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Title: The Gospel of St. John

Author: Joseph MacRory

Release date: July 19, 2014 [eBook #46337]

Language: English


The Gospel of St. John

With Notes Critical and Explanatory

By the

Rev. Joseph MacRory, D.D.

Professor of Sacred Scripture and Hebrew, Maynooth College

Ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται, ἵνα πιστέυσητε ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ.--St. John, xx. 31.

Browne & Nolan, Limited



Cover Art

[Transcriber's Note: The above cover image was produced by the submitter at Distributed Proofreaders, and is being placed into the public domain.]

[pg ii]

Nihil Obstat.

Gualterus MacDonald, D.D.,

Censor Theolog. Deputat.



Archiep. Dublinen., Hiberniae Primas.

[pg iii]


It may be well to state briefly the object and plan of the present work. Some years ago their Lordships the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland decided to lengthen considerably the course of Sacred Scripture read in this College. As a result of their decision, all our students are now expected to read the whole of the New Testament with the exception of the Apocalypse, together with portions of the Old Testament. This change, while it has the desirable advantage of familiarizing our students with a larger portion of the Sacred Text, obviously renders it impossible that so much time as formerly should be devoted to the study of any one portion. The consequence of this is that it is now impossible for any but the very ablest students to find time to read the longer commentaries, such as those of Maldonatus, Estius, and A Lapide. I was not long, therefore, in charge of the Class of Sacred Scripture, when I became convinced that it would be useful, if not necessary, to provide the students with a more compendious exposition of the portions of Scripture that they are expected to study.

With this object in view, I have not attempted, in the present work, to give an exhaustive commentary on the Fourth Gospel. Such an attempt, indeed, would have frustrated my object. I have tried rather, while omitting nothing of importance, to introduce nothing unnecessary, and to observe throughout the utmost consistent brevity.

I am prepared to hear that some will consider I have passed too lightly over the easier portions of the Gospel. I can only say, in reply, that what I have done, has been done deliberately. Where the meaning of God's word is sufficiently clear, I consider that it ought to be left to the exercise of the student's intelligence to find it, and I am strongly of opinion that in such cases a commentator may well be excused from interposing his remarks between the reader and the Sacred Text.

It might seem that the able and learned commentary of Dr. MacEvilly—the only Catholic commentary hitherto existing [pg iv] on this Gospel in the English language—would render such a work as the present unnecessary. But the length of His Grace's work, like the works of Maldonatus, Estius, and A Lapide, renders it not wholly adapted to the present conditions of our students. Besides, anyone acquainted with the work of a professor will readily realize how important it is, and how desirable, when possible, that students should possess in handy and permanent form the professor's views. No two men will think alike on all the difficult and intricate questions arising out of the Gospel of St. John; and while I should feel it my duty, if lecturing on the work of another, to impose upon the students of my class the necessity of taking notes, I have hope that the present work will to a large extent obviate such a necessity. His Grace's work will, no doubt, continue to be used by many of our students in preference to mine, and with all of them it will still hold its place as a useful book of reference.

The Latin Text that I have followed is a reprint from the Latin Vulgate published at Turin in 1883: Biblia Sacra Vulgatae Editionis, Sixti V. Pontificis Maximi jussu recognita, et Clementis VIII. auctoritate edita. Editio emendatissima, Indicis Congregationis decreto probata, et iterum hoc anno evulgata. Augustae Taurinorum, typis Hyacinthi Marietti, mdccclxxxiii. In only one instance is there a conscious departure from this edition, and that is in verses 3 and 4 of the first chapter, where I have returned to the original punctuation of the Clementine Edition.

The English Text is from the Rhemish New Testament approved by Cardinal Wiseman, and published by Burns and Oates, Limited.

Maynooth College,
Ascension Thursday, 1897.

[pg 001]


I.—Authenticity Of The Fourth Gospel.

That St. John the Apostle is also an Evangelist, and author of the fourth Gospel, has been the all but unanimous testimony of tradition. If we except the Alogi (St. Epiph., Haer., li. 3, 4), heretics of the second century, who denied the Johannine authorship, not on historical, but on dogmatic grounds, the authenticity of the Gospel was unquestioned down to the end of the eighteenth century. Since that time, however, it has been frequently and variously attacked by the so-called Rationalists, whose many views in regard to it may be reduced to one or other of the three following theories:—

1. The patrons of what is sometimes called the “partition theory” hold that, though the work as a whole cannot be said to be St. John's, still considerable portions of it are his. About the extent of these portions they differ. Weisse, who, in the year 1838, first gave prominence to this theory, held that the discourses attributed to Christ in the Gospel are studies from the pen of St. John, representing what he considered to be the doctrine of Christ; and that St. John's disciples afterwards set these discourses in their present historical framework, and thus produced the Gospel. Others, however, admit that some portions of the narrative, as well as the discourses, are the work of St. John.

2. The Gospel is in no part the work of St. John; still the historical portions contain valuable traditions derived from that Apostle. Renan, [pg 002] who holds this view, says:—“The fourth Gospel is not the work of the Apostle John. It was attributed to him by one of his disciples, about the year 100. The discourses are almost wholly fictitious; but the narrative portions contain valuable traditions, which reach back in part to the Apostle John.”1

3. This, like the preceding theory, denies the Johannine authorship; but it goes farther than the preceding, in denying to our Gospel any historical value. According to this theory, not only are the discourses spurious, but the historical portions are wholly unreliable, and the Gospel was forged in the latter half of the second century. So Baur and many others.

Against these various adversaries there is abundant evidence, external and internal, in favour of the authenticity of our Gospel.

A.—External Evidence.2

1. The Apostolic Fathers do not, indeed, quote our Gospel as the work of St. John, for it was not their custom to name the author from whom they quoted; but passages are met with in the works of these fathers which are very probably founded upon passages in our Gospel. Compare, for instance, with John xxi. 20, the words of St. Clement of Rome († 101):—“John also, who leaned upon the bosom of our Lord, whom the Lord loved exceedingly” (Epis. 1 De Virgin, c. 6); or with John iii. 8, the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch († 107):—“The Spirit, since He is born of God, is not deceived, for He knoweth whence He cometh and whither He goeth (Ad. Philad. 7). It would be easy to multiply instances of this kind;3 but, as such coincidences are always more or less inconclusive, it is more important to note here that Papias and Polycarp, two disciples of St. John, indirectly support the claim of the fourth Gospel to authenticity. For it is certain that both these writers accepted the First Epistle of St. John as his.4 Now, so great is the similarity of style between our Gospel and that Epistle, and so close the relation between the two, that we are justified in concluding, with Cornely (Introd. iii. 59, 3), that Papias and Polycarp, admitting the one, probably admitted also the other to be the work of St. John. Even Renan admits that “The two writings offer the most complete identity of style, the same terms, the same favourite expressions.” Indeed we have now the direct testimony of [pg 003] Papias in a fragment of his rather recently discovered: “Quant au silence de Papias il n'est plus possible d'en tirer un argument contre le quatrième Evangile. Un nouveau fragment de l'évêque d'Hieropolis, cité par Thomasius (i. 344) ... temoigne qu'il connaissait l'œuvre de l'Apotre” (Didon—Jesus Christ, Introd. xxviii.).

2. The Fathers of the second century were thoroughly acquainted with our Gospel, and some of them refer to it as the work of St. John. Thus, when Justin Martyr († 167), in proving the necessity of Baptism (Apol. i. 61), says: “For Christ said: ‘Unless you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ Now that those born once cannot enter again into the wombs of their mothers, is clear to all,” there can hardly be a doubt that he had before his mind John iii. 3, 4.

Again, Tatian, a disciple of St. Justin, actually wrote a Harmony of the Four Gospels, known as Tatian's Diatessaron, which commenced with the opening words of our Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word.”5

The Muratorian Fragment, which contains a list of canonical books, made not later than 170 a.d., says: “John, one of the disciples, (is the author) of the fourth Gospel.”

Theophilus of Antioch († 186), who was the sixth successor to St. Peter in the see of Antioch, says:—“These things we are taught by the Sacred Scriptures, and by all inspired by the Holy Ghost, of whom John says: ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ ” &c.

Finally, Irenæus († 202), who was Bishop of Lyons in Gaul, from about the year 180, and who wrote his work, Against Heresies, probably between 180 and 190 a.d., says:—“Afterwards John, a disciple of the Lord, who reclined upon His breast, also wrote a Gospel.” This testimony of Irenæus is of very special importance; for, besides being a native of Asia Minor, and a bishop in Gaul, and thus representing in himself the traditions of both countries, he was moreover a disciple of Polycarp, who was himself a disciple of St. John, so that no one had better opportunities than Irenæus of learning everything connected with the Apostle.

Indeed, so well was our Gospel known, and its authority recognised in the second century, that even the heretics of the time sought the sanction of its authority for their errors. “They use that which is according to John,” says Irenæus, speaking of the Valentinian heretics of the second century (Iren., Haer., iii. 11. 7).

[pg 004]

3. We abstain from quoting Fathers of the third century, because it is not denied that they knew our Gospel, and acknowledged St. John to be the author. Even Strauss (Leben Jesu, § 10, p. 47) says: “It is certain that towards the end of the second century, the same four Gospels which we have still, are found recognised in the Church, and are repeatedly quoted as the writings of the Apostles, and disciples of the Apostles, whose names they bear, by the three most eminent ecclesiastical teachers—Irenæus, in Gaul; Clement, in Alexandria; and Tertullian, in Carthage.”

It is undeniable then that before the close of the second century, the fourth Gospel was everywhere in the Church received as the genuine work of St. John. This, we hold, proves that it must be indeed his work. For he lived on till the end of the first century; his disciples till the middle, and their disciples till the end, of the second century. Is it possible then that a spurious work, produced by some forger in the second century, could have been everywhere so soon received and recognised as the work of the Apostle?

B.—Internal Evidence.

1. The author himself tells us (xxi. 20, 24), that he is “the disciple whom Jesus loved, who also leaned on His breast at supper.” Now according to all the fathers, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” &c., was St. John. Moreover, the three most favoured disciples were Peter, James, and John. They alone were permitted to be present at the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus (Mark v. 37), at the transfiguration (Matt. xvii. 1), and at the agony in the garden (Matt. xxvi. 37). But Peter cannot be the writer of our Gospel, from whom he is explicitly distinguished (John xxi. 20); nor James the Greater, for, in the opinion of all, he had been beheaded by Herod Agrippa I. (Acts xii. 2) many years before our Gospel was written. It remains then that the writer must be St. John. Nor does this argument lose its force, even though we admit that the last two verses of our Gospel (John xxi. 24, 25) were not written by St. John. For since they have stood in the Gospel from the beginning, they must at least be the evidence of a contemporary; so that we have here either an internal argument or another powerful external one in favour of the Johannine authorship.

2. While the Apostle John plays an important part in the other Gospels, he is not named even once in the fourth Gospel. If we had only it, we should not know that there was an Apostle of that name. The fair inference then is, that he himself being the writer, suppressed his own name through modesty. Moreover, while the other Evangelists are accustomed, when they speak of John the Baptist, to distinguish [pg 005] him from John the Apostle, our author, again through modesty, ignores the Apostle, and refers nineteen different times to the Baptist as John without any distinguishing appellative.

3. The style is just such as we should expect from St. John; the Greek purer than that of the other Gospels, because of the author's long sojourn in Asia Minor, yet not untinged by Hebraisms because of his earlier life spent in Palestine.

4. The whole Gospel points to its author as one who was intimately acquainted with Palestine and its customs, and who had lived and moved among the events he describes.6 Thus the journey from Cana to Capharnaum is rightly described as a descent (John iv. 47, 51); the author is acquainted with the pools of Bethsaida and Siloe at Jerusalem (John v. 2, ix. 7), with the position of the brook of Cedron in relation to Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives (John xviii. 1), and with the distance of Bethany from the Holy City (xi. 18).

Among Jewish customs he refers to the manner of purification before meals (John ii. 6), and to their avoidance of intercourse with Samaritans (iv. 9), and hints at the objection of their teachers to speak publicly with women (John iv. 27). He shows, too, that he is familiar, not merely with Jewish festivals, but also with their peculiar solemnities (John vii. 2, 37), and the time of their occurrence (x. 22). Finally, he declares himself an eye-witness, as well where he says:—“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory (John i. 14), as where he tells us, “He that saw it, hath given testimony ... and he knoweth that he saith true” (John xix. 35).


St. John, Apostle, Evangelist, prophet, and martyr, was born in Galilee, the son of Zebedee, a fisherman of some means, and Salome, one of those holy women who ministered to our Lord during His public life, and stood by His cross on Calvary (Mark i. 20; Matt. iv. 21, xxvii. 56; Mark xv. 40, xvi. 1). Before his call by Jesus, John was probably a disciple of the Baptist, and it is extremely likely that he was one of the two who at the preaching of their Master first believed in Christ (John i. 37, and foll.). Called with his brother James, immediately after Peter and Andrew (Matt. iv. 18, 19, 21), [pg 006] he left all things to follow Christ, and became the best beloved of all the disciples. With Peter and his own brother James he was permitted to witness the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus, and to be present at the transfiguration on Thabor, and the agony in Gethsemane (Mark v. 27; Matt. xvii. 1; Matt. xxvi. 37). He was privileged to recline on his Master's bosom at the Last Supper (John xviii. 23), and to him alone was given from the cross the blessed trust of providing for the Mother of God (John xix. 27). Nor did he fail to return love for love. When the Apostles fled in terror from Gethsemane (Mark xiv. 50), Peter and John followed Jesus into the court of the High-priest (John xviii. 15); and at the last tragic scene on Calvary, our Evangelist, brave with the courage begotten of love, was still close to his Master (John xix. 26).

After the descent of the Holy Ghost, St. John, with St. Peter, took a leading part in establishing the Church. He and Peter were the first to suffer imprisonment for preaching the faith of Christ (Acts iv. 2, 3); and, again in company with Peter, he was chosen to go down from Jerusalem, and confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on the converted Samaritans. How long he remained in Palestine, we cannot say with certainty. When St. Paul went up to the Council of Jerusalem, in 47 a.d.,7 he found St. John there; but whether our Apostle had himself gone up specially to the Council, or had hitherto confined his preaching to Palestine, it seems impossible to say, for St. Peter was there too, though he had been already Bishop of Antioch, and was then Bishop of Rome.

In addition to the preceding facts gleaned from the New Testament, we learn from tradition that the saint remained in Jerusalem till after the Blessed Virgin's death (Niceph., H. E., ii. 42); that he subsequently preached in Asia Minor, and, probably after the martyrdom of St. Paul (67 a.d.), settled at Ephesus (Origen, apud. Euseb., H. E., iii. 1). In the reign of Domitian (81-96 a.d.) he was taken to Rome, and thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil, from which he came forth unhurt (Tertull., De Praescr. 36).8 He was then banished to the island of Patmos, in the Aegean Sea, where he wrote the Apocalypse; was liberated on the accession of Nerva (96-98 a.d.), and allowed to return to Ephesus, where he lived to an extreme old age, and died in the sixty-eighth year after our Lord's Passion (Jer., Advers. Jovin, i. 14), i.e., about 101 of the Dionysian era.

[pg 007]

III.—For Whom Written, And With What Object.

St. Jerome tells us that the fourth Gospel was written for the Christians of Asia Minor, and at their request.9

The object or scope of the Gospel was threefold:—

1. To prove that Jesus was the Son of God made man, and that all supernatural life must come to us through faith in His name. Hence he tells us in the very beginning that “the Word was God ... and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us” (John i. 14); and in xx. 31: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

2. As connected with the preceding, indirectly to refute the heresies of the Cerinthians, Ebionites, and Nicolaites,10 all of whom erred in regard to either the Divinity or humanity of Christ. See below IX., and Cornely, iii., † 64.

3. To supplement the three Synoptic Gospels. So nearly all the fathers. And, indeed, it is perfectly evident that an Evangelist who is entirely silent regarding the birth, infancy, and childhood of our Lord, and who introduces Him abruptly to the reader at the beginning of His public life, cannot have meant to write a complete life of Christ. And since St. John wrote many years after the other Evangelists, it is not surprising to find that his work partakes more of a supplemental character than any of the Synoptic Gospels.

IV.—Outline Of The Plan Of The Gospel.

What has just been said regarding the object of the Gospel will enable us to form a general conception of its plan. It must be carefully borne in mind that St. John did not intend to write a Life of Christ, nor to give a general view of His teaching, nor to compile a work on the general history of his own times. His main object was to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God; and the various parts [pg 008] of the Gospel are carefully disposed with a view to this end. Out of the vast mass of materials at his disposal (xxi. 25; xx. 30) he selects such incidents, such miracles and discourses of our Lord, as are best suited to the attainment of this special purpose. In accordance with this view, we subjoin a brief outline of the plan of the Gospel.

I. 1-18.

The Prologue. The Word in His absolute, eternal Being; in His relation to creation generally, and to the spiritual enlightenment and sanctification of man; His incarnation.

I. 19-XXI. 23.

The Narrative, which divides itself naturally into two parts:—

(a) I. 19-XII. 50. Manifestation of Christ's Divinity in His Public Life

By the testimony of the Baptist.

By the testimony of His disciples.

By the testimony of His miracles.

By the testimony of His discourses.

(b) XIII. 1-XXI. 23. Manifestation of Christ's Divinity in His last discourses, and in His passion, death, resurrection, and risen life.

XXI. 24, 25.

The Epilogue, in which the beloved disciple testifies that he is the author of the Gospel, and that what he has written is true, though incomplete.

V.—Time And Place Of Writing.

The exact date of our Gospel is uncertain. One thing is absolutely certain: that it was written after the other three Gospels. Some have placed it almost as early as 70 a.d.; but the weight of evidence, external and internal, places it in the last decade of the first century, that is to say, between 90 and 100 a.d.

There is great doubt, too, as to the place where it was written. Irenæus distinctly states that it was written at Ephesus,11 and many of the fathers are of the same opinion. On the other hand, a large number of ancient writers hold, that, like the Apocalypse, it was written in Patmos. See Patrizzi, lib. i., cap. iv., § 86, who himself inclines to the latter view.

[pg 009]


With the exception of three passages: v. 4, vii. 53-viii. 11, and the whole of the last chapter, which have been attacked as interpolations, the integrity of the fourth Gospel has not been seriously questioned. These passages we shall examine as they occur, and there discuss the question of their authenticity.


It is certain that St. John wrote in Greek. Such has been the opinion of all writers, and it is proved by the fact that he wrote for the Christians of Asia Minor, whose language we know was Greek.

VIII.—Christ's Discourses In The Gospel.

St. John's Gospel has this peculiarity, that it is made up, in great part, of Christ's discourses. Judging from the attention which the Evangelist seems to pay to the order of time, we feel sure that these discourses are reported in the chronological order in which they were delivered.

But are they reported in the very words used by Christ? We feel convinced that they are not. The important heads of doctrine, such as iii. 3, 5, bearing on baptism; or vi. 48, 52, regarding the Blessed Eucharist, are, doubtless, reported in almost12 the exact words of our Lord. But the discourses generally we believe to be reported merely in substance. For this was sufficient for the Evangelist's purpose; and, therefore, we have no reason to suppose a miraculous assistance which would enable him to remember every word. No doubt the Evangelist had the assistance of inspiration; but the Catholic view of inspiration warrants us in believing that in general the ideas only, and not the words, were inspired. We thus get rid of the Rationalist difficulty that the discourses must be fictitious, because, [pg 010] they say, no human memory could retain such long discourses for more than half a century. For in our view it is only the substance of the discourses that is handed down, and, even if we abstracted altogether from the assistance given him by inspiration, it is not difficult to believe that the young and retentive mind of a loving disciple would treasure up and retain the substance of his Divine Master's discourses, aided as it must have been by the fact that these discourses, besides being the food of his daily meditation, were doubtless again and again repeated in his apostolic preaching.

IX.—Errors Combated In The Gospel.

There is not one of all the many heresies that have arisen regarding the Person and natures of Jesus Christ that may not be refuted from the Gospel of St. John. We intend, however, to speak here only of those errors which had already arisen in the time of the Evangelist, and against which, therefore, his Gospel was immediately directed. What these were we learn from SS. Irenæus and Jerome. The former distinctly says that our Gospel was directed against the errors of Cerinthus, and of “those who are called Nicolaites (see above, III. 2, note); while the latter says that it was directed against Cerinthus, and other heretics, especially the Ebionites.13 It is important for us, then, in approaching the study of this Gospel to understand what was the nature of these errors against which it was directed.

Cerinthus, though professing belief in a Supreme Being, held that the world was not made by Him, but by an inferior power (virtus) distinct from Him, and ignorant of Him. (2) That Jesus was not born of a Virgin, but the child of Joseph and Mary, born according to the ordinary course of nature. (3) That Christ (the Word) was quite distinct from Jesus; that, however, He had descended upon Jesus immediately after the latter's baptism, and remained with Him filling His soul till shortly before the Passion; that then Christ departed from Jesus, who suffered and died a mere man, [pg 011] while Christ suffered nothing, being indeed entirely spiritual and impassible.14

The Ebionites, unlike the Cerinthians, admitted that the world was created by God, but, like them, denied that Christ was anything but a mere man. They scrupulously observed the Mosaic Law, which they held to be obligatory, by the observance of which Jesus had merited to be called Christ, and through which every man was able to become a Christ.15

About the doctrine of the Nicolaites, which they claimed to have derived from Nicolas the Deacon (Acts vi. 5), we know nothing definite; but it is generally held that it was akin to that of the Cerinthians and Ebionites.

Among the “other heretics” alluded to by St. Jerome in the passage cited above were, doubtless, the Simonians (followers of Simon Magus, Acts viii. 9, and foll.), and the Docetae.

The Simonians agreed with the Cerinthians in denying that the world was made by God, and that Jesus was God, and St. Irenæus speaks of them as the originators of the Gnostic heresy. “Simoniani a quibus falsi nominis scientia accepit initia.” (Adv. Haer., i. xxxiii. 4.)

The Docetae (δοκεῖν = to seem) held that Christ had only the appearance of a human body; and hence, that His sufferings and death were not real, but apparent.

[pg 013]

Chapter I.

1-18. The prologue16 declares the Word's eternity, distinct personality, and essential unity with God; His relations with creation generally, and with man in particular; His incarnation, and the fulness of grace, and perfection of revelation attained through Him.

19-34. Some of the Baptist's testimonies to Christ.

35-51. Circumstances in which Christ's first disciples were called.

1. In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. 1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

1. In the beginning. These words most probably mean here, as in Gen. i. 1, at the beginning of all created things; in other words, when time began. Their meaning must always be determined from the context. Thus we know from the context in Acts xi. 15, that St. Peter there uses them in reference to the beginning of the Gospel. Similarly, the context here determines the reference to be to the beginning of creation; for He who is here said to have been in the beginning, is declared in verse 3 to be the creator of all things, and must therefore have already been in existence at their beginning.

Others, however, have interpreted the words differently. Many of the fathers understood them to mean: in the Father, and took this first clause of [pg 014] v. 1, as a declaration that the Word was in the Father. But, though it is quite true to say that the Word was and is in the Father (x. 38), both being consubstantial, still such does not seem to be the sense of the phrase before us. Had St. John meant to state this, surely he would have written: In God, or, in the Father, was the Word. He names God in the next two clauses: And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Why then should he at the risk of being misunderstood, refer to Him in this first clause under another name? Besides, if this first clause stated the Word's consubstantiality with the Father, the third clause: And the Word was God, would then be tautological.

Many of the commentators also urge against this view, that if the first clause meant, in God (or, in the Father) was the Word, the second clause would be merely a repetition. But we cannot assent to this, since, as we shall see, the second clause would add the important statement of the Word's distinct personality. However, the view seems to us improbable for the other reasons already stated.

Others take “beginning” here to mean eternity, so that we should have in this first clause a direct statement of the Word's eternity. But against this is the fact that ἀρχη (beginning) nowhere else bears this meaning, and can be satisfactorily explained in a different sense here. Hence, as already explained, “in the beginning” means: when time began.

Was (ἦν), i.e., was already in existence. Had St. John meant to declare that at the dawn of creation the Word began to exist, he would have used ἐγένετο as he does in verse 3 regarding the beginning of the world, and again in verse 6 regarding the coming of the Baptist. This cannot fail to be clear to anyone who contrasts verses 1, 2, 4, and 9 of this chapter with verses 3, 6, and 14. In the former ἦν is used throughout in reference to the eternal existence of the Word;17 in the latter ἐγένετο, when there is question of the beginning of created things (3), or of the coming of the Baptist (6), or of the assumption by the Word of human nature at the incarnation (14). At the beginning of creation, then, the Word was already in existence; and hence it follows that He must be uncreated, and therefore eternal. St. John's statement here that the Word was already in existence in the beginning, is, accordingly, equivalent to our Lord's claim [pg 015] to have existed before the world was (xvii. 5), and in both instances the Word's eternity, though not directly stated, follows immediately. Hence we find that the Council of Nice and the fathers generally inferred, against the Arians, the eternity of the Son of God from this first clause of verse 1. “If He was in the beginning,” says St. Basil (De Div., Hom. xvi. 82), “when was He not?”

The Word (ὁ λόγος). St. John here, as well as in his First Epistle (i. 1), and in the Apocalypse (xix. 13), designates by this term the Second Divine Person. That he speaks of no mere abstraction, or attribute of God, but of a Being who is a distinct Divine Person, is clear. For this “Word was with God, was God, was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us,” and in the person of Jesus Christ was witnessed to by the Baptist (i. 1, 14, 15, 29, 30). Outside the writings of St. John there is no clear18 instance in either Old or New Testament of this use of the term λόγος. Throughout the rest of the Scriptures its usual meaning is speech or word.

What, then, we may ask, led our Evangelist, in the beginning of his Gospel, to apply this term rather than Son, or Son of God, to the Second Divine Person? Why did he not say: In the beginning was the Son?

Apart from inspiration, which, of course, may have extended to the suggestion of an important word like the present, apart also from the appropriateness of the term, of which we shall speak in a moment, it seems very probable that St. John was impelled to use the term λόγος because it had been already used by the heretics of the time in the expression of their errors.19 Endowed, too, as St. John was, like the other Apostles, with a special power of understanding the Sacred Scriptures (Luke xxiv. 46), and privileged as he had been on many an occasion to listen to the commentaries of Christ Himself on the Old Testament, he may have been able, where we are not, to see clearly in the Old Testament instances in which λόγος refers to the Son of God; e.g., “Verbo (τῷ λόγῳ) Domini coeli firmati sunt” (Psalm xxxii. 6).

[pg 016]

One thing, at all events, is quite plain, that, whatever may be said regarding his reason for the application of this term to the Son of God, St. John did not borrow his doctrine regarding the λόγος from Plato or Philo or the Alexandrian School. For though the term (λόγος) is frequently met with in the writings of both Plato and Philo, yet Plato never speaks of it as a person, but only as an attribute of God; and Philo, though in our opinion, he held the distinct personality of the Word, yet denied that he was God, or the creator of matter, which latter Philo held to be eternal. As to the Alexandrian School, to which Philo belonged, and of whose doctrines he is the earliest witness, there is not a shadow of foundation for saying that any of its doctors held the same doctrine as St. John regarding the Divine Word.

From the teaching of Christ, then, or by inspiration, or in both ways, our Evangelist received the sublime doctrine regarding the λόγος with which his Gospel opens.

Having now inquired into the origin of the term λόγος as applied to the Son of God, and having learned the source whence St. John derived his doctrine regarding this Divine Word, let us try to understand how it is that the Son of God could be appropriately referred to as the Word (ὁ λόγος). Many answers have been given, but we will confine ourselves to the one that seems to us most satisfactory.

We believe, and profess in the Athanasian Creed (Filius a Patre solo est non factus, nec creatus, sed genitus), that the Son is begotten by the Father; and it is the common teaching that He is begotten through the Divine intellect. Now, this mysterious procession of the Son from the Father through the intellect, is implied here in His being called the Word. For, as our word follows, without passion or carnal feeling, from our thought, as it is the reflex of our thought, from which it detracts nothing, and which it faithfully represents; so, only in an infinitely more perfect way, the Son of God proceeded, without passion or any carnal imperfection, through the intellect of the Father, detracting nothing from Him who begot Him, being the image of the Father, “the figure of His substance.” (Heb. i. 3.) “Verbum proprie dictum,” says St. Thomas, “in Divinis personaliter accipitur, et est proprium nomen personae filii, significat enim quamdam emanationem intellectus. Persona autem quae procedit in Divinis secundum emanationem intellectus, dicitur filius, et hujusmodi processio dicitur generatio” (St. Thom., 1 Qu. 34, a. 2 c.)

And the Word was with God (πρὸς τὸν Θεόν). Πρός here [pg 017] signifies not motion towards, but a living union with, God.20 God refers not to the Divine Nature, but to the Divine Person of the Father (see 1 John i. 2); otherwise the Verbum would be unnecessarily and absurdly said here to be with Himself, since He is the Divine Nature terminated in the Second Person. Many commentators are of opinion that the use of πρός (with), and not ἐν (in), proves that the Verbum is not a mere attribute of the Father, but a distinct Person. So Chrys., Cyril, Theophy., A Lap., Patrizzi, M'Evilly.

And the Word was God. As our English version indicates, Word is the subject of this clause, God the predicate, for in the Greek λόγος has the article, Θεός wants it; and besides, as appears from the whole context, St. John is declaring what the Word is, not what God is. A desire to begin this clause with the last word of the clause preceding—a favourite construction with St. John (see verses 4 and 5)—may have led to the inversion in the original. Or the inversion may have been intended to throw the Divinity of the Word into greater prominence by placing the predicate before the verb.

Some, like Corluy, refer God, in this third clause, to the Divine Nature, which is common to the three Divine Persons; others, as Patrizzi, to the Divine Nature as terminated in the Second Divine Person. We prefer the latter view, but in either interpretation we have in this clause a declaration of the Divinity of the Word, a proof that cannot be gainsaid of His essential unity with the Father. Nor does the absence of the Greek article before “God” in this third clause, when taken in conjunction with its presence in the second, imply, as the Arians held, that the Word is inferior to the Father. For our Evangelist certainly refers sometimes to the supreme Deity without using the article (i. 6, 12, 18); and the absence of the article is sufficiently accounted for in the present case by the fact that Θεός is a predicate standing before the copula.21

2. Hoc erat in principio apud Deum. 2. The same was in the beginning with God.

2. The same was in the beginning with God. To [pg 018] emphasize the three great truths contained in verse 1: namely, the Word's eternity, His distinct personality, and essential unity with the Father, they are repeated in verse 2. The same, that is, this Word who is God, was in the beginning, and was with God.

Various attempts have been made by the Unitarians to escape the invincible argument for a Second Divine Person which these opening verses of our Gospel contain. Thus, they put a full stop after the last “erat” of verse 1; and, taking the words in the order in which they occur in the Greek and Latin, make the sense of the third clause: And God was. Then they join verbum,” the last word of verse 1, with verse 2: This Word was in the beginning with God. But even if we granted to the Unitarians this punctuation of the verses, the sense of the third clause would still be that the Word was God, and not that God existed. For “Deus” (Θεός without the article), in the beginning of the third clause ought still to be regarded as the predicate, with “verbum” of the preceding clauses as the subject. This follows not merely from the absence of the Greek article already alluded to, but also from the absurdity of the Unitarian view, which supposes that St. John thought it necessary, after telling us that the Word was with God, to tell us that God existed!

Others have tried to explain away the text thus: At the beginning of the Christian dispensation the Word existed, and the Word was most intimately united to God by love. But, primum, they have still to explain how this Word is declared Creator in verses 3 and 10; secundum, the statement in verse 14: “And the Word was made flesh,” implies transition of the Word to a state different from that in which He existed “in the beginning;” but the time of the transition is just the commencement of the Christian dispensation, which cannot, therefore, be the time referred to in verse 1 as “the beginning.”

3. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt: et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est, 3. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.
4. in ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum: 4. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

3. St. John passes on to the relations of the Word with creatures. All things (πάντα = τὰ πάντα, 1 Cor. viii. 6, Col. i. 16). The passages indicated, as well as verse 10 of this chapter: the world was made by Him, make it clear that the Son of God created all things. Nor could this doctrine be more plainly stated than in the words before us: All things were made by Him, &c. How absurd, then, is the Socinian view, according to which St. John merely tells us here that all Christian virtues were introduced, and the whole moral world established by Christ!

Were made ἐγένετο, i.e., got their whole being from [pg 019] Him, and not merely were fashioned by Him from pre-existing matter. The Cerinthian theory, that the world was made by an inferior being, is here rejected. By Him (δι᾽ αὐτοῦ). We are not to suppose that the Word was an instrument in the hands of the Father, or inferior to the Father, as the Arians held. The preposition διά (per) is often used in reference to a principal efficient cause. Thus, St. Paul says of the Father: God is faithful, by whom (δι᾽ οὗ) you are called unto the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord (1 Cor. i. 9. See also 1 Cor. i. 1, 2 Cor. i. 1, Gal. iv. 27, Heb. ii. 10.) And since our Evangelist has just declared in verse 1 the Word's divinity, and knew Him to be one with the Father (x. 30), it cannot be implied here that the Word is inferior to the Father. Some commentators hold that there is no special significance in the use here of the preposition διά, while others see in it an allusion to the fact that the Son proceeds from the Father, and derives from Him His creative power. According to these, creation is from the Father, but through the Son, because the Son has received His creative power, together with His essence, from the Father and is not, therefore, like the Father, “principium sine principio.”

Others think that since all things were created according to the Divine idea, i.e., according to the Divine and eternal wisdom, and since the Word is that wisdom, therefore all things are rightly said to have been created through the Word. So St. Thomas on this verse:—“Sic ergo Deus nihil facit nisi per conceptum sui intellectus, qui est sapientia ab aeterno concepta, scilicet Dei Verbum, et Dei Filius; et ideo impossibile est quod aliquid faciat nisi per Filium.” In this view, which seems to us the most probable, though like all the Divine works that are “ad extra,” i.e. do not terminate in God Himself, creation is common to the Three Divine Persons, yet, for the reason indicated, it is rightly said to be through the Son.

And without him was made nothing (οὐδὲ ἕν = not anything, emphatic for οὐδέν nothing) that was made (Gr.: hath been made). By a Hebrew parallelism the same truth is repeated negatively: all things were made by Him, and nothing was made without Him. To this negative statement, however, there is added, according to the method of pointing the passage common at present, an additional clause which gives us the meaning: nothing was made without Him, of all the things that have been made. This restrictive clause may then [pg 020] be understood to imply that, together with the Word, there was something else uncreated, that is to say (besides the Father, whose uncreated existence would be admitted by all) the Holy Ghost also.

In this way after the Macedonian heresy arose in the middle of the fourth century, and blasphemously held that the Word had made the Holy Ghost, because without Him was made nothing, many of the Fathers replied: Nothing was made without the Word, of the things that were made; but the Holy Ghost was not made at all, and is therefore not included among the things made by the Word. However, this restriction is not necessary to defend the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. Even though we understand it to be stated absolutely that nothing was made without the Son, no difficulty can follow; for the Holy Ghost was not made (ἐγένετο), but was (ἦν) from all eternity, as is clearly implied elsewhere. John xvi. 13, 14.

On dogmatic grounds, therefore, there is no necessity for connecting: Quod factum est, in the end of verse 3, with the preceding. And, as a matter of fact, all the writers of the first three centuries seem to have connected these words with verse 4,22 and it appears to us very likely, that it was because of the Macedonian heresy they began to be connected with verse 3. St. Chrysostom certainly is very strong in connecting them with verse 3, but the reason is because the heretics of the time were abusing the other connection to support their errors. “For neither will we,” he says, “put a full stop after that ‘nothing,’ as the heretics do” (Chrysostom on John, Hom. v). We must not, however, conclude, from this remark of St. Chrysostom that it was the heretics alone who did so; for, as we have said already, such was the ordinary way of connecting the clauses during the first three centuries; and it is supported not only by the Fathers, but by the oldest Latin MSS., and by some of the oldest Greek MSS. And even after the Macedonian heretics had abused this passage to blaspheme the Holy Ghost, the old pointing, or to speak more correctly the old method of connecting the clauses, remained the more common.23 Not only did Cyril of Alexandria, and Augustine, and Venerable Bede, and St. Thomas, and a host of others read in this way, but Maldonatus, who himself prefers the connection in our English version: “Without Him was made nothing that was made,” admits that the usage of his time was [pg 021] against him, and that it was then the practice to put a full stop after “nothing”: “Without Him was made nothing.” Nor can the Sixtine or Clementine edition of the Vulgate be appealed to in favour of our present pointing. As a matter of fact, the Sixtine edition rejected it, printing thus: “Et sine ipso factum est nihil: quod factum est in ipso vita erat;” while the Clementine Bible left the matter undecided by printing thus: “Et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est, in ipso vita erat,” &c. We cannot, therefore, understand to what Roman Bibles A Lapide refers when he says that the Bibles corrected at Rome connect thus: “And without Him was made nothing that was made.”

We think it extremely probable, then, that the words: Quod factum est (that was made, or, as we shall render in our interpretation; what was made), standing at present in the end of verse 3, are to be connected with verse 4. Some may be inclined to blame us for departing from what is at present the received connection of the words in such a well-known passage as this. Let us, therefore, sum up briefly the evidence that has forced us, we may say reluctantly, to connect the words with verse 4.

1. Though Maldonatus tries to throw doubt upon the fact, this is the connection adopted by practically all, if not all, the Fathers and other writers of the first three centuries, and by the majority of writers afterwards down to the sixteenth century.

2. It is supported by the oldest MSS. of the Vulgate, and, what is more remarkable, by some of the oldest Greek MSS., notwithstanding the fact that St. Chrysostom was against it.

3. The parallelism in the verse is better brought out: All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing.

4. If Quod factum est were intended to be connected with the preceding, the clause would be certainly unnecessary, and apparently useless, because it is plain without it that the Evangelist is speaking of what was made, and not including any uncreated Being, like the Father or the Holy Ghost.

We prefer, then, to connect: Quod factum est, with what follows. But it still remains for us to inquire in what way precisely the connection is to be made, for various views have been held upon the subject.

A. Some connect thus: What was made in (i.e. by) Him, was life, and the life was the light of men. B. Others thus: What was made was life in Him, and the life was the light of men. C. Others again, [pg 022] adopting the same punctuation as in the preceding, but understanding differently: What was made in it was the Life, and the Life was the Light of men.

The last seems to us the correct view. For A is improbable, inasmuch as it either declares all things to have life, or implies that though what was made by the Word had life, yet there were other things wanting life, which proceeded, as the Manichaeans held, from the evil principle.

Nor can we accept B, even as explained by St. Augustine in the sense that all created things are in the mind of God, as the house before building is in the mind of the architect; and that being in the mind of God they are God Himself, and “life in Him.” For though this is in a certain sense true, yet it seems to us unnatural to suppose that St. John here, in this sublime exordium, thinks it necessary or useful to tell us that the archetypes of created things lived in the Divine Mind. C then appears to us to be the more probable view regarding the passage: “What was made, in it was the Life;” or, more plainly: “In that which was made was the Life;” for here, as elsewhere, St. John begins with the relative (see i. 45, 1 John i. 1); so that, in this view, the Evangelist after telling us the relations of the Word to all things at their beginning: “All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing,” now goes on to point out His relations to them after their creation: first, His relations with things generally: “In that which was made was the Life,” then his relations with man in the supernatural order: “And the Life was the Light of men.”

5. Adopting this view as to the connection between verses 3 and 4, St. Cyril of Alexandria thus explains: “The Life (ἡ ζωή), that is to say, the Only-begotten Son of God, was in all things that were made. For He, being by nature life itself, imparts being, and life, and motion to the things that are ... In all things that were made was the Life, that is, the Word which was in the beginning. The Word, being essential life, was mingling Himself by participation with all existing things.”

If it be objected to this interpretation that the first ζωή of verse 4, not having the article, cannot mean the Eternal Life, i.e. the Divine Word, we reply that St. Cyril, one of the greatest of the Greek Fathers, thought differently; and moreover, that very many of the commentators who are against us in the interpretation of this passage, are yet with us in referring ζωή here to the uncreated life of the Divine Word.

But if we follow what is at present the common punctuation, and read: “In Him was [pg 023] life,” this is commonly interpreted to mean that the Word is the source of supernatural life to man. S. Amb., S. Ath., Tol., Mald., A Lap., Patr., Beel.

But this view is not without difficulty. For, first, if it be merely meant that life comes to man through the Word, we might rather expect that the preposition διά of the preceding verse would have been retained.

Secondly, if there be question here of the Word as the life of man, how is it that it is only in the next clause that man is first mentioned? Surely, if the opinion we are considering were correct, we should rather expect St. John to have written: “In Him was the life of man, and the life was the light.” For these reasons, and because of what we have stated already in favour of connecting “Quod factum est” with what follows, we prefer to understand this passage, with St. Cyril, as a statement that the Word, the Essential Life, was present in all things, conserving them in existence.

And the Life was the Light of men. In our view the meaning is that the Word, the Life, who conserved all things in existence, was, moreover, in the case of men, their Light—the source and author of their faith. Hence, we suppose St. John, after referring to the creation of all things, in verse 3, and the conservation of all things, in the beginning of verse 4, to pass on now in the end of verse 4 to speak of that new creation that is effected in man by means of a spiritual illumination: “All things were made by (or through) Him, and without Him was made nothing. In that which was made was the Life, and the Life was the Light of men.”

Those who interpret the beginning of the verse to mean that the spiritual life of man comes through the Word, take the present clause as explaining how that was so, how the Word was the Life; namely, inasmuch as He was the Light. He was the source of our life of grace here and glory hereafter, inasmuch as He was the source of our light, that is to say, our faith. And some of them, as Patrizzi, hold that the order of the terms in this clause is inverted, and that we should read: “the light of men was the life,” “light of men” being the subject.

Maldonatus tells us that almost all writers before his time understood “light of men” in reference to the light of reason. However, this view is now generally abandoned, and rightly, for that man owed his reason to the Word has been already implied in verse 3: “All things were made by Him.” Besides, the “light” of this fourth verse is doubtless the same as that of verse 5, which men did not receive, and of verse 7, to [pg 024] which the Baptist was to bear witness. But in neither of the latter verses can there be question of the light of reason; hence, neither is there in verse 4. The meaning, then, is that He who was the preserver of all things was moreover the source of the spiritual light of men.

5. Et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt. 5. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
6. Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Johannes. 6. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

5. And the light shineth. The meaning is, that the Word, as the source and author of faith, was always, as far as in Him lay, enlightening men. Shineth—the present tense is used, though the latter part of the verse shows that the past also is meant: “The light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Probably the Evangelist avoids using the past tense, lest it might be inferred that the Word had ceased to shine. Besides, the present is more appropriate, seeing that, in the sense explained, the Word shines throughout all time. From the beginning the Word shone, as far as in Him lay. If men generally were not enlightened, it was their own fault. But all who were saved from the beginning, were saved through faith, and no one ever received the gift of faith except in view of the merits of the Word Incarnate. “Nulli unquam contigit vita nisi per lucem fidei, nulli lux fidei nisi intuitu Christi” (St. August.)

The darkness is man shrouded in unbelief. See Luke i. 79, Eph. v. 8.

And the darkness did not comprehend it.24 As we have just said, the meaning is, that unbelieving men refused to be enlightened. Ordinarily, indeed, light cannot shine in darkness without dispelling it; but in this case the darkness was man, a free agent, capable of rejecting the light of faith through which the Eternal Word was shining. In telling us that men refused to be enlightened, the Evangelist is stating what was the general rule, to which at all times there were noble exceptions.

6. The correct rendering of the Greek text is: There came (ἐγένετο) a man, sent by God, whose name was John. This reference to the Baptist in the middle of this sublime exordium is [pg 025] surprising, and has been variously accounted for. Some think that our Evangelist, after having treated of the Divinity of the Word, merely wishes, before going on to speak of the incarnation, to refer to the precursor. But it seems most probable that the Evangelist wished to remove at once the error of those who, impressed by the austerity and sanctity of the Baptist's life, had looked upon him as the Messias. If any of them still remained at the time when St. John wrote, or should arise afterwards, they are here told that the Baptist, though having his mission from Heaven, was only a man intended to bear witness to Christ. Thus the superior excellence of Christ is thrown into relief from the fact that a great saint like the Baptist was specially sent by Heaven to be His herald. The reference in this verse is to the Baptist's coming into the world, at his conception, rather than to the beginning of his preaching, for at the moment of his conception, he came, sent by God to be the herald of Christ. See Luke i. 13-17.

John is the same name as Jochanan (וחנן), which is itself a shortened form of Jehochanan = Jehovah hath had mercy. This name was appointed for the Baptist, before his conception, by the Archangel Gabriel, Luke i. 13.

7. Hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum: 7. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him.
8. Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. 8. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light.
9. Erat lux vera, quae illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum 9. That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.

7. This man came for witness, namely, in order that he might bear witness of the light, that is to say, the Incarnate Word, to the end that through him all might believe in the Word.

8. He was not the light (τὸ φῶς), that is, he was not the great uncreated light which enlighteneth all men; though, in his own way, the Baptist too was a light, nay, as Christ Himself testified “the lamp that burneth and shineth.” (v. 35). Ἵνα depends on ἦλθεν (he came), which is to be understood from the preceding verse.

9. That was the true light (or, there was the true light), [pg 026] which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. The Greek of this verse may be construed and translated in three different ways:—1. By connecting ἦν with ἐρχόμενον: The true light, which enlighteneth every man, was coming into this world. 2. By taking ἐρχόμενον as a nominative agreeing with φῶς: There was the true light which at its coming into the world, enlighteneth every man (iii. 19.) 3. By connecting ἐρχόμενον with ἄνθρωπον, as in the Vulgate and our English version. This is far the most probable view. In favour of it we have all the Latin Fathers, all the Greek Fathers except one, and all the ancient versions. Besides, ἐρχόμενον is thus connected with the nearest substantive with which it agrees in form. Add to this that the second opinion, the more probable of the other two, would seem to signify that the Word was not a light to all men before His coming, but only at His coming; and this, as we have explained above on verse 5, is false. The meaning, then, is that the Word was the true, i.e. the perfect light, and as far as in Him lies enlighteneth at all times every man that cometh into this world, be he Jew or Gentile. That cometh into this world, is in our view a Hebrew form of expression equivalent to: that is born. It is used only here in the New Testament, but “to be born” was commonly expressed by Jewish Rabbins by בוא בעולס (to come into the world).

10. In mundo erat et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit. 10. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

10. He was in the world. The Word, not the light, is the subject here, as is proved by the masculine pronoun αὐτόν towards the end of the verse. It is disputed to what presence of the Word in the world there is reference here. Almost all the Fathers understood the reference to be to the presence of the Word in the world before the incarnation. According to this view, which is held also by A Lapide, the Word was in the world, in the universe, conserving what He had created, “sustaining all things by the word of His power” (Heb. i. 3). God is everywhere present by His essence, by His knowledge, and by His power; but it is of the latter presence, which could be known, that the view we are considering understands this clause.

Maldonatus, though he admits that the Fathers are against him, holds that the reference is to the mortal life of the Word Incarnate. He argues from the fact that the world is blamed, in the next clause, for not having known the Word; but knowledge of the Word was impossible [pg 027] before the incarnation. It was possible indeed to know there was a God, but impossible to know the Second Divine Person, the Word. Whatever may be thought of the probability of this second view, the arguments ordinarily adduced against it, from the use of the imperfect “erat” (ἦν) and from the alleged fact that all the preceding verses refer to the Word before His incarnation, have no weight. For the imperfect may be used not in reference to Christ's existence before His incarnation, but to show that He not merely appeared among men, but continued to dwell for a time among them; and the statement that everything before this verse refers to the Word before His incarnation, cannot be sustained. For the “Light” to which the Baptist came to bear witness (v. 7) was not the Word before His incarnation, but the Word Incarnate, as is evident. According to this second opinion, verse 11: He came unto His own, and His own received Him not, merely emphasizes the ingratitude of the world towards the incarnate Word by showing that He was rejected even by His own chosen people.

And the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. Those who interpret the first clause of this verse of the existence of the Word in the world before the incarnation, understand the world to be blamed, in the remainder of the verse, for its ignorance of its Creator. The world is not blamed, they say, for not knowing the Word as the Second Divine Person, for such knowledge it could not have gathered from the works of creation, but for not knowing God (Rom. i. 20), who is one in nature with the Word.

Those who interpret the first part of the verse of the presence of Christ on earth during His mortal life, hold that in the remainder the world is blamed for not recognising the Word Incarnate as the Son of God, and Second Divine Person. The meaning of the whole verse then, in this view, is: that though the Son of God, who created the world, deigned to live among men, yet they refused to recognise Him as God.

11. In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt. 11. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

11. He came unto his own. It is clear from what we have said on the preceding verse, that some take this to be the first reference to the presence on earth of the Word Incarnate; while others regard it as merely repeating the idea of the preceding verse, with the additional circumstance that even His own refused to recognise Christ. Some few have held that the reference [pg 028] here is to the transient coming of the Word in the apparitions of the Old Testament. But all the Fathers understood the verse of the coming of the Word as man, and the verses that follow prove their view to be correct. His own is understood by many of His own world, which He had created; but we prefer to take it as referring to His own chosen people, the Jews. “Verbum inter Judæos veniens, natumque ex gente Judæorum, quos sibi Deus elegerat in populum peculiarem (Deut. xiv. 2) percommode dicitur venisse εἰς τὰ ἴδια atque ipsi Judaei Verbo ἴδιοι esse dicuntur,” Patriz.

And his own received him not. That is to say, believed not in Him, but rejected Him. This was the general rule, to which, of course, there were exceptions, as the following verse shows. These words together with the two following verses, we take to be a parenthetic reflexion on the reception Christ met with, and the happy consequences to some.

12. Quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his qui credunt in nomine eius. 12. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.
13. Qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt. 13. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

12. There were some, however, who believed in Him, or, according to the Hebraism, in His name, and to these, whether Jews or Gentiles, He gave power to become adopted children of God. That is to say, after they had co-operated with His grace and believed, He mercifully gave them further grace whereby they could be justified, and thus be God's adopted children. The last words of this verse: To them that believe in His name, explain what is meant in the beginning of the verse by receiving Him.

13. Some commentators have found great difficulty in this verse, because they supposed that those who in the preceding verse are said to have got the power to become children of God are here said to have been already born of God. But the difficulty vanishes, it seems to us, if verse 13 be taken as explaining not what those who believed were before they became sons of God, but the nature of the filiation, to which those who believed got power to raise themselves. It is not faith that makes them sons of God, but through faith (not as a meritorious cause, but as a condition) they attained to charity, which made them [pg 029] children of God. This too is all that is meant in 1 Jn. v. 1. It is not meant that by believing they are eo ipso, through faith alone, sons of God. Faith, as the Council of Trent lays down, is the root of justification, but it is not the formal nor even the meritorious cause of justification; it is a condition “sine qua non.” And just as St. Paul attributes justification to faith without meaning that it is of itself sufficient, so St. John (1 John v. 1) attributes to faith Divine sonship without meaning that it comes from faith alone. See Decrees of the Council of Trent, Sess. vi. Chap. vi. and viii. The meaning of the two verses, according to this view, is, that as many as received Christ by believing in Him, got power to become children of God, children who were born (ἐγεννήθησαν) not of bloods,25 nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Thus verse 13 explains that these sons of God were born not in a carnal but in a spiritual manner. “Tria hic de generatione humana sic exponit St. Thomas: ex sanguinibus, ut ex causa materiali; ex voluntate carnis,26 ut ex causa efficiente quantum ad concupiscentiam (in qua est voluntas sensitiva); ex voluntate viri, ut ex causa efficiente intellectuali (libere actum conjugalem perficiente).” Corl.

To be born of God, implies that we are transferred into a new life wherein we become in some sense partakers of the Divine nature (2 Pet. i. 4). Through the seed of Divine grace we are begotten anew and raised to this higher life.

14. Et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam eius, gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis. 14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.

14. After the reflexion in verses 12 and 13 on the way Christ was received by men, the Evangelist now states the manner in which He came; namely, by taking human nature. According to some, the first “and” is equivalent to “for.” “After He had said that those who received Him are born of God and sons of God, He adds the cause of this unspeakable honour, namely, that the Word was made flesh.” (St. Chrys.). Others, however, think that “and” has merely its ordinary conjunctive force. Note that Ὁ λόγος, not mentioned since verse 1, is again named, for emphasis, and to put it beyond doubt or cavil that it is the same Eternal God of verse 1 who is declared to have become man in verse 14. Flesh is a Hebraism for [pg 030] man. See also Gen. vi. 12; Isai. xl. 5; Ps. lv. 5; John xvii. 2. Probably it is used here specially against the Docetae, heretics who denied that Christ had really taken flesh, which they contended was essentially polluted and corrupt.

“Docetae discernebant in homine tria principia τὴν σάρκα, τὴν ψυχήν, et τὸν νοῦν vel τὸ πνεῦμα. Duo priora habebant ut essentialiter polluta, cum quibus ideo Verbum hypostatice uniri non posset. St. Joannes haec tria Verbi hypostasi fuisse unita docet, τὴν σάρκα hoc loco; τὴν ψυχήν, John xii. 27; τὸ πνεῦμα, xi. 33; xiii. 21; xix. 30,” Corluy, p. 40, note.

And dwelt. Many think, with St. Chrysostom and St. Cyril, that the Greek verb used is employed specially to indicate that the Word did not cease to be God when He became man, but dwelt in His humanity as in a tent among men.

And we saw. The Greek verb signifies to behold with attention. We beheld not merely His human nature present among us, but we beheld His glory as in the transfiguration, Matt. xvii. 1, and ascension, Acts i. 9, 11. For glory, the Greek word is δόξα, the solemn Scriptural term for the glorious majesty of God.

The glory as it were (quasi, Gr. ὡς) of the only-begotten; i.e., glory such as was becoming the only-begotten, &c. Beware of taking the meaning to be: a glory like that of the Son of God, but not His. As St. Chrys. points out, the ὡς here expresses not similitude, but the most real identity27: “As if he said: We have seen His glory such as it was becoming and right that the only begotten and true Son of God should have.” S. Chrys. on John, Hom. xii. Of the Father should be from the Father, and may be joined either with “glory,” or with “only-begotten.”28

Full of grace and truth. (πλήρης, in the nominative, is the correct reading). This is to be connected closely with the beginning of the verse: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth,” and the other clause, And we saw His glory, &c., is parenthetic, thrown in to prove the preceding statement.

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Christ is said to have been full of grace and truth, not merely in Himself, but also, as the following verses prove, in reference to men with whom He freely shared them. Kuinoel, followed by Patrizzi, understands by “grace and truth” true grace or true benefits. But it is more natural to take grace and truth as two distinct things, seeing that they are again mentioned separately (ἡ χάρις καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια) in verse 17. Grace may be understood in its widest sense; for not only had Christ the “gratia unionis,” as it is called, whereby His humanity was hypostatically united to the Divinity; but, moreover, His human soul was replenished to its utmost capacity with created grace, which not only sanctified Him, but was also through Him a source of sanctification to us. See St. Thomas, p. 2, sec. 7, 8. Christ is said to be “full of truth,” not only because “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him” (Col. ii. 3), but also because, as verse 17 states, He gave us the knowledge of the true faith and true way of salvation.

15. Ioannes testimonium perhibet de ipso, et clamat, dicens: Hic erat quem dixi: Qui post me venturus est, ante me factus est: quia prior me erat. 15. John beareth witness of him, and crieth out, saying: This was he of whom I spoke: He that shall come after me, is preferred before me: because he was before me.

15. John. The Baptist (for it is he who is meant: comp. with John i. 27; Mark i. 4, 7; Luke iii. 2, 16) is now referred to parenthetically, as confirming what our Evangelist has said, namely, that the eternal Word dwelt among men.

Crieth out. (Gr. perf. with pres. signif., Beel., Gr. Gram., § 41, 4 (B) note); viz., gives solemn, public testimony.

This was he of whom I spoke (rather, said). Some, like Patrizzi, think that the testimony of the Baptist here referred to is a distinct testimony not mentioned elsewhere. Others, and with more probability, hold that the Evangelist mentions here by anticipation the same testimony whose circumstances he describes in verses 29 and 30.

He that shall come after me, in His public ministry, is preferred before me, because he was before me. Some commentators, as Kuinoel and Patrizzi, understand “before” in both cases of time: is before Me, because He is eternal; others, as St. Chrys. and Toletus, in both cases of dignity: is preferred before Me, because really preferable; and others, as our English version, with St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Beelen, Alford, in the former case of dignity in the latter of time: is preferred before Me, [pg 032] because He is eternal. The last seems the correct interpretation, and in it the past tense “is preferred” (ante me factus est) is used prophetically for the future, or may be explained as a past: has been preferred in the designs of God.29

16. Et de plenitudine eius nos omnes accepimus, et gratiam pro gratia. 16. And of his fulness we all have received, and grace for grace.
17. Quia lex per Moysen data est, gratia et veritas per Iesum Christum facta est. 17. For the law was given by Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

16. After the parenthetic clause contained in verse 15, the Evangelist, not the Baptist, continues regarding the Word: And of his fulness (see verse 14) we have all received, and grace for grace. The second “and” is explanatory. Grace for grace; i.e.—(1) the grace of eternal life following on the grace of justification here; or (2) abundant grace, according as the grace given to Christ was abundant: gratia nobis pro gratia Christi (Rom. v. 15); or (3) the more perfect grace of the New Law, instead of that given under the Old Law (Chrysostom, Cyril, Patrizzi); or (4), and best, by a Hebraism, abundant grace. “aντ'i dicitur de successione, gratiam unam post aliam (gratiam cumulatam).” (Beel., Gr. Gram., § 51 A.) So also Kuin.

17. The Evangelist confirms what is stated in verse 16, and at the same time takes occasion to prefer Christ to Moses, as he has already preferred Him to the Baptist. Moses was but the medium of communicating to the Jews the Mosaic Law, which only pointed out man's duty, without enabling him to fulfil it—Rom. vii. 7, 8; but Christ was the source and author of grace and truth to us; of all the graces whereby we are to merit heaven, and of the perfect knowledge of the true faith. This is, doubtless, directed against some of the Judaizers, who held that sanctification through the Mosaic Law was at all times possible, even after the Christian religion was established.

18. Deum nemo vidit unquam: unigenitus Filius, qui est in sinu Patris, ipse enarravit. 18. No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

18. There is considerable difference of opinion as to the drift or bearing of this verse. Some think that a reason is given why only Christ could give the truth, because only He saw God in His essence. Others, that a reason is given why the gifts of Christ mentioned in the preceding verse, are superior to the Law given [pg 033] by Moses, namely, because Moses never saw God in His essence. Others, that the evangelist explains how he and his fellow-Apostles received of Christ's fulness, not only through what Christ did (17), but through what He taught (18); and the necessity for such a Divine teacher is shown by the fact that no one but He ever saw God. So St. Thomas.

Others, as Maldonatus and Patrizzi, hold that the Evangelist is here adding to his own testimony, and that of the Baptist, the testimony of our Lord Himself, in favour of all that he has said regarding our Lord in this sublime prologue; the meaning being: What I have said regarding the eternity, personality, and Divinity of the Word, regarding His power as creator and regenerator, and regarding His incarnation, I have neither seen with my own eyes, nor learned from anyone who saw, for “no man hath seen God at any time,” but Jesus Christ Himself explained these things to me.

No man hath seen God at any time. If understood of the vision of comprehension this is universally true of every creature, man or angel; if of seeing God in His essence without comprehending Him, it is true of all while they are here below. The latter is the sense here, for the Evangelist wishes to signify that he could not have learned from any mere mortal the foregoing doctrine. The saints in heaven see God in His essence, for as our Evangelist tells us in his First Epistle: “We shall see Him as He is” (1 John iii. 2. See also John xvii. 3).

The only-begotten Son. Instead of: “The only-begotten Son,” the reading: “God only-begotten” is found in very many ancient authorities, and is almost equally probable. Were it certain, it would be an additional proof of Christ's Divinity. Christ is the only-begotten Son of God, because while He is the natural Son of God, all others are but adopted sons.

Who is in the bosom of the Father (εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός). This means that the Son is consubstantial with the Father: “In illo ergo sinu, id est in occultissimo paternae naturae et essentiae, quae excedit omnem virtutem creaturae, est unigenitus Filius, et ideo consubstantialis est Patri.” St. Thomas on this verse.

He hath declared him. “Him” is not represented in the original; and if our view of the verse is the correct one, the object of the verb “hath [pg 034] declared” is not so much the Word, as the doctrine contained in this prologue concerning Him.30

19. Et hoc est testimonium Ioannis, quando miserunt Iudaei ab Ierosolymis sacerdotes et Levitas ad eum, ut interrogarent eum: Tu quis es? 19. And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou?

19. The Evangelist now records, with its various circumstances, one of the most solemn testimonies borne by the Baptist to Christ. The “Jews” are probably the Sanhedrim, whose duty it was to inquire into the credentials of preachers. The deputation was, therefore, a most solemn one, sent by the Sanhedrim, from the Jewish capital, composed of Priests and Levites, to make inquiries regarding a momentous question.

20. Et confessus est, et non negavit: et confessus est: Quia non sum ego Christus. 20. And he confessed, and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.

20. The Baptist first confesses what he is not, and what many at the time believed him to be, namely, the Christ (Luke iii. 15).

21. Et interrogaverunt eum: Quid ergo? Elias es tu? Et dixit: Non sum. Propheta es tu? Et respondit: Non. 21. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No.
22. Dixerunt ergo ei: Quis es, ut responsum demus his qui miserunt nos? quid dicis de teipso? 22. They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself?

21. Art thou Elias? This question arose from a misunderstanding of Mal. iv. 5. Art thou the prophet? (ὁ προφήτης), as foretold by Moses (Deut. xviii. 15). These interrogators evidently regarded “the prophet” as different from the Messias, though in reality they were the same. See Acts iii. 22-24.

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23. Ait: Ego vox clamantis in deserto: Dirigite viam Domini, sicut dixit Isaias propheta. 23. He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias.

23. The Baptist with striking humility replies that he is merely a voice, a passing sign—yet that voice spoken of by Isaias, which was to call upon men to prepare their hearts to receive Christ. The Hebrew of Isaias may be rendered: “The voice of one that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord (Jehovah), make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Or, as is more probable from the Hebrew parallelism: “The voice of one that crieth: Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” The Baptist, in applying to himself this prophetic passage, which is also applied to him by the three Synoptic Evangelists (Matt. iii. 3; Mark i. 3; Luke iii. 4), gives merely the substance of the original. It is disputed whether Isaias refers in the literal sense to preparing the roads by which the people should return from the Babylonian Captivity, and only in the mystical sense to the preparation for the Messias, or directly and literally to the preparation for the Messias. The latter seems the more probable view. At any rate, the words as applied here mean that the Baptist is the voice to which Isaias referred (in some sense literal or mystical), and that the burden of his cry in the desert of Judea is, that men who heard him in the desert should prepare their hearts for Christ.

The language is metaphorical, and alludes to the custom prevalent in those days of sending forward couriers to get the roads ready for advancing princes.

24. Et qui missi fuerant, erant ex Pharisaeis. 24. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees.

24. The Pharisees were a sect among the Jews, so called according to some from their founder, Pharos, or more probably, perhaps, from the Hebrew verb “pharash” (פרשׂ) to separate, as though they were separated from and above ordinary men, owing to their strict observance of the Law. They held many erroneous tenets: thus—(1) They relied for God's favour upon their carnal descent from Abraham. (2) They taught that no oath was binding in which the name of God or the gold of the temple was not expressly invoked. (3) That internal sins were not forbidden; and (4) some of their schools admitted the right of [pg 036] arbitrary divorce. See Matt. v. 33-36; xix. 3; xxiii.

25. Et interrogaverunt eum, et dixerunt ei: Quid ergo baptizas, si tu non es Christus, neque Elias, neque propheta? 25. And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet?
26. Respondit eis Ioannes, dicens: Ego baptizo in aqua: medius autem vestrum stetit, quem vos nescitis. 26. John answered them, saying: I baptize with water; but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not.

25. Being Pharisees, and therefore versed in the Law, they knew from Ezech. xxxvi. 25, and Zach. xiii. 1, that in the time of the Messias there was to be a baptism unto the remission of sins. They concluded, then, that only the Messias, or some of those that were to accompany Him, could confer this baptism; and, not understanding the import of the Baptist's answer, verse 23, in which he really declared himself the herald of Christ's coming, they ask why he presumes to baptize.

26. The Baptist answers that his is not the baptism foretold by the Prophets, which was to cleanse the sinner, but as he had declared at the beginning of his preaching, a baptism unto penance (Matt. iii. 21). John's baptism consisted in an ablution of the body, accompanied by the profession of a penitential spirit, preparatory to the coming of Him who was to baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire (Matt. iii. 11). It could in no sense be said to remit sin; while the baptism of Christ really remits sin (Acts ii. 38). Hence the Council of Trent defined:—“Si quis dixerit baptismum Joannis habuisse eamdem vim cum baptismo Christi anathema sit.” (Sess. vii., Can. i.) De Bapt.

There hath stood (ἕστηκεν); rather there standeth, the perfect of this verb having a present signification. Many authorities indeed read the later present στήκει. The meaning is not that our Lord was then actually present in the crowd, else St. John would probably have pointed him out, as he did on the following day (v. 29); but that He was already present among the Jewish people, was already living among them.

27. Ipse est qui post me venturus est, qui ante me factus est: cuius ego non sum dignus ut solvam eius corrigiam calceamenti. 27. The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose.

27. Many authorities omit the words: “The same is,” and also: “who is preferred before me,” and then connect with the preceding thus: “But there hath stood One in the midst of you whom you know not, even He that shall come (rather, that cometh) after me, the latchet of whose shoe I am [pg 037] not worthy to loose.” So Tisch., Treg., Westcott, and Hort, and the Rev. Vers. It is not easy to explain why the words are wanting in so many MSS., if they were written by St. John; certainly it is easier to believe that they were inserted by some scribe to bring the verse into closer resemblance to 15 and 30.

In the latter part of the verse, the Baptist declares himself unworthy to perform the lowest menial service for Christ. To loose the sandals of their masters was the business of slaves; yet for even such service to Christ the great Prophet confesses himself unfit.

28. Haec in Bethania facta sunt trans Iordanem, ubi erat Ioannes baptizans. 28. These things were done in Bethania beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

28. Bethania, here mentioned, was situated in Peraea, east of the Jordan, and must be carefully distinguished from the town of the same name, in which Lazarus lived, about two miles east of Jerusalem, but west of the Jordan. Many ancient authorities read Bethabara, instead of Bethania. Origen, though admitting that nearly all the MSS. of his time read Bethania, changed it, on topographical grounds, for Bethabara, in his edition of our Gospel. Bethania, according to some, means the house of a ship (בית אניה), while Bethabara means the house of a ferry-boat (בית עברה); so that, perhaps, they may have been different names for the same place on the Jordan.

29. Altera die vidit Ioannes Iesum venientem ad se, et ait: Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccatum mundi. 29. The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.

29. On the day after that on which the Baptist bore the preceding testimony, he saw Jesus coming towards him. This is the first time that the mention of the Holy Name occurs in our Gospel. Jesus (Gr. Ἰησοῦς) is the same as the Hebrew ישׂוע, which is itself a contraction for יהושׂוע, meaning God the Saviour. That our Lord was so called, to show that He was to be the Saviour of men, is clear from the words of the angel to St. Joseph: “And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. i. 21). We cannot be certain whence Jesus was now coming; but it seems very probable that He was coming from the desert after His forty days' fast. We know from [pg 038] St. Mark (i. 12) that as soon as He was baptized, immediately the spirit drove Him out into the desert, and He was in the desert forty days and forty nights.” Since, then, the present occasion was subsequent to His baptism, as we learn from a comparison of verse 33 with St. Matthew iii. 16 (for the Baptist alludes, on the present occasion, to what took place at the baptism), it follows that it must have been at least forty days subsequent. Christ seems too to have been absent when, on the day before this, the Baptist bore witness to Him, else the Baptist would have probably pointed Him out as present, just as he does on this occasion. All things considered, then, it is likely Jesus is now returning, and that the Baptist here takes the first opportunity of again commending Him to the people.

Behold the lamb (ὁ ἀμνός) of God. The Baptist, in these words, points out Jesus as the Messias, for there is evident allusion to Isaias liii. 7-12, where the Messias is compared to a lamb before his shearers, bearing the sins of many. In referring to Jesus as a lamb, the Baptist recalled this prophecy, insinuated Christ's innocence, and perhaps suggested that he was to be sacrificed. Lamb of God, because offered by God for the sins of men, as we speak of the sacrifice of Abraham, meaning the sacrifice offered by him; or it may mean simply the Divine Lamb. But the first opinion seems more probable.

Who taketh away the sin of the world. Every word is emphatic. Christ not merely covers up, or abstains from imputing sin, but He takes it away altogether, as far as in Him lies. And it is not merely legal impurities that the sacrifice of this Divine Lamb will remove, but sin; and not merely the sin of one race, like the Jewish, but the sin of the whole world. “Sin,” in the singular number, designates as one collective whole every sin of every kind.

30. Hic est de quo dixi: Post me venit vir qui ante me factus est, quia prior me erat: 30. This is he of whom I said: After me there cometh a man, who is preferred before me: because he was before me.

30. The Baptist goes on to say that Jesus is that very Person of whom he had said [pg 039] on a previous occasion: After me, &c. Some take the reference here to be to the testimony of the preceding day, when the Baptist bore witnesses in verse 27; others think the reference is to the occasion spoken of in verse 15, and regard that testimony as distinct from the one recorded in verse 27. We prefer the latter view, and distinguish in all six testimonies of the Baptist recorded in the Gospels. The first, before Christ's Baptism, as in Matt. iii. 11; Mark i. 7; Luke iii. 16; the second, as in John i. 15; the third, as in John i. 19-27; the fourth, as in John i. 29-34; the fifth, as in John i. 35-36; and the sixth and last, as in John iii. 27-36.

31. Et ego nesciebam eum, sed ut manifestetur in Israel, propterea veni ego in aqua baptizans. 31. And I knew him not, but that he may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

31. And I knew him not; i.e., officially, so as to be able to bear witness to Him publicly; or, better: I knew Him not personally; I was unacquainted with Him, so that my testimony in His favour then and now cannot be the result of prejudice or partiality towards Him. The Baptist was indeed a relative of our Lord (Luke i. 36), and must known what his father, Zachary, had declared, “Praeibis enim ante faciem Domini parare vias ejus” (Luke i. 76), that he himself was to herald the public coming of Jesus. Yet, as Jesus dwelt at Nazareth in Galilee during His private life; and John, reared in the hill country of Juda (Luke i. 39), spent the years before his public mission—perhaps from his very childhood (as Origen, Mald.) in the deserts (Luke i. 80), it is conceivable how he might not have known Christ's appearance. “What wonder,” says St. Chrys., “if he who from his childhood spent his life in the desert, away from his father's home, did not know Christ?” But as he had, while still in his mother's womb, been divinely moved to recognise Christ (Luke i. 41, 44); so, immediately before the baptism of the latter, he was enabled to recognise Him (Matt. iii. 14).

32. Et testimonium perhibuit Ioannes, dicens: Quia vidi Spiritum descendentem quasi columbam de coelo, et mansit super eum. 32. And John gave testimony, saying: I saw the Spirit coming down as a dove from heaven, and he remained upon him.
33. Et ego nesciebam eum: sed qui misit me baptizare in aqua, ille mihi dixit: Super quem videris Spiritum descendentem, et manentem super eum, hic est qui baptizat in Spiritu Sancto. 33. And I knew him not: but he, who sent me to baptize with water, said to me: He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
34. Et ego vidi: et testimonium perhibui quia hic est Filius Dei. 34. And I saw; and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God.

32-34. Some, as Patrizzi, take this as a new testimony; others, with more probability, take it as a continuation of the preceding, and say that our Evangelist inserts the words, and John gave testimony, [pg 040] in the middle of the Baptist's words, in order to arrest the reader's attention. The Baptist here declares what he had beheld after the baptism of Christ (Matt. iii. 16), and how that sign had been revealed to him beforehand as one that was to mark out the Messias, and confirm his own faith: and how he had accordingly on that occasion borne witness that Jesus is the Son of God.

That baptizeth with the Holy Ghost; i.e., who will wash you, not with water, but in the graces of the Holy Ghost. There may be special reference to the graces conferred in Christian baptism.

35. Altera die iterum stabat Ioannes, et ex discipulis eius duo. 35. The next day again John stood, and two of his disciples.
36. Et respiciens Iesum ambulantem, dicit: Ecce Agnus Dei. 36. And beholding Jesus walking, he saith: Behold the Lamb of God.
37. Et audierunt eum duo discipuli loquentem, et secuti sunt Iesum. 37. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
38. Conversus autem Iesus, et videns eos sequentes se, dicit eis: Quid quaeritis? Qui dixerunt ei: Rabbi (quod dicitur interpretatum, magister), ubi habitas? 38. And Jesus turning, and seeing them following him, said to them: What seek you? Who said to him: Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Master), where dwellest thou?

35-38. Circumstances in which the first disciples attached themselves to Jesus. The Evangelist interprets the Syro-Chaldaic word Rabbi (38), because he is writing for the Christians of Asia Minor.

39. Dicit eis: Venite, et videte. Venerunt, et viderunt ubi maneret, et apud eum manserunt die illo: hora autem erat quasi decima. 39. He saith to them: Come and see. They came, and saw where he abode, and they staid with him that day: now it was about the tenth hour.

39. About the tenth hour. According to those who hold that St. John numbers the [pg 041] hours of the day after the Jewish method, the time here indicated would be about two hours before sunset. For the Jews divided the natural day or time of light into twelve equal parts, each part being one-twelfth of the whole, so that the length of their hour varied according to the season of the year. If we suppose St. John to number as we do now, and as the Greeks did then, the time here indicated would be about 10 a.m.

40. Erat autem Andreas frater Simonis Petri unus ex duobus qui audierant a Ioanne, et secuti fuerant eum. 40. And Andrew the brother of Simon Peter was one of the two who had heard of John, and followed him.

40. It is extremely probable that the other who followed, and whose name is not given, was our Evangelist himself. See Introd. I. B. 2.

41. Invenit hic primum fratrem suum Simonem, et dicit ei: Invenimus Messiam (quod est interpretatum Christus). 41. He findeth first his brother Simon, and saith to him: We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

41. First; i.e., before the other (our Evangelist) findeth his brother, James. Messias (from the Hebrew root Mashàch (משׂח), to anoint) = χριστός = anointed. It was the custom to anoint Hebrew kings, priests, and prophets; and Christ, as combining the three dignities in Himself, was the anointed by excellence.

42. Et adduxit eum ad Iesum. Intuitus autem eum Iesus, dixit: Tu es Simon filius Iona: tu vocaberis Cephas, quod interpretatur Petrus. 42. And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looking upon him said: Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter.

42. Christ's omniscience is left to be inferred from His knowing Simon31 here at first sight. Cephas, Syro-Chaldaic, [pg 042] Képha (כפא); Hebrew Keph (כפ) = πέτρα (rock), from which we have πέτρος with the feminine termination changed into the masculine. The change of Simon's name was now predicted, but was probably not made till afterwards. See Mark iii. 16.

43. In crastinum voluit exire in Galilaeam, et invenit Philippum. Et dicit ei Iesus: Sequere me. 43. On the following day he would go forth into Galilee, and he findeth Philip. And Jesus saith to him: Follow me.

43. On the following day he would go forth. The sense is: when He was about to set out; “cum in eo esset, ut e Judaea abiret” (Kuin.). Jesus had come from Nazareth, the home of His private life in Galilee, to be baptized by John, (Matt. iii. 13; Mark i. 9). He had then spent forty days in the desert, and been tempted there, (Matt. iii. 16-iv. 3); had returned from the desert to the Jordan, and been witnessed to again by the Baptist (see above John i. 15, 19-36), and was now on the point of returning to Galilee.

Follow me. Philip to whom these words were addressed was afterwards the Apostle of that name. The call to follow our Lord on this occasion was not the formal call to the Apostleship, but rather an invitation to him to become a disciple. The same is to be said regarding the others referred to in this chapter, Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Nathanael. Four of these—Peter, Andrew, James, and John, who had in the meantime returned to Galilee, and were pursuing their calling of fishermen, were again called, Matt. iv. 18-22, Luke v. 1-11; and on this second occasion “leaving all things they followed Him,” and became inseparably attached to Him as disciples. Finally, the solemn formal call of the twelve to the Apostleship is narrated, Matt. x. 2; Luke vi. 13.

44. Erat autem Philippus a Bethsaida, civitate Andreae et Petri. 44. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

44. Bethsaida. In our view there were two towns of this name: the one mentioned here, on the western shore of the sea of Galilee, about four miles south of Capharnaum; the other Bethsaida Julias, situated to the north east of the same sea. The latter was enlarged and greatly improved by Philip the Tetrarch, son of Herod the Great, who gave it the name Julias, in honour of Julia the [pg 043] daughter of the Roman Emperor Augustus.

45. Invenit Philippus Nathanaël, et dicit ei: Quem scripsit Moyses in lege, et prophetae, invenimus Iesum filium Ioseph a Nazareth. 45. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith to him: We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth.
46. Et dixit ei Nathanaël: A Nazareth potest aliquid boni esse? Dicit ei Philippus: Veni, et vide. 46. And Nathanael said to him: Can anything of good come from Nazareth? Philip saith to him: Come and see.

45. Philip not only obeys the call to become a disciple himself, but brings another disciple with him to Jesus. Nathanael (= Deus dedit) was a native of Cana in Galilee (John xxi. 2), and is most probably identical with Bartholomew (= son of Tolmai) the Apostle, “For Nathanael and Philip are coupled in John i. 45, as Bartholomew and Philip are here (Matt. x. 3); Nathanael is named in the very midst of Apostles, John xxi. 2. ‘There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas, who is called Didymus, and Nathanael who was of Cana of Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee.’ Would anyone but an Apostle be so named? Finally, Matthew, Luke, and Mark do not allude to Nathanael, nor does John to Bartholomew” (M'Carthy on Matt. x. 3).

The son of Joseph. Doubtless, he means a son conceived and born in the ordinary way. So it was generally thought, and so thought Philip, ignorant of the miraculous conception of Christ, and of His birth at Bethlehem. It is absurd to charge our Evangelist, as De Wette has done, with ignorance of Christ's miraculous birth of a virgin, because he records the ignorance of Philip.

Nazareth, for ever famous as the scene of the incarnation, was a little town in Lower Galilee, in the tribal territory of Zabulon. It was the dwelling-place of our Lord during His private life. Nazareth, indeed all Galilee, was held in contempt (see John vii. 52), and hence Nathanael's doubt, (verse 46), though he was himself a Galilean (John xxi. 2).

47. Vidit Iesus Nathanaël venientem ad se, et dicit de eo; Ecce vere Israelita, in quo dolus non est. 47. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and he saith of him: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.
48. Dicit ei Nathanaël: Unde me nosti? Respondit Iesus, et dixit ei: Priusquam te Philippus vocaret, cum esses sub ficu, vidi te. 48. Nathanael saith to him: Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered, and said to him: Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.
49. Respondit ei Nathanaël, et ait: Rabbi, tu es Filius Dei, tu es rex Israel. 49. Nathanael answered him, and said: Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.

47-49. When Nathanael had approached near enough to be able to hear what was said, but before he had spoken anything from which our Lord might have been thought to guess at his character, our Lord said: Behold an Israelite [pg 044]indeed, in whom there is no guile; that is to say, one who, not merely by descent, but by the simplicity and honesty of his character, is a true son of Jacob. See Gen. xxv. 27; Rom. ix. 6. Jacob's name was changed into Israel, after he wrestled with the angel, Gen. xxxii. 28.

47-49. Nathanael must have felt convinced that he had been hidden from Christ's natural view, otherwise he could not draw the inference which, aided by divine grace, he draws. Whether Nathanael yet recognised Jesus to be true God, and professed his belief in Him as such, in the words of verse 49, is disputed. If we are to judge from his words (ὁ υἱός), the affirmative opinion seems much more probable. The words are an echo of the Baptist's testimony (v. 34), but Nathanael confesses not alone Christ's Divine origin, but also His human sovereignty: Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel.

50. Respondit Iesus, et dixit ei: Quia dixi tibi: Vidi te sub ficu, credis: maius his videbis. 50. Jesus answered and said to him: Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, thou believest: greater things than these shalt thou see.

50. Jesus promises Nathanael stronger arguments in proof of His Divinity. In the words: Greater things than these shalt thou see, the plural these seems to point to the class and not merely the special incident.

51. Et dicit ei: Amen, amen. dico vobis, videbitis coelum apertum, et Angelos Dei ascendentes, et descendentes supra Filium hominis. 51. And he saith to him: Amen, amen, I say to you, you shall see the heaven opened, and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man.

51. Amen, amen, is peculiar to John. The other Evangelists use “Amen” only once in such asseverations. “Amen means verily (at the end of a prayer, so be it); and when doubled, strengthens the asseveration, and points to the [pg 045] solemnity of the declaration about to follow” (M'Ev.).

Son of man. This term, probably derived in its Messianic sense from Dan. vii. 13, 14, was very rarely applied to Christ, except by Himself, and we find Him using it very frequently (though not exclusively; see, e.g., Matt. ix. 6; xxiii. 30; Acts vii. 56) in connection with His privations, sufferings, and death (Matt. viii. 20; xii.40; xvii. 12; xxvi. 21-25; John iii. 14, &c.). It indicates that Christ was not only man like Adam; but that, unlike him, He was descended of man, and therefore our brother in the truest sense.

You shall see. Though Nathanael is addressed (and He saith to him), yet the plural (videbitis) shows that the wondrous sign here promised was to be seen not by him alone, but at least by Philip also, and probably by others. The meaning of the prediction is obscure. Evidently some great sign is promised; but what it is, interpreters are far from agreed. Some take the words metaphorically, others literally.

Of those who understand them metaphorically, some take the sense to be: You shall see numerous miracles, such as are usually attributed to angels (or, in the performance of which angels shall minister to Me) wrought by Me, the Son of Man, during My public life. So Beelen, Maier, &c. We cannot accept this view, for it seems highly improbable that our Lord would speak in language so obscure to the guileless Nathanael and his companions on an occasion like the present, when Nathanael had only just believed.

Others understand of the spiritual glories of the whole period from the commencement of Christ's public mission till the end of the world. Alford, explaining this view (which, by the way, he calmly claims to have been “the interpretation of all commentators of any depth in all times”!) says: “It is not the outward visible opening of the material heavens nor ascent or descent of angels in the sight of men, which the Lord here announces, but the series of glories which was about to be unfolded in His Person and work, from that time forward.” Our difficulty in regard to this view is the same as in regard to the preceding.

St. Augustine is generally supposed to have understood this text in reference to the preachers of the New Testament, “ascending” when they preach the more sublime, “descending,” when they preach the more elementary doctrines of religion. If St. Augustine meant this as a literal interpretation of the passage, as he [pg 046] certainly seems to do in Tract vii. on this Gospel, we cannot accept it. Surely, something stranger and more striking is promised here, after the opening of the heavens, than the sight of preachers!

Others hold that we must interpret this passage entirely in the light of Jacob's dream, Gen. xxviii. 12. Jacob saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, with angels ascending and descending upon it. That vision meant in his regard that God would make him the object of His special protection (see Gen. xxviii. 13-15). And now Nathanael, who is an Israelite indeed, a true son of Jacob (v. 47), is told that he and others shall see that Divine favour and protection which Jacob's vision signified, extended in such an extraordinary manner to Christ, during His life, that it will be most manifest He is the Son of God.

This view we regard as probable. The Fathers tell us that Nathanael was particularly well versed in the Scriptures, and our Lord's words might readily recall to his mind Jacob's dream, with all its significance of Divine favour and protection.

Of the opinions that attempt to explain the words literally, some may be dismissed at once. Thus there cannot be reference to the angels who appeared at Christ's birth, or after His temptations (Matt. iv. 11), for Christ speaks of an event still to come, whereas His birth and temptations were already past. Nor can there be reference to the transfiguration, even if we suppose angels to have been present; nor to the agony in the garden; nor to the resurrection; for on none of these occasions did Philip and Nathanael see the angels. Less improbable, perhaps, is the view that there is reference to the ascension, and the two angels that appeared then (Acts i. 10). But this opinion too we reject without hesitation. In the passage of the Acts referred to, St. Luke tells us: “And while they were beholding Him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments.” Now, it is clear that angels who stood by the apostles and disciples, cannot possibly be those referred to here as “ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

A Lapide refers the prediction to some miraculous vision seen by the disciples during our Lord's life, and not recorded in the Gospels. But it seems improbable that the fulfilment of such a prediction would be passed over in silence by all the Evangelists.

Finally, there is the opinion, which is held by Maldonatus, that there is reference to the last judgment, when the heavens shall be opened, and Christ shall come riding on [pg 047] the clouds of heaven, accompanied by angels, and all men shall be forced to confess Him God. This seems to us the most probable interpretation. For, first, it is likely that our Lord refers to the clearest and most incontrovertible proof that shall be given of His Divinity; and such will be His coming in majesty to judge the world. Secondly, we know that on another occasion, when he was challenged by the Jewish High Priest to say if he was the Son of God, He appealed to this same proof of His Divinity: “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us if thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith to him: Thou hast said it. Nevertheless, I say to you: Hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. xxvi. 63-64). Probably the expression: ascending and descending is to be understood metaphorically, even in this opinion, and means merely that the angels shall be attendant upon the great Judge, ready to execute His will. The order is remarkable: they are said first to ascend, and then to descend, as was the case also in Jacob's vision.

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Chapter II.

1-11. Christ at the marriage feast in Cana changes water into wine.

12. He goes down to Capharnaum.

13-17. At the approach of the Pasch He goes up to Jerusalem, and there drives the buyers and sellers out of the Temple.

18-22. Challenged by the Jews for a sign of His authority, He predicts His own Resurrection, as the disciples called to mind after He had risen.

23-25. On the occasion of this first Pasch of His public life many believe in Him because of His miracles.

1. Et die tertia nuptiae factae sunt in Cana Galilaeae, et erat mater Iesu ibi. 1. And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there.
2. Vocatus est autem et Iesus, et discipuli eius, ad nuptias. 2. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage.

1. The Evangelist having narrated how our Lord was witnessed to by the Baptist, and joined by His first disciples, now proceeds to tell how He bore testimony of Himself by His miracles.

The third day. Naturally the third from the point of time last referred to, in verse 43.

The marriage feast was celebrated for a week among the Jews, and this custom had come down from very ancient times, as we learn from the book of Judges, xiv. 12.

Cana of Galilee was situated most probably in the tribe of Zabulon near Capharnaum. There was another Cana in the tribe of Aser, near Sidon (see Jos. xix. 28).

2. And Jesus also was invited; that is to say, He also, as well as the Blessed Virgin, was invited. Mald. holds that καὶ (et) is explanatory: on that account, that is to say, because she was there as a friend of the family, Jesus was invited.

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3. Et deficiente vino, dicit mater Iesu ad eum: Vinum non habent. 3. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine.

3. And the wine failing (Gr. having failed). Either all the wine was already drunk, or, at least, there was no more to be drawn; the last was on the table. When we take into account what Mary says to the servants (v. 5), it is plain that her object in telling Jesus that the wine had run short, was not that He and His disciples might retire (Bengel), nor that He might exhort the company to patience (Calvin), nor that He might buy wine (Kuin.), but that He might work a miracle. “The Mother of the Lord having heard of the testimony of the Baptist, and seeing the disciples gathered round her Son, the circumstances of whose miraculous birth she treasured in her heart (Luke ii. 19, 51) must have looked now at length for the manifestation of His power, and thought that an occasion only was wanting. Yet even so she leaves all to His will” (Westc., in Speaker's Comm.).

4. Et dicit ei Iesus: Quid mihi et tibi est mulier: Nondum venit hora mea. 4. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is it to me and to thee? My hour is not yet come.

4. Woman, what is it to me and to thee? The Vulgate has. “Quid mihi et tibi est, mulier?” But the verb is not in the Greek text (τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί γύναι?), which would therefore be better translated: “What to Me and to thee, woman?” The Revised Version of the Church of England renders: “Woman, what have I to do with thee?”

Most Protestant writers have held that these words of our Lord contain a reproof of His mother. Among Catholics many have held that the words contain the semblance of reproof; to teach us, not Mary, that we are not to be influenced by motives of flesh and blood in the service of God. Others have held (and this is the general opinion of modern Catholic commentators) that the words do not contain even the appearance of reproof.

(1) It is now generally acknowledged even by Protestant commentators that the term γύναι is not reproachful or disrespectful. According to Alford there is no reproach in the term, but rather respect; and Trench says: “So far from any harshness, the compellation has something solemn in it” (Miracles, p. 100). Liddell and Scott's Lexicon, says: “It is often used as a term of respect or affection, mistress, lady.” Yet Calvin impiously asserts that our Lord does not deign to call Mary His Mother: “Deinde cur simplici repulsa non contentus eam in vulgarem [pg 050] mulierum ordinem cogit, nec jam matris nomine dignatur?” “Why doubt of the heavenly origin of a reformation wrought by such reasoning as this?” (McCarthy).

Father Coleridge thinks that Mary is addressed here by the title γύναι because that is “what we may call her official and theological title ... for she is the ‘woman’ of whom our Lord was born; she is the ‘woman’ of whom God spake to our first parents when He made them the promise of a Redeemer after the fall; she is the ‘woman’ to whom the whole range of types look forward, who was to conceive and compass a man (Jer. xxxi. 22); she is the ‘woman,’ the second Eve, as our Lord is the Man, and the Son of Man, the second Adam.”32 But whatever may be thought of this view, enough has been said to show that the term γύναι does not imply reproof or disrespect.

(2) Neither does the phrase “What to Me and to thee?” (τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί?). We find exactly the same phrase in Judg. xi. 12; 3 Kings xvii. 18; 4 Kings iii. 13; 2 Paral. xxxv. 21; Mark v. 7; Luke viii. 28.33

(A). After a candid examination of these texts, it must, we think, appear that the meaning of the phrase is not: What does this concern you and Me? for in some, if not all, of the passages cited the phrase cannot have that meaning. Besides, is it likely Jesus would say that the wants of the poor, who were His hosts, and perhaps His relatives, and their shame consequent upon those wants, did not concern Him?

(B). Neither is the meaning: What have I to do with you, or, what have I in common with you? (as author of a miracle such as you suggest); it must proceed from My Divine nature, while only My human nature has been derived from you (so Augus., Tolet., Patriz.). For—

(a) This is not the meaning of the phrase in the parallel passages.

(b) Christ gives a different reason: My hour is not yet come.

(c) His person hypostatically united to His human nature, had that nature in common with her, and it is of His person (mihi), not of His Divine nature merely that He speaks.

(C). What the precise meaning of the phrase is, it is difficult to determine with certainty. In all the passages where it occurs, it seems to indicate some divergence between the thoughts or wishes of the persons so brought together. Most probably it is here a remonstrance; [pg 051] because the suggestion that Christ should work a miracle is inconvenient or inopportune, inasmuch as it brings moral pressure to bear upon Him to make Him begin His miracles before the time at which, prescinding from this suggestion, His public miracles were to begin. Something similar are the words of God to Moses: Let Me alone, that My wrath may be kindled against them, and that I may destroy them” (Exod. xxxii. 10). On that occasion God, after remonstrating, granted the prayer of Moses, just as on this occasion, after remonstrating, He yielded to the suggestion of His Mother. So St. Cyril of Alex., St. Amb., Corl, &c.

Whether the above be the correct meaning of the phrase or not, one thing is clear, against Calvin, Alf., Trench, &c., that the words cannot contain a rebuke—not a real rebuke; because there was no fault on Mary's part, not even venial (Council of Trent, sess. vi., can. 23). St. Aug., whose authority Protestants must respect, whatever they may think of that of the Council of Trent, says: “De Sancta Maria Virgine, propter honorem Christi, nullam prorsus quando de peccato agitur volo habere quaestionem” (De Natura et Gratia, ch. xxxvi.). Moreover, if the Blessed Virgin were guilty of any fault, it would be either because of the thing suggested, or of some circumstance of time, place, motive, &c. Now, our Lord granted what she suggested; the object was therefore, good. The circumstances were the very same when the miracle was wrought as when it was suggested. As to her motive, it may have been good—charity for the poor. Why, then, ascribe a bad motive, such as vanity, without convincing proof? That the suggestion was acceded to, goes to show that it was made in circumstances in which it was not displeasing to God.34

Neither is there in the words a feigned rebuke, that is, feigned for our instruction, to show us that we are not to regard flesh and blood in doing the work of God (Mald., Tolet., &c.); for Christ actually did what was suggested; and, besides, it is Catholic teaching that Christ in heaven grants many requests to His Mother, because she is His Mother.

In vain, then, have Protestants tried to find, in these words of our Lord, anything derogatory to the dignity of His Blessed Mother. To every interpretation which would give such a sense to His words, we may answer, with St. Justin, Martyr: “Non verbo matrem objurgavit qui facto honoravit.” “He reproved not His [pg 052] mother by what He said who honoured her by what He did.”

My hour is not yet come. In our interpretation it is easy to explain these words. His hour is not the hour of His death, nor the time when the want of wine would be fully felt, but the time at which, according to the ordinary providence of God, and prescinding from His Mother's suggestion, His public miracles were to begin.

5. Dicit mater eius ministris: Quodcumque dixerit vobis, facite. 5. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.

5. Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. These are not the words of one whose suggestion had been reproved and rejected.

6. Erant autem ibi lapideae hydriae sex positae secundum purificationem Iudaeorum, capientes singulae metretas binas vel ternas. 6. Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures a-piece.

6. For the custom of the Jews in the matter of ablutions, see Matt. xv. 2; Mark vii. 2-5. The μετρητής was a Greek liquid measure, containing about nine gallons, or, to be accurate, eight gallons 7.4 pints. There were six jars, or water-pots, each containing two or three measures. If each jar contained two measures, the whole quantity of wine miraculously provided would be = 6 × 2 × 9 = 108 gallons. If each contained three measures, the whole would be = 6 × 3 × 9 = 162 gallons. The quantity of wine miraculously produced was therefore very great, being at least about 108 gallons. It is absurd, however, to seek in this miracle of our Divine Lord any excuse for intemperance. As well might God be accused of conniving at intemperance, because He fills the grape each year with the moisture of earth and heaven, and then transmutes this into the nobler juices which He knows man will convert into wine. He gives in every case, that we may use, not that we may abuse. If the quantity of wine miraculously provided on this occasion was large, we ought to remember that the marriage feast lasted for a week; that there were probably many guests present, whose number was considerably increased by the invitation, at the last moment, of Christ and His disciples on their arrival from Judea; that others would probably be attracted now by the fame of this miracle, and the desire to see Him who had wrought it; and, finally, that the quantity of the wine made the miracle more striking.

7. Dicit eis Iesus. Implete hydrias aqua. Et impleverunt eas usque ad summum. 7. Jesus saith to them: Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

7. To the brim. So that there was no room left to mix [pg 053] wine or anything else with the water; this shows, too, the quantity of wine that was miraculously supplied.

8. Et dicit eis Iesus: Haurite nunc, et ferte architriclino. Et tulerunt. 8. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it.

8. Chief steward (Gr. ἀρχός, chief, or ruler, and τρίκλινος, a dining-room, with three couches, and more generally, a dining-room). The president of the feast, according to some, was one of the guests selected by the host, or by the unanimous consent of the guests; according to others, he was not a guest, but the chief servant. In the first view he corresponds with the συμποσιάρχης of the Greeks, and the “magister convivii,” or “arbiter bibendi,” of the Romans; and this we take to be correct, for his familiarity with the bridegroom (v. 10) bespeaks the friend rather than the servant.

9. Ut autem gustavit architriclinus aquam vinum factam, et non sciebat unde esset, ministri autem sciebant qui hauserant aquam, vocat sponsum architriclinus. 9. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom.

9. St. John mentions that the president of the feast knew not whence the wine was, nor how it had been produced, in order to show that his testimony in its favour was not the result of previous collusion with Jesus. Who had drawn the water. ἠντληκότες is the form for the pluperfect, as well as for the perfect participle, and is rightly rendered “had drawn.” We consider it more likely that the reference is to their drawing the water from the well in order to fill the water-pots. But if the reference be to drawing the wine from the pots (in v. 8 the same Greek verb is used in reference to that action), then the wine is called water because it had been water so recently, just as the serpent is called a rod in Exod. vii. 12. because it had been a rod immediately before. It is most likely that the conversion took place in the water-pots, and not on the way from them to the table.

10. Et dicit ei: Omnis homo primum bonum vinum ponit: et cum inebriati fuerint, tunc id, quod deterius est: Tu autem servasti bonum vinum usque adhuc. 10. And saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drank, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now.

10. Most probably the Greek word (μεθυσθῶσιν) rendered in the Vulgate “inebriati fuerint” does not here imply [pg 054] drunkenness, but only drinking freely. “In classical use it generally, but not always, implies intoxication. In the Hellenistic writers, however, as Josephus, Philo, and the LXX., it very often denotes drinking freely, and the hilarity consequent, which is probably the sense here” (Bloomf.). In any case, whatever meaning we give the word here, the president of the feast merely speaks of what was the common practice, without saying that the guests at this particular feast had indulged to the same extent.

11. Hoc fecit initium signorum Iesus in Cana Galilaeae: et manifestavit gloriam suam, et crediderunt in eum discipuli eius. 11. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee: and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

11. This was Christ's first miracle, or better perhaps, it was His first public miracle, the first sign, or proof given in public of His Divine power. It is worthy of note that our Lord honoured marriage on this occasion not only by His presence, but also by His first public miracle. The effect of the miracle is carefully noted by our Evangelist whose main object, as we saw, is to prove Christ's Divinity. And He manifested His glory, δόξα (see i. 14); and the faith of the disciples was confirmed. The fact that they were disciples, shows that they had some faith already.

12. Post hoc descendit Capharnaum, ipse, et mater eius, et fratres eius; et discipuli eius: et ibi manserunt non multis diebus. 12. After this he went down to Capharnaum, he and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they remained there not many days.

12. Capharnaum, the largest town of Galilee, was situated, on the western shore of the sea of Galilee (Matt. iv. 13, John vi. 24), and the journey to it from Cana is rightly described as a descent. During His public life our Lord seems to have dwelt chiefly in this town, which is therefore sometimes spoken of as His own city (see Matt. ix. 1, and compare with Mark ii. 1). It was long thought to be impossible to identify the site of Capharnaum, but it seems now to be practically certain that the site is that of [pg 055] the modern Tell Hûm, about two and a half miles south-west of the point where the Jordan enters the sea of Galilee. Capharnaum means the village (נפר) of Nahum. Tell is the Arabic for a hillock covered with ruins, and it is reasonably conjectured that Hûm is a contraction for Nahum, the first syllable, as sometimes happens in such cases, being dropped. Thus Tell Hûm would mean the ruin-clad hillock of Nahum. A summary of the various reasons for identifying the two places is given by Pére Didon, in his able work: Jesus Christ, vol. ii., Appendix F. The brethren of the Lord here referred to were His cousins, but according to the Scriptural usage any near relations are called brethren. Thus Abraham and Lot are “brethren” (Gen. xiii. 8), though Abraham was in reality Lot's uncle (Gen. xi. 27). See also remarks on vii. 3.

13. Et prope erat pascha Iudaeorum, et ascendit Iesus Ierosoloymam: 13. And the pasch of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

13. And (= for) the Pasch, &c. This was the first Pasch of our Lord's public life. The Evangelist calls it the Pasch of the Jews, because he is writing for the inhabitants of Asia Minor, most of whom were Greeks. The Pasch (Heb. pesach, פסח), beginning at evening on the 14th, and ending at evening on the 21st of Nisan,35 was the greatest festival of the Jews. The word “pasch” means the passing over (from pasach, פסח, to pass or leap over), and the name was given to this festival as commemorating the passing over of the houses of the Israelites when the destroying angel slew the first-born in the land of Egypt (see Exod xii. 11, 12).

And Jesus went up to Jerusalem. At the three principal feasts: Pasch, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, all the male adults were bound to go up to the temple at Jerusalem.

14. Et invenit in templo vendentes boves, et oves, et columbas, et numularios sedentes. 14. And he found in the temple them that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting.

14. The animals here mentioned were sold to be sacrificed. The money-changers were there to change foreign money into Jewish. It was probably in the Court of the Gentiles that Christ found them. In the temple (ἐν ἱερώ, i.e., in sacro loco). The ἱερόν must be carefully distinguished from the ναός (v. 20). The [pg 056] former included the temple proper, and also its courts, porches, and porticoes; in a word, all its sacred precincts; the latter was the temple proper, the house of God, the place where He dwelt (ναίω = to dwell). We know that around the temple as rebuilt by Herod the Great, there were three courts: the outer, or that of the Gentiles; the inner, or that of the Israelites; and between them, on the eastern side, the Court of the women. In the inner court, or that of the Israelites, there was a portion next the temple proper set apart for the priests.

15. Et cum fecisset quasi flagellum de funiculis, omnes eiecit de templo, oves quoque, et boves, et numulariorum effudit aes, et mensas subvertit. 15. And when he had made as it were a scourge of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen, and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew.

15. He drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen. These words of our version mean that He drove out not only the animals, but also the sellers, and this is distinctly stated by S. Aug., and several other Fathers. The sense of the Greek is ambiguous: He drove all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen.

16. Et his qui columbas vendebant, dixit: Auferte ista hinc, et nolite facere domum Patris mei, domum negotiationis. 16. And to them that sold doves he said: Take these things hence, and make not the house of my father a house of traffic.

16. Christ deals more leniently with those who sold the doves, perhaps because these were the offerings of the poor.

A house of traffic. Our Lord does not on this occasion say the traffic was unjust, but implies that it was sacrilegious, as being carried on in a holy place. On another occasion, three years afterwards, Christ again drove traders from the temple, who He says had made it “a den of thieves,” adding the sin of injustice to that of sacrilege (Matt. xxi. 13). Note how He calls God His Father. See v. 18.

17. Recordati sunt vero discipuli eius, quia scriptum est: Zelus domus tuae comedit me. 17. And his disciples remembered that it was written: The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up.

17. Our Evangelist, mindful of his scope in writing this Gospel, draws attention to the fulfilment of this prophecy of [pg 057] the Psalmist, inasmuch as this tends to prove that Jesus was the Messias and the true God. καταφάγεται (will eat me up) is the true reading here, though the Psalm has the prophetic past.

18. Responderunt ergo Iudaei, et dixerunt ei: Quod signum ostendis nobis, quia haec facis? 18. The Jews therefore answered, and said to him: What sign dost thou show unto us, seeing thou dost these things?

18. The Jews challenge (answered, meaning here, as frequently, went on to speak) Christ for a proof of that authority which He appeared to claim for Himself in driving them from the temple, and also in calling God His Father (see v. 17-18). The incident itself, with so many men tamely submitting to His action, was, as Origen points out, one of the most wonderful signs He could have shown them. But they hoped, as St. Chryst. remarks, to put Him in a dilemma by obliging Him either to work a miracle on the spot, or else cease to interfere with them.

19. Respondit Iesus, et dixit eis: Solvite templum hoc, et in tribus diebus excitabo illud. 19. Jesus answered, and said to them: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

19. Instead of working a miracle He merely refers darkly to a future sign that was still some years off, as He does on a similar occasion, when dealing with other unbelievers, Matt. xii. 38-40. “He, however,” says St. Chrys., “who even anticipated men's wishes, and gave signs when He was not asked, would not have rejected here a positive request, had He not seen a crafty design in it.”

Standing as He was beside Herod's temple, probably in the Court of the Gentiles or immediately outside it, His words, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up, were understood by the Jews (v. 20), and apparently by His disciples (v. 22), in reference to Herod's temple. Various views have been put forward to show that His words were not necessarily misleading.

(1) It is said that He may have pointed with His finger to His body while He said: Destroy this temple. But the fact that He was actually misunderstood by all seems to exclude this hypothesis.

(2) It is held by many that He spoke both of Herod's temple and of His body. So, apparently, Origen; and Cardinal Wiseman says explicitly: “Finally did our Lord speak altogether of His resurrection so as to exclude all allusion to rebuilding the temple which stood before Him? I must confess that ... I cannot read the passage without being convinced that He spoke of both” (Lect. on the Euch., [pg 058] p. 135, No. 4). We, however, cannot bring ourselves to adopt this view against what seems to be the clear sense according to the interpretation of the inspired Evangelist, who tells us, (v. 21), But He spoke of the temple of His body.

(3) There is the common answer, that He spoke ambiguously and allowed them to be deceived, because they were unworthy of plainer speech. They were not, however, necessarily deceived, for ναός (a temple) was used frequently in reference to the human body (see, e.g., 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17; vi. 19; 2 Cor. vi. 16), and our Lord's language might have given them some reason for suspecting that it was of His body He spoke. For the two verbs, which he used λύσατε and ἐγερῶ though they could be understood in reference to the temple of stone, applied more appropriately to His body; the former signifying the breaking up or loosing of the union between His soul and body; the latter, the raising of the body to life, as so often in St. Paul. See, e.g., 1 Cor. xv. 4, 12, 14, &c.

Destroy this temple, is not, of course, a command to put Him to death, but a permission like what He said to Judas: That which thou dost, do quickly (John xiii. 27). It was usual with the Prophets to announce their predictions in the form of a command; as, for instance, Isaias (xlvii. 1): “Come down, sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon.”

20. Dixerunt ergo Iudaei: Quadraginta et sex annis aedificatum est templum hoc, et tu in tribus diebus excitabis illud? 20. The Jews then said: Six and forty years was this temple in building, and wilt thou raise it up in three days?

20. The rebuilding of the temple by Herod the Great is said by Josephus, in Antiq. xv. 11, 1, to have been begun in the eighteenth year of his reign; in B. Jud. i. 21, 1, in the fifteenth; the difference arising from the fact that in one case Josephus counts from the death of Antigonus, in the other from Herod's appointment by the Romans. (See Antiq. xvii. 8, 1.) Reckoning from the latter, we have twenty years till the birth of Christ, and thirty years since that event, making fifty, from which, however, four must be subtracted, because our era is four years too late. This gives forty-six years. The mere building of the temple took only nine years and a half, but during the remainder of the time it was decorated. These decorations were still going on, and were not completed till 64 a.d., so that the Greek verb ought to get its proper sense: has been in building.

21. Ille autem dicebat de templo corporis sui. 21. But he spoke of the temple of his body.

21. The inspired Evangelist here tells us that it was of His body Christ spoke. He adds the explanation to show, perhaps, how utterly devoid of all foundation in fact was the [pg 059] distorted testimony of the false witnesses, who on the night before His death charged our Lord with having threatened to destroy the temple made with hands (Matt. xxvi. 61; Mark xiv. 58).

22. Cum ergo resurrexisset a mortuis, recordati sunt discipuli eius, quia hoc dicebat, et crediderunt scripturae, et sermoni quem dixit Iesus. 22. When therefore he was risen again from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture, and the word that Jesus had said.

22. When Christ had risen His disciples understood the Scriptures, or rather they believed that they (see, e.g., Psalms iii. 6; xv. 10), and Christ's present words, referred to His resurrection.

23. Cum autem esset Ierosolymis in pascha in die festo, multi crediderunt in nomine eius, videntes signa eius, quae faciebat. 23. Now when he was at Jerusalem at the pasch, upon the festival day, many believed in his name, seeing his signs which he did.

23. Upon the festival day. Rather during the festal time, which, at the Pasch, lasted a week, many believed in His name, that is to say, in Him, seeing the miracles which he wrought, and which were proofs of His divine power.

24. Ipse autem Iesus non credebat semetipsum eis, eo quod ipse nosset omnes. 24. But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, for that he knew all men.

24. Unto them; i.e., all the Jews, or perhaps those very persons who believed in Him; because, as searcher of hearts (verse 25), He foresaw that they would not remain faithful followers.

25. Et quia opus ei non erat ut quis testimonium perhiberet de homine: ipse enim sciebat quid esset in homine. 25. And because he needed not that any should give testimony of man: for he knew what was in man.

25. He knew this, not by any external indications, but because He is the searcher of hearts. This is noted as another proof of Christ's Divinity, because this knowledge of the secrets of the hearts of all men belongs to God alone. See 3 Kings viii. 39; 1 Paral. xxviii. 9; Job xlii. 2; Ps. vii. 10; Acts xv. 8. Some of the saints in special cases were able to read the hearts of certain individuals, but no one save God knows the hearts of all.

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Chapter III.

1-21. Nicodemus comes to Christ; their discourse.

22-36. Christ begins to baptize; complaints of the Baptist's disciples, and testimony of the Baptist to Christ's divine origin, and to the necessity of faith in Him.

1. Erat autem homo ex pharisaeis, Nicodemus nomine, princeps Iudaeorum. 1. And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

1. This chapter is closely connected with the end of the preceding. Among the many who believed (ii. 23) was a man of the Pharisees (see i. 24). The sect, name, and dignity of the man are mentioned, because of his importance, and because of the importance of the discourse about to be narrated.

A ruler of the Jews; that is to say, as we gather from vii. 45, 50, he was a member of the Sanhedrim.

2. Hic venit ad Iesum nocte, et dixit ei: Rabbi, scimus quia a Deo venisti magister: nemo enim potest haec signa facere quae tu facis, nisi fuerit Deus cum eo. 2. This man came to Jesus by night, and said to him: Rabbi, we know that thou art come a teacher from God: for no man can do these signs which thou dost, unless God be with him.

2. Because he believed in Jesus, he came; but because he feared the Jews, he came by night.

We know. Nicodemus may have come in the name of several, to learn more about Jesus, or he may be merely alluding to the fact that some others were of the same belief. He professed his faith in Jesus as a heaven-sent teacher, stating the nature of his belief. “Nicodemus estimates accurately, we may almost say with theological precision, the force of the evidence of the miracles of our Lord, if they were to be taken apart from other considerations which belonged to the same subject-matter. The miracles in themselves proved exactly that God was with [pg 061] Him; but if they were taken in conjunction with the witness of St. John the Baptist, with our Lord's manner of working them, that is, as one who was using His own power, and with His way of speaking of Himself, and of God as His Father, they might have been enough to form the ground of a still higher faith concerning our Blessed Lord” (Coleridge, Life of our Lord, vol. i., page 256).

3. Respondit Iesus, et dixit ei: Amen, amen, dico tibi, nisi quis renatus fuerit denuo, non potest videre regnum Dei. 3. Jesus answered and said to him: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

3. Jesus answered. This might merely mean that He went on to speak, the verb to answer being again and again found in this sense in the New Testament. Here, however, it may be used in its strict sense of replying to a question, for it seems to us extremely probable that a portion of the discourse leading up to the statement made in verse 3 is omitted by the Evangelist. It is highly improbable that the whole discourse between Christ and Nicodemus is here recorded, as it seems very unlikely that Nicodemus, after the trouble of coming specially to Christ by night, left Him, or would be allowed to leave, after the two or three minutes in which the discourse here reported was spoken.

Born again. The Greek word ἄνωθενα, which is rendered “again,” may mean—(a) from above, or (b) again. The latter meaning, however, is more probable here, for so Nicodemus understood our Lord's words (see verse 4): so, also S. Chrysostom, and nearly all the Latin fathers. Compare, too, Tit. iii. 5; 1 Pet. i. 23. The truth expressed in this verse is universal; whoever is born needs to be reborn in order to see (= “to enter into,” verse 5) the kingdom of God in Christ's Church here, and in heaven hereafter.

4. Dicit ad eum Nicodemus: Quomodo potest homo nasci, cum sit senex? numquid potest in ventrem matris suae iterato introire, et renasci? 4. Nicodemus saith to him: How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born again?

4. Nicodemus either understood our Lord to speak of a second carnal birth; or perhaps, not understanding the words at all, he may have pretended to misunderstand, in order to get Christ to explain. His motive, at all events, was good—to obtain light and instruction.

5. Respondit Iesus: Amen, amen dico tibi, nisi quis renatus fuerit ex aqua et Spiritu sancto, non potest intriore in regnum Dei. 5. Jesus answered: Amen amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

5. Hence Christ goes on to give a more precise statement [pg 062] of the truth contained in verse 3, with an additional explanation regarding the means of regeneration under the new dispensation.

Amen, Amen. This formula indicates the importance of the pronouncement. It has been defined by the Council of Trent—(a) that there is question in this fifth verse of natural water, and (b) of that natural water as necessary for Baptism. “Si quis dixerit aquam veram et naturalem non esse de necessitate baptismi, atque ideo verba illa D. N. J. C.: ‘Nisi quis renatus fuerit ex aqua, et Spiritu Sancto,’ ad metaphoram aliquam detorserit, anathema sit” (Sess. vii. Can. 2. De bapt.).

This solemn declaration of the infallible Church settles, for Catholics, the question as to whether there is reference here to Christian Baptism. But even against heretics, for whom the Council of Trent speaks in vain, it is not difficult to show that there must be reference here to Christian Baptism. For (1) it cannot be denied that Christ inaugurated some external rite of baptism (John iii. 25, 26; iv. 11). (2) Christ and His disciples are represented (verse 22) as beginning to baptize after this discourse with Nicodemus. (3) Every circumstance of this second birth spoken of to Nicodemus is found in Christian Baptism. (a) Here we are said to be born again; so, too, are we in Baptism:—“According to His mercy He saved us by the laver of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. iii. 5). (b) This second birth is necessary that we may be saved and enter the kingdom of God; so is Christian Baptism (Mark xvi. 16; Acts iii. 37, 38), (c) This second birth is through water and the Holy Ghost; so is Baptism. See Acts viii. 36-47; Tit. iii. 5.

Seeing that there is reference in the text to Christian Baptism, the word “water” in the text, as the Council of Trent defined, is to be understood, not metaphorically, but literally. Moreover, since this new birth is attributed to the water as to the Holy Ghost “(ex aqua et Spiritu Sancto”), water is not merely an empty symbol in the sacrament, but an efficient cause of grace like the Holy Ghost; He being the principal, the water the instrumental, efficient cause.

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This new birth in Baptism implies—(1) that we die to the old man of sin, “for we are buried together with Him by Baptism into death” (Rom. vi. 4). It implies (2) that we are born through the divine gift of God's grace to a new and spiritual life, in which we are His adopted children. “So do you also reckon that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. vi. 11).

We may remark, before passing from this text—(1) against the Pelagians and Anabaptists, that Baptism is here declared necessary for all who have been born, and therefore for infants before the use of reason; (2) against the Calvinists and Socinians, who hold that children of Christian parents need not be baptized, that no exception is here made in favour of the children of Christians; (3) against Protestants, that water in Baptism is not a mere symbol of regeneration, but is as truly its efficient cause as the Holy Ghost Himself; with this difference, however, that whereas the water is the instrumental, the Holy Ghost is the principal, cause.

6. Quod natum est ex carne, caro est: et quod natum est ex spiritu, spiritus est. 6. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.

6. Christ explains why the agent of the regeneration of which He speaks must be the Holy Ghost. What is born of man (flesh here is taken for human nature without grace), is merely human; what is born of the Holy Ghost, is spiritual, and partakes of the Divine (2 Pet. i. 4). Since, then, the new life to which a man must be born again is spiritual, a spiritual and supernatural principle is required.

7. Non mireris quia dixi tibi: Oportet vos nasci denuo. 7. Wonder not, that I said to thee, you must be born again.

7. Wonder not, therefore, that I said to you: ye must be born again, for if that which is born of the flesh is flesh, certainly you need a new birth to be born to a life which is so far above the flesh.

8. Spiritus ubi vult spirat: et vocen eius audis, sed nescis unde veniat, aut quo vadat: sic est omnis qui natus est ex spiritu. 8. The Spirit breatheth where he will: and thou hearest his voice, but thou knowest not whence he cometh, and whither he goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

8. Christ goes on to show how a difficulty in knowing the way in which the regeneration takes place is no proof of its impossibility, nor a reason for incredulity regarding its possibility. The sense of this verse depends upon the meaning given to the first “spirit,” τὸ πνεῦμα. Some understand this of the Holy Ghost. The Holy [pg 064] Ghost acts in men according to His own good pleasure; “you hear His voice that cannot be mistaken—its power, its sweetness, the peace which it breathes, the light which it pours on you; but you cannot tell that He is approaching, or when He will come, or how He will work on your soul; in such manner is it that everyone is born of the Spirit who is so born” (Coleridge, Public Life of our Lord, vol. i., page 262). Others understand the first spirit here of the wind; and this is the more common opinion among commentators. In this view, by means of a simple and obvious illustration from nature, Christ shows Nicodemus that he must believe in the possibility of this second birth, even though he know not the manner in which it takes place. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and you know not whence it cometh or whither it goeth: so is it in regeneration; you are regenerated, though you cannot comprehend the process. That πνεῦμα sometimes means wind in Biblical Greek, is undeniable (see, e.g., Gen. vii. 1; Ps. civ. 4; Matt. xxiv. 31; Heb. i. 7), and the use of the word here in different senses is plain from the comparison (so is it, &c.), according to the patrons of this second opinion. Nor does the fact that it is preceded by the article here oblige us, according to these, to refer it to the Holy Ghost; for, just as in verse 5, without the article, it refers to the Holy Ghost, so here, with the article, it may not refer to Him.

9. Respondit Nicodemus, et dixit ei: Quomodo possunt haec fieri? 9. Nicodemus answered, and said to him: How can these things be done?
10. Respondit Iesus, et dixit ei: Tu es magister in Israel, et haec ignoras? 10. Jesus answered, and said to him: Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?

9, 10. Nicodemus again asks how these things can come to pass, and Jesus gently upbraids him for his ignorance. As one of the chief teachers of Israel ὁ διδάσκαλος36 (see also vii. 45-50), one of the seventy-one members of the Sanhedrim, or supreme Council of the Jews, he should be familiar with the Sacred Scriptures, and ought to have read in them the promise of a spiritual regeneration. See Ezech. xxxvi. 25; Zach. xiii. 1.

11. Amen, amen, dico tibi, quia quod scimus loquimur, et quod vidimus testamur, et testimonium nostrum non accipitis. 11. Amen, amen I say to thee, that we speak what we know, and we testify what we have seen, and you receive not our testimony.

11. Christ continues using the solemn form of asseveration. [pg 065] What we know. The plural is used not of Himself and the Holy Spirit, nor of Himself and the Prophets, nor of all born of the Spirit, nor of the Three Persons of the Trinity, but simply as a plural of majesty. What we have seen. Sight, says St. Chrys. on this verse, we consider the most certain of all the senses, so that when we say we saw such a thing with our eyes, we seem to compel men to believe us. In like manner, Christ, speaking after the manner of men, does not indeed mean that He has seen actually with the bodily eye the mysteries He reveals, but it is manifest that He means He has the most certain and absolute (and we may add, immediate: see above on i. 18) knowledge of them. In these words, then, Christ insists upon His authority to teach, and His claim to be believed.

12. Si terrena dixi vobis, et non creditis: quomodo, si dixero vobis coelestia, credetis? 12. If I have spoken to you earthly things, and you believe not: how will you believe if I shall speak to you heavenly things?

12. If you will not believe Me when I teach you the comparatively elementary doctrine of Baptism, which regards the regeneration of man here on earth, how shall you believe if I go on to speak of truths more sublime, more removed from the realms of sense and human comprehension? The spiritual vision of Nicodemus was hardly able to bear the first ray of truth; how then was it to bear the full flood of the light of higher revelation?

13. Et nemo ascendit in coelum, nisi qui descendit de coelo, Filius hominis, qui est in coelo. 13. And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the son of man who is in heaven.

13. The meaning is: No one was in heaven except Him who has descended from heaven, and now speaks to you; namely, the Son of Man, who still remains in heaven. In this view, which is that of St. Thomas, Toletus, and Beelen, Christ speaks of Himself as having ascended into heaven only to accommodate His language to human ideas, which conceive of ascent to heaven as necessary, in order to our being there. The Son of Man, as Son of God, had, of course, been there from all eternity [pg 066] and needed not to ascend. Some think that Christ here begins to explain the “heavenly things” referred to in the preceding verse; but a more probable connection is the following:—He had said: how shall you believe heavenly things from Me since you question even the elementary truths which I tell you? And yet from Me alone you must learn such things, for no one else has been in heaven, so as to know and be able to teach you the mysteries of God.

14. Et sicut Moyses exaltavit serpentem in deserto, ita exaltarioportet Filium hominis: 14. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the son of man be lifted up:
15. Ut omnis, qui credit in ipsum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam aeternam. 15. That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.

14, 15. Christ now goes on to speak of some of the more sublime doctrines. As Moses raised up the serpent, upon which whosoever looked was healed (Numbers xxi. 4-9), so must Christ be lifted up on the cross (see John viii. 28; xii. 32-34), to save those who believe in Him. The best supported Greek reading of verse 15 would be rendered:—That everyone who believes may, through him, have eternal life; μὴ ἀπόληται αλλ᾽ (may not perish, but) not being genuine, and ἐν αὐτώ standing instead of εἰς αὐτόν. Though faith is the only condition to salvation which is mentioned in verse 15, others are supposed, as is evident from verse 5:—“Unless a man be born again.” &c. Faith, however, is often specially referred to, because as the Council of Trent (Sess. vi., c. 8) says:—“Fides est humanae salutis initium, fundamentum, et radix omnis justificationis.”

16. Sic enim Deus dilexit mundum, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret: ut omnis, qui credit in eum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam aeternam. 16. For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.

16. Some commentators, following Erasmus, hold that what follows to the end of verse 21, is not the language of Christ, but a comment of the Evangelist; but more probably Christ still continues. The boundless love of God for the world, and not merely for the elect, is declared to be the cause of the incarnation, and the world's salvation its object. It was this love that made God give His only-begotten Son to suffer for men and save them.

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17. Non enim misit Deus Filium suum in mundum, ut iudicet mundum, sed ut salvetur mundus per ipsum. 17. For God sent not his Son, into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him.

17. For it was to save, not to judge the world, that the Son of God came at His first coming. Hereafter in His second coming He will come to judge and to condemn (the context proves there is question of the judgment of condemnation).

18. Qui credit in eum, non iudicatur: qui autem non credit, iam iudicatus est, quia non credit in nomine unigeniti Filii Dei. 18. He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

18. He who believeth in Christ escapes the judgment of condemnation; but he who believeth not is already condemned, because, inasmuch as he has not believed, “the wrath of God,” i.e., original sin (Eph. ii. 3) and its effects in actual sin, remain upon him (verse 36); and he has rejected the only means whereby he could be delivered from them. It is as it a physician were sent to the sick, says St. Augustine, they who come to him are cured; they who come not, perish; not through him, however, but because of their disease.

19. Hoc est autem iudicium: quia lux venit in mundum, et dilexerunt homines magis tenebras quam lucem: erant enim eorum mala opera. 19. And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil.

19. This is the reason of the condemnation, namely, that men do not come to the light, but rather shrink from it, through the fear of being forced by an awakened conscience to abandon sin.

20. Omnis enim qui male agit, odit lucem, et non venit ad lucem, ut non arguantur opera eius: 20. For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved:

20. For every one that doth evil, and, as St. Chrys. explains determines to remain in his wickedness, hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved.

21. Qui autem facit veritatem, venit ad lucem, ut manifestentur opera eius, quia in Deo sunt facta. 21. But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God.

21. But he that doth the [pg 068]truth; that is to say, what truth directs, or rather the practical truth of good works, for right action is the realization of true thought, cometh to the light, by accepting the faith of Christ, by believing (v. 18). That his works may be made manifest. Just as he who does evil, and intends to persist in it, shuns the light, in order that his works may not be reproved (v. 20), so he who does good, and means to persevere in it, comes to the light and believes, in order that his works may be approved. The antithesis between this and the preceding verse, shows that the manifestation of which there is question here is equivalent to approval; and indeed, from the nature of the case, the manifestation of such works in the light of Christian truth would be necessarily followed by their approval, not only by God, but also by the enlightened judgment of him who wrought them.

Because (ὅτι) they are done (Gr. have been done) in God. These words may be differently connected. They may give the reason why he who does good, readily comes to the light, namely, because his works have been good, and he is not afraid to have them tested. Or, they might be understood to give the reason why such a one's works are approved, namely because they are done in God. Or again, ὅτι may be taken to mean not, “because,” but “that;” and then the sense will be, that he who does good comes to the light and believes, that his works may be made manifest as having been (that they have been) done in God. The last is perhaps the simplest and most natural interpretation, but the first also is probable.

But in any of these interpretations, the question arises—how can the works of a man who has not yet believed, be said to have been “done in God.” Various answers have been given. We cannot agree with those commentators who reply that there is question of future works to be performed after the reception of faith; for the whole context, and the Greek text (have been done), show that there is question of past works done before their author has come to the light. Nor do we think that there is question merely of natural works done in the past with the aid of medicinal grace, for such works would scarcely be said to have been “done in God.” We hold, then, that there is reference to the “initium fidei,” that is to say, to all those works that sprang from supernatural grace, were salutary in themselves, and led up to faith. These are the [pg 069] only works of one who has not yet believed, that can be properly said to have been done in God, done according to His will and pleasure. That there are such works antecedent to faith, cannot be denied; for the proposition: “Faith is the first grace,” put forward in the schismatical Council of Pistoia, was condemned by Pius VI., in the Bull Auctorem Fidei. Besides, it is de fide, against the Semipelagians, that supernatural grace is necessary for the “initium fidei,” from which it follows that the works included in the “initium fidei,” are salutary, and “done in God.”

22. Post haec venit Iesus, et discipuli eius, in terram Iudaeam: et illic demorabatur cum eis, et baptizabat. 22. After these things Jesus and his disciples came into the land of Judea; and there he abode with them and baptized.

22. After these things; that is to say, after this discourse with Nicodemus. How long our Lord remained in Jerusalem on the occasion of this first Pasch, we know not. By the land of Judea, is meant the country parts of that province, as distinguished from the city of Jerusalem, where the discourse with Nicodemus had taken place. In these country parts, then, Jesus baptized through His disciples (iv. 2), the baptism most probably being sacramental.

23. Erat autem et Ioannes baptizans in Aennon, iuxta Salim: quia aquae multae erant illic, et veniebant, et baptizabantur. 23. And John also was baptizing in Ennon near Salim; because there was much water there, and they came, and were baptized.

23. Ennon, near Salim. The site of Aennon (Gr. Αἰνών, from a Chaldaic word meaning springs) is difficult to determine. If we compare verse 26 of this chapter with John i. 28, it would seem that Aennon was west of the Jordan. Eusebius and Jerome place it eight miles south of Scythopolis, “juxta Salim et Jordanem;” and the latter states that the ruins of Melchizedek's palace existed in his day at Salim. These statements are so positive that they cannot lightly be set aside. In the Jordan valley, about seven and a-half miles from Beisan (Scythopolis), there is a remarkable group of seven springs, all lying within a radius of a quarter of a mile, which answers well to the description “many waters.”37 According to this view, Aennon was [pg 070] situated in the north-east corner of Samaria. Others, however, think, from the connection between this verse and verse 22, in which Jesus is said to baptize in Judea, that Aennon also was in Judea, and refer to Josue xv. 32, where the cities of Selim and Aen are mentioned as in the tribe of Juda.

24. Nondum enim missus fuerat Ioannes in carcerem. 24. For John was not yet cast into prison.

24. The Evangelist notes that the Baptist had not yet been imprisoned, probably lest it should be thought, from Matt. iv. 11, 12, that the imprisonment of the Baptist followed at once upon the return of Christ from the forty days' fast in the desert. This verse, therefore, affords a strong proof that our Evangelist was acquainted with the Gospel of St. Matthew.

25. Facta est autem quaestio ex discipulis Ioannis cum Iudaeis de purificatione. 25. And there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews concerning purification:
26. Et venerunt ad Ioannem, et dixerunt ei: Rabbi, qui erat tecum trans Iordanem, cui tu testimonium perhibuisti, ecce hic baptizat, et omnes veniunt ad eum. 26. And they came to John, and said to him: Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond the Jordan, to whom thou gavest testimony, behold he baptizeth, and all men come to him.

25, 26. A question arose between (ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν Ἰωάννου μετα Ἰονδαίου, i.e., “cujus auctores extitere discipuli Joannis,” Beel, Gr. Gram., § 51, B. 2, 8) John's disciples and the Jews, i.e., some leading Jews, perhaps members of the Sanhedrim, concerning the relative merits of John's baptism and Christ's; and John's disciples come to their master, jealous that his fame is being eclipsed by that of Him whom he had been the means of bringing before the public notice. The best supported reading is a Jew, not the Jews.

27. Respondit Ioannes, et dixit: Non potest homo accipere quidquam, nisi fuerit ei datum de coelo. 27. John answered and said: A man cannot receive anything, unless it be given him from heaven.
28. Ipsi vos mihi testimonium perhibetis, quod dixerim: Non sum ego Christus, sed quia missus sum ante illum. 28. You yourselves do bear me witness, that I said, I am not Christ, but that I am sent before him.

27, 28. John's answer to his disciples is his last recorded testimony to Christ. It is to the effect that a man may not arrogate to himself power or [pg 071] office unless he have authority from God, and that his own office is merely that of precursor to the Messias.

29. Qui habet sponsam, sponsus est: amicus autem sponsi, qui stat, et audit eum, gaudio gaudet propter vocem sponsi. Hoc ergo gaudium meum impletum est. 29. He that hath the bride, is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth with joy because of the bridegroom's voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled.

29. By a familiar example the Baptist illustrates the difference between himself and Christ. On the occasion of a Jewish marriage it was usual for the bridegroom to have a friend (“amicus sponsi,” corresponding to the παράνυμφος of the Greeks), whose duty it was to arrange the preliminaries to the marriage, and at the marriage feast to minister to the bridegroom. The sense of the Baptist's words then is, that though many are present to a wedding, only one, he who hath the bride, is the bridegroom. His friend, who has helped to bring about the marriage, is satisfied to stand and minister to him, rejoicing exceedingly to hear the bridegroom speaking with his bride, nor jealous of the happy relations which subsist between them. This, my joy, therefore, is fulfilled. In these words the Baptist points the application of the comparison to Christ and himself. The Baptist is the “amicus sponsi,” who prepared the disciples for Christ; Christ is the bridegroom, and the disciples flocking to Christ (verse 26) were to constitute the Church, which is His spouse. See 2 Cor. xi. 2; Eph. v. 25, 27.

30. Illum oportet crescere, me autem minui. 30. He must increase, but I must decrease.

30. John had fulfilled his mission; thenceforward, therefore, whereas Christ, in virtue of His nature, and His office of Messias, should increase, the Baptist himself should decrease, in influence and fame.

31. Qui desursum venit, super omnes est. Qui est de terra, de terra est, et de terra loquitur. Qui de coelo venit, super omnes est. 31. He that cometh from above, is above all. He that is of the earth, of the earth he is, and of the earth he speaketh. He that cometh from heaven, is above all.

31. He that hath a divine origin is above all men, and so above me; but He that is of the earth by origin, of the earth he is in nature, and of the earth He speaks (compare verse 6). This is true of all men, in comparison with Christ: their thoughts are earthly, [pg 072] weak, and limited; His divine and inexhaustible; but it is also true absolutely, if we consider them apart from faith and grace. “Hoc autem in Joanne verum est primo, si ejus nudam naturam spectes, et seclusa Dei gratia, vocatione, et revelatione: sic enim Joannes non nisi terreus et terrenus erat, nec nisi terrena sapiebat; quia ‘si quid divinum audisti a Joanne illuminantis est, non recipientis,’ ait St. Augustinus, quasi dicat, id accepit a Deo, non habet a se” (A Lap.).

32. Et quod vidit, et audivit, hoc testatur: et testimonium, eius nemo accipit. 32. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth: and no man receiveth his testimony.

32. What Christ knoweth of His own immediate divine knowledge, as being “in the bosom of the Father” (i. 18), this He testifieth; and yet hardly anyone (“no man” being an hyperbole) receiveth His testimony. Christ is metaphorically spoken of here as seeing and hearing, to indicate His direct and immediate knowledge of things divine. Compare v. 19; vi. 46; viii. 38; xv. 15; xvi. 13.

According to Patrizzi and others, this and the following verses are the words of the Evangelist; but more probably the Baptist continues to the end of the chapter, developing the reason why Christ must increase.

33. Qui accepit eius testimonium, signavit quia Deus verax est. 33. He that hath received his testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true.

33. He who has believed in Christ has thereby testified solemnly (as though he set his seal to the testimony) that God is truthful. God here refers to the Father; and the meaning is, that by believing what Christ teaches, we believe Him to be truthful, and therefore believe the Father also, from whom He has received His divine nature and knowledge, and His mission as Messias, to be truthful. This is better than to refer God here to the Son (Christ), as Maldonatus does; for in the next verse, which proves this, God plainly refers to the Father.

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34. Quem enim misit Deus, verba Dei loquitur: non enim ad mensuram dat Deus spiritum. 34. For he whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God: for God doth not give the spirit by measure.

34. For he whom God (the Father) hath sent (as His Son, verse 35), as the Messias, speaketh the words of God, for God doth not give the spirit by measure. The contrast is between the abundant gift of the Spirit to Christ, as man, and the stinted participation of the same Spirit by those who are merely of the earth (Rom. xii. 3; 1 Cor. xii. 14). The sense, then, is, that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were poured out in abundance on Christ as man; that “He unceasingly possessed them all at once to the greatest extent of which human nature is capable” (M'Ev.); and this plenitude of the gifts of the Holy Ghost within Him is the reason why He speaks the words of God.

35. Pater diligit Filium: et omnia dedit in manu eius. 35. The Father loveth the Son: and he hath given all things into his hand.

35. This plenitude of the Spirit in Christ, this fulness of grace and truth (i. 16, 17), in Christ as man, is the effect of the love of the Father for His Incarnate Son, which love has also caused the Father to grant to Christ, as man, the bestowal (He hath given all things into His hand) of all the gifts of the Spirit required for the salvation of men.

36. Qui credit in Filium habet vitam aeternam: qui autem incredulus est Filio, non videbit vitam, sed ira Dei manet super eum. 36. He that believeth in the Son, hath life everlasting: but he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.

36. Since, then, Jesus Christ has been constituted our help unto salvation, he that believes in Him as Son of God (and acts accordingly) hath eternal life begun in him by justification; he that believeth not, &c. See verse 18.

This splendid testimony of the Baptist in favour of Christ was intended to detach his disciples from himself, and win them to Christ, of whom, as we learn from verse 26, they had shown themselves jealous.

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Chapter IV.

1-4. Jesus sets out from Judea to Galilee.

5-26. Arrival in Sichar, and discourse with the Samaritan woman.

27-38. Discourse with the disciples.

39-42. Stay with the people of Sichar.

43-54. Continuation of the journey into Galilee, and healing of the ruler's son.

1. Ut ergo cognovit Iesus quia audierunt pharisaei quod Iesus plures discipulos facit, et baptizat, quam Ioannes, 1. When Jesus therefore understood that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus maketh more disciples, and baptizeth more than John,

1. When Jesus therefore understood, &c. Christ is spoken of as if on this occasion He gained knowledge of which He had been ignorant, because though, as God, He knew all things, every inmost thought of the Pharisees, yet, as man, like other men, He gathered knowledge from His fellow-men. See Mald.

That Jesus. Not that He Himself; because the report which the Pharisees had heard is given verbatim, “that” (ὅτι) merely introducing it.

2. (Quamquam Iesus non baptizaret sed discipuli eius,) 2. (Though Jesus himself did not baptize, but his disciples,)

2. Jesus Himself did not usually baptize; probably because, like St. Paul (1 Cor. i. 14-16), His mission was to preach and teach. It by no means follows from this verse that He never baptized anyone; and many writers are of opinion that He baptized some Himself.

3. Reliquit Iudaeam, et abiit iterum in Galilaeam; 3. He left Judea, and went again into Galilee.

3. Because His time to suffer had not yet come, and much of the work of His public mission still remained to be accomplished, He left Judea, the headquarters of the Pharisees, [pg 075] whose jealousy He knew would be aroused by the report mentioned in verse 1, and went again (see John i. 43) into Galilee.

4. Oportebat autem eum transire per Samariam. 4. And he was of necessity to pass through Samaria.
5. Venit ergo in civitatem Samariae, quae dicitur Sichar: iuxta praedium quod dedit Iacob Ioseph filio suo. 5. He cometh therefore to a city of Samaria which is called Sichar; near the land which Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

4, 5. Not choosing to cross to the east of the Jordan, and go up through Peraea, as some of the stricter Jews did, who wished to avoid all possible contact with the Samaritans, He was obliged to pass through Samaria. Of the three provinces of Palestine west of the Jordan, Samaria was in the centre, with Judea to the south, and Galilee to the north. “St. John is thus careful to note that this was no mission to the Samaritans which the Lord undertook. On the contrary, the law which He imposed on His disciples: ‘And into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not’ (Matt. x. 5), this, during the days of His flesh, He imposed also on Himself. He was not sent ‘but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Matt. xv. 24; Acts xiii. 46); and if any grace reached Samaritan or heathen, it was, so to speak, but by accident, a crumb falling from the children's table.”38 Samaria had been the portion of the tribe of Ephraim and of half the tribe of Manasses. The province derived its name from its chief city, Samaria, which, in turn, got its name from Mount Somer (or Semer), on which it was built (3 Kings xvi. 24). See A Lap. The city called Sichar39 (the modern Nabulus) by St. John is the ancient Sichem, where Abram built an altar to the Lord (Gen. xii. 7), under the turpentine tree behind which Jacob buried the idols of his household (Gen. xxxv. 4), and where the bones of the twelve patriarchs were laid to rest (Acts vii. 16).

Near the land which Jacob gave to his son Joseph. See Gen. xxxviii. 18, 19; Josue xxiv. 32.

6. Erat autem ibi fons Iacob, Iesus ergo fatigatus ex itinere, sedebat sic supra fontem. Hora erat quasi sexta. 6. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well. It was about the sixth hour.

6. Jacob's well, which he had dug or bought, was there; and Jesus, weary because of His [pg 076] journey, sat thus (sic., “hoc est, fatigatus ut erat,” Beel.) by the well.

It was about the sixth hour. See on i. 39.

7. Venit mulier de Samaria haurire aquam. Dicit ei Iesus: Da mihi bibere. 7. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus saith to her: Give me to drink.

7. There cometh a woman of Samaria, not of the city of Samaria, for that was six miles distant, but of the country of Samaria, a Samaritan woman, to draw water.40

8. (Discipuli enim eius abierant in civitatem ut cibos emerent.) 8. For his disciples were gone into the city to buy meats.

8. Because He had no one else to give Him to drink, He asks her to do so, and thus leads up naturally to the following discourse.

9. Dicit ergo ei mulier illa Samaritana: Quomodo tu Iudaeus cum sis, bibere a me poscis, quae sum mulier Samaritana? non enim coutuntur Iudaei Samaritanis. 9. Then that Samaritan woman saith to him: How dost thou, being a Jew, ask of me to drink, who am a Samaritan woman? For the Jews do not communicate with the Samaritans.

9. The Samaritans, with whom, as here stated, the Jews avoided all intercourse, were either pure Assyrians or a mixture of Jews and Assyrians, at best a mongrel race. Very probably some Jews were left behind in Samaria at the time of the Assyrian captivity, under Salmanassar, 721 b.c.; and from these intermarrying with the imported Easterns sprang the Samaritans. The Jews regarded the Samaritans with special aversion for many reasons. They were the descendants of the Assyrian conquerors; they held what was the rightful inheritance of the Jews; they corrupted Jewish worship; they endeavoured to prevent the rebuilding of the Temple under Zorobabel (1 Esd. iv. 2, 7, 8), and were always prepared to harbour the false friends or open enemies of the Jews. Hence this woman, recognising in Christ's dress and accent His Jewish origin, wonders that He would speak [pg 077] to, much less drink from, a Samaritan. The last clause: For the Jews do not communicate with the Samaritans, is added by the Evangelist as an explanation of the woman's question for Gentile readers.

10. Respondit Iesus, et dixit ei: Si scires donum Dei, et quis est qui dicit tibi, Da mihi bibere; tu forsitan petisses ab eo, et dedisset tibi aquam vivam. 10. Jesus answered and said to her: If thou didst know the gift of God, and who he is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

10. The gift of God is not the Holy Ghost, nor Christ Himself, nor the opportunity now offered her, but most probably the gift of grace, the “living water” spoken of in the end of the verse. Hence Christ's words mean: If you knew that there is a spiritual water which slakes the thirst of man in the desert of this world, and that He who can bestow it speaks to you, thou perhaps wouldst have asked, &c. Perhaps (forsitan) is not represented in the Greek, in which we have an ordinary conditional sentence; and certainly Christ knew without doubt what would have been the result. The Vulgate translator, probably added “forsitan” to indicate that she would still be free to reject the grace offered.

Living water. There is the same diversity of opinion here as in regard to the “gift of God,” with the addition that some have held the reference here to be to the waters of baptism. We take it that the reference again is to grace. Living water properly signifies running water, in opposition to the stagnant water of pools or cisterns. Here, however the words seem to be used in their highest sense, of waters which come from God and bestow life upon all who drink of them.

11. Dicit ei mulier: Domine, neque in quo haurias habes, et puteus altus est: unde ergo habes aquam vivam? 11. The woman saith to him: Sir, thou hast nothing wherein to draw, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou living water?
12. Numquid tu maior es patre nostro Iacob, qui dedit nobis puteum, et ipse ex eo bibit, et filii eius, et pecora eius? 12. Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

11, 12. She understands Him to speak of natural water, which He seemed to think superior to that of Jacob's well; and, concluding that He must refer to the water of some other [pg 078] well, since indeed He had no bucket, no means of drawing from the deep well at which she stood, she asks Him: Art Thou greater than our father Jacob, so as to be able to provide a better water than he provided for us in this well? That its waters were good enough for him and his sons, is a proof of their excellence; that they sufficed for all his household and cattle, is evidence of their abundance. There is a tinge of resentment in the words of verse 12, for the Samaritans claimed descent from Jacob (our father, Jacob), through Joseph and Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasses, whose tribal territory they possessed, and this Jewish Stranger seemed to the woman to set Himself above the great Patriarch of her race.

13. Respondit Iesus, et dixit ei: Omnis qui bibit ex aqua hac, sitiet iterum: qui autem biberit ex aqua quam ego dabo ei, non sitiet in aeternum: 13. Jesus answered, and said to her: Whosoever drinketh of this water, shall thirst again: but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever.

13. Without replying explicitly that He was indeed greater than Jacob, Christ implies this by declaring that the water which He will give is superior to that of Jacob's well. For while the latter only satisfies present wants, that which He will give will quench present and prevent future thirst. What is said in Eccl. xxiv. 29: “They that drink Me shall yet thirst,” is not opposed to our Lord's words here; for in Ecclesiasticus there is question of desire springing from love, here of a craving arising from want. These words of our Lord show, then, that sanctifying grace is of its own nature perennial in the soul. Time does not wear it away; use does not consume it; unless it be expelled, it never departs: “He that drinks ... shall not thirst for ever.”

14. Sed aqua, quam ego dabo ei, fiet in eo fons aquae salientis in vitam aeternam. 14. But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water springing up into life everlasting.

14. But so far from thirsting, he shall have that within him, that is, the Holy Ghost and His graces, which will conduct him to eternal life. In this beautiful metaphor, the spiritual water of grace is represented as finding its own level; coming from heaven, it will return thither in those [pg 079] whom it has saved. The mention of eternal life ought to have made it clear that Christ spoke of supernatural and spiritual water.

15. Dicit ad eum mulier: Domine, da mihi hanc aquam, ut non sitiam, neque veniam huc haurire. 15. The woman saith to him: Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come hither to draw.

15. Yet she probably still understands of Him merely natural water, “Adhuc carnalis est mulier” (Mald.): and anticipates only relief from having come to Jacob's well in future.

16. Dicit ei Iesus: Vade, voca virum tuum, et veni huc. 16. Jesus saith to her: Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

16. Christ, of course, knew she had no husband; but He knew also what answer she would give, and He wished to get a natural opportunity of disclosing to her the secrets of her wicked life, that He might manifest His supernatural knowledge.

17. Respondit mulier, et dixit: Non habeo virum. Dicit ei Iesus: Bene dixisti, quia non habeo virum: 17. The woman answered, and said: I have no husband. Jesus said to her: Thou hast said well, I have no husband:
18. Quinque enim viros habuisti: et nunc quem habes, non est tuus vir: hoc vere dixisti. 18. For thou hast had five husbands: and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband. This thou hast said truly.

17, 18. Thou hast well said, I have no husband, or rather, husband I have not, with an emphasis on husband, which is marked in the Greek by its position in the sentence, as reproduced by Christ.

Thou hast had five husbands. Though St. Chrys. and Mald. think that there is question, not of husbands, but of paramours, the common opinion, and certainly the obvious one, is that husbands are spoken of. It is not necessary to suppose that the husbands made room for one another by death, for she may have been divorced by several of them. See Deut. xxiv. 1, 2; Matt. xix. 3.

19. Dicit ei mulier: Domine, video quia propheta es tu. 19. The woman saith to him: Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

19. A prophet; i.e., here, as elsewhere frequently, one [pg 080] who has supernatural knowledge, who knows things which are naturally hidden from him. In these words the poor woman confesses her own guilt and the exalted character of Christ, whom, however, she does not yet recognise as The Prophet,” the Messias, but only as a prophet.

20. Patres nostri in monte hoc adoraverunt, et vos dicitis, quia Ierosolymis est locus ubi adorare oportet. 20. Our fathers adored on this mountain, and you say that at Jerusalem is the place where men must adore.

20. Not so much for the purpose of turning the conversation from the unpleasant subject of her own character,41 as in order to have the opinion of a prophet upon an important question, she adds: Our fathers, &c.

She says that her Samaritan ancestors had worshipped on that mountain. She evidently refers to public worship, public ceremonies appointed by God, especially the worship of sacrifice; for the Jews never held that private worship, as of prayer, should be restricted to Jerusalem. The mountain to which she refers, and beneath the shadow of which Christ and she were standing, is Mount Garizim, which overhangs the town of Sichar. In the time of Alexander the Great, Manasses, a Jewish priest, was excluded from the exercise of his ministry for marrying the daughter of the king of Sichem. The king accordingly built for Manasses a temple on Mount Garizim, where he offered sacrifice to the true God. This temple was built about 330 b.c., and stood for two hundred years. After it was destroyed, about 130 b.c., the Samaritans erected an altar upon Garizim, and continued to offer sacrifice there; so that from the time of Manasses the true God was worshipped, though imperfectly, among them. There still remain a few families of Samaritans, under the shadow of Mount Garizim, in the modern city of Nabulus, or Naplouse.

21. Dicit ei Iesus: Mulier crede mihi, quia venit hora quando neque in monte hoc, neque Ierosolymis adorabitis Patrem. 21. Jesus saith to her: Woman, believe me, that the hour cometh, when you shall neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem adore the Father.

21. Christ declares with all solemnity that the time is at hand—nay, already come (see [pg 081] verse 23), when true worship shall be restricted neither to Jerusalem nor to Garizim; and hence her question is practically unimportant.

22. Vos adoratis quod nescitis: nos adoramus quod scimus, quia salus ex Iudaeis est. 22. You adore that which you know not: we adore that which we know; for salvation is of the Jews.

22. You adore that which (ὅ) you know not. As the woman's inquiry regarded not the object, but the place of worship, some have understood these words of our Lord in reference to the place, as if He said: You adore in a place for worshipping in which you have no Divine sanction, we in a place pointed out by the finger of God. But it is difficult to reconcile this view with our Lord's words: “You adore that which you know not.” Hence it is more probable, that in replying to her inquiry, He takes occasion to refer to the imperfect knowledge of God, possessed by Samaritans. The neuter (ὅ) seems to be used in the first instance, to show the want of personality and definiteness in the Samaritan idea of God,42 and in the second instance merely for the sake of correspondence between the two members of the sentence. We adore. That Christ numbers Himself among those who adore, merely proves that He had a human nature.

23. Sed venit hora, et nunc est, quando veri adoratores adorabunt Patrem in spiritu et veritate. Nam et Pater tales quaerit, qui adorent eum. 23. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore him.

23. Still, though this is so, not even to Jerusalem, shall worship be restricted in the future; but the hour cometh, &c.

What is the adoration in spirit and in truth, here foretold? Evidently the worship of the new dispensation, as contrasted with that of the old; this is plain from the whole context. What, then, is meant by saying that the worship of the new dispensation is to be in spirit and in truth? Various interpretations [pg 082] of the words have been given.

(1) “In spirit” is opposed to the worship of the Jews; “in truth” to that of the Samaritans. Hence the worship of the new dispensation is to be, not merely external, as was the Jewish (unless it was accompanied by faith in the Redeemer to come, in which case it was not merely Jewish, but Christian), nor false, as was the Samaritan. (Toletus.)

(2) “In spirit” is opposed to all merely external and local worship, whether of Jews or Samaritans; “in truth” to the typical and imperfect worship of the Jews. For the Jewish sacrifices and ceremonies were only shadows and types of the realities in the New Law. “For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image (reality) of the things: by the selfsame sacrifices which they offer continually every year, can never make the comers thereunto perfect” (Heb. x. 1), Mald., who favours next opinion also.

(3) “In spirit” and “in truth” are synonymous, and signify true supernatural worship, springing from faith and grace, and hence opposed to all imperfect or false worship. This opinion, considered equally probable with the preceding by Maldonatus, and held by Beelen and Corluy, we prefer; for in verse 24, the fact that God is a Spirit (it is not stated that He is also Truth) is given as the reason why He should be worshipped in both spirit and truth.

The distinguishing features of true Christian worship, indicated in verses 21, 23, are that it is to be universal, not restricted, like the Jewish or Samaritan, to Jerusalem or Garizim; and spiritual, offered with hearts animated by faith and grace, and not consisting merely in external rites.

24. Spiritus est Deus: et eos, qui adorant eum, in spiritu et veritate oportet adorare. 24. God is a Spirit, and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth.

24. In the end of verse 23 and in this verse Christ goes on to give the reasons why this worship, which is primarily spiritual, is to exist in the new and more perfect dispensation—(1). It is the Father's will. (2) It is meet that such should be the worship paid to Him who is Himself a Spirit. It is hardly necessary to point out that Calvin's interpretation of adoration by faith alone cannot be admitted. Were that sufficient, the devils themselves would be true adorers, for “the devils also believe and tremble” (James ii. 19). Neither does Christ here imply that all external worship, external rites and ceremonies, were to cease, but only that they were to cease to be merely external; else (1) His acts would contradict His words, Luke xxii. 41; xxiv. 50; (2) His Apostles would distinctly [pg 083] disobey Him: see Acts xvi. 25; ix. 40: Eph. iii. 14; (3) His Church in every age has misunderstood Him.

25. Dicit ei mulier: Scio quia Messias venit (qui dicitur Christus): cum ergo venerit ille, nobis annuntiabit omnia. 25. The woman saith to him: I know that the Messias cometh (who is called Christ), therefore when he is come, he will tell us all things.

25. The poor woman, apparently bewildered by what Christ had just said, is satisfied to wait in confidence till Messias (here without the article, used as a proper name) shall come, who, she believes, will make known all that it is necessary to know regarding the place and character of the worship of the true God. As the Samaritans admitted only the Pentateuch, where the term Messias is not used (though His coming is foretold, Deut. xviii. 18); as, moreover, she could not have gathered from the Pentateuch the time of His coming, she must have learned by rumour that the Jews were at this time expecting the Messias; her words, “He will tell us all things,” showed that she hoped for His coming in her own day.

It is difficult to say whether the words explanatory of Messias, who is called Christ, are the woman's or our Evangelist's. That the Evangelist explained the term before (i. 41), is not a proof that he does not do so again, for see John xi. 16; xx. 24; xxi. 2.

26. Dicit ei Iesus: Ego sum, qui loquor tecum. 26. Jesus saith to her: I am he who am speaking with thee.
27. Et continuo venerunt discipuli eius: et mirabantur, quia cum muliere loquebatur. Nemo tamen dixit: Quid quaeris, aut quid loqueris cum ea? 27. And immediately his disciples came: and they wondered that he talked with the woman. Yet no man said: What seekest thou, or why talkest thou with her?

26, 27. At length Christ reveals Himself; and now that He has excited her interest and awakened her faith, the disciples return from Sichar, and are astonished to find Him speaking publicly with a woman—a thing not usually done by Jewish doctors.

28. Reliquit ergo hydriam suam mulier, et abiit in civitatem, et dicit illis hominibus: 28. The woman therefore left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men there:
29. Venite, et videte hominem qui dixit mihi omnia quaecumque feci: numquid ipse est Christus? 29. Come, and see a man who has told me all things whatsoever I have done. Is not he the Christ?
30. Exierunt ergo de civitate, et veniebant ad eum. 30. They went therefore out of the city, and came unto him.

28-30. The discourse being interrupted by the arrival of the disciples, the woman, forgetful or indifferent regarding the errand [pg 084] which had brought her to the well, went her way into the city, and soon returned with a number of her fellow-citizens.

31. Interea rogabant eum discipuli, dicentes: Rabbi, manduca. 31. In the meantime the disciples prayed him, saying: Rabbi, eat.
32. Ille autem dicit eis: Ego cibum habeo manducare, quem vos nescitis. 32. But he said to them: I have meat to eat which you know not.
33. Dicebant ergo discipuli ad invicem: Numquid aliquis attulit ei manducare? 33. The disciples therefore said one to another: Hath any man brought him to eat?
34. Dicit eis Iesus: Meus cibus est ut faciam voluntatem eius qui misit me, ut perficiam opus eius. 34. Jesus saith to them: My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, that I may perfect his work.

31-34. Meanwhile the disciples invite Jesus to eat, to whom He replies that He has meat to eat which they know not, that meat being, as He explains in verse 34, to do the will of Him that sent Him. It was no time for attending to the wants of His human nature; He had more serious work in hand in the conversion of the Samaritans.

35. Nonne vos dicitis quod adhuc quatuor menses sunt, et messis venit? Ecce dico vobis: Levate oculos vestros, et videte regiones, quia albae sunt iam ad messem. 35. Do not you say, there are yet four months, and then the harvest cometh? Behold I say to you, lift up your eyes, and see the countries, for they are white already to harvest.

35. There are yet four months, and then the harvest cometh. Maldonatus, followed by Father Coleridge, takes this to be a proverb43 meaning that there is no need of hurry—that the matter in question is still far off. As, however, there is [pg 085] no evidence that such a proverb was current among the Jews, it is much better to understand the verse thus: You say what is true, that it is still four months till the harvest of nature; but lift up your eyes, and behold the harvest of grace in the men of Sichar who are approaching.

As the barley harvest in Palestine came in about the middle of April, this time, four months earlier, was the middle of December, the end of the first year of our Lord's public life.44

36. Et qui metit, mercedem accipit, et congregat fructum in vitam aeternam: ut, et qui seminat, simul gaudeat, et qui metit. 36. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life everlasting: that both he that soweth, and he that reapeth, may rejoice together.

36. He encourages His disciples to the work; in saving others they save themselves.

37. In hoc enim est verbum verum: quia alius est qui seminat, et alius est qui metit. 37. For in this is the saying true: that it is one man that soweth, and it is another that reapeth.
38. Ego misi vos metere quod vos non laborastis: alii laboraverunt, et vos in labores: eorum introistis. 38. I have sent you to reap that in which you did not labour: others have laboured, and you have entered into their labours.

37-38. The Prophets and Doctors of the old Law had prepared the way for the Apostles and disciples of Christ; had ploughed and sown where they were now to reap. I have sent you. Mald., who holds that this is not the same journey with that referred to in Matt. iv. 12, Mark i. 14, and that the Apostles were already formally called by Christ, understands “I have sent” of an action already completed by Christ. As, however, it is more probable that the Apostles were not yet formally called (see Matt. iv. 12, 18; x. 1), it is better to understand this, with A Lap., of the Divine decree to send the Apostles on their mission afterwards.

39. Ex civitate autem illa multi crediderunt in eum Samaritanorum, propter verbum mulieris testimonium perhibentis: Quia dixit mihi omnia quaecumque feci. 39. Now of that city many of the Samaritans believed in him, for the word of the woman giving testimony: He told me all things whatsoever I have done.
40. Cum venissent ergo ad illum Samaritani, rogaverunt eum ut ibi maneret. Et mansit ibi duos dies. 40. So when the Samaritans were come to him, they desired him that he would tarry there. And he abode there two days.
41. Et multo plures crediderunt in eum propter sermonem eius. 41. And many more believed in him because of his own word.

39-41. Many believed in Him [pg 086] on account of what the woman told them, and, after He had remained two days in Sichar, many more on account of His discourses.

42. Et mulieri dicebant: Quia iam non propter tuam loquelam credimus: ipsi enim audivimus, et scimus, quia hic est vere Salvator mundi. 42. And they said to the woman: we now believe, not for thy saying: for we ourselves have heard him, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.

42. This is the Hebrew way of expressing that it was not so much on account of the woman's saying, as because they had heard Him themselves.

43. Post duos autem dies exiit inde: et abiit in Galilaeam. 43. Now after two days he departed thence: and went into Galilee.
44. Ipse enim Iesus testimonium perhibuit, quia propheta in sua patria honorem non habet. 44. For Jesus himself gave testimony that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.

43-44. The connection between these two verses is obscure. (1) Verse 44 gives the reason why He had left Galilee, to which He now returns; or (2) the reason why He passes Nazareth, and goes on to Capharnaum (Matt. iv. 13), Tolet, A Lap., Corl.; or (3) the reason why He proceeded on His way from Judea, His birthplace, into Galilee, Mald., Patriz.

45. Cum ergo venisset in Galilaeam, exceperunt eum Galilaei, cum omnia vidissent quae fecerat Ierosolymis in die festo: et ipsi enim venerant ad diem festum. 45. And when he was come into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things he had done at Jerusalem on the festival day: for they also went to the festival day.

45. He is well received by the Galileans, because the remembrance of His exercise of authority and of His miracles, on the occasion of the previous Pasch (ii. 15, 23), is still fresh in their memories.

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46. Venit ergo iterum in Cana Galilaeae ubi fecit aquam vinum. Et erat quidam regulus, cuius filius infirmabatur Capharnaum. 46. He came again therefore into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum.
47. Hic cum audisset quia Iesus adveniret a Iudaea in Galilaeam, abiit ad eum, et rogabat eum ut descenderet, et sanaret filium eius: incipiebat enim mori. 47. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, went to him, and prayed him to come down and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.

46. A certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum, on hearing that Jesus was in Cana, came and asked Him to come down and heal his son, who was on the point of death. Origen thinks this ruler may have belonged to the household of Cæsar, and been on duty in Palestine at this time. But Josephus uses the word (βασιλικός) to designate the courtiers or officers of the Herods (see B. J. vii. 5, 2; Antt. xv. 8, 4); so that this ruler of Capharnaum may have been an officer of Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee. Doubtless the ruler had heard of the miracle at the marriage feast in Cana (ii. 7, 11); and perhaps he had witnessed the evidence of Christ's miraculous power at the feast of the Pasch (ii. 23).

48. Dixit ergo Iesus ad eum: Nisi signa et prodigia videritis, non creditis. 48. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not.
49. Dicit ad eum regulus: Domine, descende prius quam moriatur filius meus. 49. The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die.

48. Christ upbraids the ruler for his imperfect faith. The ruler is blamed either because he was waiting to see a miracle before he would believe, or because he foolishly considered that it was necessary for Christ to go down to Capharnaum in order to heal his son.

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50. Dicit ei Iesus: Vade, filius tuus vivit. Credidit homo sermoni quem dixit ei Iesus, et ibat. 50. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way, thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way.
51. Iam autem eo descendente, servi occurrerunt ei, et nuntiaverunt dicentes, quia filius eius viveret. 51. And as he was going down, his servants met him: and they brought word, saying that his son lived.

50. Jesus said to him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. It is plain, from all the circumstances, that this miracle is quite distinct from that recorded in Matt. viii. 5 and foll.; Luke vii. 2 and foll., though some of the Rationalists have sought to identify the two. There it is the centurion's servant, here the ruler's son, who is ill; there the illness is paralysis, here fever; there, though asked not to go, Christ goes to the sick person; here, though asked to go, he goes not.

52. Interrogabat ergo horam ab eis in qua melius habuerit. Et dixerunt ei: Quia heri hora septima reliquit eum febris. 52. He asked therefore of them the hour, wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.

52. The seventh hour; i.e., about an hour after noon, 1 p.m., or 7 p.m. See i. 39.

53. Cognovit ergo pater, quia illa hora erat, in qua dixit ei Iesus: Filius tuus vivit: et credidit ipse, et domus eius tota. 53. The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour, that Jesus said to him, Thy son liveth; and himself believed and his whole house.
54. Hoc iterum secundum signum fecit Iesus, cum venisset a Iudaea in Galilaeam. 54. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judea into Galilee.

54. It is not said that this was the second miracle He performed, but that it was the second He performed on coming out of Judea into Galilee. For the first, see ii. 6, 11, and compare i. 43.

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Chapter V.

1-9. Jesus goes up to Jerusalem on the occasion of a festival, and there cures a man on the Sabbath day.

10-16. The Jews first challenge him who was healed, and then persecute Christ for violating the Sabbath.

17. Christ's answer and defence.

18. They are still more exasperated, and seek to kill Him.

19-39. Christ's discourse, in which He proves, by various arguments, that He is justified in calling God HIS Father, and in making Himself equal to God.

40-47. He upbraids their incredulity, and points out its cause.

1. Post haec erat dies festus Iudaeorum, et ascendit Iesus Ierosolymam. 1. After these things was a festival day of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

1. The interval to be admitted between the events now about to be narrated and the preceding, depends upon the answer to be given to the question: what festival is here referred to? On this question a great diversity of opinion has always existed among commentators. The more common opinion is that it is the festival of the Pasch; others, however, hold that it is the festival of Pentecost, or of Tabernacles, or of the Purification of the Temple, or of Lots.

The Pasch was celebrated from the evening of the 14th till that of the 21st of Nisan, the first month of the Jewish sacred year. Pentecost was the fiftieth day from the second day of the Pasch. The feast of Tabernacles was celebrated from the evening of the 14th till that of the 22nd of Tisri, the seventh month of the sacred year. The feast of Purification lasted eight days, beginning with the 25th Casleu, the ninth month of the sacred year. The feast of Lots lasted two days, the 14th and 15th of Adar, the twelfth month of the sacred year.

The three feasts of Pasch, Pentecost, and Tabernacles were the great Jewish feasts, on which, and on which alone, all adult males were bound to [pg 090] go up to Jerusalem to worship. See Exod. xxiii. 14-17; xxxiv. 18, 22, 23. Many have held that the approach of the feast is mentioned (verse 1), as giving the reason why Christ went up, like the other adult Jewish men, to Jerusalem (ii. 13). Others, however, hold that the text merely states a fact, that Christ went up on the occasion of a festival, without implying at all that the festival was such as ought to be celebrated at Jerusalem.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to definitely decide which feast is meant; but it seems to us extremely probable that it is either Pasch or Lots. In favour of the Pasch it is argued—(1) (ἑορτὴ) even without the article45 may designate the Pasch (Matt. xxvii. 15; Mark xv. 6); and it is to be believed that it does in the present instance, because ten verses before (iv. 45) the same word is used to designate the Pasch (compare John ii. 13, 23). (2) From iv. 35 we learn that Jesus was on His way, through Samaria, to Galilee, in December; that is, about the close of the first year of His public life. Hence it cannot be to any of the three great feasts of that first year that our text refers. Naturally, then, it is to the Pasch of the second year, which was the first great feast to occur in the course of the year, and for which, if Christ had not gone to Jerusalem, St. John would probably have explained His absence, as He does (vii. 1) in reference to the Pasch mentioned vi. 4. (3) Were it any other feast than that of the Pasch, which was by excellence the feast of the Jews, St. John, according to his custom (vii. 2; x. 22), would have named it. (4) This is the opinion of St. Irenæus, who was a disciple of Polycarp, himself a disciple of our Evangelist.

In favour of the feast of Lots—(1) The absence of the article in the more probable reading points to one of the minor feasts of the Jews. (2) From John iv. 35, and vi. 4, it would seem to be clear that this feast fell between December and the Pasch; but only the feast of Lots occurred at that time. (3) If this be the second Pasch of our Lord's public life, and that in vi. 4 the third, then the events of a whole year are passed over by our Evangelist, who proceeds, [pg 091] in vi. 1: “After these things Jesus went,” &c., affording no hint that he has passed over the events of a year. (4). Were this the Pasch, St. John would have named it, as he does on the other three occasions (ii. 13; vi. 4; xi. 55). But as it was only a minor feast of the Jews, and probably unheard-of by the Christians of Asia Minor, the Evangelist thinks it unnecessary to name it, and contents himself with referring to it as a feast of the Jews.

It is perhaps impossible, as we have said already, to decide with certainty which feast is meant, but we shall follow the more common opinion and hold that there is question of the Pasch. Thus, we hold that St. John mentions four Paschs as having occurred during our Lord's public life: the first in ii. 13; the second here; the third in vi. 4; and the fourth and last in xii. 1 and xiii. 1, when our Lord was put to death. He passes over the events that occurred between the second and third Pasch, because they were already narrated by the Synoptic Evangelists.

2. Est autem Ierosolymis probatica piscina, quae cognominatur hebraice Bethsaida, quinque porticus habens. 2. Now there is at Jerusalem a pond, called Probatica, which in Hebrew is named Bethsaida, having five porches.

2. The best supported Greek reading would be rendered, “Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep-gate (πύλη being understood) a pond which is called in Hebrew Bethesda,” &c.

Bethesda, in Syro-Chaldaic, which was the language of Palestine at this time, means the house (place) of mercy; and the name was given in the present instance on account of the merciful cures wrought there. For the building of this sheep-gate by the priests, see 2 Esd. iii. 1. The site of either gate or pond cannot be determined with certainty; but the pond seems to have been close to the Temple, near the gate through which the sheep to be sacrificed entered within the outer enclosure of the temple. The porches, which served to shelter the sick from sun and rain, were open on the sides, but covered with a roof supported on pillars.

The Vulgate reading, a sheep-pond, has been variously explained. Some say the pond might be so called because the sheep were washed there before they were sacrificed; others, because their entrails were brought there to be washed. Bethsaida, read by the Vulgate, means the house (place) for fishing.

3. In his iacebat multitudo magna languentium, caecorum, claudorum, aridorum, expectantium aquae motum. 3. In these lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
4. Angelus autem Domini descendebat secundum tempus in piscinam: et movebatur aqua. Et qui prior descendisset in piscinam post motionem aquae, sanus fiebat a quacumque detinebatur infirmitate. 4. And an Angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water, was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under.

3, 4. The genuineness of the passage, beginning with waiting for the moving of the water, and comprising [pg 092] the whole of verse 4, is disputed. The Council of Trent, indeed, defined “libros singulos cum omnibus suis partibus ... prout in vulgata Latina Editione habentur ... pro sacris et canonicis esse suscipiendos:” but it is not thereby defined that every tittle (particula) or every verse, is canonical Scripture. It would seem, therefore, that Catholics are free to reject this passage, and it is a question for criticism to decide whether we are to receive or reject it.

After an examination of the evidence for and against, we believe that the passage is more probably genuine. It stands in codex A (Alexandrinus), and in at least ten other uncial and very many cursive MSS. It is read in the “Vetus Itala” and in the Vulgate; in the plain and figured Syriac versions, and in the Persian, Coptic, and Arabian versions. It is read by Cyril of Alexandria, Chrys., Theophy., Euthy., Tertull., Ambr., and August. Finally, the context, especially the reply of the sick man (verse 7), supposes it. Why it came to be wanting in so many MSS. it is difficult to explain.46

That the wonderful efficacy here attributed to the water of this pond was miraculous, and not merely, as the Rationalists would have us believe, the effect of salubrious natural properties in the water, seems clear. For—(1) there is the intervention of an angel which disturbed (ἐτάρασσε) the water; (2) only the first person entering the pond was cured; (3) he was cured not gradually, but at once, and completely: “he was immediately made whole;” (4) he was cured no matter what his disease. When the Rationalists find for us an intermittent spring whose waters possess the properties here attributed to Bethesda, [pg 093] we shall be prepared to listen to them.

The waters of Bethesda, in their wonderful efficacy to cure every disease, were a striking though imperfect type of the waters of Penance, which heal every spiritual malady of everyone, be he first or last who bathes in them.

5. Erat autem quidam homo ibi triginta et octo annos habens in infirmitate sua. 5. And there was a certain man there, that had been eight and thirty years under his infirmity.
6. Hunc cum vidisset Iesus iacentem, et cognovisset quia iam multum tempus haberet, dicit ei: Vis sanus fieri? 6. Him when Jesus had seen lying, and knew that he had been now a long time, he saith to him: Wilt thou be made whole?
7. Respondit ei languidus: Domini, hominem non habeo, ut, cum turbata fuerit aqua, mittat me in piscinam: dum venio enim ego, alius ante me descendit. 7. The infirm man answered him: Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pond. For whilst I am coming, another goeth down before me.
8. Dicit ei Iesus: Surge, tolle grabatum tuum, et ambula. 8. Jesus saith to him: Arise, take up thy bed, and walk.
9. Et statim sanus factus est homo ille: et sustulit grabatum suum, et ambulabat. Erat autem sabbatum in die illo. 9. And immediately the man was made whole: and he took up his bed and walked. And it was the sabbath that day.

5-9. Christ speaks with and heals a man who had been thirty-eight years ill (of paralysis or some similar disease, as would appear from verses 7-8); and, to show how complete the cure was, perhaps also to give an occasion for the discourse which follows, He orders the man who has been cured to take up his bed and walk. It would be a rather severe trial of recovered strength to have to carry some of the beds of modern times; but that on which the poor paralytic had been resting was not cumbrous. It was probably only a carpet or mattress, or at most there was but a very light framework. In Acts v. 15, we find the term used in our text distinguished from κλίνη, which was rather the bed of the rich, more expensive and cumbrous.

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10. Dicebant ergo Iudaei illi qui sanatus fuerat: Sabbatum est, non licet tibi tollere grabatum tuum. 10. The Jews therefore said to him that was healed: It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed.

10. It is not lawful. See Exod. xx. 8; Jer. xvii. 21, 22.

11. Respondit eis: Qui me sanum fecit, ille mihi dixit: Tolle grabatum tuum, et ambula. 11. He answered them: He that made me whole, he said to me: Take up my bed, and walk.

11. The man appeals to the authority of Him who had cured him, who surely must be from God, and able to dispense in the Sabbath law.

12. Interrogaverunt ergo eum: Quis est ille homo qui dixit tibi, Tolle grabatum tuum, et ambula? 12. They asked him, therefore: Who is that man who said to thee: Take up thy bed and walk?
13. Is autem qui sanus fuerat effectus, nesciebat quis esset. Iesus enim declinavit a turba constituta in loco. 13. But he who was healed, knew not who it was. For Jesus went aside from the multitude standing in the place.

13. Christ had gone aside to escape the envy of the evil-minded as well as the admiration of the well-disposed. See vi. 15. A more correct rendering of the Greek would be: For Jesus had gone aside, there being a crowd in the place.

14. Postea invenit eum Iesus in templo, et dixit illi: Ecce sanus factus es: iam noli peccare, ne deterius tibi aliquid contingat. 14. Afterwards Jesus findeth him in the temple, and saith to him: Behold thou art made whole: sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee.
15. Abiit ille homo, et nuntiavit Iudaeis quia Iesus esset, quia fecit eum sanum. 15. And the man went his way, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him whole.

14. Christ's words, Sin no more, insinuate that the man's previous illness had been the result of sin; and he is warned that if he provoke God further, something worse may happen to him; worse, perhaps, even on this side, and infinitely worse beyond, the grave. “Some say, indeed,” says St. Chrys., “because we have corrupted ourselves for a short time, shall we be tormented eternally? But see how long this man was tormented for his sins. Sin is [pg 095] not to be measured by length of time, but by the nature of sin itself.”

16. Propterea persequebantur Iudaei Iesum, quia haec faciebat in sabbato. 16. Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, because he did these things on the sabbath.

16. Therefore the Jews, especially the Scribes and Pharisees, persecuted, or rather, perhaps, accused47 Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath (comp. vii. 23; Luke vi. 7), and for authorizing him who was healed to violate the Sabbath.

17. Iesus autem respondit eis: Pater meus usque modo operatur, et ego operor. 17. But Jesus answered them: My Father worketh until now; and I work.

17. Christ's reply is, that as His (not our, for He was the natural Son of God, we are only adopted sons) Father worketh continually, and therefore even on the Sabbath, conserving and governing all things; so, too, He Himself, He being consubstantial with the Father. Thus He tells them that equally with the Father He is exempt from the law of the Sabbath.

18. Propterea ergo magis quaerebant eum Iudaei interficere, quia non solum solvebat sabbatum, sed et patrem suum dicebat Deum, aequalem se faciens Deo. Respondit itaque Iesus, et dixit eis: 18. Hereupon therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he did not only break the sabbath, but also said God was his Father, making himself equal to God.

18. They understand Him, so far at least as to see that He makes Himself equal to God; and as they now consider Him to be not merely a Sabbath-breaker, but also a blasphemer, they become more exasperated, and seek to kill Him. See Deut. xiii. 5.

19. Amen, amen dico vobis: non potest Filius a se facere quidquam, nisi quod viderit Patrem facientem: quaecumque enim ille fecerit, haec et Filius similter facit. 19. Then Jesus answered and said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: the Son cannot do anything of himself, but what he seeth the Father doing: for what things soever he doth, these the Son also doth in like manner.

19. The remainder of the chapter is taken up with Christ's discourse, in which He asserts His Divinity, and proves it by various arguments. (1) By His own testimony (19-30), which the Jews might be excused for rejecting, were it alone and unsupported (31); (2) by the testimony of the Baptist (32-35); (3) by the testimony of His miracles (36); (4) by the testimony of His Father which is contained in the Sacred Scriptures (37-39).

The Jews had understood [pg 096] Him to make Himself equal to God, and He goes on not to withdraw, but to reiterate and expand what He had said. He declares His operation as God to be identical with that of the Father; in a word, His works to be the works of God. He had received, in His eternal generation, His Divine nature and operation identical with the Father's, and as God He does nothing except what the Father does, and the Father does nothing except what He does. This inability to work of Himself, that is to say, alone, without the Father (a seipso), proceeds not from any defect of power, but from His inseparable union with the Father in nature and operation. The Son's “seeing,” and the Father's “showing” (v. 20), are both metaphorical expressions, and signify that the Son derives His divine nature and operation from the Father.48 The Arians appealed to this verse to prove the inferiority of the Son to the Father, because, they said, Christ here declares Himself merely an imitator of the works of the Father, just as a pupil or apprentice imitates his master. But Christ's words, “I and the Father are one” (x. 30), show that there can be no question here of inferiority; and, moreover, since all things were made by the Son (i. 3), it was impossible for Him to copy from anything made beforehand.

But what he seeth (βλέπει) the Father doing. “But what,” that is, not by Himself, but together with the Father, “nisi” of the Vulgate being here equal to “sed.” See Matt. xii. 4; Gal. ii. 16.

For what things soever He doth, these the Son also doth in like manner. St. Thomas on this verse says:—“Excludit in his tria circa potestatem suam: scilicet particularitatem (quaecumque), diversitatem (haec), et imperfectionem (similiter).” And St. Augustine on this verse says beautifully: “He does not say whatsoever the Father doeth, the Son does other things like them, but the very same things. The Father made the world, the Son made the world, the Holy Ghost made the world. If the Father, Son [pg 097] and Holy Ghost, are one, it follows that one and the same world was made by the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Ghost. Thus it is the very same thing that the Son doth. He adds likewise, to prevent another error arising. For the body seems to do the same things with the mind, but it does not do them in a like way, inasmuch as the body is subject, the soul governing; the body visible, the soul invisible. When a slave does a thing at the command of his master, the same thing is done by both; but is it in a like way? Now in the Father and Son there is not this difference; they do the same things, and in a like way. Father and Son act with the same power; so that the Son is equal to the Father.” Since then the works of the Son as God are the works of the Father, if they blamed the Son for violating the Sabbath, they thereby blamed the Father also. And it is of the Son as God there is question here; for as man, or as God-man He could do many things “of Himself,” such as eating, walking on the waters, &c., which, of course, the Father never did; and, moreover, it would not be true to say that the Son as man does all that the Father does.

20. Pater enim diligit Filium, et omnia demonstrat ei quae ipse facit: et maiora his demonstrabit ei opera, ut vos miremini. 20. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things which himself doth: and greater works than these will he show him, that you may wonder.

20. Here is given the reason for the Son's identity of operation with the Father. For the Father loveth the Son, and from all eternity communicateth to Him the one Divine power and operation, whereby He Himself doth all things; and that Divine power shall yet be manifested by the Son in greater works than the healing of the paralytic, that you may wonder.

We are not to conclude from this verse that the love of the Father is the cause of the communication of the Divine nature to the Son, as if the Son proceeded from the Father through love, and therefore through the Will. The common teaching of theologians is that the Son proceeds not through the Divine will, but through the Divine intellect. See Perr. De. Trin., § 401. Hence the meaning is not, that the Father loves the Son, and therefore communicates His Divine nature to Him. Toletus, however, thinks that this form of expression is purposely used here by Christ to show men that the Father shares His nature and power with the Son, since among men, those who love share [pg 098] their goods with each other.49

As already indicated, the future, “will show,” is used in this verse in reference to the manifestation in time of that power which was given from eternity. That you may wonder. Some take “that” (ἵνα) here as introducing a consequence; others, and rightly, in its usual sense as introducing a purpose. The purpose of God was that they might wonder and believe.

21. Sicut enim Pater suscitat mortuos, et vivificat: sic et Filius, quos vult, vivificat. 21. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and giveth life: so the Son also giveth life to whom he will.

21. The connection here shows that the raising of the dead is one of the “greater works” just referred to, as is also the judgment by Christ mentioned in the next verse. But who are the dead, and what is the resurrection of which there is question?

(a) Those who were corporally dead like Lazarus, and were raised by Christ, to the wonder of the Jews.50 For—(1) This view suits the context. Christ had cured a paralytic; He now promises greater miracles; hitherto he had only healed bodies that were sick; now He would raise to life bodies that were dead. (2) In verse 28 there is certainly question of a corporal resurrection; therefore also here. (3) This raising of the dead was to excite the wonder of the Jews; therefore there must be question of the raising of the body, since a spiritual resurrection could not be known, and hence could not be a matter of wonder.

(b) Those spiritually dead, who were to be raised through the preaching of Christ and His Apostles from the death of sin to the life of grace. For—(1) It is more probable that there is question of spiritual death and resurrection in verse 24; therefore also in verse 21. (2) The words “And now is” of verse 25 point to a resurrection then present, therefore to a spiritual. (3) This view suits the context. The spiritual resurrection brought about by Christ, though in itself invisible, produced in the world effects more wonderful than the curing of the paralytic, and it is as a proof that Christ can raise those spiritually dead, [pg 099] that He refers in verse 28 to the fact that He will raise those corporally dead.

We prefer the latter view; but whichever view we may hold, we must bear in mind that the sense is not that the Father raises some, and the Son others, from the dead. As God, Christ's will is identical with the Father's, and what one does the other does. Christ then is here said to raise “whom He will” in order to show us His absolute equality with the Father.

22. Neque enim Pater iudicat quemquam: sed omne iudicium dedit Filio. 22. For neither doth the Father judge any man: but hath given all judgment to the Son.

22. Another greater work than the curing of the paralytic is the judging of men. Some think it is the judgment of discussion, the trial which awaits all (Heb. ix. 27), that is referred to; others that (as in verses 24, 29, and iii. 19) it is the judgment of condemnation passed upon the reprobate, the Greek word which is used being generally (if not always) used by St. John of the judgment of condemnation. When it is said here that neither doth the Father judge any man, the meaning is that although the Father and the Holy Ghost pass the same identical judgment as the Son, yet they do not do this visibly, so as to be seen and heard like the God-man Jesus Christ. This is particularly true in regard to the judgment of the wicked; Christ alone, in His humanity, appears to them; for as St. Augustine says: “Si mali Deum in propria natura viderent jam essent beati.” The Father gave all power to judge to Christ as God in the eternal generation, to Christ as man at the incarnation; and it is as God and man that Christ judges: as God authoritatively, and as man visibly.51

23. Ut omnes honorificent Filium, sicut honorificant Patrem; qui non honorificat Filium, non honorificat Patrem qui misit illum. 23. That all men may honour the Son, as they honour the Father. He who honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father who hath sent him.

23. Here is declared the end that God had in view in conferring the supreme judiciary power upon the Son, namely, that men might honour Him equally with the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, [pg 100] honoureth not the Father who sent Him in the Incarnation equal in all things to Himself. In dishonouring Jesus Christ, the Jews were dishonouring that Divine nature and majesty which is one with the Father's, and they were, moreover, spurning the testimony which the Father had already given to the Divinity of His Son, as well after Christ's baptism (Matt. iii. 17), as in the miracles which He had given Christ to perform (verse 36).

24. Amen, amen dico vobis, quia qui verbum meum audit, et credit ei qui misit me, habet vitam aeternam, et in iudicium non venit, sed transiit a morte in vitam. 24. Amen, amen, I say unto you, that he who heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath life everlasting; and cometh not into judgment but is passed from death to life.

24. We believe the connection with the preceding to be this. In speaking of the end God had in view in conferring the supreme judiciary power upon the God-man, our Lord had noted parenthetically the effect of not honouring the Son (verse 23); here He adds what the effect of honouring Him is.

Amen, amen. The repeated asseveration indicates the solemn importance of the declaration about to be made, namely, that he who accepts the teaching of Christ, and thereby the testimony of the Father testifying to Christ as His Son, has eternal life. We take “death” and “life” of this verse of the death of sin and the life of grace, and understand “has passed” in reference to the justification of the sinner. See 1 John iii. 14, and what we have said on i. 13.

25. Amen, amen dico vobis, quia venit hora, et nunc est, quando mortui audient vocem Filii Dei: et qui audierint, vivent. 25. Amen, amen, I say unto 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.

25. Having stated parenthetically the effect of dishonouring and honouring Himself, Christ returns to the proof of His divine power. There is the same difference of opinion here regarding the life and death meant, as in verse 21.

The words, And now is, favour the view that there is question of a spiritual resurrection that had already begun.

And they that hear, shall live. These words, too, suggest that there is question of a spiritual resurrection, a resurrection in which all those that hear and believe are to share.

26. Sicut enim Pater habet vitam in semetipso: sic dedit et Filio habere vitam in semetipso: 26. For as the Father hath life in himself; so he hath given to the Son also to have life in himself:

26. For the Son is essential [pg 101] Life like the Father, and being in Himself the source of life can therefore impart it to others.

27. Et potestatem dedit ei iudicium facere, quia Filius hominis est. 27. And he hath given him power to do judgment, because he is the son of man.

27. The meaning is, that as it was ordained from all eternity, that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity should become man, so it was ordained that He, as God-man should judge all men without exception in the general judgment, and all who die after the incarnation, in the particular judgment.

28. Nolite mirari hoc, quia venit hora in qua omnes qui in monumentis sunt, audient vocem Filii Dei: 28. Wonder not at this, for the hour cometh wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God.

28. This at which they are not to wonder, is His power of raising the dead, i.e., the few whom He raised corporally during His public life, or, as we prefer, the many whom He raised spiritually; and His power of judging.

For the hour cometh wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. It is admitted by all that the reference in these words is to the general resurrection, and the Jews are told not to be surprised at the spiritual resurrection, inasmuch as the resurrection of all flesh shall come to pass at the word of the same Son of God. The words of this verse imply that the spiritual resurrection excites less wonder than the corporal; and this indeed is true, for though the spiritual resurrection is, in fact, the greater miracle, and in itself more wonderful, yet it is not sensible, and cannot excite our wonder so much as the raising of even one dead body to life.

29. Et procedent qui bona fecerunt, in resurrectionem vitae: qui vero mala egerunt, in resurrectionem iudicii. 29. And they that have done good things, shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.

29. This verse affords a clear proof that we are not justified by faith alone, but that according to our works we shall be rewarded or condemned.

30. Non possum ego a meipso facere quidquam. Sicut audio, iudico: et iudicium meum iustum est, quia non quaero voluntatem meam, sed voluntatem eius qui misit me. 30. I cannot of myself do anything. As I hear, so I judge: and my judgment is just: because I seek not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.

30. What Christ said in verse [pg 102] 19 of every operation of His, He now repeats and applies in particular to this judgment. Since He judges as God-man, the words “As I hear,” probably refer both to His Divine nature, which, like His judgment was identical with that of the Father, and to His human nature, in which, on account of the plenitude of grace within Him, He can think or will nothing contrary to the Father.52

31. Si ego testimonium perhibeo de meipso, testimonium meum non est verum. 31. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

31. From verse 19 Christ has borne witness to Himself, to His Divine power and equality with the Father, and now He says that if He were alone in bearing such witness of Himself, His witness would not be such as men would be bound to receive. Of course, even though a man were alone and unsupported in testifying regarding himself, still it is plain his witness might be true; but it would not be trustworthy, such as ought to be received, because it might be false, and would be reasonably suspected. No doubt, Christ's testimony of Himself though unsupported would be more than enough to those who believed in His Divinity; but He is here addressing those who had no such belief. Comp. viii. 14-16.

32. Alius est qui testimonium perhibet de me: et scio quia verum est testimonium quod perhibet de me. 32. There is another that beareth witness of me: and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.

32. Christ's witness of Himself is supported by that of the Father (some think, by that of the Baptist), to which He can confidently appeal. But before mentioning how the Father's testimony is given, He turns aside for a moment to appeal to the Baptist's testimony.

33. Vos misistis ad Ioannem: et testimonium perhibuit veritati. 33. You sent to John; and he gave testimony to the truth.
34. Ego autem non ab homine testimonium accipio: sed haec dico ut vos salvi sitis. 34. But I receive not testimony from man: but I say these things that you may be saved.

34. He now tells them that He has invoked the testimony of the Baptist, not that He needs any testimony of [pg 103] men, but in the hope that they, who had regarded the Baptist as a prophet, might perchance accept his testimony to Christ.

35. Ille erat lucerna ardens, et lucens: Vos autem voluistis ad horam exultare in luce eius. 35. He was a burning and a shining light. And you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.

35. The Greek is: He was the lamp that burneth and shineth. From the use of the word was here, it is fairly concluded that the Baptist had been already put to death by Herod Antipas (Mark vi. 17-28). The Baptist was a bright lamp λύχνος of truth, but not the light (τὸ φῶς i. 8, 9), which was Christ Himself.

36. Ego autem habeo testimonium maius Ioanne. Opera enim quae dedit mihi Pater ut perficiam ea, ipsa opera quae ego facio, testimonium perhibent de me, quia Pater misit me: 36. But I have a greater testimony than that of John. For the works which the Father hath given me to perfect: the works themselves, which I do, give testimony of me, that the Father hath sent me.

36. A third testimony is now invoked in the miracles which the Father gave Christ to perform. See x. 37, 38, and what was said above on iii. 2.

37. Et qui misit me Pater, ipse testimonium perhibuit de me: neque vocem eius unquam audistis, neque speciem eius vidistis: 37. And the Father himself who hath sent me, hath given testimony of me: neither have you heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
38. Et verbum eius non habetis in vobis manens: quia quem misit ille, huic vos non creditis. 38. And you have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him you believe not.

37, 38. Besides the indirect testimony of the Father through Christ's miracles, another testimony of His is now appealed to. Some understand this of the testimony of the Father on the occasion of Christ's baptism, (Matt. iii. 17). So Chrys., A Lap., M'Ev. But if there were reference to that past and definite occasion, the Greek [pg 104] aorist, not the perfect, would be used. Others, as Mald., connect this verse closely with the preceding, and hold the reference is still to the Father's testimony given through Christ's miracles. But the form of words: “And the Father Himself, who hath sent Me, hath given testimony of Me,” seems to add another distinct testimony to those already mentioned. Others, therefore, hold that the reference is to the Father's testimony conveyed through the oracles of the prophets. So St. Cyril, Theoph., Euthy., Kuin., Corl.; and this opinion seems to be the correct one.

About the meaning and connection of the words which follow in this verse and the next, there is a great variety of view.

(1) Some thus: But you have never listened to His voice speaking to you through the Sacred Scriptures, nor recognised Him as speaking in them, nor do you believe in His inspired word; and the reason of this is, because you do not believe in Me whom He has sent. (Patriz.)

(2) Others thus: But though the Father has testified of Me, “neither have you heard His voice ... abiding in you;” i.e., you have been excluded from familiarity with Him, and from belief in His testimony, because you refuse to believe in Me. (Hengstenberg.)

(3) Others take the words to refer to the covenant entered into by God with the Jews (Deut. xviii. 15-19), that He should terrify them no more by His awful presence, as when He gave the law on Sinai (Exod. xx. 19-21), but should speak to them through a prophet. Hence Christ's words signify: The Father has borne testimony of Me, nor has He broken His word to you, that you should hear and see no more the terrifying sounds and sights of Sinai; and yet you refuse to keep your part of the compact (“you have not His word abiding in you”), inasmuch as you refuse to believe in Me, the Prophet whom He promised. (Tolet., Beel.)

(4) Others again thus: The Father has borne unquestionable testimony of Me, though not, I admit, in such a manner as that He could be seen, or His voice heard by you. But that testimony you accept not (you have not His word abiding in you), as is plain from the fact that you refuse to believe in Me. See the note to A Lap., in Migne's Ed., which agrees with Kuinoel.

Whatever view be adopted, [pg 105] we understand the testimony referred to in verse 37, to be that which is explicitly mentioned in verse 39; viz., the testimony of God given through the Scriptures in the writings of Moses and the prophets.53

39. Scrutamini scripturas, quia vos putatis in ipsis vitam aeternam habere: et illae sunt, quae testimonium perhibent de me: 39. Search the scriptures, for you think in them to have life everlasting; and the same are they that give testimony of me:

39. Here our Lord distinctly mentions the testimony to which He had already alluded (verse 37). Search the Scriptures, or rather, Ye search the Scriptures. In both the Greek and Latin texts the form of the verb leaves it doubtful whether it is to be understood as an indicative or an imperative. But the context, in which all the verbs are in the indicative, and the course of the argument, render it much more probable that the form is to be understood as an indicative. So, too, all the best modern commentators, even among the Protestants; e.g., Kuin., Alf., Bloomf., Westc., and the Revised Version, which renders: “Ye search the Scriptures.”

It is unnecessary then to delay long in refuting the argument which used to be drawn by Protestants from this text in favour of the indiscriminate reading of the Bible by all the faithful. A few words will suffice. (1) It is much more probable that the words do not contain a precept, but merely state a fact. (2) Even if they did contain a precept, they are addressed very probably only to the Jewish teachers (see verse 44). (3) Even if we admitted that the words contain a precept, and are addressed to all the Jews, still it would not follow that all the faithful now are bound to read the Bible, nor that the Church may not sometimes, for grave reasons restrict the liberty to read it. For we must bear in mind that our Lord is here referring to the Sacred Scriptures in connection with one particular point, namely, the fulfilment of prophecy in Himself. Even if the Jews were authorized or commanded to read the Sacred Scriptures in regard to a particular question, it by no means follows that Protestants are commanded or even authorized to read them in order to form by the aid of private judgment an opinion on [pg 106] all questions of faith and morals.

The Catholic Church freely admits, of course, and insists that the reading of the Bible is in itself good and useful; but since the Bible contains “certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest ... to their own destruction” (2 Pet. iii. 16), hence she knows it is possible that, like all God's best gifts, the Bible may in certain circumstances be abused.

40. Et non vultis venire ad me ut vitam habeatis. 40. And you will not come to me that you may have life.

40. And is equivalent to “and yet.”

41. Claritatem ab hominibus non accipio. 41. I receive not glory from men.

41. Not through a desire to gain glory from them has He borne the preceding testimony to Himself. This is said parenthetically, and the next verse is to be connected with verse 40.

42. Sed cognovi vos, quia dilectionem Dei non habetis in vobis. 42. But I know you, that you have not the love of God in you.

42. But I know you, that &c. Their unbelief in Christ was due to the fact that they did not love God. Had they loved God, they would have corresponded with grace, and recognised the Messias whom God had sent.

43. Ego veni in nomine Patris mei, et non accipitis me: si alius venerit in nomine suo, illum accipietis. 43. I am come in the name of my Father, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive.

43. The sense is: I am come in the name, and with the power of My Father manifested in My works. If another come to you, and without giving any evidence that He is from God, say that he is the Messias, you will believe him, and believe in him. We know that this actually happened. Many false Christs arose before the destruction of Jerusalem (70 a.d.); and obtained a following among the people. A person named Barchochebas was the most successful of those impostors.

44. Quomodo vos potestis credere, qui gloriam ab invicem accipitis: et gloriam, quae a solo Deo est, non quaeritis? 44. How can you believe, who receive glory one from another: and the glory which is from God alone, you do not seek?

44. Another cause of their unbelief is their empty vanity [pg 107] which sought, and was satisfied with, the praise of men.

45. Nolite putare quia ego accusaturus sim vos apud Patrem: est qui accusat vos Moyses, in quo vos speratis. 45. Think not that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one that accuseth you, Moses, in whom you trust.

45. It will not be necessary for Christ to accuse them before God, because Moses, their own great prophet, will accuse them.

46. Si enim crederetis Moysi, crederetis forsitan et mihi: de me enim ille scripsit. 46. For if you did believe Moses, you would perhaps believe me also. For he wrote of me.

46. You would perhaps. See above on iv. 10.

47. Si autem illius litteris non creditis, quomodo verbis meis credetis? 47. But if you do not believe his writings: how will you believe my words?

47. This is said because Moses far surpassed Him in their estimation; and with the telling thought, that their own Scriptures, even Moses himself, pointed Him out as their Messias, this weighty discourse ends.

[pg 108]

Chapter VI.

1-13. Christ crosses with His disciples to the eastern shore of the sea of Galilee, where He miraculously feeds a multitude with five loaves and two fishes.

14-15. The multitude, moved by the miracle, wish to make Him King, but He withdraws.

16-21. On the night of that same day, as the disciples are crossing to the western side of the lake, a storm rises, and He comes to them, walking upon the waters.

22-25. The following day the multitude also cross to the western side of the lake, enter Capharnaum, and find Him there before them.

26-59. Christ's discourse to the multitude, in which He promises the Blessed Eucharist.

60. The place where the discourse was delivered.

61-67. Effect of the discourse—murmuring of many of the disciples; His explanation, and their departure from Him.

68-70. St. Peter's noble confession in reply to a question of Christ.

71-72. Christ refers to the wickedness of one of the Apostles, and the Evangelist states to whom He refers.

1. Post haec abiit Iesus trans mare Galilaeae, quod est Tiberiadis: 1. After these things, Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias:

1. The interval to be admitted between what is recorded in this chapter and in the preceding depends upon the view we adopt as to what feast is referred to in the first verse of the preceding. If that was the Feast of Pasch, almost a year has elapsed, for we are told here, in verse 4, that the pasch is again at hand. If that was the Feast of Lots, and this the Pasch following, then the interval to be admitted [pg 109] is much less, only a month. Those who, like us, admit the longer interval say that St. John here passes over the events of that year, because they were already related by the Synoptic Evangelists.

In the last chapter we left Jesus at Jerusalem in Judea, the southern province of Palestine, and now, soon after the death of the Baptist (Matt. xiv. 3, Mark vi. 17, Luke iii. 20) and the return of the Apostles from their first mission (Mark vi. 30; Luke ix. 10), we find Him in the northern province, by the shores of the Sea of Galilee. This sea or lake (the Jews called every large body of water a sea), which lay to the east of the province of Galilee, was called also the Sea of Tiberias, because of the town built by Herod Antipas, on its western shore, and named after the Roman Emperor Tiberius. It was also called sometimes the Lake of Gennesareth, from the fertile plain of that name on its N.W. shore. It is almost heart-shaped, with the narrow end towards the south, and its extent at present is 12-½ miles from north to south, by 8 miles at its widest part east to west. (Smith's B. D., 2nd Ed.)

2. Et sequebatur eum multitudo magna, quia videbant signa quae faciebat super his qui infirmabantur. 2. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

2. Jesus, accompanied by His disciples, having crossed the lake, a great multitude follows Him. Comparing the Synoptic Evangelists (Matt. xiv. 13, and foll.; Mark vi. 32, and foll.; Luke ix. 10, and foll.), we find that the desert near Bethsaida (Julias) on the north-eastern side of the lake was the place to which Jesus repaired (Luke); that the multitude followed by land (πέζη = on foot, Matt., Mark); that they arrived before Him (Mark), and that He taught them for a considerable time.

3. Subiit ergo in montem Iesus: et ibi sedebat cum discipulis suis. 3. Jesus went therefore up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.

3. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain (Gr., the mountain); i.e., the well-known mountain range on that side of the lake. See too in verse 15.

4. Erat autem proximum pascha, dies festus Iudaeorum. 4. Now the Pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand.

4. In the view we follow this was the third Pasch of our Lord's public life.

5. Cum sublevasset ergo oculos Iesus, et vidisset quia multitudo maxima venit ad eum, dixit ad Philippum: Unde ememus panes, ut manducent hi? 5. When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?

5. In the Synoptic Evangelists the disciples are [pg 110] represented as asking our Lord to dismiss the multitude, that they may go and procure food. We may reconcile with St. John's account thus. They make a suggestion, as in the Synoptic Evangelists. He then turns to Philip, as in St. John.

6. Hoc autem dicebat tentans eum: ipse enim sciebat quid esset facturus. 6. And this he said to try him: for he himself knew what he would do.

6. To try him. “One kind of temptation leads to sin, with which God never tempts anyone; and there is another kind by which faith is tried. In this sense it is said that Christ proved His disciples. This is not meant to imply that He did not know what Philip would say, but is an accommodation to man's way of speaking. For as the expression: Who searcheth the hearts of men, does not mean the searching of ignorance, but of absolute knowledge; so here, when it is said that our Lord proved Philip, we must understand that He knew him perfectly, but that He tried him in order to confirm his faith. The Evangelist himself guards against the mistake which this imperfect mode of speaking might occasion, by adding For He Himself knew what He would do (St. Aug.).

7. Respondit ei Philippus: Ducentorum denariorum panes non sufficiunt eis, ut unusquisque modicum quid accipiat. 7. Philip answered him: Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little.

7. The denarius was a Roman silver coin, whose value differed at different times. From the year 217 b.c. till the reign of Augustus (30 b.c. to 14 a.d.) it was worth 8-½d.; afterwards, and, therefore, in the time of Christ, it was worth about 7-½d. See Smith's Lat. Dict. Calendarium, Tables viii. and ix. Two hundred denarii, then would be equal to about £6 5s., and yet what bread this would [pg 111] purchase would not suffice to give even a little to each, so great was the multitude.

8. Dicit ei unus ex discipulis eius, Andreas frater Simonis Petri. 8. One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him:
9. Est puer unus hic, qui habet quinque panes hordeaceos, et duos pisces: sed haec quid sunt inter tantos? 9. There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves and two fishes: but what are these among so many?
10. Dixit ergo Iesus: Facite homines discumbere. Erat autem foenum multum in loco. Discubuerunt ergo viri, numero quasi quinque millia. 10. Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down in number about five thousand.

10. Christ tells the disciples to bid the multitude be seated “on the green grass” (Mark vi. 39); and about 5,000 men (“not reckoning women and children,” Matt. xiv. 21) sat down in companies “by hundreds and by fifties” (Mark vi. 40).

11. Accepit ergo Iesus panes: et cum gratias egisset, distribuit discumbentibus: similiter et ex piscibus quantum volebant. 11. And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down. In like manner also of the fishes as much as they would.

11. Having returned thanks for all the benefits of God, and particularly for that which He was now about to bestow, Christ took and blessed the loaves and fishes, and through His disciples distributed them to the multitude (Matt., Mark, Luke). It is not said at what precise time the loaves were multiplied or enlarged, whether in the hands of Christ, or of the disciples. It may be, as Mald. supposes, that the increase began in our Lord's hands, and continued as far as necessary during the distribution by the disciples. That it at least began in our Lord's hands, we think extremely probable, for thus He was more clearly shown to be the author of the miracle.

12. Ut autem impleti sunt, dixit discipulis suis: Colligite quae superaverunt fragmenta, ne pereant. 12. And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost.

12. The disciples are told to gather up the fragments—(1) to teach us not to neglect the gifts of God; (2) that the fragments might serve as a proof and a memorial of the miracle which had been wrought.

13. Collegerunt ergo, et impleverunt duodecim cophinos fragmentorum ex quinque panibus hordeaceis, quae superfuerunt his qui manducaverant. 13. They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten.

13. “Observe how the four Evangelists use the word κοφίνους, baskets, in narrating this [pg 112] miracle, thus distinguishing it from a like one recorded elsewhere by Matthew and Mark, in which there were seven loaves, and 4,000 men, and seven panniers (σπυρίδας) of fragments. It is difficult perhaps to point out distinctly how σπυρίς differed from κόφινος, but certain it is that they did differ, else they would never have been so nicely discriminated by the sacred writers in every instance” (M'Carthy: Gosp. of the Sundays, fourth Sunday of Lent).54

14. Illi ergo homines cum vidissent quod Iesus fecerat signum, dicebant: Quia hic est vere propheta, qui venturus est in mundum. 14. Now these men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world.

14. The prophet, the Messiah, for whom their fathers and they had yearned so long (Luke vii. 19).

15. Iesus ergo cum cognovisset, quia venturi essent ut raperent eum, et facerent eum regem, fugit iterum in montem ipse solus. 15. Jesus therefore when he knew that they would come to take him by force and make him king, fled again into the mountain himself alone.

15. Jesus, knowing their thoughts and intentions, withdrew to the mountain, where He had already been earlier in the day (verse 3). And He withdrew all alone, a circumstance which makes it extremely probable that He rendered Himself invisible, else some of the crowd would have followed.

It may seem strange at first sight, how differently Christ treats the Jews, on their recognising Him as the Messias, from the way He treated the Samaritans in similar circumstances (iv. 42, 43). And yet His action in the two cases is intelligible enough. The Jews looked for a Messias who would improve their external condition, free them from subjection to any foreign power, and set them up as a powerful nation. But the Samaritans [pg 113] could have, and had, no such hope from the advent of a Jewish Messias. With the Jews, as we see in the present instance, the intention was to declare the Messias their King, and thus to throw off their allegiance to Rome. The consequence, of course, would have been great political excitement and rebellion, ending, doubtless, in the triumph of the Roman arms. But no matter what the success of such a rebellion, it would have prejudiced the Roman world against the teachings of Christ, and rendered more difficult the recognition of the spiritual character of Christ's kingdom.

16. Ut autem sero factum est descenderunt discipuli eius ad mare. 16. And when evening was come, his disciples went down to the sea.
17. Et cum ascendissent navim, venerunt trans mare in Capharnaum: et tenebrae iam factae erant: et non venerat ad eos Iesus. 17. And when they had gone up into a ship, they went over the sea to Capharnaum: and it was now dark, and Jesus was not come unto them.

17. They went over the sea. Rather, they were going. From St. Matthew we learn that Christ had told the disciples immediately after the miracle, to go before Him across the lake, whilst He dismissed the crowd. St. Mark adds that they were told to cross to Bethsaida; i.e., to the town of this name, which was near Capharnaum. See above, i. 44. The direction of the wind or some other motive may have induced them to go towards Capharnaum, as St. John here tells us they did.

18. Mare autem, vento magno flante, exurgebat. 18. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.
19. Cum remigassent ergo quasi stadia viginti quinque aut triginta, vident Iesum ambulantem supra mare, et proximum navi fieri, et timuerunt. 19. When they had rowed therefore about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking upon the sea, and drawing nigh to the ship, and they were afraid.

19. The stadium, a Greek measure, was nearly equal to an English furlong, so that the distance here indicated was, at the least, almost three miles. The exact length of the stadium was 625 feet, that [pg 114] of the English furlong is 660 feet.

20. Ille autem dicit eis: Ego sum, nolite timere. 20. But he saith to them: It is I: be not afraid.
21. Voluerunt ergo accipere eum in navim: et statim navis fuit ad terram, in quam ibant. 21. They were willing therefore to take him into the ship: and presently the ship was at the land, to which they were going.

21. They were willing therefore to take him into the ship. ἤθελον here is equivalent to an adverb (Kuin.), and the sense is: “They gladly took Him into the ship” (boat), as St. Mark indeed tells us they did (Mark vi. 51). Or, if, with Winer, Gr. Gram., p. 586, it be admitted that θέλω never has an adverbial force, except in the participle, then we would explain that though at first afraid (verse 19), they were afterwards willing to take Him into the ship, and took Him in.

22. Altera die, turba quae stabat trans mare, vidit quia navicula alia non erat ibi nisi una, et quia non introisset cum discipulis suis Iesus in navim, sed soli discipuli eius abiissent: 22. The next day, the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea, saw that there was no other ship there but one, and that Jesus had not entered into the ship with his disciples, but that his disciples were gone away alone.
23. Aliae vero supervenerunt naves a Tiberiade, iuxta locum ubi manducaverant panem, gratias agente Domino. 23. But other ships came in from Tiberias, nigh unto the place where they had eaten the bread, the Lord giving thanks.
24. Cum ergo vidisset turba quia Iesus non esset ibi, neque discipuli eius, ascenderunt in naviculas, et venerunt Capharnaum quaerentes Iesum. 24. When therefore the multitude saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they took shipping, and came to Capharnaum seeking for Jesus.

22-24. On the following day, the crowd on the eastern shore seek for Jesus (verse 24), thinking Him to be still on that side of the lake, inasmuch as He had not left by the only boat that was there on the preceding evening (verse 22). Not finding Him, they take boats which had just arrived on the eastern shore, and cross to the western shore to seek Jesus in Capharnaum, where He usually abode at this time.

[pg 115]
25. Et cum invenissent eum trans mare, dixerunt ei: Rabbi, quando huc venisti? 25. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him: Rabbi, when camest thou hither?

25. When they found Jesus, they asked Him when He had come to Capharnaum, being equally anxious, no doubt, to know how He had come.

26. Respondit eis Iesus, et dixit: Amen, amen dico vobis: quaeritis me, non quia vidistis signa, sed quia manducastis ex panibus, et saturati estis. 26. Jesus answered them and said: Amen, amen, I say to you, you seek me, not because you have seen miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

26. Without answering their question, our Lord takes occasion from the miracle of the preceding day to raise their thoughts to a higher and more precious bread than that which He had miraculously given them. But first He tells them that they followed Him, not because they had realized the spiritual significance of His miracles, and believed Him to be God, but merely, He implies, because they hoped for a gross material satisfaction, such as they had experienced the preceding day. The Greek word, rendered: and were filled, means literally; were satisfied with food, as animals with fodder.

Having thus made known to them, that He knew their motive in following Him, He goes on to tell them to labour not, that is to say, not so much, for the food that perisheth as for that which endureth unto eternal life. This food enduring unto eternal life (verse 27) we understand to be the Blessed Eucharist.

But before giving our reasons for holding that reference to the Blessed Eucharist begins here, and not merely at verses 48, 51, or 52, it is desirable to indicate the Protestant interpretations of this discourse of our Lord, and prove that they are untenable.

Most Protestants deny that there is any reference to the Blessed Eucharist in this chapter; they hold that it refers merely to the reception of Christ through faith; and through faith especially in the atoning efficacy of His passion and death. It is of this faith in His passion that they interpret the words: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you,” (verse 54). Indeed they are logically constrained either to deny that there is reference here to the sacrament of the Eucharist, or else to abandon their teaching regarding the nature and efficacy of the sacraments. On the one hand, if they admit reference to the Eucharist, they see the difficulty of denying the real and substantial presence of Christ in the sacrament; on the other hand, holding, as they do, that the few sacraments which [pg 116] they retain,55 are not causes of grace, as the Catholic Church teaches, but merely signs or pledges of grace, and external notes of the Church, they find themselves in direct conflict with our Lord, if His words are to be understood of the sacrament of the Eucharist. For again and again throughout this discourse He attributes salvation and grace to the eating of His flesh and the drinking of His blood, in such a way as to leave no room for doubt that whatever it is He speaks of, whether faith or the sacrament of the Eucharist, it is the cause of grace. See, e.g., 27, 52, 55, 57, 59.

But besides those who deny that there is any reference to the Blessed Eucharist in this chapter, there is a considerable number of Protestants who take up even a more indefensible position. These admit the reference, but contend that nothing more can be concluded from this or any other part of Scripture than that Christ is spiritually present in the Sacrament. They will not admit that Christ is really and substantially present, much less that the sacrament causes grace. Against the first class we shall show that Christ refers, in this discourse, to the Blessed Eucharist; and against the second, that His words prove that He is really and substantially received in the sacrament.

I. Christ refers in this Discourse to the Blessed Eucharist.56

We may premise that no more appropriate occasion could have been chosen by Christ for promising this heavenly bread than the day following that on which He had multiplied the bread in the desert; and we know that it was Christ's practice to explain His doctrines as they were suggested by circumstances. Thus, after curing the centurion's servant, He foretells the vocation of the Gentiles (Matt. viii. 6-13); after expelling the unclean spirit, He describes the power of Satan (Matt. xii. 22-45); after asking for water, He speaks of the water of life to the Samaritan woman (John iv. 10, and foll.); [pg 117] after healing the paralytic, He predicts the general resurrection (John v. 28); and after curing the man born blind, He denounces the blindness of the Pharisees (John ix. 41). It was quite in accordance with Christ's practice, then, to predict the Blessed Eucharist on the present occasion: and that He did so is proved by the following arguments:—

(1) If St. John did not mean to record here a reference to the Blessed Eucharist, then he does not mention that sacrament at all, for he does not allude, unless perhaps very obscurely (xiii. 1) to its institution. But it is very improbable that our Evangelist omits all mention of this sacrament in his Gospel. For if, as we shall prove, this sacrament contains the body and blood of Christ, there was a reason why St. John should mention it in order to confirm the faithful against the Docetae who denied the reality of Christ's human nature. Nor does it at all weaken this argument to say that the Docetae who denied the reality of the body in which Christ had walked and talked, would not be likely to be convinced by a reference to His body present in the Eucharist. For St. John wrote, not to convert heretics, but to confirm against heresy Christians who believed in the real presence.

(2) Christ's words (27, 52) can refer only to the Eucharist. For He speaks of a food which was still to be given in the future, whereas His doctrines, and His Person as the object of faith, had been given already.

(3) His words: “Amen, amen, I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you” (verse 54), could be understood only in a literal sense, and so understood, they must refer to the Blessed Eucharist. For, if Christ had spoken in a figurative sense, it should be in that figurative sense which was known and recognised among the Jews. Now, the recognised figurative sense of eating a man's flesh was to do him some serious injury, especially by calumny.57 Such a figurative sense, however, would be absurd here; and hence Christ must have been understood, and must have spoken, in the literal sense. See Wiseman's Lect. on the Euch., pp. 77-91.

(4) The disciples understood our Lord to speak of a real eating of His flesh and blood, such as takes place only in the Eucharist, and understood Him correctly. Their words (verse [pg 118] 61), and their departure for ever from Him (verse 67), show that they understood Him of a real eating; otherwise why should they be offended or desert Him? What had He said that was new, or hard to take in, if He merely spoke of the necessity of faith in Himself or His doctrines? Their action, then, shows in what sense the disciples understood Him; and His action in permitting them to depart, shows they understood Him correctly.

(5) The Jews understood Him of a real eating, which was quite different from belief in His doctrines or in Himself, and which has no meaning unless in reference to the Eucharist. How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” they said (verse 53); and His solemn asseveration, negatively (verse 54), and positively (verse 55), shows that He is inculcating the very truth which they had questioned, and which they were bound to accept on His testimony, even though they could not see how it was to come to pass.

II. Christ speaks of a real, oral reception of His body and blood, and not merely of a spiritual reception through faith excited by the Sacrament.

(1) The manna with which Christ compares the bread that He will give (verses 49, 50, 59) was really eaten; therefore, also the bread, which is His flesh (verse 52), is to be really received.

(2) After the Jews had murmured, Christ declared His flesh to be truly meat, and His blood to be truly drink (verse 56), and therefore it must be truly and really received.

(3) In any sense other than the literal, Christ's meaning would be obscure, and His words misleading; and our Evangelist, according to his ordinary practice (i. 41, 42; ii. 21; iv. 2; xii. 33), would explain. But he does not explain; therefore the language is not obscure, and therefore the literal sense was meant.

(4) See arguments (3), (4), and (5) for the preceding proposition.

And now, having satisfied ourselves that there is reference to the Blessed Eucharist in this chapter, and to a real, oral reception of Christ in the sacrament, let us try to decide where that reference begins. Some (as Wiseman, Lect. on Euch., p. 51, and foll.) say at verse 48; others, at 51; and others, at 52. But it seems much more probable that the reference begins before any of these points; and Wiseman is certainly mistaken when he states, on page 48: “That Protestants and Catholics are equally agreed that the discourse, as far as the 48th or 51st verse refers entirely to believing Christ. St. Cyril of Alex., Theophy., Toletus, Lucas of [pg 119] Bruges, had held, before Wiseman's time, that the reference to the Blessed Eucharist begins in verse 27”; and since his time, Beelen, Perrone, Corluy, Franzelin,58 and others have held the same.

The most probable view seems to be that from verse 27, wherever there is question of the bread (verses 27, 32, 33, 35, ... 59), the Blessed Eucharist is meant. Christ began in verse 27 to promise the Blessed Eucharist, but the Jews interrupted Him (verse 28), and their interruption raised the question of faith in Him, so that He digressed for a time from His main purpose to explain the necessity of faith, in order to ensure a fruitful reception of the Eucharist. But though we admit this digression, we hold that wherever Christ refers to the bread to be given, He means the Blessed Eucharist, and that the reference to it begins in verse 27. For—

(1) In verse 27 He speaks of a food that was still to be given in the future, just as in verse 52, where all Catholics admit there is question of the Eucharist.

(2) This food was to be given by the Son of Man, Christ Himself; and though in verse 32 the Father is said to give it, this is naturally explained by saying that the Father gives us in the Incarnation what Christ gives in a sacramental form in the Eucharist.

(3) The food in verse 27, is a food for which, as we shall see, faith is a preparation; therefore, not itself faith.

(4) In verses 32, 33, there is question of a bread that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world, and in verse 59, of a bread to which the very same properties are attributed; and in both cases this heaven-descended, life-giving bread is contrasted with the manna. Is it not natural, then, to conclude, remembering that both passages belong to the same discourse, that the same bread is meant in both instances?

And now we have seen—(1) that there is reference to the Blessed Eucharist in this discourse; (2) to a real reception of Christ in it; and (3) that the reference most probably begins in verse 27. Having got so far, it will not be very difficult to interpret the discourse, and to this we proceed at once.

27. Operamini non cibum qui perit, sed qui permanet in vitam aeternam, quem Filius hominis dabit vobis. Hunc enim Pater signavit Deus. 27. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the son of man will give you. For him hath God, the Father, sealed.

27. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that [pg 120]which endureth unto life everlasting. As our Version indicates, the meat is the object for the attainment of which they are exhorted to do their part. The meaning cannot be that they are to make the food by believing, as if the food were faith; for they had not made the bread in the desert the previous day, nor were they thinking of making it now, but they were trying, striving to obtain it. This sacramental food will endure in its effects unto eternal life. This food the Son of Man will give; i.e., Christ as man will give us His flesh; but since the food is to endure in its effects unto eternal life, mere man could not give such; and hence it is added that the Father who is God has sealed with the impress of Divinity (August., Tolet.) the Son of Man, who therefore, being God as well as man, can give a food that will endure unto eternal life.

28. Dixerunt ergo ad eum: Quid faciemus ut operemur opera Dei? 28. They said therefore unto him: What shall we do that we may work the works of God?
29. Respondit Iesus, et dixit eis: Hoc est opus Dei, ut credatis in eum quem misit ille. 29. Jesus answered, and said to them: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent.

28-29. Some of His hearers now interrupt Christ, not however to inquire what this food was, but to ask what they must do on their part in order to perform the works which they take it for granted God requires, before they may receive such food. Christ's answer is, that in order to obtain it, so that it may remain unto eternal life, they must believe in Himself. So too is it even now; the sinner may sacrilegiously receive the Lord into his breast, but it is only for Him who believes (and acts accordingly) that the Sacrament endureth unto eternal life.

30. Dixerunt ergo ei: Quod ergo tu facis signum ut videamus, et credamus tibi? quid operaris! 30. They said therefore to him: What sign therefore dost thou show that we may see, and may believe thee? what dost thou work?
31. Patres nostri manducaverunt manna in deserto, sicut scriptum est: Panem de coelo dedit eis manducare. 31. Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

30-31. Christ having declared the necessity of faith in Himself, they now ask for motives of credibility, and point to the great standing miracle wrought for their fathers in the desert. But whereas He had demanded [pg 121] faith in Himself: “That you believe in Him whom He hath sent” (verse 29), they seem to miss the point, and speak not of believing in Him, but merely of believing Him, believing what He may have to say to them. They did not mention Moses, nor was the manna given by Moses; but our Lord's reply shows that the comparison between Himself and Moses was in their minds. It is as if they said: You call upon us to believe you on the strength of the miracle wrought yesterday in the desert, whereas Moses fed our whole race for forty years with a bread from heaven. These people who speak thus, are probably different persons from those who on the preceding day recognised Christ as the Messias (verse 14).

32. Dixit ergo eis Iesus: Amen, amen dico vobis: Non Moyses dedit vobis panem de coelo, sed Pater meus dat vobis panem de coelo verum. 32. Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you: Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
33. Panis enim Dei est qui de coelo descendit, et dat vitam mundo. 33. For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world.

32-33. They had asked for some great miracle (comp. Matt. xii. 38), but since they had already had sufficient evidence to enable them to believe, Christ does not gratify their desire, but proceeds to declare that it was not Moses who gave the manna, but God (see Ps. lxxvii. 21-24); so that their tacit comparison of Moses with Himself is baseless. He then goes on to declare that His Father giveth them the true [pg 122] bread from heaven. This means, as we have already explained, that the Father gave us in the Incarnation what Christ gives us in the Eucharist, namely, the Person of the God-man. That it is true or perfect bread, He proves from the fact that it comes, not like the manna from the clouds, but from heaven itself, and that it not merely sustains the life of one people, but gives life to the world.

34. Dixerunt ergo ad eum: Domine, semper da nobis panem hunc. 34. They said therefore unto him: Lord, give us always this bread.
35. Dixit autem eis Iesus: Ego sam panis vitae, qui venit ad me, non esuriet: et qui credit in me, non sitiet unquam. 35. And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger; he that believeth in me, shall never thirst.

34, 35. They at once ask that He would give them this bread always. They evidently think that He speaks of some excellent food like the manna, which would support their corporal existence, and they desire to be constantly supplied with it. But as they know not what they ask, nor how they should be disposed to receive it, He tells them—(1) What the bread is, namely, Himself; and (2) what is required for a proper and fruitful reception of it, namely, faith in Himself. The words: He that cometh to Me, mean the same thing as: He that believeth in Me. The believer shall never thirst; because, if he act upon his belief, he will receive Christ in the Eucharist, and be spiritually filled, never again to thirst, except through his own fault.

36. Sed dixi vobis, quia et vidistis me, et non creditis. 36. But I said unto you, that you also have seen me, and you believe not.
37. Omne quod dat mihi Pater, ad me veniet: et eum qui venit ad me, non ejiciam foras: 37. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will not cast out.

36, 37. Christ again, as in verse 26, reproves their want of faith, and declares that those who believe in Him, do so through the grace of the Father; and all such He receives and rejects not.

38. Quia descendi de coelo, non ut faciam voluntatem meam sed voluntatem eius qui misit me. 38. Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39. Hac est autem voluntas eius qui misit me, Patris: ut omne quod dedit mihi, non perdam ex eo, sed resuscitem illud in novissimo die. 39. Now 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 in the last day.
40. Haec est autem voluntas Patris mei, qui misit me: ut omnis qui videt Filium, et credit in eum, habeat vitam aeternam, et ego resuscitabo eum in novissimo die. 40. And this is the will of my Father that sent me; that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day.

38-40. He declares the reason why He does not reject such: [pg 123] because He came down on earth to do His father's will; and that will is that all who recognize in Him the Son of God and believe in Him as such (acting according to that belief), should be raised up to a glorious life on the last day.

41. Murmurabant ergo Iudaei de illo, quia dixisset: Ego sum panis vivus, qui de coelo descendi. 41. The Jews therefore murmured at him, because he had said, I am the living bread which came down from heaven.
42. Et dicebant: Nonne hic est Iesus filius Ioseph, cuius nos novimus patrem et matrem? Quomodo ergo dicit hic: Quia de coelo descendi? 42. And they said: Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How than saith he, I came down from heaven?
43. Respondit ergo Iesus, et dixit eis: Nolite murmurare in invicem: 43. Jesus therefore answered and said to them: Murmur not among yourselves.

41-43. The Jews, by whom the Scribes and Pharisees perhaps are meant, now murmur because He claims celestial origin, whereas they fancy they know Him to be an ordinary man, born in the ordinary way of an earthly father and mother. He merely reproves their murmuring without replying to their difficulty, and proceeds to declare the necessity of grace.

44. Nemo potest venire ad me, nisi Pater qui misit me traxerit eum: et ego resuscitabo eum in novissimo die. 44. No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him, and I will raise him up in the last day.

44. No one can believe in Him, unless the Father draw him; i.e., by preventing and assisting grace. We have here [pg 124] a clear proof against the Pelagians, for the necessity of grace in order to faith. It must be borne in mind that, though we are drawn by God, we are drawn by impulses of grace which we are free to resist.59

45. Est scriptum in prophetis: Et erunt omnes docibiles Dei. Omnis qui audivit a Patre, et didicit, venit ad me. 45. It is written in the prophets: And they all shall be taught of God. Every one that hath heard of the Father and hath learned, cometh to me.

45. Christ declares how we are drawn by the Father, namely, by an illumination of the intellect and motion of the will, so that we hear (“audivit”) and obey (“didicit”). It is written in the Prophets: And they shall all be taught of God. The Jewish Scriptures were divided into the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographers, and the reference here is to the portion written by the Prophets. The phrase: They shall all be taught of God, which is found substantially in Isaias, liv. 13, implies direct Divine teaching through the influence of the Spirit upon the mind and heart, and indicates not merely one Divine communication, but an established relationship, for the faithful who allow themselves to be drawn, are life-long pupils in the school of God.

46. Non quia Patrem vidit quisquam, nisi is qui est a Deo, hic vidit Patrem. 46. Not that any man hath seen the Father, but he who is of God, he hath seen the Father.

46. Not that any man hath seen the Father. It is, says St. Augustine, “as if He said: Do not when I tell you: Every man that hath heard and learned of the Father, say to yourselves: We have never seen the Father, and how then can we have learned from Him? Hear Him then in Me, I know the Father, and am from Him.”

47. Amen, amen dico vobis: Qui credit in me, habet vitam aeternam. 47. Amen, amen, I say unto you: He that believeth in me hath everlasting life.

47. Having pointed out the necessity of faith (verse 29), its sufficiency (verse 35), and the necessary condition to it, namely, the grace of God and correspondence therewith (verses 44, 45), He now solemnly repeats what He had declared in verses [pg 125] 35 and 37, that he who believes in Him shall have eternal life. The present tense, hath everlasting life, need create no difficulty here: for he who believes will receive the Blessed Eucharist, the food “that endureth unto everlasting life,” (verse 57); and the present tense is so used to indicate the certainty with which the result will follow.

48. Ego sum panis vitae. 48. I am the bread of life.
49. Patres vestri manducaverunt manna in deserto, et mortui sunt. 49. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead.
50. Hic est panis de coelo descendens: ut si quis ex ipso manducaverit, non moriatur. 50. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven: that if any man eat of it, he may not die.
51. Ego sum panis vivus, qui de coelo descendi. 51. I am the living bread, which came down from heaven.

48-51. Before quitting this portion of His discourse, and going on to declare how He is the bread of life, Christ sums up what He has said, repeating again the proposition laid down in verse 35: “I am the bread of life;” again comparing and preferring the Blessed Eucharist to the manna (49, 50 compared with 32, 35); and combining in one the two propositions contained in verses 35 and 38, namely, that He is the bread, and that He came down from heaven. In verse 50 where it is declared that he who eats this bread shall not die, the meaning is, that the Blessed Eucharist, of its own nature, is calculated to save us from the death of the soul, and to secure even for our bodies a glorious resurrection. Sin, of course, may rob it of its glorious effects.

52. Si quis manducaverit ex hoc pane, vivet in aeternuum: et panis, quem ego dabo, caro mea est pro mundi vita. 52. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give, is my flesh for the life of the world.

52. Having summed up the preceding portion of His discourse, Christ now proceeds to declare how He is the bread of life. Till now He had contented Himself with declaring that He is that bread, and with pointing out the chief disposition necessary to receive Him worthily; now He goes further, and points out how He will be the bread of life; namely, by giving His flesh, that is, His whole human nature (i. 14), to which the Divine nature is inseparably united, to be received in the Blessed Eucharist. Thus He [pg 126] gradually unfolds the mystery, reserving till the last supper the further knowledge, that this reception of His body and blood was to take place in a sacramental manner.

And the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world. Many Greek MSS. read: “And the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” If the words “which I will give” be genuine, we would explain them not in reference to the sacrifice of the cross, but in reference to the sacrifice of the Eucharist, in which Christ is given for us and to us. Compare St. Luke: “This is My body, which is given for you (Luke, xxii. 19), and especially Luke xxii. 20, where the Greek text shows that it is the blood as in the chalice (and not as on Calvary) that is said to be offered in sacrifice. But the words more probably are not genuine; they are omitted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott, and Hort, and by the Revised Version, as well as by the Vulgate.

Though not merely Christ's flesh, that is, His humanity (i. 14), but also His Divinity, is received in the Blessed Eucharist, His human nature is specially mentioned, lest it should be thought that He is the living bread only as God, or merely spiritually. “Dixerat enim,” says St. Thomas on this verse. “Quod erat panis vivus; et ne intelligatur quod hoc ei esset in quantum est Verbum, vel secundum animam tantum, ideo ostendit quod etiam caro sua vivificativa est: est enim organum divinitatis suae: unde, cum instrumentum agat virtute agentis, sicut divinitas Christi vivificativa est, ita et caro virtute Verbi adjuncti vivificat; unde Christus tactu suo sanabat infirmos.” Besides, as St. Thomas adds, since this Sacrament is commemorative of our Lord's Passion (“For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord,” 1 Cor. xi. 26), His “flesh” is mentioned to remind us of the weakness of that human nature wherein it was [pg 127] possible for Him who was God to suffer.

53. Litigabant ergo Iudaei ad invicem, dicentes: Quomodo potest hic nobis carnem suam suam dare ad manducandum? 53. The Jews therefore strove among themselves saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
54. Dixit ergo eis Iesus: Amen, amen dico vobis: Nisi manducaveritis carnem Filii hominis, et biberitis eius sanguinem, non habebitis vitam in vobis. 54. Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you; Except you eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.
55. Qui manducat meam carnem, et bibit meum sanguinem, habet vitam aeternam: et ego resuscitabo eum in novissimo die. 55. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

53-55. The Jews therefore (ergo, not enim), because of what He had now said, disputed among themselves, evidently taking different views of what He had said; but Jesus, far from retracting, solemnly insists upon what He had just said, and declares negatively (verse 54), and positively (verse 55), not only the possibility, but the necessity of receiving His body and blood. It does not follow from verse 54, as the Utraquists falsely contended, that Communion under both kinds is necessary; for Christ is received whole and entire under either species. Under the species of bread only the body is present in virtue of the words of consecration, and similarly under the species of wine only the blood; but since Christ's body is now a living body, it follows that in the Blessed Eucharist, where the body is, there also are the blood and the soul in virtue of the natural connection between the parts of a living body, and there, too, the Divinity, in virtue of the hypostatic union. See Decrees of the Council of Trent, sess. xiii., ch. 3. The precept is to receive both body and blood, but not necessarily under both species. For, as the Council of Trent (sess. xxi., cap. 1) points out, Christ attributes the same effects to eating in verses 55, 58, 59, as He does here to eating and drinking. See also 1 Cor. xi. 26, where he who eats or drinks unworthily, is said to be guilty of both body and blood. The precept of Christ, then, is obeyed whether one or both species be received, and it is a disciplinary matter entrusted to the care of the Church, whether the faithful are to receive under one or both species.

Seeing, then, that there is no obligation for the faithful to receive the Blessed Eucharist under both species, it may be asked why does Christ mention both species? We reply, that He does so to signify that in the Blessed Eucharist there is a perfect repast, which ordinarily supposes the presence of both meat and drink; and, perhaps, also to indicate that this sacrament is commemorative of His death, in which His body and blood were separated.

Nor do verses 54 and 55 afford any proof that the Blessed Eucharist is necessary, necessitate medii unto salvation, like Baptism (John iii. 5). For—(1) Baptism is declared to be absolutely necessary for [pg 128] all, “unless a man be born again;” here the Blessed Eucharist is declared necessary only for those who are capable of receiving a precept, “Unless you eat,” &c. (2) From the nature of the case, Baptism, being a new birth, is absolutely necessary for all who are to live the new spiritual life; and as many as are born, must be born again in order to live the higher life; but the Blessed Eucharist is not the introduction to a new life, but a means of nourishing the life already acquired. Hence for children who have already acquired that spiritual life in Baptism, and cannot lose it because incapable of sinning, the Blessed Eucharist cannot be necessary to salvation, nor even for adults can it be absolutely necessary as a means, if there be, as there are, other means of retaining the life already acquired.

56. Caro enim mea, vere est cibus: et sanguis meus, vere est potus. 56. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed;
57. Qui manducat meam carnem, et bibit meum sanguinem, in me manet, et ego in illo. 57. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.

57. In the Blessed Eucharist we are united to Christ, and His humanity remains in us until the sacred species become corrupted; His divinity, until mortal sin is committed, and He is expelled.

58. Sicut misit me vivens Pater, et ego vivo propter Patrem: et qui manducat me, et ipse vivet propter me. 58. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.

58. The sacred union between Christ and the communicant is compared to the ineffable union between Him and His heavenly Father.

The living Father. This is a unique instance of this title, but we frequently find: The Living God, Matt. xvi. 16; 2 Cor. vi. 16, &c. And I live by (διὰ τὸν παπέρα) the Father. It is to be noted that διὰ is followed by the accusative, not the genitive. If, then, we are to regard it as meaning here what it ordinarily means when followed by the accusative, and as the Vulgate seems to take it, the sense would rather be: As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live on account of the Father, so he that eateth Me, the same also shall live on account of Me. This would mean that as complete devotion to the Father is the object of the life of the Incarnate Son [pg 129] (the Son as sent), so complete devotion to the Son shall be the object of the life of him to whom Christ shall have united Himself in the Blessed Eucharist. Others, however, think that διὰ is here equivalent to through, or by, as in our Rheims Version. The sense then is: as Christ lives through the eternal life communicated to Him in His eternal generation by the Father; so, in some way, the communicant shall live in virtue of the spiritual life communicated to him or sustained in him because of his union with Christ in the Blessed Eucharist.

59. Hic est panis qui de coelo descendit. Non sicut manducaverunt patres vestri manna, et mortui sunt. Qui manducat hunc panem, vivet in aeternum. 59. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever.

59. This verse concludes and unites the principal points of the discourse. Compare verses 32, 41, 49, 50, 52, 55. Hence it confirms the view we have followed regarding the unity of subject throughout the discourse.

He that eateth this bread shall live for ever. With this encouraging and glorious promise, made not to any one people, nor to any class as such, not even to all believers, but to each one (note the change from the plural to the singular: your fathers ... He that eateth) who shall worthily receive, and duly profit by the Blessed Eucharist, the discourse ends.

60. Haec dixit in synagoga docens, in Capharnaum. 60. These things he said teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum.

60. Because of the solemn importance of the discourse, the place where it was delivered is noted. At Tell Hûm (see above on ii. 12) the ruins of a large synagogue are still to be seen.

61. Multi ergo audientes ex discipulis eius, dixerunt: Durus est hic sermo, et quis potest eum audire? 61. Many therefore of his disciples hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it?

61. The effect of the discourse upon many of the disciples is recorded. Hard (σκληρός), i.e., harsh, hard to accept.

62. Sciens autem Iesus apud semetipsum quia murmurarent de hoc discipuli eius, dixit eis: Hoc vos scandalizat? 62. But Jesus knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you?

62. The Evangelist notes, according to his custom, that their thoughts were known to Christ.

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63. Si ergo videritis Filium hominis ascendentem ubi erat prius? 63. If then you shall see the son of man ascend up where he was before?

63. If then you shall see the son of man ascend up where he was before? The sense according to some, is: If you shall see Me ascending into heaven, it will then be easier to believe My doctrine, seeing I am Divine; and you shall at the same time understand, that it is not in a bloody manner (as you suppose) that you are to eat My body. Thus He would correct their too carnal interpretation of His words, and point at the same time to a reason why the true sense, however difficult, was to be accepted. Others think that Christ's words increase the difficulty, the sense being, if you are scandalized now, because I say, while present with you, that I will give My body, how much more will you be scandalized when you see that body taken away into heaven, and are yet asked to believe that it is to be eaten on earth? It is argued in favour of this opinion, that the form of Christ's reply: “Does this scandalize you? If therefore,” &c., indicates that their difficulty would then be greater. So Mald., Tolet., Beel., Corl. We may remark, as against the Nestorians, that language could not signify more clearly than this verse signifies the unity of Person in Christ. The Son of Man will ascend to heaven where as Son of God He is from all eternity. “Filius Dei et hominis unus Christus ... Filius Dei in terra suscepta carne, Filius hominis in coelo in unitate personae.” St. Aug. on this verse.

64. Spiritus est, qui vivificat: caro non prodest quidquam: verba quae ego locutus sum vobis, spiritus et vita sunt. 64. It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life.

64. Many interpretations of this verse have been advanced. The following two are the most probable, intrinsically and extrinsically:—

(1) The spirit is the spirit of man elevated and ennobled by grace; the flesh, the corrupt dispositions and weak thoughts of human nature unaided by grace (see Rom. viii. 5, 6); and the meaning of the verse is; it is the mind illumined by grace that quickeneth to faith and to a proper understanding of My words; the mind or human nature by itself is of no avail in such matters; the words which I have spoken to you are to be understood by the mind quickened and illumined by grace. So St. Chrys., Teoph., Wisem., Perr., M'Ev. But there are serious difficulties against this view—(1) “caro” is then taken metaphorically in this verse, while throughout the [pg 131] context it has been taken literally of the flesh of Christ; (2) the explanation of the words “are spirit and life” is unnatural.

(2) Others take the Spirit of the Divinity of Christ, the flesh of His humanity considered apart from the Divinity; and the meaning of the verse then is: it is My Divinity that quickeneth, and maketh My flesh a meat enduring unto eternal life; the flesh if separated from the Divinity would profit nothing; the words which I have spoken to you regard My life-giving Divinity as united to My humanity. In this view, as Mald. explains it, “life,” by a Hebraism, is equivalent to an adjective signifying life-giving, as may be inferred from the beginning of the verse, where it is said that it is the Spirit that giveth life.60 Hence “Spirit and life” is equivalent to life-giving Spirit, and the latter part of the verse means that Christ's words have reference to His life-giving Divinity in union with His humanity. So, too, St. Cyril of Alex., Beel., Corl. We prefer this view, and hold that Christ here gives the key to the solution of the difficulty on account of which His disciples had murmured (verse 62). He had closed His discourse with words attributing eternal life to the eating of His flesh (verse 59); they murmured accordingly, thinking it absurd or incredible that such effect could follow from such a cause as the eating of a man's flesh; and in verse 64 He explains that His flesh is the flesh of the Man-God, which therefore through the quickening influence of the Divinity with which it is united, is capable of producing such marvellous effects.

There is not a shadow of probability in the interpretation put upon this verse by the Sacramentarians. They explained the verse to mean: that the figurative sense of what He had said regarding the necessity of eating His flesh and blood profits, but that the literal sense would profit nothing. Thus they professed to find in these words an assurance that Christ had not spoken of a real eating of His flesh in the Eucharist, but only of a spiritual reception of Himself through faith. In reply to this we say—(1) that throughout the rest of the Bible “spiritus” and “caro” are not even once used of a figurative and literal sense; (2) if [pg 132] Christ here gave the explanation which our adversaries suppose, how is it that, as we learn from verse 67, many of His disciples retired notwithstanding, and walked with Him no more? In such an explanation all their difficulty would be removed, and they would be taught that it was only of a figurative eating by faith that Christ had been speaking. How then account for their departure? But it was different in the explanation we have given above. In our view, Christ, still insisting on a real reception of His flesh, merely explains how it is that such real reception can lead to such glorious results.

65. Sed sunt quidam ex vobis, qui non credunt. Sciebat enim ab initio Iesus qui essent non credentes, et quis traditurus esset eum. 65. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that did not believe, and who he was that would betray him.

65. In the view we hold regarding verse 64, the connection of this verse with it is: the fact that I am God explains what you find difficult in My words (verse 64); but some of you do not believe Me to be God; and hence your difficulty (verse 65). To indicate Christ's Divine knowledge, the Evangelist adds that He knew from the beginning, &c.

66. Et dicebat: Propterea dixi vobis, quia nemo potest venire ad me, nisi fuerit ei datum a Patre meo. 66. And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father.

66. Christ's words in this verse are to be connected closely with the beginning of the preceding, the intervening words of the Evangelist being parenthetical.

Therefore did I say to you. The allusion is to what was said above (verse 44), which is substantially the same as what is said here, since to be drawn to Christ by the Father is nothing else than to be given grace by the Father to come to Christ. It might seem at first sight that these words excuse the incredulity of those whom Christ addresses; but it is not so. For, the reason they had not been drawn by the Father was because they would not, because they had not followed the promptings of grace. See above on verse 45. “Peccabant tamen qui nolebant venire, id est credere in Christum, tum quia habebant gratiam sufficientem, qua possent credere si vellent, etsi non haberent efficacem, qua reipsa et actu crederent; tum quia humiliter non petebant a Deo gratiam [pg 133] efficacem, qua actu crederent: tum quia sua superbia aliisque peccatis illa gratia se fecerant indignos, imo pervicaces Dei gratiam et fidem repellebant et refutabant” (A Lap. on this verse).

67. Ex hoc multi discipulorum eius abierunt retro: et iam non cum illo ambulabant. 67. After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.

67. Had Christ in the preceding discourse spoken only of faith, surely, all-merciful and loving as He is, He would have made His meaning clear, before allowing many of His disciples to depart from Him for ever. It was only, then, because they understood Him correctly, and refused to believe Him, that He allowed them to depart.

68. Dixit ergo Iesus ad duodecim: Numquid et vos vultis abire? 68. Then Jesus said to the twelve: will you also go away?

68. The twelve. These are spoken of as well known, though this is the first mention made of their number in this Gospel.

Will you also go away? While the question implies that such desertion was to be feared, its form implies a negative answer, and suggests that in the case of the chosen twelve such conduct ought to be impossible.

69. Respondit ergo ei Simon Petrus: Domine, ad quem ibimus? verba vitae aeternae habes: 69. And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
70. Et nos credidimus, et cognovimus quia tu es Christus Filius Dei. 70. And we have believed and have known that thou art the Christ the Son of God.

69-70. Peter replies for all the Apostles (not knowing the unbelief of Judas), and confesses the truth of Christ's doctrine, and, according to the Vulgate reading, the Divinity of Christ. It is very doubtful, however, whether the Vulgate reading here is correct. The oldest Greek MSS. read: “And we have believed and know that Thou art the Holy One (ὁ ἅγιος) of God.” Whether in the mind of St. Peter this latter form of the words meant a full confession of Christ's Divinity, or only that He was the Messias, it is difficult to say. It would seem indeed from the praise bestowed upon Peter by our Lord (Matt. xvi. 16) on an occasion subsequent to this, that then for the first time Peter fully confessed Christ's Divinity.

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71. Respondit eis Iesus: Nonne ego vos duodecim elegi, et ex vobis unus diabolus est? 71. Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil?

71. Peter had answered as he thought for all the Apostles, but Christ shows that He knows to the contrary. A devil, that is to say a sinner inspired by the devil (viii. 44), Judas was (est) even then.

72. Dicebat autem Iudam Simonis Iscariotem: hic enim erat traditurus eum, cum esset unus ex duodecim. 72. Now he meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for this same was about to betray him, whereas he was one of the twelve.

72. The Evangelist explains who was meant. “The name Iscariot has received many interpretations, more or less conjectural, but it is now universally agreed that it is to be derived from Kerioth (Josh. xv. 25) a city in the tribe of Judah, the Hebrew אישׂ קרִות 'īsh Kerīyoth passing into Ἰσκαριώτης” (Smith's B. D., 2nd Ed.). In this view, Judas, unlike the other Apostles (Acts ii. 7), was from the Province of Judea.

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Chapter VII.

1. Christ remains in Galilee.

2-10. His brethren urge Him to go up to Jerusalem to the Feast of Tabernacles with them; this He declines to do, but goes afterwards privately.

11-13. The chief men among the Jews look out for Him at the Feast, and express different opinions regarding Him.

14-24. In the middle of the festival Christ goes up to the temple and teaches.

25-29. Comments of some of the people of Jerusalem; Christ's reply.

30, 31. Different opinions of the people regarding Him.

32-36. Jealously of the Sanhedrim, which sends officers to arrest Him.

37-39. Christ's words on the eighth day of the feast, and St. John's authentic interpretation.

40, 41. Different opinions among the people regarding Him.

44-49. Though some were anxious to arrest Him, no one durst, not even the officers who had been sent for that purpose; consequent indignation of the Priests and Pharisees.

50-52. Nicodemus interposes in Christ's favour; reply of the other members of the Sanhedrim.

1. Post haec autem ambulabat Iesus in Galilaeam, non enim volebat in Iudaeam ambulare, quia quaerebant eum Iudaei interficere. 1. After these things Jesus walked in Galilee, for he would not walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him.

1. Instead of “Galilaeam,” “Judaeam,” read “Galilea,” “Judaea” (Abl.) in the Vulgate. The sense is that Christ continues to remain in Galilee.

2. Erat autem in proximo dies festus Iudaeorum scenopegia. 2. Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand.

2. See note on verse 1.

3. Dixerunt autem ad eum fratres eius: Transi hinc, et vade in Iudaeam, ut et discipuli tui videant opera tua, quae facis. 3. And his brethren said to him: Pass from hence and go into Judea: that thy disciples also may see thy works which thou dost.

3. His brethren said to him: Pass from hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see thy works which thou dost.

Who are these brethren of Jesus?

(1) Not the children of [pg 136] Joseph and Mary, born to them after the birth of our Lord, for this opinion of Helvidius was condemned as heretical in the Council of Lateran (649 a.d.), and is opposed to the universal and constant tradition of the Church.61

(2) Not the children of Joseph by a previous marriage; for this opinion too, though not heretical, and though held by some of the fathers, is opposed to the common opinion of Catholics, according to which St. Joseph lived and died a virgin.

(3) These brethren were cousins of our Lord. The term “fratres” (ἀδελφοὶ) is used in the Sacred Scriptures of many who are not children of the same parents. Thus it is used of fellow-countrymen, Rom. ix. 3, 4; (2) of co-religionists, Rom. i. 13; (3) of relations who were not, however, members of the same family, Gen. xiii. 8, xiv. 4. In these verses of Genesis, Abraham and Lot are referred to as brethren, though the former was uncle to the latter (Gen. xii. 5).

In Matthew xiii. 55, Mark vi. 3, James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude, are named as brethren of our Lord; but whether they are the same cousins who are referred to here by St. John, is disputed. Of those mentioned by SS. Matthew and Mark, James, Jude, and probably Simon, were Apostles;62 and hence, on account of verse 5, some say it is not these, but other cousins of our Lord, who are here referred to by St. John. However, there need be no difficulty about admitting that the faith of the Apostles was still imperfect, especially if we adopt what seems the more probable [pg 137] reading in vi. 70. See Matthew xvii. 19, 20; Mark xvi. 15.

These brethren of the Lord say to Him, that He ought to go up to Jerusalem, where there would be a concourse of people to witness His miracles.

4. Nemo quippe in occulto quid facit, et quaerit ipse in palam esse: si haec facis, manifesta teipsum mundo. 4. For there is no man that doth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, manifest thyself to the world.
5. Neque enim fratres eius credebant in eum. 5. For neither did his brethren believe in him.

5. As already explained, if we regard the three Apostles as included among the brethren, we may understand here that their faith was still imperfect; if other cousins of our Lord are meant, they may have been wholly without faith.

6. Dicit ergo eis Iesus: Tempus meum nondum advenit: tempus autem vestrum semper est paratum. 6. Then Jesus said to them: My time is not yet come; but your time is always ready.

6. There are many opinions as to what is meant by His time, here referred to by Christ. Some say it is the time of His passion; others, the time for manifesting Himself to the world; and others, the time for going up to Jerusalem. The latter opinion seems to us the most natural and most probable.

7. Non potest mundus odisse vos: me autem odit, quia ego testimonium perhibeo de illo quod opera eius mala sunt. 7. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth: because I give testimony of it, that the works thereof are evil.

7. His brethren might go up to Jerusalem at any time, for they, even if some of them were Apostles, had not yet incurred the odium of the wicked world (John xv. 18, 19).

8. Vos ascendite ad diem festum hunc: ego autem non ascendo ad diem festum istum, quia meum tempus nondum impletum est. 8. Go you up to this festival day, but I go not up to this festival day: because my time is not accomplished.
9. Haec cum dixisset, ipse mansit in Galilaea. 9. When he had said these things, he himself staid in Galilee.
10. Ut autem ascenderunt fratres eius, tunc et ipse ascendit ad diem festum non manifeste, sed quasi in occulto. 10. But after his brethren were gone up, then he also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

8-10. Christ here seems to say that He will not go up to Jerusalem for the feast, and yet He went. Various answers to this difficulty have been given:—(1) Many ancient MSS. and versions, instead of “Non (οὐκ) ascendo” read Nondum (οὔπω) ascendo;” i.e., I go not up yet. However, as this is the easier reading to explain, and as the [pg 138] other is equally well supported by ancient authority, we are inclined to believe that the more difficult (οὐκ) is the true reading. Hence (2) others say that our Lord used an ambiguous phrase: I go not up, meaning I go not up now (but shall go afterwards). (3) The correct explanation seems to be that insinuated by our Evangelist. Christ said: I go not up (as you desire, in your company, and publicly); then when He went up, it was not publicly, but, as it were, in secret.

11. Iudaei ergo quaerebant eum in die festo, et dicebant: Ubi est ille? 11. The Jews therefore sought him on the festival day and said: Where is he?

11. The leaders of the Jews seek Him at the feast, but, through contempt, do not name Him.

12. Et murmur multum erat in turba de eo. Quidam enim dicebant: Quia bonus est. Alii autem dicebant: Non, sed seducit turbas. 12. And there was much murmuring among the multitude concerning him. For some said: He is a good man. And others said: No, but he seduceth the people.
13. Nemo tamen palam loquebatur de illo, propter metum Iudaeorum. 13. Yet no man spoke openly of him, for fear of the Jews.

13. Openly (palam) does not fully express the force of the Greek word, which seems to mean here with open approval.

14. Iam autem die festo mediante, ascendit Iesus in templum, et docebat. 14. Now about the midst of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.

14. The festival lasted for eight days, so that this would be the fourth or fifth day.

15. Et mirabantur Iudaei, dicentes: Quomodo hic litteras scit, cum non didicerit? 15. And the Jews wondered, saying: How doth this man know letters, having never learned?

15. From this verse it is plain that Christ had never attended any of the Jewish schools, where the Scriptures (γράμματα) were explained.

[pg 139]
16. Respondit eis Iesus, et dixit: Mea doctrina non est mea, sed eius qui misit me. 16. Jesus answered them and said: My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.

16. The sense is: The doctrine I preach has not been excogitated by Me; I have received it from My Father. As man, Christ had received His knowledge through the beatific vision, and by infusion into His human soul, and as God, He had received it from the Father from all eternity.

17. Si quis voluerit voluntatem eius facere, cognoscet de doctrina utrum ex Deo sit, an ego a meipso loquar. 17. If any man will do the will of him: he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
18. Qui a semetipso loquitur, gloriam propriam quaerit: qui autem quaerit gloriam eius qui misit eum, hic verax est, et iniustitia in illo non est. 18. He that speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh the glory of him that sent him, he is true, and there is no injustice in him.

17, 18. In proof that His doctrine is from God, He appeals to two arguments:—(1) If they will only follow the will of God, and believe, experience will teach them that His doctrine is divine. (2) The fact that He seeks not His own glory, but the glory of the Father, is a proof that His doctrine is the doctrine of the Father, and, therefore a proof that He is veracious, and does not deceive (injustitia in illo non est). This second argument, as Mald. points out, is based upon what does, not upon what should, happen among men. When men preach doctrines of their own invention, they generally seek their own glory.

19. Nonne Moyses dedit vobis legem: et nemo ex vobis facit legem? 19. Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?
20. Quid me quaeritis interficere? Respondit turba, et dixit: Daemonium habes: quis te quaerit interficere? 20. Why seek you to kill me? The multitude answered and said: Thou hast a devil; who seeketh to kill thee?

19, 20. Most probably Christ begins here to defend Himself against the charge of violating the Sabbath, which the Jews had brought against Him on a former occasion (v. 16, 18), [pg 140] and which they still remembered against Him.

He uses an “argumentum ad hominem”: You do not keep the law yourselves, why then seek to kill Me, even for what you allege to be a violation of it? Some among the crowd were even then anxious to kill Jesus, as His words prove, and to these He directs His words; but there were many present who had no such intention, and some of these reply, Thou hast a devil. They may have meant that He was possessed, or simply that He was raving, out of His senses.

21. Respondit Iesus, et dixit eis: Unum opus feci, et omnes miramini. 21. Jesus answered and said to them: One work I have done; and you all wonder:
22. Propterea Moyses dedit vobis circumcisionem: (non quia ex Moyse est, sed ex patribus) et in sabbato circumciditis hominem. 22. Therefore Moses gave you circumcision (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers); and on the sabbath-day you circumcise a man.
23. Si circumcisionem accipit homo in sabbato, ut non solvatur lex Moysi: mihi indignamini quia totum hominem sanum feci in sabbato? 23. If a man receive circumcision on the sabbath-day, that the law of Moses may not be broken; are you angry at me because I have healed the whole man on the sabbath-day?

21-23. He proceeds to show by sober reasoning, that they ought not to blame Him for having healed the man on the Sabbath.

The one work of verse 21 is the healing of the man on the Sabbath day (v. 9, 16). Some prefer to connect “propterea” with verse 21: “and you all wonder on account of it.” But it is better to connect it, as in the Vulgate, with what follows. The sense is: it was on this account Moses gave you circumcision; namely, because it had been handed down from the Patriarchs (Gen. xvii. 10), not because it was properly a part of the law. If then a man may receive circumcision on the Sabbath, and yet the law regarding the observance of the Sabbath is not violated thereby, are you angry with Me because, doing the will of God, I made a man whole, both body and soul, on the Sabbath? In this explanation, “ut” (ἵνα) is ecbatic, denoting a consequence. See Gen. xxii. 14; John x. 17; Apoc. xiii. [pg 141] 13. Others, however, give the particle its ordinary telic force, and explain thus: If then a man may receive circumcision on the Sabbath, in order that the law commanding circumcision to be performed on the eighth day be not violated, are you angry, &c.? Both explanations are probable, and leave the argument unchanged.

24. Nolite iudicare secundum faciem, sed iustum iudicium iudicate. 24. Judge not according to the appearance, but judge just judgment.

24. According to the appearance; i.e., take no account of persons, but judge according to the merits of the case.

25. Dicebant ergo quidam ex Ierosolymis: Nonne hic est quem quaerunt interficere? 25. Some therefore of Jerusalem said: Is not this he whom they seek to kill?
26. Et ecce palam loquitur, et nihil ei dicunt. Numquid vere cognoverunt principes quia hic est Christus? 26. And behold he speaketh openly, and they say nothing to him. Have the rulers known for a truth that this is the Christ?

25, 26. Some of the people of Jerusalem (the correct reading is Ἱεροσολυμιτῶν) said: can it be that they have discovered that He is really Christ?

27. Sed hunc scimus unde sit: Christus autem cum venerit, nemo scit unde scit. 27. But we know this man whence he is: but when the Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.

27. And yet this cannot be, for we know this man whence he is; but when the Christ cometh no man knoweth whence He is. This erroneous opinion of theirs may have arisen from Micheas, v. 2: “His going forth is from the beginning from the days of eternity;” and Mal. iii. 2: “And who shall be able to think of the day of His coming?”

28. Clamabat ergo Iesus in templo docens, et dicens: Et me scitis, et unde sim scitis: et a meipso non veni, sed est verus qui misit me, quem vos nescitis. 28. Jesus therefore cried out in the temple, teaching and saying: You both know me, and you know whence I am, and I am not come of myself; but he that sent me is true, whom you know not.

28. The meaning is: You [pg 142] know Me as man, and you know My parents, and yet I come not of My own authority, but sent by My Father, who therein shows Himself true to His promises.

29. Ego scio eum: quia ab ipso sum, et ipse me misit. 29. I know him, because I am from him, and he hath sent me.

29. He declares His Divine knowledge of the Father, His eternal generation, and mission in time.

30. Quaerebant ergo eum apprehendere: et nemo misit in illum manus, quia nondum venerat hora eius. 30. They sought therefore to apprehend him: and no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.

30. They rightly understand Him to claim to be Divine, and as a consequence seek to apprehend Him; but the time for His sufferings had not yet arrived, and so they were powerless.

31. De turba autem multi crediderunt in eum, et dicebant: Christus cum venerit, numquid plura signa faciet quam quae hic facit? 31. But of the people many believed in him, and said: When the Christ cometh, shall he do more miracles than these which this man doth?

31. Many of the multitude—in contrast with their leaders—believed in Him. When the Christ cometh, shall he, &c. The question, expecting, as it does, a negative answer (numquid), suggests that Jesus must be the Christ.

32. Audierunt pharisaei turbam murmurantem de illo haec: et miserunt principes et pharisaei ministros, ut apprehenderent eum. 32. The Pharisees heard the people murmuring these things concerning him: and the rulers and Pharisees sent ministers to apprehend him.

32. Rulers, rather chief priests (ἀρχιερεῖς). The ministers were officers attendant upon the Sanhedrim, or engaged about the temple. See verses 45, 46; xiii. 3, 18, 22; xix. 6; Acts v. 22, 26. As the Sanhedrim was made up of chief priests, Pharisees, and Scribes, probably it was the Sanhedrim that sent these ministers to apprehend Christ.

33. Dixit ergo eis Iesus: Adhuc modicum tempus vobiscum sum: et vado ad eum qui me misit. 33. Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while I am with you: and then I go to him that sent me.

33. Omit “eis” (to them). [pg 143] Christ's words were probably directed not merely to the ministers, but to all the people. Yet a little while I am with you, i.e., almost six months more after this feast of Tabernacles, and then He would go to the Father.

34. Quaeretis me, et non invenietis: et ubi ego sum vos non potestis venire. 34. You shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither you cannot come.

34. You shall seek me, and shall not find me. Some think these words were fulfilled at the siege of Jerusalem, when many of the Jews must have looked in vain for help from Him whom they had put to death.

Others, like Maldonatus, say the statement is conditional: even if you sought me, you should not find me, after a little while.

Since the same words: “You shall seek me,” were afterwards addressed to the Apostles (xiii. 33), it is not likely that the reference is to seeking Him at the destruction of Jerusalem, for the Apostles did not seek Him then. It would also seem from xiii. 33 that the view of Maldonatus just stated is not probable, for in xiii. 33 there is not a conditional statement, but simply a prediction that the Apostles would seek Him. Hence we take it that in the text before us also, there is a prediction that the Jews after His departure would, when in distress and tribulation, desire to see Him once more among them. Doubtless, many Jews afterwards had such a desire, but it was in vain, for He had gone to Him that sent Him.

And where I am (= shall be) thither you cannot come.

These words too were afterwards addressed to the Apostles (xiii. 33), and we believe in the same sense as here. The meaning is that until death at least the separation would be complete, for He would be no longer here, and where He would be they could not join Him. Some take the words: “You cannot come,” as meaning here that the Jews on account of their sins could never enter heaven. But since, as we have said, the same words were afterwards addressed to the Apostles, the view we have adopted seems more probable.

35. Dixerunt ergo Iudaei ad semetipsos: Quo hic iturus est, quia non inveniemus eum? numquid in dispersionem gentium iturus est, et docturus gentes? 35. The Jews therefore said, among themselves: Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the gentiles, and teach the gentiles?

35. The dispersed among the Gentiles, i.e., the Jews scattered among the Gentiles, or more probably the Gentiles [pg 144] themselves (Ἑλλήνων, not Ἑλληνιστῶν) scattered over the world. The concluding words of the verse: “and teach the Gentiles” render the latter view the more probable.

36. Quis est hic sermo, quem dixit: Quaeretis me, et non invenietis: et ubi sum ego, vos non potestis venire? 36. What is this saying that he hath said: You shall seek me, and shall not find me; and where I am, you cannot come?
37. In novissimo autem die magno festivitatis, stabat Iesus, et clamabat, dicens: Si quis sitit, veniat ad me, et bibat. 37. And on the last and great day of the festivity, Jesus stood and cried, saying: If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.
38. Qui credit in me, sicut dicit scriptura, flumina de ventre eius fluent aquae vivae. 38. He that believeth in me, as the scripture saith, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

37, 38. On the last day, the great day of the feast, that is, the eighth day, Jesus cried aloud to the people assembled at the temple. His words mean: If anyone thirst spiritually, let him come to Me by faith, and grace shall be abundantly poured into his soul. The words: Out of his belly, &c., are nowhere to be found in the Old Testament; but, as signifying the abundance of grace in the new dispensation, they convey the sense of many passages of the Old Testament. See Is. xli. 18, xliv. 3.; Ezech. xxxvi. 25; Joel ii. 28.

39. Hoc autem dixit de Spiritu, quem accepturi erant credentes in eum: nondum enim erat Spiritus datus, quia Iesus nondum erat glorificatus. 39. Now this he said of the Spirit which they should receive who believed in him: for as yet the Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

39. The Evangelist gives an authentic interpretation of our Lord's words: For as yet the Spirit was not given. These words explain why our Lord spoke of the abundant outpouring of the Spirit as still to come, for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, inasmuch as Christ was not yet glorified (xvi. 7). When it is said that the Holy Ghost was not yet given, the meaning is, that He was not yet given so abundantly, so manifestly, or so universally, as He has been since the first Pentecost. It is not meant that the Holy Ghost had not been given to the just of the Old Testament. They, as well [pg 145] as we, had the grace of the Holy Ghost in their souls; moreover, according to the common teaching of the fathers and theologians, they, like the just now, had the Holy Ghost united to their souls, not merely by His grace, but also by a substantial union. This union is not, however, peculiar to the Holy Ghost, but is common to the Three Divine Persons, by reason of their unity of nature, and is only by appropriation attributed to the Holy Ghost. See Franz., De Trin., last Disp.; Corl., pp. 198, 199.

40. Ex illa ergo turba cum audissent hos sermones eius, dicebant: Hic est vere propheta. 40. Of that multitude therefore, when they had heard these words of his, some said: This is the prophet indeed.
41. Alii dicebant: Hic est Christus. Quidam autem dicebant: Numquid a Galilaea venit Christus? 41. Others said: This is the Christ. But some said: Doth the Christ come out of Galilee?
42. Nonne scriptura dicit: Quia ex semine David, et de Bethlehem castello, ubi erat David, venit Christus? 42. Doth not the scripture say: That Christ cometh out of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem the town where David was?
43. Dissensio itaqua facta est in turba propter eum. 43. So there arose a dissension among the people because of him.
44. Quidam autem ex ipsis volebant apprehendere eum: sed nemo misit super eum manus. 44. And some of them would have apprehended him: but no man laid hands upon him.

40-44. The Evangelist notes the difference of opinion among the crowd. Some believed Him to be the Prophet promised to Moses (Deut. xviii. 18); others (wrongly distinguishing between the Prophet and the Messias) held Him to be the Messias; others doubted (verse 41); others remained wholly incredulous (verse 44). In verse 42, three different passages of Sacred Scripture are combined: “of the seed of David” (Is. xi. 1); “from Bethlehem” (Mich. v. 2); “the town where David was” (1 Kings xvii. 12).

45. Venerunt ergo ministri ad pontifices et pharisaeos. Et dixerunt eis illi: Quare non adduxistis illum? 45. The ministers therefore came to the chief priests and the Pharisees. And they said to them: Why have you not brought him?
46. Responderunt ministri: Numquam sic locutus est homo, sicut hic homo. 46. The ministers answered: Never did man speak like this man.
47. Responderunt ergo eis pharisaei; numquid et vos seducti estis? 47. The Pharisees therefore answered them: Are you also seduced?
48. Numquid ex principibus aliquis credidit in eum, aut ex pharisaeis? 48. Hath any one of the rulers believed in him, or of the Pharisees?
49. Sed turba haec, quae non novit legem maledicti sunt. 49. But this multitude that knoweth not the law, are accursed.

45-49. The officers, who had been sent a few days before to apprehend Christ (see above, 14, 32), or perhaps other officers, return and bear favourable testimony to Him, for which they are rebuked by the Pharisees.

[pg 146]
50. Dixit Nicodemus ad eos, ille qui venit ad eum nocte, qui unus erat ex ipsis. 50. Nicodemus said to them, he that came to him by night, who was one of them.
51. Numquid lex nostra iudicat hominem nisi prius audierit ab ipso, et cognoverit quid faciat? 51. Doth our law judge any man, unless it first hear him, and know what he doth?
52. Responderunt, et dixerunt ei: Numquid et tu Galilaeus es? Scrutare scripturas, et vide quia a Galilaea propheta non surgit. 52. They answered and said to him: Art thou also a Galilean? Search the scriptures, and see that out of Galilee a prophet riseth not.

50-52. Nicodemus (iii. 1, 2) interposes in Christ's favour; to whom the members of the Sanhedrim impatiently reply that no prophet had ever arisen in Galilee, thus disposing, as they thought, of Christ's claim to be a prophet. But they were wrong in their assumption that Christ had been born in Galilee (see Luke ii. 4-7), and equally wrong in the conclusion they drew that, being a Galilean, He could not be a prophet. For the Sacred Scriptures had nowhere said that a prophet could not arise in Galilee; nay, they prove that the prophet Jonas was a Galilean, 4 Kings, xiv. 25.

53. Et reversi sunt unusquisque in domum suam. 53. And every man returned to his own house.

53. See next chapter.

[pg 147]

Chapter VIII.

1-2. Christ having spent the night on the Mount of Olives, returns in the morning to the temple and teaches.

3-11. The story of the woman taken in adultery.

12-20. Discourse of Christ with the Pharisees in the treasury.

21-29. He upbraids them for their incredulity, and foretells His own crucifixion.

30-50. Many believed in Him, but others remained incredulous (33), and to these He says that they are not the children of Abraham, but of the devil.

51-59. Challenged by the Jews, He declares Himself greater than Abraham; and when they were about to stone Him for this declaration, He hides Himself.

Authenticity of John vii. 53-viii. 11.

This is the second of the three passages in our Gospel, whose authenticity has been seriously questioned. See Introd. VI. We shall sum up the evidence by which the critical question must be decided, and then say what we think as to the genuineness of the passage.

Evidence against Authenticity.

1. Manuscripts.—The passage is wanting in the four oldest Greek MSS. that we possess, viz., in B, א, A, C; the two former of which are thought by critics to belong to the fourth, and the two latter, to the fifth century; also in four other uncial MSS., in more than sixty cursives, and in thirty-three Evangelistaries.63 In about fifty other MSS., though read, it is marked as doubtful.

2. Versions.—It is wanting in the best MSS. of the “Vetus Itala;” in the “Simple” and “Figured” Syriac; in most MSS. of the Coptic; in all of Gothic, and in some of the Armenian.

3. Fathers.—The passage is [pg 148] not commented upon by any of the Greek fathers that wrote upon this Gospel.

4. Internal evidence is said to prove the passage spurious, because of the use of many words and phrases not elsewhere used by St. John.64

Evidence in favour of Authenticity.

1. Manuscripts.—The passage is found in seven uncial MSS. (one of which, D, though itself only of the sixth century, is thought to represent the text of the Gospels as it stood in the second century); in more than three hundred cursives, and in six Evangelistaries.

2. Versions.—The passage is found in the Latin Vulgate, in the Arabic, Persian, Ethiopic, Syriac of Jerusalem, Slavic, and Anglo-Saxon.

3. Fathers.The passage is read by nearly all the Latin fathers—Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Leo the Great, Chrysologus, Sedulius, Cassiodorus, &c.; and in the Apostolic Constitutions, a work of the third, or, at the latest, the fourth century.

4. Internal Evidence—(a) Christ's merciful treatment of the adulteress harmonizes beautifully with His declaration immediately after (viii. 15), that at His first coming He condemned no man. (b) It is inconceivable how a passage of this nature could ever have found its way into so many MSS., unless it was written by St. John. On the other hand, it is easy to see how, though genuine, it came to be omitted in many MSS., through the fear that Christ's merciful treatment of the adulteress might encourage sinners. This is exactly what St. Augustine says:—“Nonnulli modicae fidei, vel potius inimici verae fidei, credo metuentes peccandi impunitatem dari mulieribus suis, illud quod de adulterae indulgentia Dominus fecit, abstulerunt de codicibus suis, quasi permissionem peccandi tribuerit qui dixit: ‘Jam deinceps noli peccare’ ” (St. Aug., De Conj. Adult., 2, 7).

As regards the arguments against the passage, we believe that the reason given by St. Augustine in the words just quoted, explains the absence of the passage in so many MSS., versions, and fathers. As to the internal arguments against the passage, it must be admitted that a number of words are used here which are not met with elsewhere in the writings of St. John; but then the subject is peculiar, and besides in many other passages which [pg 149] are unquestioned, we meet with several words not used elsewhere by the Evangelist.65 Even Renan admits that there is nothing in the passage that is at variance with the style of the fourth Gospel.66


From the evidence, which has been impartially laid before the reader, we hold we are justified in concluding that even on mere critical grounds the passage is more probably genuine. Some, as Franzelin (De Sacra. Script., Thes. xix., pp. 466, 467), go farther, and hold, that since the decree of the Council of Trent (Sess. iv.), which defined all the sacred books of the Bible, and all their parts, as found in the Latin Vulgate, to be canonical, it is not lawful for any Catholic to question the authenticity of this passage. They argue that this passage constitutes a part (not merely a “particula”) of the Gospel of St. John, and is, therefore, covered by the decree of Trent. Nor can it be said in reply that the Council, in the words “cum omnibus suis partibus,” meant to define the authenticity of the Deuterocanonical fragments of the Old Testament only, for the Acts67 of the Council show that these words were intended to refer especially to the fragments of the Gospels.

To conclude, then, we hold that we are not only critically justified in accepting John vii. 53-viii. 11, as authentic, but that it is extremely probable that as Catholics we are bound to accept it.


1. Iesus autem perrexit in montem Oliveti: 1. And Jesus went unto mount Olivet.

1. In contrast to those who retired to their homes (vii. 53), Jesus retired to Mount Olivet, where He often spent the night in prayer (Luke xxi. 37; vi. 12). Mount Olivet, separated from Jerusalem by the brook of Cedron, was a Sabbath day's journey from the City (Acts i. 12); that is to say, about seven and a-half stadia, and therefore less than an English mile.

2. Et diluculo iterum venit in templum, et omnis populus venit ad eum, et sedens docebat eos. 2. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him, and sitting down he taught them.

2. Early on the morning that followed the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles (see vii. 37), He came again to the temple, and all the [pg 150] people who were assembled in the City from the various parts of Palestine, came to Him, and He was teaching them.

3. Adducunt autem scribae et pharisaei mulierem in adulterio deprehensam: et statuerunt eam in medio. 3. And the scribes and Pharisees bring unto him a woman taken in adultery; and they set her in the midst,

3. While Jesus was engaged in teaching the people, the Pharisees bring to him a woman who had been caught in adultery, in the very act, as we learn from the Greek of verse 4.

4. Et dixerunt ei: Magister, haec mulier modo deprehensa est in adulterio. 4. And said to him: Master, this woman was even now taken in adultery.
5. In lege autem Moyses mandavit nobis huiusmodi lapidare. Tu ergo quid dicis? 5. Now Moses in the law commanded us to stone such a one. But what sayest thou?

5. It is not stated anywhere in the Pentateuch that the adulterer and adulteress should be stoned, but it is, that they should be put to death (Lev. xx. 10). Doubtless the death was by stoning, as is indicated in Ezech. xvi. 38-40.

6. Hoc autem dicebant tentantes eum, ut possent accusare eum. Iesus autem inclinans se deorsum, digito scribebat in terra. 6. And this they said, tempting him, that they might accuse him. But Jesus bowing himself down, wrote with his finger on the ground.

6. They hoped to entrap our Lord; for if he acquitted the woman they could charge him with being an adversary of the Mosaic Law (Lev. xx. 10); while if He condemned her to death, they could charge Him with defying the Roman Law, which at this time denied to the Jews the right of inflicting capital punishment (John xviii. 31). What Jesus wrote it is impossible to say. Probably it was His intention to signify by this turning away to something else that He wished not to have anything to do with the matter in question.

7. Cum ergo perseverarent interrogantes eum, erexit se, et dixit eis: Qui sine peccato est vestrum, primus in illam lapidem mittat. 7. When therefore they continued asking him, he lifted up himself and said to them: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

7. Let him first cast a stone at her. The deep wisdom of this answer gave them no ground for charging [pg 151] Him with opposition to any law, and at the same time referred them to their own guilty consciences. He does not say that sinners may not be punished by sinners, but implies that it was not seemly that they who were guilty of the same or greater sins should be the accusers of the poor wretch who stood before them.

8. Et iterum se inclinans, scribebat in terra. 8. And again stooping down, he wrote on the ground.

8. Having shamed them by this appeal to the tribunal of their conscience, He again stooped down to write, probably to afford them an opportunity to depart.

9. Audientes autem unus post unum exibant, incipientes a senioribus: et remansit solus Iesus, et mulier in medio stans. 9. But they hearing this went out one by one, beginning at the eldest. And Jesus alone remained, and the woman standing in the midst.
10. Erigens autem se Iesus, dixit ei: Mulier, ubi sunt qui te accusabant? nemo te condemnavit? 10. Then Jesus lifting up himself, said to her: Woman, where are they that accused thee? Hath no man condemned thee?
11. Quae dixit: Nemo, Domine. Dixit autem Iesus: Nec ego te condemnabo: vade, et iam amplius noli peccare. 11. Who said: No man, Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more.

11. Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more. Doubtless the treatment of her accusers by Christ, and abundant grace poured into her soul, had already moved the woman's heart to repentance, and Christ, exercising His Divine power, absolved her from her sin. He did not condemn her, but, in telling her to sin no more, He showed that she had done what was wrong, and warned her as to the future. Thus the incident shows the boundless mercy of Christ for sinners, His hatred of sin, and, what St. John probably had chiefly before his mind in recording [pg 152] it, Christ's Divine power to forgive sin.

12. Iterum ergo locutus est eis Iesus, dicens. Ego sum lux mundi: qui sequitur me non ambulat in tenebris, sed habebit lumen vitae. 12. Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying: I am the light of the world: he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

12. We do not know whether this is a new discourse, or only a continuation of that referred to above in verse 2. On Christ's words here recorded, see above on i. 5. They follow Christ, who believe in Him, and obey Him.

13. Dixerunt ergo ei pharisaei: Tu de teipso testimonium perhibes: testimonium tuum non est verum. 13. The Pharisees therefore said to him: Thou givest testimony of thyself: thy testimony is not true.

13. Thy testimony is not true; that is to say, is not juridical, such as ought to be accepted.

14. Respondit Iesus, et dixit eis: Et si ego testimonium perhibeo de meipso, verum est testimonium meum: quia scio unde veni, et quo vado: vos autem nescitis unde venio, aut quo vado. 14. Jesus answered, and said to them: Although I give testimony of myself, my testimony is true: For I know whence I came, and whither I go: but you know not whence I come, or whither I go.

14. Christ's answer is: though I bear testimony of Myself, My testimony should be accepted, because I am God (I know whence I came, and whither I go); self-interest and self-love can have no influence on Me, so as to warp My judgment or weaken My testimony.

15. Vos secundum carnem iudicatis: ego non iudico quemquam: 15. You judge according to the flesh: I judge not any man.

15. You judge according to the flesh; i.e., according to appearances, as though I were a mere man; or, more probably, according to your carnal ideas (Rom. viii. 4-6); thinking Me an impostor, you condemn Me. I judge not any man. The sense is that Christ at His first coming, condemned no one, for it is of the judgment of condemnation there is question, according to what seems the most probable view. Compare iii. 17; xii. 47.

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16. Et si iudico ego, iudicium meum verum est, quia solus non sum: sed ego, et qui misit me, Pater. 16. And if I do judge, my judgment is true: because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

16. The meaning is: if I did judge, My judgment would be just, because not the judgment of a mere man, but identical with the judgment of My Father. See x. 30; xiv. 10.

17. Et in lege vestra scriptum est, quia duorum hominum testimonium verum est. 17. And in your law it is written, that the testimony of two men is true.

17. Καὶ ... δὲ, indicate the transition in which He passes from speaking of condemnation to speak of His testimony. Your law, He says, requires and is satisfied with two Witnesses (Deut. xvii. 6).

18. Ego sum qui testimonium perhibeo de meipso: et testimonium perhibet de me, qui misit me, Pater. 18. I am one that give testimony of myself: and the Father that sent me, giveth testimony of me.

18. Now, two bear testimony to Me. Two Persons bore testimony that the man Christ, who spoke to the Jews, was God. The Son Himself, as God bore this testimony by word and work, and the Father by the miracles that He gave the Son to perform (v. 36).

19. Dicebant ergo ei: Ubi est Pater tuus? Respondit Iesus: Neque me scitis, neque Patrem meum: si me sciretis forsitan et Patrem meum sciretis. 19. They said therefore to him: Where is thy Father? Jesus answered: Neither me do you know, nor my Father: if you did know me, perhaps you would know my Father also.

19. To their question Jesus answers: Neither me do you know, nor my Father. The sense is: You know not who I am, that I am God; if you knew and recognised Me to be God, you would also know who My Father is, that He must be God; and thus you would know the answer to your question, since God dwells in heaven. On the use of “forsitan,” see above on iv. 10.

20. Haec verba locutus est Iesus in gazophylacio, docens in templo: et nemo apprehendit eum, quia necdum venerat hora eius. 20. These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, teaching in the temple: and no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.

20. The Greek word translated by “treasury” is γαζοφυλακίῳ, derived from the Persian gaza (money), and φυλάσσω (to guard). This treasury was a chest or safe for holding [pg 154] money (see Luke xxi. 1), but by metonymy the name was given to the cloister in which it stood. This cloister was in the court of the women. See above on ii. 14.

21. Dixit ergo iterum eis Iesus: Ego vado, et quaeretis me, et in peccato vestro moriemini. Quo ego vado, vos non potestis venire? 21. Again therefore Jesus said to them: I go, and you shall seek me, and you shall die in your sin. Whither I go, you cannot come.

21. It is doubtful whether this is a continuation of the preceding, or a new discourse. For the meaning of the verse, see above on vii. 34. The particular sin referred to here is infidelity; but dying in infidelity, meant dying in many sins besides; and hence the plural sins, is used in verse 24.

22. Dicebant ergo Iudaei: Numquid interficiet semetipsum, quia dixit: Quo ego vado, vos non potestis venire? 22. The Jews therefore said: Will he kill himself, because he said: Whither I go, you cannot come?

22. Josephus (De Bello Jud., iii. 8, 5) tells us that the Pharisees believed that the lowest depths of hell are reserved for suicides. The words of this verse may refer to that superstition; as if they said: does He mean to go into the depths of hell, where we the children of Abraham cannot, of course, follow Him? But the more simple explanation is: He cannot escape from us wherever He may go on this earth. Does He then mean to take His own life, that so He may be out of our reach?

23. Et dicebat eis: Vos de deorsum estis, ego de supernis sum. Vos de mundo hoc estis, ego non sum de hoc mundo. 23. And he said to them: You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world.

23. Taking no notice of what had just been said, Jesus proceeds in His discourse. You, He says, are from beneath, I am from above (see iii. 31); i.e., you are earthly in origin and nature, I am of heaven; moreover, you are earthly in sentiment, you belong to the wicked world (see xv. 19), I do not belong to it. Thus He shows them there is a twofold difference between Him and them; and unless by the supernatural principle of faith they are lifted above their nature, and [pg 155] taken out of the wicked world, they shall die in their sins, and shall never here or hereafter be able to follow whither He goeth. Instead of peccato (Vulg.) in the end of verse 24, read peccatis. For if you believe not that I am he. “He” is not represented in the Greek or Latin text, and ought not to stand in the English. The predicate may be purposely suppressed in order to leave the meaning, which was still sufficiently intelligible, obscure, and thus afford no opportunity to His enemies of charging Him with blasphemy.

24. Dixi ergo vobis quia moriemini in peccatis vestris: si enim non credideritis quia ego sum, moriemini in peccato vestro. 24. Therefore I said to you, that you shall die in your sins. For if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sin.
25. Dicebant ergo ei: Tu quis es? Dixit eis Iesus: Principium, qui et loquor vobis. 25. They said therefore to him: Who art thou? Jesus said to them: The beginning, who also speak unto you.

25. This is a very obscure verse. Christ had just spoken of faith in Himself; but in Himself under what aspect He had not defined; and now in the hope of evoking an answer for which they could punish Him, they ask: Who art thou? His answer is purposely obscure. It is according to the Greek text, τὴν ἀρχὴν ὅτι (or ὅ τι) καὶ λαλῶ ὑμῖν; which is rendered in the Vulgate: Principium qui et loquor vobis, and in our Rheims version: The beginning, who also speak unto you.

About the meaning of this answer there is a great diversity opinion. Some take the words affirmatively, others interrogatively; some understand τὴν ἀρχήν as a substantive, others as an adverb; some regard ὅ τι as a relative (that which), others as an interrogative = τί (how or why?) and others again as a conjunction, ὅτι (for, or, because). The Vulgate translator may have read ὅστις (who) instead of ὅ τι, or ὅτι; or possibly “Qui et” of our Vulgate is a corruption of “quia,” which is found in the oldest Vulgate MSS. The objection against the Vulgate and English translations is that while τῆν ἀρχήν is an accusative, they seem to understand it as a nominative. Nor can it be replied, that it is attracted into the accusative case of the relative which follows; for, apart from the fact that there is no other instance of such attraction in St. John, the explanation is inadmissible here, inasmuch as these translations understand the relative not as an accusative, but as a nominative. A better defence is that of St. Augustine, who would supply some such words as: “Believe Me to be,” before the sentence, thus making principium the accusative after [pg 156] esse: Believe Me to be the beginning, &c.

(2) Others, understanding τὴν ἀρχήν in the same way as the preceding opinion, take ὁ τι as a relative, and render: I am the beginning, that which I also declare unto you. Here there is room for attraction, since the relative is now taken as an accusative; but against such attraction is the usage of St. John, as already stated.

(3) Others, taking τὴν ἀρχήν as an adverb (from the beginning), render: I am from the beginning, from eternity, what I even declare unto you. But it is objected to this view that τὴν ἀρχήν is not found elsewhere in Sacred Scripture in this sense, and moreover that the verb λαλῶ (to discuss with, to converse) is wrongly taken to be equivalent to λέγω (to declare). To this latter point, however, it is replied that the two verbs are frequently interchanged in later Greek.

(4) Others thus: Even that which I have also spoken to you from the beginning.68 But this view is open to the same objections as the preceding.

(5) Others again: Essentially (or, in very deed) that which I speak unto you. So Alford.

(6) Others: On the whole, why do I even speak with you? So St. Chrys., Corluy, &c.

(7) Others: Absolutely, or most certainly, that which I also tell you. So Beel., Kuin, &c. Τὴν ἀρχήν is thus taken as equivalent to omnino, for which sense Beelen quotes several classical writers.

We prefer the sixth and seventh opinions; but rather the seventh, since it supposes Christ to answer their question, though in language purposely obscure. In the sixth opinion, Christ vouchsafes no answer to their question, and we should naturally expect an impatient interruption from them immediately after, were that opinion correct.

26. Multa habeo de vobis loqui, et iudicare: sed qui me misit, verax est: et ego quae audivi ab eo, haec loquor in mundo. 26. Many things I have to speak and to judge of you. But he that sent me is true; and the things I have heard of him, these same I speak in the world.

26. Some explain thus: I have many things to say of you, and to condemn in you, [pg 157] but with this only will I charge you now, namely, that you are guilty of incredulity, since He who sent Me is true (truthful), and I speak His words, and yet you refuse to believe in Me. But the ellipsis here is not sufficiently obvious; and, hence, we prefer to understand thus: I have many things, &c., but My judgments will be just, and such as cannot be gainsaid.

27. Et non cognoverunt quia Patrem eius dicebat Deum. 27. And they understood not that he called God his father.

27. The Greek is: They knew not that He spoke to them of the Father.

28. Dixit ergo eis Iesus: Cum exaltaveritis Filium hominis, tunc cognoscetis quia ego sum, et a meipso facio nihil, sed sicut docuit me Pater, haec loquor: 28. Jesus therefore said to them: When you shall have lifted up the son of man, then shall you know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but as the Father hath taught me, these things I speak.

28. Lifted up. The reference is to Christ's crucifixion as is clear from xii. 32, 33. The substance of Christ's prediction is, that after His death they will come to recognise Him as God. We know how truly this prediction was fulfilled, not merely in the centurion and his soldiers (Matt. xxvii. 54), and in the crowd that returned from Calvary, striking their breasts (Luke xxiii. 48), but all along from that time through the preaching of the Apostles. On the Father's teaching the Son, see above on v. 19, 20.

29. Et qui me misit, mecum est et non reliquit me solum, quia ego quae placita sunt ei, facio semper. 29. And he that sent me is with me, and he hath not left me alone: for I do always the things that please him.

29. For. “The word seems to be used as in Luke vii. 47, to indicate the sign of the truth of the statement made, and not to give the ground of the fact stated” (Westc.).

30. Haec illo loquente, multi crediderunt in eum. 30. When he spoke these things, many believed in him.
31. Dicebat ergo Iesus ad eos, qui crediderunt ei Iudaeos: Si vos manseritis in sermone meo, vere discipuli mei eritis: 31. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed him: If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed.

31. Christ here lays down the test by which His disciples are to be known. It is only when we accept His words, [pg 158] and conform our works thereto, that we can be truly said to be His disciples.

32. Et cognoscetis veritatem, et veritas liberabit vos. 32. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

32. The truth; i.e., the whole body of revelation.

33. Responderunt ei: Semen Abrahae sumus, et nemini servivimus unquam: quomodo tu dicis: Liberi eritis? 33. They answered him: We are the seed of Abraham, and we have never been slaves to any man: how sayest thou: You shall be free?
34. Respondit eis Iesus: Amen, amen dico vobis: quia omnis qui facit peccatum, servus est peccati: 34. Jesus answered them: Amen, amen, I say unto you, that whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin.
35. Servus autem non manet in domo in aeternum: filius autem manet in aeternum: 35. Now the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the son abideth for ever:
36. Si ergo vos filius liberaverit, vere liberi eritis. 36. If therefore the son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.

33-36. To Christ's promise that the truth should make them free, some of the crowd who remained incredulous, replied that they were never slaves, to which Christ makes answer that they are the slaves of sin: and only when the Son of God shall free them, shall they be truly free. Verse 35 is an illustration drawn from ordinary life. As slaves who displease their masters may be sold, or expelled from the household, so you who, instead of serving God, are the slaves of sin, are, and shall remain, excluded from the household of God here and hereafter.

37. Scio quia filii Abrahae estis: sed quaeritis me interficere, quia sermo meus non capit in vobis. 37. I know that you are the children of Abraham: but you seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
38. Ego quod vidi apud Patrem meum loquor, et vos quae vidistis apud patrem vestrum, facitis. 38. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and you do the things that you have seen with your father.

38. Your father; i.e., the devil (see verse 44). Others understand ποιεῖτε as an imperative; do then the works which [pg 159] you have seen with your father (Abraham). But since the following verse proves that the Jews understood Christ to speak of another father than Abraham, for this reason, and because of verse 44, the first interpretation is preferable. The sense then is: You do the works that you have learned from your father the devil.

39. Responderunt, et dixerunt ei: Pater noster Abraham est. Dicit eis Iesus: Si filii Abrahae estis, opera Abrahae facite. 39. They answered, and said to him: Abraham is our father. Jesus saith to them: If you be the children of Abraham, do the works of Abraham.

39. If you be the children of Abraham, do the works of Abraham. The Greek is: If you were the (true) children of Abraham, you would do the works of Abraham.

40. Nunc autem quaeritis me interficere, hominem qui veritatem vobis locutus sum, quam audivi a Deo: hoc Abraham non fecit. 40. But now you seek to kill me, a man who have spoken the truth to you, which I have heard of God. This Abraham did not.
41. Vos facitis opera patris vestri. Dixerunt itaque ei: Nos ex fornicatione non sumus nati: unum patrem habemus Deum. 41. You do the works of your father. They said therefore to him: We are not born of fornication: we have one Father even God.
42. Dixit ergo eis Iesus: Si Deus pater vester esset, diligeretis utique me: ego enim ex Deo processi, et veni: neque enim a me ipso veni, sed ille me misit. 42. Jesus therefore said to them: If God were your father, you would indeed love me. For from God I proceeded, and came: for I came not of myself, but he sent me.

41, 42. Understanding Christ to mean that they were not true Jews, but idolaters (πορνέια being frequently used of idolatry in the Bible; e.g., Ezech. xvi. 15, foll.; see ii. 4, 5,), they protest that they are not idolaters, and that they worship but one God. To this Christ replies, that if they were true children of God, they would love Himself. I proceeded and came, denote respectively the eternal generation, and mission in time.

43. Quare loquelam meam non cognoscitis? Quia non potestis audire sermonem meum. 43. Why do you not know my speech? Because you cannot hear my word.

43. The sense is: why do [pg 160] you not understand My discourses (λαλιάν) on this and on other occasions? The reason is, because you cannot, you will not, receive My doctrine (λόγος). What we do not desire to hear, we are slow to understand. Christ's teaching, so opposed to flesh and blood, so much at variance with all that the Jews had hoped for from their Messias, they were very unwilling to accept. “Ideo audire non poterant, quia corrigi credendo nolebant” (St. August.).

44. Vos ex patre diabolo estis: et desideria patris vestri vultis facere. Ille homicida erat ab initio, et in veritate non stetit: quia non est veritas in eo: cum loquitur mendacium, ex propriis loquitur, quia mendax est, et pater eius. 44. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.

44. At last He plainly tells them who their father is. He was a murderer from the beginning, for he tempted Eve, and thus brought death upon the human race, and he prompted Cain to slay Abel.

And he stood not in the truth; or rather, he standeth not in the truth (the perfect of this verb having a present signification. See Winer, Gr. Gram. N. T., p. 34269), because there is no truth in his nature. St. Augustine argued from this verse to prove the fall of the rebel angels: “Ergo in veritate fuit, sed non stando cecidit, et de veritate lapsus est.” But the conclusion is not warranted by this verse, for the true meaning of ἕστηκεν, and the reason given by our Lord for the devil's not standing in the truth—namely, because truth is not in him, show that there is no reference to the devil as he was before the fall, but only to his nature and methods since. Of his own, i.e., in accordance with his nature. The father thereof, namely, of lying. We thus, with Beelen, refer αὐτοῦ (ejus) to ψεύδους [pg 161] (understood). “Αὐτοῦ, scil. ψεύδους quae vox sumi debet ex antegressa ψεύστης in qua veluti continetur” (Gr. Gram. N. T., page 104).

45. Ego autem si veritatem dico, non creditis mihi. 45. But if I say the truth, you believe me not.

45. Instead of “si” (Vulg.) the Greek has ὅτι (quia): because I speak the truth.

46. Quis ex vobis arguet me de peccato? Si veritatem dico vobis, quare non creditis mihi? 46. Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me?

46. Christ appeals to His integrity of character and innocence of life; as if He said: it cannot be My life that prevents you from believing: so that if My doctrine is true, you have no excuse.

47. Qui ex Deo est, verba Dei audit. Propterea vos non auditis, quia ex Deo non estis. 47. He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God.

47. “He assigns the cause of their not believing or obeying His words, viz., because they are not of God. They are not children of God, sharers in His spirit; but rather children of the devil, filled with his spirit” (M'Evilly).

48. Responderunt ergo Iudaei, et dixerunt ei: Nonne bene dicimus nos quia Samaritanus es tu, et daemonium habes? 48. The Jews therefore answered and said to him: Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
49. Respondit Iesus: Ego daemonium non habeo: sed honorifico Patrem meum, et vos inhonorastis me. 49. Jesus answered: I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and you have dishonoured me.

48, 49. They say to Him that He is a Samaritan, and has a devil. The first charge He passes over as unworthy of notice; to the second He replies that, so far from having a devil, He honours His Father, while they dishonour Himself. On account of His language, strange to them, and His earnest fervour, they say that He is possessed; and He replies that His words and manner are due to the fact that He is seeking the glory of His Father.

50. Ego autem non quaero gloriam meam: est qui quaerat, et iudicet. 50. But I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.

50. But though you dishonour (the Greek has the present in end of 49) Me, I [pg 162] will not seek to avenge the dishonour; the Father will avenge it. See Deut. xviii. 19.

51. Amen, amen dico vobis: si quis sermonem meum servaverit, mortem non videbit in aeternum. 51. Amen, amen, I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever.

51. In verse 32, He promised freedom, now He promises immortality, to those that hearken to His words.

52. Dixerunt ergo Iudaei: Nunc cognovimus quia daemonium habes. Abraham mortuus est, et prophetae: et tu dicis: Si quis sermonem meum servaverit, non gustabit mortem in aeternum. 52. The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets: and thou sayest: If any man keep my word he shall not taste death for ever.
53. Numquid tu maior es patre nostro Abraham, qui mortuus est? et prophetae mortui sunt. Quem teipsum facis? 53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself?

52, 53. The Jews accuse Him of preferring Himself to Abraham and the prophets, to which He replies—

54. Respondit Iesus: Si ego glorifico, meipsum, gloria mea nihil est: est Pater meus, qui glorificat me, quem vos dicitis quia Deus vester est. 54. Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God.

54. If I glorify Myself, let it go for nought; it is My Father, &c.

55. Et non cognovistis eum. Ego autem novi eum: et si dixero quia non scio eum, ero similis vobis, mendax. Sed scio eum, et sermonem eius servo. 55. And you have not known him, but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word.

55. The Jews knew not the Father as the Father of Christ; moreover, they knew Him not at all with a practical knowledge so as to serve Him.

[pg 163]
56. Abraham pater vester exultavit ut videret diem meum: vidit, et gavisus est. 56. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad.

56. Abraham your father rejoiced, &c. He leaves it to be inferred that He, being the object of Abraham's hope and joy, is greater than Abraham, and still not opposed to him. Our Lord's day here is not the eternal existence of the Son, nor the day of His death, nor Himself, the day-star of justice, but the day for which all the ancient just had so long prayed and sighed: drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just (Is. xlv. 8), the day or time of Christ's mortal life on earth. Rejoiced that he might see (ἵνα ἴδη). Most probably the meaning is, that Abraham, after God had revealed to him that the Messias was to be born of his seed, hoped and yearned in joyful confidence that he might see Christ on earth. He saw it, and was glad. It would seem from these words that Abraham saw in the way in which he had yearned to see. And since he cannot have yearned to see Christ's day merely by faith, for he already saw it by faith; hence there must be question here of some other vision. Mald., A Lap., and most commentators hold that Abraham's mental vision was elevated by God, so that from limbo he saw and knew that Christ was on earth just as the angels and saints in heaven know what happens on earth and in hell. The aorist tenses in the Greek (εἶδεν καὶ ἐχάρη), with their past definite signification, are not easily reconciled with this view, and hence others prefer to suppose that there is reference to some very special revelation made to Abraham during his life on earth, in which he saw with something more than the vision of ordinary faith the time and various circumstances of Christ's mortal life (compare Heb. xi. 13).

57. Dixerunt ergo Iudaei ad eum: Quinquaginta annos nondum habes, et Abraham vidisti? 57. The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

57. In saying Christ was not yet fifty years of age, they take an age about which there could be no dispute, as if they said: at the very outside Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham? The common opinion is that Christ died in his thirty-fourth year, though, strange to say, St. Irenæus held the singular view that he lived to be fifty. (Iren., Adv. Haer., ii. 39, 40.)

58. Dixit eis Iesus: Amen, amen dico vobis, antequam Abraham fieret, ego sum. 58. Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.

58. In verse 56, He spoke of the day of His mortal life, [pg 164] now He declares His eternity. Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made (γενέσθαι, came into being), I am (ἐγώ εἴμι).

59. Tulerunt ergo lapides, ut iacerent in eum. Iesus autem abscondit se, et exivit de templo. 59. They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

59. Understanding Him to claim to be eternal, as He really did, they took up stones to stone Him, the Law commanding that a blasphemer, as they accounted Him, should be stoned (Lev. xxiv. 16). But Jesus hid Himself, most probably rendered Himself invisible, and thus passed out of the temple, showing us that it is sometimes advisable, and conducive to the greater glory of God, that we should flee from danger, even when we are persecuted for God's sake. Many ancient authorities add at the end of this verse: “And going through the midst of them went His way, and so passed by;” but more probably the words are a gloss.

[pg 165]

Chapter IX.

1-7. Jesus cures a man born blind.

8-13. Comments of the man's neighbours, who bring him to the Pharisees.

14. It was on the Sabbath day the cure was wrought.

15-23. Interview between the man and the Pharisees. They refuse to believe that he had been blind, and summon his parents in order to ascertain the truth. The parents declare that he had indeed been born blind.

24-34. Again therefore the Pharisees interrogate the man himself, and at length, wincing under his remarks and indignant with him for his favourable opinion of Jesus, they expel him from their assembly.

35-38. Jesus finds him, and now illumines the darkness of his soul.

39-41. The blindness of the Pharisees.

1. Et praeteriens Iesus vidit hominem caecum a nativitate: 1. And Jesus passing by, saw a man who was blind from his birth.

1. Some think that the events about to be narrated occurred shortly after Christ left the temple (viii. 59) and had been rejoined by His disciples, who are supposed to have left when He disappeared. This view seems to us more probable than that which places the events about to be narrated on a different day from those referred to in the close of the preceding chapter. When we are told that Jesus went out of the temple (viii. 59), and passing by, saw a man blind from his birth, the natural inference is, that the Evangelist is speaking of Christ's passing along after He left the temple. This view is confirmed too by the fact, that Jesus should not be read in this verse, being spurious according to all critics, but must be supplied from the preceding chapter.

The man was blind from his birth, so that it was no mere passing affection of the eyes, from which he suffered; and thus the miracle was the more striking.

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2. Et interrogaverunt eum discipuli eius: Rabbi, quis peccavit, hic, aut parentes eius, ut caecus nasceretur? 2. And his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?

2. How the disciples knew the man had been born blind, we are not told. To excite greater compassion, and probably to obtain alms, he may have been himself proclaiming the fact. It was reasonable enough that the disciples should think of the sins of the man's parents as the reason why he was born blind, for God Himself tells us that He is “jealous, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation” (Exod. xx. 5). And we know that David was punished by the death of his child (2 Kings xii. 14). But why should the disciples imagine that the man might have been born blind on account of his own sins? Some think that the disciples may have been imbued with the false notions of the Jews regarding the transmigration of souls, and have thought that this man's soul had sinned in some previous state of existence, and been therefore imprisoned in a blind body. But it is unlikely that the disciples at this time, the third year of our Lord's public life, were still in such ignorance.70 Others think that the question means: was he born blind for some sin which it was foreseen he would commit? Others think that the question was hastily put without advertence to its absurdity. Others that the meaning is: was it for his own, or, since that is out of the question, was it for the sin of his parents that this man was born blind?

3. Respondit Iesus: Neque hic peccavit, neque parentes eius: sed ut manifestentur opera Dei in illo. 3. Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

3. Christ replies that neither the man himself nor his parents had sinned, so as to explain his blindness—ἵνα, as a cause why he should be born blind; but his blindness was ordained, or at least permitted, for the sake of the miracle which Christ was now about to work.

4. Me oportet operari opera eius qui misit me, donec dies est: venit nox, quando nemo potest operari. 4. I must work the works of him that sent me, whilst it is day: the night cometh when no man can work.

4. Day is here the span of Christ's mortal life: night [pg 167] the time after death, when Christ was no longer to perform works visibly before men. Of course, as God, Christ still works, “sustaining all things by the word of His power” (Heb. i. 3), but of this Divine operation there is no question here.

5. Quamdiu sum in mundo, lux sum mundi. 5. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

5. The light. See i. 4, 5. Christ was the spiritual light, and as a symbol and proof of His office of spiritual light-giver, He was now about to open the eyes of the blind man to the light of day.

6. Haec cum dixisset, exspuit in terram, et fecit lutum ex sputo, et linivit lutum super oculos eius. 6. When he had said these things, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and spread the clay upon his eyes.

6. He spat on the ground. Of course such ceremonies as that here recorded were wholly unnecessary to Christ for effecting the cure. Why He sometimes used them it is hard to say; perhaps to help to excite the faith of those who were being cured. “Those who impiously jeer at the use of ceremonies, and material elements in connection with spiritual effects, which they symbolize, have a clear refutation in this action, and several similar actions on the part of our Divine Redeemer for similar effects (Mark vii. 33; viii. 23).” (McEvilly).

7. Et dixit ei: Vade, lava in natatoria Siloe (quod interpretatur Missus). Abiit ergo, et lavit, et venit videns. 7. And said to him: Go, wash in the pool of Siloe, which is interpreted, Sent. He went therefore, and washed, and he came seeing.

7. St. John interprets for his readers the Hebrew name (שׂלוח) of the pool. Some have regarded the interpretation as the gloss of a copyist or interpreter; but there is practically no authority for doubting that it was written by St. John. Doubtless the pool bore this name for some mystic reason; by the natural salubrity of its waters, or by a supernatural virtue, like Bethesda (v. 2), it may have typified Him who was sent from God to heal men. The pool which still retains its old name Birket Silwan, is one of the few undisputed sites at Jerusalem. St. Jerome speaks of [pg 168] the spring which supplied it as situated at the foot of Mount Sion, and mentions also the intermittent character of the spring. See Isaiah viii. 6. In another place St. Jerome speaks of Siloe as situated at “the foot of Mount Moria,” so that there is no reason for doubting that the pool was situated in the valley called Tyropaeon, which separated Mount Sion from Mount Moria, just where Birket Silwan is still to be seen. See also Josephus, Bella Jud., v. 4. 1. The blind man journeying towards the pool, with clay upon his eyes, must have attracted the attention of many, and thus helped to make the miracle more public. That one born blind, and accustomed to move about Jerusalem, would be able to find his way to the pool, there is no reason to doubt; in any case there need be no difficulty raised on this point, as he could probably have readily found some one willing to guide him.

8. Itaque vicini, et qui viderant eum prius quia mendicus erat, dicebant: Nonne hic est qui sedebat et mendicabat? Alii dicebant: Quia hic est. 8. The neighbours therefore, and they who had seen him before that he was a beggar, said: Is not this he that sat, and begged? Some said: This is he.
9. Alii autem: Nequaquam, sed similis est ei. Ille vero dicebat: Quia ego sum. 9. But others said: No, but he is like him. But he said: I am he.
10. Dicebant ergo ei: Quomodo aperti sunt tibi oculi? 10. They said therefore to him: How were thy eyes opened?
11. Respondit: Ille homo qui dicitur Iesus, lutum fecit, et unxit oculos meos, et dixit mihi: Vade ad natatoria Siloe, et lava, Et abii, et lavi, et video. 11. He answered: That man that is called Jesus, made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me: Go to the pool of Siloe, and wash. And I went, I washed, and I see.

11. He answered: That man (ὁ ἄνθρωπος is the true reading) that is called Jesus. He yet recognises in Christ only a holy man, but refers to Him as one who was well known and much spoken of.

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12. Et dixerunt ei: Ubi est ille? Ait: Nescio. 12. And they said to him: Where is he? He saith: I know not.
13. Adducunt eum ad pharisaeos qui caecus fuerat. 13. They bring him that had been blind to the Pharisees.

13. Why they brought him to the Pharisees is not certain; probably in order to have the facts sifted more closely, and perhaps to have Christ condemned of violating the Sabbath (verse 14).

14. Erat autem sabbatum, quando lutum fecit Iesus, et aperuit oculos eius. 14. Now it was the sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.
15. Iterum ergo interrogabant eum pharisaei quomodo vidisset. Ille autem dixit eis: Lutum mihi posuit super oculos, et lavi, et video. 15. Again therefore the Pharisees asked him, how he had received his sight. But he said to them: He put clay upon my eyes, and I washed, and I see.
16. Dicebant ergo ex pharisaeis quidam: Non est hic homo a Deo, qui sabbatum non custodit. Alii autem dicebant: Quomodo potest homo peccator haec signa facere? Et schisma erat inter eos. 16. Some therefore of the Pharisees said: This man is not of God, who keepeth not the sabbath. But others said: How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.
17. Dicunt ergo caeco iterum: Tu quid dicis de illo qui aperuit oculos tuos? Ille autem dixit: Quia propheta est. 17. They say therefore to the blind man again: What sayest thou of him that hath opened thy eyes? And he said: He is a prophet.

16, 17. The Pharisees themselves disagree as to the character of Christ, and ask the man who had been cured (note how he is still spoken of as blind, just as in the Blessed Eucharist (vi. 52) the flesh of Christ is spoken of as bread, not because it is any longer bread, but because of what it is known to have been shortly before) what he thought of Him who cured him. His reply is that Christ is a prophet (προφητής without the article), a man sent by God; not the Prophet, for he did not yet recognise Christ as the Messias.

18. Non crediderunt ergo Iudaei de illo quia caecus fuisset et vidisset, donec vocaverunt parentes eius qui viderat: 18. The Jews then did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they call the parents of him that had received his sight.

18. The Pharisees now doubt the fact of the cure, and send [pg 170] for the man's parents to inquire if he had indeed been born blind.

19. Et interrogaverunt eos, dicentes: Hic est filius vester, quem vos dicitis quia caecus natus est? Quomodo ergo nunc videt? 19. And asked them, saying: Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then doth he now see?
20. Responderunt eis parentes eius, et dixerunt: Scimus quia hic est filius noster, et quia caecus natus est: 20. His parents answered them and said: We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind.
21. Quomodo autem nunc videat, nescimus: aut quis eius aperuit oculos, nos nescimus: ipsum interrogate: aetatem habet, ipse de se loquatur. 21. But how he now seeth, we know not: or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: ask himself; he is of age, let him speak for himself.

19-21. Three questions are put to the parents; to two they reply: that this is their son, and that he was born blind; but to the third they return no answer, though, doubtless, they believed their son's account of the cure.

22. Haec dixerunt parentes eius, quoniam timebant Iudaeos: iam enim conspiraverant Iudaei, ut si quis eum confiteretur esse Christum, extra synagogam fieret. 22. These things his parents said, because they feared the Jews: For the Jews had already agreed among themselves, that if any man should confess him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

22. Put out of the synagogue; that is to say, deprived of all religious intercourse by a sort of excommunication.

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23. Propterea parentes eius dixerunt: Quia aetatem habet, ipsum interrogate. 23. Therefore did his parents say: He is of age, ask him.
24. Vocaverunt ergo rursum hominem qui fuerat caecus, et dixerunt ei: Da gloriam Deo: nos scimus quia hic homo peccator est. 24. They therefore called the man again that had been blind, and said to him: Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.

24. The man himself is again interrogated. The words: Give glory to God are a sort of adjuration; as if they said—remember you are in the presence of God, and speak the truth. See Jos. viii. 19. And yet while, pretending to be anxious to hear the truth, they tried to overawe the poor man by declaring that they are convinced already that Christ is an impostor and sinner.

25. Dixit ergo eis ille: Si peccator est, nescio: unum scio, quia caecus cum essem, modo video. 25. He said therefore to them: If he be a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.

25. Being blind, τυφλὸς ὤν. The present part. is used relatively to the time when he blind.

26. Dixerunt ergo illi: Quid fecit tibi: Quomodo aperuit tibi oculos? 26. They said then to him: What did he to thee? How did he open thy eyes?
27. Respondit eis: Dixi vobis iam, et audistis: quid iterum vultis audire? numquid et vos vultis discipuli eius fieri? 27. He answered them: I have told you already, and you have heard: why would you hear it again? will you also become his disciples?

27. You have heard (Gr. καὶ οὐκ ἠκούσατε, You did not heed). Will you also become his disciples? These words are ironical. The man saw that the Pharisees were hostile to Jesus, and his natural gratitude towards his benefactor made him impatient with them.

28. Maledixerunt ergo ei, et dixerunt: Tu discipulus illius sis: nos autem Moysi discipuli sumus. 28. They reviled him therefore, and said: Be thou his disciple; but we are the disciples of Moses.

28. They reviled him (ἐλοιδόρησαν) therefore, and said: Be thou that man's disciple.

29. Nos scimus quia Moysi locutus est Deus: hunc autem nescimus unde sit. 29. We know that God spoke to Moses: but as to this man, we know not from whence he is.

29. The meaning is: We know not whether this man is sent by God or the devil.

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30. Respondit ille homo, et dixit eis: In hoc enim mirabile est quia vos nescitis unde sit, et aperuit meos oculos: 30. The man answered, and said to them: Why herein is a wonderful thing that you know not from whence he is, and he hath opened my eyes.

30. You is emphatic; you the teachers of God's people!

31. Scimus autem quia peccatores Deus non audit: sed si quis Dei cultor est, et voluntatem eius facit, hunc exaudit. 31. Now we know that God doth not hear sinners: but if a man be a server of God, and doth his will, him he heareth.

31. Now we know that God doth not hear sinners. These are the words of the blind man, and we are not bound to hold that they state what is true: that they were spoken by the man, the inspired Evangelist tells us; and the fact that they were spoken is all that is covered by inspiration. But the words are generally true in the sense in which the context proves they were used. For God does not generally hear sinners so as to work miracles at their will; and this is what the words mean. That God never hears the prayers of sinners, is not stated here, and is not true.

32. A saeculo non est auditum quia quis aperuit oculos caeci nati. 32. From the beginning of the world it hath not been heard, that any man hath opened the eyes of one born blind.
33. Nisi esset hic a Deo, non poterat facere quidquam. 33. Unless this man were of God, he could not do anything.

33. Anything; that is to say, such as the miracle performed upon me.

34. Responderunt, et dixerunt ei: In peccatis natus es totus, et tu doces nos? Et eiecerunt eum foras. 34. They answered, and said to him: Thou wast wholly born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

34. Thou wast wholly born in sins, ὅλος (totus); that is to say, altogether, entirely, as thy blindness proves. And dost thou, steeped from thy birth in sin and ignorance, presume to teach us, the sainted [pg 173] doctors of the Law? And they cast him out. Some take the sense to be, that they excommunicated him, but the obvious meaning is, that they drove him from their presence, wherever it was that they were assembled.

35. Audivit Iesus quia eiecerunt eum foras: et cum invenisset eum, dixit ei: Tu credis in Filium Dei? 35. Jesus heard that they had cast him out: and when he had found him, he said to him: Dost thou believe in the Son of God?

35. Christ as God knew, of course, that the man had been expelled by the Pharisees; but He waited till He heard it as man, and then went to seek for and reward the poor fellow, who had so intrepidly defended Him before them. Instead of Son of God, some manuscripts of great authority read Son of Man; but it is more probable that the former is the correct reading. We may here remark how Christ, who had cured the blindness of the body without requiring faith now asks for faith in Himself before He will dispel the deeper darkness of the soul. “Qui fecit te sine te, non justificat te sine te; fecit nescientem, justificat volentem” (St. Aug., Serm. 15, de verbis Apost.).

36. Respondit ille, et dixit: Quis est, Domine, ut credam in eum? 36. He answered, and said: Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?

36. Probably the man recognised the voice of his benefactor, whom he had not seen until now, and he at once shows himself prepared to do what he understands Christ's question to suggest. He believed that Christ who had cured him, and whom he regarded as a prophet, would not deceive him as to who was really the Son of God. Lord (Gr. κύριε) ought rather to be rendered “Sir.” It is a term of respect, but does not at all imply that the man already recognised Christ to be his Lord and God, as is clear from the context.

37. Et dixit ei Iesus: Et vidisti eum, et qui loquitur tecum, ipse est. 37. And Jesus said to him: Thou hast both seen him; and it is he that talketh with thee.

37. Thou hast both seen. The meaning is: Thou seest Him, the Greek perfect having here the force of a present. See 1 John iii. 6. Christ's reference to the man's seeing, was doubtless designed to stimulate his gratitude, and help him to faith.

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38. At ille ait: Credo Domine. Et procidens adoravit eum. 38. And he said: I believe, Lord. And falling down he adored him.

38. He adored Christ as God. Though the word προσεκύνησεν, which is here rendered “adored,” does not, in our opinion, necessarily imply supreme worship in the Greek of either the Old or New Testament,71 still the context here determines it to that meaning. For Christ had just declared Himself to be the Son of God, and it is as such the man worships Him.

39. Et dixit Iesus: In iudicium ego in hunc mundum veni: ut qui non vident videant, et qui vident caeci fiant. 39. And Jesus said: For judgment I am come into this world, that they who see not, may see: and they who see, may become blind.

39. For judgment I am come into this world. The blind man had recovered sight in two senses—bodily and spiritual—and Christ, as the occasion naturally suggested, now goes on to speak of spiritual blindness. Christ's words here are not contradictory of iii. 17 or viii. 15, because here there is question of a different judgment. In those passages there is question of the judgment of condemnation, for which Christ did not come at His first coming; here there is question of the judgment of discernment (κρίμα, not κρίσις), and for this He had come at His first coming. The sense of the present passage then is: I am come to separate the good from the bad; to make known who love God, and who do not; to show and to effect that those who have been regarded as spiritually blind, and who, indeed, in many cases, have been so, may have the eyes of their souls opened to the light of truth, while those who have been thought, and who think themselves, to see (such as you Pharisees), may be shown to be indeed spiritually blind, and may really become more blind, by being involved in deeper darkness through their own unbelief. This latter effect—that they should become more blind—was not directly intended by Christ, but it was foreseen and permitted, and this is enough to justify Christ's expression: “That they who see may become [pg 175] blind.” Compare Rom. v. 20: “Now the law entered in that sin might abound.”

40. Et audierunt quidam ex pharisaeis qui cum ipso erant et dixerunt ei: Numquid et nos caeci sumus? 40. And some of the Pharisees, who were with him, heard; and they said unto him: Are we also blind?
41. Dixit eis Iesus: Si caeci essetis, non haberetis peccatum: nunc vero dicitis: Quia videmus. Peccatum vestrum manet. 41. Jesus said to them: If you were blind, you should not have sin: but now you say: We see. Your sin remaineth.

40, 41. The Pharisees ask: Are we also blind? and Jesus replies: If you were blind, you should not have sin; that is to say, if you were blind through invincible ignorance, or, as we prefer to hold, if you were blind in your own estimation, if you recognised your spiritual blindness, you should not have sin, because I would wipe it out; but now that you say you see, and rely upon yourselves, your sin remaineth.

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Chapter X.

1-5. The parable (or rather allegory, see below on verse 1), of the door of the sheepfold.

6. The Pharisees understood not the parable.

7-10. Christ, therefore, applies it.

11-18. The parable of the Good Shepherd.

19-21. There was a difference of opinion among the Pharisees regarding Christ.

22-30. On another occasion the Pharisees ask Him to tell them plainly if He is the Christ; to whom He replies that He is, and the Son of God, one in nature with His Father.

31. Thereupon they took up stones to stone Him.

32-38. He defends his language by a quotation from their own Psaltery.

39-42. When they sought to take Him prisoner, He escaped from them, and crossed over to the east side of the Jordan, where many believed in him.

1. Amen, amen dico vobis: qui non intrat per ostium in ovile ovium, sed ascendit aliunde, ille fur est, et latro. 1. Amen, amen, I say to you: he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber.

1. This verse and those that follow down to the end of verse 18, are a continuation of the discourse directed to the Pharisees, and begun in ix. 39, with which verse this tenth chapter might more correctly have been commenced. The logical connection of the following parable with the close of the preceding chapter is not clear. Some, as St. Aug., say that Christ is proving that the Pharisees were blind, else they would recognise Him as the door through which the true fold must be entered, and as the true Shepherd. Others, as St. Chrys., think that He is replying to a tacit objection of the Pharisees, to the effect that they refused to recognise Him, not because they were blind, but because He was an impostor.

The parable, taken strictly, is a narrative of a probable but fictitious event, like that relating to the Prodigal Son (Luke xv. 11-32). Where, as [pg 177] in the present instance, there is continued or prolonged metaphor, without the description of any event, some would call it an allegory and not a parable; but we prefer not to interfere with a phrase so familiar as “the parable of the good Shepherd.” It will be noted that we speak of parables, and not merely of one parable, for we hold that the parable of Christ as door of the fold is distinct from that of Christ as Shepherd. Our reasons for this will appear as we proceed. To understand the grammatical sense of these two parables, we must bear in mind what were the relations of the shepherd to his sheep in eastern countries, and especially in Palestine.

In the Spring of the year the Jewish shepherd conducted his sheep to their pasture, and there they remained until the end of the following Autumn. At night they were enclosed in folds, the flocks of several shepherds being sometimes gathered in the same fold. The fold, open overhead, was surrounded by a wall, in which there was but one door, at which the doorkeeper (ostiarius) remained through the night, until the shepherd's return in the morning. A thief, wishing to steal sheep, would, of course, not attempt to enter by the door, but would climb the wall. On the shepherd's return in the morning the door of the fold was thrown open by the doorkeeper, and each shepherd entered and called his own sheep, which, knowing his voice, followed him to their own pasture. Throughout the whole day the shepherd remained with them, guarding them from wild beasts and robbers, and attending to the weak and maimed. Thus his relations with his sheep were very close and constant indeed, and must be carefully borne in mind, in order that we may rightly appreciate the full significance of these beautiful parables.

He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold. If we strip this language of its metaphorical character, the sense is: that the teacher who enters not into the Church through Christ as the door, that is to say, by believing in Christ, is a false teacher, as were therefore, the Scribes and Pharisees. Christ, then, is the door (see verse 7); the Church is the sheepfold; and the Scribes and Pharisees, with all such, are the thieves and robbers who injure their fellow-men, sometimes secretly like [pg 178] thieves, sometimes with open violence like robbers. That Christ is signified by “the door,” is the view of SS. Aug., Cyril, Bede, Greg., and of A Lap.; and is, indeed, distinctly stated by Himself, in verse 7, after His hearers had failed to understand His words. Hence we unhesitatingly reject the view of Mald. and many others, who take “the door” in verse 1 to be different from that in verse 7; the latter, they say, being the door of the sheep, Christ Himself; the former the door of the shepherds, which Mald. understands of legitimate authority to teach. We have no doubt that the door in both verses is the same, because Christ begins to explain, in verse 7: “Jesus therefore said to them again” what He had said in verses 1-5.

2. Qui autem intrat per ostium, pastor est ovium. 2. But he that entereth in by the door, is the shepherd of the sheep.

2. The sense is that he who entereth by faith in Christ, and by Christ's authority, is a true shepherd (ποιμήν, without the article). Such a pastor is contrasted with the Pharisees who blindly refused to enter by the only gate.

3. Huic ostiarius aperit, et oves vocem eius audiunt, et proprias oves vocat nominatim, et educit eas. 3. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

3. To him the porter openeth. In the higher sense, the porter is not the Scriptures, nor Christ Himself, but the Holy Ghost. To the true pastor of souls the Holy Ghost “openeth,” by giving him grace to teach and govern rightly, and by moving the hearts of the faithful to listen to and profit by his teaching.

And leadeth them out. It is an obvious and familiar principle that in explaining metaphorical language, we are not to expect resemblance in all points between the two things which are implicitly compared. If we say Patrick is a lion, we mean that he has courage or strength; but we do not mean that he has four legs. Similarly, though the Church is compared to a sheepfold, it does not follow that because the sheep had to be led outside the fold in order to find pasture, that therefore the faithful must be led outside the Church before they can obtain the spiritual food of their souls. No, the Church is a fold which has its pastures within itself; and what Christ here declares is that a good pastor does for the faithful what the shepherd does for the sheep when he leads them forth; namely, he [pg 179] provides them with proper nourishment.

4. Et cum proprias oves emiserit, ante eas vadit: et oves illum sequuntur, quia sciunt vocem eius. 4. And when he hath let out his own sheep, he goeth before them: and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice.

4. A good pastor not only puts before his people the sound doctrine of faith, and the right line of duty, but he also goes before them, guiding and directing them by his example, and is rewarded by their obedience, for “the sheep follow him,” and tread in his footsteps.

5. Alienum autem non sequuntur, sed fugiunt ab eo: quia non noverunt vocem alienorum. 5. But a stranger they follow not, but fly from him, because they know not the voice of strangers.

5. The true reading is μη ἀκολουθήσουσιν ἀλλὰ φεύξονται, (will not follow, but will fly), the sense, however, being the same. As the sheep followed their own shepherd every morning from the fold to their pasture, and would follow no stranger, so faithful Christians take their spiritual nourishment from, and are obedient to, only the true pastor.

6. Hoc proverbium dixit eis Iesus. Illi autem non cognoverunt quid loqueretur eis. 6. This proverb Jesus spoke to them. But they understood not what he spoke to them.

6. Proverb. The Greek word (παροιμίαν) suggests the notion of a saying that is deep and mysterious and not merely metaphorical. See John xvi. 25, 29.

7. Dixit ergo eis iterum Iesus: Amen, amen dico vobis, quia ego sum ostium ovium. 7. Jesus therefore said to them again: Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

7. Jesus therefore said to them again; i.e., because they did not understand, He explains. As we have said already, we take the door here to be the same as in verse 1, and the reference in both cases to be to Christ. Here, however, Christ is spoken of as the door through which the sheep, there as the door through which the shepherd, entered. But this need create no difficulty, for as we explained in our preliminary remarks on verse 1, there was only one door on the ordinary sheepfold, and through it both sheep and shepherd entered.

8. Omnes quotquot venerunt, fures sunt et latrones, et non audierunt eos oves. 8. All others, as many as have come, are thieves and robbers: and the sheep heard them not.

8. All others, as many as [pg 180]have come (many ancient authorities add “before Me”). The sense is: all others who have come forward before now, pretending to be the door, the Messias, are thieves and robbers. The present are is used to denote the essential character of their nature. But (ἀλλ᾽, at not et) the sheep heard them not; i.e., did not listen to them so as to remain their disciples. Many such impostors pretending to be the Messias had arisen before this time; such were Theodas and Judas of Galilee (Acts v. 36, 37); and, after the time of Christ, Simon Magus, Barchochebas, and others appeared in the same character.

9. Ego sum ostium. Per me si quis introierit, salvabitur: et ingredietur, et egredietur, et pascua inveniet. 9. I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures.

9. Christ here declares Himself the door absolutely; and therefore, as we have held, the door of both sheep and shepherds. He then proceeds to explain in this verse what this means in reference to the sheep, and in next verse what it means in reference to the shepherds. Shall go in and go out is a Hebraism (1 Kings xxix. 6; 2 Paral. i. 10; Psalm. cxx. 8), meaning he shall deal securely, confidently, and freely.72

10. Fur non venit nisi ut furetur, et mactet, et perdat. Ego veni ut vitam habeant, et abundantius habeant. 10. The thief cometh not, but for to steal and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.

10. In reference to the pastor, he who enters not through Christ (and who is therefore a thief, verse 1), cometh not but to steal, &c. This verse effects the transition from Christ as door to Christ as shepherd. He here sets Himself in opposition to the thief, and so passes on naturally to another parable in which He speaks of Himself as shepherd.

11. Ego sum pastor bonus. Bonus pastor animam suam dat pro ovibus suis. 11. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep.

11. I am the good shepherd (ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός); that particular shepherd foretold by [pg 181] the prophets (Ezech. xxxiv. 11, 15, 16, 22, 23; Zach. xi. 17; Isai. xl. 11). There is no difficulty in the fact that Christ now calls Himself the shepherd, whereas in the preceding verses He has spoken of Himself as the door of the sheepfold. For we hold that a new parable begins in verse 11, and it is obviously open to Christ to use a new metaphor, in which to express under a new aspect His relations to the faithful. See xv. 1, where, in the metaphor of the true vine, His relations with the faithful are set forth under yet another aspect. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. This is to be understood, of Christ, and is the first note of this great Shepherd.

12. Mercenarius autem et qui non est pastor, cuius non sunt oves propriae, videt lupum venientem, et dimittit oves, et fugit: et lupus rapit, et dispergit oves: 12. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep.

12. The hireling is most probably a pastor who has a divine mission like the Pharisees (Matt. xxiii. 2) which, however, he abuses for base motives of self-interest. Such an one, and also he who has no true mission, flieth at the approach of any danger, the particular danger from the wolf being put to represent danger in general.

13. Mercenarius autem fugit, quia mercenarius est, et non pertinet ad eum de ovibus. 13. And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling; and he hath no care for the sheep.

13. The last word of verse 12 and the first three words of verse 13 in the Vulgate: “Oves: Mercenarius autem fugit,” are regarded by many as not genuine; the remaining portion of verse 13 is to be connected with “flieth” of verse 12, in case they are omitted.

14. Ego sum pastor bonus: et cognosco meas, et cognoscunt me meae. 14. I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me.

14. Here we have another note of our great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. He knows every member of His flock; not merely the just, or the elect (as Aug., Bede, Ypr., Tol.), and watches over each with special solicitude. And they, in turn, know Him with the knowledge of faith accompanied by charity. That there is not question merely of a barren faith, is proved by the comparison in [pg 182] the next verse between this knowledge and Christ's. If it be objected that all Christians do not love Christ, we reply that, as far as in Him lies, they do; and the purpose of the parable is to show Christ's love and solicitude for His sheep, to show forth what He does for them, not what they do for Him. He knows them, gathers them into His one fold, saves them by His grace here, and conducts them to heaven hereafter. What the sheep must do on their part after entering the fold, is outside the scope of the parable.

15. Sicut novit me Pater, et ego agnosco Patrem: et animam meam pono pro ovibus meis. 15. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep.

15. Connect with 14: I know mine, and mine know me, as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father. The knowledge is similar, but not, of course, equal; just as our perfection can never equal the infinite perfection of God, though Christ says: “Be ye therefore perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt. v. 48.

And I lay down my life for my sheep. Perfect knowledge and sympathy bring forth the perfect remedy, and Christ's knowledge and love of His sheep receive their fitting consummation in His sacrifice. The words “I lay down My life” show that Christ gave up His life freely and voluntarily (see verse 18); while the closing words of the verse prove the vicarious character of Christ's sacrifice.

16. Et alias oves habeo, quae non sunt ex hoc ovili: et illas oportet me adducere, et vocem meam audient, et fiet unum ovile, et unus pastor. 16. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.

16. Having referred to His death for men, Christ goes on to speak of the call of the Gentiles, thereby indicating the efficacy of His sacrifice for all, whether Jews or Gentiles. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold. The other sheep were those Gentiles who were outside the Jewish Church, but were to be brought within the Church of Christ, so that there might be one fold (rather flock), and one shepherd. Strictly speaking, the Gentiles except very few were not yet His sheep, but those who were to obey the call are spoken of as such by anticipation, and [pg 183] because in the designs of God it was decreed that they should be efficaciously called to the faith. And there shall be one fold and one shepherd. The “one fold,” or rather “one flock” (ποίμνη), distinctly implies the unity of Christ's Church, and the “one shepherd,” is Jesus Christ Himself as invisible head, with the Pope His representative as visible head.73 We have therefore three very important declarations in this verse. (1) The faith was to be preached to the Gentiles; (2) Christ was to have but one flock composed alike of Jews and Gentiles; (3) that one flock was to have one supreme visible head. Some, like Mald., think that the expression this fold” implies that there was another fold, that is to say, those who were to be called from among the Gentiles. But this does not necessarily follow, as the contrast may be, and we believe is, not between a fold of the Jews and a fold of the Gentiles, but between the fold of the Jewish Church which excluded the Gentiles, and the fold of the Christian Church which was to include them.

17. Propterea me diligit Pater: quia ego pono animam meam, ut iterum sumam eam. 17. Therefore doth the Father love me: because I lay down my life that I may take it again.

17. After the parenthetical statement in verse 16, Christ takes up what He had said in the end of verse 15, about laying down His life. Therefore: that is to say, because I lay down My life, and so obey Him, the Father loveth Me. That I may take it again. “Ut” (ἱνα) cannot be taken to express a purpose here, but means either so as, as Mald. holds, or, on the condition that, as Patrizzi. The supreme dominion which Christ here claims over His own life and death, is a proof of His Divinity.

18. Nemo tollit eam a me: sed ego pono eam a meipso, et potestatem habeo ponendi eam: et potestatem habeo iterum sumendi eam. Hoc mandatum accepi a Patre meo. 18. No man taketh it away from me: but I lay it down of myself, and I have power to lay it down; and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

18. No man taketh it away from me; but I lay it down of myself. Christ declares that His death would be voluntary, because He would lay down His life freely. But a difficulty here presents itself. How was He free in laying down His life, if, as He declares, in the end of this same verse, He had a command from His Father to do so? Surely He was bound not to disobey that command, and thus bound to die, and so not free in dying? The difficulty then is to reconcile Christ's freedom in dying with the Father's command that He should die. Many answers have been given.

(1) The command of the Father was not really a command [pg 184] or precept, but only a wish, with which Christ, without sinning, was free not to correspond. But this answer is commonly rejected by commentators and theologians, who hold that there was a strict command. Hence:—

(2) Christ was commanded to redeem man, but not to die. He could have redeemed us in many other ways; therefore in choosing death as the way, He died freely. But it is replied to this that St. Paul tells us that Christ was obedient even unto death (Phil. ii. 8), thereby implying that His death was commanded.

(3) Christ was commanded to die, but was left free as to the manner and circumstances of His death, and therefore was free as to the actual death He underwent upon the cross. But it is again replied that St. Paul declares “He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. ii. 8).

(4) De Lugo and others hold that Christ's freedom in dying consisted in the fact that He could have asked and obtained a dispensation from His Father. He freely chose not to ask a dispensation; therefore He died freely.

(5) Franzelin inclines to the view that the will of the Father was merely a “beneplacitum,” a wish, until Christ freely accepted it, when it became a command: consequent, however, upon Christ's free acceptance. Thus, in virtue of this free acceptance, Christ died freely, though having a command from His Father that He should die.

(6) Lastly, there is the opinion of Suarez, who explains thus: Christ's human will had, strictly speaking, the power of resisting the will of God, and of sinning, and was therefore free: consequently, His human will was free in accepting the command to die, because, strictly speaking, it had the power to resist. No doubt this power could never be reduced to act in our Divine Lord, for the Second Divine Person, in virtue of its hypostatic union with Christ's humanity, was bound to preserve His human will from sin by the operation of grace.

“On account of this perpetual watchfulness on the part of the Second Divine Person,” says A Lap., who adopts this opinion, “the humanity of Christ is said to be extrinsically impeccable; not that the Divinity took away the power [pg 185] of sinning (non quod Verbum illam (humanitatem) praedeterminaret), but that it always supplied the grace, under the influence of which it was foreseen that Christ's human will would freely fulfil each precept.” This view we prefer; and hence we hold—(1) that Christ had a strict command from His Father to die; (2) that His human will had the power to disobey this command, and was consequently free in accepting death; (3) that the Second Divine Person provided that this power to disobey could never be reduced to act, and hence Christ was always extrinsically impeccable.

19. Dissensio iterum facta est inter Iudaeos propter sermones hos. 19. A dissension rose again among the Jews for these words.
20. Dicebant autem multi ex ipsis: Daemonium habet, et insanit: quid eum auditis? 20. And many of them said: He hath a devil, and is mad: why hear you him?
21. Alii dicebant: Haec verba non sunt daemonium habentis; numquid daemonium potest caecorum oculos aperire? 21. Others said: These are not the words of one that hath a devil: Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?

19-21. Again, as on previous occasions there was a difference of opinion among the leaders of the Jews.

22. Facta sunt autem encaenia in Ierosoylmis: et hiems erat. 22. And it was the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem; and it was winter.

22. A new chapter might well have been begun here. The events and discourses recorded by the Evangelist, from chapter viii., probably followed close upon the Feast of Tabernacles (vii. 2). Now the Evangelist suddenly passes on to the Feast of Purification. During the period of more than two months that intervened (see above on v. 1), Christ returned to Galilee (Luke ix. 51; xiii. 22); or, as Patrizzi holds, spent his time in the country parts of Judea, away from Jerusalem. The Feast of the Dedication instituted by Judas Maccabeus, about 165 b.c., in memory of the cleansing of the temple and dedication of the altar of holocausts after the defeat of the Syrians, was celebrated annually for eight days. The first day of the feast was the 25th of Casleu, the ninth month of the Jewish sacred year, which corresponded to the latter part of our November and the first part of December. See 1 Mach. iv. 59.

[pg 186]
23. Et ambulabat Iesus in templo, in porticu Salomonis. 23. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.

23. And because it was winter, Jesus was walking in Solomon's porch. This was probably a cloister, open on one side, and covered overhead, and stood, according to Beel. (Comm. on Acts iii. 11), on the eastern side of the court of the Gentiles. That the Porch of Solomon referred to in 3 Kings vi. 3; 2 Paral. iii. 4, is not meant here (as Mald. holds), we feel certain; for that being within the court of the priests, Christ would not have been permitted by the Jewish priests to approach, much less walk, there.

24. Circumdederunt ergo eum Iudaei, et dicebant ei: Quousque animam nostram tollis? si tu es Christus, dic nobis palam. 24. The Jews therefore came round about him, and said to him: How long dost thou hold our souls in suspense? if thou be the Christ tell us plainly.

24. How long dost thou hold our souls in suspense? The phrase here used by the Evangelist to record the words of the Jews is a Hebraism (see Exod. xxxv. 21; Deut. xxiv. 15; Prov. xix. 23). They wished Christ to state openly that He was their Messias, their King, probably in order that they might accuse Him before the Roman authorities of treason against Rome.

25. Respondit eis Iesus. Loquor vobis, et non creditis: opera quae ego facio in nomine Patris mei, haec testimonium perhibent de me: 25. Jesus answered them: I speak to you, and you believe not: the works that I do in the name of my Father, they give testimony of me.
26. Sed vos non creditis, quia non estis ex ovibus meis. 26. But you do not believe: because you are not of my sheep.

25, 26. He again appeals to His miracles, and upbraids their incredulity.

27. Oves meae vocem meam audiunt: et ego cognosco eas, et sequntur me: 27. My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me.

27. We prefer to understand the sheep here, as in verse 14, not of the just merely, nor of the elect only, but, with A Lap., of all the faithful. All the faithful hear Christ, so as to believe, and in this they are contrasted with those addressed in the preceding verse, who believe not; and all too follow [pg 187] Christ so as to imitate His example, as far as lies in Him.

28. Et ego vitam aeternam do eis: et non peribunt in aeternum, et non rapiet eas quisquam de manu mea. 28. And I give them life everlasting; and they shall not perish for ever, and no man shall pluck them out of my hand.

28. In the same sense He gives them life eternal, and they shall not perish, and (= for) no one can snatch them from His hand. As far as their salvation depends upon Him, they shall be saved; they may indeed fail to correspond with His grace, but they shall not perish through His fault. They may desert Him themselves, but no one shall snatch them from Him.

29. Pater meus quod dedit mihi, maius omnibus est: et nemo potest rapere de manu Patris mei. 29. That which my Father hath given me is greater than all: and no one can snatch them out of the hand of my Father.
30. Ego et Pater unum sumus. 30. I and the Father are one.

29, 30. He proves that no one shall snatch them from Him. No one shall snatch them from the Father (who is greater and more powerful than all). But I and the Father are one in nature and power; therefore no one shall snatch them from Me. This is the argument in the more probable Greek reading, and is more natural than that afforded by the Vulgate. We would read then instead of the present Vulgate text in verse 29: “Pater meus qui dedit mihi major omnibus est,” &c.74 Note that the unity with the Father to which Christ here lays claim is not a moral union, but a unity of nature and power, else the proof of His statement that no one could snatch His sheep from His hands would not be valid.

31. Sustulerunt ergo lapides Iudaei, ut lapidarent eum. 31. The Jews then took up stones to stone him.

31. See above on viii. 59.

[pg 188]
32. Respondit eis Iesus: Multa bona opera ostendi vobis ex Patre meo, propter quod eorum opus me lapidatis? 32. Jesus answered them: Many good works I have shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do you stone me?

32. For which of those works do you stone me? i.e., wish to stone Me.75

33. Responderunt ei Iudaei: De bono opere non lapidamus te, sed de blasphemia; et quia tu homo cum sis, facis teipsum Deum. 33. The Jews answered him: For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God?
34. Respondit eis Iesus: Nonne scriptum est in lege vestra quia: Ego dixi, dii estis? 34. Jesus answered them: Is it not written in your law: I said you are gods?

34. To the charge of blasphemy Christ replies, and His reply has been often urged by Arians and Unitarians to show that He did not claim to be the natural Son of God, but merely meant to call Himself God in some improper sense, analogous to that in which the Sacred Scriptures sometimes speak of judges, who were merely men, as gods.

The sense of verse 34 is: men are called gods in your own law, the reference being to Psalm lxxxi. 6.

35. Si illos dixit deos, ad quos sermo Dei factus est, et non potest solvi scriptura: 35. If he called them gods, to whom the word of God was spoken, and the scripture cannot be broken;
36. Quem Pater sanctificavit, et misit in mundum, vos dicitis: Quia blasphemas, quia dixi, Filius Dei sum. 36. Do you say of him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world: Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?

35, 36. While all Catholic commentators and theologians contend that Christ does not in these two verses withdraw His claim to true Divinity, yet they differ as to the sense of His reply, and hence as to the interpretation of the verses.

(1) Some, as Franzelin, hold that Christ here proves both that He is God, and that He has a right to call Himself God. The argument then is according to these: if your judges could be called gods, [pg 189] even in an improper sense, how much more in the strictest sense can He be called and is He God, whom the Father generated holy with His own holiness, and sent into the world?

(2) Others, as Maran, Jungmann, &c., explain the argument here from the context in the 81st Psalm. Christ, they say, reasons thus. If men could be called gods, as they are in Sacred Scripture (and the Sacred Scripture cannot be gainsaid), how much more, in a strict sense, can He be called God, and is He God, whom the same Scriptures address in the 8th verse of the same 81st Psalm: “Arise, O God, judge Thou the earth, for Thou shalt inherit among the nations”?

(3) Others hold that Christ in these two verses does not insist upon the nature of His Sonship, but contents Himself with showing that He has a right to call Himself God; then in the following verses He shows that He is God in the strictest sense. In this view Christ prescinds in these verses from the sense in which He is God, and shows that in some sense, as the legate of the Father, He has a right to be called God. This was sufficient for the moment to shut the mouths of His adversaries. Whether He is God in the truest and strictest sense, or only in an improper sense, He does not here insist, though His language shows that even in these verses He speaks of Himself as truly God. For the argument shows that in concluding, in verse 36, that He has a right to call Himself “Son of God,” He means to justify his original statement: “I and the Father are one” (verse 30); but these statements are synonymous, and the one justifies the other only when there is question of natural Sonship. No merely adopted son of God could say that He is one with the Father.

Any of these answers solves the objection drawn from these verses against Christ's Divinity; but we prefer the last, and hold, therefore, that Christ first proves against the Pharisees that He has a right to call Himself God, and then goes on to show in what sense He is God.

37. Si non facio opera Patris mei, nolite credere mihi. 37. If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
38. Si autem facio, et si mihi non vultis credere, operibus credite, ut cognoscatis et credatis quia Pater in me est, et ego in Patre. 38. But if I do, though you will not believe me, believe the works: that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.

37, 38. He appeals to His miracles as a proof that He is God in the strictest sense. See notes on iii. 2. That the Father is in me, and I in the Father. According to the [pg 190] fathers, this is a statement in other words of what He said above: “I and the Father are one.” “The Son,” says St. Augustine on this verse, does not say: “The Father is in Me, and I in Him, in the sense in which men who think and act aright may say the like; meaning that they partake of God's grace, and are enlightened by His Spirit. The Only-begotten Son of God is in the Father, and the Father in Him, as an equal in an equal.”

39. Quaerebant ergo eum apprehendere: et exivit de manibus eorum. 39. They sought therefore to take him; and he escaped out of their hands.

39. They sought therefore to take him. These words prove that His hearers did not understand Christ to retract what He had said.

40. Et abiit iterum trans Iordanem, in eum locum ubi erat Ioannes baptizans primum: et mansit illic. 40. And he went again beyond the Jordan into that place where John was baptizing first: and there he abode.

40. He went again to Bethania beyond the Jordan. See above on i. 28. The name of Bethania must have been dear to our Evangelist, because it was probably in its neighbourhood he had first met his heavenly Master.

41. Et multi venerunt ad eum, et dicebant: Quia Ioannes quidem signum fecit nullum. 41. And many resorted to him, and they said: John indeed did no sign.

41. John indeed did no sign. This remark is of great importance as showing how little tendency there was to invest great and popular teachers with miraculous powers. And yet the Rationalists will have us believe that our Lord's miracles were all a popular delusion!

42. Omnia autem quaecumque dixit Ioannes de hoc, vera erant. Et multi crediderunt in eum. 42. But all things whatsoever John said of this man were true. And many believed in him.

42. And many believed in him. Most authorities add the note of place there (ἐκεῖ), as if the Evangelist wished to bring out into bolder relief the incredulity of the Jews (verse 39), by contrasting it with the faith of those beyond the Jordan.

[pg 191]

Chapter XI.

1-3. The illness of Lazarus is made known to Christ.

4-10. After the lapse of two days, Christ proposes to return to Judea; the disciples try to dissuade Him.

11-16. Before setting out, He declares that Lazarus is dead.

17-32. On Christ's approach He is met by the sisters of Lazarus, and many Jews.

33-44. Having groaned in the spirit, wept, and returned thanks to His Father, He raises Lazarus from the dead.

45-53. Many believed in Him on account of the miracle, but the chief priests and Pharisees forthwith resolved on putting Him to death.

54-56. Jesus retired from the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, and the chief priests and Pharisees gave orders, that anyone knowing where He was, should inform upon Him, in order that He might be arrested.

1. Erat autem quidam languens Lazarus a Bethania, de castello Mariae et Marthae sororis eius. 1. Now there was a certain man sick named Lazarus, of Bethania, of the town of Mary and of Martha her sister.

1. “The narrative of the raising of Lazarus is unique in its completeness. The essential circumstances of the fact in regard to persons, manner, results, are given with perfect distinctness. The history is more complete than that in chapter ix., because the persons stand in closer connection with the Lord than the blind man, and the event itself had in many ways a ruling influence on the end of His ministry. Four scenes are to be distinguished:—(1) the prelude to the miracle (1-16); (2) the scene at Bethany (17-32); (3) the miracle (33-44); (4) the immediate issues of the miracle (45-57)” (Westcott in the Speakers Comm.).

Bethania. This village lay nearly two miles east of Jerusalem; see verse 18, and our remarks on vi. 19. To prevent the reader from confounding it with Bethania beyond the Jordan (i. 28), the Evangelist adds that he means the village of Mary and of Martha her sister, who are supposed to be already known to the reader from the Synoptic Gospels. [pg 192] See, e.g., Luke x. 38-42. Bethania is spoken of as their village, not because they owned it, but because they resided there, just as Bethsaida is called the city of Andrew and Peter (i. 44). In this village, then, Lazarus was seriously ill (ἀσθενῶν; see James v. 14).

2. (Maria autem erat, quae unxit Dominum unguento, et extersit pedes eius capillis suis: cuius frater Lazarus infirmabatur.) 2. (And Mary was she that anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair: whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

2. The Greek aorist (ἡ ἀλέιψασα) shows that the reference is to some unction that had already taken place, and not to that which happened subsequently, and which is narrated by our Evangelist (xii. 3; Matt. xxvi. 7; Mark xiv. 3). The unction here referred to we take to be that recorded by St. Luke (vii. 37, 38); and hence, notwithstanding their apparently different characters, we regard Mary the sister of Lazarus (xi. 2) as identical with “the woman who was a sinner in the city” (Luke vii. 37). For St. John in the words: “Mary was she that anointed the Lord,” &c., certainly seems to speak of an unction already known to his readers, and the only unction of Christ, as far as is known, that had taken place before this illness of Lazarus, is that recorded by St. Luke in the passage referred to. In this view, then, our Lord was twice anointed by a woman; on the first occasion in the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke vii. 40, 46), probably in Galilee (see Luke vii. 11), as recorded by St. Luke vii. 37, 38; on the second occasion at Bethania, in Judea, in the house of Simon the leper (Matt. xxvi. 6), as recorded by Matthew, Mark, and John (J. xii. 3). As the present verse proves that Mary, the sister of Lazarus, had already anointed our Lord: and as John xii. 3, with its context, proves that the same sister of Lazarus again anointed Him on a subsequent occasion, we hold that the only woman referred to in the Gospels as having anointed the living body of our Lord, is Mary, the sister of Lazarus; and that she did so on two different occasions. Thus, as already stated, we identify Luke's “sinner in the city” with the sister of Lazarus. If it be objected that the contemplative character of the sister of Lazarus (Luke x. 38-42), and the close friendship of Jesus with her and her family (John xi. 3, 5), forbid us to regard her as identical with the woman who had once been “a sinner in the city,” we reply that Mary, converted in the beginning of our Lord's public life, had now for some years led an edifying life of penance. As a sinner she had lived in some city of Galilee, far away from home, whither she may have gone with some lover whom she met at Jerusalem at one of the great festivals; now she lived with her brother at [pg 193] Bethania, in Judea, where possibly her former sinful life may have been unknown, so that there was no danger of scandal in Christ's friendship with herself and her family. To those who, like Steenkiste (Comm. on Matt. Quaes. 678, conclusio), have “a deep-rooted repugnance” to believing that the sister of Lazarus had ever been a public sinner, we would recall the fact that there are many sinners in heaven to-day enjoying the society of God after a far shorter penance than we require to suppose in the case of the sister of Lazarus, before she began to enjoy the friendship of Christ. Our Divine Lord's tenderness and mercy towards sinners are written on every page of the Gospels, and the only real difficulty here is that to which we have already replied, arising from the danger of scandal, through our Lord's associating with such a woman.

Thus far we have spoken only of “the sinner,” and the sister of Lazarus; but there is a further question, whether Mary Magdalen (Luke viii. 2; Matt. xxvii. 56, 61; Matt. xxviii. 1; John xx. 1, &c.) and they are all three, one and the same person. We believe it to be more probable that they are. The more common opinion among the fathers identifies the three; from the sixth till the seventeenth century their identity was unquestioned in the Western Church; and our Roman Breviary and Missal still identify them on the Feast of St. Mary Magdalen, the 22nd of July. So, too, Tertull., Gregory the Great, Mald., Natal-Alex., Mauduit, M'Ev., Corluy.

We have stated what we consider the most probable view—that Christ was twice anointed during His public life, and on both occasions by the same person, the sister of Lazarus, who is identical with “the sinner” and Magdalen. It is right, however, that we should add, that there is great diversity of opinion, even among Catholic commentators. Some have held that there were three different unctions, others that there was only one. Some have held that the sister of Lazarus, “the sinner,” and Magdalen are all three distinct; others, that at least the sister of Lazarus and the sinner are distinct; and among those who will not admit the identity of all three are found such able commentators as St. Chrys., Estius, Calmet, Beelen. In such a case, where the Scriptures are obscure, where the fathers disagree, where commentators are so divided, and the Greek Church, which celebrates three different feasts [pg 194] for the three women, seems (we say seems, because the different feasts might possibly be celebrated in honour of the same woman) to differ from the Latin, it is hard to attain to anything more than probability, and we have set forth above what, after a very careful examination of the whole question, seems to us most probable. See Corl., Dissert., p. 263 and foll.; Mald. on Matt. xxvi. 6, 7, and xxvii. 56; Steenk. on Matt. Quaes. 678.

3. Miserunt ergo sorores eius ad eum, dicentes: Domine, ecce quem amas infirmatur. 3. His sisters therefore sent to him, saying: Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

3. They merely announce their trouble through a messenger, and in hopeful confidence leave the remedy to Jesus. “Sufficit ut noveris: non enim amas et deseris” (St. Aug. on this verse).

4. Audiens autem Iesus dixit eis: Infirmitas haec non est ad mortem, sed pro gloria Dei, ut glorificetur Filius Dei per eam. 4. And Jesus hearing it, said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God: that the Son of God may be glorified by it.

4. And Jesus hearing it, said to them (“to them” (eis) is not genuine): This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God: that the Son of God may be glorified by it. The words of Christ were obscure until the miracle threw light upon them. They mean that the sickness of Lazarus was not to end in ordinary death, for ordinary death is the end of mortal life, whereas Lazarus was to live again a mortal life. The sickness and death of Lazarus were intended to show forth the Divine power of Jesus in the miracle to be wrought.

5. Diligebat autem Iesus Martham, et sororem eius Mariam, et Lazarum. 5. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary, and Lazarus.

5. Some connect this verse with what has gone before, as giving the reason why the sisters of Lazarus informed Jesus of the illness of His friend. But it is better to connect with what follows in this way. Jesus loved Lazarus, and therefore when He had remained in the same place two days, then He said: Let us go into Judea again, as if He were unable to remain any longer away from His friend. Thus it is not merely His return to Judea, but His return after two days, that proves His friendship. Had He returned sooner, the miracle of the raising of Lazarus would have been less striking, and would not have afforded to Martha and Mary such a powerful [pg 195] motive of faith. See below on verse 15.

The passing notice here of a friendship that must have been the result of long and intimate intercourse shows us how incomplete are the Gospel records. It is very interesting to notice how in this verse St. John refers to the love of Jesus for Lazarus and his sisters by a different word from that used by the sisters in verse 3. Instead of φιλεῖς, which expresses the affection of personal attachment, St. John, now that there is question of the love of Jesus not only for Lazarus but also for his sisters, uses Ἠγάπα, which expresses rather esteem than love, rather a reasoning appreciation than a heartfelt attachment. See below on xxi. 15-17, where the contrast between the two words is most marked.

6. Ut ergo audivit quia, infirmabatur, tunc quidem mansit in eodem loco duobus diebus. 6. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he still remained in the same place two days.
7. Deinde post haec dixit discipulis suis: Eamus in Iudaeam iterum. 7. Then after that he said to his disciples: Let us go into Judea again.
8. Dicunt ei discipuli: Rabbi, nunc quaerebant te Iudaei lapidare, et iterum vadis illuc? 8. The disciples say to him: Rabbi, the Jews but now sought to stone thee: and goest thou thither again?

8. The disciples, fearing for His safety and for their own (see verse 16, where Thomas takes it for granted that return to Judea meant death to Him and them), try to dissuade Him from returning.

9. Respondit Iesus: Nonne duodecim sunt horae diei? Si quis ambulaverit in die, non offendit, quia lucem huius mundi videt: 9. Jesus answered: Are there not twelve hours of the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.

9. The meaning is: just as a man walks safely and without stumbling during the period of daylight, which is a fixed period that cannot be shortened: so, during the time appointed for My mortal life by My Father, I am safe, and so are you.

10. Si autem ambulaverit in nocte offendit, quia lux non est in eo. 10. But if he walk in the night he stumbleth, because the light is not in him.

10. But after the time of My mortal life, then, indeed, you may expect persecution and [pg 196] suffering; for when I am gone, you shall be as men walking after the sun's light has gone down.

11. Haec, ait, et post haec dixit eis: Lazarus amicus noster dormit: sed vado ut a somno excitem eum. 11. These things he said: and after that he said to them: Lazarus our friend sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.
12. Dixerunt ergo discipuli eius: Domine, si dormit, salvus erit. 12. His disciples therefore said: Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13. Dixerat autem Iesus de morte ejus: illi autem putaverunt quia de dormitione somni diceret. 13. But Jesus spoke of his death; and they thought that he spoke of the repose of sleep.
14. Tunc ergo Iesus dixit eis manifeste: Lazarus mortuus est: 14. Then therefore Jesus said to them plainly: Lazarus is dead;

11-14. Jesus declares of His own Divine knowledge (there is no hint of a second message) that Lazarus sleeps. The disciples fail to understand, and He explains.

15. Et gaudeo propter vos, ut credatis, quoniam non eram ibi; sed eamus ad eum. 15. And I am glad for your sakes, that I was not there, that you may believe: but let us go to him.

15. Jesus rejoices that He was not with Lazarus, in which case His tender mercies would have led Him to prevent the death of Lazarus, and He rejoices for the sake of His disciples, inasmuch as a new and powerful motive to strengthen their faith would now be afforded them in the miracle to be wrought.

16. Dixit ergo Thomas, qui dicitur Didymus, ad condiscipulos: Eamus et nos, ut moriamur cum eo. 16. Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow-disciples: Let us also go, that we may die with him.

16. See verse 8. Thomas, Aramaic תאמא, means a twin, the Greek equivalent being Didymus. The Greek equivalent is again mentioned after the name in xx. 24, xxi. 2. Possibly Thomas was commonly known in Asia Minor as Didymus.

17. Venit itaque Iesus: et invenit eum quatuor dies iam in monumento habentem. 17. Jesus therefore came and found that he had been four days already in the grave.

17. Four days. The day of the messenger's arrival would [pg 197] probably be the first day: two other days our Lord remained in Peraea after He had received the news, and one more He would be likely to spend in the journey to Bethania. Dying upon the first day, Lazarus, according to the custom of the Jews, that burial should immediately follow on death (see, e.g., Acts v. 6, 10), had been buried on that same day, as a comparison of this verse with 39 clearly proves.

18. (Erat autem Bethania iuxta Ierosolyman quasi stadiis quindecim.) 18. (Now Bethania was near Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.)

18. See above on verse 1, and especially on vi. 19.

19. Multi autem ex Iudaeis venerant ad Martham et Mariam, ut consolarentur eas de fratre suo. 19. And many of the Jews were come to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

19. The Jews, whom our Evangelist always carefully distinguishes from the “turba,” or lower class, were leading men among the people; so that it appears from this that the family of Lazarus had a good social standing.

20. Martha ergo ut audivit quia Iesus venit, occurrit illi: Maria, autem domi sedebat. 20. Martha therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus was come, went to meet him; but Mary sat at home.
21. Dixit ergo Martha ad Iesum: Domine si fuisses hic, frater meus non fuisset mortuus: 21. Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22. Sed et nunc scio quia quaecumque poposceris a Deo, dabit tibi Deus. 22. But now also I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

22. Even still she has hope that He may intercede with God to restore life to her brother.

23. Dicit illi Iesus: Resurget frater tuus. 23. Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall rise again.

23. In words, purposely ambiguous, and meant to try her faith, Jesus assures her that her brother shall rise again.

24. Dicit ei Martha: Scio quia resurget in resurrectione in novissimo die. 24. Martha saith to him: I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

24. Understanding Him to speak of the final resurrection, [pg 198] or at least wishing to force Him to explain, she says: I know, &c. Note how Martha's words prove the faith of the Jews of that time in the resurrection of the body.

25. Dixit ei Iesus: Ego sum resurrectio et vita: qui credit in me, etiam si mortuus fuerit, vivet: 25. Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me although he be dead, shall live.
26. Et omnis qui vivit et credit in me, non morietur in aeternum. Credis hoc? 26. And every one that liveth, and believeth in me shall not die for ever. Believest thou this?

25, 26. Christ avails of this occasion to perfect her faith, and in the beautiful and consoling words which we read in the antiphon of the Benedictus in the Office for the Dead, declares that He Himself by His own power, and not merely by supplication to the Father, as she imagined (verse 22), is the author of our resurrection and life. In the following words He explains what He means. He who believes in Me, and dies in the living faith, which worketh by charity, even though he be corporally dead, like Lazarus, shall live again a glorious life, even in his body; and everyone who is living in the body, and so believeth shall never die, because though he shall indeed pass through the gates of death, I shall quicken him again to a better life so that he may be said rather to have slept than died.76 If this interpretation of the words, “shall never die,” seem to anyone strained, he may take them in reference to the death of the soul; but as there is question in the context of the raising of the body of Lazarus, we consider the opinion we have adopted more probable. In these verses, then, Jesus declares Himself the resurrection and the life; the resurrection of the dead, the enduring life of the living. So that verse 25 encourages Martha to hope to have Lazarus restored to her, and verse 26 warns her to look to herself, in order that she may live for ever.

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27. Ait illi: Utique Domine, ego credidi quia tu es Christus Filius Dei vivi, qui in hunc mundum venisti. 27. She saith to him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world.
28. Et cum haec dixisset, abiit, et vocavit Mariam, sororem suam silentio, dicens: Magister ad est, et vocat te. 28. And when she had said these things, she went, and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The master is come and calleth for thee.
29. Illa ut audivit, surgit cito, et venit ad eum. 29. She, as soon as she heard this, riseth quickly and cometh to him.
30. Nondum enim venerat Iesus in castellum: sed erat adhuc in illo loco ubi occurrerat ei Martha. 30. For Jesus was not yet come into the town; but he was still in that place where Martha had met him.
31. Iudaei ergo qui erant cum ea in domo, et consolabantur eam, cum vidissent Mariam quia cito surrexit et exiit, secuti sunt eam dicentes: Quia vadit ad monumentum ut ploret ibi. 31. The Jews therefore who were with her in the house and comforted her, when they saw Mary that she rose up speedily and went out, followed her, saying: She goeth to the grave, to weep there.
32. Maria ergo, cum venisset ubi erat Iesus, videns eum, cecidit ad pedes eius, et dicit ei: Domine, si fuisses hic, non esset mortuus frater meus. 32. When Mary therefore was come where Jesus was, seeing him, she fell down at his feet, and saith to him: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

27-32. To Christ's question, if she believed what He had said of Himself as the resurrection and the life, she replies that she believes77 Him to be the Messias, the Son of God, and so she implicitly believes in everything He teaches, even though, as was probably the case now, she did not quite understand. Then she goes home, and secretly calls her sister Mary, who hurries out to meet Jesus. The Jews, thinking Mary went out to weep at the tomb of Lazarus, follow her, [pg 200] and she and they come to the place where Jesus still remained outside the village. Mary repeats almost the exact words which Martha had used on meeting Jesus.

33. Iesus ergo, ut vidit eam plorantem, et Iudaeos qui venerant cum ea, plorantes, infremuit spiritu, et turbavit seipsum. 33. Jesus therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews that were come with her, weeping, groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself.

33. The word ἐνεβριμήσατο which we translate groaned, is far more expressive of indignation than of grief. So Tolet., Beel., Trench, &c. Christ's indignation on the present occasion was on account of sin which brought death upon Lazarus and the whole human race, or rather perhaps on account of the incredulity of the Jews, which made this miracle and the sorrow consequent upon the death of Lazarus necessary.

Troubled himself. These words imply Christ's supreme control over the passions of His human nature.

34. Et dixit: Ubi posuistis eum? Dicunt ei: Domine, veni, et vide. 34. And said: Where have you laid him? They say to him: Lord, come and see.

34. He knew well, but probably wished to excite their faith and hope by the question.

35. Et lacrymatus est Iesus. 35. And Jesus wept.

35. Truly this is a touching scene! The Lord of heaven weeps over the grave of His departed friend. In no other part of the Gospels are the human and Divine sides of our Blessed Lord's character more clearly brought out than in this beautiful story of the raising of Lazarus. Christ as man weeps over him, whom He is about as God to raise from the dead.

36. Dixerunt ergo Iudaei: Ecce quomodo amabat eum. 36. The Jews therefore said: Behold how he loved him.
37. Quidam autem ex ipsis dixerunt: Non poterat hic, qui aperuit oculos caeci nati, facere ut hic non moreretur? 37. But some of them said: Could not he that opened the eyes of the man born blind, have caused that this man should not die?
38. Iesus ergo rursum fremens in semetipso, venit ad monumentum: erat autem spelunca: et lapis superpositus erat ei. 38. Jesus therefore again groaning in himself, cometh to the sepulchre: Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it.

38. Caves were the usual [pg 201] family vaults of the Jews, sometimes natural, sometimes artificial and hollowed out of a rock. See Gen. xxiii. 9; Judith xvi. 24; Isai. xxii. 26; John xix. 41.

39. Ait Iesus: Tollite lapidem: Dicit ei Martha, soror eius qui mortuus fuerat: Domine, iam foetet, quatriduanus est enim. 39. Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to him: Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days.

39. Martha evidently imagined that Jesus wished merely to see her brother's corpse, and she shudders at the thought of its being exposed, now decomposing, to the gaze of the crowd. Her words and Christ's reply, both show that she did not now hope that Jesus could raise her brother who was four days dead.

A little before indeed she had hoped for even this (verse 22); but now her faith began to waver. “Habuit ergo alternantes motus gratiae et naturae, fidei et diffidentiae, spei et desperationis de resurrectione Lazari” (A Lap.).

From this verse we learn that Lazarus was four days dead; from verse 17 that he was four days in the grave; hence he must have been buried on the day he died.

40. Dicit ei Iesus: Nonne dixi tibi quoniam si credideris, videbis gloriam Dei? 40. Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God?

40. Christ's reply shows that Martha's faith was now imperfect. Did I not say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? Where He had said these exact words to her is not recorded, but the reference is probably to what was said to the messenger and reported by him to the sisters of Lazarus (4), or to the discourse with Martha, epitomized above (23-26). By the “glory of God” is meant the glorious power of God.

41. Tulerunt ergo lapidem: Iesus autem elevatis sursum oculis, dixit: Pater gratias ago tibi quoniam audisti me: 41. They took therefore the stone away. And Jesus lifting up his eyes said: Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me.

41. The stone that closed the mouth of the cave was removed, and Jesus raising His eyes to heaven returns thanks to His Father. As man He returns thanks for the power which He was about to manifest; and He does so before [pg 202] the event, so confident is He that Lazarus will start at His call. Jesus did not enter the sepulchre; if He had entered, our Evangelist who records all the circumstances so minutely would have mentioned the fact. It is hardly necessary to remark upon the absurd explanation of Paulus and Gabler, to the effect that Jesus alone looked into the sepulchre, or alone entered it, and to His surprise found Lazarus alive; that He then returned thanks to God that Lazarus was not dead, and told Lazarus to come out of the sepulchre. For that Christ did not enter the sepulchre, is clear from what has been already stated, as well as from His words, “Come forth,” which imply that He was outside. That He alone looked into the sepulchre, is incredible; for we may be sure that the natural curiosity of the crowd assembled, led many of them to look into the sepulchre. Is it likely too, that if Jesus on looking into the sepulchre saw His friend alive, He would coolly begin to return thanks to God, and then quietly tell Lazarus to come out? He should have been more than man, which our adversaries will not admit Him to have been, to preserve such coolness in such circumstances.

42. Ego autem sciebam quia semper me audis: sed propter populum qui circumstat, dixi, ut credant quia tu me misisti. 42. And I knew that thou hearest me always, but because of the people who stand about have I said it; that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

42. Christ's thanks to the Father on this occasion must not lead us to suppose that some unexpected favour had been conferred by the Father upon Him. He knew well that on account of the conformity of His will with that of His Father, He could ask nothing that His Father could refuse; but He returns thanks now, as He Himself tells us, in order that the people present might believe that the Father had sent Him. In other words, Jesus wished to make the raising of Lazarus a clear proof of His Divinity, by thus calling God to witness to the miracle before it was wrought. Unquestionably the raising of Lazarus from the dead is a most powerful proof of the Divinity of Christ. It was a manifest and public miracle performed in the presence of a whole crowd of witnesses (see 19, 31, 45), performed to prove that Christ had come from the Father (verse 42); that He was the resurrection and the life (verses 25, 26); that He was the Son of God (verse 4); that, in fact, He was all that which, a short [pg 203] time previously, and in Jerusalem itself, He had claimed to be, namely, the Lord of life, one with the Father (x. 28, 30). Such a miracle in such circumstances God could never have permitted, had Christ not been in truth all that He claimed to be.

Rationalists have tried in various ways to explain away this stupendous miracle. Some say that the story is a pure concoction of St. John, else it would have been narrated by some other Evangelist. Others, that the death of Lazarus was merely feigned, a pious ruse in which Christ and Lazarus, as well as Martha and Mary were accomplices, with the object of inducing the people to accept and follow the teachings of Christ.

But we need hardly point out how absurd it is to suppose, that St. John would attempt, fifty years after the Synoptic Evangelists, to invent and put forward such a minute account of an extraordinary event till then unheard-of by the Jews. That the other Evangelists make no mention of this stupendous miracle is remarkable, but may be accounted for by the fact that prior to the history of the Passion, they confine their narratives almost entirely to what Christ said and did in Galilee. Hence they do not mention the healing of the man who had been ill for thirty-eight years (John v. 5-9), nor of the man born blind (John ix.), nor, for the same reason, the raising of Lazarus, all these miracles having occurred in Judea.

The second theory mentioned above hardly requires refutation. Even His Jewish enemies never accused Christ of fraud or deception; and in this particular instance the Jews, many of whom were hostile to Jesus (verse 46), and no doubt investigated the miracle, had not the slightest suspicion of fraud. So certain were all, even the Pharisees, that the miracle was genuine, that without attempting to deny it, they merely bethink themselves what they will do with Jesus (verses 47, 48).

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43. Haec cum dixisset, voce magna clamavit: Lazare veni foras. 43. When he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth.
44. Et statim prodiit qui fuerat mortuus, ligatus pedes et manus institis, et facies illius sudario erat ligata. Dixit eis Iesus: Solvite eum, et sinite abire. 44. And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding-bands, and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them: Loose him and let him go.
45. Multi ergo ex Iudaeis qui venerant ad Mariam et Martham; et viderant quae fecit Iesus, crediderunt in eum. 45. Many therefore of the Jews who were come to Mary and Martha, and had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in him.
46. Quidam autem ex ipsis abierunt ad pharisaeos, et dixerunt eis quae fecit Iesus. 46. But some of them went to the Pharisees, and told them the things that Jesus had done.
47. Collegerunt ergo pontifices et pharisaei concilium et dicebant: Quid facimus, quia hic homo multa signa facit? 47. The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said: What do we, for this man doth many miracles?
48. Si dimittimus eum sic, omnes credent in eum: et venient Romani, et tollent nostrum locum, et gentem. 48. If we let him alone so, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come, and take away our place and nation.

48. They dreaded lest the Romans, fearing He should become king, should come and destroy their temple and nation.

49. Unus autem ex ipsis Caiphas nomine, cum esset pontifex anni illius, dixit eis: Vos nescitis quidquam. 49. But one of them named Caiphas, being the high-priest that year, said to them: You know nothing.
50. Nec cogitatis quia expedit vobis ut unus moriatur homo pro populo, et non tota gens pereat. 50. Neither do you consider that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
51. Hoc autem a semetipso non dixit: sed cum esset pontifex anni illius, prophetavit quod Iesus moriturus erat pro gente. 51. And this he spoke not of himself: but being the high-priest of that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation.
52. Et non tantum pro gente, sed ut filios Dei, qui erant dispersi, congregaret in unum. 52. And not only for the nation, but to gather together in one the children of God, that were dispersed.

49-52. Then Caiphas, the High-priest for that year said: You know nothing, &c. Caiphas meant that Jesus should be got rid of to save the Jewish nation from incurring the anger of the Romans. The Holy Ghost, however, as St. John tells us, signified through Caiphas (as an unconscious instrument) that the death of Jesus was necessary for the eternal salvation of the Jewish people, and of all to be called to the faith who were scattered then or since among the Gentiles. Caiphas was unaware of the solemn sense of the words which he enunciated; so that the Holy Ghost speaking through a prophet may sometimes mean one [pg 205] thing, the Prophet himself something quite different. It is the common opinion, too, that even the inspired writers did not always understand the meaning of what they wrote, and in such cases the sense of Scripture is, of course, that which was intended by the Holy Ghost.

Caiphas, whom on this occasion the Holy Ghost employed to declare the necessity for man of the vicarious sacrifice of Christ, was the Jewish High-priest at the time (xi. 49, xviii. 13). His father-in-law, Annas, is called High-priest by St. Luke (Luke iii. 2; Acts iv. 6), from which some, as Beelen, conclude, that each filled the office of High-priest every alternate year. For this view, however, there is no historical evidence, and it seems more probable that Annas is called High-priest by St. Luke, not because he was then discharging the duties of the successor of Aaron, but because, having been High-priest, and unlawfully deposed (a.d. 14) by Valerius Gratus, the Roman Governor of Judea, he was still regarded by the Jews as the lawful High-priest.78

Or it may be that, as President of the Sanhedrim, a position which Annas filled, after he had been deposed from that of High-priest, he is styled ἀρχιερεύς by St. Luke. This latter is the view of Cornely, [pg 206] iii., § 76, n. 18. See Acts vii. 1; ix. 1, 2.

53. Ab illo ergo die cogitaverunt ut interficerent eum. 53. From that day therefore they devised to put him to death.

53. Thus the raising of Lazarus, which was the occasion of Caiphas' suggestion, had an important influence upon the final determination of the Jews to put Christ to death. St. John notes the growth of Jewish hostility step by step: v. 16 ff.; vii. 32, 45 ff.; viii. 45 ff.; viii. 59; ix. 22; x. 39.

54. Iesus ergo iam non in palam ambulabat apud Iudaeos, sed abiit in regionem iuxta desertum, in civitatem quae dicitur Ephrem, et ibi morabatur cum discipulis suis. 54. Wherefore Jesus walked no more openly among the Jews, but he went into a country near the desert, unto a city that is called Ephrem, and there he abode with his disciples.

54. The city of Ephrem (Gr. ἐφαίμ) is probably the same to which Josephus refers (Bell. Jud., iv. 9, 9) as situated in the mountains of Judea. The city probably occupied the site of the modern et-Taiyibeh, about 14 miles N.E. of Jerusalem, in the mountainous district lying between the central towns and the Jordan. See Smith's B. D.

55. Proximum autem erat pascha Iudaeorum: et ascenderunt multi Ierosolymam de regione ante pascha, ut sanctificarent seipsos. 55. And the pasch of the Jews was at hand: and many from the country went up to Jerusalem before the pasch, to purify themselves.

55. This was the fourth and last Pasch of our Lord's public life, and during it He was put to death. To purify themselves; i.e., from any legal uncleanness, in order that they might be able to keep the Passover. See Numb. ix. 10; 2 Paral. xxx. 17; Acts xxi. 24-56. In any case where sacrifice was required in the process of purification, it was necessary to go to Jerusalem, because there only could sacrifice be offered.

56. Quaerebant ergo Iesum: et colloquebantur ad invicem, in templo stantes: Quid putatis, quia non venit ad diem festum? Dederant autem pontifices et pharisaei mandatum, ut si quis cognoverit ubi sit, indicet, ut apprehendant eum. 56. They sought therefore for Jesus; and they discoursed one with another, standing in the temple: What think you, that he is not come to the festival day? And the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that if any man knew where he was, he should tell, that they might apprehend him.

56. Whether those who sought Jesus were His friends or enemies, is disputed. But from what follows in this verse, [pg 207] we believe they were His enemies, who were looking for Him, in order to deliver Him up to the Sanhedrim.

What think you, that he is not come to the festival day? We much prefer to understand here two questions—What think you? Do you think that he will not come to the feast? For our Rhemish translation gives ὅτι οὐ μη ἔλθῃ a past, whereas it ought to have a future sense. Hence the Revised Version translates with two questions.

[pg 208]

Chapter XII.

1-8. The Supper in Bethania six days before the Pasch.

9-11. The chief priests think of killing Lazarus.

12-19. On the day after the supper Christ enters Jerusalem in triumph, to the disgust of the Pharisees.

20-22. Some Gentile Proselytes wish to see Him.

23-33. Christ (at the temple) foretells the near approach of His passion, and a voice from heaven is heard.

34-36. He continues to refer to His approaching death, and exhorts the people to faith.

37-43. Yet though they had witnessed many miracles, most of them refused to believe, as the prophets had foretold.

44-50. Christ's testimony regarding the object of the Incarnation, and the necessity of faith in Him.

1. Iesus ergo ante sex dies paschae venit Bethaniam, ubi Lazarus fuerat mortuus, quem suscitavit Iesus. 1. Jesus therefore six days before the pasch came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life.

1. Maldonatus connects with xi. 55: since the Pasch was near, Jesus on His way to Jerusalem to celebrate it, came to Bethania. Six days before the pasch. This peculiar Greek construction would be better rendered in Latin; “sex diebus ante pascha.” We have now entered upon the last week of our Divine Lord's mortal life, but there is a diversity of opinion regarding the exact day here indicated. The principal views regarding the days of our Lord's arrival at Bethania, of the supper there, and of the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, are:—

(1) Arrival at Bethania on Friday; the supper (a) on the same evening, or (b) according to others, on Saturday evening; the triumphal entry on Sunday.

(2) Arrival at Bethania on Saturday evening; the supper [pg 209] on the same evening; the entry into Jerusalem (a) on Sunday, or (b) according to others, on Monday.

(3) Arrival on Sunday; supper on the same evening; the entry into Jerusalem on Monday.

2. Fecerunt autem ei coenam ibi: et Martha ministrabat, Lazarus vero, unus erat ex discumbentibus cum eo. 2. And they made him a supper there: and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of them that were at table with him.

2. In Bethania then (in the house of Simon the leper, as we learn from Matt. xxvi. 6; Mark xiv. 3) a supper was prepared for Jesus, at which Lazarus was present and Martha served. We take it as certain that Matthew (xxvi. 6-13) and Mark (xiv. 3-9) refer to the same unction of Christ which is recorded by St. John in the following verses here. If not, we should have to suppose that the same murmuring for the same cause in the same circumstances took place a second time within four days, though reprehended by Christ on the first occasion it occurred. That SS. Matthew and Mark seem to refer to an occasion two days before the Pasch (Matt. xxvi. 2; Mark xiv. 1), while St. John refers to an occasion six days before, is readily explained. The two Synoptic Evangelists record this anointing of Jesus by Mary out of its place, and in connection with the treachery of Judas, because it was it that finally determined Judas to betray our Lord.79

3. Maria ergo accepit libram unguenti nardi pistici, pretiosi, et unxit pedes Iesu, et extersit pedes eius capillis suis: et domus impleta est ex odore unguenti. 3. Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

3. When we bear in mind the prominence given to Lazarus, Martha, and Mary in the preceding chapter, and find two of the three mentioned in verse 2 here, it is certain that the Mary mentioned here, in verse 3, can be no other than she who was sister to Martha and Lazarus.

Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard. We learn from Matthew and Mark that the ointment was contained in an alabaster box. Alabaster is a species of stone resembling marble, and derives its name [pg 210] from Alabastron, a town in Egypt, near which it was found in large quantities. The term “alabaster box” came in time to be applied to any box for holding perfumes.

Spikenard, or nard, is a famous aromatic substance obtained from an eastern plant of the same name. It is said in our Rhemish Version to be right spikenard. The Greek adjective thus translated is πιστικῆς, which may mean genuine, from πίστις; or liquid, from πίστος (πίνω, to drink); or, as St. Augustine says, the nard may have been so called from the place in which it was obtained. St. John tells us that Mary anointed the feet of our Lord, who, according to the Jewish custom, would be reclining on His left side upon a couch, with His feet stretching out behind. The first two Evangelists mention only the unction of our Lord's head, so that St. John supplements their account. The fact that the odour of the ointment filled the house, is mentioned as a proof of its excellence. Pliny (xiii. 3) refers to such unctions among the Romans: “Vidimus etiam vestigia pedum tingi.”

4. Dixit ergo unus ex discipulis eius, Iudas Iscariotes, qui erat eum traditurus: 4. Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said:
5. Quare hoc unguentum non veniit trecentis denariis, et datum est egenis? 5. Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?

4, 5. From SS. Matt. and Mark, it would seem that at least two of the disciples must have murmured, for St. Matt. says: “And the disciples seeing it, had indignation;” and St. Mark: “Now there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said: Why was this waste of the ointment made?” We may admit, then, that some of the others joined Judas in murmuring, but probably from a different motive; or, we may hold, with some commentators, that the plural is used indefinitely for the singular.

Judas Iscariot (Gr. Judas Iscariot, son of Simon: see notes on vi. 72) spoke out, asking why this ointment was not sold at 300 pence, and the price given to the poor? We discussed above on vi. 7, the value of the Roman silver penny at this time current in [pg 211] Palestine, from which it appears that this box of ointment was thought to be worth nearly £10 of our money.

6. Dixit autem hoc, non quia de egenis pertinebat ad eum, sed quia fur erat, et loculos habens, ea quae mittebantur portabat. 6. Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein.

6. St. John here declares the motive of Judas. It was not love for the poor, as he pretended, but because, being purse-bearer, for our Lord and the disciples, he was always anxious to receive money, that he might have an opportunity of filching some of it for himself. Whether with our Rhemish Version we give ἐβάσταζεν the meaning of “carried,” or, as others prefer, “made away with,” at all events, it is plain from the verse, in which Judas is declared a thief, that he sometimes appropriated to his own uses money from the common purse. In his case, too, the saying was true: “Nemo repente fit turpissimus.”

7. Dixit ergo Iesus: Sinite illam ut in diem sepulturae meae servet illud. 7. Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial.

7. There is a difference of reading in this verse. Many ancient authorities read: She has kept it (τετήρηκεν) against the day of my burial; and the meaning of this reading is plain. The more probable80 Greek reading, however, is: That she might keep it (ἱνα ... τηρήσῃ) against the day of My burial.” In this reading we take our Lord's reply to mean: Let her alone: it was not sold (Judas had asked: Why was it not sold?) in order that she might keep it against the day of My burial. Thus we would read “servaret” instead of “servet” in the Vulgate; and we take “ut” to depend not on “sinite,” but on some words such as “non veniit” (it was not sold) understood. St. John's report of Christ's words agrees substantially with that of St. Mark, who represents our Lord as saying: “She is come beforehand to anoint My body for the burial” (Mark xiv. 8); and both accounts, as well as that of St. Matt. (xxvi. 12), “She hath done it for My burial,” signify that our Lord's death was so close at hand that this unction might be regarded as a preparation for His burial; and hence Mary was not to be blamed, inasmuch as such [pg 212] honours were usually paid to bodies before burial.

Immediately after their account of this unction, SS. Matt. and Mark narrate the compact of Judas with the Jews to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver; so that it is extremely probable that it was spite at losing the price of the ointment used on this occasion that finally determined Judas to betray our Lord.

8. Pauperes enim semper habetis vobiscum: me autem non semper habetis. 8. For the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always.

8. But me you have not always. Christ as God is, no doubt, everywhere, even now; and even as man He is still upon our altars in the Blessed Sacrament; but He is no longer with us in a mortal body capable of deriving sensible pleasure and comfort from such ministrations as those of Mary upon this occasion.

9. Cognovit ergo turba multa ex Iudaeis quia illic est: et venerunt, non propter Iesum tantum, sed ut Lazarum viderent, quem suscitavit a mortuis. 9. A great multitude therefore of the Jews knew that he was there: and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
10. Cogitaverunt autem principes sacerdotum ut et Lazarum interficerent. 10. But the chief priests thought to kill Lazarus also:
11. Quia multi propter illum abibant ex Iudaeis, et credebant in Iesum. 11. Because many of the Jews by reason of him went away, and believed in Jesus.

9-11. A great multitude, on learning that Christ was in Bethania, flocked out to see the wonder-worker, and Lazarus whom He had raised from the dead; and so many were being converted by that miracle, that the chief priests thought of putting Lazarus to death, that they might thus get rid of a living and manifest proof of the almighty power of Jesus.

12. In crastinum autem turba multa, quae venerat ad diem festum, cum audissent quia venit Iesus Ierosolymam. 12. And on the next day a great multitude, that was come to the festival day, when they had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,

12. On the day after the supper, which we take to have been Sunday or Monday, that is, the first or second day of the Jewish week, a great multitude came to meet our Lord and escort Him into Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands always flocked to Jerusalem for the Pasch, and though the feast was still some days off, a great number had [pg 213] already arrived. Doubtless many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem were also among the crowd on this occasion.

13. Acceperunt ramos palmarum, et processerunt obviam ei, et clamabant: Hosanna, benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, rex Israel. 13. Took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried: Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.

13. Carrying palm branches, with shouts of joy and triumph, they hailed Jesus as the Messias, and King of Israel; in the words of the great Paschal chant (Ps. cxvii. 26), Hosanna (הושׂענא, which is contracted for הושׂיעה נא) means: pray, save, or: save, I beseech. It may be taken here as a prayer to Jesus to save them, or rather as a prayer to God to save and bless their Messias. Or it may be that it was used as an expression of joy without attention to its literal meaning, as the expressions “vivat,” “vive le roi,” and the like, are sometimes used at the present day.

14. Et invenit Iesus asellum, et sedit super eum, sicut scriptum est: 14. And Jesus found a young ass, and sat upon it, as it is written:

14. From the Synoptic Evangelists we learn that Jesus sent His disciples telling them where they should find the colt, and St. Matthew tells us that they brought the colt and its mother, and spread their garments upon both (ἐπ᾽ αὐτῶν, Matt. xxi. 7). They spread their garments upon both, because they did not know upon which He would choose to sit. And St. Matthew adds that Jesus sat upon them (ἑπάνω αὐτῶν); that is, as we take it, upon the garments that had been spread upon the colt. In this way the accounts of the four Evangelists are reconciled.

Another difficulty occurs here, if we compare the parallel passage of St. Luke (xix. 29). For, whereas St. John's account naturally leads us to suppose that the ass's colt was procured on the way between Bethania, where Christ had supped on the preceding night (xii. 1, 2) and Jerusalem, St. Luke, on the other hand, says: “And it came to pass when He was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethania, unto the mount called Olivet, He sent two of His disciples, saying, Go into the town which is over against you, at your [pg 214] entering into which you shall find the colt of an ass tied,” &c. We have searched in vain for a satisfactory solution of this difficulty. If the words of St. Luke are to be taken strictly as meaning that Christ was not merely near to, but approaching Bethania, then we would hold that on this morning, before the procession started, He had retired from Bethania eastward, and therefore farther away from Jerusalem, and was now again approaching the village on His way to the Holy City. There is nothing improbable in this supposition, for Christ did many things which the Evangelists have not recorded (John xxi. 25), and it enables us to reconcile two accounts, which are not easily reconciled otherwise.

15. Noli timere filia Sion: ecce rex tuus venit sedens super pullum asinae. 15. Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy king cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.

15. St. Matthew (xxi. 4) says that these things were done that prophecy might be fulfilled; that is, they were brought about by God, not by the disciples, who, as St. John tells us in the next verse, were ignorant that they were fulfilling a prophecy. The whole quotation here is substantially from Zach. ix. 9: “Rejoice greatly (‘fear not,’ of St. John) O daughter of Sion; shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold thy King will come to thee, the Just and Saviour: He is poor and riding upon an ass, and (even) upon a colt the foal of an ass.”

16. Haec non cognoverunt discipuli eius primum: sed quando glorificatus est Iesus, tunc recordati sunt quia haec erant scripta de eo, et haec fecerunt ei. 16. These things his disciples did not know at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things to him.

16. The disciples did not know at that time that prophecy was being fulfilled; but when the light of the Holy Ghost had flooded their souls at the first Pentecost (Acts ii. 4), then they recognised in these things the fulfilment of prophecy.

17. Testimonium ergo perhibebat turba quae erat cum eo quando Lazarum vocavit de monumento, et suscitavit eum a mortuis. 17. The multitude therefore gave testimony, which was with him when he called Lazarus out of the grave, and raised him from the dead.

17. When he called Lazarus out of the grave. It is [pg 215] doubtful, and authorities are much divided, whether the true reading here is when (ὅτε), or that (ὅτι). In the former reading, eye-witnesses of the miracle now bore testimony of it; in the latter, the crowd that was now with Him having heard and believed that the miracle had been wrought, now bore witness that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.

18. Propterea et obviam venit ei turba, quia audierunt eum fecisse hoc signum. 18. For which reason also the people came to meet him: because they heard that he had done this miracle.

18. It was on account of this miracle too that the crowd had come out to meet Him. We take “the multitude” in this verse to be the same as that referred to in the preceding (ὁ ὄχλος); and what St. John tells us is, that their coming out to meet Him, and their testimony regarding Him, both proceeded from the fact that He had raised Lazarus from the dead.

19. Pharisaei ergo dixerunt ad semetipsos: Videtis quia nihil proficimus? ecce mundus totus post eum abiit. 19. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves: Do you see that we prevail nothing? behold, the whole world is gone after him.

19. The jealousy of the Pharisees is at once aroused, and, as often happens in such circumstances, they exaggerate, saying that the whole world had gone after Him.

Our Lord moved on towards Jerusalem, riding upon the ass,81 between two enthusiastic crowds (see Matt. xxi. 9; Mark xi. 9). As He approached the city, and shouts of joy and thanksgiving rose from the crowds which preceded and followed, some Pharisees, as we learn from St. Luke, bade Jesus rebuke His disciples for the words of homage they were using. To whom He replied: “I say to you, if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out” (Luke xix. 40). Then when He had mounted the summit of Olivet, and the city and temple burst upon His view, He wept, and “went on to prophesy the destruction of the city with a particularity of detail, to the exactness of which the subsequent history bears wonderful testimony.” [pg 216] (Coleridge, Life of our Life, vol. ii., p. 187). See Luke xix. 41-44.

When the procession entered Jerusalem, the “whole city was moved, saying, Who is this?” And the people said, “This is Jesus the Prophet from Nazareth of Galilee” (Matt. xxi. 10, 11). As we learn from St. Mark, Jesus went up to the temple, and there the events occurred which St. John records down to verse 36.

20. Erant autem quidam gentiles, ex his qui ascenderant ut adorarent in die festo. 20. Now there were certain gentiles among them who came up to adore on the festival day.
21. Hi ergo accesserunt ad Philippum, qui erat a Bethsaida Galilaeae, et rogabant eum, dicentes: Domine volumus Iesum videre. 21. These therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying: Sir, we would see Jesus.
22. Venit Philippus, et dicit Andreae: Andreas rursum et Philippus dixerunt Iesu. 22. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew. Again Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

20-22. Some Gentiles, who were probably proselytes, had come to Jerusalem for the Pasch, and they ask Philip that they may see, that is, speak with Jesus. Philip consults his fellow-townsman, Andrew (John i. 44), and they both make known the request to Jesus. Our Lord was probably in the Court of the Jews, into which the Gentiles could not enter, so that their request meant that Jesus should come out into the Court of the Gentiles. See above on ii. 14.

23. Iesus autem respondit eis, dicens: Venit hora, ut clarificetur Filius hominis. 23. But Jesus answered them saying: The hour is come, that the son of man should be glorified.

23. The Evangelist does not tell us whether Jesus granted an audience to these Gentiles, but goes on to record His reply to the disciples: The hour is come that the son of man should be glorified: i.e., the hour of His death to be followed by His glorious resurrection and ascension by the descent of the Holy Ghost, and the call of the Gentiles.

24. Amen, amen dico vobis, nisi granum frumenti cadens in terram, mortuum fuerit, 24. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die;
25. Ipsum solum manet: si autem mortuum fuerit, multum fructum affert. Qui amat animam suam, perdet eam: et qui odit animam suam in hoc mundo, in vitam aeternam custodit eam. 25. Itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it: and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal.

24, 25. In a beautiful comparison our Lord points out that as the grain of wheat dies in order that it may fructify, so [pg 217] in the providence of God His death is necessary to His triumph and His glory. And applying this doctrine to His disciples, He points out that whoever loveth his life inordinately here, shall lose it for eternity, and he that hateth (a Hebraism for loveth less) his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal.

26. Si quis mihi ministrat, me sequatur: et ubi sum ego, illic et minister meus erit. Si quis mihi ministraverit, honorificabit eum Pater meus. 26. If any man minister to me, let him follow me: and where I am, there also shall my minister be. If any man minister to me, him will my Father honour.

26. If any man minister to me, let him follow me. This exhortation to follow Christ in despising this life for God's sake, is addressed to all His followers, who are to minister to Him by the service of devout lives; but it is applicable in a special way to Priests, for to them belongs the privilege of the special ministry. To such as imitate Him He gives the glorious promise, that where He is, that is, in the glory of the Father, which as God He then enjoyed, and which as man He was to merit by His passion, there also shall His followers be.

27. Nunc anima mea turbata est. Et quid dicam? Pater, salvifica me ex hac hora. Sed propterea veni in horem hanc. 27. Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause I came unto this hour.

27. The thought of His approaching Passion now disturbed His human soul, for as He was true man, His humanity naturally shuddered at the suffering and death He was about to undergo. Compare Matt. xxvi. 38; Mark xiv. 34. Christ, of course, permitted this fear to seize upon Him, so that it was wholly voluntary; and He manifested it at this particular time, probably lest His disciples should be tempted to say that it was easy for Him who was God to [pg 218] exhort others to despise their life and endure suffering. He shows them, therefore, that He dreads death like the rest of men; and St. John records the fact because of the Docetae, who denied the reality of the Incarnation, and consequently of Christ's sufferings. See above on i. 14, and Introd. IX.

Father save me from this hour. Some read this with a note of interrogation after it, as if the meaning were: Shall I say to the Father to save Me from this hour? But we may understand the words as a conditional prayer proceeding from Christ's human will; conditional, that is, upon his Father's will to save Him from the Passion which He was to undergo, just as in St. Luke xxii. 42: “Father, if Thou wilt, remove this chalice from Me; but not My will, but Thine be done.” That such, indeed, is the meaning here, is proved by what follows, where Jesus retracts this conditional prayer, saying that it was for the very purpose that He might suffer, that He came unto this hour.

28. Pater, clarifica nomen tuum. Venit ergo vox de coelo: Et clarificavi, et iterum clarificabo. 28. Father, glorify thy name. A voice therefore came from heaven: I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

28. In this verse, then, He prays absolutely to the Father to glorify His name by the sufferings and death of the Son. And a voice came from the air, produced there by God or an angel, saying: I have both glorified (it), and will glorify (it) again. The sense of these words of the Father is disputed. The Latin fathers understand the sense to be; I have glorified Thee from all eternity, and will glorify Thee again as God-man after Thy ascension. In favour of this view is the prayer of Christ: “And now glorify Thou Me, O Father, with Thyself, with the glory which I had before the world was, with Thee” (John xvii. 5). The Greek fathers, on the other hand, all take the sense to be: I have already glorified Thee by many miracles, and will again glorify Thee in the miracles to be wrought at Thy death, resurrection, and ascension, and afterwards by Thy followers in Thy name. It will be noted that the fathers generally understand the words of God the Father in reference to the glorification of Christ, whereas Christ's prayer regarded the glorification of the Father's name. We feel convinced, however, that the direct object [pg 219] of glorification in both instances is the Father's name. For when Christ prays: “Glorify Thy name,” and the Father answers: “I have glorified, and will again glorify,” obviously the answer must refer to the glorification of the Father's name, for which Christ had prayed. Since, however, the glorification of the Father was to be brought about by the glorification of the Son; hence, this too is indirectly referred to, and our interpretation agrees substantially with that of the fathers.

29. Turba ergo quae stabat et audierat, dicebat tonitruum esse factum. Alii dicebant: Angelus ei locutus est. 29. The multitude therefore that stood and heard, said that it thundered. Others said, An Angel spoke to him.
30. Respondit Iesus, et dixit: Non propter me haec vox venit, sed propter vos. 30. Jesus answered and said: This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

30. Jesus declares that the voice from heaven was the Father's testimony to Him, given for their sakes, in order that they might believe in Him.

31. Nunc iudicium est mundi: nunc princeps huius mundi eiicietur foras. 31. Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

31. Now is the judgment of the world. There is a difference of opinion as to what judgment is here spoken of; whether the judgment of liberation of the world in general, or the judgment of condemnation of the wicked world. In favour of the former, it is argued—(a) that since Satan was to be cast out, or deprived of his dominion over the world, therefore the world was to be liberated; (b) that verse 32 declares the effect of this judgment: the world shall be liberated, and as a consequence I shall draw all things to Myself; (c) that the world to be judged is that over which Satan had ruled, and from which he was now to be cast out. But before the Incarnation he had held sway over the whole world (Rom. iii. 23, xi. 32; Gal. iii. 22). Therefore, it is the whole world that is to be judged, and hence there must be question of the judgment of liberation. So St. Aug., Mald., A Lap., Tolet., Beel., Patriz.

In favour of the latter view, which is held by St. Chrysostom and most of the Greek fathers, it is argued—(a) that St. John always uses κρίσις of the judgment of condemnation; (b) that the world in the beginning of the verse is the same whose prince is to be deprived of his dominion; that, therefore, it should stand or fall with its prince; hence since he is to be stripped of his dominion, it is to be condemned; (c) that in the discourse after the Last Supper, Christ always means by the world, the wicked world, opposed to Himself (John xiv. 17, 22, 30; xv. 18, 19; xviii. 9, 16, 25); therefore, also here, and hence there must be question of the judgment of condemnation. [pg 220] The prince of this world is plainly the devil. See also 2 Cor. iv. 4; Eph. ii. 2, vi. 12. In the Talmud the same title is given to the prince of devils. By Christ's death the devil was cast out: that is, deprived of that almost universal sway which he had exercised over men before the coming of Christ. “At nondum diabolus e mundo ejectus videtur esse, cum in eo adhuc grassetur. Ejectus foras dicitur non quod nunc in mundo non sit, et in multis etiamnum dominetur; sed quod, quantum in Christo fuit, ejectus fuerit, ita ut, si homines vellent, nihil prorsus in ipsos haberet potestatis. Homines illi postea portam arcis aperuerunt, et proditione quadam in suam quisque domum admittit. Itaque etiam nunc regnat et operatur, sed in filios diffidentiae, Eph. ii. 2” (Mald. on this verse).

32. Et ego si exaltatus fuero a terra, omnia traham ad meipsum: 32. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.

32. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth. Christ here predicted that after His death on the cross (see next verse) He should become a centre of attraction, and draw all men (πάντας is the more probable reading, not πάντα), both Jews and Gentiles to Himself. This marvellous prophecy began to be fulfilled in the centurion and his companions (Matt. xxvii. 54), and the rest of the multitude that witnessed the crucifixion (Luke xxiii. 48), and is daily receiving its fulfilment still.

33. Hoc autem dicebat, significans qua morte esset moriturus. 33. (Now this he said, signifying what death he should die.)

33. St. John here gives us an authentic interpretation.

34. Respondit ei turba: Nos audivimus ex lege quia Christus manet in aeternum; et quomodo tu dicis, Oportet exaltari Filium hominis? Quis est iste Filius hominis? 34. The multitude answered him: We have heard out of the law, that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest thou: The son of man must be lifted up? Who is this son of man?

34. The multitude understood Jesus to speak of His death, or at least of His withdrawal from them, and object that He cannot be the Messias, who, as they understood the Scriptures (the law is here put for the whole Scriptures), was to remain for ever. They quote no single text, but probably they had gathered this idea from many passages; e.g., Isai. ix. 6, 7; Ps. cix. 4; Dan. vii. 13, 14, &c. It is not unlikely that they had the passage of Daniel specially before their [pg 221] minds, for there the power of the Son of Man is described as “an everlasting power that shall not be taken away, and His kingdom (a kingdom) that shall not be destroyed.” Hence, they argued, if Christ was to die, He could not be the Messias, but must be some other Son of Man than he spoken of by Daniel.

35. Dixit ergo eis Iesus: Adhuc modicum, lumen in vobis est. Ambulate dum lucem habetis, ut non vos tenebrae comprehendant: et qui ambulat in tenebris, nescit quo vadat. 35. Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, that the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

35. Christ might have easily replied, showing them from the same Scriptures that the Messias was to suffer and die (see, e.g., Isai. liii.; Dan. ix. 26); but probably because He saw that the motive of the multitude in objecting was not to seek light, but to disprove His claim to be the Messias, He did not vouchsafe a reply to their objection, but went on to exhort them to believe, for thus they should find a solution of all their difficulties.

Yet a little while; i.e., a few days more, the light, which is Himself, is to be among them. He exhorts them, therefore, to walk, that is, to believe, while He is present among them, in order that darkness, that is, the time when He is gone from among them, may not find them still in their unbelief.

And (καί = γάρ) he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. Christ does not mean to say that they could not believe after His death; but just as, though it is quite possible to walk during the time of darkness, still it is easier to walk in daylight, so it was easier for them to believe now, when He, the Sun of Justice was corporally present among them, than it would be when He had withdrawn His light. We take, “darkness,” then, with Mald., not of sin, nor of unbelief, but, as opposed to the light which is Christ, of the time when Christ could be no longer present among them, after His death, as in verse ix. 4; xi. 9, 10.

36. Dum lucem habetis, credite in lucem, ut filii lucis sitis. Haec locutus est Iesus: et abiit, et abscondit se ab eis. 36. Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things Jesus spoke, and he went away, and hid himself from them.

36. He now explains what He means by telling them to walk. It is that they should believe. That you may be (become) the children of light. The phrase “children of light” is a Hebraism, meaning those who are to possess the light, [pg 222] who are destined for it. Compare Luke xvi. 8; Eph. v. 8.

And he went away, and hid himself from them. SS. Matt. and Mark tell us that He went to Bethania with the twelve and remained there (Matt. xxi. 17; Mark xi. 11).

37. Cum autem tanta signa fecisset coram eis, non credebant in eum: 37. And whereas he had done so many miracles before them, they believed not in him.
38. Ut sermo Isaiae prophetae impleretur, quem dixit: Domine, quis credidit auditui nostro? et brachium Domini cui revelatum est? 38. That the saying of Isaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he said: Lord, who hath believed our hearing? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
39. Propterea non poterant credere, quia iterum dixit Isaias: 39. Therefore they could not believe, because Isaias said again.
40. Excaecavit oculos eorum, et induravit cor eorum: ut non videant oculis, et non intelligant corde, et convertantur, et sanem eos. 40. He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

37-40. Before closing this first part of the narrative portion of the Gospel (see Introd. iv.), St. John pauses in the history to note the hard-hearted incredulity of the Jews, notwithstanding the fact that Christ had wrought so many miracles; an incredulity, however, which had been foretold by Isaias, which, therefore, came to pass now in order that (ἱνα) the prediction of the Prophet should be fulfilled (verses 37, 38); and which came to pass necessarily (necessitate consequente), because, as Isaias declared, they no longer had the abundant graces necessary in order that they might believe (verses 39, 40). Thus the incredulity of the Jews in our Lord's time was necessary to the end that prophecy might be fulfilled. How then, we may ask, was that incredulity culpable, if those who were incredulous were not free and able to believe? The answer is, that this incredulity was necessary by a necessity consequent upon the prediction of the inspired Prophet, which prediction was itself consequent upon God's foreknowledge that the Jews would, culpably and of their own free will, remain incredulous. God foresaw this incredulity, predicted it, because He foresaw it was to be; and, of course, it came to pass, as He had foreseen it would. [pg 223] Hence, when God foresees, or His Prophet predicts, the commission of a certain sin, that sin is infallibly, yet freely committed. It is, as if we saw a man walking across a plain; he does so, not because we see him, but we see him because he walks. Similarly, in the boundless plain of His eternal present, God sees all things that are to be, and they happen, not because He sees them, but He sees them because they are to happen.

Note, in verse 38, that our hearing means what has been heard from us, for the preachers of the Gospel are represented in Isaias as complaining of the small number of those who listened to them. The arm of the Lord is Christ, according to several of the fathers; or we may take it to mean the power of the Lord in the work of man's redemption.

Note, in verse 40, where the prophecy is cited freely, after neither the Hebrew nor the Septuagint, that it is not meant that God blinded any man positively, but only negatively, by the withdrawal of His more abundant graces.

41. Haec dixit Isaias, quando vidit gloriam eius, et locutus est de eo. 41. These things said Isaias when he saw his glory, and spoke of him.

41. See Isaias vi. 1, 9, 10, where the Prophet says: “I saw the Lord” (אדני = the Supreme God), words which are here referred by St. John to the Prophet's having seen Christ; therefore, according to St. John, Christ is the Supreme God.

It would also seem from this verse that the Son of God Himself, and not merely an angel representing Him, appeared to Isaias on that occasion. It was the common opinion of the fathers, though denied by most of the scholastics, that God sometimes appeared in the O. T. apparitions.

And spoke of him, rather, “and he spoke of Him,” for this clause does not depend upon the preceding “when.” It is a statement that it was of Christ Isaias spoke the words just quoted.

42. Verumtamen et ex principibus multi crediderunt in eum: sed propter pharisaeos non confitebantur, ut e synagoga non eiicerentur: 42. However many of the chief men also believed in him: but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, that they might not be cast out of the synagogue.

42. See above on ix. 22.

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43. Dilexerunt enim gloriam hominum magis quam gloriam Dei. 43. For they loved the glory of men, more than the glory of God.
44. Iesus autem clamavit, et dixit: Qui credit in me, non credit in me sed in eum qui misit me. 44. But Jesus cried, and said: He that believeth in me, doth not believe in me, but in him that sent me.

44. These words of our Lord recorded in the remainder of this chapter seem to have been spoken on a subsequent day of Holy Week (see verse 36); but on what precise day, it is difficult to determine. Doth not believe in me is the Hebrew way of saying: doth not so much believe in Me, as in Him that sent Me. Compare Mark ix. 36.

45. Et qui videt me, videt eum qui misit me. 45. And he that seeth me, seeth him that sent me.

45. In these words Christ declares His unity of nature with the Father. “Sensus est de visione corporali, non quod Deus oculo corporeo videatur immediate, et per se, sed mediante humanitate, cui Divina substantia Patris et Filii est unita” (Tolet.).

46. Ego lux in mundum veni: ut omnis qui credit in me, in tenebris non maneat. 46. I am come a light into the world; that whosoever believeth in me, may not remain in darkness.

46. Darkness here means unbelief and sin.

47. Et si quis audierit verba mea, et non custodierit, ego non iudico eum, non enim veni ut iudicem mundum, sed ut salvificem mundum. 47. And if any man hear my words and keep them not: I do not judge him: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

47. I do not judge him; i.e., I do not condemn him. Compare iii. 17; viii. 15, 50. At his first coming Christ did not come to condemn, but to save.

48. Qui spernit me, et non accipit verba mea, habet qui iudicet eum: sermo quem locutus sum, ille iudicabit eum in novissimo die. 48. He that despiseth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

48. Hath one that judgeth him; namely, the Father (viii. 50). Hence the sense of the verse is that he that despiseth Me ... hath one that [pg 225] judgeth him even now; and moreover, on the last day My words shall rise in judgment against him.

49. Quia ego ex meipso non sum locutus, sed qui misit me Pater, ipse mihi mandatum dedit quid dicam, et quid loquar. 49. For I have not spoken of myself, but the Father who sent me, he gave me commandment what I should say, and what I should speak.

49. This verse gives the reason why the words of Christ shall stand in judgment against the unbeliever; because His words were not merely His own, uttered by His private authority, but spoken by the command of His Father, whom therefore they despise, in despising Him. In our view Christ here speaks of Himself as man.

If say and speak are to be distinguished, then “say” (εἴπω) refers to the formal discourses, “speak” (λαλήσω) to the ordinary conversations; so that in all His words Christ had spoken to them the words of God.

50. Et scio quia mandatum eius vita aeterna est. Quae ergo ego loquor, sicut dixit mihi Pater, sic loquor. 50. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting. The things therefore that I speak; even as the Father said unto me, so do I speak.

50. To show them their folly, and in the hope of yet inducing them to believe, He tells them He knows with certainty that the command of the Father (that is, what the Father had commanded Him to say and do, and hence, all His own words and works) is the cause of life eternal to mankind. Hence their folly in not believing.

The things therefore that I speak; even as the Father said unto me, so do I speak. Thus He concludes, insisting on the fact that He is the legate of God (consubstantial with the Father, verse 45), and as such worthy to be believed.

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Chapter XIII.

1-20. On the night before (according to the Jewish method of reckoning their days, on the first night of) the great festal week of the Pasch, Jesus celebrates the Paschal Supper with His disciples in Jerusalem, washes their feet, exhorts them to imitate His example of humility and charity, and hints at the sin of Judas.

21-30. He reveals the traitor, who then leaves the supper-room.

31-39. He foretells the near approach of His own death and glorification; gives the new commandment of Christian charity, and predicts the triple denial by Peter.

With this chapter the second part of the narrative of our Gospel commences. See Introd. IV.

St. John now passes on to the history of the events of the night before our Lord's death, omitting a number of incidents of Holy Week, which had been already recorded by the Synoptic Evangelists. Thus, he does not mention the weeping over Jerusalem (Luke xix. 39-44); the cursing of the barren fig-tree (Matt. xxi. 18, 19, Mark xi. 12-14); or the cleansing of the temple (Matt. xxi. 12, 14; Mark xi. 15; Luke xix. 45, 46). There can be little doubt that it was his intention to supplement the Synoptic Gospels, for not only does he omit many things that they record, but he records very much that they omit.

1. Ante diem festum paschae, sciens Iesus quia venit hora eius ut transeat ex hoc mundo ad Patrem: cum dilexisset suos qui erant in mundo, in finem dilexit eos. 1. Before the festival day of the pasch, Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

1. Before the festival day of the pasch. We are here met by a serious difficulty when we compare with these words of St. John the accounts of the Synoptic Evangelists; for, while they represent the supper, referred to by St. John in verse 2, as having taken place on the evening of the first day of Azymes, St. John here seems to place it prior to that Feast. If we had only the Synoptic Gospels, we should, without any hesitation, come to the conclusion—(a) that our Lord and His Apostles ate the Paschal Supper on the night [pg 227] before He died; and (b) that the Jews that year eat it on the same night. For St. Matthew tells us: “And on the first day of the Azymes, the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the pasch? But Jesus said: Go ye into the city to a certain man, and say to him: The Master saith, my time is near at hand; with thee I make the pasch with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus appointed to them, and they prepared the pasch. But when it was evening he sat down with his twelve disciples” (Matt. xxvi. 17-20). Similarly, St. Mark (xiv. 12-17) and St. Luke (xxii. 7-14) seem to take for granted that the ordinary time for celebrating the Paschal Supper was come, for St. Mark says: “Now on the first day of the unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the pasch, the disciples say to him,” &c.; and St. Luke: “And the day of the unleavened bread came, on which it was necessary that the pasch should be killed.” St. John, on the other hand, in the verse before us, in which he introduces his account of the events of this last night of Christ's mortal life, speaks of the time as; Before the festival day of the pasch.” Moreover, in subsequent passages82 of our Gospel, to which we shall direct attention as they occur, St. John uses language which, at first sight, at least, would seem to show that the Jews did not eat the Pasch on the night of Christ's last supper, but on the following night, after He was crucified. Hence the difficulty of reconciling St. John's account with that of the Synoptic Evangelists. A vast amount of learning has been expended upon this question, and a great deal has been written upon it. We shall indicate as briefly as possible the different opinions, and state what seems to us most probable.

(1) Some, as St. Clement of Alexandria, Calmet, &c., have held that our Lord did not eat the Pasch at all in the last year of His life. They argue from texts in St. John, which prove, they say, that the time for eating the Pasch had not come until after Christ was put to death. They take the “first day of the Azymes,” in the Synoptic Gospels, to mean the 13th day of Nisan; and hold that it, and not the 14th, was so called because the Jews removed all leaven from their houses a day before the Feast. [pg 228] In this view they have no difficulty in reconciling St. John's account with that of the other Evangelists; for the Synoptic Evangelists are then made to represent the Last Supper as having taken place on the 13th of Nisan. That being so, it is at once concluded that there cannot be question of the Paschal Supper, but of an ordinary supper, and St. John, in agreement with the Synoptists, states that the supper in question was held “before the festival day of the pasch.”

This opinion, however, we regard as wholly improbable and untenable in the face of the statements of the Synoptic Evangelists, for these statements are such as to leave no reasonable doubt that our Lord and His Apostles did eat the Paschal Supper the night before He died. Thus, they tell us that the disciples were sent by our Lord to prepare the Pasch, that they prepared it, and that when the time for eating it was come, Christ sat down with the Twelve.83 Moreover, St. Luke tells us that after they sat down, Christ said: “With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you before I suffer” (Luke xxii. 15)—words which clearly imply that on the occasion of that last supper the Pasch was eaten by Christ and the Apostles. Hence the opinion we are now considering, which would reconcile the Evangelists by holding that our Lord, on the night before He died, did not partake of the Paschal Supper, but only of an ordinary supper, is, as we have already said, wholly improbable; and, indeed, the book of a certain Florentine named Vecchietti, published at the close of the sixteenth century, and maintaining this view, was condemned by the Holy Office and its author imprisoned.84

(2) Others, especially among the Greeks, admit that our Lord did eat the Paschal Supper on this occasion, but hold that He did so on the night following the 13th of Nisan, thus anticipating by a day the ordinary time for celebrating it.

But this view, too, seems to us very improbable; for the language of the Synoptic Evangelists appears to us to prove conclusively that our Lord did not anticipate the legal time for eating the Pasch, which, as we know from Exod. xii. 6, 8, and from tradition, was the night following the 14th of Nisan. Thus St. Mark, in the passage already quoted, says: “Now, on the first day of the unleavened bread, when they sacrificed (ἔθυον, the Imperf. denoting what was customary) the pasch, the disciples say to [pg 229] Him: Whither wilt thou that we go, and prepare for thee to eat the pasch?” (Mark xiv. 12). And St. Luke: “And the day of the unleavened bread came, on which it was necessary (ἔδει) that the pasch should be killed” (Luke xxii. 7). These texts, we believe, prove that our Lord celebrated His last supper on the night following the 14th of Nisan, the night on which the Jews were bound by their Law to eat the Pasch. Hence we unhesitatingly reject any view which supposes Him to have anticipated the legal time for the Paschal Supper.

(3) Others, as Harduin, Bisping, &c., hold that the 13th of Nisan with the Judeans was the 14th with the Galileans, who therefore kept the Pasch a day earlier than the Judeans; and that our Lord, being a Galilean, did the same. This opinion, too, would enable us to readily reconcile the Evangelists; but unfortunately the assumption as to a difference of computation between the Judeans and Galileans is a mere conjecture, and has no evidence to support it.

(4) Others, as Petav., Mald., Kuin., Coleridge,85 Cornely, &c., hold that our Lord and the Apostles eat the Paschal Supper on the night of the 14th of Nisan, while the Jews that year eat it on the night of the 15th. Maldonatus holds that it was customary with the Jews from the time of the Babylonian captivity, whenever the first day of the Pasch fell on a Friday, to transfer it to Saturday, in order that two solemn feasts might not occur on successive days. According to this view, our Lord corresponded with the requirements of the Jewish Law; the Jews, on the other hand, followed the custom which had been introduced after the Babylonian captivity. In this view, too, it is easy to reconcile St. John's statement with those of the other Evangelists. He speaks of the night of the Last Supper, in reference to the feast as celebrated that year by the Judeans, and so places it before the feast; they, on the other hand, speak of it in reference to the strict Law, and place it on the first day of Azymes, or rather on the night following the first day of Azymes.86

The great names of many who have held this opinion, lend to it considerable probability, and if the custom which is alleged in its favour were [pg 230] proved to have existed in the time of Christ, we would at once adopt it. But it is seriously disputed whether such a custom did exist at that time. It is true, indeed, that among the modern Jews, when the Paschal feast should begin on Friday, they always defer it till the Sabbath; and the Talmud is referred to by Comely (vol. iii., § 73, 1) as saying that the same has been the Jewish practice ever since the Babylonian captivity. Others, however, contend that the custom is not as old as the time of Christ, and that in His time the first day of the Pasch was kept on a Friday whenever it happened to fall on that day. Aben-Ezra (on Levit. xxiii. 4) says: “Tam ex Mischna quam ex Talmude probatur Pascha in secundam, quartam, et sextam feriam quandoque incidisse.” Since, then, the hypothesis on which this opinion rests seems doubtful, the opinion itself appears to us less satisfactory than that which follows.

(5) Lastly, there is the old, and always the most common opinion, that our Lord did eat the Pasch at His last supper; that He eat it on the night of the 14th of Nisan; and that the Jews eat it on that same night. So St. Jer., St. Aug., St. Anselm, Suarez, Tolet., A Lap., Benedict XIV., Patriz., M'Carthy, Corluy, Didon. This opinion is certainly in accordance with the obvious meaning of the Synoptic Evangelists; and the objections against it, which are chiefly drawn from the Gospel of St. John,87 can all be answered satisfactorily, as we shall show when discussing the passages on which they are founded.

We hold, then, that Christ and the Jews eat the Pasch on the night following the 14th of Nisan, when, according to the Jewish method of counting their days, the 15th had already commenced; and that Christ was put to death on the 15th, the first and most solemn day of the Paschal week.

And now, returning to the text of St. John, we are confronted at the very commencement of this chapter by an objection to our view, in the words: “Before the festival day of the pasch.” If Christ celebrated the Last Supper on the night after the 14th of Nisan, how does St. John speak of the time of this supper as “before the festival day of the pasch”? To this difficulty various answers have been given. (1) Some have replied that St. John means by “day” the natural day, or time of light; and then it is plain that [pg 231] a supper celebrated on the night following the 14th was before the festival day of the 15th. This explanation is unsatisfactory, for in the original St. John does not merely say “Before the festal day,” but “Before the festal period” (πρὸ τῆς ἑορτῆς; comp., e.g., vii. 2, 14, 37).

(2) Others say that the words πρὸ τῆς ἑορτῆς are equivalent to ἐν τῷ προεορτίῳ; “quod ita praecedit festum, ut tamen sit pars festi” are the words of Bochart, with whom Stier agrees. See Smith's B. D., Art. “Passover.”

(3) Others prefer to believe that as St. John wrote sixty years after the Last Supper, after he had spent many years in Asia Minor, and become accustomed to Greek habits of thought and expression, he speaks according to the Greek method of reckoning the day. The Greeks, like ourselves, reckoned their days from midnight to midnight; and St. John, speaking of the supper as taking place before the midnight that followed the 14th of Nisan, might well refer it to a time previous to the festival.88

Jesus, knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to the Father. As God, Jesus knew from all eternity the hour of His death; as man, he knew it from the first moment of the Incarnation. Knowing, then, that He was about to pass out of this vale of sorrow and misery, and by His death, resurrection, and ascension, go to share in the glory of the Father, having throughout His life loved His Apostles (His own), whom He was now leaving behind Him to struggle with the world, so He now chose to manifest towards them His love in an extraordinary manner. Εἰς τέλος which in our Rhemish Version is translated “unto the end,” we understand, with the Greek fathers, who ought to be the best judges of the meaning of the phrase, as equivalent to excessively, or in a surpassing manner. This excessive love Jesus manifested on this last night, as well in the washing of the Apostles' feet as in the institution of the Blessed Eucharist, the elevation of the Apostles to the dignity of the priesthood, and the loving discourse which followed this supper.

2. Et coena facta, cum diabolus iam misisset in cor ut traderet eum Iudas Simonis Iscariotae: 2. And when supper was done (the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him),

2. And when supper was done. We have taken for granted that the supper here [pg 232] mentioned by St. John is identical with the last supper referred to by the Synoptic Evangelists, for there is no room for reasonable doubt as to their identity. On both occasions the traitor is revealed, and the denial by Peter foretold, and on both the supper is followed by the departure to the Garden of Olives.89

“There are good grounds for questioning the correctness of the Greek reading, which in the Vulgate is translated ‘coena facta’; for the present participle (γινομένου) and not the past (γενομένου) is found in many MSS. of the highest authority. Finally, it is obvious that, considering the special signification of the Greek verb employed (γίνομαι to be, to come into being), even the past participle by no means implies that the supper was then over, but merely that it had commenced, and was then going on. The same participle is used unquestionably in this sense in many passages of the New Testament; as, for instance, in John xxi. 4: ‘When morning was come;’ in Mark vi. 2, during the Sabbath;’ Matt. xxvi. 6, ‘Jesus being now at Bethany,’ and in many other passages” (Dr. Walsh, Harmony of the Gospel Narratives, note 19.) The meaning, then, is that supper was proceeding.

The devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him. This inhuman treachery was suggested by Satan, but freely consented to by the wretched Apostle. The treachery of Judas is here mentioned to throw into relief the loving mercy and condescension of Jesus in washing even the traitor's feet.

3. Sciens quia omnia dedit ei Pater in manus, et quia a Deo exivit, et ad Deum vadit. 3. Knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands, and that he came from God, and goeth to God.

3. While fully conscious of His dignity, of His supreme dominion over all things, and of the fact that He had come out from the bosom of God in the incarnation, and would return thither by His resurrection and ascension, He yet makes Himself as it were the servant of His Apostles.

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4. Surgit a coena, et ponit vestimenta sua: et cum accepisset linteum, praecinxit se. 4. He riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments, and having taken a towel, girded himself.

4. He riseth from supper. Hence it is clear that the supper had already begun when the washing of the Apostles' feet took place. And for the reasons given above on verse 2, as also because of verse 12 (“being sat down again”) we hold that it was not over; so that we adhere to the traditional view that the washing of the feet took place during the supper.90 Commentators generally hold that the Paschal Supper on the present occasion was followed by the ordinary supper or evening meal, and this again by what we may call the Eucharistic Supper. It is generally held that the washing of the feet took place immediately after the Paschal Supper, or during the ordinary, and before the Eucharistic Supper. At the Paschal Supper the company at the table might not be less than ten nor more than twenty. In our Lord's time those partaking of the supper reclined on couches, this being the usage then, as standing had been originally. “The rites of the supper were regulated according to the succession of four, sometimes five, cups of red wine mixed with water, which were placed before the head of the house or the most eminent guest, who was called the celebrant, the president, or proclaimer of the feast.”91 (See Dr. Walsh, Harmony of the Gospel Narratives, note 16.)

Christ having risen from the supper layeth aside his garments. The pallium or cloak, a square or oblong piece of cloth, which was thrown loosely around the body outside the tunic, was probably what was laid aside;92 and thus Jesus made Himself more like a servant, for servants were not accustomed to wear the cloak. Then He took a towel, and girded Himself therewith. “Quid mirum,” says St. Augustine, si “praecinxit se linteo qui formam servi accipiens habitu inventus est ut homo?” Note how the Evangelist narrates every little circumstance connected with this act of marvellous condescension.

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5. Deinde mittit aquam in pelvim, et coepit lavare pedes discipulorum, et extergere linteo quo erat praecinctus. 5. After that, he putteth water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of his disciples, and to wipe them with the towel, wherewith he was girded.

5. After that, he putteth water into a basin. In the Greek we have the basin (τὸν νιπτῆρα), probably denoting a vessel ordinarily used for the washing of feet, or that had been provided for the ceremony of the washing of hands, which was portion of the ritual of the Paschal Supper. We take it that the fourth and fifth verses describe in a general way how our Lord set about washing the disciples' feet.

6. Venit ergo ad Simonem Petrum. Et dicet ei Petrus: Domine, tu mihi lavas pedes? 6. He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter said to him: Lord, dost thou wash my feet?

6. Here the Evangelist goes on to state in detail what happened when our Lord presented Himself first of all before Peter. Thus we need not suppose that our Lord had washed the feet of any other disciple before He came to Peter. St. Peter almost always stands first among the Apostles, and on the present occasion, the remonstrance would naturally come from the first person at whose feet our Lord presented Himself.

“There is nothing to support the old notion that the action began with Judas. It is more natural to suppose that the Lord began with St. Peter. In that case his refusal to accept the services is more intelligible than it would be if others had already accepted it” (Westc. in The Speaker's Commentary).

Dost thou wash my feet? The position of the pronouns in the Greek brings out sharply the contrast of the persons.

7. Respondit Iesus, et dixit ei: Quod ego facio, tu nescis modo, scies autem postea. 7. Jesus answered, and said to him: What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.

7. Peter, bewildered by His Divine Master's condescension, is told that he shall afterwards learn the moral significance of what Jesus was about to do.

8. Dicit ei Petrus: Non lavabis mihi pedes in aeternum. Respondit ei Iesus: Si non lavero te, non habebis partem mecum. 8. Peter said to him: Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me.

8. Strong in faith, and mindful of the dignity of his Master, with that impetuosity which displayed itself on other [pg 235] occasions, Peter declares that he will never consent to such an act of self-abasement on the part of his Lord. Christ at once replies to him: If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me. The meaning is, that if Peter refused obedience to Christ's wish, now distinctly made known to him in these words, he should be excluded from Christ's society here and hereafter. Complete surrender of his will to Christ was a necessary condition of discipleship.

The washing of the feet here referred to is not a sacrament; the practice of the Church makes this clear. Besides, it cannot be shown that grace was annexed to it. No doubt, without it Peter was to have no part with Christ; but this, we hold, would be the effect of disobedience, not the result of wanting anything which the washing could bestow. In reality, Peter was already in the state of grace, for in the tenth verse Jesus tells the Apostles that they are clean; and though He qualifies the statement by saying that all are not clean, yet St. John explains this qualification in reference to Judas only. Hence Peter was already in the state of grace, and there is nothing in the text or context to show that he was to obtain grace if his feet were washed, but only that he was to lose it if they were not.

9. Dicit ei Simon Petrus: Domine, non tantum pedes meos, sed et manus, et caput. 9. Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.
10. Dicit ei Iesus: Qui lotus est, non indiget nisi ut pedes lavet, sed est mundus totus. Et vos mundi estis, sed non omnes. 10. Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.

10. Jesus saith to him: He that is washed (rather bathed), needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. Some ancient authorities omit the words “but” and “his feet,” and the meaning whether in regard to body or soul is then clear and simple, namely, that he who has bathed has no need to wash, but is already clean. However, the words are much more probably genuine; and the difficulty they create is doubtless the reason why they are wanting in some authorities. Taking [pg 236] them as genuine, then, let us try to explain the verse. Some have understood our Lord to speak only of a corporal washing, as if He merely meant that the Apostles who had bathed, or at least washed their hands before this Supper (see above on ii. 6), now needed nothing except to have their feet washed. But the common opinion of commentators understands our Lord to speak of a spiritual washing, of which the washing of the feet was a symbol, and this view we accept. For the closing words of the verse: “And you are clean, but not all” when taken together with St. John's explanation in verse 11, leave no doubt that our Lord speaks of spiritual cleanness, and therefore we may fairly conclude that He speaks also of a spiritual washing. He was about to wash their feet literally, but He intended that ceremony as a symbol of the higher cleansing process required of them and others as a fitting preparation before receiving the Blessed Eucharist. Such preparation was not absolutely necessary in their case, for they were already clean from mortal sin, but it was fitting and in some sense required, in order that they might remove the dust of venial sin, which was daily clinging to them in their contact with the world. It is clearly implied that if they had not been clean, that is to say, free from mortal sin, a more thorough cleansing would have necessary.

The meaning, then, seems [pg 237] to be that one who has bathed spiritually by having his soul cleansed from mortal sin, needs afterwards, as a fitting preparation for the Blessed Eucharist, merely that limited cleansing that was symbolized by the washing of only the feet.

11. Sciebat enim quisnam esset qui traderet eum: propterea dixit: Non estis mundi omnes. 11. For he knew who he was that would betray him; therefore he said: You are not all clean.
12. Postquam ergo lavit pedes eorum, et accepit vestimenta sua: cum recubuisset iterum, dixit eis: Scitis quid fecerim vobis? 12. Then after he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, being sat down again, he said to them: Know you what I have done to you?
13. Vos vocatis me, Magister et Domine: et benedicitis: sum etenim. 13. You call me Master, and Lord: and you say well, for so I am.
14. Si ergo ego lavi pedes vestros, Dominus et Magister: et vos debetis alter alterius lavare pedes. 14. If then I, being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet.
15. Exemplum enim dedi vobis, ut quemadmodum ego feci vobis, ita et vos faciatis. 15. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.
16. Amen, amen dico vobis: Non est servus maior domino suo: neque apostolus maior est eo qui misit illum. 16. Amen, amen, I say to you: The servant is not greater than his lord: neither is the apostle greater than he that sent him.

12-16. Having concluded the washing of the feet, and again reclined, Jesus points out to the Apostles the moral significance of what He had done. If He, whom they rightly called Lord and Master condescended to wash their feet, how much more ought they to wash the feet of one another, and perform towards one another similar acts of humility and mutual charity? It was that they might reflect in their own lives this spirit of humility and charity that He had set them the example; and though such humble offices of charity might at first sight seem unworthy of them, or beneath them, yet a servant is not greater than his master; and whither Christ had stooped they too should be prepared to stoop.

17. Si haec scitis, beati eritis si feceritis ea. 17. If you know these things, you shall be blessed if you do them.

17. In this verse, He promises them happiness here and hereafter, if they continue to fulfil towards one another such offices of humility and mutual charity.

18. Non de omnibus vobis dico: ego scio quos elegerim: sed ut adimpleatur scriptura: Qui manducat mecum panem, levabit contra me calcaneum suum. 18. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me, shall lift up his heel against me.

18. Christ does not here qualify the promise made in verse 17, for that promise was conditional, and as such is universally true. But taking occasion from the word “blessed,” which He had used, He proceeds to say that not all of them are, or shall be, blessed.

I know whom I have [pg 238]chosen. SS. Aug. and Bede understand Christ to speak of the choice or election by which He had predestined some to glory; and as Judas was not predestined, therefore Christ had not intended to speak of blessedness in connection with him. But since, in other parts of Scripture, Christ never attributes the act of predestinating to Himself, but only to the Father, hence we prefer, with Tol., Mald., A Lap., to understand here not of election to glory, but of the call to the Apostleship; and the sense is: I know what sort are the twelve whom I have chosen to be Apostles, and that one of them is not blessed, and never shall be. But that the Scripture may be fulfilled. The sense is: but though I know and knew how unworthy one of you is, still I called him to the Apostleship, that the Scripture might be fulfilled which foretold his ingratitude and guilt. That the prediction of the treachery of Judas did not deprive him of his liberty, nor extenuate his guilt, see above on xii. 38. The Scripture quoted is from Psalm xl. 10, where David complains of the ingratitude of some person whom he had treated as his familiar friend. David and his false friend were types of Christ and Judas; and, as we learn from the present passage of St. John, the mystical sense of David's words had reference to the betrayal of Christ by Judas. In the quotation, the words shall lift (or rather “has lifted,” for levabit ought to be levavit) up his heel against me, are to be taken metaphorically. The meaning probably is that the ingratitude of Judas is like that of the beast which kicks him who feeds it and treats it kindly.

19. Amodo dico vobis, priusquam fiat: ut cum factum fuerit, credatis quia ego sum. 19. At present I tell you, before it come to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe that I am he.

19. Christ tells them that He now makes known to them the treachery of one of them, in order that when it shall have come to pass, they may remember that He had foreknowledge of it, and may believe Him to be God.

20. Amen, amen dico vobis: qui accipit si quem misero, me accipit: qui autem me accipit, accipit eum qui me misit. 20. Amen, amen, I say to you, he that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me: and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me.

20. Some hold that this verse has no connection with the context here; and that the words of Christ with which it was connected are omitted by [pg 239] our Evangelist. Others connect in various ways. With Beelen, we prefer to connect as follows. In verses 15-17, Christ had exhorted the Apostles to share in His humiliations; then, in verses 18 and 19 he digressed, to speak of the treachery of Judas; and now after the digression He tells them, for their consolation, that they shall be sharers in His honour.

Some harmonists place the institution of the Blessed Eucharist immediately after the words recorded in verse 20; others, after verse 22; and others, at other points in the narrative.

21. Cum haec dixisset Iesus, turbatus est spiritu: et protestatus est, et dixit: Amen, amen dico vobis: quia unus ex vobis tradet me. 21. When Jesus had said these things, he was troubled in spirit: and he testified, and said: Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you shall betray me.

21. He was troubled in spirit. As we said above on xi. 23, this perturbation of soul was freely permitted by Christ. The disclosure of the traitor had been begun earlier in the night. It is recorded more or less fully by the four Evangelists, but in such a manner as to render it extremely probable that Christ returned to the subject several times during the night. St. Matthew (xxvi. 21, and foll.) and St. Mark (xiv. 18, and following) record the allusion to the traitor, immediately before the institution of the Blessed Eucharist. St. Luke, on the other hand, records it immediately after the same event: “This is the chalice, the New Testament, in my blood, which shall be shed for you. But yet behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table” (Luke xxii. 20, 21). St. John does not refer, at least explicitly, to the institution of the Blessed Eucharist; but in his narrative the treachery of Judas is at first insinuated during the washing of the feet (verse 10); again alluded to in verse 18; and, finally, clearly foretold in verse 26. We can best reconcile all the Evangelists by holding that, in the hope of deterring Judas from his awful purpose, our Lord returned several times to the same subject: first, during the washing of the feet, as in St. John; then before the institution of the Blessed Eucharist, as in SS. Matthew and Mark; then, immediately after the institution, as in St. Luke; and finally, when the dipped bread was handed to the traitor, and he left the room, as in St. John.

“No doubt it would be difficult to admit this supposition if the words in question (the words of the Synoptic Evangelists) contained, as seems generally to be taken for granted, a distinct identification of the traitor. For it could hardly be supposed that Judas, if thus pointed out, could have retained his place at the supper [pg 240] table, among the Apostles. But, in reality, there is no reason to regard the expressions recorded by St. Matthew and St. Mark—and the same may be said of that recorded by St. Luke—as thus distinctly identifying the one who was to betray our Lord.”

“We may, indeed, regard them as conveying an intimation to Judas himself, if, as may be supposed, at the time they were uttered, or shortly before it, his hand had been upon the table, or if he had helped himself to some meat from the same dish as our Lord, and those others who sat in immediate proximity to Him. Or we may even suppose that those expressions, or at least some of them, were altogether indefinite, so as to convey only the sad intelligence that it was one of His chosen Twelve who was about to betray Him; just as the words, Unus vestrum me traditurus est,’ of St. Matthew (xxvi. 21), or the Unus ex vobis tradet me, qui manducat mecum’ of St. Mark (xiv. 18), or the prophetic words of the Psalmist (Ps. xl. 10) quoted by our Lord, as recorded by St. John (xiii. 18), Qui manducat mecum panem, levabit contra me calcaneum suum.’

“But there appears no sufficient reason for supposing that any of the expressions hitherto quoted was calculated, or was intended, to identify the traitor, at least in the eyes of his fellow-Apostles.93 Thus, then, there is no difficulty in supposing that they may have been spoken by our Lord at even an early period of the supper.”

“The incident recorded by St. John (xiii. 21, 30) is of an essentially different character. There our Lord, after announcing in general terms, ‘Unus ex vobis tradet me,’ is appealed to by St. John, at the instance of St. Peter, to declare who the traitor may be. The request of the beloved disciple is promptly met by the response, ‘Ille est, cui ego intinctum panem porrexero;’ and the traitor is immediately pointed out by the signal thus selected by our Lord: ‘Et [pg 241] quum intinxisset panem, dedit Judae Simonis Iscariotae.’ ”94

22. Aspiciebant ergo ad invicem discipuli, haesitantes de quo diceret. 22. The disciples therefore looked one upon another, doubting of whom he spoke.

22. The disciples therefore looked (rather, were looking, as in the original and Vulgate) one upon another, doubting of whom he spoke. The words vividly recall the actual scene. Strange as the prediction was, no one doubted its fulfilment; they merely doubted of whom He spoke. We say of whom He spoke, for though the original might mean, of what He spoke, Peter's question immediately afterwards: “Who is it of whom he speaketh?” (v. 24), shows that their doubt regarded merely which of them was to betray Him. Earlier in the night, when He first referred to the betrayal, they may perhaps have doubted even what He meant; but that stage was now passed, and the only doubt remaining was as to which of their number was to play the part of traitor.

23. Erat ergo recumbens unus ex discipulis eius in sinu Iesu, quem diligebat Iesus. 23. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples whom Jesus loved.

23. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom. Rather: “Now there was reclining at the table in (ἀνακείμενος ... ἐν) Jesus' bosom.” Instead of sitting at table, as we do now, the Jews of our Lord's time, and for some time before and after, reclined. The guests lay resting on their left arm, stretched obliquely, their feet being behind them, instead of under the table, as with us. In this way a guest was reclining close to the bosom of the guest behind him, and such was the position that St. John occupied in reference to Christ on this occasion. When three reclined on the same couch, the centre was the place of honour.

One of his disciples whom Jesus loved. This, according to all antiquity, was our Evangelist himself. The title, which occurs here for the first time, is perhaps suggested by the recollection of the privileged position he occupied at the Last Supper. It occurs again, xix. 26; xxi. 7, 20. Comp. also xx. 2.

24. Innuit ergo huic Simon Petrus, et dixit ei: Quis est, de quo dicit? 24. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, and said to him: Who is it of whom he speaketh?

24. The best-supported Greek reading agrees substantially with the Vulgate: “Simon Peter therefore beckoneth to him, and saith unto him, Tell who it is of [pg 242] whom he speaketh.” According to this reading, St. John was not asked to inquire of Jesus who the traitor was, but St. Peter takes for granted that St. John had already learned from Jesus, and simply asks the beloved disciple to make it known to them all. In the other and less probable reading, St. John is asked to inquire (πυθέσθαι) who the traitor is. It might seem more in accordance with St. Peter's character, that he should directly ask our Lord to point out the traitor, but it is possible that Christ's threat, recorded in verse 8, may have made him less confident than usual.

25. Itaque cum recubuisset ille supra pectus Iesu, dicit ei: Domine quis est! 25. He therefore leaning on the breast of Jesus saith to him: Lord, who is it?

25. If St. Peter supposed that St. John already knew who the traitor was, he was mistaken, as we see by this verse.

He therefore leaning on. The best-supported Greek reading would be rendered thus: He leaning back, as he was, on &c. (ἀναπεσὼν ἐκεῖνος οὕτως ἐπί).

From his reclining position, St. John had merely to lean a little farther back in order to rest his head on His Divine Master's breast. Thus “as he was,” i.e., without changing his position at table, by merely leaning back, he was not only close to the bosom of Jesus, but was on His breast, and could whisper his question. All the fathers speak of the privilege conferred upon St. John on this occasion in his being admitted to such familiarity with his Divine Master.

26. Respondit Iesus: Ille est cui ego intinctum panem porrexero. Et cum intinxisset panem, dedit Iudae Simonis Iscariotae. 26. Jesus answered: He it is to whom I shall reach bread dipped. And when he had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

26. If we suppose the bread which was handed to Judas to have been dipped in the Charoseth (חרוסת) a kind of sauce used at the Paschal Supper, then the meats of the Paschal Supper must have been still upon the table. This there is no difficulty in admitting, even if the ordinary supper, following upon the Paschal Supper, had already been partaken of.

27. Et post buccellam, introivit in eim Satanas. Et dixit ei Iesus; Quod facis, fac citius. 27. And after the morsel, Satan entered into him. And Jesus said to him: That which thou dost, do quickly.

27. After the morsel had been given to Judas, “Satan [pg 243] entered into him;” that is to say, Judas now revealed as a traitor, at least to St. John, became still more confirmed in his evil purpose. The words are generally understood not as implying corporal possession of Judas by the devil, but as signifying that the devil now gained full control over him in reference to the crime contemplated. And Jesus said to him: That which thou dost, do quickly, again intimating that He knew the traitor's thoughts, and at the same time manifesting His own readiness to suffer. These words of our Lord do not contain a command or permission to Judas to commit the crime: but, taking for granted the traitor's fixed determination “That which thou dost,” i.e., hast determined to do, they show Christ's readiness and eagerness to begin to drink of the chalice that awaited Him.

28. Hoc autem nemo scivit discumbentium ad quid dixerit ei. 28. Now no man at the table knew to what purpose he said this unto him.

28. The disciples, even St. John, knew not to what purpose Christ had told Judas to do quickly what he was determined to do. Though St. John, at least, had learned immediately before that Judas was to betray our Lord, still he probably did not expect that the betrayal would follow so rapidly upon the disclosure of the traitor.

29. Quidam enim putabant, quia loculos habebat Judas, quod dixisset ei Iesus: Eme ea quae opus sunt nobis ad diem festum: aut egenis ut aliquid daret. 29. For some thought, because Judas had the purse, that Jesus had said to him: Buy those things which we have need of for the festival day: or that he should give something to the poor.

29. For some thought ... for the festival day. This conjecture of the Apostles is adduced by some writers as a proof that the supper mentioned by St. John in this thirteenth chapter is not the Paschal Supper; or, if the Paschal Supper, that it was not celebrated on the night of the 14th of Nisan. They argue—(a) that on the night of the 14th of Nisan it would not have been lawful to buy or sell; and, therefore, the Apostles would not have conjectured as on this occasion they did; and (b) that on the night of the 14th of Nisan [pg 244] the Feast would already have begun, and the Apostles would not have conjectured that Judas was about to buy necessaries in preparation for the Feast.

But to (a) we reply that the buying and selling of articles of food was not forbidden during the Pasch (Exod. xii. 16), and certainly was not forbidden on a festival that fell, as in this case, on a Friday, the day before the Sabbath. To (b) we answer that though the festival time had begun, yet it lasted seven days; and the fact that a few hours of the festal period had already elapsed would not prevent the Apostles from conjecturing that Judas might be making provision for the long period that was still to come. To the poor. From this conjecture, and from xii. 5, we may conclude that our Lord and the Apostles were in the habit of giving alms to the poor.

30. Cum ergo accepisset ille buccellam, exivit continuo. Erat autem nox. 30. He therefore having received the morsel, went out immediately. And it was night.

30. When Judas found himself revealed as the traitor, he immediately left the supper-room. The Evangelist adds: And it was night, no doubt in order to give completeness to the history, but possibly also to mark the contrast of the light Judas left behind him with the outer darkness into which he went forth. “Erat autem nox,” says St. Aug., “Et ipse qui exivit erat nox.”

Let us here pause for a moment in the narrative of St. John to inquire whether the Blessed Eucharist was instituted before the departure of Judas; whether, therefore, he sacrilegiously received the Blessed Eucharist and was ordained priest at the Last Supper. The great majority of the fathers answer in the affirmative. This view seems to us extremely probable. For the Synoptic Evangelists all take care to tell us that Jesus sat down with the Twelve; and then a few verses afterwards, without any indication of a change in the company, without the slightest hint that anyone had departed, they proceed: “And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke, and gave to His disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat; this is My body” (Matt. xxvi. 26). Compare St. Mark and St. Luke. Hence, although they must have had the treachery of Judas before their minds while writing, yet they say not a word about his departure, as it might naturally be expected they would, if he had actually departed. Nay, St. Luke's version of our Lord's words clearly implies that Judas was present at the institution of the Blessed Eucharist; for in St. Luke our Lord seems to contrast His own love in instituting the Blessed [pg 245] Eucharist with the treachery of one who was present. “This is the chalice, the New Testament in My blood, which shall be shed for you. But yet behold, the hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table” (Luke xxii. 20, 21). Therefore, according to St. Luke, Judas was still at the table after the institution; and St. Mark states that all present drank of the chalice: “And they all drank of it” (xiv. 23).

It seems to us, then, much more probable that Judas received the Blessed Eucharist, and was ordained priest at the Last Supper. Many, however, hold the opposite view; among others, St. Hilary, Innocent III., Salmeron, B. Lamy, Corluy, Langen, and Cornely. The latter says that he agrees in this “Cum plerisque modernis” (Corn., iii., p. 298, note). Their principal arguments are: (1) That St. Matthew, who was present at the Last Supper, records the disclosure of the traitor before the institution of the Eucharist, while we know from St. John (verse 30) that Judas departed when he was disclosed: therefore he departed before the institution of the Eucharist. But this argument loses its force, if we hold as above, that Christ referred on several occasions during the night to the treachery of Judas, and only on the last occasion definitely disclosed who the traitor was.

(2) They say, that surely our Lord did not allow Judas to make a sacrilegious Communion and receive Holy Orders, when He could so easily have prevented it. But we may reply that Christ referred several times to the betrayal, in order to recall Judas to a better sense; failing in this, He left him free, just as He leaves unworthy communicants or bad priests free now.

We believe, then, that modern commentators have no solid reason for departing from what was undeniably the common view in the early Church, that Judas at the Last Supper did receive Holy Communion and was ordained priest.

31. Cum ergo exisset, dixit Iesus: Nunc clarificatus est Filius hominis: et Deus clarificatus est in eo. 31. When he therefore was gone out, Jesus said: Now is the son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.

31. With this verse our Lord's last discourses begin. They are divided into two portions by the change of place at the close of chapter xiv., the first portion containing what was spoken in the Supper Room (xiii. 31-xiv. 31); the second, what was spoken just outside the Supper Room or along the way to Gethsemane or at some point on the way (xv., xvi.). In the first portion the leading ideas are that He [pg 246] and the Apostles are to be separated because He is about to ascend to the glory of the Father; still, that notwithstanding the separation, they shall not be orphans, but He and they shall be united.

When he therefore was gone out Jesus said. The departure of Judas marked the beginning of the end, and Jesus at once turned to the eleven with words that prove His knowledge of what was about to happen, and His acceptance of the issue of the traitor's work.

Now is the son of man glorified. Judas had finally decided to betray Him, and He Himself had fully accepted what was to follow, so that His death, now so certain and so near, might be spoken of as already past: “is ... glorified.” For their consolation and encouragement He refers to His death as a glorification, as indeed it was, being a triumph over Satan and sin, and the prelude to victory over death itself.

And God is glorified in him. God's rigorous justice and boundless love for men were manifested by His sending His Divine Son to die for them, and hence God was glorified in the death of Christ. See Rom. iii. 25, 26; v. 8, 9.

32. Si Deus clarificatus est in eo, et Deus clarificabit eum in semetipso: et continuo clarificabit eum. 32. If God be glorified in him, God also will glorify him in himself: and immediately will he glorify him.

32. Many authorities omit the words: “If God be glorified in him.” In himself. The meaning seems to be: with Himself, as in xvii. 5: “And now glorify thou me, O Father, with thyself.” Immediately, we refer to the time of the crucifixion.

33. Filioli, adhuc modicum vobiscum sum quaeretis me: et sicut dixi Iudaeis: Quo ego vado, vos non potestis venire: et vobis dico modo. 33. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You shall seek me, and as I said to the Jews: Whither I go, you cannot come: so I say to you now.

33. The glorification of Christ implied His departure from the Apostles, and the time was now come for making known to them the separation. At present they, any more than His enemies, could not follow Him, and what He had before declared to His enemies (vii. 33, 34), He now declares to His dearest friends. Yet, though the substance of the declaration is in both cases the same, Christ's purpose in making it was very different. To the Jews it was made in the hope that they would thus be urged to make good use of the time that still remained to them before the separation, while in the present case the [pg 247] motive seems rather to be to forearm the Apostles by forewarning them and putting before them various motives of consolation.

The term (τεκνία) occurs only here in the Gospels, but is found six (or seven) times in St. John's First Epistle. The diminutive form is expressive of tender affection, and perhaps of anxiety for those who were still immature.

Little children you shall seek me, &c. See above on vii. 34. The declaration is somewhat different in form on this second occasion. The words: “and shall not find me” (vii. 34) are omitted, and instead of: “where I am” the present text has: “whither I go.” As we have said, the leading idea in both cases is of separation, but since that separation was to be followed in the case of the Apostles by spiritual union (xiv. 18, 23), hence He now omits the words: “and shall not find me;” though in the sense of not finding Him any longer visibly present among them, the words were true even in reference to the Apostles.

34. Mandatum novum do vobis: ut diligatis invicem, sicut dilexi vos, ut et vos diligatis invicem. 34. A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

34. Christ calls this commandment a new one, because though love of the neighbour had been commanded in the Law (Lev. xix. 18), yet love modelled on the love of Christ as its exemplar, Christian love, had never been commanded before. The words: As I have loved you, imply that we should love our neighbour with the same kind of love, and from the same motive, as Christ loves us; but not, of course, in the same measure, for of this we are incapable.

35. In hoc cognoscent omnes quia discipuli mei estis, si dilectionem habueritis ad invicem. 35. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.

35. This mutual love was to be a distinctive mark of Christ's perfect disciples. And so, in fact, it was in the early Church, for Tertullian tells us that the Pagans used to say: “See how these Christians love one another”!... “and how they are ready to die for one another”! (Apol. 39).

36. Dicit et Simon Petrus: Domine, quo vadis? Respondit Iesus: Quo ego vado, non potes me modo sequi: sequeris autem postea. 36. Simon Peter saith to him: Lord whither goest thou? Jesus answered: Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow hereafter.

36. St. Peter, all absorbed in Christ's words, (verse 33), which signified that he was to be separated from his Divine Master, asks: Lord, whither [pg 248]goest thou? Christ's reply means that He was going to His Father, whither Peter should one day follow, though he could not follow then. Thou shalt follow hereafter. These words implied Peter's final perseverance and salvation.

37. Dicit ei Petrus: Quare non possum te sequi modo? animam meam pro te ponam. 37. Peter saith to him: Why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thee.

37. St. Peter, not understanding Christ's reply, and thinking that He meant to go to some place of danger, testifies his readiness to die for Christ, and hence, he implies, to follow Him anywhere.

38. Respondit ei Iesus: Animam tuam pro me pones? Amen, amen dico tibi: non cantabit gallus, donec ter me neges. 38. Jesus answered him: Wilt thou lay down thy life for me? Amen, amen, I say to thee, the cock shall not crow, till thou deny me thrice.

38. Christ replies, rebuking Peter's boastful confidence, and declaring that so far was Peter from being ready at that time to die for Him, that before cockcrow he would deny Him thrice.

We believe that our Lord twice on this night predicted the denials by Peter: once in the supper-room, as recorded by St. John here, and by St. Luke (xxii. 34), and again on the way to Gethsemane, as recorded by St. Matt. (xxvi. 30-34), and St. Mark (xiv. 26-30). By the latter Evangelists the prophecy of Peter's denial is distinctly placed on the way to Gethsemane, and connected with the prophecy of the general desertion of the Apostles. This latter prophecy, it may well be, called forth from Peter a second expression of his fearless attachment to his Master, and this was followed in turn by a second reference to Peter's denials.

While the other three Evangelists represent our Lord as saying that the three denials by Peter should take place before the cock would crow, St. Mark, who was a disciple of St. Peter, records the prediction more minutely, and represents our Lord as saying: “Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice” (Mark xiv. 30). There is, however, no contradiction between St. Mark and the others, even if all refer to the same prediction; for the second crowing of the cock, before which, according to St. Mark, the three denials were to take place, is that which is meant by the other Evangelists, and which was universally known as the cockcrowing.” That the cockcrowing in our Lord's time was regarded as so distinct a note of time as to have given its name to one of the four watches of the night, we have clear evidence in the Gospels. [pg 249] Thus, in St. Mark (xiii. 35), our Lord says: “Watch ye therefore (for you know not when the lord of the house cometh; at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning).” Thus, then, although the cock crew after Peter's first denial, as St. Mark records (Mark xiv. 68), still the time generally known as cockcrow—about 3 a.m.—was that meant when the word was used, as it is in our Lord's prediction in SS. Matt., Luke, and John, without any special indication that the first crowing of the cock was the one intended. Hence, the second crowing of the cock referred to by St. Mark was the cock-crowing mentioned by the other three Evangelists.

Before quitting this chapter, it may be well, for clearness sake, to repeat here what we consider to be the most probable order of events at the Last Supper.

(1) There was the Paschal Supper.

(2) During the Paschal Supper, or at its close (but certainly before the ordinary supper was over: see above on verse 2), the washing of the feet, accompanied by the first allusion to the traitor (John xiii. 10).

(3) The ordinary supper, during which

(4) Another reference to the traitor (Matt. xxvi. 21 ff.; and Mark xiv. 18 ff.).

(5) The Eucharistic Supper.

(6) A third reference to the traitor (Luke xxii. 21).

(7) The strife among the Apostles as to which of them was the greatest, occasioned, perhaps, by the anxiety of each to shift from himself the charge of treachery.

(8) The question of St. John (John xiii. 25), and the final disclosure of the traitor, who quits the supper room.

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Chapter XIV.

1-4. Christ bids the Apostles not to be troubled in heart, and puts before them three motives of consolation.

5-7. Interrupted by Thomas He declares Himself to be the way, and His Father the term whither He goeth.

8-12a. Philip's request, and Christ's reply containing a fourth motive of consolation.

12b-14. All who have the requisite faith shall perform even greater miracles than His, for whatever they shall ask the Father or Himself in His name, He will grant.

15-17. As a fifth motive of consolation, He promises to send them the Holy Ghost.

18-21. As a sixth motive, He promises to come to them Himself.

22-24. Not only to them but to all the faithful shall He come together with the Father and the Holy Ghost.

25-26. As a seventh motive, He tells them that the Holy Ghost will teach them all truth, and call to their minds all He has said to them.

27. As an eighth motive, He bequeathes them His peace.

28. Finally, as a ninth, He tells them that to leave them and go to the Father is for His greater glory.

29. His object in foretelling His departure and return.

30-31. He declares the approach of Satan, and invites the Apostles to quit the Supper-room.

1. Non turbetur cor vestrum. Creditis in Deum, et in me credite. 1. Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.

1. Let not your heart be troubled. Continuing the discourse after the Last Supper, begun in xiii. 31, Jesus begins to console the Apostles. He saw that they were sore at heart, as well they might be, on account of what He had foretold that night—the treachery of one of their number, the denials of another, and His own departure whither they could not follow.

You believe in God, believe [pg 251]also in me; that is, believe Me also to be God, who can therefore overcome all My enemies, and make you victorious over yours. Instead of “you believe” we have in the Greek πιστεύετε, which by its form might be either an indicative or imperative, but is more probably an indicative, because it is not likely that Christ thought it necessary to exhort the Apostles to believe in God, a thing that every Jew did.

2. In domo Patris mei mansiones multae sunt; si quo minus, dixissem vobis: quia vado parare vobis locum. 2. In my Father's house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you, that I go to prepare a place for you.

2. In my Father's house there are many mansions. Here He puts before them the first motive of consolation; namely, that there is room for them as well as for Him in heaven, in that house of God, the eternal antitype of the Jewish Temple (ii. 16), wherein He exercised the rights of a Son. “Mansions” renders the Vulgate “mansiones,” which were resting-places or stations along the highways, where travellers found refreshments. The Greek word μονή is found in the New Testament only here and in verse 23.

If not, I would have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. That (ὅτι, Vulg., quia) is almost certainly genuine,95 and hence we must explain the text, retaining it, though its presence creates difficulty.

(1) Some explain thus. If not, yet even in that case I would have told you that I go to prepare a place for you (my intimate friends). And if (in that case) I should go to prepare a place you, I would return, &c. Against this view, however, it is fairly objected that Christ's going is thus represented as purely hypothetical, whereas from the text it seems to be real: “And if I shall go ... I will come again.”

(2) Others thus: If not, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? In this view a note of interrogation is supplied, a thing that the original text, which was unpointed, admits; and reference is made to some past occasion when He promised to go and prepare places for them. That we have no record of a promise made in so many words, does not prove, of course, that it was not made.

(3) Others thus: If not, I would have told you so. But, in fact, there are many mansions, for I go to prepare a place for you. Against [pg 252] this view it is objected that it supplies an ellipsis, which is in no way indicated in the text. The same meaning, however, may be had without any ellipsis, if the words: “If not, I would have told you” be regarded as parenthetic. The sense will then be: in My Father's house there are many mansions (if not, I would have told you), as is proved by the fact that I go to prepare a place for you.

To prepare a place. Christ by his death, resurrection, and ascension opened heaven, and made ready a place for man.

3. Et si abiero, et praeparavero vobis locum: iterum venio, et accipiam vos ad meipsum, ut ubi sum ego, et vos sitis. 3. And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you: I will come again, and will take you to myself, that where I am you also may be.

3. I will come again. This is a second motive of consolation. There is a difference of opinion as to what coming of Christ is meant. Some understand of His coming at the death of each and the particular judgment; others, of His coming at the general judgment; and others, of both. We prefer the last opinion, for while Christ took the souls of the Apostles to the mansions of bliss at their particular judgment, it is only at the general judgment that He will take their bodies and perfect their felicity. The words cannot refer to the continual coming of Christ to the Church through the Holy Ghost whom He has sent; such a meaning is excluded by the words that follow: “And will take,” &c.

4. Et quo ego vado scitis, et viam scitis. 4. And whither I go you know, and the way you know.

4. And though you may think that you know not whither I go, nor the way thereto, yet you know both. For you know My Father to whom I go, and you know Me, the way that leads to Him. This may be regarded as a third motive of consolation.

5. Dicit ei Thomas: Domine, nescimus quo vadis: et quomodo possumus viam scire? 5. Thomas saith to him: Lord, we know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way?
6. Dicit ei Iesus: Ego sum via, et veritas, et vita, nemo venit ad Patrem, nisi per me. 6. Jesus saith to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no man cometh to the Father but by me.

5, 6. St. Thomas interrupts, and Jesus explains, pointing out that He Himself is the way to the Father.

[pg 253]

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. Many interpretations of these words have been given. We believe that the first clause: “I am the way,” answers Thomas' difficulty; but as such a statement itself needed explanation, the remaining words “and the truth, and the life,” are added to explain how Christ is the way namely, inasmuch as He is the Truth, i.e. the author of faith; and the Life, i.e. the author of grace and of the supernatural life of the soul. In this view the phrase hebraizes, the first “and” being explanatory: I am the way, inasmuch as I am the truth and the life. This seems better than to hold with SS. Augustine and Thomas that Christ declares Himself the way as man, the truth and the life as God. St. Augustine's words are: “Ipse igitur (vadit) ad seipsum per seipsum.” But the words that follow in this verse: “No man cometh to the Father but by me,” show that the Father, and not Christ as God, is the term to which the way in question leads.

7. Si cognovissetis me, et Patrem meum utique cognovissetis: et amodo cognoscetis eum, et vidistis eum. 7. If you had known me, you would without doubt have known my Father also; and from henceforth you shall know him, and you have seen him.

7. Having told them that He Himself is the way, He now proceeds to point out to them that if they had known this way in the manner they ought, they should also have known the term towards which it led. Hence the sense is: You would know the Father to whom I go, if you knew Me; for I and the Father are the same divine substance (John x. 30). Thomas had said that they did not know the term of Christ's journey, and therefore could not know the way thereto, implying that the way was to be known from, or at least after, the term to which it led. Christ now declares that the reverse is the case; and if they had known Him, the way, they should also have known the Father. The words: If you had known me, imply that they had not yet known Christ as they ought. They had indeed known Him to some extent as He admits in verse 4, but they had not realized fully His Divinity and consubstantiality with the Father, else they would have implicitly known the Father in knowing Him. And from henceforth you shall know him, and you have seen him. We would render the Greek thus: “And even now (see John xiii. 19) you know Him, and you have seen Him.” The sense is, that even now they knew the Father in some way through [pg 254] their imperfect knowledge of Christ, and they had seen Him in seeing Christ, because, as Christ adds in verse 9: “He who seeth me, seeth the Father also.” Thus it was true that in an imperfect manner they knew whither Christ went, and the way thereto (verse 4), yet equally true that they knew neither way nor term so clearly as they might, considering that He had now for more than three years been gradually revealing Himself to them.

8. Dicit ei Philippus: Domine, ostende nobis Patrem, et sufficit nobis. 8. Philip saith to him: Lord show us the Father, and it is enough for us.

8. Thomas is silenced, but Philip now interposes, and failing to understand Christ's statement that they had seen the Father, asks Him to show them the Father, probably in some visible form, and then they will ask no more.

9. Dicit ei Iesus: Tanto tempore vobiscum sum: et non cognovistis me? Philippe, qui videt me, videt et Patrem. Quomodo tu dicis: Ostende nobis Patrem? 9. Jesus saith to him:. So long a time have I been with you: and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also. How sayest thou, show us the Father.

9. Christ replies, again insisting on His consubstantiality with the Father: He that seeth me, seeth the Father also (“also” is probably not genuine.) These words prove clearly, against the Arians, Christ's consubstantiality, or unity of nature, with the Father; otherwise in seeing Him they could not be said to see the Father even implicitly. Yet it is clear against the Sabellians that the Father and the Son are distinct Persons, for Christ plainly distinguishes Himself from the Father in verse 6 where He says “No man cometh to the Father but by me;” and again in verse 13, where He says that He goes to the Father. There is, then, identity of nature, but distinction of Persons. Cognovistis of the Vulgate ought to be cognovisti, Philip being addressed.

10. Non creditis quia ego in Patre, et Pater in me est? Verba quae ego loquor vobis, a meipso non loquor. Pater autem in me manens, ipse facit opera. 10. Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself. But the Father who abideth in me, he doth the works.

10. Do you not believe (creditis ought to be credis) that I am in the Father and the Father in me? He who saw Christ saw the Father implicitly, in virtue of the unity of nature. The words, and the connection [pg 255] with verse 9, show clearly that such is the identity of nature in the Father and the Son that He who sees the Son, thereby in some sense sees the Father also. “Hoc autem quod dicit,” says St. Thomas on this verse, “ ‘Ego in Patre et Pat