reason that induced them. It was now a long time since they had the Prophets; John came suddenly and contrary to expectation; and the minds of all were aroused to expect the Messiah. Besides, all entertained the belief that the coining of the Messiah was at hand.
That they may not appear to be careless about their duty, if they neglect or disguise a matter of so great importance, they ask John, Who art thou? At first, therefore, they did not act from malice, but, on the contrary, actuated by the desire of redemption, they wish to know if John be the Christ, because he begins to change the order which had been customary in the Church. And yet I do not deny that ambition, and a wish to retain their authority, had some influence over them; but nothing certainly was farther from their intention than to transfer the honor of Christ to another. Nor is their conduct in this matter inconsistent with the office which they sustain; for since they held the government of the Church of God, it was their duty to take care that no one rashly obtruded himself, that no founder of a new sect should arise, that the unity of faith should not be broken in the Church, and that none should introduce new and foreign ceremonies. It is evident, therefore, that a report about John was widely spread and aroused the minds of all; and this was arranged by the wonderful Providence of God, that this testimony might be more strikingly complete.
20. And he confessed, and denied not. That is, he confessed openly, and without any ambiguity or hypocrisy. The word confess, in the first instance, means generally, that he stated the fact as it really was. In the second instance, it is repeated in order to express the form of the confession. He replied expressly, that he was not the Christ.
21. Art thou Elijah? Why do they name Elijah rather than Moses? It was because they learned from the prediction of <390402>Malachi 4:2, 5, that when the Messiah, the Sun of Righteousness, should arise, Elijah would be the morning star to announce his approach. But the question is founded on a false opinion which they had long held; for, holding the opinion that the soul of a man departs out of one body into another, when the Prophet Malachi announced that Elijah would be sent, they imagined that the same Elijah, who lived under the reign of king Ahab, (<111701>1 Kings 17:1,) was to come. It is therefore a just and true reply which John makes, that he is not Elijah; for he speaks according to the opinion which they attached to the words; but Christ, giving the true interpretation of the Prophet, affirms that John is Elijah, (<401114>Matthew 11:14; <410913>Mark 9:13.)
Art thou a Prophet? Erasmus gives an inaccurate explanation of these words by limiting them to Christ; for the addition of the article (oJ profh>thv, the prophet) carries no emphasis in this passage; and the messengers afterwards declare plainly enough, that they meant a different prophet from Christ; for they sum up the whole: by saying, (verse 25,) if thou art neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor a Prophet. Thus we see that they intended to point out different persons. Others think that they inquired if he was one of the ancient prophets; but neither do I approve of that exposition. Rather do they by this term point out the office of John, and ask if God had appointed him to be a prophet. When he replies, I am not, he does not for the sake of modesty tell a lie, but honestly and sincerely detaches himself from the company of the prophets. And yet this reply is not inconsistent with the honorable attestation which Christ gives him. Christ bestows on John the designation of prophet, and even adds that he is more than a prophet, (<401109>Matthew 11:9;) but by these words he does nothing more than demand credit and authority for his doctrine, and at the same time describes, in lofty terms, the excellence of the office which had been conferred on him. But in this passage John has a different object in view, which is, to show that he has no special message, as was usually the case with the prophets, but that he was merely appointed to be the herald of Christ.
This will be made still more clear by a comparison. All ambassadors — even those who are not sent on matters of great importance — obtain the name and authority of ambassadors, because they hold special commissions. Such were all the Prophets who, having been enjoined to deliver certain predictions, discharged the prophetic office. But if some weighty matter come to be transacted, and if two ambassadors are sent, one of whom announces the speedy arrival of another who possesses full power to transact the whole matter, and if this latter has received injunctions to bring it to a conclusion, will not the former embassy be reckoned a part and appendage of the latter, which is the principal? Such was the case with John the Baptist, to whom God had given no other injunction than to prepare the Jews for listening to Christ, and becoming his disciples. f34 That this is the meaning, will still more fully appear from the context; for we must investigate the opposite clause, which immediately follows. I am not a prophet, says he, but a voice crying in the wilderness. The distinction lies in this, that the voice crying, that a way may be prepared for the Lord, is not a prophet, but merely a subordinate minister, so to speak; and his doctrine is only a sort of preparation for listening to another Teacher. In this way John, though he is more excellent than all the prophets, still is not a prophet.
23. The voice of him who crieth. As he would have been chargeable with rashness in undertaking the office of teaching, if he had not received a commission, he shows what was the duty which he had to perform, and proves it by a quotation from the Prophet <236003>Isaiah 60:3. Hence it follows that he does nothing but what God commanded him to do. Isaiah does not, indeed, speak there of John alone, but, promising the restoration of the Church, he predicts that there will yet be heard joyful voices, commanding to prepare the way for the Lord. Though he points out the coming of God, when he brought back the people from their captivity in Babylon, yet the true accomplishment was the manifestation of Christ in flesh. Among the heralds who announced that the Lord was at hand, John held the chief place.
To enter into ingenious inquiries, as some have done, into the meaning of the word Voice, would be frivolous. John is called a Voice, because he was enjoined to cry. It is in a figurative sense, undoubtedly, that Isaiah gives the name wilderness to the miserable desolation of the Church, which seemed to preclude the return of the people; as if he had said, that a passage would indeed be opened up for the captive people, but that the Lord would find a road through regions in which there was no road. But that visible wilderness, in which John preached, was a figure or image of the awful desolation which took away all hope of deliverance. If this comparison be considered, it will be easily seen that no torture has been given to the words of the prophet in this application of them; for God arranged everything in such a manner, as to place before the eyes of his people, who were overwhelmed with their calamities, a mirror of this prediction.

JOHN 1:24-28
24. Now those who were sent were of the Pharisees. 25. Therefore they asked him, and said to him, Why then dost thou baptize, if thou art not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor a Prophet? 26. John answered them, saying, I baptize with water; but one standeth in the midst of you, whom you know not. 27. It is he who, coming after me, is preferred to me; whose shoe-latchet I am not worthy to loose. 28. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

24. Were of the Pharisees. He says that they were Pharisees, who at that time held the highest rank in the Church; and he says so in order to inform us, that they were not some contemptible persons of the order of the Levites, but men clothed with authority. This is the reason why they raise a question about his baptism. Ordinary ministers would have been satisfied with any kind of answer; but those men, because they cannot draw from John what they desired, accuse him of rashness for venturing to introduce a new religious observance.
25. Why then dost thou baptize? By laying down those three degrees, they appear to form a very conclusive argument: if thou art not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor a prophet; for it does not belong to every man to institute the practice of baptism. The Messiah was to be one who possessed all authority. Of Elijah who was to come, they had formed this opinion, that he would commence the restoration both of the royal authority and of the Church. The prophets of God, they readily grant, have a right to discharge the office committed to them. They conclude, therefore, that for John to baptize is an unlawful novelty, since he has received from God no public station. But they are wrong in not acknowledging him to be that Elijah who is mentioned by <390405>Malachi 4:5; though he denies that he is that Elijah of whom they foolishly dreamed.
26. I baptize with water. This ought to have been abundantly sufficient for the correction of their mistake, but a reproof otherwise clear is of no advantage to the deaf; for, when he sends them to Christ, and declares that Christ is present, this is a clear proof not only that he was divinely appointed to be a minister of Christ, but that he is the true Elijah, who is sent to testify that the time is come f35 for the renovation of the Church. There is a contrast here which is not fully stated; for the spiritual baptism of Christ is not expressly contrasted with the external baptism of John, but that latter clause about the baptism of the Spirit might easily be supplied, and shortly afterwards both are set down by the Evangelist.
This answer may be reduced to two heads: first, that John claims nothing for himself but what he has a right to claim, because he has Christ for the Author of his baptism, in which consists the truth of the sign; and, secondly, that he has nothing but the administration of the outward sign, while the whole power and efficacy is in the hands of Christ alone. Thus he defends his baptism so far as its truth depends on anything else; but, at the same time, by declaring that he has not the power of the Spirit, he exalts the dignity of Christ, that the eyes of men may be fixed on him alone. This is the highest and best regulated moderation, when a minister borrows from Christ whatever authority he claims for himself, in such a manner as to trace it to him, ascribing to him alone all that he possesses.
It is a foolish mistake, however, into which some people have been led, of supposing that John’s baptism was different from ours; for John does not argue here about the advantage and usefulness of his baptism, but merely compares his own person with the person of Christ. In like manner, if we were inquiring, at the present day, what part belongs to us, and what belongs to Christ, in baptism, we must acknowledge that Christ alone performs what baptism figuratively represents, and that we have nothing beyond the bare administration of the sign. There is a twofold way of speaking in Scripture about the sacraments; for sometimes it tells us that they are the laver of regeneration, (<560305>Titus 3:5;) that by them our sins are washed away, (<600321>1 Peter 3:21;) that we
are in-grafted into the body of Christ, that our old man is crucified, and that we rise again to newness of life, (<450604>Romans 6:4, 5, 6;)
and, in those cases, Scripture joins the power of Christ with the ministry of man; as, indeed, man is nothing else than the hand of Christ. Such modes of expression show, not what man can of himself accomplish, but what Christ performs by man, and by the sign, as his instruments. But as there is a strong tendency to fall into superstition, and as men, through the pride which is natural to them, take from God the honor due to him, and basely appropriate it to themselves; so Scripture, in order to restrain this blasphemous arrogance, sometimes distinguishes ministers from Christ, as in this passage, that we may learn that ministers are nothing and can do nothing.
One standeth in the midst of you. He indirectly charges them with stupidity, in not knowing Christ, to whom their minds ought to have been earnestly directed; and he always insists earnestly on this point, that nothing can be known about his ministry, until men have come to him who is the Author of it. When he says that Christ standeth in the midst of, them, it is that he may excite their desire and their exertion to know him. The amount of what he says is, that he wishes to place himself as low as possible, lest any degree of honor improperly bestowed on him might obscure the excellence of Christ. It is probable that he had these sentences frequently in his mouth, when he saw himself immoderately extolled by the perverse opinions of men.
27. Who coming after me. Here he says two things; first, that Christ was behind him in the order of time; but, secondly, that he was far before him in rank and dignity, because the rather preferred him to all. Soon after he will add a third statement, that Christ was preferred to all others, because he is in reality more exalted than all others.
28. These things were done in Bethabara. The place is mentioned, not only to authenticate the narrative, but also to inform us that this answer was given amidst a numerous assembly of people; for there were many who flocked to John’s baptism, and this was his ordinary place for baptizing. It is likewise supposed by some to be a passage across Jordan, and, from this circumstance, they derive the name, for they interpret it the house of passage; unless, perhaps, some may prefer the opinion of those who refer to the memorable passage of the people, (<060313>Joshua 3:13,) when God opened up a way for them in the midst of the waters, under the direction of Joshua. Others say that it ought rather to be read Betharaba. Instead of Bethabara, some have inserted here the name Bethany, but this is a mistake; for we shall afterwards see how near Bethany was to Jerusalem. The situation of Bethabara, as laid down by those who have described the country, agrees best with the words of the Evangelist; though I have no wish to dispute about the pronunciation of the word.

JOHN 1:29-34
29. The next day, John seeth Jesus coming to him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world! 30. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man who was preferred to me, because he was more excellent than I. 31. And I knew him not; but in order that he might be manifested to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. 32. And John testified, saying, I saw the Spirit descending like a dove from heaven, and it remained upon him. 33. And I knew him not; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, it is he who baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34. I saw therefore, and testified, that he is the Son of God.

29. The next day. There can be no doubt that John had already spoken about the manifestation of the Messiah; but when Christ began to appear, he wished that his announcement of him should quickly become known, and the time was now at hand when Christ would put an end to John’s ministry, as, when the sun is risen, the dawn suddenly disappears. After having testified to the priests who were sent to him, that he from whom they ought to seek the truth and power of baptism was already present, and was conversing in the midst of the people, the next day he pointed him out to the view of all. For these two acts, following each other in close succession, must have powerfully affected their minds. This too is the reason why Christ appeared in the presence of John.
Behold the Lamb of God. The principal office of Christ is briefly but clearly stated; that he takes away the sins of the world by the sacrifice of his death, and reconciles men to God. There are other favors, indeed, which Christ bestows upon us, but this is the chief favor, and the rest depend on it; that, by appeasing the wrath of God, he makes us to be reckoned holy and righteous. For from this source flow all the streams of blessings, that, by not imputing our sins, he receives us into favor. Accordingly, John, in order to conduct us to Christ, commences with the gratuitous forgiveness of sins which we obtain through him.
By the word Lamb he alludes to the ancient sacrifices of the Law. He had to do with Jews who, having been accustomed to sacrifices, could not be instructed about atonement for sins in any other way than by holding out to them a sacrifice. As there were various kinds of them, he makes one, by a figure of speech, to stand for the whole; and it is probable that John alluded to the paschal lamb. It must be observed, in general, that John employed this mode of expression, which was better adapted to instruct the Jews, and possessed greater force; as in our own day, in consequence of baptism being generally practiced, we understand better what is meant by obtaining forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ, when we are told that we are washed and cleansed by it from our pollutions. At the same time, as the Jews commonly held superstitious notions about sacrifices, he corrects this fault in passing, by reminding them of the object to which all the sacrifices were directed. It was a very wicked abuse of the institution of sacrifice, that they had their confidence fixed on the outward signs; and therefore John, holding out Christ, testifies that he is the Lamb of God; by which he means that all the sacrifices, which the Jews were accustomed to offer under the Law, had no power whatever to atone for sins, but that they were only figures, the truth of which was manifested in Christ himself.
Who taketh away the sin of the world. He uses the word sin in the singular number, for any kind of iniquity; as if he had said, that every kind of unrighteousness which alienates men from God is taken away by Christ. And when he says, the sin OF THE WORLD, he extends this favor indiscriminately to the whole human race; that the Jews might not think that he had been sent to them alone. But hence we infer that the whole world is involved in the same condemnation; and that as all men without exception are guilty of unrighteousness before God, they need to be reconciled to him. John the Baptist, therefore, by speaking generally of the sin of the world, intended to impress upon us the conviction of our own misery, and to exhort us to seek the remedy. Now our duty is, to embrace the benefit which is offered to all, that each of us may be convinced that there is nothing to hinder him from obtaining reconciliation in Christ, provided that he comes to him by the guidance of faith.
Besides, he lays down but one method of taking away sins. We know that from the beginning of the world, when their own consciences held them convinced, men labored anxiously to procure forgiveness. Hence the vast number of propitiatory offerings, by which they falsely imagined that they appeased God. I own, indeed, that all the spurious rites of a propitiatory nature drew their existence from a holy origin, which was, that God had appointed the sacrifices which directed men to Christ; but yet every man contrived for himself his own method of appeasing God. But John leads us back to Christ alone, and informs us that there is no other way in which God is reconciled to us than through his agency, because he alone takes away sin. He therefore leaves no other refuge for sinners than to flee to Christ; by which he overturns all satisfactions, and purifications, and redemptions, that are invented by men; as, indeed, they are nothing else than base inventions framed by the subtlety of the devil.
The verb ai]rein (to take away) may be explained in two ways; either that Christ took upon himself the load which weighed us down, as it is said that he carried our sins on the tree, (<600224>1 Peter 2:24;) and Isaiah says that
the chastisement of our peace was laid on him, (<235305>Isaiah 53:5;)
or that he blots out sins. But as the latter statement depends on the former, I gladly embrace both; namely, that Christ, by bearing our sins, takes them away. Although, therefore, sin continually dwells in us, yet there is none in the judgment of God, because when it has been annulled by the grace of Christ, it is not imputed to us. Nor do I dislike the remark of Chrysostom, that the verb in the present tense oJ ai]rwn, who taketh away, denotes a continued act; for the satisfaction which Christ once made is always in full vigor. But he does not merely teach us that Christ takes away sin, but points out also the method, namely, that he hath reconciled the Father to us by means of his death; for this is what he means by the word Lamb. Let us therefore learn that we become reconciled to God by the grace of Christ, if we go straight to his death, and when we believe that he who was nailed to the cross is the only propitiatory sacrifice, by which all our guilt is removed.
30. This is he of whom I said. He comprehends every thing in a few words, when he declares that Christ is the person who, he said, was to be preferred to him; for hence it follows that John is nothing more than a herald sent on his account; and hence again it is evident that Christ is the Messiah. Three things are here stated; for when he says that a man cometh after him, he means that he himself was before him in the order of time, to prepare the way for Christ, according to the testimony of Malachi,
Behold, I send my messenger before my face, (<390301>Malachi 3:1.)
Again, when he says that he was preferred to himself, this relates to the glory with which God adorned his Son, when he came into the world to fulfill the office of a Redeemer. At last, the reason is added, which is, that Christ is far superior in dignity to John the Baptist. That honor, therefore, which the Father bestowed upon him was not accidental, but was due to his eternal majesty. But of this expression, he was preferred to me, because he was before me, I have already Spoken. f36
31. And I knew him not. That his testimony may not be suspected of having been given either from friendship or favor, he anticipates such a doubt, by affirming that he had no other knowledge of Christ than what he had obtained by divine inspiration. The meaning, therefore, amounts to this, that John does not speak at his own suggestion, nor for the favor of man, but by the inspiration of the Spirit and the command of God.
I came baptizing with water; that is, I was called and appointed to this office, that I might manifest him to Israel; which the Evangelist afterwards explains more fully, and confirms, when he introduces John the Baptist, testifying that he had no knowledge of Christ but what he had obtained by oracle; that is, by information or revelation from God. f36A Instead of what we find here, I came to baptize, he there states expressly (verse 33) that he was sent; for it is only the calling of God that makes lawful ministers, because every person who of his own accord, thrusts himself forward, whatever learning or eloquence he may possess, is not entitled to any authority, and the reason is, that he is not authorized by God. Now since it was necessary that John, in order that he might lawfully baptize, should be sent by God, let it be inferred from this, that it is not in the power of any man whatever to institute sacraments, but that this right belongs to God alone, as Christ, on another occasion, in order to prove the baptism of John, asks if it was from heaven, or from men, (<402125>Matthew 21:25.)
32. I saw the Spirit, descending like a dove. This is not a literal but a figurative mode of expression; for with what eyes could he see the Spirit? But as the dove was a certain and infallible sign of the presence of the Spirit, it is called the Spirit, by a figure of speech in which one name is substituted for another; not that he is in reality the Spirit, but that he points him out, as far as human capacity can admit. And this metaphorical language is frequently employed in the sacraments; for why does Christ call the bread his body, but because the name of the thing is properly transferred to the sign? especially when the sign is, at the same time, a true and efficacious pledge, by which we are made certain that the thing itself which is signified is bestowed on us. Yet it must not be understood that the dove contained the Spirit who fills heaven and earth, (<242324>Jeremiah 23:24,) but that he was present by his power, so that John knew that such an exhibition was not presented to his eyes in vain. In like manner, we know that the body of Christ is not connected with the bread, and yet we are partakers of his body.
A question now arises, why did the Spirit at that time appear in the form of a dove? We must always hold that there is a correspondence between the sign and the reality. When the Spirit was given to the apostles, they saw cloven tongues of fire, (<440203>Acts 2:3,) because the preaching of the gospel was to be spread through all tongues, and was to possess the power of fire. But in this passage God intended to make a public representation of that mildness of Christ of which Isaiah speaks in lofty terms,
The smoking flax he will not quench, and the bruised reed he will not break, (<234203>Isaiah 42:3.)
It was then, for the first time, that the Spirit was seen descending on him; not that he had formerly been destitute of him, but because he might be said to be then consecrated by a solemn rite. For we know that he remained in concealment, during thirty years, like a private individual, because the time for his manifestation was not yet come; but when he intended to make himself known to the world, he began with his baptism. At that time, therefore, he received the Spirit not only for himself, but for his people; and on that account his descent was visible, that we may know that there dwells in him an abundance of all gifts of which we are empty and destitute. This may easily be inferred from the words of the Baptist; for when he says, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, it is he who baptizeth with the Spirit, his meaning is, that the reason why the Spirit was beheld in a visible form, and remained on Christ, was, that he might water all his people with his fullness. What it is to baptize with the Spirit I have already noticed in a few words; namely, that he imparts its efficacy to baptism, that it may not be vain or useless, and this he accomplishes by the power of his Spirit.
33. Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending. Here a difficult question arises; for if John did not know Christ, why does he refuse to admit him to baptism? To a person whom he did not know he would not say, I ought rather to be baptized by thee, (<400314>Matthew 3:14.) Some reply, that he knew him to such an extent as to regard him with the reverence due to a distinguished Prophet, but was not aware that he was the Son of God. But this is a poor solution of the difficulty, for every man ought to obey the calling of God without any respect of persons. No rank or excellence of man ought to prevent us from doing our duty, and therefore John would have shown disrespect to God and to his baptism, if he had spoken in this manner to any other person than the Son of God. it follows that he must have previously known Christ.
In the first place, it ought to be observed, that the knowledge here mentioned is that which arises from personal and long acquaintance. Although he recognizes Christ whenever he sees him, still it does not cease to be true that they were not known to each other according to the ordinary custom of men, for the commencement of his knowledge proceeded from God. But the question is not yet fully answered; for he says that the sight of the Holy Spirit was the mark by which he was pointed out to him. Now he had not yet seen the Spirit, when he had addressed Christ as the Son of God. For my own part, I willingly embrace the opinion of those who think that this sign was added for confirmation, and that it was not so much for the sake of John as for the sake of us all. John indeed saw it, but it was rather for others than for himself. Bucer appropriately quotes that saying of Moses,
This shall be a sign to you, that after three days journey, you shall sacrifice to me on the mountain, (<020312>Exodus 3:12.)
Undoubtedly, when they were going out, they already knew that God would conduct and watch over their deliverance; but this was a confirmation a posteriori, as the phrase is; that is, from the event, after it had taken place. In like manner, this came as an addition to the former revelation which had been given to John.
34. I saw and testified. He means that what he declares is not doubtful; because God was pleased to make him fully and thoroughly acquainted with those things of which he was to be the witness to the world; and it is worthy of notice, that he testified that Christ was the Son of God, because he who gives the Holy Spirit must be the Christ, for to no other belongs the honor and the office of reconciling men to God.

JOHN 1:35-39
35. The next day John was again standing, and two of his disciples; 36. And looking at Jesus walking, he said, Behold the Lamb of God! 37. And those two disciples heard him speak, and followed Jesus. 38. And Jesus turning, and looking at them following him, saith to them, What do you seek? And they said to him, Rabbi, (which, if you interpret it, is explained Master,) where dwellest thou? 39. He saith to them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and remained with him that day; for it was about the tenth hour.

36. Behold the Lamb of God! Hence appears more clearly what I have already stated, that when John perceived that he was approaching the end of his course, he labored incessantly to resign his office to Christ. His firmness too gives greater credit to his testimony. But by insisting so earnestly, during many successive days, in repeating the commendation of Christ, he shows that his own course was nearly finished. Here we see also how small and low the beginning of the Church was. John, indeed, prepared disciples for Christ, but it is only now that Christ begins to collect a Church. He has no more than two men who are mean and unknown, but this even contributes to illustrate his glory, that within a short period, without human aid, and without a strong hand, he spreads his kingdom in a wonderful and incredible manner. We ought also to observe what is the chief object to which John directs the attention of men; it is, to find in Christ the forgiveness of sins. And as Christ had presented himself to the disciples for the express purpose that they might come to him, so no when they come, he gently encourages and exhorts them; for he does not wait until they first address him, but asks, What do you seek? This kind and gracious invitation, which was once made to two persons, now belongs to all. We ought not therefore to fear that Christ will withdraw from us or refuse to us easy access, provided that he sees us desirous to come to him; but, on the contrary, he will stretch out his hand to assist our endeavors. And how will not he meet those who come to him, who seeks at a distance those who are wandering and astray, that he may bring them back to the right road?
38. Rabbi. This name was commonly given to persons of high rank, or who possessed any kind of honor. But the Evangelist here points out another use of it which was made in his own age, which was, that they addressed by this name the teachers and expounders of the word of God. Although, therefore, those two disciples do not yet recognize Christ as the only Teacher of the Church, yet, moved by the commendation bestowed on him by John the Baptist, they hold him to be a Prophet and teacher, which is the first step towards receiving instruction.
Where dwellest thou? By this example we are taught that from the first, rudiments of the Church we ought to draw such a relish for Christ as will excite our desire to profit; and next, that we ought not to be satisfied with a mere passing look, but that we ought to seek his dwelling, that he may receive us as guests. For there are very many who smell the gospel at a distance only, and thus allow Christ suddenly to disappear, and all that they have learned concerning him to pass away. And though those two persons did not at that time become his ordinary disciples, yet there can be no doubt that, during that night, he instructed them more fully, so that they soon afterwards became entirely devoted to him.
39. It was about the tenth hour; that is, the evening was approaching, for it was not more than two hours till sunset. The day was at that time divided by them into twelve hours, which were longer in summer and shorter in winter. But from this circumstance we infer that those disciples were so eagerly desirous to hear Christ, and to gain a more intimate knowledge of him, that they gave themselves no concern about a night’s lodging. On the contrary, we are, for the most part, very unlike them, for we incessantly delay, because it is not convenient for us to follow Christ.

JOHN 1:40-42
40. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of those who heard John speak and followed him. 41. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith to him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42. He brought him therefore to Jesus; and Jesus, looking at him, said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jonah; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, being interpreted, Peter.

40. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. The design of the Evangelist, down to the end of the chapter, is to inform us how gradually the disciples were brought to Christ. Here he relates about Peter, and afterwards he will mention Philip and Nathanael. The circumstance of Andrew immediately bringing his brother expresses the nature of faith, which does not conceal or quench the light, but rather spreads it in every direction. Andrew has scarcely a spark, and yet, by means of it, he enlightens his brother. Woe to our indolence, therefore, if we do not, after having been fully enlightened, endeavor to make others partakers of the same grace. We may observe in Andrew two things which Isaiah requires from the children of God; namely, that each should take his neighbor by the hand, and next, that he should say,
Come, let us go up into the mountain of the Lord,
and he will teach us, (<230203>Isaiah 2:3.)
For Andrew stretches out the hand to his brother, but at the same time he has this object in view, that he may become a fellow-disciple with him in the school of Christ. We ought also to observe the purpose of God, which determined that Peter, who was to be far more eminent, was brought to the knowledge of Christ by the agency and ministry of Andrew; that none of us, however excellent, may refuse to be taught by an inferior; for that man will be severely punished for his peevishness, or rather for his pride, who, through his contempt of a man, will not deign to come to Christ.
41. We have found the Messiah. The Evangelist has interpreted the Hebrew word Messiah (Anointed) by the Greek word Christ, in order to publish to the whole world what was secretly known to the Jews. It was the ordinary designation of kings, f37 as anointing was observed by them as a solemn rite. But still they were aware that one King would be anointed by God, under whom they might hope to obtain perfect and eternal happiness; especially when they should learn that the earthly kingdom of David would not be permanent. And as God raised their minds, when subdued and weighed down by various calamities, to the expectation of the Messiah, so he more clearly revealed to them that his coming was at hand. The prediction of Daniel is more clear and forcible than all the rest, so far as relates to the name of Christ; for he does not, like the earlier Prophets, ascribe it to kings, but appropriates it exclusively to the Redeemer, (<270925>Daniel 9:25, 26.) Hence this mode of expression became prevalent, so that when the Messiah or Christ was mentioned, it was understood that no other than the Redeemer was meant. Thus we shall find the woman of Samaria saying, the Messiah will come, (<430425>John 4:25;) which makes it the more wonderful that he who was so eagerly desired by all, and whom they had constantly in their mouths, should be received by so small a number of persons.
42. Thou art Simon. Christ gives a name to Simon, not as men commonly do, from some past event, or from what is now perceived in them, but because he was to make him Peter, (a stone.) First, he says, Thou art Simon, the son of Jonah. He repeats the name of his father in an abridged form; which is common enough when names are translated into other languages; for it will plainly appear from the last chapter that he was the son of Johanna or John. But all this amounts to nothing more than that he will be a very different person from what he now is. For it is not For the sake of honor that he mentions his father; but as he was descended from a family which was obscure, and which was held in no estimation among men, Christ declares that this will not prevent him from making Simon a man of unshaken courage. The Evangelist, therefore, mentions this as a prediction, that Simon received a new name. I look upon it as a prediction, not only because Christ foresaw the future steadfastness of faith in Peter, but because he foretold what he would give to him. He now magnifies the grace which he determined afterwards to bestow upon him; and therefore he does not say that this is now his name, but delays it till a future time.
Thou shalt be called Cephas. All the godly, indeed, may justly be called Peters (stones,) which, having been Sounded on Christ, are fitted for building the temple of God; but he alone is so called on account of his singular excellence. Yet the Papists act a ridiculous part, when they substitute him in the place of Christ; so as to be the foundation of the Church, as if he too were not founded on Christ along with the rest of the disciples; and they are doubly ridiculous when out of a stone they make him a head. For among the rhapsodies of Gratian there is a foolish canon under the name of Anacletus, who, exchanging a Hebrew word for a Greek one, and not distinguishing the Greek word kefalh< (kephale) from the Hebrew word Cephas, thinks that by this name Peter was appointed to be Head of the Church. Cephas is rather a Chaldaic than a Hebrew word; but that was the customary pronunciation of it after the Babylonish captivity. There is, then, no ambiguity in the words of Christ; for he promises what Peter had not at all expected, and thus magnifies his own grace to all ages, that his former condition may not lead us to think less highly of him, since this remarkable appellation informs us that he was made a new man.

JOHN 1:43-46
43. The next day Jesus wished to go into Galilee, and found Philip, and said to him, Follow me. 44. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith to him, We have found Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, of whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets write. 46. Nathanael said to him, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come and see.

43. Follow me. When Philip was inflamed by this single word to follow Christ, we infer from it how great is the efficacy of the word of God; but it does not appear indiscriminately in all, for God addresses many without any advantage, just as if he struck their ears with a sound which vanished into air. So then the external preaching of the word is in itself unfruitful, except that it inflicts a deadly wound on the reprobate, so as to render them inexcusable before God. But when the secret grace of God quickens it, all the senses must be affected in such a manner that men will be prepared to follow wherever God calls them. We ought, therefore, to pray to Christ that he may display in us the same power of the Gospel. In the case of Philip, there was no doubt a peculiarity about his following Christ; for he is commanded to follow, not like one of us, but as a domestic, and as a familiar companion. But still the calling of all of us is illustrated by this calling of Philip.
44. Was of Bethsaida. The name of the city appears to have been mentioned on purpose, that the goodness of God to the three Apostles may be more illustriously displayed. We know how severely, on other occasions, Christ threatens and curses that city, (<401121>Matthew 11:21; <421013>Luke 10:13.) Accordingly, when God brought into favor with him some out of a nation so ungodly and wicked, we ought to view it in the same light as if they had been brought out of the lowest hell. And when Christ, after having drawn them out of that deep gulf, honors them so highly as to make them Apostles, it is a distinguished favor and worthy of being recorded.
45. Philip findeth Nathanael. Though proud men despise these feeble beginnings of the Church, yet we ought to perceive in them a brighter display of the divine glory, than if the condition of the Kingdom of Christ had been in every respect, from the outset, splendid and magnificent; for we know to how rich a harvest this small seed afterwards grew. Again, we see in Philip the same desire of building which formerly appeared in Andrew. His modesty, too, is remarkable, in desiring and seeking nothing else than to have others to learn along with him, from Him who is a Teacher common to all.
We have found Jesus. How small was the measure of Philip’s faith appears from this circumstance, that he cannot utter a few words about Christ without mingling with them two gross errors. He calls him the son of Joseph, and says, that Nazareth was his native town, both of which statements were false; and yet, because he is sincerely desirous to do good to his brother, and to make Christ known, God approves of this instance of his diligence, and even crowns it with good success. Each of us ought, no doubt, to endeavor to keep soberly within his own limits; and, certainly, the Evangelist does not mention it as worthy of commendation in Philip, that he twice disgraces Christ, but relates that his doctrine, though faulty and involved in error, was useful, because it nevertheless had this for its object, that Christ might be truly known. He foolishly says that he was the son of Joseph, and ignorantly calls him a native of Nazareth, but yet he leads Nathanael to no other than the Son of God who was born in Bethlehem, (<400201>Matthew 2:1,) and does not contrive a false Christ, but only wishes that they should know him as he was exhibited by Moses and the Prophets. We see, then, that the chief design of doctrine is, that those who hear us should come to Christ in some way or other.
There are many who engage in abstruse inquiries about Christ, but who throw such darkness and intricacy around him by their subtleties that they can never find him. The Papists, for example, will not say that Christ is the son of Joseph, for they distinctly know what is his name; but yet they annihilate his power, so as to hold out a phantom in the room of Christ. Would it not be better to stammer ridiculously, like Philip, and to hold by the true Christ, than by eloquent and ingenious language to introduce a false Christ? On the other hand, there are many poor dunces in the present day, who, though ignorant and unskilled in the use of language, make known Christ more faithfully than all the theologians of the Pope with their lofty speculations. This passage, therefore, warns us that, if any unsuitable language has been employed concerning Christ by ignorant and unlearned men, we ought not to reject such persons with disdain, provided they direct us to Christ; but that we may not be withdrawn from Christ by the false imaginations of men, let us always have this remedy at hand, to seek the pure knowledge of him from the Law and the Prophets.
46. Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? At first, Nathanael refuses, the place of Christ’s nativity (as described by Philip) having given him offense. But, first of all, he is deceived by the inconsiderate discourse of Philip; for what Philip foolishly believed Nathanael receives as certain. Next, there is added a foolish judgment arising from hatred or contempt of the place. Both of these points ought to be carefully observed by us. This holy man was not far from shutting out against himself all approach to Christ. Why was this? Because he rashly believes what Philip spoke incorrectly about Christ; and next, because his mind was under the influence of a preconceived opinion that no good thing could come out of Nazareth. If then we are not carefully on our guard, we shall be liable to the same danger; and Satan labors every day, by similar obstacles, to hinder us from coming to Christ; for he has the dexterity to spread many falsehoods, the tendency of which is to excite our hatred or suspicion against the Gospel, that we may not venture to taste it. And next, he ceases not to try another method, namely, to make us look on Christ with contempt; for we see how many there are who take offense at the degradation of the cross, which appears both in Christ the head and in his members. But as we can hardly be so cautious as not to be tempted by those stratagems of Satan, let us at least remember immediately this caution:
Come and see. Nathanael allowed his twofold error to be corrected by this expression which Philip uttered. Following his example, let us first show ourselves to be submissive and obedient; and next, let us not shrink from inquiry, when Christ himself is ready to remove the doubts which harass us. Those who read these words not as a question, but as an affirmation, Some good thing may come out of Nazareth, are greatly mistaken. For, in the first place, how trivial would such an observation be? And next, we know that the city Nazareth was not at that time held in estimation; and Philip’s reply shows plainly enough that it was expressive of hesitation and distrust.

JOHN 1:47-51
47. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, he saith of him, Behold, one truly an Israelite, in whom there is no deceit. 48. Nathanael saith to him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said to him, Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee. 49. Nathanael answered and said to him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King: of Israel. 50. Jesus answered and said to him, Because I said to thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, thou believest; f38 thou shalt see greater things than these. 51. Then he said to him, Verily, verily, I say to you, Hereafter you shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man.

47. Behold, one truly an Israelite. It is not on Nathanael’s own account that Christ bestows on him this commendation, but under his person he holds out a general doctrine. For, since many who boast of being believers are very far from being actually believers, it is of great importance that some mark should be found for distinguishing the true and genuine from the false. We know how haughtily the Jews gloried in their father Abraham, and how presumptuously they boasted of the holiness of their descent; and yet there was scarcely one in a hundred among them who was not utterly degenerate and alienated from the faith of the Fathers. For this reason, Christ, in order to tear the mask from hypocrites, gives a short definition of a true Israelite, and, at the same time, removes the offense which would afterwards arise from the wicked obstinacy of the nation. For those who wished to be accounted the children of Abraham, and the holy people of God, were shortly afterwards to become the deadly enemies of the Gospel. That none may be discouraged or alarmed by the impiety which was generally found in almost all ranks, he gives a timely warning, that of those by whom the name of Israelites is assumed there are few who are true Israelites.
Again, as this passage contains a definition of Christianity, we must not pass by it slightly. To sum up the meaning of Christ in a few words, it ought to be observed that deceit is contrasted with uprightness and sincerity; f39 so that he calls those persons sly f40 and deceitful who are called in other parts of Scripture double in heart, (<191202>Psalm 12:2.) Nor is it only that gross hypocrisy by which those who are conscious of their wickedness pretend to be good men, but likewise another inward hypocrisy, when men are so blinded by their vices that they not only deceive others but themselves. So then it is integrity of heart before God, and uprightness before men, that makes a Christian; but Christ points out chiefly that kind of deceit which is mentioned in <193202>Psalm 32:2. In this passage ajlhqw~v (truly) means something more than certainly. The Greek word, no doubt, is often used as a simple affirmation; but as we must here supply a contrast between the fact and the mere name, he is said to be truly, who is in reality what he is supposed to be.
48. Whence knowest thou? Though Christ did not intend to flatter him, yet he wished to be heard by him, in order to draw forth a new question, by the reply to which he would prove himself to be the Son of God. Nor is it without a good reason that Nathanael asks whence Christ knew him; for to meet with a man of such uprightness as to be free from all deceit is an uncommon case, and to know such purity of heart belongs to God alone. The reply of Christ, however, appears to be inappropriate; for though he saw Nathanael under the fig-tree, it does not follow from this that he could penetrate into the deep secrets of the heart. But there is another reason; for as it belongs to God to know men when they are not seen, so also does it belong to Him to see what is not visible to the eyes. As Nathanael knew that Christ did not see him after the manner of men, but by a look truly divine, this might lead him to conclude that Christ did not now speak as a man. The proof, therefore, is taken from things which are of the same class; for not less does it belong to God to see what lies beyond our view than to judge concerning purity of heart. We ought also to gather from this passage a useful doctrine, that when we are not thinking of Christ, we are observed by him; and it is necessary that it should be so, that he may bring us back, when we have wandered from the right path.
49. Thou art the Son of God. That he acknowledges him to be the Son of God from his divine power is not wonderful; but on what ground does he call him King of Israel? for the two things do not appear to be necessarily connected. But Nathanael takes a loftier view. He had already heard that he is the Messiah, and to this doctrine he adds the confirmation which had been given him. He holds also another principle, that the Son of God will not come without exercising the office of King over the people of God. Justly, therefore, does he acknowledge that he who is the Son of God is also King of Israel And, indeed, faith ought not to be fixed on the essence of Christ alone, (so to speak,) but ought to attend to his power and office; for it would be of little advantage to know who Christ is, if this second point were not added, what he wishes to be towards us, and for what purpose the Father sent him. The reason why the Papists have nothing more than a shadow of Christ is, that they have been careful to look at his mere essence, but have disregarded his kingdom, which consists in the power to save.
Again, when Nathanael calls him King of Israel, though his kingdom extends to the remotest bounds of the earth, the confession is limited to the measure of faith. For he had not yet advanced so far as to know that Christ was appointed to be King over the whole world, or rather, that from every quarter would be collected the children of Abraham, so that the whole world would be the Israel of God. We to whom the wide extent of Christ’s kingdom has been revealed ought to go beyond those narrow limits. Yet following the example of Nathanael, let us exercise our faith in hearing the word, and let us strengthen it by all the means that are in our power; and let it not remain buried, but break out into confession.
50. Jesus answered. He does not reprove Nathanael as if he had been too easy of belief, but rather approving of his faith, promises to him and to others that he will confirm it by stronger arguments. Besides, it was peculiar to one man that he was seen under a fig-tree by Christ, when absent and at a distance from him; but now Christ brings forward a proof which would be common to all, and thus — as if he had broken off from what he originally intended — instead of addressing one man, he turns to address all.
51. You shall see heaven opened. They are greatly mistaken, in my opinion, who anxiously inquire into the place where, and the time when, Nathanael and others saw heaven opened; for he rather points out something perpetual which was always to exist in his kingdom. I acknowledge indeed, that the disciples sometimes saw angels, who are not seen in the present day; and I acknowledge also that the manifestation of the heavenly glory, when Christ ascended to heaven, was different from what we now behold. But if we duly consider what took place at that time, it is of perpetual duration; for the kingdom of God, which was formerly closed against us, is actually opened in Christ. A visible instance of this was shown to Stephen, (<440755>Acts 7:55,) to the three disciples on the mountain, (<401705>Matthew 17:5,) and to the other disciples at Christ’s ascension, (<422451>Luke 24:51; <440109>Acts 1:9.) But all the signs by which God shows himself present with us depend on this opening of heaven, more especially when God communicates himself to us to be our life.
Ascending and descending on the Son of man. This second clause refers to angels. They are said to ascend and descend, so as to be ministers of God’s kindness towards us; and therefore this mode of expression points out the mutual intercourse which exists between God and men. Now we must acknowledge that this benefit was received through Christ, because without him the angels have rather a deadly enmity against us than a friendly care to help us. They are said to ascend and descend ON THE SON OF MAN, not because they minister to him, but because — in reference to him, and for his honor — they include the whole body of the Church in their kindly regard. Nor have I any doubt that he alludes to the ladder which was exhibited to the patriarch Jacob in a dream, (<012812>Genesis 28:12;) for what was prefigured by that vision is actually fulfilled in Christ. In short, this passage teaches us, that though the whole human race was banished from the kingdom of God, the gate of heaven is now opened to us, so that we are fellow-citizens of the saints, and companions of the angels, (<490219>Ephesians 2:19;) and that they, having been appointed to be guardians of our salvation, descend from the blessed rest of the heavenly glory f41 to relieve our distresses.
CHAPTER 2

JOHN 2:1-11
1. Three days after, f42 there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there. 2. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage 3. And when the wine fell short, the mother of Jesus saith to him, They have no wine. 4. Jesus saith to her, What have I to do with thee? my hour is not yet come. 5. His mother saith to the servants, Do whatever he shall bid you. 6. And there were there six water-pots of stone, placed according to the Jewish custom of cleansing, containing each of them about two or three baths. 7. Jesus saith to them, Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them to the brim. 8. And he saith to them, Draw out now, and carry to the master of the feast; and they carried. 9. And when the master of the feast had tasted the water which was made wine, (and knew not whence it was, but the servants who drew the water knew,) the master of the feast calleth the bridegroom, 10. And saith to him, Every man at first sets down good wine; and when men have drunk freely, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine till now. 11. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and displayed his glory, and his disciples believed on him.

1. There was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. As this narrative contains the first miracle which Christ performed, it would be proper for us, were it on this ground alone, to consider the narrative attentively; though — as we shall afterwards see — there are other reasons which recommend it to our notice. But while we proceed, the various advantages arising from it will be more clearly seen. The Evangelist first mentions Cana of Galilee, not that which was situated towards Zare-phath (<111709>1 Kings 17:9; Obadiah 20; <420426>Luke 4:26) or Sarepta, between Tyre and Sidon, and was called the greater in comparison of this latter Cana, which is placed by some in the tribe of Zebulun, and by others in the tribe of Asher. For Jerome too assures us that, even in his time, there existed a small town which bore that name. There is reason to believe that it was near the city of Nazareth, since the mother of Christ came there to attend the marriage. From the fourth chapter of this book it will be seen that it was not more than one day’s journey distant from Capernaum. That it lay not far from the city of Bethsaida may also be inferred from the circumstance, that three days after Christ had been in those territories, the marriage was celebrated — the Evangelist tells us — in Cana of Galilee. There may have been also a third Cana, not far from Jerusalem, and yet out of Galilee; but I leave this undetermined, because I am unacquainted with it.
And the mother of Jesus was there. It was probably one of Christ’s near relations who married a wife; for Jesus is mentioned as having accompanied his mother. From the fact that the disciples also are invited, we may infer how plain and frugal was his way of living; for he lived in common with them. It may be thought strange, however, that a man who has no great wealth or abundance (as will be made evident from the scarcity of the wine) invites four or five other persons, on Christ’s account. But the poor are readier and more frank in their invitations; because they are not, like the rich, afraid of being disgraced, if they do not treat their guests with great costliness and splendor; for the poor adhere more zealously to the ancient custom of having an extended acquaintance.
Again, it may be supposed to show a want of courtesy, that the bridegroom allows his guests, in the middle of the entertainment, to be in want of wine; for it looks like a man of little thoughtfulness not to have a sufficiency of wine for his guests. I reply, nothing is here related which does not frequently happen, especially when people are not accustomed to the daily use of wine. Besides, the context shows, that it was towards the conclusion of the banquet that the wine fell short, when, according to custom, it might be supposed that they had already drunk enough; for the master of the feast thus speaks, Other men place worse wine before those who have drunk enough, but thou hast kept the best till now. Besides, I have no doubt that all this was regulated by the Providence of God, that there might be room for the miracle.
3. The mother of Jesus saith to him. It may be doubted if she expected or asked any thing from her Son, since he had not yet performed any miracle; and it is possible that, without expecting any remedy of this sort, she advised him to give some pious exhortations which would have the effect of preventing the guests from feeling uneasiness, and at the same time of relieving the shame of the bridegroom. I consider her words to be expressive of (sumpaqei>a) earnest compassion; for the holy woman, perceiving that those who had been invited were likely to consider themselves as having been treated with disrespect, and to murmur against the bridegroom, and that the entertainment might in that way be disturbed, wished that some means of soothing them could be adopted. Chrysostom throws out a suspicion that she was moved by the feelings of a woman to seek I know not what favor for herself and her Son; but this conjecture is not supported by any argument.
4. Woman, what have I to do with thee? Why does Christ repel her so rashly? I reply, though she was not moved by ambition, nor by any carnal affection, still she did wrong in going beyond her proper bounds. Her anxiety about the inconvenience endured by others, and her desire to have it in some way mitigated, proceeded from humanity, and ought to be regarded as a virtue; but still, by putting herself forward, she might obscure the glory of Christ. Though it ought also to be observed, that what Christ spoke was not so much for her sake as for the sake of others. Her modesty and piety were too great, to need so severe a chastisement. Besides, she did not knowingly and willingly offend; but Christ only meets the danger, that no improper use may be made of what his mother had said, as if it were in obedience to her command that he afterwards performed the miracle.
The Greek words (Ti> ejmoi< kai< soi<) literally mean, What to me and to thee? But the Greek phraseology is of the same import with the Latin — Quid tibi mecum? (what hast thou to do with me?) The old translator led many people into a mistake, by supposing Christ to have asserted, that it was no concern of his, or of his mother’s, if the wine fell short. But from the second clause we may easily conclude how far removed this is from Christ’s meaning; for he takes upon himself this concern, and declares that it belongs to him to do so, when he adds, my hour is not yet come. Both ought to be joined together — that Christ understands what it is necessary for him to do, and yet that he will not act in this matter at his mother’s suggestion.
It is a remarkable passage certainly; for why does he absolutely refuse to his mother what he freely granted afterwards, on so many occasions, to all sorts of persons? Again, why is he not satisfied with a bare refusal? and why does he reduce her to the ordinary rank of women, and not even deign to call her mother? This saying of Christ openly and manifestly warns men to beware lest, by too superstitiously elevating the honor of the name of mother in the Virgin Mary, f43 they transfer to her what belongs exclusively to God. Christ, therefore, addresses his mother in this manner, in order to lay down a perpetual and general instruction to all ages, that his divine glory must not be obscured by excessive honor paid to his mother.
How necessary this warning became, in consequence of the gross and disgraceful superstitions which followed afterwards, is too well known. For Mary has been constituted the Queen of Heaven, the Hope, the Life, and the Salvation of the world; and, in short, their fury and madness proceeded so far that they stripped Christ of his spoils, and left him almost naked. And when we condemn those horrid blasphemies against the Son of God, the Papists call us malignant and envious; and — what is worse — they maliciously slander us as deadly foes to the honor of the holy Virgin. As if she had not all the honor that is due to her, unless she were made a Goddess; or as if it were treating her with respect, to adorn her with blasphemous titles, and to substitute her in the room of Christ. The Papists, therefore, offer a grievous insult to Mary when, in order to disfigure her by false praises, they take from God what belongs to Him.
My hour is not yet come. He means that he has not hitherto delayed through carelessness or indolence, but at the same time he states indirectly that he will attend to the matter, when the proper time for it shall arrive. As he reproves his mother for unseasonable haste, so, on the other hand, he gives reason to expect a miracle. The holy Virgin acknowledges both, for she abstains from addressing him any farther; and when she advises the servants to do whatever he commands, she shows that she expects something now. But the instruction conveyed here is still more extensive that whenever the Lord holds us in suspense, and delays his aid, he is not therefore asleep, but, on the contrary, regulates all His works in such a manner that he does nothing but at the proper time. Those who have applied this passage to prove that the time of events is appointed by Fate, are too ridiculous to require a single word to be said for refuting them. The hour of Christ sometimes denotes the hour which had been appointed to him by the Father; and by his time he will afterwards designate what he found to be convenient and suitable for executing the commands of his Father; but in this place he claims the right to take and choose the time for working and for displaying his Divine power. f44
5. His mother saith to the servants. Here the holy Virgin gives an instance of true obedience which she owed to her Son, f45 when the question related, not to the relative duties of mankind, but to his divine power. She modestly acquiesces, therefore, in Christ’s reply; and in like manner exhorts others to comply with his injunctions. I acknowledge, indeed, that what the Virgin now said related to the present occurrence, and amounted to a declaration that, in this instance, she had no authority, and that Christ would do, according to his own pleasure, whatever he thought right. But if you attend closely to her design, the statement which she made is still more extensive; for she first disclaims and lays aside the power which she might seem to have improperly usurped; and next, she ascribes the whole authority to Christ, when she bids them do whatever he shall command. We are taught generally by these words, that if we desire any thing from Christ, we will not obtain our wishes, unless we depend on him alone, look to him, and, in short, do whatever he commands. On the other hand, he does not send us to his mother, but rather invites us to himself.
6. And there were there six water-pots of stone. According to the computation of Budaeus, we infer that these water-pots were very large; for as the metreta f46 (metrhth<v) contains twenty congii, each contained, at least, a Sextier of this country. f47 Christ supplied them, therefore, with a great abundance of wine, as much as would be sufficient for a banquet to a hundred and fifty men. Besides, both the number and the size of the water-pots serve to prove the truth of the miracle. If there had been only two or three jars, many might have suspected that they had been brought from some other place. If in one vessel only the water had been changed into wine, the certainty of the miracle would not have been so obvious, or so well ascertained. It is not, therefore, without a good reason that the Evangelist mentions the number of the water-pots, and states how much they contained.
It arose from superstition that vessels so numerous and so large were placed there. They had the ceremony of washing, indeed, prescribed to them by the Law of God; but as the world is prone to excess in outward matters, the Jews, not satisfied with the simplicity which God had enjoined, amused themselves with continual washings; and as superstition is ambitious, they undoubtedly served the purpose of display, as we see at the present day in Popery, that every thing which is said to belong to the worship of God is arranged for pure display. There was, then, a twofold error: that without the command of God, they engaged in a superfluous ceremony of their own invention; and next, that, under the pretense of religion, ambition reigned amidst that display. Some Popish scoundrels have manifested an amazing degree of wickedness, when they had the effrontery to say that they had among their relics those water-pots with which Christ performed this miracle in Cana, and exhibited some of them, f48 which, first, are of small size, and, next, are unequal in size. And in the present day, when the light of the Gospel shines so clearly around us, they are not ashamed to practice those tricks, which certainly is not to deceive by enchantments, but daringly to mock men as if they were blind; and the world, which does not perceive such gross mockery, is evidently bewitched by Satan.
7. Fill the water-pots with water. The servants might be apt to look upon this injunction as absurd; for they had already more than enough of water. But in this way the Lord often acts towards us, that his power may be more illustriously displayed by an unexpected result; though this circumstance is added to magnify the miracle; for when the servants drew wine out of vessels which had been filled with water, no suspicion can remain.
8. And carry to the master of the feast. For the same reason as before, Christ wished that the flavor of the wine should be tried by the master of the feast, before it had been tasted by himself, or by any other of the guests; and the readiness with which the servants obey him in all things shows us the great reverence and respect in which he was held by them. The Evangelist gives the name of the master of the feast to him who had the charge of preparing the banquet and arranging the tables; not that the banquet was costly and magnificent, but because the honorable appellations borrowed from the luxury and splendor of the rich are applied even to the marriages of the poor. But it is wonderful that a large quantity of wine, and of the very best wine, is supplied by Christ, who is a teacher of sobriety. I reply, when God daily gives us a large supply of wine, it is our own fault if his kindness is an excitement to luxury; but, on the other hand, it is an undoubted trial of our sobriety, if we are sparing and moderate in the midst of abundance; as Paul boasts that he had learned to know both how to be full and to be hungry, (<500412>Philippians 4:12.)
11. This beginning of miracles. The meaning is, that this was the first of Christ’s miracles; for when the angels announced to the shepherds that he was born in Bethlehem, (<420208>Luke 2:8,) when the star appeared to the Magi, (<400202>Matthew 2:2,) when the Holy Spirit descended on him in the shape of a dove, (<400316>Matthew 3:16; <410110>Mark 1:10; <430132>John 1:32,) though these were miracles, yet, strictly speaking, they were not performed by him; but the Evangelist now speaks of the miracles of which he was himself the Author. For it is a frivolous and absurd interpretation which some give, that this is reckoned the first among; the miracles which Christ performed in Cana of Galilee; as if a place, in which we do not read that he ever was more than twice, had been selected by him for a display of his power. It was rather the design of the Evangelist to mark the order of time which Christ followed in the exercise of his power. For until he was thirty years of age, he kept himself concealed at home, like one who held no public office. Having been consecrated, at his baptism, to the discharge of his office, he then began to appear in public, and to show by clear proofs for what purpose he was sent by the Father. We need not wonder, therefore, if he delayed till this time the first proof of his Divinity. It is a high honor given to marriage, that Christ not only deigned to be present at a nuptial banquet, but honored it with his first miracle. There are some ancient Canons which forbid the clergy to attend a marriage. The reason of the prohibition was, that by being the spectators of the wickedness which was usually practiced on such occasions, they might in some measure be regarded as approving of it. But it would have been far better to carry to such places so much gravity as to restrain the licentiousness in which unprincipled and abandoned men indulge, when they are withdrawn from the eyes of others. Let us, on the contrary, take Christ’s example for our rule; and let us not suppose that any thing else than what we read that he did can be profitable to us.
And manifested his glory; that is, because he then gave a striking and illustrious proof, by which it was ascertained that he was the Son of God; for all the miracles which he exhibited to the world were so many demonstrations of his divine power. The proper time for displaying his glory was now come, when he wished to make himself known agreeably to the command of his Father. Hence, also, we learn the end of miracles; for this expression amounts to a declaration that Christ, in order to manifest his glory, performed this miracle. What, then, ought we to think of those miracles which obscure the glory of Christ?
And his disciples believed on him. If they were disciples, they must already have possessed some faith; but as they had hitherto followed him with a faith which was not distinct and firm, they began at that time to devote themselves to him, so as to acknowledge him to be the Messiah, such as he had already been announced to them. The forbearance of Christ is great in reckoning as disciples those whose faith is so small. And indeed this doctrine extends generally to us all; for the faith which is now full grown had at first its infancy, nor is it so perfect in any as not to make it necessary that all to a man should make progress in believing. Thus, they who now believed may be said to begin to believe, so far as they daily make progress towards the end of their faith. Let those who have obtained the first-fruits of faith labor always to make progress. These words point out likewise the advantage of miracles; namely, that they ought to be viewed as intended for the confirmation and progress of faith. Whoever twists them to any other purpose corrupts and debases the whole use of them; as we see that Papists boast of their pretended miracles for no other purpose than to bury faith, and to turn away the minds of men from Christ to the creatures.

JOHN 2:12-17
12. After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples and he remained there not many days. 13. And the passover of the Jews was at hand; therefore, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14. And found in the temple some who sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and money-changers also sitting. 15. And having made a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen, and threw down the money of the changers, and overturned the tables; 16. And said to those who sold doves, Take those things hence; do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise. 17. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up.

12. He went down to Capernaum. The Evangelist passes to an additional narrative; for having resolved to collect a few things worthy of remembrance which the other three had left out, he states the time when the occurrence which he is about to relate took place; for the other three also relate what we here read that Christ did, but the diversity of the time shows that it was a similar event, but not the same. On two occasions, then, did Christ cleanse the temple from base and profane merchandise; once, when he was beginning to discharge his commission, and another time, (<402112>Matthew 21:12; <411115>Mark 11:15; <421945>Luke 19:45,) when he was about to leave the world and go to the Father, (<431628>John 16:28.)
To obtain a general view of the passage, it will be necessary briefly to examine the details in their order. That oxen, and sheep, and doves, were exposed to sale in the temple, and that money-changers were sitting there, was not without a plausible excuse. For they might allege that the merchandise transacted there was not irreligious, but, on the contrary, related to the sacred worship of God, that every person might obtain, without difficulty, what he might offer to the Lord; and, certainly, it was exceedingly convenient for godly persons to find oblations of any sort laid ready to their hand, and in this way to be freed from the trouble of running about in various directions to obtain them. We are apt to wonder, therefore, why Christ was so highly displeased with it. But there are two reasons which deserve our attention. First, as the Priests abused this merchandise for their own gain and avarice, such a mockery of God could not be endured. Secondly, whatever excuse men may plead, as soon as they depart, however slightly, from the command of God, they deserve reproof and need correction. And this is the chief reason why Christ undertook to purify the temple; for he distinctly states that the temple of God is not a place of merchandise.
But it may be asked, Why did he not rather begin with doctrine? For it seems to be a disorderly and improper method to apply the hand for correcting faults, before the remedy of doctrine has been applied. But Christ had a different object in view: for the time being now at hand when he would publicly discharge the office assigned to him by the Father, he wished in some way to take possession of the temple, and to give a proof of his divine authority. And that all might be attentive to his doctrine, it was necessary that something new and strange should be done to awaken their sluggish and drowsy minds. Now, the temple was a sanctuary of heavenly doctrine and of true religion. Since he wished to restore purity of doctrine, it was of great importance that he should prove himself to be the Lord of the temple. Besides, there was no other way in which he could bring back sacrifices and the other exercises of religion to their spiritual design than by removing the abuse of them. What he did at that time was, therefore, a sort of preface to that reformation which the Father had sent him to accomplish. In a word, it was proper that the Jews should be aroused by this example to expect from Christ something that was unusual and out of the ordinary course; and it was also necessary to remind them that the worship of God had been corrupted and perverted, that they might not object to the reformation of those abuses
And his brethren. Why the brethren of Christ accompanied him, cannot be determined with certainty, unless, perhaps, they intended to go along with him to Jerusalem. The word brethren, it is well known, is employed, in the Hebrew language, to denote cousins and other relatives.
13. And the passover of the Jews was at hand; therefore Jesus went up to Jerusalem. The Greek words kai< ajne>bh, may be literally rendered, AND he went up; but the Evangelist has used the copulative AND instead of therefore; for he means that Christ went up at that time, in order to celebrate the passover at Jerusalem. There were two reasons why he did so; for since the Son of God became subject to the Law on our account, he intended, by observing with exactness all the precepts of the Law, to present in his own person a pattern of entire subjection and obedience. Again, as he could do more good, when there was a multitude of people, he almost always availed himself of such an occasion. Whenever, therefore, we shall afterwards find it said that Christ came to Jerusalem at the feast, let the reader observe that he did so, first, that along with others he might observe the exercises of religion which God had appointed, and, next, that he might publish his doctrine amidst a larger concourse of people.
16. Make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise. At the second time that he drove the traders out of the Temple, the Evangelists relate that he used sharper and more severe language; for he said, that they had made the Temple of God a den of robbers, (<402113>Matthew 21:13;) and this was proper to be done, when a milder chastisement was of no avail. At present, he merely warns them not to profane the Temple of God by applying it to improper uses. The Temple was called the house of God; because it was the will of God that there He should be peculiarly invoked; because there He displayed his power; because, finally, he had set it apart to spiritual and holy services.
My Father’s house. Christ declares himself to be the Son of God, in order to show that he has a right and authority to cleanse the Temple. As Christ here assigns a reason for what he did, if we wish to derive any advantage from it, we must attend chiefly to this sentence. Why, then, does he drive the buyers and sellers out of the Temple? It is that he may bring back to its original purity the worship of God, which had been corrupted by the wickedness of men, and in this way may restore and maintain the holiness of the Temple. Now that temple, we know, was erected, that it might be a shadow of those things the lively image of which is to be found in Christ. Thai; it might continue to be devoted to God, it was necessary that it should be applied exclusively to spiritual purposes. For this reason he pronounces it to be unlawful that it should be converted into a market-place; for he founds his statement on the command of God, which we ought always to observe. Whatever deceptions Satan may employ, let us know that any departure — however small — from the command of God is wicked. It was a plausible and imposing disguise, that; the worship of God was aided and promoted, when the sacrifices which were to be offered by believers were laid ready to their hand; but as God had appropriated his Temple to different purposes, Christ disregards the objections that might be offered against the order which God had appointed.
The same arguments do not apply, in the present day, to our buildings for public worship; but what is said about the ancient Temple applies properly and strictly to the Church, for it is the heavenly sanctuary of God on earth. We ought always, therefore, to keep before our eyes the majesty of God, which dwells in the Church, that it may not be defiled by any pollutions; and the only way in which its holiness can remain unimpaired is, that nothing shall be admitted into it that is at variance with the word of God.
17. And his disciples remembered. It is to no purpose that some people tease themselves with the inquiry how the disciples remembered a passage of Scripture, with the meaning of which they were hitherto unacquainted. For we must not understand that this passage of Scripture came to their remembrance at that time; but afterwards, when, having been taught by God, they considered with themselves what was the meaning of this action of Christ, by the direction of the Holy Spirit this passage of Scripture occurred to them. And, indeed, it does not always happen that the reason of God’s works is immediately perceived by us, but afterwards, in process of time, He makes known to us his purpose. And this is a bridle exceedingly well adapted to restrain our presumption, that we may not murmur against God, if at any time our judgment does not entirely approve of what he does. We are at the same time reminded, that when God holds us as it were in suspense, it is our duty to wait for the time of more abundant knowledge, and to restrain the excessive haste which is natural to us; for the reason why God delays the full manifestation of his works is, that he may keep us humble.
The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. The meaning is, that the disciples at length came to know, that the zeal for the house of God, with which Christ burned, excited him to drive out of it those profanations. By a figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole, David employs the name of the temple to denote the whole worship of God; for the entire verse runs thus:
the zeal of thy house hath eaten me up, and the reproaches of them who reproached thee have fallen on me, (<196909>Psalm 69:9.)
The second clause corresponds to the first, or rather it is nothing else than a repetition explaining what had been said. The amount of both clauses is, that David’s anxiety about maintaining the worship of God was so intense, that he cheerfully laid down his head to receive all the reproaches which wicked men threw against God; and that he burned with such zeal, that this single feeling swallowed up every other. He tells us that he himself had such feelings; but there can be no doubt that he described in his own person what strictly belonged to the Messiah.
Accordingly, the Evangelist says, that this was one of the marks by which the disciples knew that it was Jesus who protected and restored the kingdom of God. Now observe that they followed the guidance of Scripture, in order to form such an opinion concerning Christ as they ought to entertain; and, indeed, no man will ever learn what Christ is, or the object of what he did and suffered, unless he has been taught and guided by Scripture. So far, then, as each of us shall desire to make progress in the knowledge of Christ, it will be necessary that Scripture shall be the subject of our diligent and constant meditation. Igor is it without a good reason that David mentions the house of God, when the divine glory is concerned; for though God is sufficient for himself, and needs not the services of any, yet he wishes that his glory should be displayed in the Church. In this way he gives a remarkable proof of his love towards us, because he unites his glory — as it were, by an indissoluble link — with our salvation.
Now as Paul informs us that, in the example of the head, a general doctrine is presented to the whole body, (<451503>Romans 15:3,) let each of us apply to the invitation of Christ, that — so far as lies in our power — we may not permit the temple of God to be in any way polluted. But, at the same time, we must beware lest any man transgress the bounds of his calling. All of us ought to have zeal in common with the Son of God; but all are not at liberty to seize a whip, that we may correct vices with our hands; for we have not received the same power, nor have we been entrusted with the same commission.

JOHN 2:12-17
18. The Jews then answered and said to him, What sign f49 showest thou to us, that thou doest these things? 19. Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days. 20. The Jews therefore said, Forty and six years was this temple in building; and wilt thou raise it up in three days? 21. But he spoke of the temple of his body. 22. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.

18. What sign showest thou to us? When in so large an assembly no man laid hands on Christ, and none of the dealers in cattle or of the money-changers repelled him by violence, we may conclude that they were all stunned and struck with astonishment by the hand of God. And, therefore, if they had not been utterly blinded, this would have been a sufficiently evident miracle, that one man against a great multitude, an unarmed man against strong men, all unknown man against so great rulers, attempted so great an achievement. For since they were far stronger, why did they not oppose him, but because their hands were loosened and — as it were — broken?
Yet they have some ground for putting the question; for it does not belong to every man to change suddenly, if any thing is faulty or displeases him in the temple of God. All are, indeed, at liberty to condemn corruptions; but if a private man put forth his hand to remove them, he will be accused of rashness. As the custom of selling in the temple had been generally received, Christ attempted what was new and uncommon; and therefore they properly call on him to prove that he was sent by God; for they found their argument on this principle, that in public administration it is not lawful to make any change without an undoubted calling and command of God. But they erred on another point, by refusing to admit the calling of Christ, unless he had performed a miracle; for it was not an invariable rule that the Prophets and other ministers of God should perform miracles; and God did not limit himself to this necessity. They do wrong, therefore, in laying down a law to God by demanding a sign. When the Evangelist says that THE JEWS asked him, he unquestionably means by that term the multitude who were standing there, and, as it were, the whole body of the Church; as if he had said, that it was not the speech of one or two persons, but of the people.
19. Destroy this temple. This is an allegorical mode of expression; and Christ intentionally spoke with that degree of obscurity, because he reckoned them unworthy of a direct reply; as he elsewhere declares that he speaks to them in parables, because they are unable to comprehend the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom, (<401313>Matthew 13:13.) But first he refuses to them the sign which they demanded, either because it would have been of no advantage, or because he knew that it was not the proper time. Some compliances he occasionally made even with their unreasonable requests, and there must have been a strong reason why he now refused. Yet that they may not seize on this as a pretense for excusing themselves, he declares that his power will be approved and confirmed by a sign of no ordinary value; for no greater approbation of the divine power in Christ could be desired than his resurrection from the dead. But he conveys this information figuratively, because he does not reckon them worthy of an explicit promise. In short, he treats unbelievers as they deserve, and at the same time protects himself against all contempt. It was not yet made evident, indeed, that they were obstinate, but Christ knew well what was the state of their feelings.
But it may be asked, since he performed so many miracles, and of various kinds, why does he now mention but one? I answer, he said nothing about all the other miracles, First, because his resurrection alone was sufficient to shut their mouth: Secondly, he was unwilling to expose the power of God to their ridicule; for even respecting the glory of his resurrection he spoke allegorically: Thirdly, I say that he produced what was appropriate to the case in hand; for, by these words, he shows that all authority over the Temple belongs to him, since his power is so great in building the true Temple of God.
This temple. Though he uses the word temple in accommodation to the present occurrence, yet the body of Christ is justly and appropriately called a temple. The body of each of us is called a tabernacle, (<470504>2 Corinthians 5:4; <610113>2 Peter 1:13,) because the soul dwells in it; but the body of Christ was the abode of his Divinity. For we know that the Son of God clothed himself with our nature in such a manner that the eternal majesty of God dwelt in the flesh which he assumed, as in his sanctuary.
The argument of Nestorius, who abused this passage to prove that it is not one and the same Christ who is God and man, may be easily refuted. He reasoned thus: the Son of God dwelt in the flesh, as in a temple; therefore the natures are distinct, so that the same person was not God and man. But this argument might be applied to men; for it will follow that it is not one man whose soul dwells in the body as in a tabernacle; and, therefore, it is folly to torture this form of expression for the purpose of taking away the unity of Person in Christ. It ought to be observed, that our bodies also are called temples of God, (<460316>1 Corinthians 3:16, and <460619>1 Corinthians 6:19; <470616>2 Corinthians 6:16) but it is in a different sense, namely, because God dwells in us by the power and grace of his Spirit; but in Christ the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily, so that he is truly God manifested in flesh, (<540316>1 Timothy 3:16.)
I will raise it up again. Here Christ claims for himself the glory of his resurrection, though, in many passages of Scripture, it is declared to be the work of God the Father. But these two statements perfectly agree with each other; for, in order to give us exalted conceptions of the power of God, Scripture expressly ascribes to the Father that he raised up his Son from the dead; but here, Christ in a special manner asserts his own Divinity. And Paul reconciles both.
If THE SPIRIT OF HIM, that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by HIS SPIRIT that dwelleth in you,
(<450811>Romans 8:11.)
While he makes the Spirit the Author of the resurrection, he calls Him indiscriminately sometimes the Spirit of Christ, and sometimes the Spirit of the Father.
20. Forty and six years. The computation of Daniel agrees with this passage, (<270925>Daniel 9:25;) for he reckons seven weeks, which make Forty-nine years; but, before the last of these weeks had ended, the temple was finished. The time described in the history of Ezra is much shorter; but, though it has some appearance of contradiction, it is not at all at variance with the words of the Prophet. For, when the sanctuary had been reared, before the building of the temple was completed, they began to offer sacrifices. The work was afterwards stopped for a long time through the indolence of the people, as plainly appears from the complaints of the Prophet <370104>Haggai 1:4; for he severely reproves the Jews for being too earnestly engaged in building their private dwellings, while they left the Temple of God in an unfinished state.
But why does he mention that temple which had been destroyed by Herod about forty years before that time? For the temple which they had at that time, though it had been built with great magnificence and at a vast expense, had been completed by Herod, contrary to the expectation of men, as is related by Josephus, (Ant. Book 15. chapter 11.) I think it probable that this new building of the temple was reckoned as if the ancient temple had always remained in its original condition, that it might be regarded with greater veneration; and that they spoke in the usual and ordinary manner, that their fathers, with the greatest difficulty, had scarcely built the temple in Forty-six, years.
This reply shows plainly enough what was their intention in asking a sign; for if they had been ready to obey, with reverence, a Prophet sent by God, they would not have so disdainfully rejected what he had said to them about the confirmation of his office. They wish to have some testimony of divine power, and yet they receive nothing which does not correspond to the feeble capacity of man. Thus the Papists in the present day demand miracles, not that they would give way to the power of God, (for it is a settled principle with them to prefer men to God, and not to move a hair’s breadth from what they have received by custom and usage;) but that they may not appear to have no reason for rebelling against God, they hold out this excuse as a cloak for their obstinacy. In such a manner do the minds of unbelievers storm in them with blind impetuosity, that they desire to have the hand of God exhibited to them and yet do not wish that it should be divine.
When therefore he was risen from the dead. This recollection was similar to the former, which the Evangelist lately mentioned, (verse 17.) The Evangelist did not understand Christ when he said this; but the doctrine, which appeared to have been useless, and to have vanished into air, afterwards produced fruit in its own time. Although, therefore, many of the actions and sayings of our Lord are obscure for a time, we must not give them up in despair, or despise that which we do not all at once understand. f50 We ought to observe the connection of the words, that they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken; for the Evangelist means that, by comparing the Scripture with the word of Christ, they were aided in making progress in faith.

JOHN 2:23-25
23. And when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, many believed in his name, beholding the signs which he performed. 24. But Jesus himself did not confide in them, because he knew them all. f51 25. And needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man.

23. Many believed. The Evangelist appropriately connects this narrative with the former. Christ had not given such a sign as the Jews demanded; and now, when he produced no good effect on them by many miracles — except that they entertained a cold faith, which was only the shadow of faith — this event sufficiently proves that they did not deserve that he should comply with their wishes. It was, indeed, some fruit of the signs, that many believed in Christ, and in his name, so as to profess that they wished to follow his doctrine; for name is here put for authority. This appearance of faith, which hitherto was fruitless, might ultimately be changed into true faith, and might be a useful preparation for celebrating the name of Christ among others; and yet what we have said is true, that they were far from having proper feelings, so as to profit by the works of God, as they ought to have done.
Yet this was not a pretended faith by which they wished to gain reputation among men; for they were convinced that Christ was some great Prophet, and perhaps they even ascribed to him the honor of being the Messiah, of whom there was at that time a strong and general expectation. But as they did not understand the peculiar office of the Messiah, their faith was absurd, because it was exclusively directed to the world and earthly things. It was also a cold belief, and unaccompanied by the true feelings of the heart. For hypocrites assent to the Gospel, not that they may devote themselves in obedience to Christ, nor that with sincere piety they may follow Christ when he calls them, but because they do not venture to reject entirely the truth which they have known, and especially when they can find no reason for opposing it. For as they do not voluntarily, or of their own accord, make war with God, so when they perceive that his doctrine is opposed to their flesh and to their perverse desires, they are immediately offended, or at least withdraw from the faith which they had already embraced.
When the Evangelist says, therefore, that those men believed, I do not understand that they counterfeited a faith which did not exist, but that they were in some way constrained to enroll themselves as the followers of Christ; and yet it appears that their faith was not true and genuine, because Christ excludes them from the number of those on whose sentiments reliance might be placed. Besides, that faith depended solely on miracles, and had no root in the Gospel, and therefore could not be steady or permanent. Miracles do indeed assist the children of God in arriving at the truth; but it does not amount to actual believing, when they admire the power of God so as merely to believe that it is true, but not to subject themselves wholly to it. And, therefore, when we speak generally about faith, let us know that there is a kind of faith which is perceived by the understanding only, and afterwards quickly disappears, because it is not fixed in the heart; and that is the faith which James calls dead; but true faith always depends on the Spirit of regeneration, (<590217>James 2:17, 20, 26.) Observe, that all do not derive equal profit from the works of God; for some are led by them to God, and others are only driven by a blind impulse, so that, while they perceive indeed the power of God, still they do not cease to wander in their own imaginations.
24. But Christ did not rely on them. Those who explain the meaning to be, that Christ was on his guard against them, because he knew that they were not upright and faithful, do not appear to me to express sufficiently well the meaning of the Evangelist. Still less do I agree with what Augustine says about recent converts. The Evangelist rather means, in my opinion, that Christ did not reckon them to be genuine disciples, but despised them as volatile and unsteady. It is a passage which ought to be carefully observed, that not all who profess to be Christ’s followers are such in his estimation. But we ought also to add the reason which immediately follows:
Because he knew them all. Nothing is more dangerous than hypocrisy, for this reason among others, that it is an exceedingly common fault. There is scarcely any man who is not pleased with himself; and while we deceive ourselves by empty flatteries, we imagine that God is blind like ourselves. But here we are reminded how widely his judgment differs from ours; for he sees clearly those things which we cannot perceive, because they are concealed by some disguise; and he estimates according to their hidden source, that is, according to the most secret feeling of the heart, those things which dazzle our eyes by false luster. This is what Solomon says, that
God weighs in his balance the hearts of men, while they flatter themselves in their ways, (<202102>Proverbs 21:2.)
Let us remember, therefore, that none are the true disciples of Christ but those whom He approves, because in such a matter He alone is competent to decide and to judge.
A question now arises: when the Evangelist says that Christ knew them all, does he mean those only of whom he had lately spoken, or does the expression refer to the whole human race? Some extend it to the universal nature of man, and think that the whole world is here condemned for wicked and perfidious hypocrisy. And, certainly, it is a true statement, that Christ can find in men no reason why he should deign to place them in the number of his followers; but I do not see that this agrees with the context, and therefore I limit it to those who had been formerly mentioned.
25. For he knew what was in man. As it might be doubted whence Christ obtained this knowledge, the Evangelist anticipates this question, and replies that Christ perceived every thing in men that is concealed from our view, so that he could on his own authority make a distinction among men. Christ, therefore, who knows the hearts, had no need of any one to inform him what sort of men they were. He knew them to have such a disposition and such feelings, that he justly regarded them as persons who did not belong to him.
The question put by some — whether we too are authorized by the example of Christ to hold those persons as suspected who have not given us proof of their sincerity — has nothing to do with the present passage. There is a wide difference between him and us; for Christ knew the very roots of the trees, but, except from the fruits which appear outwardly, we cannot discover what is the nature of any one tree. Besides, as Paul tells us, that charity is not suspicious, (<461305>1 Corinthians 13:5,) we have no right to entertain unfavorable suspicions about men who are unknown to us. But, that we may not always be deceived by hypocrites, and that the Church may not be too much exposed to their wicked impostures, it belongs to Christ to impart to us the Spirit of discretion.
CHAPTER 3

JOHN 3:1-6
1. Now there was a man of the Pharisees, called Nicodemus, a ruler among the Jews. 2. He came to Jesus by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these signs which thou doest, unless God be with him. 3. Jesus answered and said to him, Verily, verily, I say to thee, Unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4. Nicodemus saith to him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter again into his mother’s womb and be born? 5. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say to thee, Unless a man be: born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6. That which is born of flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

1. Now there was a man of the Pharisees. In the person of Nicodemus the Evangelist now exhibits to our view how vain and fleeting was the faith of those who, having been excited by miracles, suddenly professed to be the disciples of Christ. For since this man was of the order of the Pharisees, and held the rank of a ruler in his nation, he must have been far more excellent than others. The common people, for the most part, are light and unsteady; but who would not have thought that he who had learning and experience was also a wise and prudent man? Yet from Christ’s reply it is evident, that nothing was farther from his design in coming than a desire to learn the first principles of religion. If he who was a ruler among men is less than a child, what ought we to think of the multitude at large? Now though the design of the Evangelist was, to exhibit, as in a mirror, how few there were in Jerusalem who were properly disposed to receive the Gospel, yet, for other reasons, this narrative is highly useful to us; and especially because it instructs us concerning the depraved nature of mankind, what is the proper entrance into the school of Christ, and what must be the commencement of our training to make progress in the heavenly doctrine. For the sum of Christ’s discourse is, that, in order that we may be his true disciples, we must become new men. But, before proceeding farther, we must ascertain from the circumstances which are here detailed by the Evangelist, what were the obstacles which prevented Nicodemus from giving himself unreservedly to Christ.
Of the Pharisees. This designation was, no doubt, regarded by his countrymen as honorable to Nicodemus; but it is not for the sake of honor that it is given to him by the Evangelist, who, on the contrary, draws our attention to it as having prevented him from coming freely and cheerfully to Christ. Hence we are reminded that they who occupy a lofty station in the world are, for the most part, entangled by very dangerous snares; nay, we see many of them held so firmly bound, that not even the slightest wish or prayer arises from them towards heaven throughout their whole life. Why they were called Pharisees we have elsewhere explained; f52 for they boasted of being the only expounders of the Law, as if they were in possession, of the marrow and hidden meaning of Scripture; and for that reason they called themselves µyçwrp (Perushim.) Though the Essenes led a more austere life, which gained them a high reputation for holiness; yet because, like hermits, they forsook the ordinary life and custom of men, the sect of the Pharisees was on that account held in higher estimation. Besides, the Evangelist mentions not only that Nicodemus was of the order of the Pharisees, but that he was one of the rulers of his nation.
2. He came to Jesus by night. From the circumstance of his coming by night we infer that his timidity was excessive; for his eyes were dazzled, as it were, by the splendor of his own greatness and reputation. f53 Perhaps too he was hindered by shame, for ambitious men think that their reputation is utterly ruined, if they have once descended from the dignity of teachers to the rank of scholars; and he was unquestionably puffed up with a foolish opinion of his knowledge. In short, as he had a high opinion of himself, he was unwilling to lose any part of his elevation. And yet there appears in him some seed of piety; for hearing that a Prophet of God had appeared, he does not despise or spurn the doctrine which has been brought from heaven, and is moved by some desire to obtain it, — a desire which sprung from nothing else than fear and reverence for God. Many are tickled by an idle curiosity to inquire eagerly about any thing that is new, but there is no reason to doubt that it was religious principle and conscientious feeling that excited in Nicodemus the desire to gain a more intimate knowledge of the doctrine of Christ. And although that seed remained long concealed and apparently dead, yet after the death of Christ it yielded fruit, such as no man would ever have expected, (<431939>John 19:39.)
Rabbi, we know. The meaning of these words is, “Master, we know that thou art come to be a teacher.” But as learned men, at that time, were generally called Masters, Nicodemus first salutes Christ according to custom, and gives him the ordinary designation, Rabbi, (which means Master, f54) and afterwards declares that he was sent by God to perform the office of a Master. And on this principle depends all the authority of the teachers in the Church; for as it is only from the word of God that we must learn wisdom, we ought not to listen to any other persons than those by whose mouth God speaks. And it ought to be observed, that though religion was greatly corrupted and almost destroyed among the Jews, still they always held this principle, that no man was a lawful teacher, unless he had been sent by God. But as there are none who more haughtily and more daringly boast of having been sent by God than the false prophets do, we need discernment in this case for trying the spirits. Accordingly Nicodemus adds:
For no man can do the signs which thou doest, unless God be with him. It is evident, he says, that Christ has been sent by God, because God displays his power in him so illustriously, that it cannot be denied that God is with him. He takes for granted that God is not accustomed to work but by his ministers, so as to seal the office which he has entrusted to them. And he had good grounds for thinking so, because God always intended that miracles should be seals of his doctrine. Justly therefore does he make God the sole Author of miracles, when he says that no man can do these signs, unless God be with him; for what he says amounts to a declaration that miracles are not performed by the arm of man, but that the power of God reigns, and is illustriously displayed in them. In a word, as miracles have a twofold advantage, to prepare the mind for faith, and, when it has been formed by the word, to confirm it still more, Nicodemus had profited aright in the former part, because by miracles he recognizes Christ as a true prophet of God.
Yet his argument appears not to be conclusive; for since the false prophets deceive the ignorant by their impostures as fully as if they had proved by true signs that they are the ministers of God, what difference will there be between truth and falsehood, if faith depends on miracles? Nay, Moses expressly says that God employs this method to try if we love him, (<051303>Deuteronomy 13:3.) We know also, the warning of Christ, (<402414>Matthew 24:14,) and of Paul, (<530209>2 Thessalonians 2:9,) that believers ought to beware of lying signs, by which Anti-Christ dazzles the eyes of many. I answer, God may justly permit this to be done, that those who deserve it may be deceived by the enchantments of Satan. But I say that this does not hinder the elect from perceiving in miracles the power of God, which is to them an undoubted confirmation of true and sound doctrine. Thus, Paul boasts that his apostleship was confirmed by signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds, (<471212>2 Corinthians 12:12.) To whatever extent Satan may, like an ape, counterfeit the works of God in the dark, yet when the eyes are opened and the light of spiritual wisdom shines, miracles are a sufficiently powerful attestation of the presence of God, as Nicodemus here declares it to be.
3. Verily, verily, I say to thee. The word Verily (ajmh<n) is twice repeated, and this is done for the purpose of arousing him to more earnest attention. For when he was about to speak of the most important and weighty of all subjects, he found it necessary to awaken the attention of Nicodemus, who might otherwise have passed by this whole discourse in a light or careless manner. f55 Such, then, is the design of the double affirmation.
Though this discourse appears to be far-fetched and almost inappropriate, yet it was with the utmost propriety that Christ opened his discourse in this manner. For as it is useless to sow seed in a field which has not been prepared by the labors of the husbandman, so it is to no purpose to scatter the doctrine of the Gospel, if the mind has not been previously subdued and duly prepared for docility and obedience. Christ saw that the mind of Nicodemus was filled with many thorns, choked by many noxious herbs, so that there was scarcely any room for spiritual doctrine. This exhortation, therefore, resembled a ploughing to purify him, that nothing might prevent him from profiting by the doctrine. Let us, therefore, remember that this was spoken to one individual, in such a manner that the Son of God addresses all of us daily in the same language. For which of us will say that he is so free from sinful affections that he does not need such a purification? If, therefore, we wish to make good and useful progress in the school of Christ, let us learn to begin at this point.
Unless a man be born again. That is, So long as thou art destitute of that which is of the highest importance in the kingdom of God, I care little about your calling me Master; for the first entrance into the kingdom of God is, to become a new man. But as this is a remarkable passage, it will be proper to survey every part of it minutely.
To SEE the kingdom of God is of the same meaning as to ENTER INTO the kingdom of God, as we shall immediately perceive from the context. But they are mistaken who suppose that the kingdom of God means Heaven; for it rather means the spiritual life, which is begun by faith in this world, and gradually increases every day according to the continued progress of faith. So the meaning is, that no man can be truly united to the Church, so as to be reckoned among the children of God, until he has been previously renewed. This expression shows briefly what is the beginning of Christianity, and at the same time teaches us, that we are born exiles and utterly alienated from the kingdom of God, and that there is a perpetual state of variance between God and us, until he makes us altogether different by our being born again; for the statement is general, and comprehends the whole human race. If Christ had said to one person, or to a few individuals, that they could not enter into heaven, unless they had been previously born again, we might have supposed that it was only certain characters that were pointed out, but he speaks of all without exception; for the language is unlimited, and is of the same import with such universal terms as these: Whosoever shall not be born again cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
By the phrase born again is expressed not the correction of one part, but the renovation of the whole nature. Hence it follows, that there is nothing in us that is not sinful; for if reformation is necessary in the whole and in each part, corruption must have been spread throughout. On this point we shall soon have occasion to speak more largely. Erasmus, adopting the opinion of Cyril, has improperly translated the adverb a]nwqen, from above, and renders the clause thus: unless a man be born FROM ABOVE. The Greek word, I own, is ambiguous; but we know that Christ conversed with Nicodemus in the Hebrew language. There would then have been no room for the ambiguity which occasioned the mistake of Nicodemus and led him into childish scruples about a second birth of the flesh. He therefore understood Christ to have said nothing else than that a man must be born AGAIN, before he is admitted into the kingdom of God.
4. How can a man be born when he is old? Though the form of expression which Christ employed was not contained in the Law and the prophets, yet as renewal is frequently mentioned in Scripture, and is one of the first principles of faith, it is evident how imperfectly skilled the Scribes at that time were in the reading of the Scriptures. It certainly was not one man only who was to blame for not knowing what was meant by the grace of regeneration; but as almost all devoted their attention to useless subtleties, what was of chief importance in the doctrine of piety was disregarded. Popery exhibits to us, at the present day, an instance of the same kind in her Theologians. For while they weary out their whole life with profound speculations, as to all that strictly relates to the worship of God, to the confident hope of our salvation, or to the exercises of religion, they know no more on these subjects than a cobbler or a cowherd knows about the course of the stars; and, what is more, taking delight in foreign mysteries, they openly despise the true doctrine of Scripture as unworthy of the elevated rank which belongs to them as teachers. We need not wonder, therefore, to find here that Nicodemus stumbles at a straw; for it is a just vengeance of God, that they who think themselves the highest and most excellent teachers, and in whose estimation the ordinary simplicity of doctrine is vile and despicable, stand amazed at small matters.
5. Unless a man be born of water. This passage has been explained in various ways. Some have thought that the two parts of regeneration are distinctly pointed out, and that by the word Water is denoted the renunciation of the old man, while by the Spirit they have understood the new life. Others think that there is an implied contrast, as if Christ intended to contrast Water and Spirit, which are pure and liquid elements, with the earthly and gross nature of man. Thus they view the language as allegorical, and suppose Christ to have taught that we ought to lay aside the heavy and ponderous mass of the flesh, and to become like water and air, that we may move upwards, or, at least, may not be so much weighed down to the earth. But both opinions appear to me to be at variance with the meaning of Christ.
Chrysostom, with whom the greater part of expounders agree, makes the word Water refer to baptism. The meaning would then be, that by baptism we enter into the kingdom of God, because in baptism we are regenerated by the Spirit of God. Hence arose the belief of the absolute necessity of baptism, in order to the hope of eternal life. But though we were to admit that Christ here speaks of baptism, yet we ought not to press his words so closely as to imagine that he confines salvation to the outward sign; but, on the contrary, he connects the Water with the Spirit, because under that visible symbol he attests and seals that newness of life which God alone produces in us by his Spirit. It is true that, by neglecting baptism, we are excluded from salvation; and in this sense I acknowledge that it is necessary; but it is absurd to speak of the hope of salvation as confined to the sign. So far as relates to this passage, I cannot bring myself to believe that Christ speaks of baptism; for it would have been inappropriate.
We must always keep in remembrance the design of Christ, which we have already explained; namely, that he intended to exhort Nicodemus to newness of life, because he was not capable of receiving the Gospel, until he began to be a new man. It is, therefore, a simple statement, that we must be born again, in order that we may be the children of God, and that the Holy Spirit is the Author of this second birth. For while Nicodemus was dreaming of the regeneration (paliggenesi>a) or transmigration taught by Pythagoras, who imagined that souls, after the death of their bodies, passed into other bodies, f56 Christ, in order to cure him of this error, added, by way of explanation, that it is not in a natural way that men are born a second time, and that it is not necessary for them to be clothed with a new body, but that they are born when they are renewed in mind and heart by the grace of the Spirit.
Accordingly, he employed the words Spirit and water to mean the same thing, and this ought not to be regarded as a harsh or forced interpretation; for it is a frequent and common way of speaking in Scripture, when the Spirit is mentioned, to add the word Water or Fire, expressing his power. We sometimes meet with the statement, that it is Christ who baptizeth with the Holy Ghost and with fire, (<400311>Matthew 3:11; <420316>Luke 3:16,) where fire means nothing different from the Spirit, but only shows what is his efficacy in us. As to the word water being placed first, it is of little consequence; or rather, this mode of speaking flows more naturally than the other, because the metaphor is followed by a plain and direct statement, as if Christ had said that no man is a son of God until he has been renewed by water, and that this water is the Spirit who cleanseth us anew and who, by spreading his energy over us, imparts to us the rigor of the heavenly life, though by nature we are utterly dry. And most properly does Christ, in order to reprove Nicodemus for his ignorance, employ a form of expression which is common in Scripture; for Nicodemus ought at length to have acknowledged, that what Christ had said was taken from the ordinary doctrine of the Prophets.
By water, therefore, is meant nothing more than the inward purification and invigoration which is produced by the Holy Spirit. Besides, it is not unusual to employ the word and instead of that is, when the latter clause is intended to explain the former. And the view which I have taken is supported by what follows; for when Christ immediately proceeds to assign the reason why we must be born again, without mentioning the water, he shows that the newness of life which he requires is produced by the Spirit alone; whence it follows, that water must not be separated from the Spirit.
6. That which is born of the flesh. By reasoning from contraries, he argues that the kingdom of God is shut against us, unless an entrance be opened to us by a new birth, (paliggenesi>a.) For he takes for granted, that we cannot enter into the kingdom of God unless we are spiritual. But we bring nothing from the womb but a carnal nature. Therefore it follows, that we are naturally banished from the kingdom of God, and, having been deprived of the heavenly life, remain under the yoke of death. Besides, when Christ argues here, that men must be born again, because they are only flesh, he undoubtedly comprehends all mankind under the term flesh. By the flesh, therefore, is meant in this place not the body, but the soul also, and consequently every part of it. When the Popish divines restrict the word to that part which they call sensual, they do so in utter ignorance of its meaning; f57 for Christ must in that case have used an inconclusive argument, that we need a second birth, because part of us is corrupt. But if the flesh is contrasted with the Spirit, as a corrupt thing is contrasted with what is uncorrupted, a crooked thing with what is straight, a polluted thing with what is holy, a contaminated thing with what is pure, we may readily conclude that the whole nature of man is condemned by a single word. Christ therefore declares that our understanding and reason is corrupted, because it is carnal, and that all the affections of the heart are wicked and reprobate, because they too are carnal.
But here it may be objected, that since the soul is not begotten by human generation, we are not born of the flesh, as to the chief part of our nature. This led many persons to imagine that not only our bodies, but our souls also, descend to us from our parents; for they thought it absurd that original sin, which has its peculiar habitation in the soul, should be conveyed from one man to all his posterity, unless all our souls proceeded from his soul as their source. And certainly, at first sight, the words of Christ appear to convey the idea, that we are flesh, because we are born of flesh. I answer, so far as relates to the words of Christ, they mean nothing else than that we are all carnal when we are born; and that as we come into this world mortal men, our nature relishes nothing but what is flesh. He simply distinguishes here between nature and the supernatural gift; for the corruption of all mankind in the person of Adam alone did not proceed from generation, but from the appointment of God, who in one man had adorned us all, and who has in him also deprived us of his gifts. Instead of saying, therefore, that each of us draws vice and corruption from his parents, it would be more correct to say that we are all alike corrupted in Adam alone, because immediately after his revolt God took away from human nature what He had bestowed upon it.
Here another question arises; for it is certain that in this degenerate and corrupted nature some remnant of the gifts of God still lingers; and hence it follows that we are not in every respect corrupted. The reply is easy. The gifts which God hath left to us since the fall, if they are judged by themselves, are indeed worthy of praise; but as the contagion of wickedness is spread through every part, there will be found in us nothing that is pure and free from every defilement. That we naturally possess some knowledge of God, that some distinction between good and evil is engraven on our conscience, that our faculties are sufficient for the maintenance of the present life, that — in short — we are in so many ways superior to the brute beasts, that is excellent in itself, so far as it proceeds from God; but in us all these things are completely polluted, in the same manner as the wine which has been wholly infected and corrupted by the offensive taste of the vessel loses the pleasantness of its good flavor, and acquires a bitter and pernicious taste. For such knowledge of God as now remains in men is nothing else than a frightful source of idolatry and of all superstitions; the judgment exercised in choosing and distinguishing things is partly blind and foolish, partly imperfect and confused; all the industry that we possess flows into vanity and trifles; and the will itself, with furious impetuosity, rushes headlong to what is evil. Thus in the whole of our nature there remains not a drop of uprightness. Hence it is evident that we must be formed by the second birth, that we may be fitted for the kingdom of God; and the meaning of Christ’s words is, that as a man is born only carnal from the womb of his mother; he must be formed anew by the Spirit, that he may begin to be spiritual.
The word Spirit is used here in two senses, namely, for grace, and the effect of grace. For in the first place, Christ informs us that the Spirit of God is the only Author of a pure and upright nature, and afterwards he states, that we are spiritual, because we have been renewed by his power.

JOHN 3:7-12
7. Wonder not that I said to thee, You must be born again. 8. The wind bloweth where it pleaseth, and thou hearest its voice; but knowest not whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9. Nicodemus answered, and said to him, How can these things be? 10. Jesus answered, and said to him, Thou art a teacher of Israel, and knowest you not these things? 11. Verily, verily, I say to thee, We speak what we know, and testify what we have seen; and you receive not our testimony. 12. If ‘I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

7. Wonder not. This passage has been tortured by commentators in various ways. Some think that Christ reproves the gross ignorance of Nicodemus and other persons of the same class, by saying that it is not wonderful, if they do not comprehend that heavenly mystery of regeneration, since even in the order of nature they do not perceive the reason of those things which fall under the cognizance of the senses. Others contrive a meaning which, though ingenious, is too much forced: that, “as the wind blows freely, so by the regeneration of the Spirit we are set at liberty, and, having been freed from the yoke of sin, run voluntarily to God. Equally removed from Christ’s meaning is the exposition given by Augustine, that the Spirit of God exerts his power according to his own pleasure. A better view is given by Chrysostom and Cyril, who say that the comparison is taken from the wind, and apply it thus to the present passage: though its power be felt, we know not its source and cause.” While I do not differ greatly from their opinion, I shall endeavor to explain the meaning of Christ with greater clearness and certainty.
I hold by this principle, that Christ borrows a comparison from the order of nature. Nicodemus reckoned that what he had heard about regeneration and a new life was incredible, because the manner of this regeneration exceeded his capacity. To prevent him from entertaining any scruple of this sort, Christ shows that even in the bodily life there is displayed an amazing power of God, the reason of which is concealed. For all draw from the air their vital breath; we perceive the agitation of the air, but know not whence it comes to us or whither it departs. If in this frail and transitory life God acts so powerfully that we are constrained to admire his power, what folly is it to attempt to measure by the perception of our own mind his secret work in the heavenly and supernatural life, so as to believe no more than what we see? Thus Paul, when he breaks out into indignation against those who reject the doctrine of the resurrection, on the ground of its being impossible that the body which is now subject to putrefaction, after having been reduced to dust and to nothing, should be clothed with a blessed immortality, reproaches them for stupidity in not considering that a similar display of the power of God may be seen in a grain of wheat; for the seed does not spring until it; has been putrefied, (<461536>1 Corinthians 15:36, 37.) This is the astonishing wisdom of which David exclaims,
O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all, (<19A424>Psalm 104:24)
They are therefore excessively stupid who, having been warned by the common order of nature, do not rise higher, so as to acknowledge that the hand of God is far more powerful in the spiritual kingdom of Christ. When Christ says to Nicodemus that he ought not to wonder, we must not understand it in such a manner as if he intended that we should despise a work of God, which is so illustrious, and which is worthy of the highest admiration; but he means that we ought not to wonder with that kind of admiration which hinders our faith. For many reject as fabulous what they think too lofty and difficult. In a word, let us not doubt that by the Spirit of God we are formed again and made new men, though his manner of doing this be concealed from us.
8. The wind bloweth where it pleaseth. Not that, strictly speaking, there is will in the blowing, but because the agitation is free, and uncertain, and variable; for the air is carried sometimes in one direction and sometimes in another. How this applies to the case in hand; for if it flowed in a uniform motion like water, it would be less miraculous.
So is every one that is born of the Spirit. Christ means that the movement and operation of the Spirit of God is not less perceptible in the renewal of man than the motion of the air in this earthly and outward life, but that the manner of it is concealed; and that, therefore, we are ungrateful and malicious, if we do not adore the inconceivable power of God in the heavenly life, of which we behold so striking an exhibition in this world, and if we ascribe to him less in restoring the salvation of our soul than in upholding the bodily frame. The application will be somewhat more evident, if you turn the sentence in this manner: Such is the power and efficacy of the Holy Spirit in the renewed man.
9. How can these things be? We see what is the chief obstacle in the way of Nicodemus. Every thing that he hears appears monstrous, because he does not understand the manner of it; so that there is no greater obstacle to us than our own pride; that is, we always wish to be wise beyond what is proper, and therefore we reject with diabolical pride every thing that is not explained to our reason; as if it were proper to limit the infinite power of God to our poor capacity. We are, indeed, permitted, to a certain extent, to inquire into the manner and reason of the works of God, provided that we do so with sobriety and reverence; but Nicodemus rejects it as a fable, on this ground, that he does not believe it to be possible. On this subject we shall treat more fully under the Sixth Chapter.
10. Thou art a teacher of Israel. As Christ sees that he is spending his time and pains to no purpose in teaching so proud a man, he begins to reprove him sharply. And certainly such persons will never make any progress, until the wicked confidence, with which they are puffed up, be removed. This is, very properly, placed first in order; for in the very matter in which he chiefly plumes himself on his acuteness and sagacity, Christ censures his ignorance. He thought, that not to admit a thing to be possible would be considered a proof of gravity and intelligence, because that man is accounted. foolishly credulous who assents to what is told him by another, before he has fully inquired into the reason. But still Nicodemus, with all his magisterial haughtiness, exposes himself to ridicule by more than childish hesitation about the first principles. Such hesitation, certainly, is base and shameful. For what religion have we, what knowledge of God, what rule of living well, what hope of eternal life, if we do not believe that man is renewed by the Spirit of God? There is an emphasis, therefore, in the word these; for since Scripture frequently repeats this part of doctrine, it ought not to be unknown even to the lowest class of beginners. It is utterly beyond endurance that any man should be ignorant and unskilled in it, who professes to be a teacher in the Church of God.
11. We speak what we know. Some refer this to Christ and John the Baptist; others say that the plural number is used instead of the singular. For my own part, I have no doubt that Christ mentions himself in connection with all the prophets of God, and speaks generally in the person of all. Philosophers and other vain-glorious teachers frequently bring forward trifles which they have themselves invented; but Christ claims it as peculiar to himself and all the servants of God, that they deliver no doctrine but what is certain. For God does not send ministers to prattle about things that are unknown or doubtful, but trains them in his school, that what they have learned from himself they may afterwards deliver to others. Again, as Christ, by this testimony, recommends to us the certainty of his doctrine, so he enjoins on all his ministers a law of modesty, not to put forward their own dreams or conjectures — not to preach human inventions, which have no solidity in theme but to render a faithful and pure testimony to God. Let every man, therefore, see what the Lord has revealed to him, that no man may go beyond the bounds of his faith; and, lastly, that no man may allow himself to speak any thing but what he has heard from the Lord. It ought to be observed, likewise, that Christ here confirms his doctrine by an oath, that it may have full authority over us.
You receive not our testimony. This is added, that the Gospel may lose nothing on account of the ingratitude of men. For since few persons are to be found who exercise faith in the truth of God, and since the truth is everywhere rejected by the world, we ought to defend it against contempt, that its majesty may not be held in less estimation, because the whole world despises it, and obscures it by impiety. Now though the meaning of the words be simple and one, still we must draw from this passage a twofold doctrine. The first is, that our faith in the Gospel may not be weakened, if it have few disciples on the earth; as if Christ had said, Though you do not receive my doctrine, it remains nevertheless certain and durable; for the unbelief of men will never prevent God from remaining always true. The other is, that they who, in the present day, disbelieve the Gospel, will not escape with impunity, since the truth of God is holy and sacred. We ought to be fortified with this shield, that we may persevere in obedience to the Gospel in opposition to the obstinacy of men. True indeed, we must hold by this principle, that our faith be founded on God. But when we have God as our security, we ought, like persons elevated above the heavens, boldly to tread the whole world under our feet, or regard it with lofty disdain, rather than allow the unbelief of any persons whatever to fill us with alarm. As to the complaint which Christ makes, that his testimony is not received, we learn from it, that the word of God has, in all ages, been distinguished by this peculiar feature, that they who believed it were few; for the expression — you receive not — belongs to the greater number, and almost to the whole body of the people. There is no reason, therefore, that we should now be discouraged, if the number of those who believe be small.
12. If I have told you earthly things. Christ concludes that it ought to be laid to the charge of Nicodemus and others, if they do not make progress in the doctrine of the Gospel; for he shows that the blame does not lie with him, that all are not properly instructed, since he comes down even to the earth, that he may raise us to heaven. It is too common a fault that men desire to be taught in an ingenious and witty style. Hence, the greater part of men are so delighted with lofty and abstruse speculations. Hence, too, many hold the Gospel in less estimation, because they do not find in it high-sounding words to fill their ears, and on this account do not deign to bestow their attention on a doctrine so low and mean. But it shows an extraordinary degree of wickedness, that we yield less reverence to God speaking to us, because he condescends to our ignorance; and, therefore, when God prattles to us in Scripture in a rough and popular style, let us know that this is done on account of the love which he bears to us. f58 Whoever exclaims that he is offended by such meanness of language, or pleads it as an excuse for not subjecting himself to the word of God, speaks falsely; for he who cannot endure to embrace God, when he approaches to him, will still less fly to meet him above the clouds.
Earthly things. Some explain this to mean the elements of spiritual doctrine; for self-denial may be said to be the commencement of piety. But I rather agree with those who refer it to the form of instruction; for, though the whole of Christ’s discourse was heavenly, yet he spoke in a manner so familiar, that the style itself had some appearance of being earthly. Besides, these words must not be viewed as referring exclusively to a single sermon; for Christ’s ordinary method of teaching — that is, a popular simplicity of style — is here contrasted with the pompous and high-sounding phrases to which ambitious men are too strongly addicted.

JOHN 3:13-18
13. And f59 no one hath ascended to heaven but he who came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. 14. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up; 15. That whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but have eternal life. 16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may have eternal life. 17. For God hath not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world may be saved by him. 18. He who believeth in him is not condemned; but he who believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.

13. No one hath ascended to heaven. He again exhorts Nicodemus not to trust to himself and his own sagacity, because no mortal man can, by his own unaided powers, enter into heaven, but only he who goes thither under the guidance of the Son of God. For to ascend to heaven means here, “to have a pure knowledge of the mysteries of God, and the light of spiritual understanding.” For Christ gives here the same instruction which is given by Paul, when he declares that
the sensual man does not comprehend the things which are of God, (<460216>1 Corinthians 2:16;)
and, therefore, he excludes from divine things all the acuteness of the human understanding, for it is far below God.
But we must attend to the words, that Christ alone, who is heavenly, ascends to heaven, but that the entrance is closed against all others. For, in the former clause, he humbles us, when he excludes the whole world from heaven. Paul enjoins
those who are desirous to be wise with God to be fools with themselves, (<460318>1 Corinthians 3:18.)
There is nothing which we do with greater reluctance. For this purpose we ought to remember, that all our senses fail and give way when we come to God; but, after having shut us out from heaven, Christ quickly proposes a remedy, when he adds, that what was denied to all others is granted to the Son of God. And this too is the reason why he calls himself the Son of man, that we may not doubt that we have an entrance into heaven in common with him who clothed himself with our flesh, that he might make us partakers of all blessings. Since, therefore, he is the Father’s only Counselor, (<230906>Isaiah 9:6,) he admits us into those secrets which otherwise would have remained in concealment.
Who is in heaven. It may be thought absurd to say that he is in heaven, while he still dwells on the earth. If it be replied, that this is true in regard to his Divine nature, the mode of expression means something else, namely, that while he was man, he was in heaven. It might be said that no mention is here made of any place, but that Christ is only distinguished from others, in regard to his condition, because he is the heir of the kingdom of God, from which the whole human race is banished; but, as it very frequently happens, on account of the unity of the Person of Christ, that what properly belongs to one nature is applied to another, we ought not to seek any other solution. Christ, therefore, who is in heaven, hath clothed himself with our flesh, that, by stretching out his brotherly hand to us, he may raise us to heaven along with him.
14. And as Moses lifted up the serpent. He explains more clearly why he said that it is he alone to whom heaven is opened; namely, that he brings to heaven all who are only willing to follow him as their guide; for he testifies that he will be openly and publicly manifested to all, that he may diffuse his power over men of every class. f60 To be lifted up means to be placed in a lofty and elevated situation, so as to be exhibited to the view of all. This was done by the preaching of the Gospel; for the explanation of it which some give, as referring to the cross, neither agrees with the context nor is applicable to the present subject. The simple meaning of the words therefore is, that, by the preaching of the Gospel, Christ was to be raised on high, like a standard to which the eyes of all would be directed, as Isaiah had foretold, (<230202>Isaiah 2:2.) As a type of this lifting up, he refers to the brazen serpent, which was erected by Moses, the sight of which was a salutary remedy to those who had been wounded by the deadly bite of serpents. The history of that transaction is well known, and is detailed in <042109>Numbers 21:9. Christ introduces it in this passage, in order to show that he must be placed before the eyes of all by the doctrine of the Gospel, that all who look at him by faith may obtain salvation. Hence it ought to be inferred that Christ is clearly exhibited to us in the Gospel, in order that no man may complain of obscurity; and that this manifestation is common to all, and that faith has its own look, by which it perceives him as present; as Paul tells us that a lively portrait of Christ with his cross is exhibited, when he is truly preached, (<480301>Galatians 3:1.)
The metaphor is not inappropriate or far-fetched. As it was only the outward appearance of a serpent, but contained nothing within that was pestilential or venomous, so Christ clothed himself with the form of sinful flesh, which yet was pure and free from all sin, that he might cure in us the deadly wound of sin. It was not in vain that, when the Jews were wounded by serpents, the Lord formerly prepared this kind of antidote; and it tended to confirm the discourse which Christ delivered. For when he saw that he was despised as a mean and unknown person, he could produce nothing more appropriate than the lifting up of the serpent, to tell them, that they ought not to think it strange, if, contrary to the expectation of men, he were lifted up on high from the very lowest condition, because this had already been shadowed out under the Law by the type of the serpent.
A question now arises: Does Christ compare himself to the serpent, because there is some resemblance; or, does he pronounce it to have been a sacrament, as the Manna was? For though the Manna was bodily food, intended for present use, yet Paul testifies that it was a spiritual mystery, (<461003>1 Corinthians 10:3.) I am led to think that this was also the case with the brazen serpent, both by this passage, and the fact of its being preserved for the future, until the superstition of the people had converted it into an idol, (<121804>2 Kings 18:4.) If any one form a different opinion, I do not debate the point with him.
16. For God so loved the world. Christ opens up the first cause, and, as it were, the source of our salvation, and he does so, that no doubt may remain; for our minds cannot find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Savior. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish. And this order ought to be carefully observed; for such is the wicked ambition which belongs to our nature, that when the question relates to the origin of our salvation, we quickly form diabolical imaginations about our own merits. Accordingly, we imagine that God is reconciled to us, because he has reckoned us worthy that he should look upon us. But Scripture everywhere extols his pure and unmingled mercy, which sets aside all merits.
And the words of Christ mean nothing else, when he declares the cause to be in the love of God. For if we wish to ascend higher, the Spirit shuts the door by the mouth of Paul, when he informs us that this love was founded on the purpose of his will, (<490105>Ephesians 1:5.) And, indeed, it is very evident that Christ spoke in this manner, in order to draw away men from the contemplation of themselves to look at the mercy of God alone. Nor does he say that God was moved to deliver us, because he perceived in us something that was worthy of so excellent a blessing, but ascribes the glory of our deliverance entirely to his love. And this is still more clear from what follows; for he adds, that God gave his Son to men, that they may not perish. Hence it follows that, until Christ bestow his aid in rescuing the lost, all are destined to eternal destruction. This is also demonstrated by Paul from a consideration of the time;
for he loved us while we were still enemies by sin,
(<450508>Romans 5:8, 10.)
And, indeed, where sin reigns, we shall find nothing but the wrath of God, which draws death along with it. It is mercy, therefore, that reconciles us to God, that he may likewise restore us to life.
This mode of expression, however, may appear to be at variance with many passages of Scripture, which lay in Christ the first foundation of the love of God to us, and show that out of him we are hated by God. But we ought to remember — what I have already stated — that the secret love with which the Heavenly Father loved us in himself is higher than all other causes; but that the grace which he wishes to be made known to us, and by which we are excited to the hope of salvation, commences with the reconciliation which was procured through Christ. For since he necessarily hates sin, how shall we believe that we are loved by him, until atonement has been made for those sins on account of which he is justly offended at us? Thus, the love of Christ must intervene for the purpose of reconciling God to us, before we have any experience of his fatherly kindness. But as we are first informed that God, because he loved us, gave his Son to die for us, so it is immediately added, that it is Christ alone on whom, strictly speaking, faith ought to look.
He gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him may not perish. This, he says, is the proper look of faith, to be fixed on Christ, in whom it beholds the breast of God filled with love: this is a firm and enduring support, to rely on the death of Christ as the only pledge of that love. The word only-begotten is emphatic, (ejmfatiko<n) to magnify the fervor of the love of God towards us. For as men are not easily convinced that God loves them, in order to remove all doubt, he has expressly stated that we are so very dear to God that, on our account, he did not even spare his only-begotten Son. Since, therefore, God has most abundantly testified his love towards us, whoever is not satisfied with this testimony, and still remains in doubt, offers a high insult to Christ, as if he had been an ordinary man given up at random to death. But we ought rather to consider that, in proportion to the estimation in which God holds his only-begotten Son, so much the more precious did our salvation appear to him, for the ransom of which he chose that his only-begotten Son should die. To this name Christ has a right, because he is by nature the only Son of God; and he communicates this honor to us by adoption, when we are engrafted into his body.
That whosoever believeth on him may not perish. It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.
Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith; for by it we receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father — that is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by it we obtain likewise the life of Christ.
Still it is not yet very evident why and how faith bestows life upon us. Is it because Christ renews us by his Spirit, that the righteousness of God may live and be vigorous in us; or is it because, having been cleansed by his blood, we are accounted righteous before God by a free pardon? It is indeed certain, that these two things are always joined together; but as the certainty of salvation is the subject now in hand, we ought chiefly to hold by this reason, that we live, because God loves us freely by not imputing to us our sins. For this reason sacrifice is expressly mentioned, by which, together with sins, the curse and death are destroyed. I have already explained the object of these two clauses,
which is, to inform us that in Christ we regain the possession of life, of which we are destitute in ourselves; for in this wretched condition of mankind, redemption, in the order of time, goes before salvation.
17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world. It is a confirmation of the preceding statement; for it was not in vain that God sent his own Son to us. He came not to destroy; and therefore it follows, that it is the peculiar office of the Son of God, that all who believe may obtain salvation by him. There is now no reason why any man should be in a state of hesitation, or of distressing anxiety, as to the manner in which he may escape death, when we believe that it was the purpose of God that Christ should deliver us from it. The word world is again repeated, that no man may think himself wholly excluded, if he only keep the road of faith.
The word judge (pri>nw) is here put for condemn, as in many other passages. When he declares that he did not come to condemn the world, he thus points out the actual design of his coming; for what need was there that Christ should come to destroy us who were utterly ruined? We ought not, therefore, to look at any thing else in Christ, than that God, out of his boundless goodness chose to extend his aid for saving us who were lost; and whenever our sins press us — whenever Satan would drive us to despair — we ought to hold out this shield, that God is unwilling that we should be overwhelmed with everlasting destruction, because he has appointed his Son to be the salvation of the world.
When Christ says, in other passages, that he is come to judgment, (<430939>John 9:39;) when he is called a stone of offense, (<600207>1 Peter 2:7;) when he is said to be set for the destruction of many, (<420234>Luke 2:34:) this may be regarded as accidental, or as arising from a different cause; for they who reject the grace offered in him deserve to find him the Judge and Avenger of contempt so unworthy and base. A striking instance of this may be seen in the Gospel; for though it is strictly
the power of God for salvation to every one who believeth, (<450116>Romans 1:16,)
the ingratitude of many causes it to become to them death.. Both have been well expressed by Paul, when he boasts of
having vengeance at hand, by which he will punish all the adversaries of his doctrine after that the obedience of the godly shall have been fulfilled, (<471006>2 Corinthians 10:6)
The meaning amounts to this, that the Gospel is especially, and in the first instance, appointed for believers, that it may be salvation to them; but that afterwards believers will not escape unpunished who, despising the grace of Christ, chose to have him as the Author of death rather than of life.
18. He who believeth in him is not condemned. When he so frequently and so earnestly repeats, that all believers are beyond danger of death, we may infer from it the great necessity of firm and assured confidence, that the conscience may not be kept perpetually in a state of trembling and alarm. He again declares that, when we have believed, there is no remaining condemnation, which he will afterwards explain more fully in the Fifth Chapter. The present tense — is not condemned — is here used instead of the future tense — shall not be condemned — according to the custom of the Hebrew language; for he means that believers are safe from the fear of condemnation.
But he who believeth not is condemned already. This means that there is no other remedy by which any human being can escape death; or, in other words, that for all who reject the life given to them in Christ, there remains nothing but death, since life consists in nothing else than in faith. The past tense of the verb, is condemned already, (h]dh ke>kritai,) was used by him emphatically, (ejmfatikw~v,) to express more strongly that all unbelievers are utterly ruined. But it ought to be observed that Christ speaks especially of those whose wickedness shall be displayed in open contempt of the Gospel. For though it is true that there never was any other remedy for escaping death than that men should betake themselves to Christ, yet as Christ here speaks of the preaching of the Gospel, which was to be spread throughout the whole world, he directs his discourse against those who deliberately and maliciously extinguish the light which God had kindled.

JOHN 3:19-21
19. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world; and men loved darkness rather than light; for their works were evil. 20. For whosoever doeth what is evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be discovered. 21. But he who doeth truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they are done in God. f61

19. And this is the condemnation. He meets the murmurs and complaints, by which wicked men are wont to censure — what they imagine to be the excessive rigour of God, when he acts towards them with greater severity than they expected. All think it harsh that they who do not believe in Christ should be devoted to destruction. That no man may ascribe his condemnation to Christ, he shows that every man ought to impute the blame to himself. The reason is, that unbelief is a testimony of a bad conscience; and hence it is evident that it is their own wickedness which hinders unbelievers from approaching to Christ. Some think that he points out here nothing more than the mark of condemnation; but, the design of Christ is, to restrain the wickedness of men, that they may not, according to their custom, dispute or argue with God, as if he treated them unjustly, when he punishes unbelief with eternal death. He shows that such a condemnation is just, and is not liable to any reproaches, not only because those men act wickedly, who prefer darkness to light, and refuse the light which is freely offered to them, but because that hatred of the light arises only from a mind that is wicked and conscious of its guilt. A beautiful appearance and lustre of holiness may indeed be found in many, who, after all, oppose the Gospel; but, though they appear to be holier than the angels, there is no room to doubt that they are hypocrites, who reject the doctrine of Christ for no other reason than because they love their lurking-places by which their baseness may be concealed. Since, therefore, hypocrisy alone renders men hateful to God, all are held convicted, because were it not that, blinded by pride, they delight in their crimes, they would readily and willingly receive the doctrine of the Gospel.
20. For whosoever doeth what is evil. The meaning is, that the light is hateful to them for no other reason than because they are wicked and desire to conceal their sins, as far as lies in their power. Hence it follows that, by rejecting the remedy, they may be said purposely to cherish the ground of their condemnation. We are greatly mistaken, therefore, if we suppose that they who are enraged against the Gospel are actuated by godly zeal, when, on the contrary, they abhor and shun the light, that they may more freely flatter themselves in darkness.
21. But he who doeth truth. This appears to be an improper and absurd statement, unless you choose to admit that some are upright and true, before they have been renewed by the Spirit of God, which does not at all agree with the uniform doctrine of Scripture; for we know that faith is the root from which the fruits of good works spring. To solve this difficulty, Augustine says, that to do truth means “to acknowledge that we are miserable and destitute of all power of doing good;” and, certainly, it is a true preparation for faith, when a conviction of our poverty compels us to flee to the grace of God. But all this is widely removed from Christ’s meaning, for he intended simply to say that those who act sincerely desire nothing more earnestly than light, that their works may be tried; because, when such a trial has been made, it becomes more evident that, in the sight of God, they speak the truth and are free from all deceit. Now it would be inconclusive reasoning, were we to infer from this, that men have a good conscience before they have faith; for Christ does not say that the elect believe, so as to deserve the praise of good works, but only what unbelievers would do, if they had not a bad conscience.
Christ employed the word truth, because, when we are deceived by the outward lustre of works, we do not consider what is concealed within. Accordingly, he says, that men who are upright and free from hypocrisy willingly go into the presence of God, who alone is the competent Judge of our works. For those works are said to be done in God or according to God, which are approved by Him, and which are good according to His rule. Hence let us learn that we must not judge of works in any other way than by bringing them to the light of the Gospel, because our reason is wholly blind.

JOHN 3:22-28
22. After these things came Jesus, and his disciples, into the land of Judea, and there he remained with them and baptized. 23. And John also was baptizing in Enon, near Salim; because there were many waters there. They came therefore and were baptized. 24. For John was not yet cast into prison. 25. A question then arose between the disciples of John and the Jews about purifying. 26. And they came to John, and said to him, Rabbi, he who was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou gavest testimony, lo, he baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27. John answered and said, A man cannot receive any thing, unless it be given to him from heaven. 28. Yourselves are witnesses to me, that I said, I am not Christ, but was sent before him.

22. After these things came Jesus. It is probable that Christ, when the feast was past, came into that part of Judea which was in the vicinity of the town Enon, which was situated in the tribe of Manasseh. The Evangelist says that there were many waters there, and these were not so abundant in Judea. Now geographers tell us, that these two towns, Enon and Salim, were not far from the confluence of the river Jordan and the brook Jabbok; and they add that Scythopolis was near them. From these words, we may infer that John and Christ administered baptism by plunging the whole body beneath the water; though we ought not to give ourselves any great uneasiness about the outward rite, provided that it agree with the spiritual truth, and with the Lord’s appointment and rule. So far as we are able to conjecture, the; vicinity of those places caused various reports to be circulated, and many discussions to arise, about the Law, about the worship of God, and about the condition of the Church, in consequence of two persons who administered baptism having arisen at the same time. For when the Evangelist says that Christ baptized, I refer this to the commencement of his ministry; namely, that he then began to exercise publicly the office which was appointed to him by the Father. And though Christ did this by his disciples, yet he is here named as the Author of the baptism, without mentioning his ministers, who did nothing but in his name and by his command. On this subject, we shall have something more to say in the beginning of the next Chapter.
25. A question then arose. Not without a good reason does the Evangelist relate that a question arose from the disciples of John; for just in proportion as they were ill-informed about doctrine, they are so much the more eager to enter into debate, as ignorance is always bold and presumptuous. If others had attacked them, they might have been excused; but when they themselves, though unfit to maintain the contest, voluntarily provoke the Jews, it is a rash and foolish proceeding. Now the words mean, that “the question was raised by them;” and not only were they to blame for taking up a matter which they did not understand, and speaking about it rashly and beyond the measure of their knowledge; but another fault — not less than the former — was, that they did not so much intend to maintain the lawfulness of Baptism as to defend the cause of their master, that his authority might remain unimpaired. In both respects, they deserved reproof, because, not understanding what was the real nature of Baptism, they expose the holy ordinance of God to ridicule, and because, by sinful ambition, they undertake to defend the cause of their master against Christ.
It is evident, therefore, that they were astonished and confounded by a single word, when it was represented to them that Christ also was baptizing; for while their attention was directed to the person of a man, and to outward appearance, f62 they gave themselves less concern about the doctrine. We are taught, by their example, into what mistakes those men fall who are actuated by a sinful desire to please men rather than by a zeal for God; and we are likewise reminded that the single object which we ought to have in view and to promote by all means is, that Christ alone may have the pre-eminence.
About purifying. The question was about purifying; for the Jews had various baptisms and washings f63 enjoined by the Law; and not satisfied with those which God had appointed, f64 they carefully observed many others which had been handed down from their ancestors. When they find that, in addition to so great a number and variety of purifyings, a new method of purifying is introduced by Christ and by John, they look upon it as absurd.
26. To whom thou gavest testimony. By this argument they endeavor either to make Christ inferior to John, or to show that John, by doing him honor, had laid him under obligations; for they reckon that John conferred a favor on Christ by adorning him with such honorable titles. As if it had not been the duty of John to make such a proclamation, or rather, as if it had not been John’s highest dignity to be the herald of the Son of God. Nothing could have been more unreasonable than to make Christ inferior to John, because his testimony was highly favorable; for we know what John’s testimony was. The expression which they use — all men come to Christ — is the language of envious persons, f65 and proceeds from sinful ambition; for they are afraid that the crowd will immediately forsake their master.
27. A man cannot receive any thing. Some refer these words to Christ, as if John accused the disciples of wicked presumption in opposition to God, by endeavoring to deprive Christ of what the Father had given to him. They suppose the meaning to be this: “That within so short a time he has risen to so great honor, is the work of God; and therefore it is in vain for you to attempt to degrade him whom God with his own hand has raised on high.” Others think that it is an exclamation into which he indignantly breaks forth, because his disciples had hitherto made so little progress. And certainly it was excessively absurd that they should still endeavor to reduce to the rank of ordinary men him who, they had so often heard, was the Christ, that he might not rise above his own servants; and, therefore, John might justly have said that it is useless to spend time in instructing men, because they are dull and stupid, until they are renewed in mind.
But I rather agree with the opinion of those who explain it as applying to John, as asserting that it is not in his power, or in theirs, to make him great, because the measure of us all is to be what God intended us to be. For if even the Son of God took not that honour to himself, (<580504>Hebrews 5:4,) what man of the ordinary rank would venture to desire more than what the Lord has given him? This single thought, if it were duly impressed on the minds of us all, would be abundantly sufficient for restraining ambition; and were ambition corrected and destroyed, the plague of contentions would likewise be removed. How comes it then, that every man exalts himself more than is proper, but because we do not depend on the Lord, so as to be satisfied with the rank which he assigns to us?
28. You are witnesses to me. John expostulates with his disciples that they did not give credit to his statements. He had often warned them that he was not the Christ; and, therefore, it only remained that he should be a servant and subject to the Son of God along with others. And this passage is worthy of notice; for, by affirming that he is not the Christ, he reserves nothing for himself but to be subject to the head, and to serve in the Church as one of the rest, and not to be so highly exalted as to obscure the honor of the Head. He says that he was sent before, to prepare the way for Christ, as kings are wont to have heralds or forerunners.

JOHN 3:29-34
29. He who hath the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth, and heareth him, rejoiceth exceedingly on account of the bridegroom’s voice. This my joy, therefore, is fulfilled. 30. He must increase, but I must decrease. 31. He who cometh from above is above all; he who is from the earth is of the earth, and speaketh f66 of the earth: he who cometh from heaven is above all. 32. And what he hath seen and heard, this he testifieth, and no man receiveth his testimony. 33. But he who receiveth his testimony hath sealed that God is true. 34. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God, for God giveth not the Spirit by measure.

29. He who hath the bride. By this comparison, he confirms more fully the statement, that it is Christ alone who is excluded from the ordinary rank of men. For as he who marries a wife does not call and invite his friends to the marriage, in order to prostitute the bride to them, or, by giving up his own rights, to allow them to partake with him of the nuptial bed, but rather that the marriage, being honored by them, may be rendered more sacred; so Christ does not call his ministers to the office of teaching, in order that, by conquering the Church, they may claim dominion over it, but that he may make use of their faithful labors for associating them with himself. It is a great and lofty distinction, that men are appointed over the Church, to represent the person of the Son of God. They are, therefore, like the friends whom the bridegroom brings with him, that they may accompany him in celebrating the marriage; but we must attend to the distinction, that ministers, being mindful of their rank, may not appropriate to themselves what belongs exclusively to the bridegroom. The whole amounts to this, that all the eminence which teachers may possess among themselves ought not to hinder Christ from ruling alone in his Church, or from governing it alone by his word.
This comparison frequently occurs in Scripture, when the Lord intends to express the sacred bond of adoption, by which he binds us to himself. For as he offers himself to be truly enjoyed by us, that he may be ours, so he justly claims from us that mutual fidelity and love which the wife owes to her husband. This marriage is entirely fulfilled in Christ, whose flesh and bones we are, as Paul informs us, (<490530>Ephesians 5:30.) The chastity demanded by him consists chiefly in the obedience of the Gospel, that we may not suffer ourselves to be led aside from its pure simplicity, as the same Apostle teaches us, (<471102>2 Corinthians 11:2, 3.) We must, therefore, be subject to Christ alone, he must be our only Head, we must not turn aside a hair’s-breadth from the simple doctrine of the Gospel, he alone must have the highest glory, that he may retain the right and authority of being a bridegroom to us.
But what are ministers to do? Certainly, the Son of God calls them, that they may perform their duty to him in conducting the sacred marriage; and, therefore, their duty is, to take care, in every way, that the spouse — who is committed to their charge — may be presented by them as a chaste virgin to her husband; which Paul, in the passage already quoted, boasts of having done. But they who draw the Church to themselves rather than to Christ are guilty of basely violating the marriage which they ought to have honored. And the greater the honor which Christ confers on us, by making us the guardians of his spouse, so much the more heinous is our want of fidelity, if we do not endeavor to maintain and defend his right.
This my joy therefore is fulfilled. He means that he has obtained the fulfillment of all his desires, and that he has nothing further to wish, when he sees Christ reigning, and men listening to him as he deserves. Whoever shall have such affections that, laying aside all regard to himself, he shall extol Christ and be satisfied with seeing Christ honored, will be faithful and successful in ruling the Church; but, whoever shall swerve from that end in the slightest degree will be a base adulterer, and will do nothing else than corrupt the spouse of Christ.
30. He must increase. John the Baptist proceeds farther; for, having formerly been raised by the Lord to the highest dignity, he shows that this was only for a time, but now that the Sun of Righteousness, (<390402>Malachi 4:2) has arisen, he must give way; and, therefore, he not only scatters and drives away the empty fumes of honor which had been rashly and ignorantly heaped upon him by men, but also is exceedingly careful that the true and lawful honor which the Lord had bestowed on him may not obscure the glory of Christ. Accordingly, he tells us that the reason why he had been hitherto accounted a great Prophet was, that for a time only he was placed in so lofty a station, until Christ came, to whom he must surrender his office. In the meantime, he declares that he will most willingly endure to be reduced to nothing, provided that Christ occupy and fill the whole world with his rays; and this zeal of John all pastors of the Church ought to imitate by stooping with the head and shoulders to elevate Christ.
31. He who cometh from above. By another comparison he shows how widely Christ differs from all the rest, and how far he is above them; for he compares him to a king or distinguished general, who, speaking from his lofty seat, ought to be heard with reverence for his authority, but shows that it is enough for himself to speak from the lowest footstool of Christ. f67 In the second clause the old Latin translation has only once the words, is of the earth; but the Greek manuscripts agree in repeating the words twice. I suspect that ignorant men considered the repetition to be superfluous, and therefore erased it; but the meaning is: he who is of earth gives evidence of his descent, and remains in an earthly rank according to the condition of his nature. He maintains that it is peculiar to Christ alone to speak from above, because he came from heaven.
But it may be asked, Did not John also come from heaven, as to his calling and office, and was it not therefore the duty of men to hear the Lord speaking by his mouth? For he appears to do injustice to the heavenly doctrine which he delivers. I reply, this was not said absolutely, but by comparison. If ministers be separately considered, they speak as from heaven, with the highest authority, what God commanded them; but, as soon as they begin to be contrasted with Christ, they must no longer be anything. Thus the Apostle, comparing the Law with the Gospel, says,
Since they escaped not who despised him that spoke on earth, beware lest you despise him who is from heaven,
(<581225>Hebrews 12:25.)
Christ, therefore, wishes to be acknowledged in his ministers, but in such a manner that he may remain the only Lord, and that they may be satisfied with the rank of servants; but especially when a comparison is made, he wishes to be so distinguished that he alone may be exalted.
32. And what he hath seen and heard. John proceeds in the discharge of his office; for, in order to procure disciples for Christ, he commends Christ’s doctrine as certain, because he utters nothing but what he has received from the Father. Seeing and hearing are contrasted with doubtful opinions, unfounded rumors, and every kind of falsehoods; for he means that Christ teaches nothing but what has been fully ascertained. But some one will say that little credit is due to him who has nothing but what he has heard. I reply, this word denotes that Christ has been taught by the Father, so that he brings forward nothing but what is divine, or, in other words, what has been revealed to him by God.
Now this belongs to the whole person of Christ, so far as the Father sent him into the world as His ambassador and interpreter. He afterwards charges the world with ingratitude, in basely and wickedly rejecting such an undoubted and faithful interpreter of God. In this way he meets the offense which might cause many to turn aside from the faith, and might hinder or retard the progress of many; for, as we are accustomed to depend too much on the judgment of the world, a considerable number of persons judge of the Gospel by the contempt of the world, or at least, where they see it everywhere rejected, they are prejudiced by that event, and are rendered more unwilling and more slow to believe. And, therefore, whenever we see such obstinacy in the world, let this admonition hold us in constant obedience to the Gospel, that it is truth which came from God. When he says that NO-MAN, receiveth his testimony, he means that there are very few and almost no believers, when compared with the vast crowd of unbelievers.
33. But he who receiveth his testimony. Here he exhorts and encourages the godly to embrace boldly the doctrine of the Gospel, as if he had said that there was no reason why they should be ashamed or uneasy on account of their small number, since they have God as the Author of their faith, who alone abundantly supplies to us the place of all the rest. And, therefore, though the whole world should refuse or withhold faith in the Gospel, this ought not to prevent good men from giving their assent to God. They have something on which they may safely rest, when they know that to believe the Gospel is nothing else than to assent to the truths which God has revealed. Meanwhile, we learn that it is peculiar to faith to rely on God, and to be confirmed by his words; for there can be no assent, unless God have, first of all, come forward and spoken. By this doctrine faith is not only distinguished from all human inventions, but likewise from doubtful and wavering opinions; for it must correspond to the truth of God, which is free from all doubt, and therefore, as God cannot lie, it would be absurd that faith should waver. Fortified by this defense, whatever contrivances Satan may employ in his attempts to disturb and shake us, we shall always remain victorious.
Hence, too, we are reminded how acceptable and precious a sacrifice in the sight of God faith is. As nothing is more dear to him than his truth, so we cannot render to him more acceptable worship than when we acknowledge by our faith that He is true, for then we ascribe that honor which truly belongs to him. On the other hand, we cannot offer to him a greater insult than not to believe the Gospel; for he cannot be deprived of his truth without taking away all his glory and majesty. His truth is in some sort closely linked with the Gospel, and it is his will that there it should be recognized. Unbelievers, therefore, as far as lies in their power, leave to God nothing whatever; not that their wickedness overthrows the faithfulness of God, but because they do not hesitate to charge God with falsehood. If we are not harder than stones, this lofty title by which faith is adorned ought to kindle in our minds the most ardent love of it; for how great is the honor which God confers on poor worthless men, when they, who by nature are nothing else than falsehood and vanity, are thought worthy of attesting by their signature the sacred truth of God?
34. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God. He confirms the preceding statement, for he shows that we have actually to do with God, when we receive the doctrine of Christ; because Christ proceeded from none else than from the Heavenly Father. It is, therefore, God alone who speaks to us by him; and, indeed, we do not assign to the doctrine of Christ all that it deserves, unless we acknowledge it to be divine.
For God giveth not the Spirit by measure. This passage is explained in two ways. Some extend it to the ordinary dispensation in this manner: that God, who is the inexhaustible fountain of all benefits, does not in the least degree diminish his resources, when he largely and plentifully bestows his gifts on men. They who draw from any vessel what they give to others come at last to the bottom; but there is no danger that any thing of this sort can happen with God, nor will the abundance of his gifts ever be so large that he cannot go beyond it, whenever he shall be pleased to make a new exercise of liberality. This exposition appears to have some plausibility, for the sentence is indefinite; that is, it does not expressly point out any person. f68
But I am more disposed to follow Augustine, who explains that it was said concerning Christ. Nor is there any force in the objection, that no express mention is made of Christ in this clause, since all ambiguity is removed by the next clause, in which that which might seem to have been said indiscriminately about many is limited to Christ. For these words were unquestionably added for the sake of explanation, that the Father hath given all things into the hand of his Son, because he loveth him, and ought therefore to be read as placed in immediate connection. The verb in the present tense — givethdenotes, as it were, a continued act; for though Christ was all at once endued with the Spirit in the highest perfection, yet, as he continually flows, as it were, from a source, and is widely diffused, there is no impropriety in saying that Christ now receives him from the Father. But if any one choose to interpret it more simply, it is no unusual thing that there should be a change of tenses in such verbs, and that giveth should be put for hath given. f69
The meaning is now plain, that the Spirit was not given to Christ by measure, as if the power of grace which he possesses were in any way limited; as Paul teaches that
to every one is given according to the measure of the gift, (<490407>Ephesians 4:7,)
so that there is no one who alone has full abundance. For while this is the mutual bond of brotherly intercourse between us, that no man separately considered has every thing that he needs, but all require the aid of each other, Christ differs from us in this respect, that the Father has poured out upon him an unlimited abundance of his Spirit. And, certainly, it is proper that the Spirit should dwell without measure in him, that we may all draw out of his fullness, as we have seen in the first chapter. And to this relates what immediately follows, that the Father hath given all things into his hand; for by these words John the Baptist not only declares the excellence of Christ, but, at the same time, points out the end and use of the riches with which he is endued; namely, that Christ, having been appointed by the Father to be the administrator, he distributes to every one as he chooses, and as he finds to be necessary; as Paul explains more fully in the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, which I lately quoted. Although God enriches his own people in a variety of ways, this is peculiar to Christ alone, that he has all things in his hand.

JOHN 3:35-36
35. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36. He who believeth in the Son hath eternal life; but he who believeth not in the Son f70 shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.

35. The Father loveth the Son. But what is the meaning of this reason? Does he regard all others with hatred? The answer is easy, that he does not speak of the common love with which God regards men whom he has created, or his other works, but of that peculiar love which, beginning with the Son, flows from him to all the creatures. For that love with which, embracing the Son, he embraces us also in him, leads him to communicate all his benefits to us by his hand.
36. He who believeth in the Son. This was added, not only to inform us that we ought to ask all good things from Christ, but likewise to make us, acquainted with the manner in which they are enjoyed. He shows that enjoyment consists in faith; and not without reason, since by means of it we possess Christ, who brings along with him both righteousness and life, which is the fruit of righteousness. When faith in Christ is declared to be the cause of life, we learn from it that life is to be found in Christ alone, and that in no other way do we become partakers of it than by the grace of Christ himself. But all are not agreed as to the way in which the life of Christ comes to us. Some understand it thus: “as by believing we receive the Spirit, who regenerates us in order to justification, by that very regeneration we obtain salvation.” For my own part, though I acknowledge it to be true, that we are renewed by faith, so that the Spirit of Christ governs us, yet I say that we ought first to take into consideration the free forgiveness of sins, through which we are accepted by God. Again, I say that on this all our confidence of salvation is founded, and in this it consists; because justification before God cannot be reckoned to us in any other way than when he does not impute to us our sins.
But he who believeth not in the Son. As he held out life in Christ, by the sweetness of which he might allure us, so now he adjudges to eternal death all who do not believe in Christ. And, in this way, he magnifies the kindness of God, when he warns us, that there is no other way of escaping death, unless Christ deliver us; for this sentence depends on the fact, that we are all accursed in Adam. Now if it be the office of Christ to save what was lost, they who reject the salvation offered in him are justly suffered to remain in death. We have just now said that this belongs peculiarly to those who reject the gospel which has been revealed to them; for though all mankind are involved in the same destruction, yet a heavier and double vengeance awaits those who refuse to have the Son of God as their deliverer. And, indeed, it cannot be doubted that the Baptist, when he denounced death against unbelievers, intended to excite us, by the dread of it, to the exercise of faith in Christ. It is also manifest; that all the righteousness which the world thinks that it has out of Christ is condemned and reduced to nothing. Nor is any one enabled to object that it is unjust that those who are otherwise devout and holy should perish, because they do not believe; for it is folly to imagine that there is any holiness in men, unless it have been given to them by Christ.
To see life is here put for “enjoying life.” But to express more clearly that no hope remains for us, unless we are delivered by Christ, he says that the wrath of God abideth on unbelievers. Though I am not dissatisfied with the view given by Augustine, that John the Baptist used the word abideth, in order to inform us that, from the womb we were appointed to death, because we are all born the children of wrath, (<490203>Ephesians 2:3.) At least, I willingly admit an allusion of this sort, provided we hold the true and simple meaning to be what I have stated, that death hangs over all unbelievers, and keeps them oppressed and overwhelmed in such a manner that they can never escape. And, indeed, though already the reprobate are naturally condemned, yet by their unbelief they draw down on themselves a new death. And it is for this purpose that the power of binding was given to the ministers of the gospel; for it is a just vengeance on the obstinacy of men, that they who shake off the salutary yoke of God should bind themselves with the chains of death.
CHAPTER 4

JOHN 4:1-9
1. When, therefore, the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (2. Though Jesus himself did not baptize, but his disciples,) 3. He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. 4. And it was necessary that he should pass through Samaria. 5. He came, therefore, into the city of Samaria, which is called Sichar, near a field which Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6. And Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, fatigued by the journey, was thus sitting on the well, for it was about the sixth hour. 7. A woman came from Samaria to draw water. Jesus saith to her, Give me to drink. 8. For the disciples had gone into the city to buy food. 9. The Samaritan woman saith to him, How dost thou, who art a Jew, ask drink from me, who am a Samaritan woman? For the Jews hold no intercourse with the Samaritans.

1. When, therefore, the Lord knew. The Evangelist, intending now to give an account of the conversation which Christ had with a Samaritan woman, begins with explaining the cause of his journey. Knowing that the Pharisees were ill-disposed towards him, he did not wish to expose himself to their anger before the proper time. This was his motive for setting out from Judea. The Evangelist thus informs us that Christ did not come into Samaria with the intention of dwelling there, but because he had to pass through it on his way from Judea to Galilee; for until, by his resurrection, he should open up the way for the gospel, it was necessary that he should be employed in gathering the sheep of Israel to which he had been sent. That he now favored the Samaritans with his instruction was an extraordinary and almost accidental occurrence, if we may be allowed the expression.
But why does he seek the retirement and lurking-places of Galilee, as if he were unwilling to be known, which was highly to be desired? I reply, he knew well the proper way to act, and made such use of the opportunities of usefulness that he did not allow a moment to be lost. He wished, therefore, to pursue his course with regularity, and in such a manner as he judged to be proper. Hence too we hear that our minds ought to be regulated in such a manner that, on the one hand, we may not be deterred by any fear from going forward in duty; and that, on the other hand, we may not too rashly throw ourselves into dangers. All who are earnestly desirous to pursue their calling will be careful to maintain this moderation, for which they will steadily follow the Lord even through the midst of deaths; they will not rush into them heedlessly, but will walk in their ways. Let us, therefore, remember that we must not advance farther than our calling demands.
That the Pharisees had heard. The Pharisees alone are mentioned by the Evangelist as having been hostile to Christ; not that the other scribes were friendly, but because this sect was at that time in the ascendant, and because they were filled with rage under the pretense of godly zeal. It may be asked, Did they envy Christ that he had more disciples, because their stronger attachment to John led them to promote his honor and reputation? The meaning of the words is different; for though they were formerly dissatisfied at finding that John collected disciples, their minds were still more exasperated, when they saw that a still greater number of disciples came to Christ. From the time that John avowed himself to be nothing more than the herald of the Son of God, they began to flock to Christ in greater crowds, and already he had almost completed his ministry. Thus he gradually resigned to Christ the office of teaching and baptizing.
2. Though Jesus himself baptized not. He gives the designation of Christs Baptism to that which he conferred by the hands of other, in order to inform us that Baptism ought not to be estimated by the person of the minister, but that its power depends entirely on its Author, in whose name, and by whose authority, it is conferred. Hence we derive a remarkable consolation, when we know that our baptism has no less efficacy to wash and renew us, than if it had been given by the hand of the Son of God. Nor can it be doubted that, so long as he lived in the world, he abstained from the outward administration of the sign, for the express purpose of testifying to all ages, that Baptism loses nothing of its value when it is administered by a mortal man. In short, not only does Christ baptize inwardly by his Spirit, but the very symbol which we receive from a mortal man ought to be viewed by us in the same light as if Christ himself displayed his hand from heaven, and stretched it out to us. Now if the Baptism administered by a man is Christ’s Baptism, it will not cease to be Christ’s Baptism whoever be the minister. And this is sufficient for refuting the Anabaptists, who maintain that, when the minister is a wicked man, the baptism is also vitiated, and, by means of this absurdity, disturb the Church; as Augustine has very properly employed the same argument against the Donatists.
5. Which is called Sichar. Jerome, in his epitaph on Paula, thinks that this is an incorrect reading, and that it ought to have been written Sichem; and, indeed, the latter appears to have been the ancient and true name; but it is probable that, in the time of the Evangelist, the word Sichar was already in common use. As to the place, it is generally agreed that it was a city situated close to Mount Gerizzim, the inhabitants of which were treacherously slain by Simeon and Levi, (<013425>Genesis 34:25,) and which Abimelech, a native of the place, afterwards razed to its thundations, (<070945>Judges 9:45.) But the convenience of its situation was such that, a third time, a city was built there, which, in the age of Jerome, they called Neapolis. By adding so many circumstances, the Apostle removes all doubt; for we are clearly informed by Moses where that field was which Jacob assigned to the children of Joseph, (<014822>Genesis 48:22.) It is universally acknowledged, also, that Mount Gerizzim was near to Shechem. We shall afterwards state that a temple was built there; and there can be no doubt that Jacob dwelt a long time in that place with his family.
And Jesus, fatigued by the journey. He did not pretend weariness, but was actually fatigued; for, in order that he might be better prepared for the exercise of sympathy and compassion towards us, he took upon him our weaknesses, as the Apostle shows that
we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, (<580415>Hebrews 4:15.)
With this agrees the circumstance of the time; for it is not wonderful that, being thirsty and fatigued, he rested at the well about noon; for as the day, from sunrise to sunset, had twelve hours, the sixth hour was Noon. When the Evangelist says that he sat THUS, he means that it was the attitude of a man who was fatigued.
7. A woman came from Samaria. When he asks water from the woman, he does it not merely with the intention of obtaining an opportunity to teach her; for thirst prompted him to desire to drink. But this cannot hinder him from availing himself of the opportunity of instruction which he has obtained, for he prefers the salvation of the woman to his own wants. Thus, forgetting his own thirst, as if he were satisfied with obtaining leisure and opportunity for conversation, that he might instruct her in true godliness, he draws a comparison between the visible water and the spiritual, and waters with heavenly doctrine the mind of her who had refused him water to drink.
9. How dost thou, who art a Jew? This is a reproach, by which she retorts upon him the contempt which was generally entertained by his nation. The Samaritans are known to have been the scum of a people gathered from among foreigners. Having corrupted the worship of God, and introduced many spurious and wicked ceremonies, they were justly regarded by the Jews with detestation. Yet it cannot be doubted that the Jews, for the most part, held out their zeal for the law as a cloak for their carnal hatred; for many were actuated more by ambition and envy, and by displeasure at seeing the country which had been allotted to them occupied by the Samaritans, than by grief and uneasiness because the worship of God had been corrupted. There was just ground for the separation, provided that their feelings had been pure and well regulated. For this reason Christ, when he first sends the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel, forbids them to turn aside to the Samaritans, (<401005>Matthew 10:5.)
But this woman does what is natural to almost all of us; for, being desirous to be held in esteem, we take very ill to be despised. This disease of human nature is so general, that every person wishes that his vices should please others. If any man disapproves of us, or of any thing that we do or say, f71 we are immediately offended without any good reason. Let any man examine himself, and he will find this seed of pride in his mind, until it has been eradicated by the Spirit of God. This woman, therefore, knowing that the superstitions of her nation were condemned by the Jews, now offers an insult to them in the person of Christ.
For the Jews hold no intercourse with the Samaritans. These words I consider to have been uttered by the woman. Others suppose that the Evangelist added them for the sake of explanation, and, indeed, it is of little consequence which meaning you prefer. But I think it more natural to believe that the woman jeers at Christ in this manner: “What? Is it lawful for you to ask drink from me, when you hold us to be so profane?” If any prefer the other interpretation, I do not dispute the point. Besides, it is possible that the Jews carried their abhorrence of the Samaritans beyond proper bounds; for as we have said that they applied to an improper purpose a false pretense of zeal, so it was natural for them to go to excess, as almost always happens with those who give way to wicked passions.

JOHN 4:10-15
10. Jesus answered and said to her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11. The woman saith to him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; whence, therefore, hast thou living water? f72 12. Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and himself drank of it, and his children, and his cattle? 13. Jesus answered and said to her, Every one that drinketh of this water will thirst again; 14. But he who drinketh of the water which I shall give him will never thirst; but the water, which I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into eternal life. 15. The woman saith to him, Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, and may not come hither to draw.

10. Jesus answered. Christ now, availing himself of the opportunity, begins to preach about the grace and power of his Spirit, and that to a woman who did not at all deserve that he should speak a word to her. This is certainly an astonishing instance of his goodness. For what was there in this wretched woman, that, from being a prostitute, she suddenly became a disciple of the Son of God? Though in all of us he has displayed a similar instance of his compassion. All the women, indeed, are not prostitutes, nor are all the men stained by some heinous crime; but what excellence can any of us plead as a reason why he deigned to bestow on us the heavenly doctrine, and the honor of being admitted into his family? Nor was it by accident that the conversation with such a person occurred; for the Lord showed us, as in a model, that those to whom he imparts the doctrine of salvation are not selected on the ground of merit. And it appears at first sight a wonderful arrangement, that he passed by so many great men in Judea, and yet held familiar discourse with this woman. But it was necessary that, in his person, it should be explained how true is that saying of the Prophet,
I was found by them that sought me not; I was made manifest to them that asked not after me. I said to those who sought me not, Behold, here I am, (<236501>Isaiah 65:1.)
If thou knewest the gift of God. These two clauses, If thou knewest the gift of God, and, who it is that talketh with thee, I read separately, viewing the latter as an interpretation of the former. For it was a wonderful kindness of God to have Christ present, who brought with him eternal life. The meaning will be more plain if, instead of and, we put namely, or some other word of that kind, f73 thus: If thou knewest the gift of God, NAMELY, who it is that talketh with thee. By these words we are taught that then only do we know what Christ is, when we understand what the Father hath given to us in him, and what benefits he brings to us. Now that knowledge begins with a conviction of our poverty; for, before any one desires a remedy, he must be previously affected with the view of his distresses. Thus the Lord invites not those who have drunk enough, but the thirsty, not those who are satiated, but the hungry, to eat and drink. And why would Christ be sent with the fullness of the Spirit, if we were not empty?
Again, as he has made great progress, who, feeling his deficiency, already acknowledges how much he needs the aid of another; so it would not be enough for him to groan under his distresses, if he had not also hope of aid ready and prepared. In this way we might do no more than waste ourselves with grief, or at least we might, like the Papists, run about in every direction, and oppress ourselves with useless and unprofitable weariness. But when Christ appears, we no longer wander in vain, seeking a remedy where none can be obtained, but we go straight to him. The only true and profitable knowledge of the grace of God is, when we know that it is exhibited to us in Christ, and that it is held out to us by his hand. In like manner does Christ remind us how efficacious is a knowledge of his blessings, since it excites us to seek them and kindles our hearts. If thou knewest, says he, thou wouldst have asked. The design of these words is not difficult to be perceived; for he intended to whet the desire of this woman, that she might not despise and reject the life which was offered to her.
He would have given thee. By these words Christ testifies that, if our prayers be addressed to him, they will not be fruitless; and, indeed, without this confidence, the earnestness of prayer would be entirely cooled. But when Christ meets those who come to him, and is ready to satisfy their desires, there is no more room for sluggishness or delay. And there is no man who would not feel that this is said to all of us, if he were not prevented by his unbelief.
Living water. Though the name Water is borrowed from the present occurrence, and applied to the Spirit, yet this metaphor is very frequent in Scripture, and rests on the best grounds. For we are like a dry and barren soil; there is no sap and no rigour in us, until the Lord water us by his Spirit. In another passage, the Spirit is likewise called clean water, (<581022>Hebrews 10:22,) but in a different sense; namely, because he washes and cleanses us from the pollutions with which we are entirely covered. But in this and similar passages, the subject treated of is the secret energy by which he restores life in us, and maintains and brings it to perfection. There are some who explain this as referring to the doctrine of the Gospel, to which I own that this appellation is fully applicable; but I think that Christ includes here the whole grace of our renewal; for we know that he was sent for the purpose of bringing to us a new life. In my opinion, therefore, he intended to contrast water with that destitution of all blessings under which mankind groan and labor. Again, living water is not so called from its effect, as life-giving, but the allusion is to different kinds of waters. It is called living, because it flows from a living fountain.
11. Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with. As the Samaritans were despised by the Jews, so the Samaritans, on the other hand, held the Jews in contempt. Accordingly, this woman at first not only disdains Christ but even mocks at him. She understands quite well that Christ is speaking figuratively, but she throws out a jibe by a different figure, intending to say, that he promises more than he can accomplish.
12. Art thou greater than our father Jacob? She proceeds to charge him with arrogance in exalting himself above the holy patriarch Jacob. Jacob,” she says, “was satisfied with this well for his own use and that of his whole family: and hast thou a more excellent water?” How faulty this comparison is, appears plainly enough from this consideration, that she compares the servant to the master, and a dead man to the living God; and yet how many in the present day fall into this very error? The more cautious ought we to be not to extol the persons of men so as to obscure the glory of God. We ought, indeed, to acknowledge with reverence the gifts of God, wherever they appear. It is, therefore, proper that we should honor men who are eminent in piety, or endued with other uncommon gifts; but it ought to be in such a manner that God may always remain eminent above all — that Christ, with his Gospel, may shine illustriously, for to him all the splendor of the world must yield.
It ought also to be observed that the Samaritans falsely boasted of being descended from the holy Fathers. In like manner do the Papists, though they are a bastard seed, arrogantly boast of the Fathers, and despise the true children of God. Although the Samaritans had been descended from Jacob according to the flesh, yet, as they were altogether degenerated and estranged from true godliness, this boasting would have been ridiculous. But now that they are Cutheans by descent, (<121724>2 Kings 17:24,) or at least collected out of the profane Gentiles, they still do not fail to make false pretensions to the name of the holy Patriarch. But this is of no avail to them; and such must be the case with all who wickedly exult in the light of men, so as to deprive themselves of the light of God, and who have nothing in common with the holy Fathers, whose name they have abused.
13. Every one that drinketh of this water. Though Christ perceives that he is doing little good, and even that his instruction is treated with mockery, he proceeds to explain more clearly what he had said. He distinguishes between the use of the two kinds of water; that the one serves the body, and only for a time, while the power of the other gives perpetual vigor to the soul. For, as the body is liable to decay, so the aids by which it is supported must be frail and transitory. That which quickens the soul cannot but be eternal. Again, the words of Christ are not at variance with the fact, that believers, to the very end of life, burn with desire of more abundant grace. For he does not say that, from the very first day, we drink so as to be fully satisfied, but only means that the Holy Spirit is a continually flowing fountain; and that, therefore, there is no danger that they who have been renewed by spiritual grace shall be dried up. And, therefore, although we thirst throughout our whole life, yet it is certain that we have not received the Holy Spirit for a single day, or for any short period, but as a perennial fountain, which will never fail us. Thus believers thirst, and keenly thirst, throughout their whole life; and yet they have abundance of quickening moisture; for however small may have been the measure of grace which they have received, it gives them perpetual vigor, so that they are never entirely dry. When, therefore, he says that they shall be satisfied, he contrasts not with Desire but only with Drought.
Shall be a fountain of water springing up into eternal life. These words express still more clearly the preceding statement; for they denote a continual watering, which maintains in them a heavenly eternity during this mortal and perishing life. The grace of Christ, therefore, does not flow to us for a short time, but overflows into a blessed immortality; for it does not cease to flow until the incorruptible life which it commences be brought to perfection.,
15. Give me this water. This woman undoubtedly is sufficiently aware that Christ is speaking of spiritual water; but because she despises him, she sets at naught all his promises; for so long as the authority of him who speaks is not acknowledged by us, his doctrine is not permitted to enter. Indirectly, therefore, the woman taunted Christ, saying, “Thou boastest much, but I see nothing: show it in reality, if thou canst.”

JOHN 4:16-21
16. Jesus saith to her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17. The woman answered, and said to him, I have not a husband. Jesus said to her, Thou hast well said, I have not a husband; 18. For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband; in this thou hast told the truth. 19. The woman saith to him, Sir, I see that thou art a Prophet. 20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and you say that Jerusalem is the place where we ought to worship. 21. Jesus saith to her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when you shall not worship the Father either in this mountain or in Jerusalem.

16. Call thy husband. This appears to have no connection with the subject; and, indeed, one might suppose that Christ, annoyed and put to shame by the impudence of the woman, changes the discourse. But this is not the case; for when he perceived that jeers and scoffs were her only reply to what he had said, he applied an appropriate remedy to this disease, by striking the woman’s conscience with a conviction of her sin. And it is also a remarkable proof of his compassion that, when the woman was unwilling of her own accord to come to him, he draws her, as it were, against her will. But we ought chiefly to observe what I have mentioned, that they who are utterly careless and almost stupid must be deeply wounded by a conviction of sin; for such persons will regard the doctrine of Christ as a fable, until, being summoned to the judgment-seat of God, they are compelled to dread as a Judge him whom they formerly despised. All who do not scruple to rise against the doctrine of Christ with their scoffing jests must be treated in this manner, that they may be made to feel that they will not pass unpunished. Such too is the obstinacy of many, that they will never listen to Christ until they have been subdued by violence. Whenever then we perceive that the oil of Christ has no flavour, it ought to be mixed with wine, that its taste may begin to be felt. Nay more, this is necessary for all of us; for we are not seriously affected by Christ speaking, unless we have been aroused by repentance. So then, in order that any one may profit in the school of Christ, his hardness must be subdued by the demonstration of his misery, as the earth, in order that it may become fruitful, is prepared and softened by the ploughshare, f74 for this knowledge alone shakes off all our flatteries, so that we no longer dare to mock God. Whenever, therefore, a neglect of the word of God steals upon us, no remedy will be more appropriate than that each of us should arouse himself to the consideration of his sins, that he may be ashamed of himself, and, trembling before the judgment-seat of God, may be humbled to obey Him whom he had wantonly despised.
17. I have not a husband. We do not yet fully perceive the fruit of this advice, by which Christ intended to pierce the heart of this woman, to lead her to repentance. And, indeed, we are so intoxicated, or rather stupified, by our self-love, that we are not at all moved by the first wounds that are inflicted. But Christ applies an appropriate cure for this sluggishness, by pressing the ulcer more sharply, for he openly reproaches her with her wickedness; though I do not think that it is a single case of fornication that is here pointed out, for when he says that she has had five husbands, the reason of this probably was, that, being a froward and disobedient wife, she constrained her husbands to divorce her. I interpret the words thus: “Though God joined thee to lawful husbands, thou didst not cease to sin, until, rendered infamous by numerous divorces, thou prostitutedst thyself to fornication.”
19. Sir, I perceive that thou art a Prophet. The fruit of the reproof now becomes evident; for not only does the woman modestly acknowledge her fault, but, being ready and prepared to listen to the doctrine of Christ, which she had formerly disdained, she now desires and requests it of her own accord. Repentance, therefore, is the commencement of true docility, as I have already said, and opens the gate for entering into the school of Christ. Again, the woman teaches us by her example, that when we meet with any teacher, we ought to avail ourselves of this opportunity, that we may not be ungrateful to God, who never sends Prophets to us without, as it were, stretching out the hand to invite us to himself. But we must remember what Paul teaches, that they who have grace given to them to teach well f75 are sent to us by God; for
how shall they preach unless they are sent? (<451015>Romans 10:15.)
20. Our fathers. It is a mistaken opinion which some hold, that the woman, finding the reproof to be disagreeable and hateful, cunningly changes the subject. On the contrary, she passes from what is particular to what is general, and, having been informed of her sin, wishes to be generally instructed concerning the pure worship of God. She takes a proper and regular course, when she consults a Prophet, that she may not fall into a mistake in the worship of God. It is as if she inquired at God himself in what manner he chooses to be worshipped; for nothing is more wicked than to contrive various modes of worship without the authority of the word of God.
It is well known that there was a constant dispute between the Jews and the Samaritans about the true rule of worshipping God. Although the Cutheans and other foreigners, who had been brought into Samaria, when the ten tribes were led into captivity, were constrained by the plagues and punishments of God f76 to adopt the ceremonies of the Law, and to profess the worship of the God of Israel, (as we read, <121727>2 Kings 17:27;) yet the religion which they had was imperfect and corrupted in many ways; which the Jews could not all endure. But the dispute was still more inflamed after that Manasseh, son of the high priest John, and brother of Jaddus, had built the temple on mount Gerizzim, when Darius, the last king of the Persians, held the government of Judea by the hand of Sanballat, whom he had placed there as his lieutenant. For Manasseh, having married a daughter of the governor, that he might not be inferior to his brother, made himself a priest there, and procured for himself by bribes as many apostles as he could, as Josephus relates, (Ant. 11:7:2, and 8:2.)
Our fathers worshipped in this mountain. The Samaritans at that time did, as we learn from the words of the woman, what is customary with those who have revolted from true godliness, to seek to shield themselves by the examples of the Fathers. It is certain that this was not the reason which induced them to offer sacrifices there, but after that they had framed a false and perverse worship, obstinacy followed, which was ingenious in contriving excuses. I acknowledge, indeed, that unsteady and thoughtless men are sometimes excited by foolish zeal, as if they had been bitten by a gad-fly, so that when they learn that any thing has been done by the Saints, they instantly seize on the example without any exercise of judgment.
A second fault is still more common, that they borrow the deeds of the Fathers as a cloak to their errors, — and this may be easily seen in Popery. But as this passage is a remarkable proof how absurdly they act who, disregarding the command of God, conform to the examples of the Fathers, we ought to observe in how many ways the world commonly sins in this respect. For it frequently happens that the majority, without discrimination, follow those persons as Fathers who are least of all entitled to be accounted Fathers. Thus in the present day we perceive that the Papists, while with open mouth they declaim about the Fathers, allow no place for Prophets and Apostles, but, when they have mentioned a few persons who deserve to be honored, collect a vast group of men like themselves, or at least come down to more corrupt ages in which, though there did not yet prevail so gross a barbarism as now exists, yet religion and the purity of doctrine had greatly declined. We ought, therefore, carefully to attend to the distinction, that none may be reckoned Fathers but those who were manifestly the sons of God; and who also, by the eminence of their piety, were entitled to this honorable rank. Frequently, too, we err in this respect, that by the actions of the Fathers we rashly lay down a common law; for the multitude do not imagine that they confer sufficient honor on the Fathers, if they do not exclude them from the ordinary rank of men. Thus, when we do not remember that they were fallible men, we indiscriminately mingle their vices with their virtues. Hence arises the worst confusion in the conduct of life; for while all the actions of men ought to be tried by the rule of the Law, we subject the balance to those things which ought to be weighed by it; and, in short, where so much importance is attached to the imitation of the Fathers, the world thinks that there can be no danger in sinning after their example.
A third fault is — a false, and ill-regulated, or thoughtless imitation; f77 that is, when we, though not endued with the same spirit, or authorized by the same command, plead as our example what any of the Fathers did; as for instance, if any private individual resolved to revenge the injuries done to brethren, because Moses did this, (<020212>Exodus 2:12;) or if any one were to put fornicators to death, because this was done by Phinehas, (<042507>Numbers 25:7.) That savage fury in slaying their own children originated, as many think, in the wish of the Jews to be like their father Abraham, as if the command, Offer up thy son Isaac, (<012202>Genesis 22:2,) were a general command, and not rather a remarkable trial of a single man. Such a false imitation (kakozhli>a) is generally produced by pride and excessive confidence, when men claim more for themselves than they have a right to do; and when each person does not measure himself by his own standard. Yet none of these are true imitators of the Fathers, most of them are apes. That a considerable portion of ancient monachism flowed from the same source will be acknowledged by those who shall carefully examine the writings of the ancients. And, therefore, unless we choose to err of our own accord, we ought always to see what spirit each person has received, what his calling requires, what is suitable to his condition, and what he is commanded to do.
Closely allied to this third fault is another, namely, the confounding of times, when men, devoting their whole attention to the examples of the Fathers, do not consider that the Lord has since enjoined a different rule of conduct, which they ought to follow. f78 To this ignorance ought to be ascribed that huge mass of ceremonies by which the Church has been buried under Popery. Immediately after the commencement of the Christian Church, it began to err in this respect, because a foolish affectation of copying Jewish ceremonies had an undue influence. The Jews had their sacrifices; and that Christians might not be inferior to them in splendor, the ceremony of sacrificing Christ was invented: as if the condition of the Christian Church would be worse when there would be an end of all those shadows by which the brightness of Christ might be obscured. But afterwards this fury broke out more forcibly, and spread beyond all bounds.
That we may not fall into this error, we ought always to be attentive to the present rule. Formerly incense, candles, holy garments, an altar, vessels, and ceremonies of this nature, pleased God; and the reason was, that nothing is more precious or acceptable to Him than obedience. Now, since the coming of Christ, matters are entirely changed. We ought, therefore, to consider what he enjoins on us under the Gospel, that we may not follow at random what the Fathers observed under the Law; for what was at that time a holy observation of the worship of God would now be a shocking sacrilege.
The Samaritans were led astray by not considering, in the example of Jacob, how widely it differed from the condition of their own time. The Patriarchs were permitted to erect altars everywhere, because the place had not yet been fixed which the Lord afterwards selected; but from the time that God ordered the temple to be built on mount Zion, the freedom which they formerly enjoyed ceased. For this reason Moses said,
Hereafter you shall not do every one what appears right in his own eyes, but only what I command you,
(<051208>Deuteronomy 12:8, 14;)
for, from the time that the Lord gave the Law, he restricted the true worship of himself to the requirements of that Law, though formerly a greater degree of liberty was enjoyed. A similar pretense was offered by those who worshipped in Bethel; for there Jacob had offered a solemn sacrifice to God, but after that the Lord had fixed the place of sacrifice at Jerusalem, it was no longer Bethel, the house of God, but Bethaven, the house of wickedness.
We now see what was the state of the question. The Samaritans had the example of the Fathers for their rule: the Jews rested on the commandment of God. This woman, though hitherto she had followed the custom of her nation, was not altogether satisfied with it. By worship we are to understand here not any kind of worship, (for daily prayers might be offered in any place,) but that which was joined with sacrifices, and which constituted a public and solemn profession of religion.
21. Woman, believe me. In the first part of this reply, he briefly sets aside the ceremonial worship which had been appointed under the Law; for when he says that the hour is at hand when there shall be no peculiar and fixed place for worship, he means that what Moses delivered was only for a time, and that the time was now approaching when the partition-wall (<490214>Ephesians 2:14) should be thrown down. In this manner he extends the worship of God far beyond its former narrow limits, that the Samaritans might become partakers of it.
The hour cometh. He uses the present tense instead of the future; but the meaning is, that the repeal of the Law is already at hand, so far as relates to the Temple, and Priesthood, and other outward ceremonies. By calling God Father, he seems indirectly to contrast Him with the Fathers whom the woman had mentioned, and to convey this instruction, that God will be a common Father to all, so that he will be generally worshipped without distinction of places or nations.

JOHN 4:22-26
22. You worship what you know not, we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. 24. God is a Spirit, and they who worship him ought to worship in spirit and in truth. 25. The woman saith to him, I know that the Messiah will come, who is called Christ; therefore, when he shall come, he will tell you all things. 26. Jesus saith to her, It is I who talk with thee.

He now explains more largely what he had briefly glanced at about the abolition of the Law; but he divides the substance of his discourse into two parts. In the former, he charges with superstition and error the form of worshipping God which had been used by the Samaritans, but testifies that the true and lawful form was observed by the Jews. And he assigns the cause of the difference, that from the word of God the Jews obtained certainty as to his worship, while the Samaritans received nothing certain from the mouth of God. In the second part, he declares that the ceremonies hitherto observed by the Jews would soon be at an end.
22. You worship what you know not, we worship what we know. This is a sentence worthy of being remembered, and teaches us that we ought not to attempt any thing in religion rashly or at random; because, unless there be knowledge, it is not God that we worship, but a phantom or idol. All good intentions, as they are called, are struck by this sentence, as by a thunderbolt; for we learn from it, that men can do nothing but err, when they are guided by their own opinion without the word or command of God. For Christ, defending the person and cause of his nation, shows that the Jews are widely different from the Samaritans. And why?
Because salvation is from the Jews. By these words he means that they have the superiority in this respect, that God had made with them a covenant of eternal salvation. Some restrict it to Christ, who was descended from the Jews; and, indeed, since
all the promises of God were confirmed and ratified in him,
(<470120>2 Corinthians 1:20,)
there is no salvation but in him. But as there can be no doubt that Christ gives the preference to the Jews on this ground, that they do not worship some unknown deity, but God alone, who revealed himself to them, and by whom they were adopted as his people; by the word salvation we ought to understand that saving manifestation which had been made to them concerning the heavenly doctrine.
But why does he say that it was from the Jews, when it was rather deposited with them, that they alone might enjoy it? He alludes, in my opinion, to what had been predicted by the Prophets, that the Law would go forth from Zion, (<230203>Isaiah 2:3; <330402>Micah 4:2,) for they were separated for a time from the rest of the nations on the express condition, that the pure knowledge of God should flow out from them to the whole world. It amounts to this, that God is not properly worshipped but by the certainty of faith, which cannot be produced in any other way than by the word of God. Hence it follows that all who forsake the word fall into idolatry; for Christ plainly testifies that an idol, or an imagination of their own brain, is substituted for God, when men are ignorant of the true God; and he charges with ignorance all to whom God has not revealed himself, for as soon as we are deprived of the light of his word, darkness and blindness reign.
It ought to be observed that the Jews, when they had treacherously set aside the covenant of eternal life which God had made with their fathers, were deprived of the treasure which they had till that time enjoyed; for they had not yet been driven out of the Church of God. Now that they deny the Son, they have nothing in common with the Father;
for whosoever denieth the Son hath not the Father,
(<620223>1 John 2:23.)
The same judgment must be formed concerning all who have turned aside from the pure faith of the Gospel to their own inventions and the traditions of men. Although they who worship God according to their own judgment or human traditions flatter and applaud themselves in their obstinacy, this single word, thundering from heaven, lays prostrate all that they imagine to be divine and holy, You worship what you do not know. It follows from this that, if we wish our religion to be approved by God, it must rest on knowledge obtained from His word.
23. But the hour cometh. Now follows the latter clause, about repealing the worship, or ceremonies, f79 prescribed by the Law. When he says that the hour cometh, or will come, he shows that the order laid down by Moses will not be perpetual. When he says that the hour is now come, he puts an end to the ceremonies, and declares that the time of reformation, of which the Apostle speaks, (<580910>Hebrews 9:10,) has thus been fulfilled. Yet he approves of the Temple, the Priesthood, and all the ceremonies connected with them, so far as relates to the past time. Again, to show that God does not choose to be worshipped either in Jerusalem or in mount Gerizzim, he takes a higher principle, that the true worship of Him consists in the spirit; for hence it follows that in all places He may be properly worshipped.
But the first inquiry which presents itself here is, Why, and in what sense, is the worship of God called spiritual? To understand this, we must attend to the contrast between the spirit and outward emblems, as between the shadows and the truth. The worship of God is said to consist in the spirit, because it is nothing else than that inward faith of the heart which produces prayer, and, next, purity of conscience and self-denial, that we may be dedicated to obedience to God as holy sacrifices.
Hence arises another question, Did not the Fathers worship Him spiritually under the Law? I reply, as God is always like himself, he did not from the beginning of the world approve of any other worship than that which is spiritual, and which agrees with his own nature. This is abundantly attested by Moses himself, who declares in many passages that the Law has no other object than that the people may cleave to God with faith and a pure conscience. But it is still more plainly declared by the Prophets when they attack with severity the hypocrisy of the people, because they thought that they had satisfied God, when they had performed the sacrifices and made an outward display. It is unnecessary to quote here many proofs which are to be found everywhere, but the most remarkable passages are the following: —Psalm 50; Isaiah 1, 58, 66; Micah 5; Amos 7. But while the worship of God under the Law was spiritual, it was enveloped in so many outward ceremonies, that it resembled something carnal and earthly. For this reason Paul calls the ceremonies flesh and the beggarly elements of the world, (<480409>Galatians 4:9.) In like manner, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews says that the ancient sanctuary, with its appendages, was earthly, (<580901>Hebrews 9:1.) Thus we may justly say that the worship of the Law was spiritual in its substance, but, in respect of its form, it was somewhat earthly and carnal; for the whole of that economy, the reality of which is now fully manifested, consisted of shadows.
We now see what the Jews had in common with us, and in what respect they differed from us. In all ages God wished to be worshipped by faith, prayer, thanksgiving, purity of heart, and innocence of life; and at no time did he delight in any other sacrifices. But under the Law there were various additions, so that the spirit and truth were concealed under forms and shadows, whereas, now that the vail of the temple has been rent, (<402751>Matthew 27:51,) nothing is hidden or obscure. There are indeed among ourselves, in the present day, some outward exercises of godliness, which our weakness renders necessary, but such is the moderation and sobriety of them, that they do not obscure the plain truth of Christ. In short, what was exhibited to the fathers under figures and shadows is now openly displayed.
Now in Popery this distinction is not only confounded, but altogether overturned; for there the shadows are not less thick than they formerly were under the Jewish religion. It cannot be denied that Christ here lays down an obvious distinction between us and the Jews. Whatever may be the subterfuges by which the Papists attempt to escape, it is evident that we differ from the gathers in nothing more than outward form, because while they worshipped God spiritually, they were bound to perform ceremonies, which were abolished by the coming of Christ. Thus all who oppress the Church with an excessive multitude of ceremonies, do what is in their power to deprive the Church of the presence of Christ. I do not stop to examine the vain excuses which they plead, that many persons in the present day have as much need of those aids as the Jews had in ancient times. It is always our duty to inquire by what order the Lord wished his Church to be governed, for He alone knows thoroughly what is expedient for us. Now it is certain that nothing is more at variance with the order appointed by God than the gross and singularly carnal pomp which prevails in Popery. The spirit was indeed concealed by the shadows of the Law, but the masks of Popery disfigure it altogether; and, therefore, we must not wink at such gross and shameful corruptions. Whatever arguments may be employed by ingenious men, or by those who have not sufficient courage to correct vices — that they are doubtful matters, and ought to be held as indifferent — certainly it cannot be endured that the rule laid down by Christ shall be violated.
The true worshippers. Christ appears indirectly to reprove the obstinacy of many, which was afterwards displayed; for we know how obstinate and contentious the Jews were, when the Gospel was revealed, in defending the ceremonies to which they had been accustomed. But this statement has a still more extensive meaning; for, knowing that the world would never be entirely free from superstitions, he thus separates the devout and upright worshippers from those who were false and hypocritical. Armed with this testimony, let us not hesitate to condemn the Papists in all their inventions, and boldly to despise their reproaches. For what reason have we to fear, when we learn that God is pleased with this plain and simple worship, which is disdained by the Papists, because it is not attended by a cumbrous mass of ceremonies? And of what use to them is the idle splendor of the flesh, by which Christ declares that the Spirit is quenched? What it is to worship God in spirit and truth appears clearly from what has been already said. It is to lay aside the entanglements of ancient ceremonies, and to retain merely what is spiritual in the worship of God; for the truth of the worship of God consists in the spirit, and ceremonies are but a sort of appendage. And here again it must be observed, that truth is not compared with falsehood, but with the outward addition of the figures of the Law; f80 so that — to use a common expression — it is the pure and simple substance of spiritual worship.
24. God is a Spirit. This is a confirmation drawn from the very nature of God. Since men are flesh, we ought not to wonder, if they take delight in those things which correspond to their own disposition. Hence it arises, that they contrive many things in the worship of God which are full of display, but have no solidity. But they ought first of all to consider that they have to do with God, who can no more agree with the flesh than fire with water. This single consideration, when the inquiry relates to the worship of God, ought to be sufficient for restraining the wantonness of our mind, that God is so far from being like us, that those things which please us most are the objects of his loathing and abhorrence. And if hypocrites are so blinded by their own pride, that they are not afraid to subject God to their opinion, or rather to their unlawful desires, let us know that this modesty does not hold the lowest place in the true worship of God, to regard with suspicion whatever is gratifying according to the flesh. Besides, as we cannot ascend to the height of God, let us remember that we ought to seek from His word the rule by which we are governed. This passage is frequently quoted by the Fathers against the Arians, to prove the Divinity of the Holy Spirit, but it is improper to strain it for such a purpose; for Christ simply declares here that his Father is of a spiritual nature, and, therefore, is not moved by frivolous matters, as men, through the lightness and unsteadiness of their character, are wont to be.
25. The Messiah is about to come. Although religion among the Samaritans was corrupted and mixed up with many errors, yet some principles taken from the Law were impressed on their minds, such as that which related to the Messiah. Now it is probable that, when the woman ascertained from Christ’s discourse that a very extraordinary change was about to take place in the Church of God, her mind instantly recurred to the recollection of Christ, under whom she hoped that all things would be fully restored. When she says that the Messiah is about to come, she seems to speak of the time as near at hand; and, indeed, it is sufficiently evident from many arguments, that the minds of men were everywhere aroused by the expectation of the Messiah, who would restore the affairs which were wretchedly decayed, or rather, which were utterly ruined.
This, at least, is beyond all controversy, that the woman prefers Christ to Moses and to all the Prophets in the office of teaching; for she comprehends three things in a few words. First, that the doctrine of the Law was not absolutely perfect, and that nothing more than first principles was delivered in it; for if there had not been some farther progress to be made, she would not have said that the Messiah will tell us all things. There is an implied contrast between him and the Prophets, that it is his peculiar office to conduct his disciples to the goal, while the Prophets had only given them the earliest instructions, and, as it were, led them into the course. Secondly, the woman declares that she expects such a Christ as will be the interpreter of his Father, and the teacher and instructor of all the godly. Lastly, she expresses her belief that we ought not to desire any thing better or more perfect than his doctrine, but that, on the contrary, this is the farthest object of wisdom, beyond which it is unlawful to proceed.
I wish that those who now boast of being the pillars of the Christian Church, would at least imitate this poor woman, so as to be satisfied with the simple doctrine of Christ, rather than claim I know not what power of superintendence for putting forth their inventions. For whence was the religion of the Pope and Mahomet collected but from the wicked additions, by which they imagined that they brought the doctrine of the Gospel to a state of perfection? As if it would have been incomplete without such fooleries. But whoever shall be well taught in the school of Christ will ask no other instructors, and indeed will not receive them.
26. It is I who talk with thee. When he acknowledges to the woman that; he is the Messiah, he unquestionably presents himself as her Teacher, in compliance with the expectation which she had formed; and, therefore, I think it probable, that he proceeded to give more full instruction, in order to satisfy her thirst. Such a proof of his grace he intended to give in the case of this poor woman, that he might testify to all that he never fails to discharge his office, when we desire to have him for our Teacher. There is, therefore, no danger that he will disappoint one of those whom he finds ready to become his disciples. But they who refuse to submit to him, as we see done by many haughty and irreligious men, or who hope to find elsewhere a wisdom more perfect — as the Mahometans and Papists do — deserve to be driven about by innumerable enchantments, and at length to be plunged in an abyss of errors. Again, by these words, “I who talk with thee am the Messiah, the Son of God,” he employs the name Messiah as a seal to ratify the doctrine of his Gospel; for we must remember that he was anointed by the Father, and that the Spirit of God rested on him, that he might bring to us the message of salvation, as Isaiah declares, (<236101>Isaiah 61:1.)

JOHN 4:27-34
27. And, in the meantime, his disciples came, and wondered that he talked with the woman. But no man said, What seekest thou, or why talkest thou with her? 28. The woman, therefore, left her pitcher, and went away into the city, and said to the men, 29. Come, and see a man who hath told me all things that I ever did: is not this the Christ? 30. They went out of the city, therefore, and came to him. 31. In the meantime his disciples asked him, saying, Master, eat. 32. But he said to them, I have food to eat which you know not. 33. The disciples, therefore, said among themselves, Hath any man brought him any thing to eat? 34. Jesus saith to them, My food is, to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work.

27. His disciples came, and wondered. That the disciples wondered, as the Evangelist relates, might arise from one of two causes; either that they were offended at the mean condition of the woman, or that they reckoned the Jews to be polluted, if they entered into conversation with the Samaritans. Now though both of these feelings proceeded from a devout reverence for their Master, yet they are wrong in wondering at it as an improper thing, that he deigns to bestow so great honor on a woman who was utterly despised. For why do they not rather look at themselves? They would certainly have found no less reason to be astonished, that they who were men of no note, and almost the offscourings of the people, were raised to the highest rank of honor. And yet it is useful to observe what the Evangelist says — that they did not venture to put a question; for we are taught by their example that, if any thing in the works or words of God and of Christ be disagreeable to our feelings, we ought not to give ourselves a loose rein so as to have the boldness to murmur, but ought to preserve a modest silence, until what is hidden from us be revealed from heaven. The foundation of such modesty lies in the fear of God and in reverence for Christ.
28. Therefore the woman left her pitcher. This circumstance is related by the Evangelist to express the ardor of her zeal; for it is an indication of haste, that she leaves her pitcher, and returns to the city. And this is the nature of faith, that when we have become partakers of eternal life, we wish to bring others to share with us; nor is it possible that the knowledge of God shall lie buried and inactive in our hearts without being manifested before men, for that saying must be true:
I believed, and therefore I will speak, (<19B610>Psalm 116:10.)
The earnestness and promptitude of the woman are so much the more worthy of attention, that it was only a small spark of faith that kindled them; for scarcely had she tasted Christ when she spreads his game throughout the whole city. In those who have already made moderate progress in his school, sluggishness will be highly disgraceful. But she may appear to deserve blame on this account, that while she is still ignorant and imperfectly taught, she goes beyond the limits of her faith. I reply, she would have acted inconsiderately, if she had assumed the office of a teacher, but when she desires nothing more than to excite her fellow-citizens to hear Christ speaking, we will not say that she forgot herself, or proceeded farther than she had a right to do. She merely does the office of a trumpet or a bell to invite others to come to Christ.
29. See a man. As she here speaks doubtfully, she might appear not to have been greatly moved by the authority of Christ. I reply, as she was not qualified to discourse about such high mysteries, she endeavors, according to her feeble capacity, to bring her fellow-citizens to permit themselves to be taught by Christ. It was a very powerful stimulant which she employed to excite them, when she knew, by a sign which was not obscure or doubtful, that he was a prophet; for, since they could not form a judgment from his doctrine, this lower preparation was useful and well adapted to them. Having, therefore, learned that Christ had revealed to the woman things which were hidden, they infer from it that he is a Prophet of God. This having been ascertained, they begin to attend to his doctrine. But the woman goes farther; for she bids them inquire if he be not the Messiah, being satisfied if she could only persuade them to seek, of their own accord, what she had already found in Christ; for she knew that they would find more than she promised.
Who told me all things that ever I did. Why does she tell a lie, by saying that Christ told her all things? I have already shown that Christ did not reprove her for a single instance of fornication, but that he placed before her, in a few words, many sins of her whole life. For the Evangelist has not minutely recorded every sentence, but states generally that Christ, in order to repress the woman’s talkativeness, brought forward her former and present life. Yet we see that the woman, kindled by a holy zeal, does not spare herself, or her reputation, to magnify the name of Christ: for she does not scruple to relate the disgraceful passages of her life.
32. I have food to eat which you know not. It is wonderful that, when he is fatigued and hungry, he refuses to eat; for if it be said that he does this for the purpose of instructing us, by his example, to endure hunger, why then did he not do so always? But he had another object than to say that we ought simply to refuse food; for we must attend to this circumstance, that his anxiety about the present business urges him so strongly, and absorbs his whole mind, so that it gives him no uneasiness to despise food. And yet he does not say that he is so eager to obey the commands of his Father, that he neither eats nor drinks. He only points out what he must do first, and what must be done afterwards; and thus he shows, by his example, that the kingdom of God ought to be preferred to all the comforts of the body. God allows us, indeed, to eat and drink, provided that we are not withdrawn from what is of the highest importance; that is, that every man attend to his own calling.
It will perhaps be said, that eating and drinking cannot but be avocations which withdraw some portion of our time that might be better employed. This I acknowledge to be true, but as the Lord kindly permits us to take care of our body, so far as necessity requires, he who endeavors to nourish his body with sobriety and moderation does not fail to give that preference which he ought to give to obedience to God. But we must also take care not to adhere so firmly to our fixed hours, as not to be prepared to deprive ourselves of food, when God holds out to us any opportunity, and, as it were, fixes the present hour. Christ, having now in his hands such an opportunity which might pass away, embraces it with open arms, and holds it fast. When the present duty enjoined on him by the Father presses him so hard that he finds it necessary to lay aside every thing else, he does not scruple to delay taking food; and, indeed, it would have been unreasonable that, when the woman left her pitcher and ran to call the people, Christ should display less zeal. In short, if we propose it as our object not to lose the causes of life on account of life itself, it; will not be difficult to preserve the proper medium; for he who shall place it before him as the end of life to serve the Lord, from which we are not at liberty to turn aside even for the immediate danger of death, will certainly reckon it to be of more value than eating and drinking. The metaphor of eating and drinking is so much the more graceful on this occasion, that it was drawn seasonably from the present discourse.
34. My food is to do the will of him who sent me. He means not only that he esteems it very highly, but that there is nothing in which he takes greater delight, or in which he is more cheerfully or more eagerly employed; as David, in order to magnify the Law of God, says not only that he values it highly, but that it is sweeter than honey, (<191910>Psalm 19:10.) If, therefore, we would follow Christ, it is proper not only that we devote ourselves diligently to the service of God, but that we be so cheerful in complying with its injunctions that the labor shall not be at all oppressive or disagreeable.
That I may finish his work. By adding these words, Christ fully explains what is that will of the Father to which he is devoted; namely, to fulfill the commission which had been given to him. Thus every man ought to consider his own calling, that he may not consider as done to God what he has rashly undertaken at his own suggestion. What was the office of Christ is well known. It was to advance the kingdom of God, to restore to life lost souls, to spread the light of the Gospel, and, in short, to bring salvation to the world. The excellence of these things caused him, when fatigued and hungry, to forget meat and drink. Yet we derive from this no ordinary consolation, when we learn that Christ was so anxious about the salvation of men, that it gave him the highest delight to procure it; for we cannot doubt that he is now actuated by similar feelings towards us.

JOHN 4:35-38
35. Do you not say, There are yet four months, and harvest will come? Lo, I say to you, Lift up your eyes, and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest. 36. And he who reapeth receiveth reward, and gathereth fruit into life eternal; that both he that soweth, and he that reapeth, may rejoice together. 37. For in this is the saying true, That there is one who soweth, and another who reapeth. 38. I sent you to reap that on which you did not labor; other men labored, and you have entered into their labors.

35. Do you not say? He follows out the preceding statement; for, having said that nothing was more dear to him than to finish the work of the Father, he now shows how ripe it is for execution; and he does so by a comparison with the harvest. When the corn is ripe, the harvest cannot bear delay, for otherwise the grain would fall to the ground and be lost; and, in like manner, the spiritual corn being now ripe, he declares that there must be no delay, because delay is injurious. We see for what purpose the comparison is employed; it is to explain the reason why he hastens to perform his work. f81 By this expression, Do you not say? he intended indirectly to point out how much more attentive the minds of men are to earthly than to heavenly things; for they burn with so intense a desire of harvest that they carefully reckon up months and days, but it is astonishing how drowsy and indolent they are in gathering the heavenly wheat. And daily experience proves that this wickedness not only is natural to us, but can scarcely be torn from our hearts; for while all provide for the earthly life to a distant period, how indolent are we in thinking about heavenly things? Thus Christ says on another occasion, Hypocrites, you discern by the face of the sky what sort of day to-morrow will be, but you do not acknowledge the time of my visitation, (<401603>Matthew 16:3.)
36. And he who reapeth receiveth reward. How diligently we ought to devote ourselves to the work of God, he proves by another argument; namely, because a large and most excellent reward is reserved for our labor; for he promises that there will be fruit, and fruit not corruptible or fading. What he adds about fruit may be explained in two ways; either it is an announcement of the reward, and on that supposition he would say the same thing twice in different words; or, he applauds the labors of those who enrich the kingdom of God, as we shall afterwards find him repeating,
I have chosen you, that you may go and bear fruit, and that your fruit may remain, (<431516>John 15:16.)
And certainly both considerations ought greatly to encourage the ministers of the word, that they may never sink under the toil, when they hear that a crown of glory is prepared for them in heaven, and know that the fruit of their harvest will not only be precious in the sight of God, but will also be eternal. It is for this purpose that Scripture everywhere mentions reward, and not for the purpose of leading us to judge from it as to the merits of works; for which of us, if we come to a reckoning, will not be found more worthy of being punished for slothfulness than of being rewarded for diligence? To the best laborers nothing else will be left than to approach to God in all humility to implore forgiveness. But the Lord, who acts towards us with the kindness of a father, in order to correct our sloth, and to encourage us who would otherwise be dismayed, deigns to bestow upon us an undeserved reward.
This is so far from overturning justification by faith that it rather confirms it. For, in the first place, how comes it that God finds in us any thing to reward, but because He has bestowed it upon us by his Spirit? Now we know that the Spirit is the earnest and pledge of adoption, (<490114>Ephesians 1:14.) Secondly, how comes it that God confers so great honor on imperfect and sinful works but because, after having by free grace reconciled us to himself, He accepts our works without any regard to merit, by not imputing the sins which cleave to them? The amount of this passage is, that the labor which the Apostles bestow on teaching ought not to be reckoned by them hard and unpleasant, since they know that it is so useful and so advantageous to Christ and to the Church.
That he who soweth, and he who reapeth, may rejoice together. By these words Christ shows that the fruit which the Apostles will derive from the labors of others cannot give just ground of complaint to any person. And this additional statement deserves notice; for if in the world the groans of those who complain that the fruit of their labor has been conveyed to another do not hinder the new possessor from cheerfully reaping what another has sown, how much more cheerful ought the reapers to be, when there is mutual consent and mutual joy and congratulation?
But, in order that this passage may be properly understood, we must comprehend the contrast between sowing and reaping. The sowing was the doctrine of the Law and the Prophets; for at that time the seed thrown into the soil remained, as it were, in the blade; but the doctrine of the Gospel, which brings men to proper maturity, is on that account justly compared to the harvest. For the Law was very far from that perfection which has at length been exhibited to us in Christ. To the same purpose is the well-known comparison between infancy and manhood which Paul employs, when he says, that
the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth not from a servant, though he be lord of all, but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father, (<480401>Galatians 4:1, 2.)
In short, since the coming of Christ brought along with it present salvation, we need not wonder if the Gospel, by which the door of the heavenly kingdom is opened, be called the harvest of the doctrine of the Prophets. And yet it is not at all inconsistent with this statement, that the Fathers under the Law were gathered into God’s barn; but this comparison must be referred to the manner of teaching; for, as the infancy of the Church lasted to the end of the Law, but, as soon as the Gospel had been preached, it immediately arrived at manhood, so at that time the salvation began to ripen, of which the sowing only had been accomplished by the Prophets.
But, as Christ delivered this discourse in Samaria, he appears to extend the sowing more widely than to the Law and the Prophets; and there are some who interpret these words as applying equally to the Jews and to the Gentiles. I acknowledge, indeed, that some grains of piety were always scattered throughout the whole world, and there can be no doubt that — if we may be allowed the expression — God sowed, by the hand of philosophers and profane writers, the excellent sentiments which are to be found in their writings. But, as that seed was degenerated from the very root, and as the corn which could spring from it, though not good or natural, was choked by a huge mass of errors, it is unreasonable to suppose that such destructive corruption is compared to sowing. Besides, what is here said about uniting in joy cannot at all apply to philosophers or any persons of that class.
Still, the difficulty is not yet solved, for Christ makes special reference to the Samaritans. I reply, though everything among them was infected by corruptions, there still was some hidden seed of piety. For whence does it arise that, as soon as they hear a word about Christ, they are so eager to seek him, but because they had learned, from the Law and the Prophets, that the Redeemer would come? Judea was indeed the Lord’s peculiar field, which he had cultivated by the Prophets, but, as some small portion of seed had been carried into Samaria, it is not without reason that Christ says that there also it reached maturity. If it be objected that the Apostles were chosen to publish the Gospel throughout the whole world, the reply is easy, that Christ spoke in a manner suited to the time, with this exception, that, on account of the expectation of the fruit which already was nearly ripe, he commends in the Samaritans the seed of prophetic doctrine, though mixed and blended with many weeds or corruptions. f82
37. For in this is the saying true. This was a common proverb, by which he showed that many men frequently receive the fruit of the labor of others, though there was this difference, that he who has labored is displeased at seeing the fruit carried away by another, whereas the Apostles have the Prophets for the companions of their joy. And yet it cannot be inferred from this, that the Prophets themselves are witnesses, or are aware, of what is now going on in the Church; for Christ means nothing more than that the Prophets, so long as they lived, taught under the influence of such feelings, that they already rejoiced on account of the fruit which they were not permitted to gather. The comparison which Peter employs (<600112>1 Peter 1:12) is not unlike; except that he addresses his exhortation generally to all believers, but Christ here speaks to the disciples alone, and, in their person, to the ministers of the Gospel. By these words he enjoins them to throw their labors into a common stock, so that there may be no wicked envy among them; that those who are first sent to the work ought to be so attentive to the present cultivation as not to envy a greater blessing to those who are afterwards to follow them; and that they who are sent, as it were, to gather the ripe fruit, ought to be employed with equal cheerfulness in their office; for the comparison which is here made between the teachers of the Law and of the Gospel may likewise be applied to the latter, when viewed in reference to each other.

JOHN 4:39-45
39. And many Samaritans out of that city believed in him on account of the saying of the woman, who testified, I told you all things that ever I did. 40. When the Samaritans, therefore, came to him, they entreated him to remain with them; and he remained two days. 41. And many more believed on account of his word; 42. And said to the woman, We no longer believe on account of thy speech; for we ourselves have heard, and know, that this is actually the Christ, the Savior of the world. 43. And after two days he departed, and went away into Galilee. 44. For Jesus himself testified, f83 that a Prophet hath no honor in his own country. 45. And when he came into Galilee, the Galileans received him, who had seen f84 all that he did in Jerusalem on the feast-day; for they had also come to the feast-day.

39. And many Samaritans out of that city believed. The Evangelist here relates what was the success of the woman’s announcement to her citizens, from which it is evident that the expectation and desire of the promised Messiah had no small vigor among them. Now, the word believe is here used inaccurately, and means that they were induced by the woman’s statement to acknowledge Christ to be a Prophet. It is, in some respects, a commencement of faith, when minds are prepared to receive the doctrine. Such an entrance to faith receives here the honorable appellation of faith, in order to inform us how highly God esteems reverence for his word, when he confers so great honor on the docility of those who have not yet been taught. Now, their faith manifests itself in this respect, that they are seized with a desire to profit, and, for that reason, desire that Christ should remain with them.
41. And many more believed. From what followed it is evident that Christ’s compliance with their wish was highly proper; for we see how much fruit was reaped from the two days which he granted to their request. By this example we are taught that we ought never to refrain from working, when we have it in our power to advance the kingdom of God; and if we are afraid that our readiness in complying may be liable to unfavorable reports, or may often prove to be useless, let us ask from Christ the Spirit of counsel to direct us. The word believe is now used in a different sense; for it means not only that they were prepared for faith, but that they actually had a proper faith.
42. On account of thy speech. Though I have followed Erasmus in rendering this word by oratio, (speech,) because loquela, which the ancient interpreter uses, is a barbarous term; yet I wish to warn my readers that the Greek word lali>a has the same meaning with the Latin word loquentia, that is, talk, or talkativeness; and the Samaritans appear to boast that they have now a stronger foundation than a woman’s tongue, which is, for the most part, light and trivial.
We believe. This expresses more fully the nature of their faith, that it has been drawn from the word of God itself, so that they can boast of having the Son of God as their Teacher; as, indeed, it is on his authority alone that we can safely rely. True, indeed, he is not now visibly present, so as to speak to us mouth to mouth; but, by whomsoever we happen to hear him, our faith cannot rest on any other than on himself. And from no other source proceeds that knowledge which is likewise mentioned; for the speech which comes from the mouth of a mortal man may indeed fill and satisfy the ears, but will never confirm the soul in calm confidence of salvation, so that he who has heard may be entitled to boast that he knows. In faith, therefore, the first thing necessary is, to know that it is Christ who speaks by his ministers; and the next is, to give him the honor which is due; that is, not to doubt that he is true and faithful, so that, relying on so undoubted a guarantee, we may rely safely on his doctrine.
Again, when they affirm that Jesus is the Christ and the Savior of the world, they undoubtedly have learned this from hearing him. Hence we infer that, within two days, the sum of the Gospel was more plainly taught by Christ than he had hitherto taught it in Jerusalem. And Christ testified that the salvation, which he had brought, was common to the whole world, that they might understand more fully that it belonged to them also; for he did not call them on the ground of their being lawful heirs, as the Jews were, f85 but taught that he had come to admit strangers into the family of God, and to bring peace to those who were far off, (<490217>Ephesians 2:17.)
44. For Jesus himself testified. The apparent contradiction which strikes us here at first sight, has given rise to various interpretations. There is an excess of subtlety in the explanation given by Augustine, that Christ was without honor among his own countrymen, because he had done more good among the Samaritans in two days only than he had done, in a long time, among the Galileans; and because, without miracles, he gained more disciples in Samaria than a great number of miracles had gained him in Galilee. Nor am I satisfied with the view of Chrysostom, who understands Christ’s country to be Capernaum, because he dwelt there more frequently than in any other place. I rather agree with Cyril, who says that he left the city of Nazareth, and departed into a different part of Galilee; for the other three Evangelists mention Nazareth, when they relate this testimony of Christ. The meaning might indeed be that, while the time of full manifestation was not yet come, he chose to remain concealed in his native country, as in a more obscure retreat. Some, too, explain it to mean, that he remained two days in Samaria, because there was no reason why he should hasten to go to a place where contempt awaited him. Others think that he went straight to Nazareth, and immediately left it; but, as John relates nothing of this sort, I do not venture to yield to that conjecture. A more correct view of it is, that when he saw himself despised in his native city Nazareth, he rather withdrew to another place. And, therefore, it immediately follows (verse 46) that he came into the town of Cana. What is next added — that the Galileans received him — was a token of reverence, not of contempt.
A Prophet hath no honour in his own country. I have no doubt that this saying was common, and had passed into a proverb; f86 and we know that proverbs are intended to be a graceful expression of what commonly and most frequently (ejpi< to< poli<) happens. In such cases, therefore, it is not necessary that we should rigidly demand uniform accuracy, as if what is stated in a proverb were always true. It is certain that prophets are usually more admired elsewhere than in their own country. Sometimes, too, it may happen, and in reality does happen, that a prophet is not less honored by his countrymen than by strangers; but the proverb states what is common and ordinary, that prophets receive honor more readily in any other place than among their own countrymen.
Now this proverb, and the meaning of it, may have a twofold origin; for it is a universal fault, that those whom we have heard crying in the cradle, and whom we have seen acting foolishly in their boyhood, are despised by us throughout their whole life, as if they had made no progress, since they were boys. To this is added another evil — envy, which prevails more among acquaintances. But I think it probable that the proverb arose from this circumstance, that Prophets were so ill-treated by their own nation; for good and holy men, when they perceived that there was in Judea so great ingratitude towards God, so great contempt of his word, so great obstinacy, might justly utter this complaint, that nowhere are the Prophets of God less honored than in their own country. If the former meaning be preferred, the name Prophet must be understood generally to denote any teacher, as Paul calls Epimenides a prophet of the Cretians, (<560112>Titus 1:12.)
45. The Galileans received him. Whether or not this honor was of long duration we have not the means of determining; for there is nothing to which men are more prone than forgetfulness of the gifts of God. Nor does John relate this with any other design than to inform us that Christ performed miracles in presence of many witnesses, so that the report of them was spread far and wide. Again, this points out one advantage of miracles, that they prepare the way for doctrine; for they cause reverence to be paid to Christ.

JOHN 4:46-54
46. Jesus therefore came again into Cana of Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain courtier, whose son was diseased, in Capernaum. 47. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea into Galilee, he went away to him, and entreated him to go down and cure his son; for he was near death. 48. Jesus therefore said to him, Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe. 49. The courtier himself said to him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 50. Jesus said to him, Go, thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus had spoken to him, and went away. 51. And while he was still going down, his servants met and informed him, saying, Thy son liveth. 52. Then he asked them at what hour he recovered; and they said to him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. 53. The father therefore knew that it was the same hour at which Jesus had said to him, Thy son liveth. And he believed, and all his house. 54. This second miracle did Jesus again, when he had come out of Judea into Galilee.

46. And there was a certain courtier. This is a more correct rendering, though Erasmus thinks differently, who has translated basiliko>v by a Latin word, Regulus, which means a little king. f87 I acknowledge indeed that, at that time, they gave the name of Reguli (or, little kings) to those who are now called Dukes, or Barons, or Earls; but the state of Galilee at that time was such that there could be no person of that rank dwelling in Capernaum. I think that he was some nobleman f88 of the court of Herod; for there is some plausibility in the opinion of those who think that he was sent by Caesar. f89 This is expressly mentioned by the Evangelist, because the rank of this personage made the miracle the more illustrious.
47. When he had heard that Jesus had come. When he applies to Christ for aid, this is some evidence of his faith; but, when he limits Christ’s manner of granting assistance, that shows how ignorant he was. For he views the power of Christ as inseparably connected with his bodily presence, from which it is evident, that he had formed no other view concerning Christ than this, — that he was a Prophet sent by God with such authority and power as to prove, by the performance of miracles, that he was a minister of God. This fault, though it deserved censure, Christ overlooks, but severely upbraids him, and, indeed, all the Jews in general, on another ground, that they were too eager to behold miracles.
But how comes it that Christ is now so harsh, who is wont to receive kindly others who desire miracles? There must have been at that time some particular reason, though unknown to us, why he treated this man with a degree of severity which was not usual with him; and perhaps he looked not so much to the person as to the whole nation. He saw that his doctrine had no great authority, and was not only neglected but altogether despised; and, on the other hand, that all had their eyes fixed on miracles, and that their whole senses were seized with stupidity rather than with admiration. Thus, the wicked contempt of the word of God, which at that time prevailed, constrained him to make this complaint.
True, indeed, some even of the saints sometimes wished to be confirmed by miracles, that they might not entertain any doubt as to the truth of the promises; and we see how God, by kindly granting their requests, showed that he was not offended at them. But Christ describes here far greater wickedness; for the Jews depended so much on miracles, that they left no room for the word. And first, it was exceedingly wicked that they were so stupid and carnal as to have no reverence for doctrine, unless they had been aroused by miracles; for they must have been well acquainted with the word of God, in which they had been educated from their infancy. Secondly, when miracles were performed, they were so far from profiting aright, that they remained in a state of stupidity and amazement. Thus they had no religion, no knowledge of God, no practice of godliness, except what consisted in miracles.
To the same purpose is that reproach which Paul brings against them, the Jews demand signs, (<460122>1 Corinthians 1:22.) For he means that they were unreasonably and immoderately attached to signs, and cared little about the grace of Christ, or the promises of eternal life, or the secret power of the Spirit, but, on the contrary, rejected the Gospel with haughty disdain, because they had no relish for any thing but miracles. I wish there were not many persons in the present day affected by the same disease; but nothing is more common than this saying, “Let them first perform miracles, f90 and then we will lend an ear to their doctrine;” as if we ought to despise and disdain the truth of Christ, unless it derive support from some other quarter. But though God were to overwhelm them by a huge mass of miracles, still they speak falsely when they say that they would believe. Some outward astonishment would be produced, but they would not be a whit more attentive to doctrine.
49. Sir, come down, ere my child die. Since he perseveres in asking, and at length obtains what he wished, we may conclude that Christ did not reprove him in such a manner as if he intended altogether to reject him, and refused his prayers; but that he rather did so for the purpose of correcting that fault which obstructed the entrance of true faith. And we ought to remember — what I have formerly stated — that this was a general reproof of a whole people, and was not peculiarly addressed to one individual. In this manner, whatever is improper, or distorted, or superfluous, in our prayers, must be corrected or removed, that dangerous obstructions may be taken out of the way. Now courtiers are usually fastidious and haughty, and do not willingly submit to be treated with harshness; but it deserves notice, that this man, humbled by his necessitous case, and by the dread of losing his son, does not burst into a passion, or murmur, when Christ speaks to him roughly, but passes by that reproof in modest silence. We find the same things in ourselves; for we are astonishingly delicate, impatient, and fretful until, subdued by adversities, we are constrained to lay aside our pride and disdain.
50. Thy son liveth. The first thing that strikes us here is, the astonishing kindness and condescension of Christ, that he bears with the man’s ignorance, and stretches his power beyond what had been expected. He requested that Christ would come to the place and cure his son. He thought it possible that his son could be freed from sickness and disease, but not that he could be raised up after he was dead; and therefore he urges Christ to make haste, that his son’s recovery may not be prevented by his death. Accordingly, when Christ pardons both, we may conclude from it how highly he values even a small measure of faith. It is worthy of observation that Christ, while he does not comply with his desire, grants much more than he had requested; for he testifies as to the present health of his son. Thus it frequently happens that our Heavenly Father, while he does not comply with our wishes in every particular, proceeds to relieve us by unexpected methods, that we may learn not to prescribe to him in anything. When he says, Thy son liveth, he means that he has been rescued from the danger of death.
The man believed the word which Jesus had spoken to him. Having come with the conviction that Christ was a prophet of God, he was on that account so much disposed to believe, that, as soon as he had heard a single word, he seized it and fixed it in his heart. Though he did not entertain all the respect that he ought for the power of Christ, yet a short promise suddenly awoke new confidence in his mind, so that he believed the life of his son to be contained in a single word of Christ. And such is the promptitude with which we ought to receive the word of God, but it is very far from producing always so immediate an effect on the hearers. For how many will you find that profit as much by many sermons as this man, who was half a heathen, profited by hearing a single word? So much the more ought we to labor with zeal to arouse our sluggishness, and, above all, to pray that God would touch our hearts in such a manner, that we may not be less willing to believe than He is ready and gracious to promise.
51. While he was still going down. Here is described the effect of faith, together with the efficacy of the word; for as Christ, by a word, restores to life this child who was just dying, so in one moment the father, by his faith, regains his son safe and sound. Let us therefore know that, whenever the Lord offers his benefits to us, his power will always be ready to accomplish whatever he promises, provided that the door be not shut against him by our unbelief. It does not always happen, I acknowledge, and even is not frequent or ordinary, that God instantly displays his arm for giving us assistance; but whenever he delays, he has always a good reason, and one that is highly advantageous to us. This at least is certain, that so far is he from delaying unnecessarily, that he rather contends with the obstacles which we throw in the way; and, therefore, when we do not see his immediate aid, let us consider how much of concealed distrust there is in us, or at least how small and limited our faith is. And we ought not to wonder if He is unwilling to allow his benefits to be lost, or to throw them at random on the ground, but chooses to bestow them on those who, by opening the bosom of their faith, are ready to receive them. And though he does not always assist his people in the same manner, yet in no instance will the faith of any one be fruitless, or hinder us from experiencing the truth of what the Prophet says, that the promises of God, even when they seem to delay, are in reality making great haste.
Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come,
it will not tarry, (<350203>Habakkuk 2:3.)
52. Therefore he inquired at them. That this courtier asked his servants at what time his son began to recover, was done by a secret impulse from God, that the truth of the miracle might be rendered more conspicuous. For by nature we have an exceedingly wicked disposition to extinguish the light of the power of God, and Satan labors, by various means, to hide the works of God from our view; and, therefore, in order that they may obtain from us that praise which is due to them, they must be made so manifest that no room is left for doubt. Whatever then may be the ingratitude of men, still this circumstance does not permit so illustrious a work of Christ to be ascribed to chance.
53. And he believed, and his whole house. It may appear absurd that the Evangelist should mention this as the commencement of faith in that man, whose faith he has already commended. Nor can it be supposed that the word believe — at least in this passage — relates to the progress of faith. But it must be understood that this man, being a Jew and educated in the doctrine of the Law, had already obtained some taste of faith when he came to Christ; and that he afterwards believed in the saying of Christ was a particular faith, which extended no farther than to expect the life of his son. But now he began to believe in a different manner; that is, because, embracing the doctrine of Christ, he openly professed to be one of his disciples. Thus not only does he now believe that his son will be cured through the kindness of Christ, but he acknowledges Christ to be the Son of God, and makes a profession of faith in his Gospel. His whole family joins him, which was an evidence of the miracle; nor can it be doubted that he did his utmost to bring others along with him to embrace the Christian religion.
CHAPTER 5

JOHN 5:1-9
1. After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2. And there was in Jerusalem, at the sheep-market, a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porches. 3. In these lay a great multitude of diseased, blind, lame, withered, f91 waiting for the motion of the water. 4. For an angel went down, at intervals, f92 into the pool, and troubled the water. Whosoever went down first after the troubling of the water was cured of whatever disease he formerly had. 5. Now there was a man there, who had passed thirty and eight years in infirmity. 6. When Jesus saw this man lying, and knew that he had now been a long time diseased, he saith to him, Dost thou wish to be cured? 7. The diseased man answered him, Sir, I have no man to let me down into the pool, when the water is troubled; but while I am coming, another goeth down before me. 8. Jesus saith to him, Arise, carry thy bed, and walk. 9. And immediately that man was cured, and carried his bed, and walked. And the Sabbath was on that day.

1. There was a feast of the Jews. Though the Evangelist does not expressly state what feast this was, yet the probable conjecture is that he means Pentecost, at least if what is here related took place immediately after that Christ came into Galilee. For immediately after the Passover he set out from Jerusalem, and, as he was passing through Samaria, he reckoned four months to the harvest; having entered Galilee he cured the courtier’s son. The Evangelist adds that the feast came afterwards; and, therefore, the order of time leads us to conclude that we ought to understand it to be Pentecost; though I do not dispute about that matter. Now Christ came to Jerusalem to the feast, partly because at that time, on account of the great multitude of people who were assembled, he had the opportunity of publishing his doctrine more extensively, and partly because it was necessary that he should be subject to the Law, that he might redeem us from the bondage of the Law, as we have already explained on former occasions.
2. There was in Jerusalem, at the sheep-market, a pool. The circumstance of the place is added, from which we learn that the miracle was not concealed or known to a few persons only; for the five porches show that the place was celebrated for the great number of persons who resorted to it, and this was also implied in its vicinity to the temple. Besides, the Evangelist expressly says that many diseased persons lay there. With respect to the meaning of the name, the learned justly reject the fanciful opinion of Jerome, who, instead of Bethesda, makes it Betheder, and interprets it to mean the house of the flock; for here mention is made of a pool, which was near the sheep-market. Those who read it Bethesda, as meaning a place of fishing, have no reason on their side. There is greater probability in the opinion of those who explain it to be a place of pouring out; for the Hebrew word (˚ça) (Eshed) signifies flowing out; but the Evangelist, as was then the ordinary way of speaking, pronounced it Esda. For I think that the water was conveyed into it by conduits, that the priests might draw out of it; unless perhaps the place received its name from the circumstance that the water was poured into it by means of tubes. It was called the sheep-market, in my opinion, because the beasts which were to be offered in sacrifice were taken there.
3. In these lay a great multitude. It is possible that diseased persons lay in the porches to ask alms when the people were passing there who were going into the temple to worship; and there, too, it was customary to purchase the beasts which were to be offered in sacrifice. Yet at each feast God cured a certain number, that, in this way, he might recommend the worship prescribed in the Law and the holiness of the temple. But might it not appear foolish to believe, while we read of nothing of this kind having been done at a time when religion was in the most flourishing condition, and even since in the age of the Prophets miracles were not performed but on extraordinary occasions, that when the affairs of the nation were so decayed and almost ruinous, the power and grace of God were displayed with more than ordinary lustre? I reply, there were, in my opinion, two reasons. As the Holy Spirit, dwelling in the Prophets, was a sufficient witness of the divine presence, religion at that time needed no other confirmation; for the Law had been sanctioned by abundantly sufficient miracles, and God ceased not to express, by innumerable testimonies, his approbation of the worship which he had enjoined. But about the time of Christ’s coming, as they were deprived of the Prophets and their condition was very wretched, and as various temptations pressed upon them on every hand, they needed this extraordinary aid, that they might not think that God had entirely left them, and thus might be discouraged and fall away. For we know that Malachi was the last of the Prophets, and, therefore, he closes his doctrine with this admonition, that the Jews may
remember the Law delivered by Moses, (<390404>Malachi 4:4,)
until Christ appear. God saw it to be advantageous to deprive them of the Prophets, and to keep them in suspense for a time, that they might be inflamed with a stronger desire for Christ, and might receive him with greater reverence, when he should be manifested to them. Yet, that testimonies might not be wanting to the temple and sacrifices, and to the whole of that worship by which salvation should be made known to the world, the Lord retained among the Jews this gift of healing, that they might know that there was a good reason why God separated them from the other nations. For God, by curing the diseased, showed plainly — as by an arm stretched out from heaven — that he approved of this kind of worship which they derived from the injunction of the Law. Secondly, I have no doubt that God intended to remind them by these signs that the time of redemption was approaching, and that Christ, the Author of salvation, was already at hand, that the minds of all might be the better aroused. I think that signs, in that age, served this twofold purpose; first, that the Jews might know that God was present with them, and thus might remain steady in their obedience to the Law; and, secondly, that they might earnestly hope for a new and unwonted condition.
Of lame, blind, withered. For the purpose of informing us that the diseases cured by our Lord were not of an ordinary kind, the Evangelist enumerates some classes of them; for human remedies could be of no avail to the lame, blind, and withered. It was indeed a mournful spectacle, to see in so large a body of men so many kinds of deformities in the members; but yet the glory of God shone more brightly there than in the sight of the most numerous and best disciplined army. For nothing is more magnificent than when an unwonted power of God corrects and restores the defects of nature; and nothing is more beautiful or more delightful than when, through his boundless goodness, he relieves the distresses of men. For this reason the Lord intended that this should be a splendid theater, in which not only the inhabitants of the country, but strangers also, might perceive and contemplate His majesty; and, as I have already suggested, it was no small ornament and glory of the temple, when God, by stretching out his hand, clearly showed that He was present.
4. For an angel went down. It was, no doubt, a work peculiar to God to cure the sick; but, as He was accustomed to employ the ministration and agency of angels, so He commanded an angel to perform this duty. For this reason the angels are called principalities or powers, (<510116>Colossians 1:16;) not that God gives up his power to them, and remains unemployed in heaven, but because, by acting powerfully in them, he magnificently shows and displays his power. It is, therefore, wicked and shameful to imagine any thing as belonging to the angels, or to constitute them the medium of communication between us and God, so as to obscure the glory of God, as if it were at a great distance from us, while, on the contrary, he employs them as the manifestations of his presence. We ought to guard against the foolish speculations of Plato, for the distance between us and God is too great to allow us to go to the angels, that they may obtain favor for us; but, on the contrary, we ought to come direct to Christ, that, by his guidance, protection, and command, we may have the angels as assistants and ministers of our salvation.
At intervals. God might have at once, in a single moment, cured them all:, but, as his miracles have their design, so they ought also to have their limit; as Christ also reminds them that, though there were so many that died in the time of Elisha, not more than one child was raised from the dead, (<120432>2 Kings 4:32;) f93 and that, though so many widows were famished during the time of drought, there was but one whose poverty was relieved by Elijah, (<111709>1 Kings 17:9; <420425>Luke 4:25.) Thus the Lord reckoned it enough to give a demonstration of his presence in the case of a few diseased persons. But the manner of curing, which is here described, shows plainly enough that nothing is more unreasonable than that men should subject the works of God to their own judgment; for pray, what assistance or relief could be expected from troubled water? But in this manner, by depriving us of our own senses, the Lord accustoms us to the obedience of faith. We too eagerly follow what pleases our reason, though contrary to the word of God; and, therefore, in order to render us more obedient to him, he often presents to us those things which contradict our reason. Then only do we show our submissive obedience, when we shut our eyes, and follow the plain word, though our own opinion be that what we are doing will be of no avail. We have an instance of this kind in Naaman a Syrian, whom the prophet sends to Jordan, that he may be cured of his leprosy, (<120510>2 Kings 5:10.) At first, no doubt, he despises it as a piece of mockery, but afterwards he comes actually to perceive that, while God acts contrary to human reason, he never mocks or disappoints us.
And troubled the water. Yet the troubling of the water was a manifest proof that God freely uses the elements according to his own pleasure, and that He claims for himself the result of the work. For it is an exceedingly common fault to ascribe to creatures what belongs to God alone; but it would be the height of folly to seek, in the troubled water, the cause of the cure. He therefore holds out the outward symbol in such a manner that, by looking at the symbol, the diseased persons may be constrained to raise their eyes to Him who alone is the Author of grace.
5. And there was a man there. The Evangelist collects various circumstances, which prove that the miracle may be relied on as certain. The long duration of the disease had taken away all hope of its being cured. This man complains that he is deprived of the remedy of the water. He had frequently attempted to throw himself into the water, but without success; there was no man to assist him, and this causes the power of Christ to be more strikingly displayed. Such, too, was the import of the command to carry his bed, that all might plainly see that he was cured in no other way than by the agency of Christ; for when he suddenly rises up healthy and strong in all the members in which he was formerly impotent, so sudden a change is the more fitted to arouse and strike the minds of all who beheld it.
6. Wilt thou be made whole? He does not inquire about it, as if it were a doubtful matter, but partly in order to kindle in the man a desire of the favor which was offered to him, and partly to quicken the attention of the witnesses who were present, and who, if they had been thinking of something else, might not have perceived the miracle, as frequently happens in sudden occurrences. For these two reasons, therefore, this preparation was necessary.
7. I have no man. This diseased man does what almost all of us are wont to do; for he limits the assistance of God according to his own thought, and does not venture to promise to himself any thing more than he conceives in his mind. Christ forgives his weakness, and in this we have a mirror of that forbearance of which every one of us has daily experience, when, on the one hand, we keep our attention fixed on the means which are within our reach, and when, on the other hand, contrary to expectation, he displays his hand from hidden places, and thus shows how far his goodness goes beyond the narrow limits of our faith. Besides, this example ought to teach us patience. Thirty-eight years were a long period, during which God had delayed to render to this poor man that favor which, from the beginning, He had determined to confer upon him. However long, therefore, we may be held in suspense, though we groan under our distresses, let us never be discouraged by the tediousness of the lengthened period; for, when our afflictions are long continued, though we discover no termination of them, still we ought always to believe that God is a wonderful deliverer, who, by His power, easily removes every obstacle out of the way.
9. And it was the Sabbath. Christ was well aware how great offense would immediately arise, when they saw a man walk along laden with burdens; for the Law expressly forbids
to carry any burden whatever on the Sabbath-day,
(<241721>Jeremiah 17:21.)
But there were two reasons why Christ, disregarding this danger, chose to make such an exhibition; first, that the miracle might be more extensively known; and, secondly, that he might give occasion, and, as it were, open up the way for the beautiful discourse which he delivered immediately afterwards. Of so great importance was the knowledge of that miracle, that he found it to be his duty to despise boldly the offense taken by the people, particularly because he had at hand a just defense, by which, though he did not pacify the ungodly, he abundantly refuted their calumnies. We ought therefore to observe this rule, that though the whole world kindle into rage, we ought to proclaim the glory of God and celebrate His works, so far as His glory requires that they should be made known. Nor ought we to be uneasy or discouraged, though our labors should not be immediately successful, provided that we keep in view the object which I have stated, and do not go beyond the limits of our office.

JOHN 5:10-15
10. The Jews therefore said to him who had been cured, It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. 11. He answered them, He who made me whole said to me, Carry thy bed and walk. 12. They therefore asked him, Who is that man who said to thee, Carry thy bed and walk? 13. And he who had been cured knew not who he was; for Jesus had withdrawn himself, because there was a crowd in that place. f94 14. After these things, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, Lo, thou art made whole, sin no more, lest something worse befall thee. 15. The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him whole. 16. And for that reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he did these things on the Sabbath-day.

10. It is the Sabbath. It was the duty of all to maintain the sanctity of the Sabbath, and, therefore, they justly and properly accuse the man. But, when the excuse offered by the man does not satisfy them, they already begin to be in fault; for, when the reason was known, he ought to have been acquitted. It was a violation of the Sabbath, as we have said, to carry a burden; but Christ, who laid the burden on his shoulders, discharges him by his own authority. We are therefore taught by this example to avoid every rash judgment, until the reason of each action be fully known. Whatever contradicts the word of God deserves to be condemned without hesitation; but, as it frequently happens that there are mistakes in this matter, we ought first to inquire modestly and calmly, that our decision may be sound and sober. For since the Jews, prejudiced by wicked dispositions, have not patience to inquire, they shut the door against judgment and moderation; but, if they had allowed themselves to be taught, not only would the offense have been removed, but they would have been conducted still farther, with great advantage, to the knowledge of the Gospel.
We now see how far the Jews were in the wrong. It is, because they do not admit a reasonable defense. The defense is, that he who had been cured replies that he does nothing but by the command of him who had power and authority to command; for, though he did not yet know who Christ was, yet he was convinced that he had been sent by God, because he had received a proof of his divine power, and learns from it that Christ is endued with authority, so that it must be his duty to obey him. But this appears to be worthy of reproof, that a miracle turns him aside from obedience to the Law. I confess, indeed, that the argument which the man employs in contending with them is not sufficiently strong, but the others are faulty on two accounts, that they neither consider that this is an extraordinary work of God, nor suspend their judgment until they have heard a Prophet of God who is furnished with the word.
13. And he who had been cured knew not who he was. Christ certainly did not intend that the glory of so great a work should pass away, but he intended that it should become generally known before that he acknowledged himself to be the Author of it. He therefore withdrew for a little, that the Jews might have it in their power to judge of the fact itself, without reference to any person. And hence we learn that the cure of this man cannot be ascribed to his faith, since, even after having been cured, he does not acknowledge his Physician; and yet, when he was ordered, he carried his bed, which appears to have been done by the guidance of faith. For my own part, as I do not deny that there was in him some secret movement of faith, so I say that it is clear from what follows, that he had no solid doctrine or clear light on which he could rely.
14. After these things Jesus found him. These words show still more clearly that, when Christ concealed himself for a time, it was not in order that the remembrance of the kindness which he had conferred might perish, for he now appears in public of his own accord; only he intended that the work should first be known, and that he should afterwards be declared to be the Author of it. This passage contains a highly useful doctrine; for when Christ says, lo, thou art made whole, his meaning is, that we make an improper use of the gifts of God, if we are not excited to gratitude. Christ does not reproach the man with what he had given him, but only reminds him that he had been cured in order that, remembering the favor which he had received, he might all his life serve God his Deliverer. Thus, as God by stripes instructs and spurs us on to repentance, so he invites us to it by his goodness and forbearance; and, indeed, it is the universal design both of our redemption and of all the gifts of God, to keep us entirely devoted to Him. Now this cannot be done, unless the remembrance of the past punishment remain impressed on the mind, and unless he who has obtained pardon be employed in this meditation throughout his whole life.
This admonition teaches us also, that all the evils which we endure ought to be imputed to our sins; for the afflictions of men are not accidental, but are so many stripes for our chastisement. First, then, we ought to acknowledge the hand of God which strikes us, and not to imagine that our distresses arise from a blind impetuosity of fortune; and next we ascribe this honor to God, that, since He is a Father full of goodness, He does not take pleasure in our sufferings, and therefore does not treat us more harshly than he has been offended by our sins. When he charges him, sin no more, he does not enjoin him to be free from all sin, but speaks comparatively as to his former life; for Christ exhorts him henceforth to repent, and not to do as he had done before.
Lest something worse befall thee. If God does not succeed in doing us good by the stripes with which he gently chastises us, as the kindest father would chastise his tender and delicate children, He is constrained to assume a new character, and a character which, so to speak, is not natural to Him. He therefore seizes the whip to subdue our obstinacy, as He threatens in the Law, (<032614>Leviticus 26:14; <052815>Deuteronomy 28:15; <193209>Psalm 32:9;) and indeed throughout the Scriptures passages of the same kind are to be found. Thus, when we are incessantly pressed down by new afflictions, we ought to trace this to our obstinacy; for not only do we resemble restive horses and mules, but we are like wild beasts that cannot be tamed. There is no reason to wonder, therefore, if God make use of severer punishment to bruise us, as it were, by mallets, when moderate punishment is of no avail; for it is proper that they who will not endure to be corrected should be bruised by strokes. In short, the use of punishments is, to render us more cautious for the future. If, after the first and second strokes, we maintain obstinate hardness of heart, he will strike us seven times more severely. If, after having showed signs of repentance for a time, we immediately return to our natural disposition, he chastises more sharply this levity which proves us to be forgetful, and which is full of sloth.
Again, in the person of this man it is of importance for us to observe with what gentleness and condescension the Lord bears with us. Let us suppose that the man was approaching old age, in which case he must have been visited by disease in the very prime of life, and perhaps had been attacked by it from his earliest infancy; and now let us consider how grievous to him must have been this punishment continued through so many years. It is certain that we cannot reproach God with excessive severity in causing this man to languish, and to be half-dead, for so long a period; and, therefore, when we are punished more lightly, let us learn that it is because the Lord, in his infinite goodness, moderates the extreme rigour of the punishments which we would have well deserved. f95 Let us also learn that no punishments are so rigorous and severe, that the Lord cannot make additions to them whenever he pleases. Nor can it be doubted that wretched men by their wicked complaints, often draw down upon themselves dreadful and shocking tortures, when they assert that it is not possible to endure heavier distresses, and that God cannot send them any thing more. f96 Are not these things hidden among my treasures? saith the Lord, (<053234>Deuteronomy 32:34.) We ought also to observe how slow we are in deriving benefit from God’s chastisements; for if Christ’s exhortation was not superfluous, we may learn from it that the soul of this man was not yet fully purified from every vice. Indeed, the roots of vices are too deep in us to be capable of being torn out in a single day, or in a few days; and the cure of the diseases of the soul is too difficult to be effected by remedies applied for a short time.
15. The man went away. Nothing was farther from his intention than to make Christ an object of their hatred, and nothing was farther from his expectation than that they would rage so furiously against Christ. His intention, therefore, was pious; for he wished to render to his Physician the honor which was justly due to him. The Jews, on the other hand, show their venom, not only in accusing Christ of having violated the Sabbath, but in breaking out into extreme cruelty.

JOHN 5:17-19
17. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18. For this reason, therefore, the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but likewise called God his Father, making himself equal with God. 19. Jesus then answered, and said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, The Son cannot do any thing of himself but what he hath seen the Father do; for whatsoever things he doeth, those also doeth the Son likewise.

17. My Father worketh hitherto. We must see what kind of defense Christ employs. He does not reply that the Law about keeping the Sabbath was temporary, and that it ought now to be abolished; but, on the contrary, maintains that he has not violated the Law, because this is a divine work. It is true that the ceremony of the Sabbath was a part of the shadows of the Law, f97 and that Christ put an end to it by his coming, as Paul shows, (<510216>Colossians 2:16;) but the present question does not turn on that point. For it is only from their own works that men are commanded to abstain; and, accordingly, circumcision — which is a work of God, and not of men — is not at variance with the Sabbath.
What Christ insists upon is this, that the holy rest which was enjoined by the Law of Moses is not disturbed when we are employed in works of God.F98 And for this reason he excuses not only his own action, but also the action of the man who carried his bed; for it was an appendage, and — as we might say — a part of the miracle, for it was nothing else than an approbation of it. Besides, if thanksgiving and the publication of the divine glory be reckoned among the works of God, it was not a profanation of the Sabbath to testify the grace of God by feet and hands. But it is chiefly concerning himself that Christ speaks, to whom the Jews were more hostile. He declares that the soundness of body which he has restored to the diseased man is a demonstration of his divine power. He asserts that he is the Son of God, and that he acts in the same manner as his Father.
What is the use of the Sabbath, and for what reasons it was enjoined, I do not now argue at greater length. It is enough for the present passage, that the keeping of the Sabbath is so far from interrupting or hindering the works of God, that, on the contrary, it gives way to them alone. For why does the Law enjoin men to abstain from their own works, but in order to keep all their senses free and occupied for considering the works of God? Consequently, he who does not, on the Sabbath, allow a free course and reign to the works of God, is not only a false expounder of the Law, but wickedly overturns it.
If it be objected, that the example of God is held out to men, that they may rest on the seventh day, the answer is easy. Men are not conformed to God in this respect, that He ceased to work, but by abstaining from the troublesome actions of this world and aspiring to the heavenly rest. The Sabbath or rest of God, f99 therefore, is not idleness, but true perfection, which brings along with it a calm state of peace. Nor is this inconsistent with what Moses says, that God put an end to his works, (<010202>Genesis 2:2;) for he means that, after having completed the formation of the world, God consecrated that day, that men might employ it in meditating on his works. Yet He did not cease to sustain by this power the world which he had made, to govern it by his wisdom, to support it by his goodness, and to regulate all things according to his pleasure, both in heaven and on earth. In six days, therefore, the creation of the world was completed, but the administration of it is still continued, and God incessantly worketh in maintaining and preserving the order of it; as Paul informs us, that in him we live, and move, and are, (<441728>Acts 17:28;) and David informs us, that all things stand so long as the Spirit of God upholds them, and that they fail as soon as he withdraws his support, (<19A429>Psalm 104:29.) Nor is it only by a general Providence that the Lord maintains the world which He has created, but He arranges and regulates every part of it, and more especially, by his protection, he keeps and guards believers whom he has received under his care and guardianship.
And I work. Leaving the defense of the present cause, Christ now explains the end and use of the miracle, namely, that by means of it he may be acknowledged to be the Son of God; for the object which he had in view in all his words and actions was, to show that he was the Author of salvation. What he now claims for himself belongs to his Divinity, as the Apostle also says, that
he upholdeth all things by his powerful will, (<580103>Hebrews 1:3.)
But when he testifies that he is God, it is that, being manifested in the flesh, he may perform the office of Christ; and when he affirms that he came from heaven, it is chiefly for the purpose of informing us for what purpose he came down to earth.
18. For this reason, therefore, the Jews sought the more to slay him. This defense was so far from allaying their fury that it even enraged them the more. Nor was he unacquainted with their malignity and wickedness and hardened obstinacy, but he intended first to profit a few of his disciples who were then present, and next to make a public display of their incurable malice. By his example he has taught us that we ought never to yield to the fury of wicked men, but should endeavor to maintain the truth of God, so far as necessity demands it, though the whole world should oppose and murmur. Nor is there any reason why the servants of Christ should take it ill that they do not profit all men according to their wish, since Christ himself did not always succeed; and we need not wonder if, in proportion as the glory of God is more fully displayed, Satan rages the more violently in his members and instruments.
Because he not only had broken the Sabbath. When the Evangelist says that the Jews were hostile to Christ, because he had broken the Sabbath, he speaks according to the opinion which they had formed; for I have already showed that the state of the case was quite the contrary. The principal cause of their wrath was, that he called God his Father. And certainly Christ intended that it should be understood that God was his Father in a peculiar sense, so as to distinguish himself from the ordinary rank of other men. He made himself equal to God, when he claimed for himself continuance in working; and Christ is so far from denying this, that he confirms it more distinctly. This refutes the madness of the Arians, who acknowledged that Christ is God, but did not think that he is equal to the Father, as if in the one and simple essence of God there could be any inequality.
19. Jesus therefore answered. We see what I have said, that Christ is so far from vindicating himself from what the Jews asserted, though they intended it as a calumny, that he maintains more openly that it is true. And first he insists on this point, that the work which the Jews cavilled at was a divine work, to make them understand that they must fight with God himself, if they persist in condemning what must necessarily be ascribed to him. This passage was anciently debated in various ways between the orthodox Fathers and the Arians. Arius inferred from it that the Son is inferior to the Father, because he can do nothing of himself The Fathers replied that these words denote nothing more than the distinction of the person, so that it might be known that Christ is from the Father, and yet that he is not deprived of intrinsic power to act. But both parties were in the wrong. For the discourse does not relate to the simple Divinity of Christ, and those statements which we shall immediately see do not simply and of themselves relate to the eternal Word of God, but apply only to the Son of God, so far as he is manifested in the flesh.
Let us therefore keep Christ before our eyes, as he was sent into the world by the Father to be a Redeemer. The Jews beheld in him nothing higher than human nature, and, therefore, he argues that, when he cured the diseased man, he did it not by human power, but by a Divine power which was concealed under his visible flesh. The state of the case is this. As they, confining their attention to the appearance of the flesh, despised Christ, he bids them rise higher and look at God. The whole discourse must be referred to this contrast, that they err egregiously who think that they have to do with a mortal man, when they accuse Christ of works which are truly divine. This is his reason for affirming so strongly that in this work, there is no difference between him and his Father.

JOHN 5:20-24
20. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things which he doeth; and he will show him greater works than these, that you may wonder. 21. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; so also the Son quickeneth whom he will. 22. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son; 23. That all men may honor the Son, as they honor the Father: he who honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father who sent him. 24. Verily, verily, I say to you, That he who heareth my word, and believeth in him who sent me, hath eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation, but hath passed from death to life.

20. For the Father loveth the Son. Every body sees how harsh and far-fetched is the exposition of this passage which is given by the Fathers. “God,” they say, “loves himself in the Son.” But this statement applies beautifully to Christ as clothed with flesh, that he is beloved by the Father. What is more, we know that it is by this excellent title that he is distinguished both from angels and from men, This is my beloved Son, (<400317>Matthew 3:17.) For we know that Christ was chosen, that the whole love of God might dwell in him, and might flow from him to us as from a full fountain. Christ is loved by the Father, as he is the Head of the Church. He shows that this love is the cause why the Father does all things by his hand. For when he says that the Father SHOWTH to him this word must be understood to denote communication, as if he had said, “As the Father hath given to me his heart, so he hath poured out his power on me, that the Divine glory may shine in my works, and — what is more — that men may seek nothing Divine but what they find in me.” And, indeed, out of Christ it will be in vain to seek the power of God.
He will show him greater works than these. By these words he means that the miracle, which he had performed in curing the man, was not the greatest of the works enjoined on him by the Father; for he had only given in it a slight taste of that grace of which he is properly both minister and Author; namely, to restore life to the world.
That you may wonder. By adding these words, he indirectly charges them with ingratitude in despising so illustrious a demonstration of the power of God; as if he had said, “Though you are dull and stupid, yet the works which God shall afterwards perform by me will draw you, however reluctantly, into admiration.” Yet this appears not to have been fulfilled, for we know that seeing, they saw not; as Isaiah also says that the reprobate are blind amidst the light of God. I reply, Christ did not now speak of their disposition, but only threw out a suggestion as to the splendor of the demonstration which he would soon afterwards give that he was the Son of God.
21. For as the Father raiseth up the dead. Here he gives a summary view of the nature of the office which had been given to him by the Father; for though he appears to specify one class, yet it is a general doctrine in which he declares himself to be the Author of life. Now life contains within itself not only righteousness, but all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and every part of our salvation. And certainly this miracle must have been so remarkable a proof of the power of Christ, as to yield this common fruit; that is, to open a door to the Gospel. We ought also to observe in what manner Christ bestows life upon us; for he found us all dead, and therefore it was necessary to begin with a resurrection. Yet, when he joins the two words, raiseth up and quickeneth, he does not use superfluous language; for it would not have been enough that we were rescued from death, if Christ did not fully and perfectly restore life to us. Again, he does not speak of this life as bestowed indiscriminately on all; for he says that he giveth life to whom he will; by which he means that he specially confers this grace on none but certain men, that is, on the elect.
22. For the Father judgeth no man. He now states more clearly the general truth, that the Father governs the world in the person of the Son, and exercises dominion by his hand; for the Evangelist employs the word judgment, agreeably to the idiom of the Hebrew language, as denoting authority and power. We now perceive the amount of what is stated here, that the Father hath given to the Son a kingdom, that he may govern heaven and earth according to his pleasure. But this might appear to be very absurd, that the Father, surrendering his right to govern, should remain unemployed in heaven, like a private person. The answer is easy. This is said both in regard to God and to men; for no change took place in the Father, when he appointed Christ to be supreme King and Lord of heaven and earth; for he is in the Son, and works in him. But since, when we wish to rise to God, all our senses immediately fail, Christ is placed before our eyes as a lively image of the invisible God. There is no reason, therefore, why we should toil to no purpose in exploring the secrets of heaven, since God provides for our weakness by showing himself to be near in the person of Christ; but, on the other hand, whenever the inquiry relates to the government of the world, to our own condition, to the heavenly guardianship of our salvation, let us learn to direct our eyes to Christ alone, as all power is committed to him, (<402818>Matthew 28:18,) and in his face God the Father, who would otherwise have been hidden and at a distance, appears to us so that the unveiled majesty of God does not swallow us up by its inconceivable brightness.
23. That all men may honor the Son. This clause sufficiently confirms the suggestion which I threw out a little ago, that when it is said that God reigns in the person of Christ, this does not mean that he reposes in heaven, as indolent kings are wont to do, but because in Christ he manifests his power and shows himself to be present. For what else is the meaning of these words, that all men may honor the Son, but that the Father wishes to be acknowledged and worshipped in the Son? Our duty, therefore, is to seek God the Father in Christ, to behold his power in Christ, and to worship him in Christ. For, as immediately follows, he who honoureth not the Son deprives God of the honor which is due to him. All admit that we ought to worship God, and this sentiment, which is natural to us, is deeply rooted in our hearts, so that no man dares absolutely to refuse to God the honor which is due to him; yet the minds of men lose themselves in going out of the way to seek God. Hence so many pretended deities, hence so many perverse modes of worship. We shall never, therefore, find the true God but in Christ, nor shall we ever worship Him aright but by kissing the Son, as David tells us, (<190212>Psalm 2:12;) for, as John elsewhere declares,
He who hath not the Son hath not the Father, (<620223>1 John 2:23.)
Mahometans and Jews do indeed adorn with beautiful and magnificent titles the God whom they worship; but we ought to remember that the name of God, when it is separated from Christ, is nothing else than a vain imagination. Whoever then desires to have his worship approved by the true God, let him not turn aside from Christ. Nor was it otherwise with the Fathers under the Law; for though they beheld Christ darkly under shadows, yet never did God reveal himself out of Christ. But now, since Christ has been manifested in the flesh and appointed to be King over us, the whole world must bend the knee to him, in order to obey God; for the Father having made him sit at his right hand, he who forms a conception of God without Christ takes away the half of him.
24. He that heareth my word. Here is described the way and manner of honoring God, that no one may think that it consists solely in any outward performance, or in frivolous ceremonies. For the doctrine of the Gospel seems as a scepter to Christ, by which he governs believers whom the Father has made his subjects. And this definition is eminently worthy of notice. Nothing is more common than a false profession of Christianity; for even the Papists, who are most inveterate enemies of Christ, do in the most presumptuous manner boast of his name. But here Christ demands from us no other honor than to obey his Gospel. Hence it follows, that all the honor which hypocrites bestow on Christ is but the kiss of Judas, by which he betrayed his Lord. Though they may a hundred times call him King, yet they deprive him of his kingdom and of all power, when they do not exercise faith in the Gospel.
Hath eternal life. By these words he likewise commends the fruit of obedience, that we may be more willing to render it. For who ought to be so hardened as not to submit willingly to Christ, when the reward of eternal life is held out to him? And yet we see how few there are whom Christ gains to himself by so great goodness. So great is our depravity that we choose rather to perish of our own accord than to surrender ourselves to obey the Son of God, that we may be saved by his grace. Both, therefore, are here included by Christ — the robe of devout and sincere worship which he requires from us, and the method by which he restores us to life. For it would not be sufficient to understand what he formerly taught, that he came to raise the dead, unless we also knew the manner in which he restores us to life. Now he affirms that life is obtained by hearing his word, and by the word hearing he means faith, as he immediately afterwards declares. But faith has its seat not in the ears, but in the heart. Whence faith derives so great power, we have formerly explained. We ought always to consider what it is that the Gospel offers to us; for we need not wonder that he who receives Christ with all his merits is reconciled to God, and acquitted of the condemnation of death; and that he who has received the gift of the Holy Spirit is clothed with a heavenly righteousness, that he may walk in newness of life, (<450606>Romans 6:6.) The clause which is added, believeth on him who sent him, serves to confirm the authority of the Gospel: when Christ testifies that it came from God, and was not invented by men, as he elsewhere says that what he speaks is not from himself, but was delivered to him by the Father, (<430716>John 7:16; 14:10.)
And shall not come into condemnation. There is here an implied contrast between the guilt to which we are all naturally liable, and the unconditional acquittal which we obtain through Christ; for if all were not liable to condemnation, what purpose would it serve to free from it those who believe in Christ? The meaning therefore is, that we are beyond the danger of death, because we are acquitted through the grace of Christ; and, therefore, though Christ sanctifies and regenerates us, by his Spirit, to newness of life, yet here he specially mentions the unconditional forgiveness of sins, in which alone the happiness of men consists. For then does a man begin to live when he has God reconciled to him; and how would God love us, if he did not pardon our sins?
But hath passed. Some Latin copies have this verb in the future tense, WILL PASS from death to life; but this has arisen from the ignorance and rashness of some person who, not understanding the meaning of the Evangelist, has taken more liberty than he ought to have taken; for the Greek word metabe>bhke (hath passed) has no ambiguity whatever. There is no impropriety in saying that we have already passed from death to life; for the incorruptible seed of life (<600123>1 Peter 1:23) resides in the children of God, and they already sit in the heavenly glory with Christ by hope, (<510303>Colossians 3:3,) and they have the kingdom of God already established within them, (<421721>Luke 17:21.) For though their life be hidden, they do not on that account cease to possess it by faith; and though they are besieged on every side by faith, they do not cease to be calm on this account, that they know that they are in perfect safety through the protection of Christ. Yet let us remember that believers are now in life in such a manner that they always carry about with them the cause of death; but the Spirit, who dwells in us, is life, which will at length destroy the remains of death; for it is a true saying of Paul, that
death is the last enemy that shall be destroyed,
(<461526>1 Corinthians 15:26.)
And, indeed, this passage contains nothing that relates to the complete destruction of death, or the entire manifestation of life. But though life be only begun in us, Christ declares that believers are so certain of obtaining it, that they ought not to fear death; and we need not wonder at this, since they are united to him who is the inexhaustible fountain of life.

JOHN 5:25-29
25. Verily, verily, I say to you, That the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. 26. For as the Father hath life in himself, so also hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. 27. And he hath given him power to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. f100 28. Wonder not at this; for the hour cometh when all who are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29. And they who have done good shall go forth to the resurrection of life; and they who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

25. Verily, verily. When the Evangelist represents the Son of God as swearing so frequently in reference to our salvation, hence we perceive, first, how eagerly he desires our welfare, and next, of how great importance it is that the faith of the Gospel should be deeply fixed and thoroughly confirmed. The statement has indeed some appearance of being incredible, when we are told that this is the effect of the faith of which Christ speaks; and therefore he confirms by an oath that the voice of his Gospel has such power of giving life that it is powerful to raise the dead. It is generally agreed that he speaks of spiritual death; for those who refer it to Lazarus, (<431144>John 11:44,) and to the widow’s son at Nain, (<420715>Luke 7:15,) and similar instances, are refuted by what follows. First, Christ shows that we are all dead before he quickens us; and hence it is evident what the whole nature of man can accomplish towards procuring salvation.
When the Papists wish to set up their free-will, they compare it to the Samaritan whom the robbers had left half-dead on the road, (<421030>Luke 10:30;) as if by the smoke of an allegory they could darken a clear statement, by which Christ declares that we are fully condemned to death. And indeed as we have been, since the revolt of the first man, alienated from God through sin, all who do not acknowledge that they are overwhelmed with everlasting destruction do nothing else than deceive themselves by empty flatteries. I readily acknowledge that in the soul of man there remains some remnant of life; for understanding, and judgment, and will, and all our senses, are so many parts of life; but as there is no part which rises to the desire of the heavenly life, we need not wonder if the whole man, so far as relates to the kingdom of God, is accounted dead. And this death Paul explains more fully when he says, that we are alienated from the pure and sound reason of the understanding, that we are enemies to God, and opposed to his righteousness, in every affection of our heart; that we wander in darkness like blind persons, and are given up to wicked lusts, (<490201>Ephesians 2:1; 4:17.) If a nature so corrupted has no power to desire righteousness, it follows that the life of God is extinguished in us.
Thus the grace of Christ is a true resurrection from the dead. Now this grace is conferred on us by the Gospel; not that so much energy is possessed by the external voice, which in many cases strikes the ears to no purpose, but because Christ speaks to our hearts within by his Spirit, that we may receive by faith the life which is offered to us. For he does not speak indiscriminately of all the dead, but means the elect only, whose ears God pierces and opens, that they may receive the voice of his Son, which restores them to life. This twofold grace, indeed, Christ expressly holds out to us by his words, when he says, The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they who hear shall live; for it is not less contrary to nature that the dead should hear, than that they should be brought back to the life which they had lost; and therefore both proceed from the secret power of God.
The hour cometh, and now is. He thus speaks of it as a thing which had never before happened; and, indeed, the publication of the Gospel was a new and sudden resurrection of the world. But did not the word of God always give life to men? This question may be easily answered. The doctrine of the Law and the Prophets was addressed to the people of God, and consequently must have been rather intended to preserve in life those who were the children of God than to bring them back from death. But it was otherwise with the Gospel, by which nations formerly estranged from the kingdom of God, separated from God, and deprived of all hope of salvation, were invited to become partakers of life.
26. For as the Father hath life in himself. He shows whence his voice derives such efficacy; namely, that he is the fountain of life, and by his voice pours it out on men; for life would not flow to us from his mouth, if he had not in himself the cause and source of it. God is said to have life in himself, not only because he alone lives by his own inherent power, but because, containing in himself the fullness of life, he communicates life to all things. And this, indeed, belongs peculiarly to God, as it is said, With thee is the fountain of life, (<193609>Psalm 36:9.) But because the majesty of God, being far removed from us, would resemble an unknown and hidden source, for this reason it has been openly manifested in Christ. We have thus an open fountain placed before us, from which we may draw. The meaning of the words is this: “God did not choose to have life hidden, and, as it were, buried within himself, and therefore he poured it into his Son, that it might flow to us.” Hence we conclude, that this title is strictly applied to Christ, so far as he was manifested in the flesh.
27. And hath given him power. He again repeats that the Father hath given him dominion, that he may have full power over all things in heaven and in the earth. The word (ejxousi>a) here denotes authority. Judgment is here put for rule and government, as if he had said, that the Father had appointed him to be King, to govern the world, and exercise the power of the Father himself.
Because he is the Son of man. This reason, which is immediately added, deserves particularly to be observed, for it means that he comes forth to men, adorned with such magnificence of power, that he may impart to them what he has received from the Father. Some think that this passage contains nothing else than what is said by Paul, that Christ,
having been in the form of God emptied himself by taking upon him the form of a servant, and humbled himself even to the death of the cross; and therefore God hath exalted him, and given him a name more illustrious than any name, that every knee may bow before him (<502007>Philippians 2:7-10.)
But for my own part, I regard the meaning as more extensive: that Christ, so far as he is man, was appointed by the Father to be the Author of life, that it may not be necessary for us to go far to seek it; for Christ did not receive it for himself, as if he needed it, but in order to enrich us by his wealth. It may be summed up thus: “What had been hidden in God is revealed to us in Christ as man, and life, which was formerly inaccessible, is now placed before our eyes.” There are some who separate this argument from its immediate connection, and join it to the following clause; but this is a forced interpretation, and is at variance with Christ’s meaning.
28. Wonder not at this. We may be apt to think that he reasons inconclusively, in drawing from the last resurrection a confirmation of what he had said; for it is not an instance of greater power to raise up bodies than to raise up minds. I reply, it is not from the fact itself that he makes a comparison between the greater and the less, but from the opinion of men; for, being carnal, they admire nothing but what is outward and visible. Hence it arises that they pass by the resurrection of the soul with little concern, while the resurrection of the body excites in them greater admiration. Another effect produced by this gross stupidity of ours is, that those things which are perceived by the eyes have a more powerful influence in producing faith than those which can be received by faith alone. As he mentions the last day, that limitation — -and now is — is not again added, but he simply declares that the time will one day arrive.
But another objection springs up; for though believers expect the resurrection of bodies, yet they cannot rely on their knowledge of it, so as to conclude that souls are now rescued from death, because bodies will one day rise out of the graves. And among ungodly men, f101 what would be reckoned more ridiculous than to prove a thing unknown (to use a common phrase) by a thing less known? I reply, Christ here boasts of his power over the reprobate, so as to testify that the Father has committed to him the full restoration of all things; as if he had said, “What I now tell you that I have commenced, I will one day finish before your eyes.” And, indeed, when Christ now, by the voice of his Gospel, quickens souls which had been sunk in perdition, it is a sort of preparation for the last resurrection. Again, as he includes the whole human race, he immediately makes a distinction between the elect and the reprobate. This division shows that the reprobate, as they are now summoned by the voice of Christ to come to judgment, will also, by the same voice, be dragged and brought to appear at his tribunal.
But why does he mention those only who are shut up in graves, as if others would not be partakers of the resurrection, whether they have been drowned, or devoured by wild beasts, or reduced to ashes? The answer is, that as the dead are commonly buried, by the figure of speech called synecdoche, he employs a part to denote all who are already dead. And this is more emphatic than if he had said simply, the dead; for those whom death already deprived of life and light the grave withdraws, as it were, from the world.
Shall hear his voice. The voice of the Son means the sound of the trumpet, which will sound at the command by the power of Christ, (<402431>Matthew 24:31; <461552>1 Corinthians 15:52.) For though an angel will be a herald or forerunner, (<520416>1 Thessalonians 4:16,) this does not hinder what is done by the authority of the Judge, and as it were in his own person, from being ascribed to himself.
29. And they who have done good. He points out believers by good works, as he elsewhere teaches that a tree is known by its fruit, (<400716>Matthew 7:16; <420644>Luke 6:44.) He praises their good works, to which they have begun to devote themselves since they were called. For the robber, to whom Christ on the cross (<422342>Luke 23:42) promised life, and who had all his life been given up to crimes, expresses a desire to do good with his latest breath; but as he is born again a new man, and from being the slave of sin begins to be a servant of righteousness, the whole course of his past life is not taken into account before God. Besides, the sins themselves, on account of which believers every day subject themselves to condemnation, are not imputed to them. For without the pardon which God grants to those who believe in Him, f102 there never was a man in the world of whom we can say that he has lived well; nor is there even a single work that will be reckoned altogether good, unless God pardon the sins which belong to it, for all are imperfect and corrupted. Those persons, therefore, are here called doers of good works whom Paul calls earnestly desirous or zealous of them, (<560214>Titus 2:14.) But this estimate depends on the fatherly kindness of God, who by free grace approves what deserved to be rejected.
The inference which the Papists draw from those passages — that eternal life is suspended on the merits of works — may be refuted without any difficulty. For Christ does not now treat of the cause of salvation, but merely distinguishes the elect from the reprobate by their own mark; and he does so in order to invite and exhort his own people to a holy and blameless life. And indeed we do not deny that the faith which justifies us is accompanied by an earnest desire to live well and righteously; but we only maintain that our confidence cannot rest on any thing else than on the mercy of God alone.

JOHN 5:30-32
30. I can do nothing of myself; as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me. 31. If I testify concerning myself, my testimony is not true. 32. There is another who testifieth concerning me, and I know that the testimony which he testifieth concerning me is true.

30. I can do nothing of myself. It would be superfluous here to enter into abstruse reasonings, whether the Son of God can do any thing of himself or otherwise, so far as relates to his eternal Divinity; for he did not intend to keep our minds employed about such trifles. Consequently there was no reason why the ancients should have given themselves so much anxiety and distress about refuting the calumny of Arius. That scoundrel gave out that the Son is not equal to the Father because he can do nothing of himself. The holy men reply, that the Son justly claims for himself all that can be ascribed to the Father, from whom he takes his commencement, with respect to his person. But, in the first place, Christ does not speak of his Divinity simply, but warns us that, so far as he is clothed with our flesh, we ought not to judge of him from the outward appearance, because he has something higher than man. Again, we ought to consider with whom he has to deal. His intention was, to refute the Jews who were endeavoring to contrast him with God. He therefore affirms that he does nothing by human power, because he has for his guide and director God who dwells in him.
We ought always to keep in remembrance that, whenever Christ speaks concerning himself, he claims only that which belongs to man; for he keeps his eye upon the Jews, who erroneously said that he was merely one of the ordinary rank of men. For the same reason, he ascribes to the Father whatever is higher than man. The word judge belongs properly to doctrine, but is intended also to apply to the whole of his administration, as if he had said, that he acts by the Father’s direction in all things, that the Father’s will is his rule, and therefore that He will defend him against all adversaries. f103
And my judgment is just. He concludes that his actions and sayings are beyond the risk of blame, because he does not allow himself to attempt anything but by the command and direction of the Father; for it ought to be regarded as beyond all controversy that whatever proceeds from God must be right. This modesty ought to be held by us as the first maxim of piety, to entertain such reverence for the word and works of God, that the name of God would alone be sufficient to prove their justice and rectitude; but how few are to be found who are ready to acknowledge that God is just, unless they are compelled to do so! I acknowledge, indeed, that God demonstrates his righteousness by experience; but to limit it to the perception of our flesh, so as to have no opinion respecting it but what our own mind suggests, is wicked and daring impiety. Let us, therefore, set it down as certain and undoubted, that whatever is from God is right and true, and that it is impossible for God not to be true in all his words, just and right in all his actions. We are likewise reminded that the only rule for acting well is, to undertake nothing but by the direction and commandment of God. And if after this the whole world should rise against us, we shall still have this invincible defense, that he who follows God cannot go astray.
Because I seek not my own will. He does not here make his own will and that of his Father to clash with each other, as if they were contrary things, but only refutes the false opinion which they entertained, that he was impelled by human presumption rather than guided by the authority of God. He affirms, therefore, that he has no disposition which is peculiar to himself and separate from the command of the Father.
31. If I testify concerning myself. He does not here take any thing away from the credit due to his testimony, which he elsewhere asserts in strong terms, but he speaks by way of concession; for Christ, having been in other respects most abundantly supported, consents that they should not believe his word. “If my testimony concerning myself,” says he, “is suspected by you according to the ordinary custom of men, let it go for nothing.” Now we know that what any man asserts about himself is not reckoned to be true and authentic, although in other respects he speak truth, because no man is a competent witness in his own cause. Though it would be unjust to reduce the Son of God to this rank, yet he prefers to surrender his right, that he may convince his enemies by the authority of God.

JOHN 5:33-36
33. You sent to John, and he gave testimony to the truth. 34. But I receive not testimony from man; but these things I say that you may be saved. 35. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a time you were willing to amuse yourselves in his light. 36. But I have greater testimony than that of John; for the works which my Father gave me to perform, the very works which I do, testify concerning me that the Father hath sent me.

33. You sent to John. Before producing the testimony of God, he presses them with the answer of John, from which they could not honorably withhold their belief. For of what use was it to send to him, if they did not intend to abide by his words? They send to him as a Prophet of God, and thus they pretend that his word will be regarded by them as an oracle. Now, though this implies another admission in their favor, still Christ openly brings against them this charge, that nothing but their own malice f104 hinders them from believing. And, therefore, we see that this circumstance is highly appropriate to the matter in hand, namely, that they sent to John, and — as if their motive had been a desire to learn — inquired at him who was the Messiah, and yet paid no attention to his reply.
34. I receive not testimony from men. Yet it was not in vain that God chose Christ to be a witness to him, and Christ himself declares, on another occasion, that the disciples
will be his witnesses. You shall be witnesses to me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth, (<440108>Acts 1:8.)
I reply, Christ avails himself of the testimony of John, not because he needs it, but so far as it is advantageous to us to receive from it some confirmation. Men borrow testimony from one another, because they cannot dispense with that assistance. The case is different with God and Christ. For if philosophers assert that virtue has no need of foreign aid, what has man in himself to lend support to the truth of God? And Christ immediately adds, that he produces the TESTIMONY of John on their account: these things I say that you may be saved. By this statement he means that it is not so much from a regard to himself as from a desire to promote the advantage of men, that he raises up the heralds of his Gospel by whom he testifies to us concerning his will. In this we see also a striking proof of his wonderful goodness, by which he regulates all things for our salvation. It is therefore our duty, on the other hand, to strive that the great care which he bestows in saving us may not be fruitless.
35. He was a burning and shining lamp. When he calls John a burning lamp, this proves their ingratitude; for it follows that they are only blind, because they choose to be so, since God kindled a lamp before their eyes. The meaning of the words therefore is, “God did not intend that you should go astray; for he appointed John to be a lamp, that he might direct you by his brightness; and, therefore, when you do not acknowledge me to be the Son of God, this arises from voluntary error.” This is followed by another reproach, that not only did they shut their eyes, and thus obstruct the entrance of the light which was offered to them, but they intentionally abused it for the purpose of crushing Christ. For when they were ready to applaud John beyond what he justly deserved, this arose from a wicked and treacherous design not to give way to the Son of God.
And you were willing to amuse yourselves in his light. This wicked abuse of the heavenly light Christ elegantly compares to foolish mirth; as if the head of a family were to light a lamp for his servants by night, that they might perform the duties which he had enjoined on them, but they, instead of doing so, employed it for debauchery and every kind of licentiousness. By these words Christ accuses the Jews, and at the same time conveys to all of us a warning that, when God sends faithful teachers to guide us in the right way, we should take care not to abuse them by wandering in every direction. How useful this warning is, the experience of all ages shows. God undertakes to direct men, throughout the whole course of their life, to the final goal, and sends his prophets to be their guides. Yet such is the madness of the folly of men that, instead of walking, they prefer to indulge in wanton dancing, without making any progress; so light and unsteady are they that, despising and rejecting his continued guidance, they are hurried away by the sudden impulses of their passions.
For a time, or, for an hour. By this term he reproves them for their folly in thinking that wickedness of a transitory nature and short duration can extinguish the light of God. Thus in our own day all those faithful teachers whom God has given to his Church as burning lamps are applied by the Papists to a contrary purpose; as if their intention were, by looking at the light, to dazzle their eyes. And not only do they abuse the lamps for extinguishing the light of God, but they often indulge in foolish gaiety amidst the darkness, as when they rise against the pure doctrine of the Gospel, and glory in the foolish sayings of their noisy declaimers. But what Christ here asserts concerning John, Paul declares to be common to all believers, because, having the word of life, they ought to give light to the world, like torches. But Christ shows that it belongs strictly to the Apostles and ministers of the Gospel to go before others and hold out the torch to guide them; f105 for though we are all blind, and in the midst of darkness, God shines upon us by the light of his word. But here he peculiarly adorns John the Baptist with this honorable designation, because by his ministry God shone on his Church with much greater brightness.
36. But I have greater testimony than that of John. After having showed that, in the person of John, the Jews had wickedly corrupted the gift of God, he now repeats a second time what he had said, that he has no need of the testimony of man, as if he had not enough of himself; although, perceiving that they held his person in contempt, he sent them to his Father, according to his custom.
For the works which the Father hath given me to do. He holds out to view two things, by which he was proved to be the Son of God. “My Father,” says he, “attests by miracles that I am his Son; and before I came into the world, he gave abundant testimony to me in the sacred writings.” Let us always remember what object he has in view. He wishes to be recognized as the Messiah promised by God, that he may be heard, and, therefore, he maintains that he is now manifested to be such a person as Scripture describes him. It may be asked, Are miracles sufficient to prove this; for similar miracles had been already performed by the Prophets? I reply, those miracles which God performed by the agency of the Prophets did not go beyond the purpose for which they were intended, namely, to show that they were the ministers of God, because they could in no other way obtain the authority due to their office. But God intended to exalt his Son more highly, and this purpose of God ought to be regarded by us as the design of miracles. Therefore, if the Jews had not been prejudiced by malice and voluntarily shut their eyes, Christ might easily have proved to them by his miracles who and what he was.

JOHN 5:37-40
37. And the Father who hath sent me, himself hath testified concerning me; you have never heard his voice, or seen his shape. 38. And you have not his word abiding in you; for whom he hath sent, him you believe not. 39. Search the Scriptures; for you think that you have eternal life in them: and they are they which testify concerning me. 40. And you will not come to me, that you may have life.

37. And the Father who hath sent me. To limit this statement, as some have done, f106 to the voice which was heard at his baptism, (<400317>Matthew 3:17,) is a mistake; for he says in the past tense, that the Father (memartu>rhke) testified, in order to show that he did not come forward as an unknown person, because the Father had long ago distinguished him by such peculiar marks that, bringing them along with him, he might be recognized. I explain, therefore, that God testified concerning his Son, whenever in past times he held out to the ancient people the hope of salvation, or promised that the kingdom of Israel would be fully restored. In this manner the Jews must have formed an idea of Christ from the Prophets, before he was manifested in the flesh. When having him before their eyes, they despise and therefore reject him, they show plainly that they have no relish for the Law, with which Christ also reproaches them; and yet they boasted of their knowledge of the Law, as if they had been brought up in the bosom of God.
You have never heard his voice. After having complained that they do not receive him, Christ breaks out in still more severe language against their blindness. When he says that they had never heard the voice of God, or seen his shape, these are metaphorical expressions, by which he intends to state generally that they are utterly estranged from the knowledge of God. For as men are made known by the countenance and speech, so God utters his voice to us by the voice of the Prophets, and, in the sacraments, takes, as it were, a visible form, from which he may be known by us according to our feeble capacity. But he who does not recognize God in his lively image, plainly shows by this very fact that he worships no Deity but what he has himself contrived. For this reason Paul says, that the Jews had a vail placed before their eyes, that they might not perceive the glory of God in the face of Christ, (<470314>2 Corinthians 3:14.)
38. And you have not his word abiding in you. This is the true way of profiting, when the word of God takes root in us, so that, being impressed on our hearts, it has its fixed abode there. Christ affirms that the heavenly doctrine has no place among the Jews, because they do not receive the Son of God, on whom it everywhere bestows commendation. And justly does he bring this reproach against them; for it was not in vain that God spake by Moses and the Prophets. Moses had no other intention than to invite all men to go straight to Christ; and hence it is evident that they who reject Christ are not the disciples of Moses. Besides, how can that man have the word of life abiding in him who drives from him the life itself? How can that man keep the doctrine of the Law who destroys the soul of the Law, as far as lies in his power? For the Law without Christ is empty and has no solidity. Just in proportion, therefore, as any man knows Christ, is the proficiency which he has made in the word of God.
39. Search the Scriptures. We have said that the statement which Christ formerly made — that he has the Father for a witness in heaven — refers to Moses and the Prophets. Now follows a clearer explanation; for he says that that testimony is to be found in the Scriptures. He again reproves them for their foolish boasting, because, while they acknowledged that they had life in the Scriptures, they perceived nothing in them but the dead letter. For he does not absolutely blame them for seeking life in the Scriptures, since they were given to us for that end and use, but because the Jews thought that the Scriptures gave them life, while they were widely opposed to its natural meaning, and — what is worse — while they quenched the light of life which was contained in them; for how can the Law bestow life without Christ, who alone gives life to it?
Again, we are taught by this passage, that if we wish to obtain the knowledge of Christ, f107 we must seek it from the Scriptures; for they who imagine whatever they choose concerning Christ will ultimately have nothing instead of him but a shadowy phantom. First, then, we ought to believe that Christ cannot be properly known in any other way than from the Scriptures; and if it be so, it follows that we ought to read the Scriptures with the express design of finding Christ in them. Whoever shall turn aside from this object, though he may weary himself throughout his whole life in learning, will never attain the knowledge of the truth; for what wisdom can we have without the wisdom of God? Next, as we are commanded to seek Christ in the Scriptures, so he declares in this passage that our labors shall not be fruitless; for the Father testifies in them concerning his Son in such a manner that He will manifest him to us beyond all doubt. But what hinders the greater part of men from profiting is, that they give to the subject nothing more than a superficial and cursory glance. Yet it requires the utmost attention, and, therefore, Christ enjoins us to search diligently for this hidden treasure. Consequently, the deep abhorrence of Christ which is entertained by the Jews, who have the Law constantly in their hands, must be imputed to their indolence. For the lustre of the glory of God shines brightly in Moses, but they choose to have a vail to obscure that lustre. By the Scriptures, it is well known, is here meant the Old Testament; for it was not in the Gospel that Christ first began to be manifested, but, having received testimony from the Law and the Prophets, he was openly exhibited in the Gospel.
40. And you will not come to me. He again reproaches them that it is nothing but their own malice that hinders them from becoming partakers of the life offered in the Scriptures; for when he says that they will not, he imputes the cause of their ignorance and blindness to wickedness and obstinacy. And, indeed, since he offered himself to them so graciously, they must have been willfully blind; but when they intentionally fled from the light, and even desired to extinguish the sun by the darkness of their unbelief, Christ justly reproves them with greater severity.

JOHN 5:41-47
41. I receive not glory from men. 42. But I know you, that you have not the love of God in you. 43. I come in the name of my Father, and you do not receive me; if another come in his own name, him you will receive. 44. How can you believe, who receive glory from each other, and seek not the glory which cometh from God alone? 45. Think not that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses in whom you trust, that accuseth you. 46. For if you believed Moses, you would also believe me; for he wrote concerning me. 47. But if you do not believe his writings, how shall you believe my words?

41. I receive not glory from men. He proceeds in his reproof; but that he may not be suspected of pleading his own cause, he begins by saying that he does not care for the glory of men, and that it gives him no concern or uneasiness to see himself despised; and, indeed, he is too great to depend on the opinions of men, for the malignity of the whole world can take nothing from him, or make the slightest infringement on his high rank. He is so eager to refute their calumny that he exalts himself above men. Afterwards, he enters freely into invectives against them, and charges them with contempt and hatred of God. And though, in regard to honorable rank, there is an immense distance between Christ and us, still we ought boldly to despise the opinions of men. We ought, at least, to guard most zealously against being excited to anger, when we are, despised; but, on the contrary, let us learn never to kindle into indignation, except when men do not render to God the honor due to Him. Let our souls be burned and tortured by this holy jealousy, whenever we see that the world is so ungrateful as to reject God.
42. That you have not the love of God in you. The love of God is here put for all religious feelings; for no man can love God without beholding him with admiration and submitting entirely to his authority; as, on the other hand, when the love of God does not prevail, there can be no desire to obey him. That is the reason why Moses gives this as the summary or recapitulation (ajnakefalai>wsiv) of the Law:
thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might, (<050605>Deuteronomy 6:5.)
43. I have come in my Father’s name. The false prophets do indeed boast of this title, as the Pope, in the present day, boasts with open mouth that he is Christ’s Deputy or Vicar; and under this very disguise has Satan deceived wretched men from the beginning. But Christ here means the reality, and not a hypocritical pretense; for when he testifies that he has come in his Fathers name, he means not only that the Father has sent him, but that he faithfully executes the commission which he has received. By this mark he distinguishes the lawful teachers of the Church from spurious and pretended teachers. This passage, therefore, teaches that we ought boldly to reject all who exalt themselves, and, in their own name, claim authority over souls; for he who is desirous to be reckoned a servant of God ought to have nothing separate from God. Now, if the whole doctrine of the Pope be examined, even the blind will see that he has come in his own name. f108
If another come in his own name, him you will receive. That the Jews do not love God, and have no reverence for him, Christ proves by this argument, that they will eagerly receive the false prophets, while they refuse to obey God; for he takes for granted, that it is a sign of a wicked and ungodly mind, when men disregard truth and willingly assent to falsehoods. If it be objected that this is generally done rather through ignorance than through malice, the answer is easy. No man is exposed to the impostures of Satan, except so far as, through some wicked disposition, he prefers falsehood to truth. For how comes it that we are deaf when God speaks, f109 and that Satan finds us ready and active, but because we are averse to righteousness, and of our own accord desire iniquity? Though it ought to be observed that here Christ speaks chiefly of those whom God peculiarly enlightened, as he bestowed on the Jews this privilege, that, having been instructed in his Law, they might keep the right way of salvation. It is certain that such persons lend an ear to false teachers for no other reason than because they wish to be deceived. Accordingly, Moses says that, when false prophets arise, this is intended to prove and try the people if they love the Lord their God, (Deuteronomy 13:3.) In many persons, no doubt, there appears to be an innocent and guileless simplicity, f110 but their eyes are undoubtedly blinded by the hypocrisy which lurks within their minds. For it is certain that God never shuts the door to those who knock, (<400708>Matthew 7:8,) never disappoints those who sincerely pray to him, (<234519>Isaiah 45:19.) Justly, therefore, does Paul ascribe it to the vengeance of God, when the power of deceiving is given to Satan,
that they who have rejected the truth, and taken pleasure in unrighteousness, may believe a lie, and says that they perish who did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved,
(<530209>2 Thessalonians 2:9, 12.)
In this manner is discovered the hypocrisy of many who, devoted to the impostures and wicked superstitions of the Pope, burn with envenomed rage against the Gospel; for if they had hearts disposed to the fear of God, that fear would likewise produce obedience.
44. How can you believe? As it might be thought harsh to say that those who were from their childhood the trained disciples of the Law and the Prophets, should be charged with such gross ignorance and declared to be enemies of the truth, and as this might even be thought to be incredible, Christ shows what it is that hinders them from believing. It is because ambition has deprived them of sound judgment; for he speaks, in a peculiar manner, to the priests and scribes, who, swelled with pride, could not obey God. This is a remarkable passage, which teaches that the gate of faith is shut against all whose hearts are preoccupied by a vain desire of earthly glory. For he who wishes to be somebody in the world must become wandering and unsteady, so that he will have no inclination towards God. Never is a man prepared to obey the heavenly doctrine, until he is convinced that his principal object, throughout his whole life, ought to be, that he may be approved by God.
But it may be thought that the wicked confidence, by which hypocrites exalt themselves in the presence of God, is a greater obstacle than worldly ambition; and we know that this was also a disease with which the scribes were deeply infected. The answer is easy; for Christ intended to tear from them the false mask of sanctity, by which they deceived the ignorant multitude. He therefore points, as with the finger, to the grosser vice, by which it may be made manifest to all that nothing is farther from their true character than what they wished to be reckoned. Besides, though hypocrisy exalts itself against God, still, in the world and before men, it is always ambitious; nay, more, it is this vanity alone that swells us with false presumption, when we rely more on our own judgment, and that of others, than on the judgment of God. He who in reality presents himself before God as his Judge, must, of necessity, fall down humbled and dismayed, and finding nothing in himself on which he can place reliance. f111 So, then, in order that any man may seek glory from God alone, he must be overwhelmed with shame, and flee to the undeserved mercy of God. And, indeed, they who look to God see that they are condemned and ruined, and that nothing is left to them in which they can glory but the grace of Christ. The desire of such glory will always be attended by humility.
So far as relates to the present passage, Christ’s meaning is, that there is no other way in which men can be prepared for receiving the doctrine of the Gospel, than by withdrawing all their senses from the world, and turning them to God alone, and seriously considering that it is with God that they have to do, that, forgetting the flatteries by which they are accustomed to deceive themselves, they may descend into their own consciences. We need not wonder, therefore, if the Gospel in the present day find so few persons willing to be taught, since all are carried away by ambition. Nor need we wonder if many apostatize from the profession of the Gospel, for they are hurried away by their own vanity and fly off. So much the more earnestly ought we to seek this one thing, that, while we are mean and despised in the eyes of the world, and even overwhelmed within ourselves, we may be reckoned among the children of God.
45. Think not that I shall accuse you to the Father. This is the way in which we ought to deal with obstinate and hardened persons, when they learn nothing by instruction and friendly warnings. They must be summoned to the judgment-seat of God. There are few persons, indeed, who openly mock God, but there are very many who, believing that God, whom they oppose as enemies, is gracious to them, amuse themselves at their ease with empty flatteries. Thus, in the present day, our Giants, f112 though they wickedly trample under foot the whole doctrine of Christ, haughtily plume themselves on being the intimate friends of God. For who will persuade the Papists that Christianity exists anywhere else than among them? Such were the scribes, with whom Christ is here disputing. Though they were the greatest despisers of the Law, yet they boasted of Moses in lofty terms, so that they did not hesitate to make use of him as a shield in opposing Christ. If he had threatened that he would be a powerful and formidable adversary to them, he knew that this would have been treated with the utmost contempt; and, therefore, he threatens that an accusation, drawn up by Moses, will be preferred against them.
Moses, in whom you trust. There are some who think, that Christ here points out the distinction between his own office and that of Moses, because it belongs to the Law to convict men of being unbelievers. But this is a mistake; for Christ did not intend that, but only intended to shake off the confidence of hypocrites, who falsely boasted of entertaining reverence for Moses; just as if a person in the present day, in order to foil the Papists with their own weapon, f113 were to say, that they will find no enemies more decidedly opposed to them than the holy doctors of the Church, under whose authority they falsely and wickedly take shelter. f114 Let us also learn from it, that we ought not to glory in the Scriptures without a good reason; for if we do not honor the Son of God by the true obedience of faith, all whom God hath raised up to be his witnesses will rise up against us as accusers at the last day. When he says, that they trust in Moses, he does not accuse them of superstition, as if they ascribed to Moses the cause of their salvation; but his meaning is, that they do wrong in relying on the protection of Moses, as if they had him to defend their wicked obstinacy.
46. For if you believed Moses, you would also believe me. He shows why Moses will be their accuser. It is because they do not reject his doctrine. We know that it is impossible to offer a greater insult to the servants of God than when their doctrine is despised or reproached. Besides, those whom the Lord has appointed to be ministers of his word, ought to be ready to defend it against despisers; f115 and therefore, he gave to all his prophets a twofold commission, that they might teach and instruct for the salvation of believers, and that, one day, they might confound the reprobate by their testimony.
For he wrote concerning me. When Christ says, that Moses wrote concerning him, this needs no long proof with those who acknowledge that Christ is the end and soul of the Law. But if any person be not satisfied with this, and desire to have the passages pointed out to him, I would advise him, first, to read carefully the Epistle to the Hebrews, with which also agrees Stephen’s sermon, in the seventh chapter of the Acts of the Apostles; and, next, to observe the quotations which Paul applies to his purpose. I acknowledge, indeed, that there are few in which Moses expressly mentions Christ; but what was the use of the tabernacle, and sacrifices, and all the ceremonies, but to be figures drawn in conformity to that first pattern which was showed to him in the mountain? (<022540>Exodus 25:40; <580805>Hebrews 8:5.) Thus, without Christ, the whole ministry of Christ vanishes. Again, we see how he continually reminds the people of the covenant of the Fathers which had been ratified in Christ, and even how he makes Christ to be the principal subject and foundation of the covenant. Nor was this unknown to the holy Fathers, who had always their eyes fixed on the Mediator. To treat the subject more largely, would be inconsistent with the brevity at which I aim.
47. But if you do not believe his writings. Christ appears here to claim less authority for himself than for Moses; and yet we know that heaven and earth have been shaken by the voice of the Gospel, (<581226>Hebrews 12:26.) But Christ accommodates his discourse to those to whom he speaks; for the authority of the Law was, beyond all controversy, held sacred among the Jews; and thus it was impossible that Christ should be inferior to Moses. To the same purpose is the contrast between writings and words; for he shows their unbelief to be more aggravated, because the truth of God, recorded in an authentic form, has no authority with them.
CHAPTER 6

JOHN 6:1-13
1. Afterwards, Jesus went across the sea of Galilee, which is called (the sea) of Tiberias. 2. And a great multitude followed him, because they had seen his miracles, which he performed on those who were diseased. 3. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there sat down with his disciples. 4. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5. Jesus therefore, lifting up his eyes, and seeing that a great multitude came to him, saith to Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that those men may eat? 6. (Now he said this, trying him; for he himself knew what he would do.) 7. Philip answered him, Two hundred denarii of bread is not sufficient for them, that each of them may take a little. 8. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith to him, 9. There is here a boy, who hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes; but what are these among so many? 10. And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. (Now there was much grass in that place.) The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. 11. And Jesus took the loaves, and, having given thanks, distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those who had sat down, and likewise of the fishes, as much as they wished. 12. And after they were satisfied, he said to his disciples, Gather the fragments which are left, that nothing may be lost. 13. They therefore gathered, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five loaves which were left by those who had eaten.

1. Afterwards, Jesus went. Although John was accustomed to collect those actions and sayings of Christ, which the other three Evangelists had omitted, yet in this passage, contrary to his custom, he repeats the history of a miracle which they had related. But he does so for the express purpose of passing from them to Christ’s sermon, which was delivered next day at Capernaum, because the two things were connected; and therefore this narrative, though the other three Evangelists have it in common with him, has this peculiarity, that it is directed to another object, as we shall see. The other Evangelists (<401413>Matthew 14:13; <410632>Mark 6:32; <420910>Luke 9:10) state that this happened shortly after the death of John the Baptist, by which circumstance of time they point out the cause of Christ’s departure; for when tyrants have once imbrued their hands in the blood of the godly, they kindle into greater cruelty, in the same manner as intemperate drinking aggravates the thirst of drunkards. Christ therefore intended to abate the rage of Herod by his absence. He uses the term, Sea of Galilee, as meaning the lake of Gennesareth. When he adds that it was called the Sea of Tiberias, he explains more fully the place to which Christ withdrew; for the whole lake did not bear that name, but only that part of it which lay contiguous to the bank on which Tiberias was situated.
2. And a great multitude followed him. So great ardor in following Christ arose from this, that, having beheld his power in miracles, they were convinced that he was some great prophet, and that he had been sent by God. But the Evangelist here omits what the other three relate, that Christ employed a part of the day in teaching and in healing the sick, and that, when the sun was setting, his disciples requested him to send away the multitudes, (<401413>Matthew 14:13, 14; <410634>Mark 6:34, 35; <420911>Luke 9:11, 12;) for he reckoned it enough to give the substance of it in a few words, that he might take this opportunity of leading us on to the remaining statements which immediately follow.
Here we see, in the first place, how eager was the desire of the people to hear Christ, since all of them, forgetting themselves, take no concern about spending the night in a desert place. So much the less excusable is our indifference, or rather our sloth, when we are so far from preferring the heavenly doctrine to the gnawings of hunger, that the slightest interruptions immediately lead us away from meditation on the heavenly life. Very rarely does it happen that Christ finds us free and disengaged from the entanglements of the world. So far is every one of us from being ready to follow him to a desert mountain, that scarcely one in ten can endure to receive him, when he presents himself at home in the midst of comforts. And though this disease prevails nearly throughout the whole world, yet it is certain that no man will be fit for the kingdom of God until, laying aside such delicacy, he learn to desire the food of the soul so earnestly that his belly shall not hinder him.
But as the flesh solicits us to attend to its conveniences, we ought likewise to observe that Christ, of his own accord, takes care of those who neglect themselves in order to follow him. f116 For he does not wait till they are famished, and cry out that they are perishing of hunger, and have nothing to eat, but he provides food for them before they have asked it. We shall perhaps be told that this does not always happen, for we often see that godly persons, though they have been entirely devoted to the kingdom of God, are exhausted and almost fainting with hunger. I reply, though Christ is pleased to try our faith and patience in this manner, yet from heaven he beholds our wants, and is careful to relieve them, as far as is necessary for our welfare; and when assistance is not immediately granted, it is done for the best reason, though that reason is concealed from us.
3. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain. Christ unquestionably sought a place of retirement till the feast of the Passover; and therefore it is said that he sat down on a mountain with his disciples. Such was undoubtedly the purpose which he formed as man; but the purpose of God was different, which he willingly obeyed. Although, therefore, he avoided the sight of men, yet he permits himself to be led by the hand of God as into a crowded theater; for there was a larger assembly of men in a desert mountain than in any populous city, and greater celebrity arose from the miracle than if it had happened in the open market-place of Tiberias. We are therefore taught by this example to form our plans in conformity to the course of events, but in such a manner that, if the result be different from what we expected, we may not be displeased that God is above us, and regulates everything according to his pleasure.
5. He saith to Philip. What we here read as having been said to Philip alone, the other Evangelists tell us, was said to all. But there is no inconsistency in this; for it is probable that Philip spoke according to the opinion entertained by all, and, therefore, Christ replies to him in particular; just as John, immediately afterwards, introduces Andrew as speaking, where the other Evangelists attribute the discourse to all alike. Perceiving that they have no conception of an extraordinary remedy, he then arouses their minds, which may be said to be asleep, so that they may, at least, have their eyes open to behold what shall be immediately exhibited to them. The design of all that is alleged by the disciples is, to persuade Christ not to detain the people; and, perhaps, in this respect they consult their private advantage, that a part of the inconvenience may not fall upon themselves. Accordingly, Christ disregards their objections, and proceeds in his design.
7. Two hundred denarii. As the denarius, according to the computation of Budaeus, is equal to four times the value of a carolus and two deniers of Tours, this sum amounts to thirty-five francs, or thereby. f117 If you divide this sum among five thousand men, each hundred of them will have less than seventeenpence sterling. f118 If we now add about a thousand of women and children, it will be found that Philip allots to each person about the sixth part of an English penny, f119 to buy a little bread. But, as usually happens in a great crowd, he probably thought that there was a greater number of people present; and as the disciples were poor and ill supplied with money, Andrew intended to alarm Christ by the greatness of the sum, meaning that they were not wealthy enough to entertain so many people.
10. Make the men sit down. That the disciples were not sooner prepared to cherish the hope which their Master held out, and did not remember to ascribe to his power all that was proper, was a degree of stupidity worthy of blame; but no small praise is due to their cheerful obedience in now complying with his injunction, though they know not what is his intention, or what advantage they will derive from what they are doing. The same readiness to obey is manifested by the people; for, while they are uncertain about the result, they all sit down as soon as a single word of command has been pronounced. And this is the trial of true faith, when God commands men to walk, as it were, in darkness. For this purpose let us learn not to be wise in ourselves, but, amidst great confusion, still to hope for a prosperous issue, when we follow the guidance of God, who never disappoints his own people.
11. After having given thanks. Christ has oftener than once instructed us by his example that, whenever we take food, we ought to begin with prayer. For those things which God has appointed for our use, being evidences of his infinite goodness and fatherly love towards us, call on us to offer praise to Him; and thanksgiving, as Paul informs us, is a kind of solemn sanctification, by means of which the use of them begins to be pure to us, (<540404>1 Timothy 4:4.) Hence it follows, that they who swallow them down without thinking of God, are guilty of sacrilege, and of profaning the gifts of God. And this instruction is the more worthy of attention, because we daily see a great part of the world feeding themselves like brute beasts. When Christ determined that the bread given to the disciples should grow among their hands, we are taught by it that God blesses our labor when we are serviceable to each other.
Let us now sum up the meaning of the whole miracle. It has this in common with the other miracles, that Christ displayed in it his Divine power in union with beneficence, It is also a confirmation to us of that statement by which he exhorts us to seek the kingdom of God, promising that all other things shall be added to us, (<400633>Matthew 6:33.) For if he took care of those who were led to him only by a sudden impulse, how would he desert us, if we seek him with a firm and steady purpose? True, indeed, he will sometimes allow his own people, as I have said, to suffer hunger; but he will never deprive them of his aid; and, in the meantime, he has very good reasons for not assisting us till matters come to an extremity.
Besides, Christ plainly showed that he not only bestows spiritual life on the world, but that his Father commanded him also to nourish the body. For abundance of all blessings is committed to his hand, that, as a channel, he may convey them to us; though I speak incorrectly by calling him a channel, for he is rather the living fountain flowing from the eternal Father. Accordingly, Paul prays that all blessings may come to us from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, in common, (<460103>1 Corinthians 1:3;) and, in another passage, he shows that
in all things we ought to give thanks to God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, (<490520>Ephesians 5:20.)
And not only does this office belong to his eternal Divinity, but even in his human nature, and so far as he has taken upon him our flesh, f120 the Father has appointed him to be the dispenser, that by his hands he may feed us. Now, though we do not every day see miracles before our eyes, yet not less bountifully does God display his power in feeding us. And indeed we do not read that, when he wished to give a supper to his people, he used any new means; and, therefore, it would be an inconsiderate prayer, if any one were to ask that meat and drink might be given to him by some unusual method.
Again, Christ did not provide great delicacies for the people, but they who saw his amazing power displayed in that supper, were obliged to rest satisfied with barley-bread and fish without sauce. f121 And though he does not now satisfy five thousand men with five loaves, still he does not cease to feed the whole world in a wonderful manner. It sounds to us, no doubt, like a paradox, that
man liveth not by bread alone, but by the word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God, (<050803>Deuteronomy 8:3.)
For we are so strongly attached to outward means, that nothing is more difficult than to depend on the providence of God. Hence it arises that we tremble so much, as soon as we have not bread at hand. And if we consider every thing aright, we shall be compelled to discern the blessing of God in all the creatures which serve for our bodily support; f122 but use and frequency lead us to undervalue the miracles of nature. And yet, in this respect, it is not so much our stupidity as our malignity that hinders us; for where is the man to be found who does not choose to wander astray in his mind, and to encompass heaven and earth a hundred times, rather than look at God who presents himself to his view?
13. And filled twelve baskets. When four thousand men were fed by seven loaves, Matthew relates that the number of baskets filled with fragments was exactly the same with the number of the loaves, (<401537>Matthew 15:37.) Since, therefore, a smaller quantity is sufficient for a greater number of men, and since the quantity left is nearly double, hence we see more clearly of what value is that blessing of God, against the sight of which we deliberately shut our eyes. We ought also to observe, in passing, that though Christ commands them to fill the baskets for illustrating the miracle, yet he likewise exhorts his disciples to frugality, when he says, Gather the fragments which are left, that nothing may be lost; for the increase of the bounty of God ought not to be an excitement to luxury. Let those, therefore, who have abundance, remember that they will one day render an account of their immoderate wealth, if they do not carefully and faithfully apply their superfluity to purposes which are good, and of which God approves.

JOHN 6:14-21
14. Those men, therefore, when they saw the miracle which Jesus had performed, said, This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world. 15. And when Jesus knew that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he again withdrew alone into a mountain. 16. And when it was evening, his disciples went down to the sea. 17. And having entered into a ship, they came across the sea into Capernaum; and it was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them. 18. And the sea arose by means of a great wind that blew. 19. When therefore they had rowed about five-and-twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea; and when he approached the ship, f123 they were terrified. 20. But he saith to them, It is I, be not terrified. 21. They were willing, therefore, to receive him into the ship; and immediately the ship reached the place to which they were going.

14. Those men, therefore. The miracle appears to have been attended by some advantage, that they acknowledge the author of it to be the Messiah; for Christ had no other object in view. But immediately they apply to a different and improper purpose the knowledge which they have obtained concerning Christ. And it is a fault extremely common among men, to corrupt and pervert his truth by their falsehoods, as soon as he has revealed himself to them; and even when they appear to have entered into the right path, they immediately fall away.
15. To make him a king. When those men intended to give to Christ the title and honor of king, there was some ground for what they did. But they erred egregiously in taking upon themselves the liberty of making a king; for Scripture ascribes this as peculiar to God alone, as it is said,
I have appointed my king on my holy hill of Zion,
(<190206>Psalm 2:6.)
Again, what sort of kingdom do they contrive for him? An earthly one, which is utterly inconsistent with his person. Hence let us learn how dangerous it is, in the things of God, to neglect His word, and to contrive anything of our own opinion; for there is nothing which the foolish subtlety of our understanding does not corrupt. And what avails the pretense of zeal, when by our disorderly worship we offer a greater insult to God than if a person were expressly and deliberately to make an attack on his glory?
We know how furious were the efforts of adversaries to extinguish the glory of Christ. That violence, indeed, reached its extreme point when he was crucified. But by means of his crucifixion salvation was obtained for the world, f124 and Christ himself obtained a splendid triumph over death and Satan. If he had permitted himself to be now made a king, his spiritual kingdom would have been ruined, the Gospel would have been stamped with everlasting infamy, and the hope of salvation would have been utterly destroyed. Modes of worship regulated according to our own fancy, and honors rashly contrived by men, have no other advantage than this, that they rob God of his true honor, and pour upon him nothing but reproach.
And take him by force. We must also observe the phrase, take by force. They wished to take Christ by force, the Evangelist says; that is, with impetuous violence they wished to make him a king, though against his will. If we desire, therefore, that he should approve of the honor which we confer upon him, we ought always to consider what he requires. And, indeed, they who venture to offer to God honors invented by themselves are chargeable with using some sort of force and violence towards him; for obedience is the foundation of true worship. Let us also learn from it with what reverence we ought to abide by the pure and simple word of God; for as soon as we turn aside in the smallest degree, the truth is poisoned by our leaven, so that it is no longer like itself. They learned from the word of God that he who was promised to be the Redeemer would be a king; but out of their own head they contrive an earthly kingdom, and they assign to him a kingdom contrary to the word of God. Thus, whenever we mix up our own opinions with the word of God, faith degenerates into frivolous conjectures. Let believers, therefore, cultivate habitual modesty, lest Satan hurry them into an ardor of inconsiderate and rash zeal, f125 so that, like the Giants, they shall rush violently against God, who is never worshipped aright but when we receive him as he presents himself to us.
It is astonishing that five thousand men should have been seized with such daring presumption, that they did not hesitate, by making a new king, to provoke against themselves Pilate’s army and the vast power f126 of the Roman empire; and it is certain that they would never have gone so far, if they had not, relying on the predictions of the Prophets, hoped that God would be on their side, and, consequently, that they would overcome. But still they went wrong in contriving a kingdom of which the Prophets had never spoken. So far are they from having the hand of God favorable to aid their undertaking that, on the contrary, Christ withdraws. That was also the reason why wretched men under Popery wandered so long in gross darkness — while God was, as it were, absent — because they had dared to pollute the whole of his worship by their foolish inventions. f127
16. His disciples went down. Christ undoubtedly intended to conceal himself until the crowd should disperse. We know how difficult it is to allay a popular tumult. Now, if they had openly attempted to do what they had intended, it would have been no easy matter afterwards to wipe off the stain which had once been fixed upon him. Meanwhile, he spent all that time in prayer, as the other Evangelists (<401423>Matthew 14:23; <410646>Mark 6:46) relate; probably, that God the Father might repress that folly of the people. f128 As to his crossing the lake in a miraculous manner, it is intended to profit his disciples by again confirming their faith. The advantage extended still farther; for next day all the people would easily see that he had not been brought thither by a boat or ship, f129 but that he had come by his own power; for they blockaded the shore from which he had to set out, and would scarcely have been drawn away from it, if they had not seen the disciples cross to a different place.
17. It was now dark. John passes by many circumstances which the other Evangelists introduce; such as, that for several hours they struggled with a contrary wind; for it is probable that the storm arose immediately after the night began to come on; and they tell us that Christ did not appear to his disciples till about the fourth watch of the night, (<401428>Matthew 14:28; <410648>Mark 6:48.) Those who conjecture that they were still about the middle of the lake when Christ appeared to them, because John says that they had then advanced about twenty-five or thirty furlongs, are led into a mistake by supposing that they had sailed to the farther or opposite bank; for Bethsaida, near which town, Luke tells us, the miracle was performed, (<420910>Luke 9:10,) and Capernaum, which the ship reached, (<430616>John 6:16,) were situated on the same coast.
Pliny, in his fifth book, states that this lake was six miles in breadth, and sixteen in length. Josephus (in the third book of the Wars of the Jews) assigns to it one hundred furlongs in length, and forty in breadth; f130 and as eight furlongs make one mile, we may easily infer how little the one description differs from the other. So far as relates to the present sailing, my opinion is, that they did not go over so great a space by direct sailing, but through being driven about by the tempest. f131 However that may be, the Evangelist intended to show that, when Christ presented himself to them, they were in the utmost danger. It may be thought strange that the disciples should be tormented in this manner, while others had nothing to disturb them in sailing; but in this manner the Lord often makes his people fall into alarming dangers, that they may more plainly and familiarly recognize him in their deliverance.
19. They were terrified. The other Evangelists explain the cause of that fear to have been, that they thought that it was an apparition, (<401426>Matthew 14:26; <410649>Mark 6:49.) Now it is impossible not to be seized with consternation and dread, when an apparition is presented before our eyes; for we conclude that it is either some imposture of Satan, or some bad omen which God sends us. Besides, John here holds out to us, as in a mirror, what kind of knowledge of Christ we may obtain without the word, and what advantage may be reaped from that knowledge. For if he present a simple demonstration of his divinity, we immediately fall into our imaginations, and every person forms an idol for himself instead of Christ. After we have thus wandered in our understanding, this is immediately followed by trembling and a confused terror of heart. But when he begins to speak, we then obtain from his voice clear and solid knowledge, and then also joy and delightful peace dawn upon our minds. For there is great weight in these words:
20. It is I: be not terrified. We learn from them that it is in Christ’s presence alone that we have abundant grounds of confidence, so as to be calm and at ease. But this belongs exclusively to the disciples of Christ; for we shall afterwards see that wicked men were struck down by the same words, It is I, (<431806>John 18:6.) The reason of the distinction is, that he is sent as a Judge to the reprobate and unbelievers for their destruction; and, therefore, they cannot bear his presence without being immediately overwhelmed. But believers, who know that he is given to them to make propitiation, as soon as they hear his name, which is a sure pledge to them both of the love of God and of their salvation, take courage as if they had been raised from death to life, calmly look at the clear sky, dwell quietly on earth, and, victorious over every calamity, take him for their shield against all dangers. Nor does he only comfort and encourage them by his word, but actually removes also the cause of the terror by allaying the tempest.

JOHN 6:22-25
22. Next day, the multitude standing on the other side of the sea, when they saw that there was no other ship there but only that into which his disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered into the ship with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone; 23. And other ships came from Tiberias, near the place where they had eaten bread, after that the Lord had given thanks. 24. When therefore the multitude saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they also entered into the ships, and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25. And having found him on the opposite side of the sea, they said to him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?

22. Next day. Here the Evangelist relates circumstances from which the multitude might conclude that Christ had gone across by divine power. There had been but one ship; they see it go away without Christ; next day, ships come from other places, by which they are conveyed to Capernaum; and there they find Christ. It follows that he must have been conveyed across in a miraculous manner. There is an intricacy and apparent confusion (ajnako>louqon) in the words, but still the meaning of them is plain enough; for, in the 22nd verse, John says that there had been but one ship, and that all saw it leave the shore and that place, and that it had not Christ as a passenger; and, in the 23rd verse, he adds that ships came from Tiberias, by which the multitude passed over, which had remained on the shore, blockading, as it were, every outlet, that Christ might not escape.
23. Near the place where they had eaten bread. The meaning of the words is doubtful; for they may be explained, either that Tiberias was near the place where Christ had fed them with five loaves, or that the ships reached the shore which was near and below that place. I approve more highly of the latter exposition; for Bethsaida, near which Luke states that the miracle was performed, is half-way between Tiberias and Capernaum. Accordingly, when ships came down from that place, which was farther up the lake, they sailed along that shore on which the multitude were standing; and there can be no doubt that they came to land for the purpose of taking in passengers.
After that the Lord had given thanks. When John again mentions that Christ gave thanks, it is not a superfluous repetition; for he means that Christ obtained by prayer that those few loaves were sufficient for feeding so many people; and as we are cold and indolent in prayer, he presses upon us the same thing a second time.
25. On the other side of the sea. We have already said that Capernaum was not situated on the opposite shore; for Tiberias is situated on that part of the lake where it is broadest, Bethsaida follows next, and Capernaum lies near the lowest part, not far from where the river Jordan issues from the lake. Now, when John places it on the other side of the lake itself, we must not understand him as if its position were directly across, but because, at the lower extremity, the lake made a large winding, and, on account of the bay that intervened, it was impossible to go by land without a very circuitous journey. The Evangelist therefore says, on the other side of the sea, adopting the mode of expression used by the common people, because the only direct and ordinary mode of conveyance was by a boat.

JOHN 6:26-29
26. Jesus answered them, and said, Verily, verily, I say to you, You seek me, not because you saw miracles, but because you ate of the loaves, and were satisfied. 27. Labour for food, not that which perisheth, but the food which endureth to eternal life, which the Son of man shall give to you; for him hath God the Father sealed. 28. They said therefore to him, What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? 29. Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you may believe in him whom he hath sent.

26. Jesus answered them. Christ does not reply to the question put to him, which would have been fitted to show to them his power in having come thither by a miracle. f132 But, on the contrary, he chides them for throwing themselves forward without consideration; for they were not acquainted with the true and proper reason of what he did, because they sought in Christ something else than Christ himself. The fault which he complains of in them is, that they seek Christ for the sake of the belly and not of the miracles. And yet it cannot be denied that they looked to the miracle; nay more, the Evangelist has already told us that they were excited by the miracles to follow Christ. But because they abused the miracles for an improper purpose, he justly reproaches them with having a greater regard to the belly than to miracles. His meaning was, that they did not profit by the works of God as they ought to have done; for the true way of profiting would have been to acknowledge Christ as the Messiah in such a manner as to surrender themselves to be taught and governed by him, and, under his guidance, to aspire to the heavenly kingdom of God. On the contrary, they expect nothing greater from him than to live happily and at ease in this world. This is to rob Christ of his chief power; for the reason why he was given by the Father and revealed himself to men is, that he may form them anew after the image of God by giving them his Holy Spirit, and that he may conduct them to eternal life by clothing them with his righteousness.
It is of great importance, therefore, what we keep in view in the miracles of Christ; for he who does not aspire to the kingdom of God, but rests satisfied with the conveniences of the present life, seeks nothing else than to fill his belly. In like manner, there are many persons in the present day who would gladly embrace the gospel, if it were free from the bitterness of the cross, and if it brought nothing but carnal pleasures. Nay, we see many who make a Christian profession, that they may live in greater gaiety and with less restraint. Some through the expectation of gain, others through fear, and others for the sake of those whom they wish to please, profess to be the disciples of Christ. In seeking Christ, therefore, the chief point is, to despise the world and
seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
(<400633>Matthew 6:33.)
Besides, as men very generally impose on themselves, and persuade themselves that they are seeking Christ in the best manner, while they debase the whole of his power, for this reason Christ, in his usual manner, doubles the word verily, as if by the oath he intended to bring to light the vice which lurks under our hypocrisy.
27. Labour for food, not that which perisheth. He shows to what object our desires ought to be directed, namely, to eternal life; but because, in proportion as our understandings are gross, we are always devoted to earthly things, for this reason he corrects that disease which is natural to us, before he points out what we ought to do. The simple doctrine would have been, “Labour to have the incorruptible food;” but, knowing that the senses of men are held bound by earthly cares, he first enjoins them to be loosed and freed from those cords, that they may rise to heaven. Not that he forbids his followers to labor that they may procure daily food; but he shows that the heavenly life ought to be preferred to this earthly life, because the godly have no other reason for living here than that, being sojourners in the world, they may travel rapidly towards their heavenly country.
Next, we ought to see what is the present question; for, since the power of Christ is debased by those who are devoted to the belly and to earthly things, he argues what we ought to seek in him, and why we ought to seek it. He employs metaphors adapted to the circumstances in which his sermon was delivered. If food had not been mentioned, he would have said, without a figure, “You ought to lay aside anxiety about the world, and strive to obtain the heavenly life.” But as those men were running to their fodder like cattle, without looking to anything better, f133 Christ presents his sermon in a metaphorical dress, and gives the name of food to everything that belongs to newness of life. We know that our souls are fed by the doctrine of the gospel, when it is efficacious in us by the power of the Spirit; and, therefore, as faith is the life of the soul, all that nourishes and promotes faith is compared to food.
Which endureth to eternal life. This kind of food he calls incorruptible, and says that it endureth to eternal life, in order to inform us that our souls are not fed for a day, but are nourished in the expectation of a blessed immortality; because the Lord
commences the work of our salvation, that he may perform it till the day of Christ, (<500106>Philippians 1:6.)
For this reason we must receive the gifts of the Spirit, that they may be earnests and pledges of eternal life. For, though the reprobate, after having tasted this food, frequently reject it, so that it is not permanent in them, yet believing souls feel that enduring power, when they are made partakers of the power of the Holy Spirit in his gifts, which is not of short duration, but, on the contrary, never fails.
It is a frivolous exercise of ingenuity to infer, as some do, from the word labor or work, that we merit eternal life by our works; for Christ metaphorically exhorts men, as we have said, to apply their minds earnestly to meditation on the heavenly life, instead of cleaving to the world, as they are wont to do; and Christ himself removes every doubt, when he declares that it is he who giveth the food; for what we obtain by his gift no man procures by his own industry. There is undoubtedly some appearance of contradiction in these words; but we may easily reconcile these two statements, that the spiritual food of the soul is the free gift of Christ, and that we must strive with all the affections of our heart to become partakers of so great a blessing.
For him hath God the Father sealed. He confirms the preceding statement, by saying that he was appointed to us for that purpose by the Father. The ancient writers have misinterpreted and tortured this passage, by maintaining that Christ is said to be sealed, because he is the stamp and lively image of the Father. For he does not here enter into abstruse discussions about his eternal essence, but explains what he has been commissioned and enjoined to do, what is his office in relation to us, and what we ought to seek and expect from him. By an appropriate metaphor, he alludes to an ancient custom; for they sealed with signets what they intended to sanction by their authority. Thus Christ — that it may not appear as if he claimed anything of himself, or by private authority f134 — declares that this office was enjoined on him by the Father, and that this decree of the Father was manifested, as if a seal had been engraven on him. It may be summed up thus: As it is not every person who has the ability or the right f135 to feed souls with incorruptible food, Christ appears in public, and, while he promises that he will be the Author of so great a blessing, he likewise adds that he is approved by God, and that he has been sent to men with this mark, which is, as it were, God’s seal or signet. f136
Hence it follows that the desire of those who shall present their souls to Christ, to be fed by him, will not be disappointed. Let us know, therefore, that life is exhibited to us in Christ, in order that each of us may aspire to it, not at random, but with certainty of success. We are, at the same time, taught that all who bestow this praise on any other than Christ are guilty of falsehood before God. Hence it is evident that the Papists, in every part of their doctrine, are altogether liars; for as often as they invent any means of salvation in the room of Christ, so often do they — by erasing, as it were, the impression which has been made — spoil and deface, with wicked presumption and base treachery, this seal of God, which alone is authentic. That we may not fall into so dreadful a condemnation, let us learn to keep pure and entire for Christ all that the Father has given to him.
28. What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? The multitude understood well enough that Christ had exhorted them to aim at something higher than the conveniences of the present life, and that they ought not to confine their attention to the earth, since God calls them to more valuable blessings. But, in putting this question, they are partly mistaken by not understanding the kind of labor; for they do not consider that God bestows upon us, by the hand of the Son, all that is necessary for spiritual life. First, they ask what they ought to do; and next, when they use the expression, the works of God, they do not understand what they say, and talk without any definite object. f137 In this manner they manifest their ignorance of the grace of God. And yet they appear here to murmur disdainfully against Christ, as if he were accusing them groundlessly. “Dost thou suppose,” say they, “that we have no solicitude about eternal life? Why, then, dost thou enjoin us to do what is beyond our power?” By the works of God we must understand those which God demands, and of which he approves.
29. The work of God is this. They had spoken of works. Christ reminds them of one work, that is, faith; by which he means that all that men undertake without faith is vain and useless, but that faith alone is sufficient, because this alone does God require from us, that we believe. For there is here an implied contrast between faith and the works and efforts of men; as if he had said, Men toil to no purpose, when they endeavor to please God without faith, because, by running, as it were, out of the course, they do not advance towards the goal. This is a remarkable passage, showing that, though men torment themselves wretchedly throughout their whole life, still they lose their pains, if they have not faith in Christ as the rule of their life. Those who infer from this passage that faith is the gift of God are mistaken; for Christ does not now show what God produces in us, but what he wishes and requires from us.
But we may think it strange that God approves of nothing but faith alone; for the love of our neighbor ought not to be despised, and the other exercises of religion do not lose their place and honor. So then, though faith may hold the highest rank, still other works are not superfluous. The reply is easy; for faith does not exclude either the love of our neighbor or any other good work, because it contains them all within itself. Faith is called the only work of God, because by means of it we possess Christ, and thus become the sons of God, so that he governs us by his Spirit. So then, because Christ does not separate faith from its fruits, we need not wonder if he make it to be the first and the last. f138
That you believe in him whom he hath sent. What is the import of the word believe, we have explained under the Third Chapter. It ought always to be remembered that, in order to have a full perception of the power of faith, we must understand what Christ is, in whom we believe, and why he was given to us by the Father. It is idle sophistry, under the pretext of this passage, to maintain that we are justified by works, if faith justifies, because it is likewise called a work. First, it is plain enough that Christ does not speak with strict accuracy, when he calls faith a work, just as Paul makes a comparison between the law of faith and the law of works, (<450327>Romans 3:27.) Secondly, when we affirm that men are not justified by works, we mean works by the merit of which men may obtain favor with God. Now faith brings nothing to God, but, on the contrary, places man before God as empty and poor, that he may be filled with Christ and with his grace. It is, therefore, if we may be allowed the expression, a passive work, to which no reward can be paid, and it bestows on man no other righteousness than that which he receives from Christ.

JOHN 6:30-33
30. They said therefore to him, What sign doest thou then, that we may see and believe thee? What dost thou work? f139 31. Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness, as it is written, He gave them bread of heaven to eat, (<021615>Exodus 16:15; <197824>Psalm 78:24.) 32. Jesus therefore said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. f140 33. For the bread of God is this which hath come down from heaven, and giveth life to the world.

30. What sign doest thou? This wickedness abundantly proves how truly it is said elsewhere, This wicked generation seeketh a sign, (<401239>Matthew 12:39.) They had been at first drawn to Christ by the admiration of his miracles or signs, and afterwards, through amazement at a new sign, they acknowledged Christ to be the Messiah, and, with that conviction, wished to make him a king; but now they demand a sign from him, as if he were a man unknown to them. Whence came such sudden forgetfulness, but because they are ungrateful to God, and, through their own malice, are blind to his power, which is before their eyes? Nor can it be doubted that they treat disdainfully all the miracles which they had already beheld, because Christ does not comply with their wishes, and because they do not find him to be what they imagined him to be. If he had given them expectation of earthly happiness, he would have been highly applauded by them; they would undoubtedly have hailed him as a Prophet, and the Messiah, and the Son of God; but now, because he blames them for being too much addicted to the flesh, they think that they ought not to listen to him any more. And in the present day, how many are there who resemble them! At first, because they promise to themselves that Christ will flatter their vices, they eagerly embrace the gospel, and call for no proof of it; but when they are called to deny the flesh and to bear the cross, then do they begin to renounce Christ and ask whence the gospel came. In short, as soon as Christ does not grant their prayers, he is no longer their Master.
31. Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness. Thus we see that Christ put his finger on the sore, when he told them that they came like brute beasts to fill their belly; for they discover this gross disposition, when they demand a Messiah by whom they are to be fed. And as to the magnificent terms in which they extol the grace of God in the manna, they do this cunningly, in order to bury the doctrine of Christ, by which he condemned them for immoderate desire of corruptible food; for they contrast with it the magnificent title bestowed on the manna, when it is called heavenly bread. But when the Holy Spirit bestows on the manna the honorable appellation of the bread of heaven, (<197824>Psalm 78:24,) it is not with this intention, as if God fed his people, like a herd of swine, and gave them nothing more valuable; and, therefore, they are without excuse, when they wickedly reject the spiritual food of the soul, which God now offers to them.
32. Verily, verily, I say to you, Moses gave you not bread from heaven. Christ appears to contradict what was quoted from the psalm, but he speaks only by comparison. The manna ˆm is called the bread of heaven, but it is for the nourishment of the body; but the bread which ought truly and properly to be reckoned heavenly, is that which gives spiritual nourishment to the soul. Christ therefore makes a contrast here between the world and heaven, because we ought not to seek the incorruptible life but in the kingdom of heaven. In this passage, truth is not contrasted with shadows, as is often done elsewhere; but Christ considers what is the true life of man, or, in other words, what it is that makes him different from brute beasts, and excellent among the creatures.
My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. When he adds these words, the meaning is,” The manna which Moses gave to your fathers did not bring heavenly life, but now heavenly life is truly exhibited to you.” True, it is the Father whom he calls the giver of this bread, but he means that it is given by his own hand. Thus the contrast relates, not to Moses and God, but to Moses and Christ. Now, Christ represents his Father rather than himself as the Author of this gift, in order to procure for himself deeper reverence; as if he had said, “Acknowledge me to be the minister of God, by whose hands he wishes to feed you to eternal life.” But, again, this appears to be inconsistent with the doctrine of Paul, who calls the manna — spiritual food, (<461003>1 Corinthians 10:3.) I reply, Christ speaks according to the capacity of those with whom he has to deal, and this is not uncommon in Scripture. We see how variously Paul speaks about circumcision. When he writes about the ordinance, he calls it the seal of faith, (<450411>Romans 4:11;) but when he has to contend with false apostles, he calls it rather a seal of cursing, and that by taking it with the qualities which they ascribed to it, and according to their opinion. f141 Let us consider what was the objection made against Christ, namely, that he did not prove himself to be the Messiah, if he did not supply his followers with bodily food. Accordingly, he does not inquire what it was that was prefigured by the manna, but maintains that the bread with which Moses fed their bellies was not true bread.
33. For the bread of God. Christ reasons negatively from the definition to the thing defined, in this manner: “The heavenly bread is that which hath come down from heaven to give life to the world. In the manna there was nothing of this sort; and, therefore, the manna was not the heavenly bread.” But, at the same time, he confirms what he formerly said, namely, that he is sent by the Father, in order that he may feed men in a manner far more excellent than Moses. True, the manna came down from the visible heaven, that is, from the clouds; but not from the eternal kingdom of God, from which life flows to us. And the Jews, whom Christ addresses, looked no higher than that the bellies of their fathers were well stuffed and fattened in the wilderness.
What he formerly called the bread of heaven, he now calls the bread of God; not that the bread which supports us in the present life comes from any other than God, but because that alone can be reckoned the bread of God f142 which quickens souls to a blessed immortality. This passage teaches that the whole world is dead to God, except so far as Christ quickens it, because life will be found nowhere else than in him.
Which hath come down from heaven. In the coming down from heaven two things are worthy of observation; first, that we have a Divine life in Christ, because he has come from God to be the Author of life to us; secondly, that the heavenly life is near us,
so that we do not need to fly above the clouds or to cross the sea, (<053012>Deuteronomy 30:12, 13; <451006>Romans 10:6-8;)
for the reason why Christ descended to us was, that no man could ascend above.

JOHN 6:34-40
34. They said therefore to him, Lord, give us always this bread. 35. Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth in me shall never thirst. 36. But I have told you that you have also seen me and do not believe. 37. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will not cast out; 38. For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39. And this is the will of the Father who sent me, that of all that he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40. And this is the will of him who sent me, that whosoever seeth the Son, and believeth in him, shall have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

34. Give us always this bread. There is no doubt that they speak ironically, to accuse Christ of vain boasting, when he said that he was able to give the bread of life. Thus wretched men, while they reject the promises of God, are not satisfied with this evil alone, but put Christ in their room, as if he were chargeable with their unbelief.
35. I am the bread of life. First, he shows that the bread, which they asked in mockery, is before their eyes; and, next, he reproves them. He begins with doctrine, to make it more evident that they were guilty of ingratitude. There are two parts of the doctrine; for he shows whence we ought to seek life, and how we may enjoy it. We know what gave occasion to Christ to use those metaphors; it was because manna and daily food had been mentioned. But still this figure is better adapted to teach ignorant persons than a simple style. When we eat bread for the nourishment of the body, we see more clearly not only our own weakness, but also the power of divine grace, than if, without, bread, God were to impart a secret power to nourish the body itself. Thus, the analogy which is traced between the body and the soul, enables us to perceive more clearly the grace of Christ. For when we learn that Christ is the bread by which our souls must be fed, this penetrates more deeply into our hearts than if Christ simply said that he is our life.
It ought to be observed, however, that the word bread does not express the quickening power of Christ so fully as we feel it; for bread does not commence life, but nourishes and upholds that life which we already possess. But, through the kindness of Christ, we not only continue to possess life, but have the beginning of life, and therefore the comparison is partly inappropriate; but there is no inconsistency in this, for Christ adapts his style to the circumstances of the discourse which he formerly delivered. Now the question had been raised, Which of the two was more eminent in feeding men, Moses or Christ himself? This is also the reason why he calls it bread only, for it was only the manna that they objected to him, and, therefore, he reckoned it enough to contrast with it a different kind of bread. The simple doctrine is, “Our souls do not live by an intrinsic power, so to speak, that is, by a power which they have naturally in themselves, f143 but borrow life from Christ.”
He who cometh to me. He now defines the way of taking this food; it is when we receive Christ by faith. For it is of no avail to unbelievers that Christ is the bread of life, because they remain always empty; but then does Christ become our bread, when we come to him as hungry persons, that he may fill us. To come to Christ and to believe mean, in this passage, the same thing; but the former word is intended to express the effect of faith, namely, that it is in consequence of being driven by the feeling of our hunger that we fly to Christ to seek life.
Those who infer from this passage that to eat Christ is faith, and nothing else, reason inconclusively. I readily acknowledge that there is no other way in which we eat Christ than by believing; but the eating is the effect and fruit of faith rather than faith itself. For faith does not look at Christ only as at a distance, but embraces him, that he may become ours and may dwell in us. It causes us to be incorporated with him, to have life in common with him, and, in short, to become one with him, (<431721>John 17:21.) It is therefore true that by faith alone we eat Christ, provided we also understand in what manner faith unites us to him.
Shall never thirst. This appears to be added without any good reason; for the office of bread is not to quench thirst, but to allay hunger. Christ therefore attributes to bread more than its nature allows. I have already said, that he employs the word bread alone because it was required by the comparison between the manna and the heavenly power of Christ, by which our souls are sustained in life. At the same time, by the word bread, he means in general all that nourishes us, and that according to the ordinary custom of his nation. For the Hebrews, by the figure of speech called synecdoche, use the word bread for dinner or supper; and when we ask from God our daily bread, (<400611>Matthew 6:11,) we include drink and all the other parts of life. The meaning therefore is, “Whoever shall betake himself to Christ, to have life from him, will want nothing, but will have in abundance all that contributes to sustain life.”
36. But I have told you. He now reproves them for wickedly rejecting the gift of God, which is offered to them. Now, that man is chargeable with wicked contempt of God, who rejects what he knows that God has given him. If Christ had not made known his power, and plainly showed that he came from God, the plea of ignorance might have alleviated their guilt; but when they reject the doctrine of him whom they formerly acknowledged to be the Lord’s Messiah, it is extreme baseness. It is no doubt true, that men never resist God purposely, so as to reflect that they have to do with God; and to this applies the saying of Paul,
They would never have crucified the Lord of glory, if they had known him (<460208>1 Corinthians 2:8.)
But unbelievers, because they willingly shut their eyes against the light are justly said to see that which immediately vanishes from their sight, because Satan darkens their understandings. This, at least, is beyond all controversy, that when he said that they saw, we must not understand him to mean his bodily appearance, but rather that he describes their voluntary blindness, because they might have known what he was, if their malice had not prevented them.
37. All that the Father giveth me. That their unbelief may not detract anything from his doctrine, he says, that the cause of so great obstinacy is, that they are reprobate, and do not belong to the flock of God. His intention, therefore, in distinguishing here between the elect and the reprobate is, that the authority of his doctrine may remain unimpaired, though there are many who do not believe it. For, on the one hand, ungodly men calumniate and utterly despise the word of God, because they are not moved by reverence for it; and, on the other hand, many weak and ignorant persons entertain doubts whether that which is rejected by a great part of the world be actually the word of God. Christ meets this offense, when he affirms, that all those who do not believe are not his own, and that we need not wonder if such persons have no relish for the word of God, but that it is embraced by all the children of God. In the first place, he says, that all whom the Father giveth him come to him; by which words he means, that faith is not a thing which depends on the will of men, so that this man and that man indiscriminately and at random believe, but that God elects those whom he hands over, as it were, to his Son; for when he says, that whatever is given cometh, we infer from it, that all do not come. Again, we infer, that God works in his elect by such an efficacy of the Holy Spirit, that not one of them falls away; for the word give has the same meaning as if Christ had said, “Those whom the Father hath chosen he regenerates, and gives to me, that they may obey the Gospel.”
And him that cometh to me I will not cast out. This is added for the consolation of the godly, that they may be fully persuaded that they have free access to Christ by faith, and that, as soon as they have placed themselves under his protection and safeguard, they will be graciously received by him. Hence it follows, that the doctrine of the Gospel will be salutary to all believers, because no man becomes a disciple of Christ who does not, on the other hand, feel and experience him to be a good and faithful teacher.
38. For I came down from heaven. This is a confirmation of the preceding statement, that we do not seek Christ in vain. For faith is a work of God, by which he shows that we are his people, and appoints his Son to be the protector of our salvation. Now the Son has no other design than to fulfill the commands of his Father. Consequently, he will never reject those whom his Father hath sent. Hence, finally, it follows, that faith will never be useless. As to the distinction which Christ makes between his own will and the will of the Father, in this respect, he accommodates himself to his hearers, because, as the mind of man is prone to distrust, we are wont to contrive some diversity which produces hesitation. To cut off every pretense for those wicked imaginations, Christ declares, that he has been manifested to the world, in order that he may actually ratify what the Father hath decreed concerning our salvation.
39. And this is the will of the Father. He now testifies, that this is the design of the Father, that believers may find salvation secured in Christ; from which again it follows, that all who do not profit by the doctrine of the Gospel are reprobate. Wherefore, if we see that it turns to the ruin of many, we have no reason to despond, because those men willingly draw down the evil on themselves. Let us rest satisfied with this, that the Gospel will always have power to gather the elect to salvation.
That I should lose none of it. That is, “That I should not suffer it to be taken from me or perish;” by which he means, that he is not the guardian of our salvation for a single day, or for a few days, but that he will take care of it to the end, so that he will conduct us, as it were, from the commencement to the termination of our course; and therefore he mentions the last resurrection. This promise is highly necessary for us, who miserably groan under so great weakness of the flesh, of which every one of us is sufficiently aware; and at every moment, indeed, the salvation of the whole world might be ruined, were it not that believers, supported by the hand of Christ, advance boldly to the day of resurrection. Let this, therefore, be fixed in our minds, that Christ has stretched out his hand to us, that he may not desert us in the midst of the course, but that, relying on his goodness, we may boldly raise our eyes to the last day.
There is also another reason why he mentions the resurrection. It is because, so long as our life is hidden, (<510303>Colossians 3:3,) we are like dead men. For in what respect do believers differ from wicked men, but that, overwhelmed with afflictions, and like sheep destined for the slaughter, (<450836>Romans 8:36,) they have always one foot in the grave, and, indeed, are not far from being continually swallowed up by death? Thus there remains no other support of our faith and patience but this, that we keep out of view the condition of the present life, and apply our minds and our senses to the last day, and pass through the obstructions of the world, until the fruit of our faith at length appear.
40. And this is the will of him who sent me. He had said that the Father had committed to him the protection of our salvation; and now he likewise describes the manner in which it is accomplished. The way to obtain salvation, therefore, is to obey the Gospel of Christ. This point he had, indeed, glanced at a little before but now he expresses more fully what he had spoken somewhat obscurely. And if it is the will of God that those whom he has elected shall be saved, and if in this manner he ratifies and executes his eternal decree, whoever he be that is not satisfied with Christ, but indulges in curious inquiries about eternal predestination, such a person, as far as lies in his power, desires to be saved contrary to the purpose of God. The election of God is in itself hidden and secret; the Lord manifests it by calling, that is, when he bestows on us this blessing of calling us. f144
They are madmen, therefore, who seek their own salvation or that of others in the whirlpool of predestination, not keeping the way of salvation which is exhibited to them. Nay more, by this foolish speculation, they endeavor to overturn the force and effect of predestination; for if God has elected us to this end, that we may believe, take away faith, and election will be imperfect. But we have no right to break through the order and succession of the beginning and the end, since God, by his purpose, hath decreed and determined that it shall proceed unbroken. f145 Besides, as the election of God, by an indissoluble bond, draws his calling along with it, so when God has effectually called us to faith in Christ, let this have as much weight with us as if he had engraven his seal to ratify his decree concerning our salvation. For the testimony of the Holy Spirit is nothing else than the sealing of our adoption, (<450815>Romans 8:15.) To every man, therefore, his faith is a sufficient attestation of the eternal predestination of God, so that it would be a shocking sacrilege f146 to carry the inquiry farther; for that man offers an aggravated insult to the Holy Spirit, who refuses to assent to his simple testimony.
Whosoever seeth the Son, and believeth in him. He uses the words, see and believe, in contrast with what he had formerly said; for he had reproached the Jews with not believing, even though they saw, (verse 36.) But now, speaking of the sons of God, with the feeling which they have of the power of God in Christ, he joins the obedience of faith. Moreover, these words show that faith proceeds from the knowledge of Christ; not that it desires anything beyond the simple word of God, but because, if we trust in Christ, we must perceive what he is, and what he brings to us.

JOHN 6:41-45
41. The Jews therefore murmured concerning him, because he said, I am the bread which have come down from heaven. 42. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How therefore doth he say, I have come down from heaven? 43. Jesus therefore answered, and said to them, Murmur not among yourselves. 44. No man can come to me, unless the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45. It is written in the Prophets, And they shall be all taught by God; whosoever therefore hath heard my Father, and hath learned, f147 cometh to me.

41. The Jews therefore murmured concerning him. The Evangelist explains the cause of the murmuring to have been, that the Jews were offended at the mean condition of Christ’s human nature, f148 and did not perceive in him any thing Divine or heavenly. Yet he shows that they had a twofold obstruction. One they had framed for themselves out of a false opinion, when they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we hnow? Another arose from a wicked sentiment, that they did not think that Christ was the Son of God, because he came down to men clothed with our flesh. f149 But we are guilty of excessive malignity, if we despise the Lord of glory because on our account
he emptied himself, and took upon him the form of a servant, (<502007>Philippians 2:7;)
for this was rather an illustrious proof of his boundless love towards us, and of his wonderful grace. Besides, the Divine majesty of Christ was not so concealed under the mean and contemptible appearance of the flesh, as not to give out the rays of his brightness in a variety of ways; but those gross and stupid men wanted eyes to see his conspicuous glory.
We, too, sin daily in both of these ways. First, it is a great hinderance to us, that it is only with carnal eyes that we behold Christ; and this is the reason why we perceive in him nothing magnificent, for by our sinful views we pervert all that belongs to him and to his doctrine, so unskilful are we to profit by them, or to view them in the proper light. f150 Secondly, not satisfied with this, we adopt many false imaginations, which produce a contempt of the Gospel. Nay, there are even many who frame for themselves monsters, that they may make them a pretense for hating the Gospel. In this manner the world deliberately drives away the grace of God. Now the Evangelist expressly names the Jews, in order to inform us that the murmuring proceeded from those who gloried in the title of faith and of the Church, that we may all learn to receive Christ with reverence, when he comes down to us, and that, in proportion as he comes nearer to us, we may more cheerfully approach to him, that he may raise us to his heavenly glory.
43. Murmur not among yourselves. He throws back on them the blame of the murmuring, as if he had said, “My doctrine contains no ground of offense, but because you are reprobate, it irritates your envenomed breasts, and the reason why you do not relish it is, that you have a vitiated taste.”
44. No man can come to me, unless the Father, who hath sent me, draw him. He does not merely accuse them of wickedness, but likewise reminds them, that it is a peculiar gift of God to embrace the doctrine which is exhibited by him; which he does, that their unbelief may not disturb weak minds. For many are so foolish that, in the things of God, they depend on the opinions of men; in consequence of which, they entertain suspicions about the Gospel, as soon as they see that it is not received by the world. Unbelievers, on the other hand, flattering themselves in their obstinacy, have the hardihood to condemn the Gospel because it does not please them. On the contrary, therefore, Christ declares that the doctrine of the Gospel, though it is preached to all without exception, cannot be embraced by all, but that a new understanding and a new perception are requisite; and, therefore, that faith does not depend on the will of men, but that it is God who gives it.
Unless the Father draw him. To come to Christ being here used metaphorically for believing, the Evangelist, in order to carry out the metaphor in the apposite clause, says that those persons are drawn whose understandings God enlightens, and whose hearts he bends and forms to the obedience of Christ. The statement amounts to this, that we ought not to wonder if many refuse to embrace the Gospel; because no man will ever of himself be able to come to Christ, but God must first approach him by his Spirit; and hence it follows that all are not drawn, but that God bestows this grace on those whom he has elected. True, indeed, as to the kind of drawing, it is not violent, so as to compel men by external force; but still it is a powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit, which makes men willing who formerly were unwilling and reluctant. It is a false and profane assertion, therefore, that none are drawn but those who are willing to be drawn, f151 as if man made himself obedient to God by his own efforts; for the willingness with which men follow God is what they already have from himself, who has formed their hearts to obey him.
45. It is written in the Prophets. Christ confirms by the testimony of Isaiah what he said, that no man can come to him, unless he be drawn by the Father. He uses the word prophets in the plural number, because all their prophecies had been collected into one volume, so that all the prophets might justly be accounted one book. The passage which is here quoted is to be found in <235413>Isaiah 54:13, where, speaking of the restoration of the Church, he promises to her, sons taught by the instruction of God. Hence it may easily be inferred, that the Church cannot be restored in any other way than by God undertaking the office of a Teacher, and bringing believers to himself. The way of teaching, of which the prophet speaks, does not consist merely in the external voice, but likewise in the secret operation of the Holy Spirit. In short, this teaching of God is the inward illumination of the heart.
And they shall be all taught by God. As to the word all, it must be limited to the elect, who alone are the true children of the Church. Now it is not difficult to see in what manner Christ applies this prediction to the present subject. Isaiah shows that then only is the Church truly edified, when she has her children taught by God. Christ, therefore, justly concludes that men have not eyes to behold the light of life, until God has opened them. But at the same time, he fastens on the general phrase, all; because he argues from it, that all who are taught by God are effectually drawn, so as to come; and to this relates what he immediately adds,
Whosoever therefore hath heard my Father. The amount of what is said is, that all who do not believe are reprobate and doomed to destruction; because all the sons of the Church and heirs of life are made by God to be his obedient disciples. Hence it follows, that there is not one of all the elect of God who shall not be a partaker of faith in Christ. f152 Again, as Christ formerly affirmed that men are not fitted for believing, until they have been drawn, so he now declares that the grace of Christ, by which they are drawn, is efficacious, so that they necessarily believe.
These two clauses utterly overturn the whole power of free will, of which the Papists dream. For if it be only when the Father has drawn us that we begin to come to Christ, there is not in us any commencement of faith, or any preparation for it. On the other hand, if all come whom the Father hath taught, He gives to them not only the choice of believing, but faith itself. When, therefore, we willingly yield to the guidance of the Spirit, this is a part, and, as it were, a sealing of grace; because God would not draw us, if He were only to stretch out his hand, and leave our will in a state of suspense. But in strict propriety of language He is said to draw us, when He extends the power of his Spirit to the full effect of faith. They are said to hear God, who willingly assent to God speaking to them within, because the Holy Spirit reigns in their hearts.
Cometh to me. He shows the inseparable connection that exists between him and the Father. For the meaning is, that it is impossible that any who are God’s disciples shall not obey Christ, and that they who reject Christ refuse to be taught by God; because the only wisdom that all the elect learn in the school of God is, to come to Christ; for the Father, who sent him, cannot deny himself.

JOHN 6:46-51
46. Not that any man hath seen the Father, but he who is from God; he hath seen the Father. 47. Verily, verily, I say to you, He who believeth in me hath eternal life. 48. I am the bread of life. 49. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50. This is the bread which hath come down from heaven, that any man may eat of it, and not die. 51. I am the living bread which hath come down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread which I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.

46. Not that any man hath seen the Father. As he has hitherto magnified the grace of his Father, so now he earnestly directs believers to himself alone. For both must be joined together; that no knowledge of Christ can be obtained, until the Father enlighten by his Spirit those who are by nature blind; and yet that it is in vain to seek God, unless Christ go before; for the majesty of God is so lofty, that the senses of men cannot reach him. Nay, more, all that knowledge of God which men may think that they have attained out of Christ will be a deadly abyss. When he says that he alone hath known the Father, he means that it is an office which belongs peculiarly to himself, to manifest God to men, who would otherwise have been concealed.
47. He who believeth in me. This is an explanation of the former statement. For we are taught by these words that it is when we believe in Christ that God is made known to us; for then do we begin to see, as in a mirror, or as in a bright and lively image, God who was formerly invisible. Accursed then be every thing that is declared to us concerning God, if it do not lead us to Christ. What it is to believe in Christ I have already explained; for we must not imagine a confused and empty faith, which deprives Christ of his power, as the Papists do, who believe in Christ just as far as they think fit. For the reason why we obtain life by faith is, that we know that all the parts of our life are contained in Christ.
The inference which some draw from this passage — that to believe in Christ is the same thing as to eat Christ, or his flesh — is not well founded. For these two things differ from each other as former and latter; and in like manner, to come to Christ and to drink him, for coming to him is first in order. I acknowledge that Christ is not eaten but by faith; but the reason is, because we receive him by faith, that he may dwell in us, and that we may be made partakers of him, and thus may be one with him. To eat him, therefore, is an effect or work of faith.
48. I am the bread of life. Besides what he formerly said, that he is the life-giving bread, by which our souls are nourished, in order to explain it more fully, he likewise repeats the contrast between this bread and the ancient manna, together with a comparison of the men.
49. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and are dead. He says that the manna was a perishing food to their fathers, for it did not free them from death. It follows, therefore, that souls do not find anywhere else than in him that food by which they are fed to spiritual life. Besides, we must keep in remembrance what I formerly stated, that what is here said does not relate to the manna, so far as it was a secret figure of Christ; for in that respect Paul calls it spiritual food, (<461003>1 Corinthians 10:3.) But we have said that Christ here accommodates his discourse to the hearers, who, caring only about feeding the belly, looked for nothing higher in the manna. Justly, therefore does he declare that their fathers are dead, that is, those who in the same manner, were devoted to the belly, or, in other words, who thought of nothing higher than this world. f153 And yet he invites them to eat, when he says that he has come, that any man may eat; for this mode of expression has the same meaning as if he said, that he is ready to give himself to all, provided that they are only willing to believe. That not one of those who have once eaten Christ shall die — must be understood to mean, that the life which he bestows on us is never extinguished, as we stated under the Fifth Chapter.
51. I am the living bread. He often repeats the same thing, because nothing is more necessary to be known; and every one feels in himself with what difficulty we are brought to believe it, and how easily and quickly it passes away and is forgotten. f154 We all desire life, but in seeking it, we foolishly and improperly wander about in circuitous roads; and when it is offered, the greater part disdainfully reject it. For who is there that does not contrive for himself life out of Christ? And how few are there who are satisfied with Christ alone! It is not a superfluous repetition, therefore, when Christ asserts so frequently that he alone is sufficient to give life. For he claims for himself the designation of bread, in order to tear from our hearts all fallacious hopes of living. Having formerly called himself the bread of life, he now calls himself the living bread, but in the same sense, namely, life-giving bread.Which have come down from heaven. He frequently mentions his coming down from heaven, because spiritual and incorruptible life will not be found in this world, the fashion of which passes away and vanishes, but only in the heavenly kingdom of God.
If any man eat of this bread. Whenever he uses the word eat, he exhorts us to faith, which alone enables us to enjoy this bread, so as to derive life from it. f155 Nor is it without good reason that he does so, for there are few who deign to stretch out their hand to put this bread to their mouth; and even when the Lord puts it into their mouth, there are few who relish it, but some are filled with wind, and others — like Tantalus — are dying of hunger through their own folly, while the food is close beside them.
The bread which I shall give is my flesh. As this secret power to bestow life, of which he has spoken, might be referred to his Divine essence, he now comes down to the second step, and shows that this life is placed in his flesh, that it may be drawn out of it. It is, undoubtedly, a wonderful purpose of God that he has exhibited life to us in that flesh, where formerly there was nothing but the cause of death. And thus he provides for our weakness, when he does not call us above the clouds to enjoy life, but displays it on earth, in the same manner as if he were exalting us to the secrets of his kingdom. And yet, while he corrects the pride of our mind, he tries the humility and obedience of our faith, when he enjoins those who would seek life to place reliance on his flesh, which is contemptible in its appearance.
But an objection is brought, that the flesh of Christ cannot give life, because it was liable to death, and because even now it is not immortal in itself; and next, that it does not at all belong to the nature of flesh to quicken souls. I reply, though this power comes from another source than from the flesh, still this is no reason why the designation may not accurately apply to it; for as the eternal Word of God is the fountain of life, (<430104>John 1:4,) so his flesh, as a channel, conveys to us that life which dwells intrinsically, as we say, in his Divinity. And in this sense it is called life-giving, because it conveys to us that life which it borrows for us from another quarter. This will not be difficult to understand, if we consider what is the cause of life, namely, righteousness. And though righteousness flows from God alone, still we shall not attain the full manifestation of it any where else than in the flesh of Christ; for in it was accomplished the redemption of man, in it a sacrifice was offered to atone for sins, and an obedience yielded to God, to reconcile him to us; it was also filled with the sanctification of the Spirit, and at length, having vanquished death, it was received into the heavenly glory. It follows, therefore that all the parts of life have been placed in it, that no man may have reason to complain that he is deprived of life, as if it were placed in concealment, or at a distance.
Which I shall give for the life of the world. The word give is used in various senses. The first giving, of which he has formerly spoken, is made daily, whenever Christ offers himself to us. Secondly, it denotes that singular giving which was done on the cross, when he offered himself as a sacrifice to his Father; for then he delivered himself up to death for the life of men, and now he invites us to enjoy the fruit of his death. For it would be of no avail to us that that sacrifice was once offered, if we did not now feast on that sacred banquet. It ought also to be observed, that Christ claims for himself the office of sacrificing his flesh. Hence it appears with what wicked sacrilege the Papists pollute themselves, when they take upon themselves, in the mass, what belonged exclusively to that one High Priest.

JOHN 6:52-58
52. The Jews therefore debated among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 53. Jesus therefore said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have not life in you. 54. He who eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55. For my flesh is truly food, and my blood is truly drink. 56. He who eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live on account of my Father; and he who eateth me, even he shall live for my sake. 58. This is the bread which hath come down from heaven; not as your fathers ate manna, and are dead; he who eateth this bread shall live for ever.

52. The Jews therefore debated among themselves. He again mentions the Jews, not by way of honor, but to reproach them with their unbelief, because they do not receive the well known doctrine concerning eternal life, or, at least, do not inquire modestly into the subject, if it be still obscure and doubtful. For when he says that they debated, it is a sign of obstinacy and contempt; and those who dispute so keenly do, indeed, block up against themselves the road to the knowledge of the truth. And yet the blame imputed to them is not simply that they inquired into the manner; for the same blame would fall on Abraham and the blessed Virgin, (<011502>Genesis 15:2; <420134>Luke 1:34.) Those persons, therefore, are either led astray through ignorance, or are deficient in candour, who, without taking into account the hardihood and eagerness to quarrel, which alone the Evangelist condemns, direct all their outcry against the word how; as if it had not been lawful for the Jews to inquire about the manner of eating the flesh of Christ. f156 But it ought rather to be imputed to sloth than ascribed to the obedience of faith, if we knowingly and willingly leave unsolved those doubts and difficulties which are removed for us by the word of the Lord. Not only is it lawful, therefore, to inquire as to the manner of eating the flesh of Christ, but it is of great importance for us to understand it, so far as it is made known by the Scriptures. Away, then, with that fierce and obstinate pretense of humility, “For my part, I am satisfied with that single word of Christ, when he declares that his flesh is truly food: to all the rest I willingly shut my eyes.” As if heretics would not have equal plausibility on their side, if they willingly were ignorant that Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost, because, believing that he is the seed of Abraham, they make no farther inquiry. Only we ought to preserve such moderation about the secret works of God, as not to desire to know anything more than what he determines by his word.
53. Verily, verily, I say to you. The just resentment which Christ felt, f157 when he saw his grace rejected with such haughty disdain, constrained him to employ this oath. For he does not now make use of simple doctrine, but likewise mingles threatenings for the purpose of striking terror. He denounces eternal perdition against all who refuse to seek life from his flesh; as if he had said, “If you hold my flesh in contempt, rest assured that there remains for you no other hope of life.” The vengeance that awaits all despisers of the grace of Christ is, that with their pride they miserably perish; and the reason why they must be urged with plainness and severity is, that they may not continue to flatter themselves. For if we threaten with death those diseased persons who refuse to take medicines, what must we do with wicked men, when they strive, as far as lies in their power, to destroy life itself?
Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man. When he says, the flesh of the Son of man, the expression is emphatic; for he reproves them for their contempt, which arose from perceiving that he resembled other men. The meaning therefore is: “Despise me as much as you please, on account of the mean and despicable appearance of my flesh, still that despicable flesh contains life; and if you are destitute of it, you will nowhere else find any thing else to quicken you.”
The ancients fell into a gross error by supposing that little children were deprived of eternal life, if they did not dispense to them the eucharist, that is, the Lord’s Supper; f158 for this discourse does not relate to the Lord’s Supper, but to the uninterrupted communication of the flesh of Christ, f159 which we obtain apart from the use of the Lord’s Supper. Nor were the Bohemians in the right, when they adduced this passage to prove that all without exception ought to be admitted to the use of the cup. With respect to young children, the ordinance of Christ forbids them to partake of the Lord’s Supper; because they are not yet able to know or to celebrate the remembrance of the death of Christ. The same ordinance makes the cup common to all, for it commands us all to drink of it, (<402627>Matthew 26:27.)
54. He who eateth my flesh. This is a repetition, but is not superfluous; for it confirms what was difficult to be believed, That souls feed on his flesh and blood, in precisely the same manner that the body is sustained by eating and drinking. Accordingly, as he lately testified that nothing but death remains for all who seek life anywhere else than in his flesh, so now he excites all believers f160 to cherish good hope, while he promises to them life in the same flesh.
And I will raise him up at the last day. It ought to be observed, that Christ so frequently connects the resurrection with eternal life, because our salvation will be hidden till that day. No man, therefore, can perceive what Christ bestows on us, unless, rising above the world, he places before his eyes the last resurrection. From these words, it plainly appears that the whole of this passage is improperly explained, as applied to the Lord’s Supper. For if it were true that all who present themselves at the holy table of the Lord are made partakers of his flesh and blood, all will, in like manner, obtain life; but we know that there are many who partake of it to their condemnation. And indeed it would have been foolish and unreasonable to discourse about the Lord’s Supper, before he had instituted it. It is certain, then, that he now speaks of the perpetual and ordinary manner of eating the flesh of Christ, which is done by faith only. f161 And yet, at the same time, I acknowledge that there is nothing said here that is not figuratively represented, and actually bestowed on believers, in the Lord’s Supper; and Christ even intended that the holy Supper should be, as it were, a seal and confirmation f162 of this sermon. This is also the reason why the Evangelist John makes no mention of the Lord’s Supper; and therefore Augustine follows the natural order, when, in explaining this chapter, he does not touch on the Lord’s Supper till he comes to the conclusion; and then he shows that this mystery is symbolically represented, whenever the Churches celebrate the Lord’s Supper, in some places daily, and in other places only on the Lord’s day.
55. For my flesh is truly food. He confirms the same statement by other words, “As the body is weakened and consumed by the want of food, so the soul, if it be not fed with heavenly bread, will soon perish with hunger.” For when he declares that his flesh is truly food, he means that souls are famished, if they want that food. Then only wilt thou find life in Christ, when thou shalt seek the nourishment of life in his flesh. Thus we ought to boast, with Paul, that we reckon nothing to be excellent but Christ crucified; because, as soon as we have departed from the sacrifice of his death, we meet with nothing but death; nor is there any other road that conducts us to a perception of his Divine power than through his death and resurrection. Embrace Christ, therefore, as the Servant of the Father, (<234201>Isaiah 42:1,) that he may show himself to thee to be the Prince of life, (<440315>Acts 3:15.) For when he emptied himself , (<502007>Philippians 2:7,) in this manner we were enriched with abundance of all blessings; his humiliation and descent into hell raised us to heaven; and, by enduring the curse of his cross, he erected the banner of our righteousness as a splendid memorial of his victory. f163 Consequently, they are false expounders of the mystery of the Lord’s Supper, f164 who draw away souls from the flesh of Christ.
And my blood is truly drink. But why does Christ mention his blood separately, when it is included in the word flesh? I reply, he did so in condescension to our weakness. For when he expressly mentions food and drink, he declares that the life which he bestows is complete in every respect, that we may not imagine to ourselves a life which is only half or imperfect; as if he had said, that we shall want nothing that belongs to life, provided that we eat his flesh and drink his blood. Thus also in the Lord’s Supper, which corresponds to this doctrine, not satisfied with the symbol of the bread, he adds also the cup, that, having in him a twofold pledge, we may learn to be satisfied with him alone; for never will a man find a part of life in Christ, until he has entire and complete life in him.
56. He who eateth my flesh. This is another confirmation; for while he alone has life in himself, he shows how we may enjoy it, that is, by eating his flesh; as if he had affirmed that there is no other way in which he can become ours, than by our faith being directed to his flesh. For no one will ever come to Christ as God, who despises him as man; and, therefore, if you wish to have any interest in Christ, you must take care, above all things, that you do not disdain his flesh.
Dwelleth in me, and I in him. When he says that he dwelleth in us, the meaning is the same as if he had said, that the only bond of union, and the way by which he becomes one with us, is, when our faith relies on his death. We may likewise infer from it, that he is not now speaking of the outward symbol, which many unbelievers receive equally with believers, and yet continue separated from Christ. It enables us also to refute the dream of those who say, that Judas received the body of Christ as well as the other apostles, when Christ gave the bread to all; for as it is a display of ignorance to limit this doctrine to the outward sign, so we ought to remember what I have formerly said, that the doctrine which is here taught is sealed in the Lord’s Supper. Now, it is certain, in the first place, that Judas never was a member of Christ; secondly, it is highly unreasonable to imagine the flesh of Christ to be dead and destitute of the Holy Spirit; and, lastly, it is a mockery to dream of any way of eating the flesh of Christ without faith, since faith alone is the mouth — so to speak — and the stomach of the soul.
57. As the living Father hath sent me. Hitherto Christ has explained the manner in which we must become partakers of life. He now comes to speak of the principal cause, for the first source of life is in the Father. But he meets an objection, for it might be thought that he took away from God what belonged to him, when he made himself the cause of life. He makes himself, therefore, to be the Author of life, in such a manner, as to acknowledge that there was another who gave him what he administers to others.
Let us observe, that this discourse also is accommodated to the capacity of those to whom Christ was speaking; for it is only with respect to his flesh that he compares himself to the Father. For though the Father is the beginning of life, yet the eternal Word himself is strictly life. But the eternal Divinity of Christ is not the present subject; for he exhibits himself such as he was manifested to the world, clothed with our flesh.
I also live on account of the Father. This does not apply to his Divinity simply, nor does it apply to his human nature simply and by itself, but it is a description of the Son of God manifested in the flesh. Besides, we know that it is not unusual with Christ to ascribe to the Father every thing Divine which he had in himself. It must be observed, however, that he points out here three degrees of life. In the first rank is the living Father, who is the source, but remote and hidden. Next follows the Son, who is exhibited to us as an open fountain, and by whom life flows to us. The third is, the life which we draw from him. We now perceive what is stated to amount to this, that God the Father, in whom life dwells, is at a great distance from us, and that Christ, placed between us, is the second cause of life, in order that what would otherwise be concealed in God may proceed from him to us.
58. This is the bread which came down from heaven. He returns to the comparison between the manna and his flesh, with which he had begun; for it was necessary that he should close the sermon in this manner: “There is no reason why you should prefer Moses to me, because he fed your fathers in the wilderness; since I supply you with far more excellent food, for I bring heavenly life with me.” For — as was formerly said — the bread is said to have come down from heaven, because it has nothing earthly or corruptible in its nature, but breathes the immortality of the kingdom of God. They who were only bent on feeding the belly, did not find such virtue in the manna; for while the manna had a twofold use, the Jews, with whom Christ is now disputing, beheld in it nothing else than bodily food. But the life of the soul is not fading, but makes continual progress until the whole man is renewed.

JOHN 6:59-64
59 He spoke these things in the synagogue, while he was teaching in Capernaum. 60. Many of his disciples, therefore, having heard it, said, This is a harsh saying; f165 who can hear it? 61. But Jesus knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, Doth this offend you? 62. What if you shall see the Son of man ascend to where he was before? 63. It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The words which I speak to you are spirit and life. 64. But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that did not believe, and who he was that would betray him.

59. He spoke these things in the synagogue. John points out the place, that we may know that there were many present, and likewise, that a sermon was delivered as on a weighty and important subject. But it immediately follows that out of so great a multitude there were scarcely to be found a very few who profited by it; and — what is worse — it proved to be the occasion of desertion to many who professed to be disciples of Christ. If the Evangelist had said that only some of them were offended, that ought to have been accounted monstrous; but when they rise up in crowds and conspire together against him, what name shall we give to such an action? Let this narrative then be deeply impressed on our minds, that we may never murmur against Christ when he speaks; and if in the present day we perceive any thing of this kind in others, let not their pride disturb our faith.
60. This is a harsh saying. On the contrary, it was in their hearts, and not in the saying, that the harshness lay. But out of the word of God the reprobate are thus accustomed to form stones to dash themselves upon, and when, by their hardened obstinacy, they rush against Christ, they complain that his saying is harsh, which ought rather to have softened them. For whoever shall submit with true humility f166 to the doctrine of Christ will find nothing in it harsh or disagreeable; but to unbelievers, who oppose themselves with obstinacy, it will be a hammer which breaketh the rocks in pieces, as the Prophet calls it, (<242329>Jeremiah 23:29.) But since the same hardness is natural to us all, if we judge of the doctrine of Christ according to our feelings, his words will be just so many strange and incredible f167 statements. All that remains for us, therefore, is, that every one commit himself to the guidance of the Spirit, that he may inscribe on our hearts what otherwise would never have even entered into our ears.
Who can hear it? Here we see the awful wickedness of unbelief; for they who impiously and basely reject the doctrine of salvation, not satisfied with excusing themselves, have the hardihood to put the Son of God in their room as if he were guilty, and to declare that he is unworthy of being heard. Thus, in the present day, Papists not only reject the Gospel in a daring manner, but likewise break out into horrid blasphemies, that it may not be thought that they have no good reason for opposing God. And, indeed, since they desire darkness, we need not wonder if Satan deceives them by strange monsters, where there is nothing but the open highway. f168 But that which they, through their rage and fury, cannot endure will not only be tolerable to modest and teachable persons, but will support and comfort them. Yet the reprobate, by their obstinate slanders, will do nothing more than bring down on themselves more dreadful condemnation.
61. But Jesus knowing. Christ knew indeed, that the offense which the reprobate had taken up could not be removed; for, to tell the truth, f169 the doctrine does not so much wound them as it exposes the putrid ulcer which they inwardly nourished in their hearts. But he wished by all methods to try if there were not one of those who were offended that was not yet beyond the reach of cure, and to stop the mouths of the rest. By putting the question, he means that they have no reason to be offended, f170 or, at least, that the ground of offense does not lie in the doctrine itself. Thus we ought to repress the wickedness of those who, urged on by nothing but the rage of mastiff dogs, slander the word of God; and thus too we ought to chastise the folly of those who inconsiderately attack the truth.
Knowing in himself. He says that Jesus knew in himself, because they had not yet declared openly what gave them uneasiness, but secretly murmured and groaned within themselves, and, therefore, he anticipates their open complaints. If it be objected, that the nature of those complaints was not difficult to understand, because in express terms they rejected the doctrine of Christ, I acknowledge that the words which John has formerly related are plain enough; but still I say that, like persons who are disgusted at any thing, they whispered those words to each other in low murmurs. For if they had spoken to Christ, there would have been better ground of hope, because the way would have been opened up for teaching them; but now, when they indulge in secret murmurings, they shut up against themselves the way to gain instruction. So then, when we do not immediately perceive the Lord’s meaning, there is nothing better than to go straight to him, that he may solve all our difficulties.
Doth this offend you? Christ appears here to increase the offense instead of removing it; but if any person examine very closely the ground of offense, there was in the following statement what ought to have pacified their minds.
62. What if you shall see the Son of man ascend to where he was before? The mean and despicable condition of Christ which they saw before their eyes, while, clothed with flesh, he was not at all different from other men, prevented them from submitting to his Divine power; but now — by withdrawing, as it were, the veil — he calls them to behold his heavenly glory, as if he had said, “Because I converse among men without honor, I am despised by you, and you recognize in me nothing that is Divine; but ere long God will adorn me with splendid power, and, withdrawing me from the contemptible state of mortal life, will raise me above the heavens.” For, in the resurrection of Christ, so great was the power displayed by the Holy Spirit, that it plainly showed Christ to be the Son of God, as Paul also shows, (<450104>Romans 1:4.) And when it is said,
Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee, (<190207>Psalm 2:7,)
the resurrection is brought forward as a proof from which that glory of Christ ought to be acknowledged, and his ascension to heaven was the completion of that glory. When he says that he was formerly in heaven, this does not apply strictly to his human nature, and yet he speaks of the Son of man; but since the two natures in Christ constitute one person, it is not an unusual way of speaking to transfer to one nature what is peculiar to the other.
63. It is the Spirit that quickeneth. By these words Christ shows the reason why the Jews did not profit by his doctrine to be, that, being spiritual and quickening, it does not find ears well prepared. But as this passage has been variously expounded, it will be of importance first to ascertain the natural meaning of the words; from which it will be easy to perceive Christ’s intention. When he affirms that the flesh profiteth nothing, Chrysostom improperly, in my opinion, refers it to the Jews, who were carnal. I readily acknowledge that in heavenly mysteries the whole power of the human mind is utterly unavailing; but the words of Christ do not bear that meaning, if they be not violently tortured. Equally forced would be that opinion, as applied to the apposite clause; namely, it is the illumination of the Spirit that quickeneth. Nor do I approve of the views of those who say, that the flesh of Christ profiteth, so far as he was crucified, but that, when it is eaten, it is of no advantage to us; for, on the contrary, we must eat it, that, having been crucified, it may profit.
Augustine thinks that we ought to supply the word only, or by itself, as if it had been said, “The flesh alone, and by itself, profiteth not,” f171 because it must be accompanied by the Spirit. This meaning accords well with the scope of the discourse, for Christ refers simply to the manner of eating. He does not, therefore, exclude every kind of usefulness, as if none could be obtained from his flesh; but he declares that, if it be separated from the Spirit, it will then be useless. For whence has the flesh power to quicken, but because it is spiritual? Accordingly, whoever confines his whole attention to the earthly nature of the flesh, will find in it nothing but what is dead; but they who shall raise their eyes to the power of the Spirit, which is diffused over the flesh, will learn from the actual effect and from the experience of faith, that it is not without reason that it is called quickening.
We now understand in what manner the flesh is truly food, and yet it profiteth not. It is food, because by it life is procured for us, because in it God is reconciled to us, because in it we have all the parts of salvation accomplished. It profiteth not, if it be estimated by its origin and nature; for the seed of Abraham, which is in itself subject to death, does not bestow life, but receives from the Spirit its power to feed us; and, therefore, on our part also, that we may be truly nourished by it, we must bring the spiritual mouth of faith.
As to the sentence breaking off in so abrupt a manner, it is probable that this was done because Christ saw that it was necessary to act in this manner towards unbelievers. By this clause, therefore, he suddenly closed the sermon, because they did not deserve that he should speak to them any longer. Yet he did not overlook those who are godly and teachable; for they have here, in a few words, what may abundantly satisfy them.
The words which I speak to you. This is an allusion to the preceding statement, for he now employs the word Spirit in a different sense. But as he had spoken of the secret power of the Spirit, he elegantly applies this to his doctrine, because it is spiritual; for the word Spirit must be explained to mean spiritual. Now the word is called spiritual, because it calls us upwards to seek Christ in his heavenly glory, through the guidance of the Spirit, by faith, and not by our carnal perception; for we know that of all that was said, nothing can be comprehended but by faith. And it is also worthy of observation, that he connects life with the Spirit. He calls his word life, from its effect, as if he had called it quickening; but shows that it will not be quickening to any but those who receive it spiritually, for others will rather draw death from it. To the godly, this commendation bestowed on the Gospel is most delightful, because they are certain that it is appointed for their eternal salvation; but at the same time, they are reminded to labor to prove that they are genuine disciples.
64. But there are some of you who do not believe. He again imputes blame to them, because, being destitute of the Spirit, they wickedly corrupt and debase his doctrine, and thus turn it to their ruin. For otherwise they might have objected: “You boast, indeed, that what you speak is quickening, but we experience nothing of that nature.” He therefore says, that by themselves it is prevented; for unbelief, as it is always proud, will never understand any thing in the words of Christ which it despises and disdains. Wherefore, if we wish to profit at all under this Teacher, let us bring minds well disposed to listen to him; for if the entrance to his doctrine be not opened up by humility and reverence, our understandings are harder than stones, and will not receive any part of sound doctrine. And therefore, when in the present day we see so few people in the world profiting by the Gospel, we ought to remember that this arises from the depravity of men. For how many will you find who deny themselves, and truly submit to Christ? As to his saying only that there were SOME who did not believe, though almost all of them were liable to this charge, his reason for doing so appears to have been that, if there were any who were not yet beyond the possibility of cure, they might not cast down their minds in despair.
For Jesus knew from the beginning. The Evangelist added this, that none might think that Christ formed an opinion at random about his hearers. Many professed to belong to his flock, but a sudden apostacy exposed their hypocrisy. But the Evangelist says that their treachery, even while it was unknown to others, was well known to Christ. And this is stated, not so much on his account, as that we may learn not to form a judgment except on subjects which we have thoroughly investigated; for as to their being known to Christ from the beginning, this was peculiar to his Divinity. It is otherwise with us; for since we do not know the hearts, we ought to delay forming a judgment, until impiety be manifested by outward signs, and thus the tree be known by its fruits, (<400716>Matthew 7:16.)

JOHN 6:65-71
65. And he said, Therefore have I told you that no man can come to me, unless it be given to him by my Father. 66. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67. Jesus therefore said to the twelve, Do you also wish to go away? 68. Simon Peter therefore answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. 69. And we have believed and known that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 70. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71. Now he spoke of Judas Iscariot, son of Simon; for it was he that would betray him, although he was one of the twelve.

65. Therefore have I told you. He again states that faith is an uncommon and remarkable gift of the Spirit of God, that we may not be astonished that the Gospel is not received in every place and by all. For, being ill qualified to turn to our advantage the course of events, we think more meanly of the Gospel, because the whole world does not assent to it. The thought arises in our mind, How is it possible that the greater part of men shall deliberately reject their salvation? Christ therefore assigns a reason why there are so few believers, namely, because no man, whatever may be his acuteness, f172 can arrive at faith by his own sagacity; for all are blind, until they are illuminated by the Spirit of God, and therefore they only partake of so great a blessing whom the Father deigns to make partakers of it. If this grace were bestowed on all without exception, it would have been unseasonable and inappropriate to have mentioned it in this passage; for we must understand that it was Christ’s design to show that not many believe the Gospel, because faith proceeds only from the secret revelation of the Spirit.
Unless it be given him by my Father. He now uses the word give instead of the word which he formerly used, draw; by which he means that there is no other reason why God draws, than because out of free grace he loves us; for what we obtain by the gift and grace of God, no man procures for himself by his own industry.
66. From that time many of his disciples went back. The Evangelist now relates what trouble was the consequence of that sermon. It is a dreadful and monstrous thing, that so kind and gracious an invitation of Christ could have alienated the minds of many, and especially of those who had formerly professed to belong to him, and were even his ordinary disciples. But this example is held out to us for a mirror, as it were, in which we may perceive how great is the wickedness and ingratitude of men, who turn a plain road into an occasion of stumbling to them, that they may not come to Christ. Many would say that it would have been better that a sermon of this kind should never have been preached, which occasioned the apostacy of many. But we ought to entertain a widely different view; for it was then necessary, and now is daily necessary, that what had been foretold concerning Christ should be perceived in his doctrine, namely, that
he is the stone of stumbling, (<230814>Isaiah 8:14.)
We ought, indeed, to regulate our doctrine in such a manner that none may be offended through our fault; as far as possible, we ought to retain all; and, in short, we ought to take care that we do not, by talking inconsiderately or at random, f173 disturb ignorant or weak minds. But it will never be possible for us to exercise such caution that the doctrine of Christ shall not be the occasion of offense to many; because the reprobate, who are devoted to destruction, suck venom from the most wholesome food, and gall from honey. The Son of God undoubtedly knew well what was useful, and yet we see that he cannot avoid f174 offending many of his disciples. Whatever then may be the dislike entertained by many persons for pure doctrine, still we are not at liberty to suppress it. Only let the teachers of the Church remember the advice given by Paul, that the word of God ought to be properly divided, (<550215>2 Timothy 2:15;) and next let them advance boldly amidst all offenses. And if it happen that many apostatize, let us not be disgusted at the word of God, because it is not relished by the reprobate; for they who are so much shaken by the revolt of some that, when those persons fall away, they are immediately discouraged, are too delicate and tender.
And walked no more with him. When the Evangelist adds these words, he means that it was not a complete apostacy, but only that they withdrew from familiar intercourse with Christ; and yet he condemns them as apostates. Hence we ought to learn that we cannot go back a foot breadth, without being immediately in danger of falling into treacherous denial of our Master.
67. Jesus therefore said to the twelve. As the faith of the apostles might be greatly shaken, when they saw that they were so small a remnant of a great multitude, Christ directs his discourse to them, and shows that there is no reason why they should allow themselves to be hurried away by the lightness and unsteadiness of others. When he asks them if they also wish to go away, he does so in order to confirm their faith; for, by exhibiting to them himself, that they may remain with him, he likewise exhorts them not to become the companions of apostates. And, indeed, if faith be founded on Christ, it will not depend on men, and will never waver, though it should see heaven and earth mingling. We ought also to observe this circumstance, that Christ, when deprived of nearly all his disciples, retains the twelve only, in like manner as Isaiah was formerly commanded to
bind the testimony and seal the law among the disciples,
(<230816>Isaiah 8:16.)
By such examples, every one of the believers is taught to follow God, even though he should have no companion.
68. Simon Peter therefore answered him. Peter replies here in the name of all, as he does on other occasions; because all of them were of the same mind, except that in Judas there was no sincerity. This reply contains two clauses; for Peter first states the reason why he cheerfully adheres to Christ, along with his brethren; namely, because they feel that his doctrine is wholesome and quickening; and, secondly, he acknowledges that to whomsoever they might go, if they left Christ, there remained for them nothing but death.
Thou hast the words of eternal life. When he says the words of life, by the phrase of life, he means quickening, using the genitive case instead of the adjective, which is a very common mode of expression among the Hebrews. It is a remarkable commendation bestowed on the Gospel, that it administers to us eternal life, as Paul testifies, that
it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believeth, (<450116>Romans 1:16.)
True, the Law also contains life, but because it denounces against all transgressors f175 the condemnation of eternal death, it can do nothing but kill. Widely different is the manner in which life is offered to us in the Gospel, that is, when God reconciles us to himself through free grace, by not imputing our sins, (<470519>2 Corinthians 5:19.) It is no ordinary assertion that Peter makes concerning Christ, when he says that he has the words of eternal life; but he ascribes this to Christ as belonging to him alone. Hence follows the second statement which I glanced at a little ago, that as soon as they have gone away from Christ, there remains for them everywhere nothing but death. Certain destruction, therefore, awaits all who, not satisfied with that Teacher, fly to the inventions of men.
69. And we have believed and known. The verbs are in the past tense, but they may be changed into the present tense, we believe and know, but it makes little difference in the meaning. In these words Peter gives a brief summary of faith. But the confession appears to have nothing to do with the matter in hand, for the question had been raised about eating the flesh of Christ. I reply, although the twelve did not at once comprehend all that Christ had taught, yet it is enough that, according to the capacity of their faith, they acknowledge him to be the Author of salvation, and submit themselves to him in all things. The word believe is put first, because the obedience of faith is the commencement of right understanding, or rather, because faith itself is truly the eye of the understanding. But immediately afterwards knowledge is added, which distinguishes faith from erroneous and false opinions; for Mahometans and Jews and Papists believe, but they neither know nor understand any thing. Knowledge is connected with faith, because we are certain and fully convinced of the truth of God, not in the same manner as human sciences are learned, but when the Spirit seals it on our hearts.
70. Jesus answered them. Since Christ replies to all, we infer from it that all spake by the mouth of Peter. Besides, Christ now prepares and fortifies the eleven apostles against a new offense which was already at hand. It was a powerful instrument of Satan for shaking their faith, when they were reduced to so small a number, but the fall of Judas might take away all their courage; for since Christ had chosen that sacred number, who would ever have thought that any portion of the whole number could be torn away? That admonition of Christ may be interpreted thus: “You twelve alone remain out of a large company. If your faith has not been shaken by the unbelief of many, prepare for a new contest; for this company, though small, will be still diminished by one man.”
Have not I chosen you twelve? When Christ says that he has CHOSEN or ELECTED twelve, he does not refer to the eternal purpose of God; for it is impossible that any one of those who have been predestinated to life shall fall away; but, having been chosen to the apostolic office, they ought to have surpassed others in piety and holiness. He used the word chosen, therefore, to denote those who were eminent and distinguished from the ordinary rank.
And one of you is a devil. He unquestionably intended, by this name, to hold up Judas to the utmost detestation; for they are mistaken who extenuate the atrocity implied in the name and indeed we cannot sufficiently execrate those who dishonor so sacred an office. Teachers who faithfully discharge their office are called angels.
They should seek the law at his mouth, for he is THE ANGEL of the Lord of Hosts, (<390207>Malachi 2:7.)
Justly, therefore, is he accounted a devil, who, after having been admitted to so honorable a rank, is corrupted through his treachery and wickedness. Another reason is, that God allows more power and liberty to Satan over wicked and ungodly ministers, than over other ordinary men; and therefore, if they who were chosen to be pastors are driven by diabolical rage, so as to resemble wild and monstrous beasts, so far are we from being entitled, on that account, to despise the honorable rank to which they belong, that we ought rather to honor it the more, when the profanation of it is followed by so fearful a punishment.
71. He spoke of Judas. Although Judas had a bad conscience, still we do not read that he was at all moved. Hypocrites are so stupid that they do not feel their sores, and in the presence of men they have such hardened effrontery, that they do not scruple to prefer themselves to the very best of men.
CHAPTER 7

JOHN 7:1-8
1. And after these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for he did not wish to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. 2. And the setting up of tabernacles, a feast of the Jews, was at hand. 3. His brethren therefore said to him, Depart hence, and go away into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the works which thou dost. 4. For no man doth any thing in secret, and seeketh to become known; if thou dost these things, show thyself to the world. 5. For even his brethren did not believe in him. 6. Jesus therefore said to them, My time is not yet come, but your time is always ready. 7. The world cannot hate you, but me it hateth, because I testify of it that its works are evil. 8. Go you up to this feast. I go not up yet to this feast, because my time is not yet completed.

1. Jesus walked in Galilee. The Evangelist appears not to pursue a continued narrative, but to select out of what occurred at different times those events which were worthy of being related. He says that Christ sojourned for a time in Galilee, because he could not remain in safety anywhere among the Jews. If any person think it strange that Christ sought a place of concealment, who, by the mere act of his will, could break and render powerless all the efforts of his enemies, it is easy to reply, that he remembered the commission which he had received from the Father, and determined to confine himself within the limits which belonged to him as man; for,
having taken upon him the form of a servant, he emptied himself, till the Father exalted him, (<501706>Philippians 2:6-8.)
If it be objected that, as he knew the time of his death, which had been foreordained and determined in the purpose of God, f176 he had no reason for avoiding it, the former solution applies here also; for he conducted himself as a man who was liable to dangers, and, therefore, it was not proper that he should throw himself at random into dangerous situations. In encountering dangers, it is not our business to inquire what God has determined respecting us in his decree, but what he commands and enjoins on us, what our office requires and demands, and what is the proper method of regulating our life. Besides, while Christ avoided dangers, he did not turn aside a hairsbreadth from the course of duty; for to what purpose would life be maintained and defended, but that we may serve the Lord? We ought always to take care, therefore, that we do not, for the sake of life, lose the reasons for living. When a small and despised corner of Galilee grants a lodging to Christ, whom Judea cannot endure, we learn from it that piety and the fear of God are not always to be found in the chief places of the Church.
2. Now a feast of the Jews was at hand. Though I do not affirm it, yet it is probable that this happened during the second year after Christ’s baptism. As to this feast, which the Evangelist mentions, it is not necessary at present to say much. For what purpose and use it was enjoined, Moses shows, (<032334>Leviticus 23:34.) It was, that by this annual ceremony the Jews might call to remembrance, that their fathers lived forty years in tabernacles, when they had no houses, that they might thus celebrate the grace of God displayed in their deliverance. We have formerly said that there were two reasons why Christ came to Jerusalem during this feast. One was, that, being subject to the Law, in order to redeem us all from its bondage, he wished to omit no part of the observation of it; and the other was, that, amidst a numerous and extraordinary assemblage of people, he had a better opportunity of advancing the Gospel. But now the Evangelist relates that Christ kept himself in retirement at Galilee, as if he did not intend to come to Jerusalem.
3. His brethren therefore said to him. Under the word brethren the Hebrews include all cousins and other relations, whatever may be the degree of affinity. He says that they mocked at Christ, because he shunned to be seen or known, and concealed himself in a mean and despised district of Judea. There is reason to doubt, however, if they were excited by ambition to desire that Christ should obtain celebrity. But granting this, still it is evident that they ridicule him, because they do not think that his conduct is rational and judicious; and they even upbraid him with folly, because, while he wishes to be something, he wants confidence in himself, and does not venture to appear openly before men. When they say, that thy disciples also may see, they mean not only his domestics, but all those whom he wished to procure out of the whole nation; for they add, “Thou wishest to be known by all, and yet thou concealest thyself.”
4. If thou dost these things; that is, if thou aspirest to such greatness that all may applaud thee, direct towards thee the eyes of all. And they add, show thyself to the world, using the word world, as contrasted with the small number of persons among whom he was spending his time without honor. We might also draw from it another meaning. “If thou dost these things, that is, since thou art endued with so great power as to procure reputation for thyself by miracles, do not throw them away; for all that has been given to thee by God thou spendest here to no purpose, because there are none to bear thee testimony, or to hold thee in just estimation.” Hence we perceive how great is the indolence of men in considering the works of God; for the relations of Christ would never have spoken in this manner, if they had not — as it were — trampled under foot the manifest proofs of his Divine power, which they ought to have beheld with the greatest admiration and reverence. What is here told us concerning Christ happens in daily experience, that the children of God suffer greater annoyance from their near relations than from strangers; for they are instruments of Satan which tempt, sometimes to ambition, and sometimes to avarice, those who desire to serve God purely and faithfully. But such Satans receive a vigorous repulse from Christ, who thus instructs us by his example, that we ought not to yield to the foolish wishes of brethren or relations. f177
5. For even his brethren did not believe in him. Hence we infer how small is the value of carnal relationship; for the Holy Spirit stamps with a perpetual mark of infamy the relations of Christ, because, though convinced by the testimonies of so many works, they did not even then believe. Therefore, whosoever wishes to be thought to be in Christ, as Paul says, let him be a new creature, (<470517>2 Corinthians 5:17; <480615>Galatians 6:15;) for they who dedicate themselves wholly to God obtain the place of father, and mother, and brethren to Christ, and all others he utterly disavows, (<401250>Matthew 12:50.) So much the more ridiculous is the superstition of Papists, who, disregarding everything else in the Virgin Mary, extol her only on the ground of relationship, bestowing on her the title of the Mother of Christ, f178 as if Christ himself had not reproved the woman who exclaimed from the midst of the crowd,
Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the breasts that suckled thee; for Christ replied, Nay, rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, (<421127>Luke 11:27, 28.)
6. My time is not yet come. There are some who erroneously interpret this as referring to the time of his death, for it denotes the time of his setting out on the journey to go to the feast. f179 He assures them that, in this respect, he differs from his relations. They may freely and without danger appear, at all hours, before the world, because the world is friendly and favorable to them; but he is in dread of his person, and justly, because the world is his mortal enemy. By these words he means that they do wrong in giving advice on a matter which they do not understand.
7. The world cannot hate you. When he says that the world cannot hate them, he reproves them for being altogether carnal; for peace with the world can only be purchased by a wicked consent to vices and to every kind of wickedness.
But me it hateth, because I testify. The world here denotes men who are not born again, who retain their natural disposition; and accordingly he declares that all who have not yet been regenerated by the Spirit are Christ’s adversaries. And why? Because he condemns their works. And if we acquiesce in the decision of Christ, we are under the necessity of acknowledging that the whole nature of man is so sinful and wicked, that nothing right, or sincere, or good, can proceed from it. This is the only reason why any of us is pleased with himself, so long as he is in his natural state.
Because I testify of it, that its works are evil. When Christ says that the world hateth him on this account, he means that the Gospel cannot be faithfully preached without summoning the whole world, as guilty, to the judgment-seat of God, that flesh and blood may thus be crushed and reduced to nothing, according to that saying,
When the Spirit shall come, he will reprove the world of sin,
(<431608>John 16:8.)
We learn from it also, that so great is the pride natural to men, that they flatter and applaud themselves in their vices; for they would not kindle into rage, when they are reproved, were it not that they are blinded by excessive love of themselves, and on that account flatter themselves in their sins. Even among the vices of men, the chief and most dangerous is pride and arrogance. The Holy Spirit alone softens us, so as to endure reproofs patiently, and thus to offer ourselves willingly to be slain by the sword of the Church.

JOHN 7:9-13
9. And having said these things, he remained in Galilee. 10. And when his brethren had gone up, then he also went up to the feast, not openly, but, as it were, in secret. 11. The Jews therefore sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he? 12. And there was much murmuring concerning him among the crowds; for some said, He is a good man, and others said, No, but he seduceth the multitude. 13. Yet no man spoke openly about him for fear of the Jews.

9. He remained in Galilee. The Evangelist here places before our eyes the cousins of our Lord Jesus Christ, f180 who, in compliance with ordinary customs, pretend to worship God, but yet are on friendly terms with unbelievers, and therefore walk without any alarm. On the other hand, he places before our eyes Christ himself, who hated by the world, comes secretly into the city, till the necessity arising out of his office compels him to show himself openly. But if there be nothing more wretched than to be separated from Christ, accursed be that peace which costs so high a price as to leave and abandon the Son of God. f181
11. The Jews therefore sought him. Here we ought to consider what was the condition of the Church. For the Jews, at that time, gaped for the promised redemption like hungry men; yet, when Christ appears to them, they remain in suspense. Hence arose that murmuring and that variety of opinions. That they whisper secretly is an indication of the tyranny which the priests and scribes exercised over them. It is a shocking exhibition, indeed, that this Church, which was at that time the only Church on earth, is here represented to us as a confused and shapeless chaos. f182 They who rule, instead of pastors, hold the people oppressed by fear and terror, and throughout the whole body there is shameful desolation and lamentable disorder. By the Jews he means the common people, who, having been accustomed for two years to hear Christ, inquire about him, because he does not appear according to his custom. For when they say, Where is he? they describe a man whom they knew, and yet that word shows that they had not yet been earnestly moved, and that they always remained in doubt and suspense.
12. And there was much murmuring. He means that, wherever men were collected in crowds, as usually happens in large assemblies, they held secret conversations about Christ. The diversity of opinion, which is here related, proves that it is not a new evil, that men should differ in their opinions about Christ, even in the very bosom of the Church. And as we do not hesitate to receive Christ, who was formerly condemned by the greater part of his own nation, so we ought to be armed with the same kind of shield, that the dissensions which we see daily may not disturb us. Again, we may perceive how great is the rashness of men in the things of God. In a matter of no importance, they would not have taken so great liberty, but when the question relates to the Son of God and to his most holy doctrine, they immediately hasten to give judgment respecting it. So much the greater moderation ought we to maintain, that we may not thoughtlessly condemn our life with the eternal truth of God. And if the world holds us for impostors, let us remember that these are the marks and brands of Christ, provided that we show, at the same time, that we are faithful. This passage shows likewise that in a great multitude, even when the whole body is in a state of confusion, there are always some who think aright; but those few persons, whose minds are well regulated, are swallowed up by the multitude of those whose understandings are bewildered.
13. Yet no man spoke openly of him for fear of the Jews. By the Jews he here means the rulers, who had the government in their hands. They burned with such hatred against Christ, that they did not permit a word to be uttered on either side. Not that they were displeased at any reproaches which were heaped upon him, but because they could discover no better expedient than that his name should be buried in oblivion. Thus the enemies of the truth, after having found that they gain nothing by their cruelty, desire nothing more than to suppress the remembrance of him, and this object alone they strive to attain. That all were silent, being subdued by fear, was a proof of gross tyranny, as I have already said; for as unbridled licentiousness has no place in a well-regulated Church, so when all freedom is held oppressed by fear, it is a most wretched condition. But the power of our Lord Jesus Christ shone forth with greater and more wonderful brightness, when — causing himself to be heard amidst armed foes, and amidst their furious resentment, and under so formidable a government — he openly maintained and asserted the truth of God.

JOHN 7:14-19
14. And about the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. 15. And the Jews wondered, saying, How doth this man know letters, since he did not learn them? 16. Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but that of him who sent me. 17. If any man wish to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, if it be of God, or if I speak from myself. 18. He who speaketh from himself seeketh his own glory; but he who seeketh the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him. 19. Did not Moses give you the law, and not one of you keepeth the law? Why do you seek to kill me?

14. Jesus went up into the temple. We now see that Christ was not so much afraid as to desist from the execution of his office; for the cause of his delay was, that he might preach to a very large assembly. We may sometimes, therefore, expose ourselves to dangers, but we ought never to disregard or omit a single opportunity of doing good. As to his teaching in the temple, he does so according to the ancient ordinance and custom; for while God commanded so many ceremonies, he did not choose that his people should be occupied with cold and useless spectacles. That their usefulness might be known, it was necessary that they should be accompanied by doctrine; and in this manner, external rites are lively images of spiritual things, when they take their shape from the word of God. But almost all the priests being at that time dumb, and the pure doctrine being corrupted by the leaven and false inventions of the scribes, Christ undertook the office of a teacher; and justly, because he was the great High Priest, as he affirms shortly afterwards, that he attempts nothing but by the command of the Father.
15. And the Jews wondered. Those who think that Christ was received in such a manner as to be esteemed and honored are mistaken; for the wonder or astonishment of the Jews is of such a nature, that they seek occasion from it to despise him. For such is the ingratitude of men that, in judging of the works of God, they always seek deliberately an occasion of falling into error. If God acts by the usual means and in the ordinary way, those means which are visible to the eyes are — as it were — veils which hinder us from perceiving the Divine hand; and therefore we discern nothing in them but what is human. But if an unwonted power of God shines above the order of nature and the means generally known, we are stunned; and what ought to have deeply affected all our senses passes away as a dream. For such is our pride, that we take no interest in any thing of which we do not know the reason.
How doth this man know letters? It was an astonishing proof of the power and grace of God, that Christ, who had not been taught by any master, was yet eminently distinguished by his knowledge of the Scriptures; and that he, who had never been a scholar, should be a most excellent teacher and instructor. But for this very reason the Jews despise the grace of God, because it exceeds their capacity. Admonished by their example, therefore, let us learn to exercise deeper reverence for God than we are wont to do in the consideration of his works.
16. My doctrine is not mine. Christ shows that this circumstance, which was an offense to the Jews, was rather a ladder by which they ought to have risen higher to perceive the glory of God; as if he had said, “When you see a teacher not trained in the school of men, know that I have been taught by God.” For the reason why the Heavenly Father determined that his Son should go out of a mechanic’s workshop, rather than from the schools of the scribes, was, that the origin of the Gospel might be more manifest, that none might think that it had been fabricated on the earth, or imagine that any human being was the author of it. Thus also Christ chose ignorant and uneducated men to be his apostles, and permitted them to remain three years in gross ignorance, that, having instructed them in a single instant, he might bring them forward as new men, and even as angels who had just come down from heaven.
But that of him who sent me. Meanwhile, Christ shows whence we ought to derive the authority of spiritual doctrine, from God alone. And when he asserts that the doctrine of his Father is not his, he looks to the capacity of the hearers, who had no higher opinion of him than that he was a man. By way of concession, therefore, he allows himself to be reckoned different from his Father, but so as to bring forward nothing but what the Father had enjoined. The amount of what is stated is, that what he teaches in the name of his Father is not a doctrine of men, and did not proceed from men, so as to be capable of being despised with impunity. We see by what method he procures authority for his doctrine. It is by referring it to God as its Author. We see also on what ground, and for what reason, he demands that he shall be heard. It is, because the Father sent him to teach. Both of these things ought to be possessed by every man who takes upon himself the office of a teacher, and wishes that he should be believed.
17. If any man wish to do his will. He anticipates the objections that might be made. For since he had many adversaries in that place, some one might readily have murmured against him in this manner: “Why dost thou boast to us of the name of God? For we do not know that thou hast proceeded from him. Why, then, dost thou press upon us that maxim, which we do not admit to thee, that thou teachest nothing but by the command of God?” Christ, therefore, replies that sound judgment flows from fear and reverence for God; so that, if their minds be well disposed to the fear of God, they will easily perceive if what he preaches be true or not. He likewise administers to them, by it, an indirect reproof; for how comes it that they cannot distinguish between falsehood and truth, f183 but because they want the principal requisite to sound understanding, namely, piety, and the earnest desire to obey God?
This statement is highly worthy of observation. Satan continually plots against us, and spreads his nets in every direction, that he may take us unawares by his delusions. Here Christ most excellently forewarns us to beware of exposing ourselves to any of his impostures, assuring us that if we are prepared to obey God, he will never fail to illuminate us by the light of his Spirit, so that we shall be able to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Nothing else, therefore, hinders us from judging aright, but that we are unruly and headstrong; and every time that Satan deceives us, we are justly punished for our hypocrisy. In like manner Moses gives warning that, when false prophets arise, we are tried and proved by God; for they whose hearts are right will never be deceived, (<051303>Deuteronomy 13:3.) Hence it is evident how wickedly and foolishly many persons in the present day, dreading the danger of falling into error, by that very dread shut the door against all desire to learn; as if our Savior had not good ground for saying,
Knock, and it shall be opened to you, (<400707>Matthew 7:7.)
On the contrary, if we be entirely devoted to obedience to God, let us not doubt that He will give us the spirit of discernment, to be our continual director and guide. If others choose to waver, they will ultimately find how flimsy are the pretences for their ignorance. And, indeed, we see that all who now hesitate, and prefer to cherish their doubt rather than, by reading or hearing, to inquire earnestly where the truth of God is, have the hardihood to set God at defiance by general principles. One man will say that he prays for the dead, because, distrusting his own judgment, he cannot venture to condemn the false doctrines invented by wicked men about purgatory; and yet he will freely allow himself to commit fornication. Another will say that he has not so much acuteness as to be able to distinguish between the pure doctrine of Christ and the spurious contrivances of men, but yet he will have acuteness enough to steal or commit perjury. In short, all those doubters, who cover themselves with a veil of doubt in all those matters which are at present the subject of controversy, display a manifest contempt of God on subjects that are not at all obscure.
We need not wonder, therefore, that the doctrine of the Gospel is received by very few persons in the present day, since there is so little of the fear of God in the world. Besides, these words of Christ contain a definition of true religion; that is, when we are prepared heartily to follow the will of God, which no man can do, unless he has renounced his own views.
Or if I speak from myself. We ought to observe in what manner Christ wishes that a judgment should be formed about any doctrine whatever. He wishes that what is from God should be received without controversy, but freely allows us to reject whatever is from man; for this is the only distinction that he lays down, by which we ought to distinguish between doctrines.
18. He who speaketh from himself. Hitherto he has showed that there is no other reason why men are blind, but because they are not governed by the fear of God. He now puts another mark on the doctrine itself, by which it may be known whether it is of God or of man. For every thing that displays the glory of God is holy and divine; but every thing that contributes to the ambition of men, and, by exalting them, obscures the glory of God, not only has no claim to be believed, but ought to be vehemently rejected. He who shall make the glory of God the object at which he aims will never go wrong; he who shall try and prove by this touchstone what is brought forward in the name of God will never be deceived by the semblance of right. We are also reminded by it that no man can faithfully discharge the office of teacher in the Church, unless he be void of ambition, and resolve to make it his sole object to promote, to the utmost of his power, the glory of God. When he says that there is no unrighteousness in him, he means that there is nothing wicked or hypocritical, but that he does what becomes an upright and sincere minister of God.
19. Did not Moses give you the Law? The Evangelist does not give a full and connected narrative of the sermon delivered by Christ, but only a brief selection of the principal topics, which contain the substance of what was spoken. The scribes mortally hated him, f184 and the priests had been kindled into rage against him, because he had cured a paralytic; and they professed that this arose from their zeal for the Law. To confute their hypocrisy, he reasons, not from the subject, but from the person. All of them having freely indulged in their vices, as if they had never known any law, he infers from it that they are not moved by any love or zeal for the Law. True, this defense would not have been sufficient to prove the point. Granting that — under a false pretense — they concealed their wicked and unjust hatred, still it does not follow that Christ did right, if he committed any thing contrary to the injunction of the Law; for we must not attempt to extenuate our own blame by the sins of others.
But Christ connects here two clauses. In the former, he addresses the consciences of his enemies, and, since they proudly boasted of being defenders of the Law, he tears from them this mask; for he brings against them this reproach, that they allow themselves to violate the Law as often as they please, and, therefore, that they care nothing about the Law. Next, he comes to the question itself, as we shall afterwards see; so that the defense is satisfactory and complete in all its parts. Consequently, the amount of this clause is, that no zeal for the Law exists in its despisers. Hence Christ infers that something else has excited the Jews to so great rage, when they seek to put him to death. In this manner we ought to drag the wicked from their concealments, whenever they fight against God and sound doctrine, and pretend to do so from pious motives.
Those who, in the present day, are the fiercest enemies of the Gospel and the most strenuous defenders of Popery, have nothing more plausible to urge in their behalf than that they are excited by ardor of zeal. But if their life be narrowly examined, they are all filled with base crimes, and openly mock at God. Who knows not that the Pope’s court is filled with Epicureans? f185 And as to Bishops and Abbots, have they as much modesty as to conceal their baseness, that some appearance of religion may be observed in them? Again, as to monks and other brawlers, are they not abandoned to all wickedness, to uncleanness, covetousness, and every kind of shocking crimes, so that their life cries aloud that they have altogether forgotten God? And now that they are not ashamed to boast of their zeal for God and the Church, ought we not to repress them by this reply of Christ?

JOHN 7:20-24
20. The multitude answered, and said, Thou hast a devil; who seeketh to kill thee? 21. Jesus answered, and said to them, I have done one work, and you all wonder. 22. Therefore Moses gave you circumcision, not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers, and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. 23. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you offended at me, because I have completely cured a man on the Sabbath? 24. Judge not according to the appearance, but judge right judgment.

20. Thou hast a devil. The meaning is, “Thou art mad;” for it was a customary phrase among the Jews, who had been trained to the doctrine that, when men are excited to rage, or when they have lost sense and reason, they are tormented by the devil. And, indeed, as gentle and moderate chastisements are God’s fatherly rods, so when He treats us with greater harshness and severity, He appears not to strike us with his own hand, but rather to employ the devil as the executioner and minister of his wrath. Again, the multitude reproach Christ with simplicity; for the common people were not acquainted with the intentions of the priests. Those foolish men, therefore, ascribe it to madness, when Christ complains that they are endeavoring to put him to death. We learn from it that we ought to be exceedingly cautious not to form an opinion about subjects which we do not understand; but, if it ever happens that we are rashly condemned by ignorant men, mildly to digest such an affront.
21. I have done one work. Now, leaving their persons, he begins to speak of the fact; for he proves that the miracle which he performed is not inconsistent with the Law of God. When he says that he has done one work, the meaning is, that it is only of a single crime that he is held guilty, or that it is only for a single work that he is blamed, which is, that he cured a man on the day of Rest; f186 but that they, on every day of Rest, do many works of the same, or a similar description, and do not reckon them criminal; for not a day of Rest passed on which there were not many infants circumcised in Judea. By this example he defends his action, although he does not merely argue from what is similar, but draws a comparison between the greater and the less. There was this similarity between circumcision and the cure of the paralytic, that both were works of God; but Christ maintains that the latter is more excellent, because the benefit of it extends to the whole man. Now if he had merely cured the man of bodily disease, the comparison would not have been applicable; for circumcision would have greater excellence as to the cure of the soul. Christ, therefore, connects the spiritual advantage of the miracle with the outward benefit granted to the body; and on this account he justly prefers to circumcision the entire cure of a man.
There might also be another reason for the comparison, namely, that the sacraments are not always attended by power and efficacy, while Christ wrought efficaciously in curing the paralytic. But I prefer the former exposition, that the Jews maliciously and slanderously blame a work, in which the grace of God shines more illustriously than in circumcision, on which they bestow so much honor that they think the Sabbath is not violated by it. And you all wonder. The wonder, of which he speaks, means that what Christ had done caused this murmur, because they thought that he had ventured to do more than was lawful.
22. Therefore Moses gave you circumcision. The particle therefore appears to be unsuitable; and, accordingly, some take dia< tou>to (on this account, or therefore) in the sense of dia< tou>to, (because;) but the Greek syntax is unfavourable to their opinion. f187 I explain it simply as meaning, that circumcision was enjoined in such a manner that the practice of that symbolical rite was necessary even on the Sabbath-day. Therefore, says he; that is, it has in this manner been sufficiently demonstrated to them, that the worship of the Sabbath is not violated by the works of God. And although Christ accommodates the instance of circumcision to the present subject, yet he immediately makes use of a correction, when he says, that Moses was not the first minister of circumcision. But it was enough for his purpose, that Moses, who so rigidly demanded the keeping of the Sabbath, commanded that infants should be circumcised on the eighth day, even though it should fall on the day of Rest. f188
24. Judge not according to the appearance. Having concluded his defense, he likewise administers a reproof on this ground, that they are carried away by wicked dispositions, and do not form a judgment according to the fact and the matter in hand. Circumcision was properly held by them in reverence; and when it was performed on the Sabbath-day, they knew that the Law was not violated by it, because the works of God agree well with each other. Why do they not arrive at the same conclusion as to the work of Christ, but because their minds are preoccupied by a prejudice which they have formed against his person? Judgment, therefore, will never be right, unless it be regulated by the truth of the fact; for as soon as persons appear in public, they turn their eyes and senses on them, so that the truth immediately vanishes. While this admonition ought to be observed in all causes and affairs, it is peculiarly necessary when the question relates to the heavenly doctrine; for there is nothing to which we are more prone than to dislike that doctrine on account of the hatred or contempt of men.

JOHN 7:25-30
25. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem therefore said, Is not this he whom they seek to kill? 26. And, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing to him. Do the rulers actually know that this is truly the Christ? 27. But we know whence this man is; but when Christ shall come, no man will know whence he is. 28. Jesus therefore exclaimed in the temple, teaching and saying, You both know me, and you know whence I am; and I did not come of myself, but he who sent me is true, whom you know not. 29. But I know him, for I am from him, and he hath sent me. 30. Therefore they sought to seize him; but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.

25. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; that is, those to whom the rulers had communicated their plots, and who knew how much Christ was hated; for the people at large — as we saw lately — looked upon this as a dream, or as madness. Those persons, therefore, who knew with what inveterate rage the rulers of their nation burned against Christ, have some reason for wondering that, while Christ in the temple not only converses openly but preaches freely, the rulers say nothing to him. But they err in this respect, that in a miracle altogether Divine they do not take into account the providence of God. Thus carnal men, whenever they behold any unusual work of God, do indeed wonder, but no consideration of the power of God ever enters into their mind. But it is our duty to examine more wisely the works of God; and especially when wicked men, with all their contrivances, do not hinder the progress of the Gospel so much as they would desire, we ought to be fully persuaded that their efforts have been rendered fruitless, because God, by interposing his word, has defeated them.
27. But we know whence this man is. Here we see not only how great is the blindness of men, when they ought to judge about the things of God, but this vice is almost natural to them, to be ingenious in contriving what may hinder them from arriving at the knowledge of the truth. It is frequently, indeed, from the craft of Satan that offenses arise, which cause many to turn away from Christ; but though the road were plain and smooth, every man would contrive an offense for himself. So long as the rulers were opposed to Christ, their unbelief would of itself have kept back this multitude; but when that obstacle has been removed, they contrive a new reason for themselves, that they may not come to the faith. And even though it were proper that they should be influenced by the example of their rulers, they are so far from following what is right, that they willingly stumble at the first step. Thus it frequently happens, that men who had begun well fall away quickly, unless the Lord conduct them to the very end of their career.
But when Christ shall come. The argument by which they obstruct their own progress is this: “The Prophets have testified that the origin of Christ will be unknown. Now we know whence this man is, and therefore we cannot reckon him to be the Christ.” Hence we are reminded how pernicious it is to mangle the Scriptures, and even Christ himself, so as not to admit more than the half of him. God promised that the Redeemer would be of the seed of David; but he frequently claims this office as peculiar to himself; therefore, he must have been God manifested in the flesh, that he might be the Redeemer of his Church. Thus Micah points out the place where Christ would be born. Out of thee, Bethlehem, he says, a Prince shall come, to govern my people. But, immediately afterwards, he speaks of another going forth which is far loftier, and then he says that it is hidden and secret, (<330502>Micah 5:2.) Yet those wretched men, when they perceived in Christ nothing but what is liable to contempt, draw the absurd conclusion, that he is not the person who had been promised. On the mean condition of Christ in the flesh let us therefore learn to look in such a manner, that this state of humiliation, which is despised by wicked men, may raise us to his heavenly glory. Thus Bethlehem, where the man was to be born, will be to us a door by which we may enter into the presence of the eternal God.
28. Jesus therefore exclaimed in the temple. He bitterly reproaches them for their rashness, because they arrogantly flattered themselves in a false opinion, and in this manner excluded themselves from a knowledge of the truth; as if he had said, “You know all things, and yet you know nothing.” And, indeed, there is not a more destructive plague than when men are so intoxicated by the scanty portion of knowledge which they possess, that they boldly reject every thing that is contrary to their opinion.
You both know me, and you know whence I am. This is ironical language. With the false opinion which they had formed concerning him, he contrasts what is true; as if he had said, “While you have your eyes fixed on the earth, you think that every part of me is before your eyes; and therefore you despise me as mean and unknown. But God will testify that I have come from heaven; and though I may be rejected by you, God will acknowledge that I am truly his own Son.”
But he who hath sent me is true. He calls God true in the same sense that Paul calls him faithful.
If we are unbelievers, says he, he remaineth faithful, he cannot deny himself, (<550213>2 Timothy 2:13.)
For his object is to prove, that the credit due to the Gospel is not in the smallest degree diminished by the utmost exertions of the world to overthrow it; that though wicked men may attempt to take from Christ what belonged to him, still he remains unimpaired, because the truth of God is firm and is always like itself. Christ sees that he is despised; but so far is he from yielding, that, on the contrary, he boldly repels the furious arrogance of those who hold him in no estimation. With such unshaken and heroic fortitude all believers ought to be endued; nay, more, our faith will never be solid or lasting, unless it treat with contempt the presumption of wicked men, when they rise up against Christ. Above all, godly teachers, relying on this support, ought to persevere in maintaining sound doctrine, even though it should be opposed by the whole world. Thus Jeremiah appeals to God as his defender and guardian, because he is condemned as an impostor:
Thou hast deceived me, O Lord, says he, and I was deceived, (<242007>Jeremiah 20:7.)
Thus Isaiah, overwhelmed on all sides by calumnies and reproaches, flies to this refuge, that God will approve his cause, (<235008>Isaiah 50:8.) Thus Paul, oppressed by unjust judgments, appeals against all to the day of the Lord, (<460405>1 Corinthians 4:5,) reckoning it enough to have God alone to place against the whole world, however it may rage and storm.
Whom you knew not. He means that it is not wonderful that he is not known by the Jews, because they do not know God; for the beginning of wisdom is, to behold God.
29. But I know him. When he says that he knoweth God, he means that it is not without good grounds that he has risen to so great confidence; and by his example he warns us not to assume lightly the name of God, so as to vaunt of Him as the patron and defender of our cause. For many are too presumptuous in boasting of the authority of God; and, indeed, it is impossible to imagine greater readiness and boldness in rejecting the opinions of all men, than is to be found among fanatics who give out their own inventions as the oracles of God. But we are taught by these words of our Lord Jesus Christ that we ought especially to beware of proud and foolish confidence; and that, when we have fully ascertained the truth of God, we ought boldly to resist men. And he who is fully aware that God is on his side has no reason to dread the charge of being insolent, in trampling under foot all the haughtiness of the world.
Because I am from him, and he hath sent me. Some distinguish these two clauses in this manner. They refer the former clause — I am from himto the Divine essence of Christ; and the latter clause — he hath sent meto the office enjoined on him by the Father, for the sake of executing which he took upon him the flesh and human nature. Though I do not venture to reject this view, still I do not know if Christ intended to speak so abstrusely. I readily acknowledge that Christ’s heavenly descent may be inferred from it, but it would not be a sufficiently strong proof of his eternal Divinity against the Arians.
30. Therefore they sought to seize him. They had no want of will to do him mischief; they even made the attempt, and they had strength to do it. Why, then, amidst so much ardor, are they benumbed, as if they had their hands and feet bound? The Evangelist replies, because Christs hour was not yet come; by which he means that, against all their violence and furious attacks, Christ was guarded by the protection of God. And at the same time he meets the offense of the cross; for we have no reason to be alarmed when we learn that Christ was dragged to death, not through the caprice of men, but because he was destined for such a sacrifice by the decree of the Father. And hence we ought to infer a general doctrine; for though we live from day to day, still the time of every man’s death has been fixed by God. It is difficult to believe that, while we are subject to so many accidents, exposed to so many open and concealed attacks both from men and beasts, and liable to so many diseases, we are safe from all risk until God is pleased to call us away. But we ought to struggle against our own distrust; and we ought to attend first to the doctrine itself which is here taught, and next, to the object at which it aims, and the exhortation which is drawn from it, namely, that each of us, casting all his cares on God, (<195522>Psalm 55:22; <600507>1 Peter 5:7,) should follow his own calling, and not be led away from the performance of his duty by any fears. Yet let no man go beyond his own bounds; for confidence in the providence of God must not go farther than God himself commands.

JOHN 7:31-36
31. And many of the multitude believed in him, and said, When Christ shall come, will he do more miracles than this man doth? 32. The Pharisees heard the multitude muttering these things concerning him; and the Pharisees and priests sent officers to seize him. 33. Jesus, therefore, said to them, Yet a little while am I with you, and I go to him who hath sent me. 34. You shall seek me, and shall not find me; and where I am, you cannot come. 35. The Jews, therefore, said among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? Will he go to those who are scattered among the Greeks, f189 and teach the Greeks? 36. What is this saying which he hath spoken, You shall seek me, and shall not find me, and whither I go, you cannot come?

31. And many of the multitude believed in him. We might have thought that Christ preached to deaf and altogether obstinate persons; and yet the Evangelist says that some fruit followed. And, therefore, though some may murmur, and others scorn, and others slander, and though many differences of opinion may arise, still the preaching of the Gospel will not be without effect; so that we must sow the seed, and wait with patience until, in process of time, the fruit appear. The word believe is here used inaccurately, for they depended more on miracles than they relied on doctrine, and were not convinced that Jesus was the Christ; but as they were prepared to listen to him, and showed themselves willing to receive instruction from him as their Teacher, such a preparation for faith is called faith. When the Holy Spirit bestows so honorable a designation on a small spark of good disposition, it ought to encourage us, so as not to doubt that faith, however small it may be, is acceptable to God.
32. The Pharisees heard. Hence it appears that the Pharisees, like persons set on the watch, were anxious on all occasions not to permit Christ to be known. In the first instance the Evangelist calls them only Pharisees, and next he adds to them the priests of whom the Pharisees were a part. There can be no doubt that, as they wished to be reckoned the greatest zealots for the Law, they opposed Christ more bitterly than all the other sects; but finding that their unaided exertions were not sufficient to oppress Christ, they committed the affair to the whole order of the priests. Thus they who, in other respects, differed among themselves now conspire together, under the guidance of Satan, against the Son of God. Meanwhile, since the Pharisees had such ardent zeal and such incessant toil for defending their tyranny and the corrupt state of the Church, how much more zealous ought we to be in maintaining the kingdom of Christ! The Papists in the present day are not less mad or less eager to extinguish the Gospel; and yet it is monstrously wicked that their example does not, at least, whet our desires, and cause us to labor with greater boldness in the defense of true and sound doctrine.
33. Yet a little while am I with you. Some think that this sermon was addressed to the assembly of the people who were present, and others, that it was addressed to the officers who had been sent to seize Christ. But for my own part, I have no doubt that Christ particularly addresses his enemies, who had taken counsel to destroy him; for he ridicules their efforts, because they will be utterly ineffectual, until the time decreed by the Father be come. And at the same time, he reproaches them for their obstinacy, because they not only reject, but furiously oppose, the grace which is offered to them; and threatens that ere long it will be taken from them. When he says, I am with you, he rebukes their ingratitude, because, though he had been given to them by the Father, though he had come down to them from the heavenly glory, though, by calling them to be his familiar associates, he desired nothing more than to assist them, still there were few who received him. When he says, Yet a little while, he warns them that God will not long endure that his grace should be exposed to such shameful contempt. Yet he also means, that neither his life nor his death is placed at their disposal, but that his Father has fixed a time, which must be fulfilled.
I go to him who hath sent me. By these words he testifies that he will not be extinguished by his death, but, on the contrary, when he shall have laid aside his mortal body, will be declared to be the Son of God by the magnificent triumph of his resurrection; as if he had said, “Labour as much as you please, yet you will never hinder my Father from receiving me into his heavenly glory, when I have discharged the embassy which he has committed to me. Thus not only will my rank remain undiminished after my death, but a more excellent condition is then provided for me.” Besides, we ought to draw from it a general admonition; for as often as Christ calls us to the hope of salvation by the preaching of the Gospel, he is present with us. For not without reason is the preaching of the Gospel called Christ’s descent to us, where it is said,
he came and preached peace to those who were far off, and to those who were near, (<490217>Ephesians 2:17.)
If we accept the hand which he holds out, he will lead us to the Father; and so long as we must sojourn in the world, not only will he show himself to be near us, but will constantly dwell in us. And if we disregard his presence, he will lose nothing, but, departing from us, will leave us altogether strangers to God and to life.
34. You shall seek me. They sought Christ, to put him to death. Here Christ alludes to the ambiguous signification of the word seek, for soon they shall seek him in another manner; as if he had said, “My presence, which is now irksome and intolerable to you, will last for a short time; but ere long you shall seek me in vain, for, far removed from you, not only by my body, but also by my power, I shall behold from heaven your destruction.” But here a question may be put, of what nature was this seeking of Christ? For it is plain enough that Christ speaks of the reprobate, whose obstinacy in rejecting Christ had reached the utmost point. Some refer it to doctrine, because the Jews, by foolishly pursuing the righteousness of works, did not obtain what they desired, (<450931>Romans 9:31.) Many understand it as referring to the person of the Messiah, because the Jews, reduced to extremities, in vain implored a Redeemer. But for my own part, I explain it as merely denoting the groans of distress uttered by the wicked, when, compelled by necessity, they look in some manner towards God.
And shall not find me. When they seek him, they do not seek him; for unbelief and obstinacy — by shutting up their hearts, as it were — hinders them from approaching to God. They would desire, indeed, that God should aid them, and should be their Redeemer, but, by impenitence and hardness of heart, they obstruct their path. We have a very striking example f190 in Esau, who, on account of having lost his birthright, not only is oppressed with grief, but groans and gnashes his teeth, and breaks out into furious indignation, (<012738>Genesis 27:38; <581217>Hebrews 12:17.) But yet so far is he from the right way of seeking the blessing, that, at the very time when he is seeking it, f191 he renders himself more unworthy of it. In this manner God usually punishes the contempt of his grace in the reprobate, so that, either afflicted by severe punishments, or oppressed by a conviction of their misery, or reduced to other extremities, they complain, and cry, and howl, but without reaping any advantage; for, being always like themselves, they nourish within their hearts the same cruelty which they formerly displayed, and do not go to God, but rather wish that he were changed, since they cannot destroy him. Hence let us learn that we ought to receive Christ without delay, while he is still present with us, that the opportunity of enjoying him may not pass away from us; for if the door be once shut, it will be vain for us to try to open it.
Seek the Lord, says Isaiah, while he may be found; call upon him, while he is near, (<235506>Isaiah 55:6.)
We ought therefore to go to God early, while the time of his good pleasure lasts, as the prophet speaks, (<234908>Isaiah 49:8;) for we know not how long God will bear with our negligence. In these words, where I am, you cannot come, he employs the present tense instead of the future, where I shall be, you shall not be able to come.
35. Whither will he go? This was added by the Evangelist, for the express purpose of showing how great was the stupidity of the people. Thus not only are wicked men deaf to hear God’s instruction, but even dreadful threatenings are allowed by them to pass by in mockery, as if they were listening to a fable. Christ spoke expressly of the Father, but they remain fixed on the earth, and think of nothing else than a departure to distant countries.
Will he go to the dispersion of the Greeks? It is well known that the Jews gave the name of Greeks to all nations beyond the sea; but they do not mean that Christ will go to the uncircumcised nations, but to the Jews, who were dispersed through the various countries of the world. For the word dispersion would not apply to those who are natives of the place, and who inhabit their native soil, but applies well to the Jews, who were fugitives and exiles. Thus Peter inscribes his First Epistle parepidh>moiv diaspora~v, to the strangers of the dispersion, that is, to the strangers who are scattered f192 through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (<600101>1 Peter 1:1;) and James salutes the twelve tribes ejn th~| diaspora~|, in the dispersion, that is, scattered abroad, (<590101>James 1:1.) The meaning of the words therefore is, “Will he cross the sea, to go to Jews who dwell in a world unknown to us?” And it is possible that they intended to teaze Christ by this mockery. “If this be the Messiah, will he fix the seat of his reign in Greece, since God has assigned to him the land of Canaan as his own habitation?” But however that may be, we see that the severe threatening which Christ had uttered did not at all affect them.

JOHN 7:37-39
37. Now on the last day, which was the greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood, and exclaimed, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. 38. He who believeth in me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 But this he spoke of the Spirit which they who believed in him were to receive. For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

37. On the last day. The first thing that ought to be observed here is, that no plots or intrigues of enemies terrified Christ, so as to cause him to desist from his duty; but, on the contrary, his courage rose with dangers, so that he persevered with greater firmness. This is proved by the circumstance of the time, the crowded assembly, and the freedom he used in exclaiming, while he knew that hands were stretched out on all sides to seize him; for it is probable that the officers were at that time ready to execute their commission.
We must next observe, that nothing else than the protection of God, on which he relied, enabled him to stand firm against such violent efforts of those men, who had every thing in their power. For what other reason can be assigned why Christ preached on the most public day of the festival, in the midst of the temple, over which his enemies enjoyed a quiet reign, and after that they had prepared a band of officers, but because God restrained their rage? Yet it is highly useful to us, that the Evangelist introduces Christ exclaiming aloud, Let all who thirst come to me. For we infer from it that the invitation was not addressed to one or two persons only, or in a low and gentle whisper, but that this doctrine is proclaimed to all, in such a manner that none may be ignorant of it, but those who, of their own accord shutting their ears, will not receive this loud and distinct cry.
If any man thirst. By this clause he exhorts all to partake of his blessings, provided that, from a conviction of their own poverty, they desire to obtain assistance. For it is true that we are all poor and destitute of every blessing, but it is far from being true that all are roused by a conviction of their poverty to seek relief. Hence it arises that many persons do not stir a foot, but wretchedly wither and decay, and there are even very many who are not affected by a perception of their emptiness, until the Spirit of God, by his own fire, kindle hunger and thirst in their hearts. It belongs to the Spirit, therefore, to cause us to desire his grace.
As to the present passage, we ought to observe, first, that none are called to obtain the riches of the Spirit but those who burn with the desire of them. For we know that the pain of thirst is most acute and tormenting, so that the very strongest men, and those who can endure any amount of toil, are overpowered by thirst. And yet he invites the thirsty rather than the hungry, in order to pursue the metaphor which he afterwards employs in the word water and the word drink, that all the parts of the discourse may agree with each other. And I have no doubt that he alludes to that passage in Isaiah, All that thirst, come to the waters, (<235501>Isaiah 55:1.) For what the Prophet there ascribes to God must have been at length fulfilled in Christ, as also that which the blessed Virgin sung, that
those who are rich and full he sendeth empty away,
(<420153>Luke 1:53.)
He therefore enjoins us to come direct to himself, as if he had said, that it is he alone who can fully satisfy the thirst of all, and that all who seek even the smallest alleviation of their thirst anywhere else are mistaken, and labor in vain.
And let him drink. To the exhortation a promise is added; for though the word — let him drinkconveys an exhortation, still it contains within itself a promise; because Christ testifies that he is not a dry and worn-out cistern, but an inexhaustible fountain, which largely and abundantly supplies all who will come to drink. Hence it follows that, if we ask from him what we want, our desire will not be disappointed.
38. He who believeth in me. He now points out the manner of coming, which is, that we must approach, not with the feet, but by faith; or rather, to come is nothing else than to believe, at least, if you define accurately the word believe; as we have already said that we believe in Christ, when we embrace him as he is held out to us in the Gospel, full of power, wisdom, righteousness, purity, life, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Besides, he now confirms more plainly and fully the promise which we lately mentioned; for he shows that he has a rich abundance to satisfy us to the full.
Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. The metaphor appears, no doubt, to be somewhat harsh, when he says that rivers of living water shall flow out of the belly of believers; but there can be no doubt as to the meaning, that they who believe shall suffer no want of spiritual blessings. He calls it living water, the fountain of which never grows dry, nor ceases to flow continually. As to the word rivers being in the plural number, I interpret it as denoting the diversified graces of the Spirit, which are necessary for the spiritual life of the soul. In short, the perpetuity, as well as the abundance, of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, f193 is here promised to us. Some understand the saying — that waters flow out of the belly of believers — to mean, that he to whom the Spirit has been given makes a part to flow to his brethren, as there ought to be mutual communication between us. But I consider it to be a simpler meaning, that whosoever shall believe in Christ shall have a fountain of life springing up, as it were, in himself, as Christ said formerly,
He who shall drink of this water shall never thirst,
(<430414>John 4:14;)
for while ordinary drinking quenches thirst only for a short time, Christ says that by faith we draw the Spirit, that he may become a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.
Still he does not say that, on the first day, believers are so fully satisfied with Christ, that ever afterwards they neither hunger nor thirst; but, on the contrary, the enjoyment of Christ kindles a new desire of him. But the meaning is, that the Holy Spirit is like a living and continually flowing fountain in believers; as Paul also declares that he is life in us, (<450810>Romans 8:10,) though we still carry about, in the remains of sin, the cause of death. And, indeed, as every one partakes of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, according to the measure of his faith, we cannot possess a perfect fullness of them in the present life. But believers, while they make progress in faith, continually aspire to fresh additions of the Spirit, so that the first-fruits which they have tasted carry them forward to perpetuity of life. But we are also reminded by it, how small is the capacity of our faith, since the graces of the Spirit scarcely come into us by drops, which would flow like rivers, if we gave due admission to Christ; that is, if faith made us capable of receiving him.
As the Scripture saith. Some confine this to the former clause, and others to the latter clause; for my own part, I extend it to the entire scope of the discourse. Besides, Christ does not here, in my opinion, point out any particular passage of Scripture, but produces a testimony drawn from the ordinary doctrine of the Prophets. For whenever the Lord, promising an abundance of his Spirit, compares it to living waters, he looks principally to the kingdom of Christ, to which he directs the minds of believers. All the predictions of living waters, therefore, have their fulfillment in Christ, because he alone hath opened and displayed the hidden treasures of God. The reason why the graces of the Spirit are poured out on him is,
that we may all draw out of his fullness, (<430116>John 1:16.)
Those persons, therefore, whom Christ so kindly and graciously calls, and who wander in every direction, deserve to perish miserably.
39. But this he spoke of the Spirit. The word water is sometimes applied to the Spirit on account of its purity, because it is his office to cleanse our pollutions; but in this and similar passages this term is employed in a different acceptation, which is, that we are destitute of all the sap and moisture of life, unless when the Spirit of God quickens us, and when he waters us, as it were, by secret vigor. Under one part he includes the whole; f194 for under the one word water he includes all the parts of life. Hence we infer also, that all who have not been regenerated by the Spirit of Christ ought to be reckoned dead, whatever may be the pretended life of which they boast.
For the Holy Spirit was not yet given. We know that the Spirit is eternal; but the Evangelist declares that, so long as Christ dwelt in the world in the mean form of a servant, that grace of the Spirit, which was poured out on men after the resurrection of Christ, had not been openly manifested. And, indeed, he speaks comparatively, in the same manner as when the New Testament is compared to the Old. God promises his Spirit to his elect and believers, f195 as if he had never given him to the Fathers. At that very time, the disciples had undoubtedly received the first-fruits of the Spirit; for whence comes faith but from the Spirit? The Evangelist, therefore, does not absolutely affirm that the grace of the Spirit was not offered and given f196 to believers before the death of Christ, but that it was not yet so bright and illustrious as it would afterwards become. For it is the highest ornament of the kingdom of Christ, that he governs his Church by his Spirit; but he entered into the lawful and — what may be called — the solemn possession of his kingdom, when he was exalted to the right hand of the Father; so that we need not wonder if he delayed till that time the full manifestation of the Spirit.
But one question still remains to be answered. Does he mean here the visible graces of the Spirit, or the regeneration which is the fruit of adoption? I answer: The Spirit, who had been promised at the coming of Christ, appeared in those visible gifts, as in mirrors; but here the question relates strictly to the power of the Spirit, by which we are born again in Christ, and become new creatures. That we lie on earth poor, and famished, and almost destitute of spiritual blessings, while Christ now sits in glory at the right hand of the Father, and clothed with the highest majesty of government, ought to be imputed to our slothfulness, and to the small measure of our faith.

JOHN 7:40-44
40. Many of the multitude, therefore, having heard this sermon, said, This is truly a Prophet. f197 41. Others said, This is the Christ. And others said, But will Christ come out of Galilee? 42. Doth not the Scripture say that Christ will come from the seed of David, and from the town of Bethlehem, where David dwelt? 43. There was therefore a difference of opinion in the multitude on account of him. 44. And some of them wished to seize him, but no man laid hands on him.

40. Many of the multitude. The Evangelist now relates what fruit followed from this last sermon of our Lord Jesus Christ; namely, that some thought one thing and some another, so that a difference of opinion arose among the people. It ought to be observed that John does not speak of the open enemies of Christ, or of those who were already filled with deadly hatred f198 against sound doctrine, but of the common people, among whom there ought to have been greater integrity. He enumerates three classes of them.
He is truly a Prophet. The first acknowledged that Jesus was truly a Prophet, from which we infer that they did not dislike his doctrine. But, on the other hand, how light and trifling this confession was, is evident from the fact, that, while they approve of the Teacher, they neither understand what he means, nor relish what he says; for they could not truly receive him as a Prophet, without, at the same time, acknowledging that he is the Son of God and the Author of their salvation. Yet this is good in them, that they perceive in Christ something Divine, which leads them to regard him with reverence; for this willingness to learn might afterwards give an easy opening to faith.
41. Others said, He is the Christ. The second have a more correct opinion than the first; for they plainly acknowledge that he is the Christ; but the third f199 rise up against them, and hence proceeds the debate. By this example we are warned that we ought not to think it strange in the present day, if men are divided among themselves by various controversies. We learn that Christ’s sermon produced a schism, and that not among Gentiles who were strangers to the faith, but in the midst of the Church of Christ, and even in the chief seat of the Church. Shall the doctrine of Christ be blamed on that account, as if it were the cause of disturbances? Nay rather, though the whole world were in commotion, the word of God is so precious, that we ought to wish that it were received, at least by a few. There is no reason, therefore, why our consciences should be distressed, when we see those who wish to be accounted the people of God fighting with each other by contrary opinions.
Yet it ought also to be observed that divisions do not properly draw their origin from the Gospel; for there can be no firm agreement among men except in undoubted truth. As to the peace maintained among those who know not God, it arises more from stupidity than from true agreement. In short, of all the differences which spring up, when the Gospel is preached, the cause and seed formerly lay concealed in men; but when they are awakened, as it were, out of sleep, they begin to move, just as vapours are produced by something else than the sun, although it is not till the sun arises that they make their appearance.
But will Christ come out of Galilee? That they may not be thought to reject Christ on insufficient grounds, they fortify themselves by the testimony of Scripture; and though they do violence to this passage, by turning it improperly against Christ, still they have some appearance of truth. In this point only they are in the wrong, that they make Christ a Galilean. But whence arises this ignorance but from contempt? For if they had taken the trouble to inquire, they would have seen that Christ was adorned with both titles; that he was born in Bethlehem, and that he was the son of David. But such is our natural disposition; in matters of little consequence we are ashamed of being indolent, while, in the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom, we slumber without any concern. It is likewise of importance to observe, that those men are diligent and industrious in seeking an excuse for turning aside from Christ, but, at the same time, are astonishingly slow and dull in receiving sound doctrine. In this manner, out of the Scriptures themselves, which lead us by the hand to Christ, men frequently make obstacles for themselves, that they may not come to Christ.
44. Some of them wished to seize him. By these words the Evangelist means, that they not only despised Christ, but that their wicked rejection of him was accompanied by cruelty and eagerness to do him injury; for superstition is always cruel. That their efforts were unavailing, we ought to ascribe to the providence of God; for since Christ’s hour was not yet come, as has been formerly said, guarded by the protection of his Father, on which he relied, he surmounted all dangers.

JOHN 7:45-53
45. So the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, Why have you not brought him? 46. The officers answered, Never man spoke like this man. 47. The Pharisees therefore answered them, And are you also seduced? 48. Hath any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees, believed in him? 49. But this multitude, who know not the law, are accursed. 50. Nicodemus said to them, (he who came to him by night, for he was one of them,) 51. Doth our law judge a man before it hath heard him, and knoweth what he doth? 52. They answered and said to him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search and see, that no Prophet hath arisen out of Galilee. 53. And every man went to his own house.

45. So the officers came. Here we may see how blind is the arrogance of men. To such an extent do they admire and adore the greatness which renders them eminent, that they have no hesitation in trampling under foot morality and religion. If any thing happen contrary to their wish, they would willingly mingle heaven and earth; for when these haughty and wicked priests f200 ask, why Christ was not brought, they magnify their power so greatly as if nothing ought to oppose their command.
46. Never man spoke like this man. Those officers acknowledge that they are subdued and vanquished by the word of Christ, and yet they do not on that account repent or give due honor to the word. If it be true, that never man spoke like this man, why did not the Divine power, which they were compelled to feel, touch their hearts in such a manner as to cause them to devote themselves wholly to God? But it was necessary that the prediction of Isaiah should thus be accomplished:
he will prostrate the wicked by the breath of his mouth,
(<231104>Isaiah 11:4.)
Nay more, we shall afterwards see how those who were attempting to put him to death, overwhelmed by the voice of Christ alone, and as if they had been struck down with mallets, fell backwards, (<431806>John 18:6.) Let us, therefore, learn that the doctrine of Christ possesses such power as even to terrify the wicked; but as this tends to their destruction, let us take care that we be softened, instead of being broken. Even in the present day, we see many persons who too much resemble those officers, who are reluctantly drawn into admiration of the doctrine of the Gospel, and yet are so far from yielding to Christ, that they still remain in the enemy’s camp. There are others even worse, who, for the sake of obtaining favor with the wicked, employ all the opprobrious terms which they can find for basely slandering that doctrine, which, notwithstanding, they acknowledge to be from God, because they are convinced of it in their hearts. f201
47. And are you also seduced? While they reprove their officers, they endeavor, at the same time, to keep them in subjection. For by these words they mean, that it would be unreasonable and unbecoming that they should not remain steady, though the whole people should revolt. But we must see on what argument they rest, when they so haughtily insult Christ.
48. Has any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees, believed in him? “He has none on his side,” they say, “but low and ignorant men; the rulers, and every person of distinction, are opposed to him.” They expressly name the Pharisees, because they had a reputation above others, both for knowledge and holiness, so that they might be said to be the princes of the people. This objection appears to have some plausibility; for if the rulers and governors of the Church do not retain their authority, it is impossible that any thing shall ever be properly done, or that the good order of the Church shall long continue. We know what are the fierce passions of the common people; in consequence of which the most frightful disorder must follow, when every man is allowed to do what he pleases. The authority of those who rule is therefore a necessary bridle for preserving the good order of the Church; and, accordingly, it was provided by the Law of God that, if any question or controversy should arise, it should be submitted to the decision of the High Priest, (<051708>Deuteronomy 17:8.)
But they err in this respect, that, while they claim for themselves the highest authority, they are unwilling to submit to God. It is true that God conferred the power of judgment on the high priest, but God did not intend that the high priest should decide, except according to his Law. All the authority that is possessed by pastors, therefore, is subject to the word of God, that all may be kept in their own rank, from the greatest to the smallest, and that God alone may be exalted. If pastors who honestly and sincerely discharge their duty, claim authority for themselves, this glorying will be holy and lawful; but when the mere authority of men is supported, without the authority of God’s word, it is vain and useless boasting. But it often happens that wicked men rule in the Church; and therefore we must beware of giving any authority to men, as soon as they depart from the word of God.
We see that nearly all the prophets were tormented by this kind of annoyance; for, in order to bury their doctrine, men continually brought against them the magnificent titles of Princes, of Priests, and of the Church. Provided with the same armor, Papists in the present day rage not less fiercely than did the adversaries of Christ and of the Prophets in former times. It is a horrible blindness, indeed, when a mortal man is not ashamed to oppose himself to God; but to such a pitch of madness does Satan carry those who set a higher value on their own ambition than on the truth of God. Meanwhile, it is our duty to cherish such a reverence for the word of God as shall extinguish all the splendor of the world, and scatter its vain pretensions; for miserable would be our condition, if our salvation depended on the will of princes, and far too unsteady would our faith be, if it were to stand or fall according to their pleasure.
49. But this multitude. The first part of their pride was, that, relying on the title of Priests, they wished to subject all to them in a tyrannical manner. The next is, that they despise others as men of no estimation, as those who excessively flatter themselves are always disposed to abuse others, and an immoderate love of ourselves is accompanied by contempt of the brethren. They pronounce the whole populace to be accursed; and why? It is no doubt alleged by them that the people do not know the law; but another reason, which they concealed, was, that they thought that there was no holiness but in their own rank. In like manner, the Popish priests in our own day pretend that none but themselves deserve to be called the Church; and all others, whom they call the laity, they despise as if they were profane persons. But to throw down such madness of pride, God prefers the mean and despised to those who hold the highest authority and power. And it ought to be observed that they here boast of knowledge, not that which instructs men in religion and the fear of God, but such as they possessed while, with magisterial pride, they gave forth their responses, as if they alone had been qualified to interpret the law. It is undoubtedly true, that all who have not been instructed in the law of God are accursed, because by the knowledge of it we are truly sanctified. But this knowledge is not confined to a few who, swelled with false confidence, wish to exclude themselves from the rank of other men, but belongs in common to all the children of God, that all, from the smallest even to the greatest, may be united in the same obedience of faith.
50. Nicodemus said to them. The Evangelist describes Nicodemus as a neutral man, who does not venture to undertake in good earnest the defense of sound doctrine, and yet cannot endure to have the truth oppressed.
He who came to Jesus by night. This circumstance is mentioned by the Evangelist, partly to the praise, and partly to the disgrace, of Nicodemus. If he had not loved the doctrine of Christ, he would never have dared to meet the rage of wicked men; for he knew that, if any of them but opened his mouth, he would be immediately exposed to dislike and to danger. When, therefore, he ventures to throw out one word, however feeble it may be, some small spark of godliness shines from his heart; but in not defending Christ openly, he manifests excessive timidity. Thus the Evangelist means that he has still a hankering after the concealment of the night, and is not a true disciple of Christ. He says that he once came to Jesus by night, but remained openly among his enemies, and kept his place in their camp.
This ought to be the more carefully observed, because there are many in the present day who plead that they resemble Nicodemus, and hope that, by assuming this mask, they will mock God with impunity. Granting what they ask, that there is no difference between them and Nicodemus, what assistance, pray, do they derive from such an example? Nicodemus says that Christ ought not to be condemned until he be heard; and the same thing might be said of a robber or an assassin; for it is a well-known and proverbial sentiment, that it is better to acquit the innocent than to condemn the guilty. Besides, in his attempts to release the person of Christ, he leaves and abandons the doctrine. What shall we find here that is worthy of a believer or a Christian? f202 Thus the seed of the gospel, which afterwards bore fruit, was still concealed and choked in him. We shall apply this example far more profitably to another purpose, that the Lord frequently causes the doctrine, which seemed to have perished, gradually to take a concealed root, and, after a long period, to put forth some bud, first like an untimely plant, afterwards lively and vigorous; just as the faith of Nicodemus acquired new and sudden vigor from the death of Christ.
52. Art thou also from Galilee? They say that all who favor Christ are from Galilee, and this is spoken reproachfully, as if he could not have any person among his followers except from the small and unknown corner of Galilee. f203 The extreme violence to which they are excited against Nicodemus, shows with what furious hatred they burned against Christ; for he had not avowedly undertaken to defend Christ, but had only said that he ought not to be condemned before he was heard. Thus among the Papists in our own day, no man can show the slightest token of candour that the Gospel may not be oppressed, but immediately the enemies fly into a passion, and exclaim that he is a heretic.
53. And every man went to his own house. Now follows an astonishing close of the transaction. If any one take into account what was the reign of the priests at that time, with what rage they were excited, and how vast was their retinue, and, on the other hand, if he consider that Christ was unarmed and defenceless, and that there was no body of men to protect him, the conclusion must be, that it was all over with him a hundred times. When so formidable a conspiracy is dissolved of its own accord, and when all those men, like waver of the sea, break themselves by their own violence, who will not acknowledge that they were scattered by the hand of God? But God always continues to be like himself; and therefore, whenever he pleases, he will bring to nothing all the efforts of enemies, so that, while they have everything in their power, and are ready and prepared to execute their design, they will depart without having done their work. And we have often found that, whatever contrivances our enemies have made to extinguish the Gospel, yet by the amazing kindness of God, it immediately fell powerless to the ground.
CHAPTER 8

JOHN 8:1-11
1. But Jesus went to the mountain of Olives. 2. And early in the morning he again came to the temple, and all the people came to him; and sitting down, he taught them 3. And the scribes and Pharisees bring to him a woman caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst, 4. They say to him, Master, this woman was caught in the very act, while she was committing adultery. 5. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such persons; but what sayest thou? 6. Now they said this, trying him, that they might have ground for accusing him. But Jesus, casting down his eyes, f204 wrote with the finger on the ground. 7. And as they persisted in asking him, he lifted up his eyes, f205 and said to them, He who is without sin amongst you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9. And having heard that, and being reproved by their conscience, they went out one by one, beginning at the eldest even to the last; so that Jesus was left alone, and the woman who stood in the midst. 10. And Jesus, lifting up his eyes, having seen nobody but the woman, said to her, Woman, where are thy accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? 11. She said, No man, Lord. Jesus answered her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

3. And the scribes and Pharisees bring to him. It is plain enough that this passage was unknown anciently to the Greek Churches; and some conjecture that it has been brought from some other place and inserted here. But as it has always been received by the Latin Churches, and is found in many old Greek manuscripts, and contains nothing unworthy of an Apostolic Spirit, there is no reason why we should refuse to apply it to our advantage. When the Evangelist says that the scribes brought to him a woman, he means that it was done by an agreement among them, in order to lay traps for Christ. He expressly mentions the Pharisees, because they were the chief persons in the rank of scribes. In adopting this pretense for slander, they display enormous wickedness, and even their own lips accuse them; for they do not disguise that they have a plain commandment of the Law, and hence it follows that they act maliciously in putting a question as if it were a doubtful matter. But their intention was, to constrain Christ to depart from his office of preaching grace, that he might appear to be fickle and unsteady. They expressly state that adulteresses are condemned by Moses, (<032010>Leviticus 20:10,) that they may hold Christ bound by the sentence already given by the Law, for it was not lawful to acquit those whom the Law condemned; and, on the other hand, if he had consented to the Law, he might be thought to be somewhat unlike himself.
6. And Jesus stooping down. By this attitude he intended to show that he despised them. Those who conjecture that he wrote this or the other thing, in my opinion, do not understand his meaning. Nor do I approve of the ingenuity of Augustine, who thinks that in this manner the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is pointed out, because Christ did not write on tables of stone, (<023118>Exodus 31:18,) but on man, who is dust and earth. For Christ rather intended, by doing nothing, to show how unworthy they were of being heard; just as if any person, while another was speaking to him, were to draw lines on the wall, or to turn his back, or to show, by any other sign, that he was not attending to what was said. Thus in the present day, when Satan attempts, by various methods, to draw us aside from the right way of teaching, we ought disdainfully to pass by many things which he holds out to us. The Papists teaze us, to the utmost of their power, by many trifling cavils, as if they were throwing clouds into the air. If godly teachers be laboriously employed in examining each of those cavils, they will begin to weave Penelope’s web; f206 and therefore delays of this sort, which do nothing but hinder the progress of the Gospel, are wisely disregarded.
7. He who is without sin among you. He said this according to the custom of the Law; for God commanded that the witnesses should, with their own hands, put malefactors to death, according to the sentence which had been pronounced on them; that greater caution might be used in bearing testimony, (<051707>Deuteronomy 17:7.) There are many who proceed rashly to overwhelm their brother by perjury, because they do not think that they inflict a deadly wound by their tongue. And this very argument, had weight with those slanderers, desperate as they were; for no sooner do they obtain a sight of it, than they lay aside those fierce passions with which they were swelled when they came. Yet there is this difference between the injunction of the Law and the words of Christ, that in the Law God merely enjoined that they should not condemn a man with the tongue, unless they were permitted to put him to death with their own hands; but here Christ demands from the witnesses perfect innocence, so that no man ought to accuse another of crime, unless he be pure, and free from every fault. Now what he said, at that time, to a few persons, we ought to view as spoken to all, that whoever accuses another, ought to impose on himself a law of innocence; otherwise, we do not pursue wicked actions, but rather are hostile to the persons of men.
In this way, however, Christ appears to take out of the world all judicial decisions, so that no man shall dare to say that he has a right to punish crimes. For shall a single judge be found, who is not conscious of having something that is wrong? Shall a single witness be produced who is not chargeable with some fault? He appears, therefore, to forbid all witnesses to give public testimony, and all judges to occupy the judgment-seat. I reply: this is not an absolute and unlimited prohibition, by which Christ forbids sinners to do their duty in correcting the sins of others; but by this word he only reproves hypocrites, who mildly flatter themselves and their vices, but are excessively severe, and even act the part of felons, in censuring others. No man, therefore, shall be prevented by his own sins from correcting the sins of others, and even from punishing them, when it may be found necessary, provided that both in himself and in others he hate what ought to be condemned; and in addition to all this, every man ought to begin by interrogating his own conscience, and by acting both as witness and judge against himself, before he come to others. In this manner shall we, without hating men, make war with sins.
9. And being reproved by their conscience. Here we perceive how great is the power of an evil conscience. Though those wicked hypocrites intended to entrap Christ by their cavils, yet as soon as he pierces their consciences by a single word, shame puts them to flight. This is the hammer with which we must break the pride of hypocrites. They must be summoned to the judgment-seat of God. Though it is possible that the shame, with which they were struck before men, had greater influence over them than the fear of God, still it is a great matter that, of their own accord, they acknowledge themselves to be guilty, when they thus fly away as if they were confounded. It is immediately added,
Beginning from the eldest even to the last. Our attention is drawn to this circumstance, that, according as each of them surpassed the others in honorable rank, he was the more quickly moved by his condemnation. And would to God that f207 our scribes, who in the present day sell their labors to the Pope to make war with Christ, had at least as much modesty as those men; but they are so destitute of shame that, while they have rendered themselves infamous by every detestable crime, they glory in the fact that they are permitted to be as abominable as they choose, without being punished. We ought also to observe how widely this conviction of sin, by which the scribes were affected, differs from true repentance. For we ought to be affected by the judgment of God in such a manner, that we shall not seek a place of concealment to avoid the presence of the Judge, but rather shall go direct to Him, in order to implore his forgiveness.
Jesus was left alone. This was brought about by the Spirit of wisdom, that those wicked men, having gained nothing by tempting Christ, went away. Nor is there any reason to doubt that we shall succeed in defeating all the contrivances of our enemies, provided that we permit ourselves to be governed by the same Spirit. But it frequently happens that they gain an advantage over us, because, not attending to their snares, we are not careful to take advice, or rather, trusting to our own wisdom, we do not consider how much we need the government of the Holy Spirit. He says that Christ remained alone; not that the people, whom he was formerly teaching, had left him, but because all the scribes, who had brought the adulteress, gave him no farther annoyance. When it is said that the woman remained with Christ, let us learn by this example that there is nothing better for us than to be brought, as guilty, to his tribunal, provided that we surrender ourselves mildly and submissively to his government.
11. Neither do I condemn thee. We are not told that Christ absolutely acquitted the woman, but that he allowed her to go at liberty. Nor is this wonderful, for he did not wish to undertake any thing that did not belong to his office. He bad been sent by the Father to gather the lost sheep, (<401006>Matthew 10:6;) and, therefore, mindful of his calling, he exhorts the woman to repentance, and comforts her by a promise of grace. They who infer from this that adultery ought not to be punished with death, must, for the same reason, admit that inheritances ought not to be divided, because Christ refused to arbitrate in that matter between two brothers, (<421213>Luke 12:13.) Indeed, there will be no crime whatever that shall not be exempted from the penalties of the law, if adultery be not punished; for then the door will be thrown open for any kind of treachery, and for poisoning, and murder, and robbery. Besides, the adulteress, when she bears an unlawful child, not only robs the name of the family, but violently takes away the right of inheritance from the lawful offspring, and conveys it to strangers. But what is worst of all, the wife not only dishonors the husband to whom she had been united, but prostitutes herself to shameful wickedness, and likewise violates the sacred covenant of God, without which no holiness can continue to exist in the world.
Yet the Popish theology is, that in this passage Christ has brought to us the Law of grace, by which adulterers are freed from punishment. And though they endeavor, by every method, to efface from the minds of men the grace of God, such grace as is every where declared to us by the doctrine of the Gospel, yet in this passage alone they preach aloud the Law of grace. Why is this, but that they may pollute, with unbridled lust, almost every marriage-bed, and may escape unpunished? Truly, this is the fine fruit f208 which we have reaped from the diabolical system of celibacy, that they who are not permitted to marry a lawful wife can commit fornication without restraint. But let us remember that, while Christ forgives the sins of men, he does not overturn political order, or reverse the sentences and punishments appointed by the laws.
Go, and sin no more. Hence we infer what is the design of the grace of Christ. It is, that the sinner, being reconciled to God, may honor the Author of his salvation by a good and holy life. In short, by the same word of God, when forgiveness is offered to us, we are likewise called to repentance. Besides, though this exhortation looks forward to the future, still it humbles sinners by recalling to remembrance their past life.

JOHN 8:12-14
12. Therefore Jesus spoke again to them, saying, I am the light of the world; he who followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. 13. The Pharisees therefore said to him, Thou testifiest concerning thyself, thy testimony is not true. f209 14. Jesus answered, and said to them, Though I testify concerning myself, my testimony is true: f210 for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but you know not whence I come, and whither I go.

12. I am the light of the world. Those who leave out the former narrative, which relates to the adulteress, f211 connect this discourse of Christ with the sermon which he delivered on the last day of the assembly. It is a beautiful commendation of Christ, when he is called the light of the world; for, since we are all blind by nature, a remedy is offered, by which we may be freed and rescued from darkness and made partakers of the true light. Nor is it only to one person or to another that this benefit is offered, for Christ declares that he is the light of the whole world; for by this universal statement he intended to remove the distinction, not only between Jews and Gentiles, but between the learned and ignorant, between persons of distinction and the common people.
But we must first ascertain what necessity there is for seeking this light; for men will never present themselves to Christ to be illuminated, until they have known both that this world is darkness, and that they themselves are altogether blind. Let us therefore know that, when the manner of obtaining this light is pointed out to us in Christ, we are all condemned for blindness, and everything else which we consider to be light is compared to darkness, and to a very dark night. For Christ does not speak of it as what belongs to him in common with others, but claims it as being peculiarly his own. Hence it follows, that out of Christ there is not even a spark of true light. There may be some appearance of brightness, but it resembles lightning, which only dazzles the eyes. It must also be observed, that the power and office of illuminating is not confined to the personal presence of Christ; for though he is far removed from us with respect to his body, yet he daily sheds his light upon us, by the doctrine of the Gospel, and by the secret power of his Spirit. Yet we have not a full definition of this light, unless we learn that we are illuminated by the Gospel and by the Spirit of Christ, that we may know that the fountain of all knowledge and wisdom is hidden in him.
He who followeth me. To the doctrine he adds an exhortation, which he immediately afterwards confirms by a promise. For when we learn that all who allow themselves to be governed by Christ are out of danger of going astray, we ought to be excited to follow him, and, indeed, by stretching out his hand — as it were — he draws us to him. We ought also to be powerfully affected by so large and magnificent a promise, that they who shall direct their eyes to Christ are certain that, even in the midst of darkness, they will be preserved from going astray; and that not only for a short period, but until they have finished their course. For that is the meaning of the words used in the future tense, he shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. Such is also the import of this latter clause, in which the perpetuity of life is stated in express terms. We ought not to fear, therefore, lest it leave us in the middle of the journey, for it conducts us even to life. The genitive of life, in accordance with the Hebrew idiom, is employed, instead of the adjective, to denote the effect; as if he had said, the life-giving light. We need not wonder that such gross darkness of errors and superstitions prevails in the world, in which there are so few that have their eyes fixed on Christ.
13. The Pharisees therefore said. They adduce as an objection what is commonly said, that no man ought to be trusted, when speaking in his own cause. For a true testimony is put for “what is lawful and worthy of credit.” In short, they mean that it is of no use for him to speak, unless he bring proof from some other quarter.
14. Though I testify concerning myself. Christ replies, that his testimony possesses sufficient credit and authority, because he is not a private person belonging to the great body of men, but holds a very different station. For when he says, that he knoweth whence he came, and whither he goeth, he thus excludes himself from the ordinary rank of men. The meaning therefore is, that every man is heard with suspicion in his own cause, and it is provided by the laws, that no man shall be believed, when he speaks for his own advantage. But this does not apply to the Son of God, who holds a rank above the whole world; for he is not reckoned as belonging to the rank of men, but has received from his Father this privilege, to reduce all men to obedience to him by a single word.
I know whence I came. By these words he declares that his origin is not from the world, but that he proceeded from God, and therefore that it would be unjust and unreasonable that his doctrine, which is Divine, should be subjected to the laws of men. But as he was at that time clothed with the form of a servant, in consequence of which they despised him on account of the mean condition of the flesh, he sends them away to the future glory of his resurrection, from which his Divinity, formerly hidden and unknown, received a clear demonstration. That intermediate condition, therefore, ought not to have prevented the Jews from submitting to God’s only ambassador, who had been formerly promised to them in the Law.
But you know not whence I came, and whither I go. He means that his glory is not at all diminished by their unbelief. Again, as he has given the same testimony to us, our faith ought to despise all the reports and slanders of wicked men; for it cannot be founded upon God without rising far above the loftiest pride of the world. But in order that we may perceive the majesty of his Gospel, we ought always to direct our eyes to the heavenly glory of the Son of God, f212 and to hear him speaking in the world, so as to remember whence he came, and what authority he now possesses, after having discharged his embassy. For as he humbled himself for a time, so now he is highly exalted f213 at the right hand of the Father, that every knee may bow to him, (<502910>Philippians 2:10.)

JOHN 8:15-20
15. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no man. 16. And if I judge, my judgment is true; f214 for I am not alone, but I and the Father, who hath sent me. 17. It is even written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. 18. I am one who testify concerning myself, and the Father who hath sent me testifieth concerning me. 19. They said therefore to him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, You neither know me nor my Father. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. 20. These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, teaching in the temple; and no man seized him, because his hour was not yet come.

15. You judge according to the flesh. This may be explained in two ways; either that they judge according to the wicked views of the flesh, or that they judge according to the appearance of the person. For the flesh sometimes denotes the outward appearance of a man; and both meanings agree well with this passage, since wherever either the feelings of the flesh prevail, or a regard to the person regulates the judgment, neither truth nor justice dwells. But I think that the meaning will be more certain, if you contrast the flesh with the Spirit, understanding his meaning to be, that they are not lawful and competent judges, because they have not the Spirit for their guide.
I judge no man. Here, too, commentators differ. Some distinguish it thus, that he does not judge as man. Others refer it to the time, that while he was on earth, he did not undertake the office of a Judge. Augustine gives both expositions, but does not decide between them. But the former distinction cannot at all apply. For this sentence contains two clauses, that Christ does not judge, and that if he judge, his judgment is solid and just, because it is divine. As to the former clause, therefore, in which he says that he does not judge, I confine it to what belongs peculiarly to this passage. For in order the more fully to convict his enemies of pride, he employs this comparison, that they unjustly assume the liberty to judge, and yet cannot condemn him, while he merely teaches and abstains from performing the office of a judge.
16. And if I judge, He adds this correction, that he may not appear entirely to surrender his right. If I judge, says he, my judgment is true, that is, it is entitled to authority. Now the authority arises from this consideration, that he does nothing but according to the commandment of the Father.
For I am not alone. This phrase amounts to an affirmative, that he is not one of the ordinary rank of men, but that he must be considered along with the office which was assigned to him by the Father. But why does he not rather make an open assertion of his Divinity, as he might truly and justly have done? The reason is, that as his Divinity was concealed under the veil of the flesh, he brings forward his Father, in whom it was more manifest. Still, the object of the discourse is, to show that all that he does and teaches ought to be accounted Divine.
17. Even in your law it is written. The argument might, at first sight, appear to be weak, because no man is received as a witness in his own cause. But we ought to remember what I have already said, that the Son of God f215 ought to be excluded from the ordinary number of other men, f216 because he neither is a private individual, nor transacts his own private business. As to his distinguishing himself from his Father, by doing so he accommodates himself to the capacity of his hearers, and that on account of his office, because he was at that time a servant of the Father, from whom, therefore, he asserts that all his doctrine has proceeded.
19. Where is thy father? There can be no doubt whatever, that it was in mockery that they inquired about his Father. For not only do they, with their wonted pride, treat contemptuously what he had said about the Father, but they likewise ridicule him for talking loftily about his Father, as if he had drawn his birth from heaven. By these words, therefore, they mean that they do not value so highly Christ’s Father, as to ascribe any thing to the Son on his account. And the reason why there are so many in the present day who, with daring presumption, despise Christ, is, that few consider that God has sent him.
You neither know me nor my Father. He does not deign to give them a direct reply, but in a few words reproaches them with the ignorance in which they flattered themselves. They inquired about the Father; and yet when they had the Son before their eyes, seeing, they did not see, (<401313>Matthew 13:13.) It was therefore a just punishment of their pride and wicked ingratitude, that they who despised the Son of God, who had been familiarly offered to them, never approached to the Father. For how shall any mortal man ascend to the height of God, unless he be raised on high by the hand of his Son? God in Christ condescended to the mean condition of men, so as to stretch out his hand; and do not those who reject God, when he thus approaches to them, deserve to be excluded from heaven?
Let us know that the same thing is spoken to us all; for whoever aspires to know God, and does not begin with Christ, must wander — as it were — in a labyrinth; for it is not without good reason that Christ is called the image of the Father, as has been already said. Again, as all who, leaving Christ, attempt to rise to heaven, after the manner of the giants, f217 are destitute of all right knowledge of God, so every man who shall direct his mind and all his senses to Christ, will be led straight to the Father. For on good grounds does God declare that,
by the mirror of the Gospel, we clearly behold God in the person of Christ, (<470318>2 Corinthians 3:18.)
And certainly it is an astonishing reward of the obedience of faith, that whosoever humbles himself before the Lord Jesus, f218 penetrates above all the heavens, even to those mysteries which the angels behold and adore.
20. These words spoke Jesus in the treasury. The treasury was a part of the temple where the sacred offerings were laid up. It was a much frequented place, and hence we infer that this sermon was delivered by Christ amidst a large assembly of men, so that the people had less excuse. The Evangelist likewise holds out to us the astonishing power of God in this respect, that they were constrained to endure Christ openly teaching in the temple, though but lately they sought to seize him, and put him to death. For since they held an undisputed sway in the temple, so that they ruled there with the fierceness of tyrants, they might have banished Christ from it by a single word. And when he ventured to take upon himself the office of a teacher, why do they not instantly lay violent hands on him? We see then that God caused men to hear him, and guarded him by his protection, so that those savage beasts did not touch him, though they had their throats opened to swallow him. f219 The Evangelist again mentions his hour, that we may learn that it is not by the will of men, but by the will of God, that we live and die.

JOHN 8:21-24
21. Jesus therefore spake again to them, I go, and you shall seek me, and you shall die in your sin. Whither I go, you cannot come. 22. The Jews therefore said, Will he kill himself? Because he saith, Whither I go, you cannot come. 23. Then he said to them, You are from beneath, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24. Therefore I said to you, that you shall die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am, you shall die in your sins.

21. I go. Perceiving that he is doing no good among these obstinate men, he threatens their destruction; and this is the end of all those who reject the Gospel. For it is not thrown uselessly into the air, but must breathe the odour either of life or of death, (2 Corinthians 2:16.) The meaning of these words amounts to this. “The wicked will at length feel how great loss they have suffered by rejecting Christ, when he freely offers himself to them. They will feel it, but it will be too late, for there will be no more room for repentance.” And to alarm them still more by showing them that their judgment is near at hand, in the first place, he says that he will soon go away, by which he means that the Gospel is preached to them only for a short time, and that if they allow this opportunity to pass away, the accepted time and the days appointed for salvation (<234908>Isaiah 49:8; <470602>2 Corinthians 6:2) will not always last. Thus also, in the present day, when Christ knocks at our door, we ought to go immediately to meet him, lest he be wearied by our slothfulness and withdraw from us. And indeed we have learned, by many experiments in all ages, how greatly this departure of Christ is to be dreaded.
And you shall seek me. We must first ascertain in what manner the persons now spoken of sought Christ; for if they had been truly converted, they would not have sought him in vain; because he has not falsely promised that, as soon as a sinner groans, he will be ready to assist him. Christ does not mean, therefore, that they sought him by the right way of faith, but that they sought him, as men, overwhelmed by the extremity of anguish, look for deliverance on every hand. For unbelievers would desire to have God reconciled to them, but yet they do not cease to fly from him. God calls them; the approach consists in faith and repentance; but they oppose God by hardness of heart, and, overwhelmed with despair, they exclaim against him. In short, they are so far from desiring to enjoy the favor of God, that they do not give him permission to assist them, unless he deny himself, which he will never do.
In this manner, however wicked the scribes were, they would willingly have applied to themselves the redemption which had been promised by the hand of the Messiah, provided that Christ would transform himself, to suit their natural disposition. Wherefore, by these words Christ threatens and denounces to all unbelievers, that, after having despised the doctrine of the Gospel, they will be seized with such anguish, that they shall be constrained to cry to God, but their howling will be of no avail; because, as we have already said, seeking, they do not seek. And this is still more plainly expressed in the next clause, when he says, you shall die in your sin; for he shows that the cause of their destruction will be, that they were disobedient and rebellious to the very last. What is the nature of their sin we shall presently see.
22. Will he kill himself? The scribes persevere not only in fearless scorn, but likewise in effrontery; for they ridicule what he had said, that they cannot follow whither he shall go; as if they had said, “If he kill himself, we acknowledge that we cannot accompany him, because we do not choose to do so.” They regarded Christ’s absence as a matter of no moment, and thought that in all respects they would gain a victory over him; and so they bid him begone wherever he pleases. Shocking stupidity! But thus does Satan infatuate the reprobate, that, intoxicated with more than brutal indifference, f220 they may throw themselves into the midst of the flame of the wrath of God. Do we not in the present day behold the same rage in many who, having stupified their consciences, insolently play off their jests and buffoonery on every thing that they hear about the dreadful judgment of God? Yet it is certain that this is an affected or sardonic smile, for they are pierced inwardly with unseen wounds; but all on a sudden, like men bereft of their senses, they burst out into furious laughter.
23. You are from beneath, I am from above. As they did not deserve that he should teach them, he wished only to strike them with reproofs conveyed in few words, as in this passage he declares that they do not receive his doctrine, because they have an utter dislike of the kingdom of God. Under the words, world and beneath, he includes all that men naturally possess, and thus points out the disagreement which exists between his Gospel and the ingenuity and sagacity of the human mind; for the Gospel is heavenly wisdom, but our mind grovels on the earth. No man, therefore, will ever be qualified to become a disciple of Christ, till Christ has formed him by his Spirit. And hence it arises that faith is so seldom found in the world, because all mankind are naturally opposed and averse to Christ, except those whom he elevates by the special grace of his Holy Spirit.
24. You shall die in your sins. Having formerly employed the singular number, in your sin, he now resorts to the plural number, in your sins; but the meaning is the same, except that in the former passage he intended to point out that unbelief is the source and cause of all evils. Not that there are no other sins but unbelief, f221 or that it is unbelief alone which subjects us to the condemnation of eternal death before God, as some men too extravagantly talk; but because it drives us away from Christ, and deprives us of his grace, from which we ought to expect deliverance from all our sins. That the Jews reject the medicine with obstinate malice, is their mortal disease; and hence it arises that the slaves of Satan do not cease to heap up sins on sins, and continually to bring down upon themselves fresh condemnations. And, therefore, he immediately adds, —
If you do not believe that I am. For there is no other way for lost men to recover salvation, but to betake themselves to Christ. The phrase, that I am, is emphatic; for, in order to make the meaning complete, we must supply all that the Scripture ascribes to the Messiah, and all that it bids us expect from him. But the sum and substance is — the restoration of the Church, the commencement of which is the light of faith, from which proceed righteousness and a new life. Some of the ancient writers have deduced from this passage the Divine essence of Christ; but that is a mistake, for he speaks of his office towards us. This statement is worthy of observation; for men never consider sufficiently the evils in which they are plunged; and though they are constrained to acknowledge their destruction, yet they neglect Christ, and look around them, in every direction, for useless remedies. Wherefore we ought to believe that, until the grace of Christ be manifested to deliver us, nothing but a boundless mass of all evils reigns perpetually in us. f222

JOHN 8:25-29
25. Then they said to him. Who art thou? Jesus said to them, From the beginning, f223 because I also speak to you. f224 26. I have many things to speak and judge of you; but he who hath sent me is true, and I speak to the world those things which I have heard from him. 27. They knew not that he spoke to them of the Father. Jesus therefore said to them, 28. When you shall have exalted the Son of man, then shall you know that I am, and that I do nothing of myself; but as the Father hath taught me, I speak. 29. And he who hath sent me is with me. The Father hath not left me alone, because I always do the things which please him.

25. From the beginning. They who translate the words th<n ajrch<n, as if they had been in the nominative case, I am the beginning, f225 and as if Christ were here asserting his eternal Divinity, are greatly mistaken. There is no ambiguity of this sort in the Greek, but still the Greek commentators also differ as to the meaning. All of them, indeed, are agreed that a preposition must be understood; but many give to it the force of an adverb, as if Christ had said, “This ought first (th<n ajrch<n) to be observed.” Some too — among whom is Chrysostom — render it continuously thus: The beginning, who also speak to you, I have many things to say and judge of you. This meaning has been put into verse by Nonnus. f226 But a different reading is more generally adopted, and appears to be the true one. I interpret th<n ajrch<n, from the beginning; so that the meaning, in my opinion, is this: “I did not arise suddenly, but as I was formerly promised, so now I come forth publicly.” He adds,
Because I also speak to you; by which he means that he testifies plainly enough who he is, provided that they had ears. This word, o]ti because, is not employed merely to assign a reason, as if Christ intended to prove that he was from the beginning, BECAUSE he now speaks; but he asserts that there is such an agreement between his doctrine and the eternity which he has spoken of, that it ought to be reckoned an undoubted confirmation of it. It may be explained thus: “According to the beginning, that is, what I have formerly said, I now, as it were, confirm anew;” or, “And truly what I now also speak, is in accordance with the conditions made in all ages, so as to be a strong confirmation of it.”
In short, this reply consists of two clauses; for, under the word beginning, he includes an uninterrupted succession of ages, during which God had made a covenant with their fathers. When he says that he also speaks, he joins his doctrine with the ancient predictions, and shows that it depends on them. Hence it follows that the Jews had no other reason for their ignorance, than that they did not believe either the Prophets or the Gospel; for it is the same Christ that is exhibited in all of them. They pretended to be disciples of the Prophets, and to look to the eternal covenant of God; but still they rejected Christ, who had been promised from the beginning, and presented himself before them.
26. I have many things to say and judge of you. Perceiving that he is in the position of one who sings to the deaf, he pursues his discourse no farther, but only declares that God will defend that doctrine, which they despise, because he is the Author of it. “If I wished to accuse you,” says he, “your malice and wickedness supply me with ample materials; but I leave you for the present. But my Father, who committed to me the office of a teacher, will not fail to fulfill his promise; for he will always vindicate his word against the wicked and sacrilegious contempt of men.” This saying of Christ is of the same import with that of Paul,
If we deny him, he remaineth faithful, he cannot deny himself,
(<550213>2 Timothy 2:13.)
In short, he threatens the judgment of God against unbelievers, who refuse to give credit to his word; and he does so on this ground, that God must inevitably defend his truth. Now this is the true firmness of faith, when we believe that God is alone sufficient to establish the authority of his doctrine, though the world should reject it. All who, relying on this doctrine, serve Christ faithfully, may fearlessly accuse the whole world of falsehood.
And I speak to the world those things which I have heard from him. He says that he utters nothing which he has not received from the Father; and this is the only confirmation of a doctrine, when the minister shows that what he speaks has proceeded from the Father. Now we know that Christ sustained, at that time, the office of a minister; and, therefore, we need not wonder, if he demands that men listen to him, because he brings to them the commandments of God. Besides, by his example he lays down a general law for the whole Church, that no man ought to be heard, unless he speak from the mouth of God. But while he lays low the wicked arrogance of those men who take upon themselves to speak without the word of God, faithful teachers, who know well the nature of their calling, are fortified and armed by him with unshaken firmness, that, under the guidance of God, they may boldly bid defiance to all mortals.
27. They did not know that he spoke to them about the Father. Hence we see how stupid those men are whose understandings are possessed by Satan. Nothing could be more plain than that they were summoned to the judgment-seat of God. But what then? They are altogether blind. This happens daily to other enemies of the Gospel; and such blindness ought to instruct us to walk with fear. f227
28. When you shall have exalted the Son of man. Offended at that stupidity which the Evangelist has described, Christ again declares that they do not deserve that he should open his mouth to speak to them any more. f228 “You now,” says he, “have all your senses — as it were — fascinated, and, therefore, you understand nothing of all that I say; but the time will yet come, when you shall know that a Prophet of God has lived among you, and has spoken to you.” This is the manner in which we ought to deal with wicked men; we ought expressly to summon them to the judgment-seat of God. But this knowledge, which Christ speaks of, comes too late, when the reprobate and unbelievers, f229 dragged to punishment, reluctantly acknowledge that God, to whom they ought mildly to have given honor and reverence, is their Judge. For he does not promise them repentance, but declares that, after they have been struck with new and unexpressed horror at the wrath of God, they will be aroused from that sleep in which they now repose. Thus Adam’s eyes were opened, so that, overwhelmed with shame, he sought in vain for places of concealment, and ultimately was convinced that he was ruined. Yet that knowledge of Adam, which was in itself useless, turned to his advantage through the grace of God; but the reprobate, being overwhelmed with despair, have their eyes opened only for this purpose, that they may perceive their destruction. To this kind of knowledge God conducts them in a variety of ways. Sometimes it happens that, constrained by heavy afflictions, they learn that God is angry with them; sometimes, without any outward punishment, he inwardly torments them; and, at other times, he permits them to sleep until he call them out of the world.
By the term exalt Christ points out his own death. He mentions his death, in order to warn them that, though they destroy him according to the flesh, they will gain nothing by it; as if he had said, “Now you treat me with haughty scorn, while I speak to you; but ere long your wickedness will proceed farther, even so far as to put me to death. Then will you triumph, as if you had gained your wish, but within a short time you shall feel, to your utter ruin, how widely my death differs from destruction.” He employs the word exalt, in order to vex them the more. Their intention was to plunge Christ into the lowest hell. He tells them that they will be completely disappointed, and that the event will be altogether contrary to what they thus expect. He may, indeed, have intended to allude to the outward form of his death, that he was to be lifted up on the cross; but he looked chiefly to the glorious result of it, which soon afterwards followed, contrary to the expectation of all. True, indeed, in the cross itself he gained a splendid triumph over Satan, before God and the angels, by blotting out the hand-writing of sin, and cancelling the condemnation of death, (<510214>Colossians 2:14;) but it was only after that the Gospel had been preached, that this triumph began to be made known to men. The same thing which happened shortly afterwards — that Christ rose out of the grave, and ascended to heaven — is what we ought daily to expect; for, notwithstanding all the contrivances of wicked men to oppress Christ in his Church, not only will he rise in spite of them, but he will turn their wicked efforts into the means of promoting the progress of his kingdom.
That I am. I have already stated that this does not refer to Christ’s Divine essence, but to his office; which appears still more clearly from what follows, when he affirms that he does nothing but by the command of the Father; for this means, that he was sent by God, and that he performs his office faithfully.
And that I do nothing of myself. That is, I do not put myself forward, to attempt anything rashly. Again, the word speak, refers to the same thing, that is, to the office of teaching; for when Christ wishes to prove that he does nothing but by the commandment of the Father, he says that he speaks as he has been taught by Him. The meaning of the words, therefore, may be summed up thus: In the whole of these proceedings, which you condemn, no part is my own, but I only execute what God has enjoined upon me; the words which you hear from my mouth are his words, and my calling, of which He is the Author, is directed by him alone. Let us remember, however, what I have sometimes mentioned already, that these words are accommodated to the capacity of the hearers. For, since they thought that Christ was only one of the ordinary rank of men, he asserts that whatever in him is Divine is not his own; meaning that it is not of man or by man; because the Father teaches us by him, and appoints him to be the only Teacher of the Church; and for this reason he affirms that he has been taught by the Father.
29. And he who hath sent me is with me. He again boasts that God, under whose guidance and authority he does every thing, will assist him, so that he shall not labor in vain and to no purpose, as if he had said, that the power of the Spirit of God accompanies his ministry. All faithful teachers ought to be endued with the same confidence, so as to entertain no doubt that the hand of God will be near them, when, with a pure conscience, they discharge such a ministry as he demands. For God does not furnish them with his word, in order that they may strike the air with an idle and useless sound, but makes his word successful by the secret efficacy of his Spirit, and at the same time guards them by his protection, that, when their enemies shall have been subdued, they may remain invincible against the whole world. And, indeed, if they judge of themselves and their own powers, they must give way every hour; so that the only method of pursuing is, to be convinced that they are supported by the hand of God.
Because I do always the things which please him. We must observe the reason why Christ declares that God is on his side, and that he will never be deprived of his assistance. It is, because he is regulated entirely by his will, and serves him in sincerity. For this is what he means by the word always, that he does not obey God only in part, but is entirely and unreservedly devoted to his service. Wherefore, if we desire to enjoy the same presence of God, our whole reason must be subjected to his authority; for if our senses hold the government in any degree, all our exertions will be fruitless, because the blessing of God will not be on them. And though for a time we may be delighted with the joyful prospect of success, yet the final result will be dismal.
The Father hath not left me alone. By these words, he indirectly complains of the treachery of his nation, in which he found scarcely any that gave him their support. Yet he shows that he reckons this alone to be abundantly sufficient, that he has God to protect him. Such is the courage with which we ought to be animated in the present day, that we may not give way on account of the small number of believers; for, though the whole world be opposed to his doctrine, still we are not alone. Hence, too, it is evident how foolish is the boasting of the Papists, who, while they neglect God, proudly boast of their vast numbers.

JOHN 8:30-38
30. While he spoke these things, many believed on him. 31. Jesus therefore said to the Jews who believed on him, If you continue in my word, you shall be truly my disciples. 32. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33. They answered, We are Abraham’s seed, and never were enslaved to any one; how then sayest thou, You shall be free? 34. Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, That every man who committeth sin is the slave of sin. f230 35. And the slave f231 remaineth not always in the house, but the son remaineth always. 36. If the Son then shall make you free, you shall be truly free. 37. I know that you are the seed of Abraham, but you seek to kill me, because my word dwelleth not in you. f232 38. I speak what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.

30. While he spoke these things. Though the Jews, at that time, almost resembled a dry and barren soil, yet God did not permit the seed of his word to be entirely lost. Thus, contrary to all hopes, and amidst so many obstructions, some fruit appears. But the Evangelist inaccurately gives the name of faith to that which was only a sort of preparation for faith. For he affirms nothing higher concerning them than that they were disposed to receive the doctrine of Christ, to which also the preceding warning refers.
31. If you continue in my word. Here Christ warns them, in the first place, that it is not enough for any one to have begun well, if their progress to the end do not correspond to it; and for this reason he exhorts to perseverance in the faith those who have tasted of his doctrine. When he says that they who are firmly rooted in his word, so as to continue in him, will truly be his disciples, he means that many profess to be disciples who yet are not so in reality, and have no right to be accounted such. He distinguishes his followers from hypocrites by this mark, that they who falsely boasted of faith give way as soon as they have entered into the course, or at least in the middle of it; but believers persevere constantly to the end. If, therefore, we wish that Christ should reckon us to be his disciples, we must endeavor to persevere.
32. And you shall know the truth. He says, that they who have arrived at some knowledge of it shall know the truth. True, those whom Christ addresses were as yet uneducated, and scarcely knew the first elements, and therefore we need not wonder if he promises them a more full understanding of his doctrine. But the statement is general. Wherefore, whatever progress any of us have made in the Gospel, let him know that he needs new additions. This is the reward which Christ bestows on their perseverance, that he admits them to greater familiarity with him; though in this way he does nothing more than add another gift to the former, so that no man ought to think that he is entitled to any reward. For it is he who impresses his word on our hearts by his Spirit, and it is he who daily chases away from our minds the clouds of ignorance which obscure the brightness of the Gospel. In order that the truth may be fully revealed to us, we ought sincerely and earnestly to endeavor to attain it. It is the same unvarying truth which Christ teaches his followers from the beginning to the end, but on those who were at first enlightened by him, as it were with small sparks, he at length pours a full light. Thus believers, until they have been fully confirmed, are in some measure ignorant of what they know; and yet it is not so small or obscure a knowledge of faith as not to be efficacious for salvation.
The truth shall make you free. He commends the knowledge of the Gospel from the fruit which we derive from it, or — which is the same thing — from its effect, namely, that it restores us to freedom. This is an invaluable blessing. Hence it follows, that nothing is more excellent or desirable than the knowledge of the Gospel. All men feel and acknowledge that slavery is a very wretched state; and since the Gospel delivers us from it, it follows that we derive from the Gospel the treasure of a blessed life.
We must now ascertain what kind of liberty is here described by Christ, namely, that which sets us free from the tyranny of Satan, sin, and death. And if we obtain it by means of the Gospel, it is evident from this that we are by nature the slaves of sin. Next, we must ascertain what is the method of our deliverance. For so long as we are governed by our sense and by our natural disposition, we are in bondage to sin; but when the Lord regenerates us by his Spirit, he likewise makes us free, so that, loosed from the snares of Satan, we willingly obey righteousness. But regeneration proceeds from faith, and hence it is evident that freedom proceeds from the Gospel.
Let Papists now go and proudly vaunt of their free-will, but let us, who are conscious of our own slavery, glory in none but Christ our Deliverer. For the reason why the Gospel ought to be reckoned to have achieved our deliverance is, that it offers and gives us to Christ to be freed from the yoke of sin. Lastly, we ought to observe, that freedom has its degrees according to the measure of their faith; and therefore Paul, though clearly made free, still groans and longs after perfect freedom, (<450724>Romans 7:24.)
33. We are Abraham’s seed. It is uncertain if the Evangelist here introduces the same persons who formerly spoke, f233 or others. My opinion is, that they replied to Christ in a confused manner, as usually happens in a promiscuous crowd; and that this reply was made rather by despisers than by those who believed. It is a mode of expression very customary in Scripture, whenever the body of a people is mentioned, to ascribe generally to all what belongs only to a part.
Those who object that they are Abrahams seed, and have always been free, easily inferred from the words of Christ that freedom was promised to them as to people who were slaves. But they cannot endure to have it said that they, who are a holy and elect people, are reduced to slavery. For of what avail was the adoption and the covenant, (<450904>Romans 9:4,) by which they were separated from other nations, but because they were accounted the children of God? They think, therefore, that they are insulted, when freedom is exhibited to them as a blessing which they do not yet possess. But it might be thought strange that they should maintain that they never were enslaved, since they had been so frequently oppressed by various tyrants, and at that time were subjected to the Roman yoke, and groaned under the heaviest burden of slavery; and hence it may be easily seen how foolish was their boasting.
Yet they had this plausible excuse, that the unjust sway of their enemies did not hinder them from continuing to be free by right. But they erred, first, in this respect, that they did not consider that the right of adoption was founded on the Mediator alone; for how comes it that Abraham’s seed is free, but because, by the extraordinary grace of the Redeemer, it is exempted from the general bondage of the human race? But there was another error less tolerable than the former, that, though they were altogether degenerate, yet they wished to be reckoned among the children of Abraham, and did not consider that it is nothing else than the regeneration of the Spirit that makes them lawful children of Abraham. And indeed, it has been too common a vice in almost all ages, to refer to the origin of the flesh the extraordinary gifts of God, and to ascribe to nature those remedies which Christ bestows for correcting nature. Meanwhile, we see how all who, swelled with false confidence, flatter themselves on their condition drive away from them the grace of Christ. And yet this pride is spread over the whole world, so that there is scarcely one person in a hundred who feels that he needs the grace of God.
34. Every man who committeth sin is the slave of sin. This is an argument drawn from contrary things. They boasted that they were free. He proves that they are the slaves of sin, because, being enslaved by the desires of the flesh, they continually sin. It is astonishing that men are not convinced by their own experience, so that, laying aside their pride, they may learn to be humble. And it is a very frequent occurrence in the present day, that, the greater the load of vices by which a man is weighed down, the more fiercely does he utter unmeaning words in extolling free-will.
Christ appears to say nothing more here than what was formerly said by philosophers, that they who are devoted to their lusts are subject to the most degrading slavery. But there is a deeper and more hidden meaning; for he does not argue what evil men bring on themselves, but what is the condition of human nature. The philosophers thought that any man is a slave by his own choice, and that by the same choice he returns to freedom. But here Christ maintains, that all who are not delivered by him are in a state of slavery, and that all who derive the contagion of sin from corrupted nature are slaves from their birth. We must attend to the comparison between grace and nature, on which Christ here dwells; from which it may be easily seen that men are destitute of freedom, unless they regain it from some other quarter. Yet this slavery is voluntary, so that they who necessarily sin are not compelled to sin.
35. Now the slave remaineth not in the house always. He adds a comparison, taken from the laws and from political law, to the effect that a slave, though he may have power for a time, yet is not the heir of the house; from which he infers that there is no perfect and durable freedom, but what is obtained through the Son. In this manner he accuses the Jews of vanity, because they hold but a mask instead of the reality; for, as to their being Abrahams offspring, they were nothing but a mask. They held a place in the Church of God, but such a place as Ishmael, a slave, rising up against his freeborn brother, usurped for a short time, (<480429>Galatians 4:29.) The conclusion is, that all who boast of being Abrahams children have nothing but an empty and deceitful pretense.
36. If then the Son shall make you free. By these words he means that the right of freedom belongs to himself alone, and that all others, being born slaves, cannot be delivered but by his grace. For what he possesses as his own by nature he imparts to us by adoption, when we are ingrafted by faith into his body, and become his members. Thus we ought to remember what I said formerly, that the Gospel is the instrument by which we obtain our freedom. So then our freedom is a benefit conferred by Christ, but we obtain it by faith, in consequence of which also Christ regenerates us by his Spirit. When he says that they shall be truly free, there is an emphasis on the word truly; for we must supply the contrast with the foolish persuasion by which the Jews were swelled with pride, in like manner as the greater part of the world imagine that they possess a kingdom, while they are in the most wretched bondage.
37. I know that you are Abraham’s seed. I explain this as said by way of concession. Yet at the same time he ridicules their folly in glorying in so absurd a title, as if he had said: “Granting that on which you flatter yourselves so much, still what avails it that those men are called the children of Abraham, who are enraged against God and his ministers, and who are actuated by such wicked and detestable hatred of the truth, that they rush headlong to shed innocent blood?” Hence it follows that nothing is farther from their true character than what they wished to be called, because they have no resemblance to Abraham.
You seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you. He means that they are not merely murderers, but are driven to such rage by hatred of God and his truth, which is far more heinous; for such an enormity does not merely extend to men, but likewise dishonors God. He says, that they cannot receive his words, because through malice they keep their minds shut, so that they cannot admit anything wholesome.
38. I speak what I have seen with my Father. He had already made frequent mention of his Father; and now, by an argument drawn from contrary things, he infers that they are enemies to God, and are the children of the devil, because they oppose his doctrine. “For my part,” says he, “I bring nothing forward, but what I have learned from my Father. How comes it then that the word of God excites you to such fury, but because you have an opposite father?” He says that he speaks, and they do, because he discharged the office of a teacher, while they labored strenuously to extinguish his doctrine. At the same time, he protects the Gospel against contempt, by showing that it is not wonderful if it be opposed by the children of the devil. Instead of you do, some render it, DO YOU what you have seen with your father; as if Christ had said, “Come, show that you are the children of the devil, by opposing me; for I speak nothing but what God has commanded.”

JOHN 8:39-42
39. They answered, and said to him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith to them, If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40. But now you seek to kill me, a man who have spoken to you the truth which I have heard from God: Abraham did not this. 41. You do the works of your father. They said therefore to him, We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, who is God. 42. Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded and came from God, for I did not proceed from myself, but he sent me.

39. Abraham is our father. This altercation shows plainly enough how haughtily and fiercely they despised all Christ’s reproofs. What they continually claim and vaunt of is, that they are Abraham’s children; by which they do not simply mean that they are the lineal descendants of Abraham, but that they are a holy race, the heritage of God, and the children of God. And yet they rely on nothing but the confidence of the flesh. But carnal descent, without faith, is nothing more than a false pretense. We now understand what it was that so greatly blinded them, so that they treated Christ with disdain, though armed with deadly thunder. Thus the word of God, which might move stones, is ridiculed in the present day by Papists, as if it were a fable, and fiercely persecuted by fire and sword; and for no other reason but that they rely on their false title of “the Church,” and hope that they will be able to deceive both God and man. In short, as soon as hypocrites have procured some plausible covering, they oppose God with hardened obstinacy, as if he could not penetrate into their hearts.
If you were the children of Abraham, you would do the works of Abraham. Christ now distinguishes more plainly between the bastard and degenerate children of Abraham, and the true and lawful children; f234 for he refuses to give the very name to all who do not resemble Abraham. True, it frequently happens that children do not resemble, in their conduct, the parents from whom they are sprung; but here Christ does not argue about carnal descent, but only affirms that they who do not retain by faith the grace of adoption are not reckoned among the children of Abraham before God. For since God promised to the seed of Abraham that he would be their God, saying,
I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, (<011707>Genesis 17:7,)
all unbelievers, by rejecting this promise, excluded themselves from the family of Abraham.
The state of the question therefore is this: Ought they to be accounted Abraham’s children who reject the blessing offered to them in the word, so that, notwithstanding of this, they shall be a holy nation, the heritage of God, and a royal priesthood? (<021906>Exodus 19:6; <290302>Joel 3:2.) Christ denies this, and justly; for they who are the children of the promise must be born again by the Spirit, and all who desire to obtain a place in the kingdom of God ought to be new creatures. Carnal descent from Abraham was not indeed useless, and of no value, provided that the truth were added to it. For election dwells in the seed of Abraham, but it is free, so that all whom God sanctifies by his Spirit are accounted heirs of life.
40. But now you seek to kill me. He proves from the effect, that they are not the children of God, as they boasted, because they oppose God. And, indeed, is there any thing in Abraham that is more highly commended than the obedience of faith? f235 This then is the mark of distinction, whenever we are required to distinguish between his children and strangers; for empty titles, whatever estimation they may procure before the world, are of no account with God. Christ therefore concludes again, that they are the children of the devil, because they hate with deadly hatred f236 true and sound doctrine.
41. We were not born of fornication. They claim no more for themselves than they did formerly, for it was the same thing with them to be Abrahams children and to be Gods children. But they erred grievously in this respect, that they imagined that God was bound to the whole seed of Abraham. For they reason thus: “God adopted for himself the family of Abraham; therefore, since we are Abraham’s descendants, we must be the children of God.” We now see how they thought that they had holiness from the womb, because they were sprung from a holy root. In short, they maintain that they are the family of God, because they are descended from the holy fathers. In like manner, the Papists in the present day are exceedingly vain of an uninterrupted succession from the fathers. By sorceries of this description Satan deceives them, so that they separate God from his word, the Church from faith, and the kingdom of heaven from the Spirit.
Let us know, therefore, that they who have corrupted the seed of life are at the farthest remove from being the children of God, though, according to the flesh, they are not bastards, but pretend a right to the plausible title of the Church. For let them go about the bush as much as they please, still they will never avoid the discovery that the only ground of their arrogant boasting is, “We have succeeded the holy fathers; therefore, we are the Church.” And if the reply of Christ was sufficient for confuting the Jews, it is not less sufficient now for reproving the Papists. Never indeed will hypocrites cease to employ the name of God falsely, with most wicked effrontery; but those false grounds of boasting, on which they plume themselves, will never cease to appear ridiculous in the eyes of all who shall abide by the decision of Christ.
42. If God were your Father, you would love me. Christ’s argument is this: “Whoever is a child of God will acknowledge his first-born Son; but you hate me, and therefore you have no reason to boast, that you are Gods children.” We ought carefully to observe this passage, that there is no piety and no fear of God where Christ is rejected. Hypocritical religion, indeed, presumptuously shelters itself under the name of God; but how can they agree with the Father who disagree with his only Son? What kind of knowledge of God is that in which his lively image is rejected? And this is what Christ means, when he testifies that he came from the Father.
For I proceeded and came from God. He means that all that he has is divine; and therefore it is most inconsistent that the true worshippers of God should fly from his truth and righteousness. “I did not come,” says he, “of myself. You cannot show that anything about me is contrary to God. In short, you will find nothing that is either earthly or human in my doctrine, or in the whole of my ministry.” For he does not speak of his essence, but of his office.

JOHN 8:43-45
43. Why do you not understand my language, that you cannot hear my word? 44. You are of your father the devil, and you wish to execute the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he did not remain in the truth, because there is no truth in him. 45. And because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.

43. Why do you not understand my language? In this passage, he reproaches the Jews with their obstinacy, which was so great, that they could not even endure to hear him speak. Hence he infers, that they are actuated and hurried away by diabolical rage. Some make a distinction here between language and speech, as if speech had a more extensive meaning; but I do not see it; f237 and besides, it would not be appropriate that the word which means less should be placed first. Many point this verse in such a manner as to make the question close with the word language; f238 as if the question consisted only of these words, Why do you not understand my language? So that the reason is immediately assigned, Because you cannot hear my word. But I think that it ought rather to be read in immediate connection, as if he had said, “What is the reason why my speech appears to you barbarous and unknown, so that I gain nothing by speaking to you, and so that you do not even deign to open your ears to receive what I say?” In the former clause, therefore, he reproves their stupidity; in the latter, he reproves their obstinate and ungovernable hatred of his doctrine; and he afterwards assigns a reason for both, when he says, that they are sprung from the devil. For by putting the question, he intended to take out of their hands what was the subject of their continual boasting, that they are led by reason and judgment to oppose him.
44. You are of your father the devil. What he had twice said more obscurely, he now expresses more fully, that they are the devils children. But we must supply the contrast, that they could not cherish such intense hatred to the Son of God, were it not that they had for their father the perpetual enemy of God. He calls them children of the devil, not only because they imitate him, but because they are led by his instigation to fight against Christ. For as we are called the children of God, not only because we resemble him, but because he governs us by his Spirit, because Christ lives and is vigorous in us, so as to conform us to the image of his Father; so, on the other hand, the devil is said to be the father or those whose understandings he blinds, whose hearts he moves to commit all unrighteousness, and on whom, in short, he acts powerfully and exercises his tyranny; as in <470404>2 Corinthians 4:4; <490202>Ephesians 2:2, and in other passages.
The Manicheans foolishly and ineffectually abused this passage to prove their absurd tenets. For since, when Scripture calls us the children of God, this does not refer to the transmission or origin of the substance, but to the grace of the Spirit, which regenerates us to newness of life; so this swing of Christ does not relate to the transmission of substance, but to the corruption of nature, of which man’s revolt was the cause and origin. When men, therefore, are born children of the devil, it must not be imputed to creation, but to the blame of sin. Now Christ proves this from the effect, because they willingly, and of their own accord, are disposed to follow the devil.
He was a murderer from the beginning. He explains what are those desires, and mentions two instances, cruelty and falsehood; in which the Jews too much resembled Satan. When he says that the devil was a murderer, he means that he contrived the destruction of man; for as soon as man was created, Satan, impelled by a wicked desire of doing injury, bent his strength to destroy him. Christ does not mean the beginning of the creation, as if God implanted in him the disposition to do injury; but he condemns in Satan the corruption of nature, which he brought upon himself. This appears more clearly from the second clause, in which he says,
He did not remain in the truth. For though those who imagine that the devil was wicked by nature, endeavor to make evasions, yet these words plainly state that there was a change for the worse, and that the reason why Satan was a liar was, that he revolted from the truth. That he is a liar, arises not from his nature having been always contrary to truth, but because he fell from it by a voluntary fall. This description of Satan is highly useful to us, that every person for himself may endeavor to beware of his snares, and, at the same time, to repel his violence and fury; for
he goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,
(<600508>1 Peter 5:8,)
and has a thousand stratagems at his command for deceiving. So much the more ought believers to be supplied with spiritual arms for fighting, and so much the more earnestly ought they to keep watch with vigilance and sobriety. Now, if Satan cannot lay aside this disposition, we ought not to be alarmed at it, as if it were a new and uncommon occurrence, when errors exceedingly numerous and varied spring up; for Satan stirs up his followers like bellows, to deceive the world by their impostures. And we need not wonder that Satan puts forth such strenuous efforts to extinguish the light of truth; for it is the only life of the soul. So, then, the most important and most deadly wound for killing the soul is falsehood. As all who have eyes to see perceive, in the present day, such a picture of Satan in Popery, they ought, first, to consider with what enemy they carry on war, and, next, to betake themselves to the protection of Christ their Captain, under whose banner they fight.
Because the truth is not in him. This statement, which immediately follows the other, is a confirmation a posteriori, as the phrase is; that is, it is drawn from the effect. For Satan hates the truth, and therefore cannot endure it, but, on the contrary, is entirely covered with falsehoods. Hence Christ infers, that he is entirely fallen from the truth, and entirely turned away from it. Let us not wonder, therefore, if he daily exhibits the fruits of his apostacy.
When he speaketh falsehood. These words are generally explained as if Christ affirmed that the blame of falsehood does not belong to God, who is the Author of nature, but, on the contrary, proceeds from corruption. But I explain it more simply, that it is customary with the devil to speak falsehood, and that he knows nothing but to contrive corruptions, frauds, and delusions. And yet we justly infer from these words, that the devil has this vice from himself, and that, while it is peculiar to him, it may likewise be said to be accidental; for, while Christ makes the devil to be the contriver of lying, he evidently separates him from God, and even declares him to be contrary to God. For he is a liar, and the father of it. The word father has the same object as the preceding statement; for the reason why Satan is said to be THE FATHER of falsehood is, because he is estranged from God, in whom alone truth dwells, and from whom it flows as from the only fountain.
45. But because I speak the truth. He confirms the preceding statement; for, since they have no other reason for opposing, but because truth is hateful and intolerable to them, they show plainly that they are the children of Satan.

JOHN 8:46-50
46. Which of you convicteth me of sin? And if I speak truth, why do you not believe me? 47. He who is of God heareth the words of God; you hear them not, because you are not of God. 48. The Jews therefore answered, and said to him, Do we not say well, that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49. Jesus answered, I have not a devil, but I honor my Father, and you have dishonored me. 50. But I seek not my own glory; there is one who seeketh it, and judgeth of it. f239

46. Which of you? This question proceeds from perfect confidence; for, knowing that they could not justly bring any reproach against him, he glories over his enemies, as having obtained a victory. And yet he does not say that he is free from their slanders; for, though they had no reason for reproaching, still they did not cease to pour out slanders on Christ; but he means that no crime dwells in him. And such is the import of the Greek word ejle>gcein, as the Latins use coarguere, (to convict,) when a person is held convicted of the fact. Which of you Convicteth me of sin? Yet those who think that Christ here asserts his complete innocence, because he alone surpassed all men, so far as he was the Son of God, are mistaken. For this defense must be restricted to what belongs to the passage, as if he had asserted that nothing could be brought forward to show that he was not a faithful servant of God. In like manner Paul also glories that he is not conscious of any crime (<460404>1 Corinthians 4:4;) for that does not extend to the whole life, but is only a defense of his doctrine and apostleship. It is away from the subject, therefore, to speculate, as some do, about the perfection of righteousness which belongs to the Son of God alone; since the only object which he has in view is, to give authority to his ministry, as appears more clearly from what follows; for he again adds immediately afterwards, If I speak truth, why do you not believe me? From which we infer that Christ is rather defending his doctrine than his person.
47. He who is of God. As he has a full right to take this for granted, that he is the ambassador of the heavenly Father, and that he discharges faithfully the office which has been committed to him, he kindles into greater indignation against them; for their impiety was no longer concealed, since they were so obstinate in rejecting the word of God. He had showed that they could not bring forward any thing which he had not taught as from the mouth of God. He concludes, therefore, that they have nothing in common with God, for they do not hear the words of God; f240 and, without saying any thing about himself, he charges them with being at war with God. Besides, we are taught by this passage, that there is not a more evident sign of a reprobate mind, than when one cannot endure the doctrine of Christ, even though, in other respects, it shone with angelic sanctity; as, on the contrary, if we embrace that doctrine cheerfully, we have what may be called a visible seal of our election. For he who has the word enjoys God himself; but he who rejects it excludes himself from righteousness and life. Wherefore, there is nothing which we ought to fear so much as to fall under that dreadful sentence.
48. Do we not say well? They show more and more how greatly they are stupified by Satan; for, though they are fully convicted, still they are enraged, and are not ashamed to show that they are utterly desperate. f241 Besides, though they bring a double reproach against Christ, still they wish to do nothing more than to say in a few words, that he is a detestable man, and that he is actuated by a wicked spirit. The Jews reckoned the Samaritans to be apostates and corrupters of the Law; and therefore, whenever they wished to stamp a man with infamy, they called him a Samaritan. Having no crime more heinous, therefore, to reproach Christ with, they seize at random, and without judgment, this vulgar taunt. To express it in a few words, we see that with effrontery they curse him, as men are wont to do when, infuriated like enraged dogs, they cannot find any thing to say.
49. I have not a devil. He passes by the first charge, and clears himself only of the second. Some think that he did so, because he disregarded the insult offered to his person, and undertook only the defense of the doctrine. But they are mistaken, in my opinion; for it is not probable that the Jews were so ingenious in distinguishing between the life and the doctrine of the Lord Jesus. f242 Besides, the dislike of this name arose, as we have said, from this circumstance, that the Samaritans, being perverse and degenerate observers of the Law, had debased it by many superstitions and corruptions, and had polluted the whole worship of God by foreign inventions. Augustine flies to allegory, and says that Christ did not refuse to be called a Samaritan, because he is a true guardian of his flock. But Christ’s intention appears to me to have been different; for since the two reproaches cast upon him had the same object, by refuting the one, he refutes the other; and, indeed, if the matter be duly considered, they insulted him more grievously by calling him a Samaritan than by calling him a demoniac. But, as I have already said, Christ satisfies himself with a simple refutation, which he draws from what is contrary, when he asserts that he labors to promote the honor of his Father; for he who duly and sincerely honors him must be guided by the Spirit of God, and must be a faithful servant of God.
You have dishonored me. This clause may be explained, as if it were a complaint of Christ, that he does not receive the honor due to him on account of his promoting the glory of God. But I think that he looks much higher, and connects the glory of the Father with his own, in this manner. “I claim nothing for myself which does not tend to the glory of God; for his majesty shines in me, his power and authority dwells in me; and therefore, when you treat me so disdainfully, you pour contempt on God himself.” He immediately adds, therefore, that God will revenge this insult. For they might have alleged that he was ambitious, if he had not testified that it was not from any personal feelings of a carnal nature that he cared about the honor or contempt showed to himself, but so far as the honor or contempt of God is concerned. Besides, though we are at a great distance from Christ, let every man be fully convinced that, if he be sincerely desirous to promote the glory of God, he will find that God has secured for him abundant commendation; for we shall always find that saying to be true,
Those who honor me, I will render honorable,
(<090230>1 Samuel 2:30.)
If men not only despise, but even load him with reproaches, let him calmly wait till the day of the Lord come.

JOHN 8:51-55
51. Verily, verily, I say to you, If any man keep my word, he shall never see death. 52. The Jews said therefore to him, Now we know that thou hast the devil, f243 Abraham is dead, and the Prophets, and thou sayest, If any man keep my word, he shall never taste of death. 53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? The Prophets also are dead. Whom makest thou thyself? 54. Jesus answered, If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my Father who glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God. 55. And you know him not, but I know him; and if I say that I do not know him, I shall be a liar like you; but I know him, and keep his word.

51. Verily, verily, I say to you. Christ unquestionably knew that some persons in that multitude were curable, and that others of them were not opposed to his doctrine. For this reason, he intended to terrify the wicked whose malice was desperate, but to do so in such a manner as to leave ground of consolation for the good, or to draw to him those who were not yet ruined. Whatever dislike of the word of God, therefore, may be entertained by the greatest part of men, yet the faithful teacher ought not to be wholly employed in reproving the wicked, but ought also to impart the doctrine of salvation to the children of God, and endeavor to bring them to sound views, if there be any of them who are not perfectly incurable. In this passage, therefore, Christ promises eternal life to his disciples, but demands disciples who shall not only prick up their ears, like asses, or profess with the mouth that they approve of his doctrine, but who shall keep his doctrine as a precious treasure. He says that they shall never see death; for, when faith quickens the soul of a man, death already has its sting extracted and its venom removed, and so cannot inflict a deadly wound.
52. Now we know. The reprobate persist in their stupidity, and are not moved by promises any more than by threatenings; so that they can neither be led nor drawn to Christ. Some think that they slanderously torture his words, by using the expression, taste of death, which Christ had not used; but this appears to me to be groundless. I rather think that both of the phrases, to taste of death and to see death, were used by the Hebrews in the same sense; namely, to die. But they are false interpreters in this respect, that they apply the spiritual doctrine of Christ to the body. No believer shall see death, because believers, having been born again of incorruptible seed, (<600123>1 Peter 1:23,) live even when they die; because, united to Christ their Head, they cannot be extinguished by death; because death is to them a passage into the heavenly kingdom; because
the Spirit, dwelling in them, is life on account of righteousness, (<450810>Romans 8:10,)
until he swallow up all that remains of death. But those men, being carnal, cannot perceive any deliverance from death, unless it appear manifestly in the body. And it is a disease too common in the world, that the greatest part of men care almost nothing about the grace of Christ, because they judge of it only by their carnal perception. That the same thing may not happen to us, we must arouse our minds, that they may discern spiritual life in the midst of death.
53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham? This is another offense, that they endeavor to obscure the glory of Christ by the splendor of Abraham and of the saints. But as all the stars are thrown into the shade by the brightness of the sun, so all the glory that is to be found in all the saints must fade away before the incomparable brightness of Christ. They act unjustly and absurdly, therefore, in contrasting the servants with the Lord; and they even act improperly towards Abraham and the Prophets, by abusing their name in opposition to Christ. But this wickedness has prevailed in almost every age, and prevails even in the present day, that wicked men, by mangling the works of God, make him appear to be contrary to himself. God glorified himself by the Apostles and Martyrs; the Papists frame idols for themselves out of the Apostles and Martyrs, that they may occupy the place of God; and do they not, in this manner, manufacture engines out of the very favors of God, to destroy his power? For how little remains for God or for Christ, if the saints have all that the Papists so lavishly bestow upon them! Wherefore, we ought to know that the whole order of the Kingdom of God is destroyed, unless Prophets, Apostles, and all that can be called Saints, be placed far below Christ, that he alone may hold the highest rank. And, indeed, we cannot speak of the Saints more respectfully than when we place them below Christ. But the Papists, though they may deceive the ignorant by boasting that they are faithful admirers of the Saints, offer an insult both to God and to them, because, by assigning to them a lofty station, they reduce Christ to a level with them. And, indeed, they are doubly in the wrong, because they prefer the Saints to Christ in doctrine; and because, by clothing themselves with the spoils of Christ, they deprive him of almost all his power.
54. If I glorify myself. Before replying to that unjust comparison, he begins by saying that he does not seek his own glory, and thus meets their slander. If it be objected, that Christ also glorified himself, the answer is easy, that he did so, not as man, but by the direction and authority of God. For here, as in many other passages, he distinguishes between himself and God, by way of concession. In short, he declares that he desires no glory whatever but what has been given him by the Father. We are taught by these words that, when God glorifies his Son, he will not permit the world to hate or despise him f244 with impunity.
Meanwhile, those voices sounding from heaven, Kiss the Son, (<190212>Psalm 2:12,) Let all the angels worship him, (<580106>Hebrews 1:6,) Let every knee bow to him, (<502910>Philippians 2:10,) Hear ye him, (<401705>Matthew 17:5,) Let the Gentiles seek him, (<451511>Romans 15:11,) and Let all flesh be humbled, ought greatly to encourage believers to render honor and reverence to Christ. We are also reminded by these words, that all the honor which men procure for themselves is trivial and worthless. How blind then is ambition, when we labor so earnestly about nothing! Let, us continually keep before our eyes that saying of Paul,
Not he who commendeth himself is approved, but whom God commendeth, (<471018>2 Corinthians 10:18.)
Besides, as we are destitute of the glory of God, let us learn to glory in Christ alone, so far as by his grace he makes us partakers of his glory.
Of whom you say that he is your God. He pulls off from them the false mask of the name of God which they were accustomed to employ. “I know,” he says, “how presumptuously you boast that you are the people of God; but it is a false title, for you know not God.” Hence also we learn what is the true and lawful f245 profession of faith. It is that which proceeds from true knowledge. And whence comes that knowledge, but from the word? Consequently, all who boast of the name of God without the word of God are mere liars. Yet to their audacity Christ opposes the assurance of his conscience; and thus all the servants of God ought to be prepared in their hearts to be satisfied with this alone, that God is on their side, though the whole world should rise against him. Thus anciently the Prophets and Apostles had invincible courage and magnanimity, which stood firm against the dreadful attacks of the whole world, because they knew by whom they were sent. But when solid knowledge of God is wanting, there is nothing to support us.
And if I shall say that I know him. By this clause, Christ testifies that the necessity of his office constrains him to speak, because silence would be a treacherous denim of the truth. This is a remarkable statement, that God reveals himself to us for this purpose, that we may confess before men the faith which we have in our hearts, when it is needful. For it ought powerfully to strike terror into our minds, that they who act hypocritically to please men, and either deny the truth of God or disfigure it by wicked glosses, not only are gently reproved, but are sent back to the children of the devil.

JOHN 8:56-59
56. Your father Abraham exulted to see my day; and he saw it and rejoiced. 57. The Jews then said to him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58. Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am. 59. Then they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus concealed himself, and went out of the temple.

56. Your father Abraham. He grants to them, in words only, what he formerly took from them, that Abraham is their father. But he shows how idle is the objection drawn from the name of Abraham. “He had no other object,” says he, “during his whole life, than to see my kingdom flourish. He longed for me when I was absent, you despise me when I am present.” What Christ here asserts concerning Abraham alone, applies to all the saints. But this doctrine has greater weight in the person of Abraham, because he is the father of the whole Church. Whoever then desires to be reckoned in the number of the godly, let him rejoice, as he ought to do, in the presence of Christ, for which Abraham ardently longed.
Exulted to see my day. The word exult expresses a vehement zeal f246 and ardent affection. We must now supply the contrast. Though the knowledge of Christ was still so obscure, Abraham was inflamed by so strong a desire, that he preferred the enjoyment of it to everything that was reckoned desirable. How base then is the ingratitude of those who despise and reject him, when he is plainly offered to them? The word day does not, in this passage, denote eternity, (as Augustine thought,) but the time of Christ’s kingdom, when he appeared in the world clothed with flesh, to fulfill the office of Redeemer.
But a question now arises, How did Abraham behold, even with the eyes of faith, the manifestation of Christ? For this appears not to agree with another statement of Christ,
Many kings and prophets desired to see the things which you see, and yet did not see them, (<421024>Luke 10:24.)
I reply, faith has its degrees in beholding Christ. Thus the ancient prophets beheld Christ at a distance, as he had been promised to them, and yet were not permitted to behold him present, as he made himself familiarly and completely visible, when he came down from heaven to men.
Again, we are taught by these words that, as God did not disappoint the desire of Abraham, so he will not now permit any one to breathe after Christ, without obtaining some good fruit which shall correspond to his holy desire. The reason why he does not grant the enjoyment of himself to many is — the wickedness of men; for few desire him. Abrahams joy testifies that he regarded the knowledge of the kingdom of Christ as an incomparable treasure; and the reason why we are told that he rejoiced to see the day of Christ is, that we may know that there was nothing which he valued more highly. But all believers receive this fruit from their faith, that, being satisfied with Christ alone, in whom they are fully and completely happy and blessed, their consciences are calm and cheerful. And indeed no man knows Christ aright, unless he gives him this honor of relying entirely upon him.
Others explain it to mean, that Abraham, being already dead, enjoyed the presence of Christ, when he appeared to the world; and so they make the time of desiring and the time of seeing to be different. And indeed it is true, that the coming of Christ was manifested to holy spirits after death, of which coming they were held in expectation during the whole of their life; but I do not know if so refined an exposition agrees with Christ’s words.
57. Thou art not yet fifty years old. They endeavor to refute Christ’s saying, by showing that he had asserted what was impossible, when he who was not yet fifty years of age makes himself equal to Abraham, who died many centuries before. Though Christ was not yet thirty-four years of age, yet they allow him to be somewhat older, that they may not appear to be too rigid and exact in dealing with him; as if they had said, “Thou certainly wilt not make thyself so old, though thou wert to boast that thou art already fifty years of age.” Consequently, those who conjecture that he looked older than he actually was, or that the years mentioned in this passage are not solar years, in either case labor to no purpose. The notion of Papias, who says that Christ lived more than forty years, cannot at all be admitted.
58. Before Abraham was. As unbelievers judge only from the appearance of the flesh, Christ reminds them that he has something greater and higher than human appearance, which is hidden from the senses of the flesh, and is perceived only by the eyes of faith; and that, in this respect, he might be seen by the holy fathers, before he was manifested in the flesh. But he uses different verbs. Before Abraham WAS, f247 or, Before Abraham WAS BORN, f248 I AM. f249. But by these words he excludes himself from the ordinary rank of men, and claims for himself a power more than human, f250 a power heavenly and divine, the perception of which reached from the beginning of the world through all ages.
Yet these words may be explained in two ways. Some think that this applies simply to the eternal Divinity of Christ, and compare it with that passage in the writings of Moses, I am what I am, (<020314>Exodus 3:14.) But I extend it much farther, because the power and grace of Christ, so far as he is the Redeemer of the world, was common to all ages. It agrees therefore with that saying of the apostle, Christ yesterday, and to-day, and for ever, (<581308>Hebrews 13:8.) For the context appears to demand this interpretation. He had formerly said that Abraham longed for his day with vehement desire; and as this seemed incredible to the Jews, he adds, that he himself also existed at that time. The reason assigned will not appear sufficiently strong, if we do not understand that he was even then acknowledged to be the Mediator, by whom God was to be appeased. And yet the efficacy which belonged, in all ages, to the grace of the Mediator depended on his eternal Divinity; so that this saying of Christ contains a remarkable testimony of his Divine essence.
We ought also to observe the solemn form of an oath, Verily, verily. Nor do I disapprove of the opinion of Chrysostom, that the present tense of the verb is emphatic; for he does not say, I was, but I am; by which he denotes a condition uniformly the same from the beginning to the end. And he does not say, Before Abraham WAS, but, Before Abraham WAS MADE; which implies that Abraham had a beginning.
59. Then they took up stones. There is reason to believe that they did this, as if Christ ought to be stoned according to the injunction of the Law, (<032416>Leviticus 24:16.) Hence we infer how great is the madness of inconsiderate zeal; for they have no ears to know the cause, but they have hands ready to commit murder. I have no doubt that Christ rescued himself by his secret power, but yet under the appearance of a low condition; for he did not intend to make a clear display of his Divinity without leaving something for human infirmity. Some copies have the words, And so Jesus passed through the midst of them; which Erasmus justly considers to have been borrowed from the Gospel by <420430>Luke 4:30. It deserves notice also, that the wicked priests and scribes, after having banished Christ,
in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead,
|(<510209>Colossians 2:9,)
retain po