Page images


J. P. 4730. priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art V. Æ. 26.


20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias ? * Or, a pro

And he saith, I am not. Art thou * that prophet? And he phet. answered, No.

22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou ? that we may give an answer to them that sent us.

What sayest thou of thyself?

23 a He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest 2 thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

a Matt, lii. 3

? The messengers from Jerusalem could not or would not understand the answer of the Baptist, when he told them he was neither Elias returned from hea. ven, nor Jeremiah risen from the dead, though he was the predicted voice of one crying in the wilderness. They demanded of him, therefore, by what authority he baptized. Though 'baptism had long been known and practised among them, it had been applied to the proselytes only; and they believed that Elias and Jeremiah, the immediate precursors of Christ, were the only persons authorized to baptize the Jews themselves, for the purpose of forming a new and more select society, separated from the mass of the nation.—Rosenmuller in N. T. vol. ii. p. 309. Kuinoel Comment. in lib. N. T. Hist. vol. iii. p. 130.

Joh. And. Danzius, in a very valuable treatise on the baptism of Proselytes among the Jews, written to illustrate this passage of St. John's Gospel, and the passages in Matthew, chap. iii. has considered at length the baptism of John. His treatise is bound up in Meuschen's Nov. Test. ex Talmude. As the work is not often to be procured, I have selected some of the points he discusses.

To determine whether the baptism of John was divinely appointed or not, two inquiries appear to be necessary.

1. Was such a rite as baptism practised in the Jewish Church by divine appointment before the time of John ?

2. If so, was the baptism of John distinct from that previously established among the Jews ?

In reply to these questions, Danzius affirms that the baptism of John was not totally distinct from that in use amongst the Jews, (p. 262. § 25.) Josephus speaks of baptism as a rite of long standing in the Jewish Church. John is represented to have been more bent upon correcting the abuse of the existing institution, than establishing a new one.

Baptism was appointed by God himself, (p. 266. 30.) It was the received opinion among the ancient Jews, that baptism was appointed thus, and had obtained in their nation from the promulgation of the law. The sanctification enjoined (Exod. xix. 10.) is thought to have been baptism.


Bethabara. b Matt. iii. II. Acts xix. 4.

26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water : v... 26. but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;

27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

28 These things were done in Bethabara s beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the Or, beareth. sin of the world - !

(P. 288. $ 7. and 11.) St. Paul, 1 Cor. x. 2. says, ty vepény kal lv Dadáoor ibarrioavto. These words may be taken literally, without any figurative signification. They were baptized, év vepély,“ in rain water," and dy Saláoop, " in the sea.”

(P. 301. § 85 and 86.) The Jewish Elders did not inquire into the baptism of John, as a thing the nature of which was new and unheard of amongst them; -bnt 1st, Because he, on his private authority, usurped a public function, which belonged to three persons (triumvirati) commissioned by the Church.2dly. Because he baptized those for whom it might seem unnecessary, viz. Jews under the covenant, who had been baptized before in their ancestors, and needed not baptism as an initiatory rite for admission into the Jewish Church, (p. 305. § 102.)—And, 3dly. Because in his baptism he differed from their ancestors in the end proposed.

The Jews believed baptism to have been instituted by God himself. If this opinion was true, and the baptism of John was not totally distinct from that in use among the Jews, John must be allowed to have been divinely commissioned to exercise that function. See the Treatise of Danzius.

Gorionides, however, asserts of John, that he was the institutor of baptism. “ This is he who (obaan nvy) made, instituted, or practised baptism." -Lib. v. c. 45. (ap. Gill.)

3 The events of the new dispensation were shadowed forth by the many circumstances under the former system of worship. St. John baptized at Bethabara. This place, the name of which denotes “ a place of passage," is said to have been the very spot where the Israelites, under the command of Joshua, advanced into the Holy Land. It was over against Jericho. There is reason to believe (vide Lightfoot in loc.) that St. John was baptizing in the very place, therefore, where the Israelites passed over ; and that our Lord was baptized in that spot where the ark rested in the bed of the river. These coincidences are so very appropriate and numerous, that we shall do well to hesitate before we call them all accidental.

Jerome (a) and Origen (6) have preserved the tradition that John baptized in Bethabara. The place was pointed out to strangers in their time.

* The observations of Lightfoot on the time when, and the circumstances under which, this expression was used, deserve to be noticed.

John, in his opinion, could not have selected a more characteristic expression than that of the morning and evening lamb, that was offered at Jerusalem.

(a) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 89. 1.

(6) Comm. in Joan. tom. 8. p. 131.

J.P. 4739

30 This is hé of whom I said 5, After me cometh a man V.Æ. 26. which is preferred before me: for he was before me.

31 And I knew him not 6 : but that he should be made


1. John addressed Priests and Levites, whose chief employment was to make a sacrifice of that lamb.

2. It was about the time of offering the sacrifice, when John used these words.

3. The lamb declared the innocency of Christ, in being without spot; and the death of Christ, in being offered up.

4. It was pertinent to the doctrine of John; for he had spoken of remission of sin to all who came near, and declared, when Christ came in sight, in what manner the sins of those who repented were to be forgiven, by the sacrifice of this very lamb of God, who should bear away the sins of the world, as the lamb offered in the temple, took away in a figure the sins of the Jews.—Lightfoot, second part of the Harmony of the Evangelists, Works, vol. i. p. 529.

“To take away sin" was a common phrase among the Talmudists.-Brescith rabba, sect. 22. fol. 23. 2. ad verba Caini, “ Cainus Deum sic alloquitur : superna et inferna tu portas, baid ninx 7** yvosi, sed peccata mea tu non portas." Eadem repetuntur in Debarim rabba, sect. 8. fol. 260. 2. Jalkut Rubeni, fol. 22. 1. Tanchuma, fol. 2. 3. Jalkut Rubeni, fol. 30. 4. 5xTV niny bad nivn, “ Messias portat peccata Israel."

In the Levitical Dispensation, when a sacrifice was offered for sin, he that brought it laid his hand upon the head of the victim, according to the command of God, Lev. i. 4. iii. 2. iv. 4. and by that rite transferred his sins upon the victim, who is said to take them upon him, and to carry them away. In the daily sacrifice of the temple, the stationary men, who were the representatives of the people, laid their hands upon the unoffending lamb thus offered for them; and those appropriated for the morning and evening sacrifice were bought with that half shekel, which all the Jews paid yearly, els dúrpov Tois yuxñs avrwv εξιλάσασθαι περί των ψυχών αυτών, “ as the price of the redemption of their lives to make an atonement for them.” Exod. xxx. 12. 14. 16. This lamb of God was to be offered to take away at once the guilt of sin, and to put an end to the sacrifices required by the law.

Vide Whitby in loc., Lightfoot, vol. ii. p. 531. and Archbishop Magee, on the sin-offering among the Jews. I beg to intreat every man who would desire to understand thoroughly the cause why Christ came into the world, to peruse this latter book,

5 Kuinoel, comparing this verse with ver. 30. has discussed both passages at length, and decides, after an impartial examination of the various meanings assigned to them by others, in favour of the generally received opinion, that the Baptist intended to enforce on his hearers the Scriptural doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ. Kuinoel in libros historicos N. T. vol. iii. p. 117–121.

6 This expression of the Evangelist, “ I knew him not," appears at variance with the passage Matt. iii. 13. where John, knowing his superiority, declares, “ I have need to be baptized by thee." There are several ways of reconciling this apparent difference ;-the most natural interpretation seems to be, that John, being made acquainted by his own parents with the miraculous circumstances that preceded the birth of his relation, and having known the extraordi

V. Æ. 26.

manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with J.P.4739. water.

32 ° And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit de- Bethabara. scending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. Matt. ii. 16.

33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

nary purity and holiness of his life, declares, “ I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" But although John knew him personally, he knew him not officially as the Messiah, till the promised token had been vouchsafed to him; till a voice from heaven proclaimed him the beloved Son of God, and the Spirit descending like a dove hovered over him. The Jews in general must have known our Saviour personally, as the reputed son of Joseph and Mary, but they knew him not then, although he was in the midst of them, as the Christ; nor shall they know him till the veil be removed from their eyes. See John xiv, 9.

Some commentators suppose that John, when Jesus came to Jordan to be baptized of him, knew him to be the Christ by the same divine impulse which directed Simeon, when he hailed the infant Jesus in the temple as the promised Messiah. See also (1 Kings xiv. 1—7.) where the wife of Jeroboam is made known to the prophet Ahijah. We have every reason to suppose that John must have had a personal acquaintance with our Saviour, from the connexion and intimacy between the two families, and that they would meet each other at Jerusalem at the great festival three times a year; but his Messiahship was revealed to the Baptist by some miraculous and indubitable evidence, for confirmation of his own faith, and that of all succeeding ages.-Hales' Analysis, vol. ii. p. 731. Witsius de vita Joannis-ad fin Miscell. Sacra, vol. ii.

Archdeacon Nares interprets the passage, “I knew him not as the Messiah." Doddridge endeavours to prove, that either accidentally, or providentially, they might very possibly have been unknown to each other.-Archdeacon Nares's Remarks on the Socinian Version of the New Testament, p. 34, 35.

Nonnus, who lived in the fourth century, has left a Paraphrase of the Gospel of St. John in Homeric verse. The principal use of this work, in the present day, is to shew us the sense in which the more controverted passages of St. John's Gospel were understood at that period. Nonnus has thus paraphrased the expression, “I knew him not," in verse 31,

εγώ δέ μιν ου πάρος έγνων
όμμασιν, &c.

Paraph. ch. i. line 108, 109.
The corresponding passage in verse 33, leaves out the word õppaoiv, line 118.


V. Æ. 26.


Christ obtains his first Disciples from John.

JOHN i. 35, to the end. J. P.4739.

35 Again the next day after? John stood, and two of his disciples ;

36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi,

(which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where Or, abidest. * dwellest thou ?

39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and

? On the day following, John calls the attention of his disciples to Jesus : and, as if he would remind them of the preceding conversation, he again gives his testimony to the office of Christ, in the same words, “ Behold the Lamb of God;" and immediately these two disciples become the followers of Christ. In this circumstance also, is another evident propriety through the ordinance of an overruling Providence. No persons could be so fitly chosen by God, to be the first disciples of Christ, as those who had previously been followers of his great forerunner. By this event our Lord at once united the Mosaical and Christian dispensations. The disciples of John, who now began to attend him, were witnesses before all Israel, of the testimony of John, whom all acknowledged to be a prophet. Wherever he went, Christ was now, or was soon to be, accompanied by those who were enabled to confirm his Messiahship, by the declaration of the last prophet of the old dispensation. This event also enabled his disciples to preach more decisively to the people the great truths which they received from John ; that repentance was the beginning and foundation of faith ; and that all who depend upon the Lamb of God as the atoning sacrifice for mankind, must be brought to him by the ministry of repentance.

Andrew was the first who followed Christ, and the Evangelist St. John is supposed to have been the other. St. Peter was brought to Christ by Andrew his brother. It does not however appear, from the narrative, that they certainly forsook their occupations at this time, for we read, ver. 39. that they abode with bim only that night; and in the next section, which is placed according to the order of St. John's narrative, we find that his disciples were at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, and we hear of no other disciples but these, and Philip and Nathanael, whom Christ met on his setting out to go into Galilee ; we may conclude they attended him to that place, and then resumed their occupations, while Christ continued at Capernaum. Nathanael is supposed to have been chosen a disciple under the name of Bartholomew, in the same way as Peter received the name of Jona, or Cephas; as throughout the whole of the evangelical writings he is always coupled with Philip, and (in John xxi. 2.) he is named with other disciples who were all Apostles,

« PreviousContinue »