[Table of Contents]
[Previous] [Next]
Word Pictures in the New Testament
(John: Chapter 3)

3:1 {Now} (de). So often in John de is explanatory and transitional, not adversative. Nicodemus is an instance of Christ's knowledge of men (2:25) and of one to whom he did trust himself unlike those in 2:24. As a Pharisee "he belonged to that party which with all its bigotry contained a salt of true patriotism and could rear such cultured and high-toned men as Gamaliel and Paul" (Marcus Dods).
{Named Nicodemus} (Nikodˆmos onoma). Same construction as in 1:6, "Nicodemus name to him." So Re 6:8. It is a Greek name and occurs in Josephus ("Ant". XIV. iii. 2) as the name of an ambassador from Aristobulus to Pompey. Only in John in N.T. (here, 7:50; 19:39). He was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, and wealthy. There is no evidence that he was the young ruler of Lu 18:18 because of arch“n (ruler) here.

3:2 {The same} (houtos). "This one."
{By night} (nuktos). Genitive of time. That he came at all is remarkable, not because there was any danger as was true at a later period, but because of his own prominence. He wished to avoid comment by other members of the Sanhedrin and others. Jesus had already provoked the opposition of the ecclesiastics by his assumption of Messianic authority over the temple. There is no ground for assigning this incident to a later period, for it suits perfectly here. Jesus was already in the public eye (2:23) and the interest of Nicodemus was real and yet he wished to be cautious. {Rabbi} (Rabbei). See on »1:38. Technically Jesus was not an acknowledged Rabbi of the schools, but Nicodemus does recognize him as such and calls him "My Master" just as Andrew and John did (1:38). It was a long step for Nicodemus as a Pharisee to take, for the Pharisees had closely scrutinized the credentials of the Baptist in 1:19-24 (Milligan and Moulton's "Comm".).
{We know} (oidamen). Second perfect indicative first person plural. He seems to speak for others of his class as the blind man does in 9:31. Westcott thinks that Nicodemus has been influenced partly by the report of the commission sent to the Baptist (1:19-27). {Thou art a teacher come from God} (apo theou elˆluthas didaskalos). "Thou hast come from God as a teacher." Second perfect active indicative of erchomai and predicative nominative didaskalos. This is the explanation of Nicodemus for coming to Jesus, obscure Galilean peasant as he seemed, evidence that satisfied one of the leaders in Pharisaism.
{Can do} (dunatai poiein). "Can go on doing" (present active infinitive of poie“ and so linear).
{These signs that thou doest} (tauta ta sˆmeia ha su poieis). Those mentioned in 2:23 that convinced so many in the crowd and that now appeal to the scholar. Note su (thou) as quite out of the ordinary. The scorn of Jesus by the rulers held many back to the end (Joh 12:42), but Nicodemus dares to feel his way.
{Except God be with him} (ean mˆ ˆi ho theos met' autou). Condition of the third class, presented as a probability, not as a definite fact. He wanted to know more of the teaching accredited thus by God. Jesus went about doing good because God was with him, Peter says (Ac 10:38).

3:3 {Except a man be born anew} (ean mˆ tis gennˆthˆi an“then). Another condition of the third class, undetermined but with prospect of determination. First aorist passive subjunctive of genna“. An“then. Originally "from above" (Mr 15:38), then "from heaven" (Joh 3:31), then "from the first" (Lu 1:3), and then "again" (palin an“then, Ga 4:9). Which is the meaning here? The puzzle of Nicodemus shows (deuteron, verse 4) that he took it as "again," a second birth from the womb. The Vulgate translates it by "renatus fuerit denuo". But the misapprehension of Nicodemus does not prove the meaning of Jesus. In the other passages in John (3:31; 19:11,23) the meaning is "from above" (desuper) and usually so in the Synoptics. It is a second birth, to be sure, regeneration, but a birth from above by the Spirit.
{He cannot see the kingdom of God} (ou dunatai idein tˆn basileian tou theou). To participate in it as in Lu 9:27. For this use of idein (second aorist active infinitive of hora“) see Joh 8:51; Re 18:7.

3:4 Being old (ger“n “n). Nicodemus was probably familiar with the notion of re-birth for proselytes to Judaism for the Gentiles, but not with the idea that a Jew had to be reborn. But "this stupid misunderstanding" (Bernard) of the meaning of Jesus is precisely what John represents Nicodemus as making. How "old" Nicodemus was we do not know, but surely too old to be the young ruler of Lu 18:18 as Bacon holds. The blunder of Nicodemus is emphasized by the second question with the expecting the negative answer. The use of deuteron adds to the grotesqueness of his blunder. The learned Pharisee is as jejune in spiritual insight as the veriest tyro. This is not an unheard of phenomenon.

3:5 {Of water and the Spirit} (ex hudatos kai pneumatos). Nicodemus had failed utterly to grasp the idea of the spiritual birth as essential to entrance into the Kingdom of God. He knew only Jews as members of that kingdom, the political kingdom of Pharisaic hope which was to make all the world Jewish (Pharisaic) under the King Messiah. Why does Jesus add ex hudatos here? In verse 3 we have "\an“then" (from above) which is repeated in verse 7, while in verse 8 we have only ek tou pneumatos (of the Spirit) in the best manuscripts. Many theories exist. One view makes baptism, referred to by ex hudatos (coming up out of water), essential to the birth of the Spirit, as the means of obtaining the new birth of the Spirit. If so, why is water mentioned only once in the three demands of Jesus (3,5,7)? Calvin makes water and Spirit refer to the one act (the cleansing work of the Spirit). Some insist on the language in verse 6 as meaning the birth of the flesh coming in a sac of water in contrast to the birth of the Spirit. One wonders after all what was the precise purpose of Jesus with Nicodemus, the Pharisaic ceremonialist, who had failed to grasp the idea of spiritual birth which is a commonplace to us. By using water (the symbol before the thing signified) first and adding Spirit, he may have hoped to turn the mind of Nicodemus away from mere physical birth and, by pointing to the baptism of John on confession of sin which the Pharisees had rejected, to turn his attention to the birth from above by the Spirit. That is to say the mention of "water" here may have been for the purpose of helping Nicodemus without laying down a fundamental principle of salvation as being by means of baptism. Bernard holds that the words hudatos kai (water and) do not belong to the words of Jesus, but "are a gloss, added to bring the saying of Jesus into harmony with the belief and practice of a later generation." Here Jesus uses eiselthein (enter) instead of idein (see) of verse 3, but with the same essential idea (participation in the kingdom).

3:6 {That which is born} (to gegennˆmenon). Perfect passive articular participle. The sharp contrast between flesh (sarx) and Spirit (pneuma), drawn already in 1:13, serves to remind Nicodemus of the crudity of his question in 3:4 about a second physical birth.

3:7 {Marvel not} (mˆ thaumasˆis). "Do not begin to wonder" (ingressive first aorist active subjunctive with mˆ), as clearly Nicodemus had done. In John the word thaumaz“ usually means "unintelligent wonder" (Bernard).
{Ye must be born anew} (dei humas gennˆthˆnai an“then). Jesus repeats the point in verse 3 (dei and the infinitive instead of ean mˆ and the subjunctive)
with an“then (from above) only and not ex hudatos.

3:8 {The wind} (to pneuma). In Greek pneuma means either wind or spirit as "spiritus" does in Latin (so also in Hebrew and Syriac). Wycliff follows the Latin and keeps spirit here and Marcus Dods argues for it. The word pneuma occurs 370 times in the N.T. and never means wind elsewhere except in a quotation from the O.T. (Heb 1:7 from Ps 104:4), though common in the LXX. On the other hand pne“ (bloweth, pnei) occurs five times elsewhere in the N.T. and always of the wind (like Joh 6:18). So ph“nˆ can be either sound (as of wind) or voice (as of the Spirit). In simple truth either sense of pneuma can be taken here as one wills. Tholuck thinks that the night-wind swept through the narrow street as Jesus spoke. In either case the etymology of pneuma is "wind" from pne“, to blow. The Spirit is the use of pneuma as metaphor. Certainly the conclusion "of the Spirit" is a direct reference to the Holy Spirit who works his own way beyond our comprehension even as men even yet do not know the law of the wind.

3:9 {How?} (P“s;) Nicodemus is not helped either by the use of hud“r or pneuma to understand dei gennˆthˆnai an“then (the necessity of the birth from above or regeneration). He falls back into his "stupid misunderstanding." There are none so dull as those who will not see. Preoccupation prevents insight. Literally one must often empty his mind to receive new truth.

3:10 {The teacher of Israel} (ho didaskalos tou Israˆl). The well-known or the authorized (the accepted) teacher of the Israel of God. Note both articles.
{And understandest not these things?} (kai tauta ou gin“skeis;). After being told by Jesus and after so propitious a start. His Pharisaic theology had made him almost proof against spiritual apprehension. It was outside of his groove (rote, rut, rot, the three terrible r's of mere traditionalism).

3:11 {We speak that we do know} (ho oidamen laloumen). Jesus simply claims knowledge of what he has tried to make plain to the famous Rabbi without success. John uses lale“ some 60 times, half of them by Jesus, very little distinction existing between the use of lale“ and leg“ in John. Originally lale“ referred to the chatter of birds. Note John's frequent use of amˆn amˆn and leg“ (double emphasis).
{And bear witness of that we have seen} (kai ho he“rakamen marturoumen). The same use of neuter singular relative ho as before. Perfect active indicative of hora“. He is not a dreamer, guesser, or speculator. He is bearing witness from personal knowledge, strange as this may seem to Nicodemus.
{And ye receive not our witness} (kai tˆn marturian hˆm“n ou lambanete). This is the tragedy of the matter as John has shown (1:11,26) and as will continue to be true even today. Jesus probably associates here with himself ("we") those who have personal experience of grace and so are qualified as witnesses. Note the plural in 1Jo 1:1f. Bernard thinks that John has here read into the words of Jesus the convictions of a later age, a serious charge to make.

3:12 {If I told} (ei eipon). Condition of the first class, assumed to be true.
{Earthly things} (ta epigeia). Things upon the earth like ta epi tˆs gˆs (Col 3:2), not things of an earthly nature or worldly or sinful. The work of the kingdom of God including the new birth which Nicodemus did not understand belongs to ta epigeia.
{If I tell you heavenly things} (ean eip“ humin ta epourania). Condition of the third class, undetermined. What will Nicodemus do in that case? By ta epourania Jesus means the things that take place in heaven like the deep secrets of the purpose of God in the matter of redemption such as the necessity of the lifting up of Christ as shown in verse 14. Both Godet and Westcott note that the two types of teaching here pointed out by Jesus (the earthly, the heavenly) correspond in general to the difference between the Synoptics (the earthly) and the Fourth Gospel (the heavenly), a difference noted here in the Fourth Gospel as shown by Jesus himself. Hence the one should not be pitted against the other. There are specimens of the heavenly in the Synoptics as in Mt 11:25ff.; Lu 10:18ff.

3:13 {But he that descended out of heaven} (ei mˆ ho ek tou ouranou katabas). The Incarnation of the Pre-existent Son of God who was in heaven before he came down and so knows what he is telling about "the heavenly things." There is no allusion to the Ascension which came later. This high conception of Christ runs all through the Gospel and is often in Christ's own words as here.
{Which is in heaven} (ho “n en t“i ouran“i). This phrase is added by some manuscripts, not by Aleph B L W 33, and, if genuine, would merely emphasize the timeless existence of God's Son who is in heaven even while on earth. Probably a gloss. But "the Son of man" is genuine. He is the one who has come down out of heaven.

3:14 {Moses lifted up the serpent} (M“usˆs hups“sen ton ophin). Reference to Nu 21:7ff. where Moses set the brazen serpent upon the standard that those who believed might look and live. Jesus draws a vivid parallel between the act of Moses and the Cross on which he himself (the Son of man) "must" (dei, one of the heavenly things) "be lifted up" (hups“thˆnai, first aorist passive infinitive of hupso“, a word not used about the brazen serpent). In John hupso“ always refers to the Cross (8:28; 12:32,34), though to the Ascension in Acts (Ac 2:33; 5:31). Jesus is complimenting the standing and intelligence of Nicodemus as "the teacher of Israel" by telling him this great truth and fact that lies at the basis of the work of the kingdom of God (the atoning death of Christ on the Cross).

3:15 {That whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life} (hina pas ho pisteu“n en aut“i echˆi z“ˆn ai“nion). Final use of hina with present active subjunctive of ech“, that he may keep on having eternal life (a frequent phrase in John, always in John ai“nios occurs with z“ˆ, 16 times in the Gospel, 6 in 1John, ageless or endless life, beginning now and lasting forever). It is more than endless, for it is sharing in the life of God in Christ (5:26; 17:3; 1Jo 5:12). So here en aut“i (in him) is taken with echˆi rather than with pisteu“n. The interview with Nicodemus apparently closes with verse 15. In verses 16-21 we have past tenses constantly as is natural for the reflection of John, but unnatural for Jesus speaking. There are phrases like the Prologue (verse 19; 1:9-11). "Only begotten" does not occur elsewhere in the words of Jesus, but is in 1:14,18; 1Jo 4:9. John often puts in explanatory comments (1:16-18; 12:37-41).

3:16 {For so} (hout“s gar). This use of gar is quite in John's style in introducing his comments (2:25; 4:8; 5:13, etc.). This "Little Gospel" as it is often called, this "comfortable word" (the Anglican Liturgy), while not a quotation from Jesus is a just and marvellous interpretation of the mission and message of our Lord. In verses 16-21 John recapitulates in summary fashion the teaching of Jesus to Nicodemus.
{Loved} (ˆgapˆsen). First aorist active indicative of agapa“, the noble word so common in the Gospels for the highest form of love, used here as often in John (14:23; 17:23; 1Jo 3:1; 4:10) of God's love for man (cf. 2Th 2:16; Ro 5:8; Eph 2:4). In 21:15 John presents a distinction between agapa“ and phile“. Agapa“ is used also for love of men for men (13:34), for Jesus (8:42), for God (1Jo 4:10).
{The world} (ton kosmon). The whole cosmos of men, including Gentiles, the whole human race. This universal aspect of God's love appears also in 2Co 5:19; Ro 5:8.
{That he gave} (h“ste ed“ken). The usual classical construction with h“ste and the indicative (first aorist active) practical result, the only example in the N.T. save that in Ga 2:13. Elsewhere h“ste with the infinitive occurs for actual result (Mt 13:32) as well as purpose (Mt 10:1), though even this is rare.
{His only begotten Son} (ton huion ton monogenˆ). "The Son the only begotten." For this word see on »1:14,18; 3:18. The rest of the sentence, the purpose clause with hina-echˆi precisely reproduces the close of 3:15 save that eis auton takes the place of en aut“i (see 1:12) and goes certainly with pisteu“n (not with echˆi as en aut“i in verse 15) and the added clause "should not perish but" (mˆ apolˆtai alla, second aorist middle subjunctive, intransitive, of apollumi, to destroy). The same contrast between "perish" and "eternal life" (for this world and the next) appears also in 10:28. On "perish" see also 17:12.

3:17 {For God sent not the Son} (ou gar apesteilen ho theos ton huion). Explanation (gar) of God's sending the Son into the world. First aorist active indicative of apostell“. John uses both apostell“ from which comes apostolos (3:34; 5:36,38, etc.) and pemp“ (4:34; 5:23,24,30, etc.) for God's sending the Son and pemp“ more frequently, but with no real difference in meaning. All the Gospels use ho huios in the absolute sense in contrast with the Father (Mr 13:32; Mt 11:27; Lu 10:22).
{To judge} (hina krinˆi). Final clause with hina and the present (or aorist) active subjunctive of krin“. The Messiah does judge the world as Jesus taught (Mt 25:31f.; Joh 5:27), but this was not the primary or the only purpose of his coming. See on »Mt 7:1 for krin“, to pick out, select, approve, condemn, used so often and in so many varying contexts in the N.T.
{But that the world should be saved through him} (all hina s“thˆi ho kosmos di' autou). First aorist passive subjunctive of s“z“, the common verb to save (from s“s, safe and sound), from which s“tˆr (Saviour) comes (the Saviour of the world, 4:42; 1Jo 4:14) and s“tˆria (salvation, 4:22 here only in John). The verb s“z“ is often used for physical health (Mr 5:28), but here of the spiritual salvation as in 5:34.

3:18 {Is not judged} (ou krinetai). Present passive indicative. Trust in Christ prevents condemnation, for he takes our place and pays the penalty for sin for all who put their case in his hands (Ro 8:32f.). The believer in Christ as Saviour does not come into judgment (Joh 5:24).
{Hath been judged already} (ˆdˆ kekritai). Perfect passive indicative of krin“. Judgment has already been passed on the one who refuses to believe in Christ as the Saviour sent by the Father, the man who is not willing to come to Christ for life (5:40).
{Because he hath not believed} (hoti mˆ pepisteuken). Perfect active indicative of pisteu“, has taken a permanent attitude of refusal. Here hoti mˆ states the reason subjectively as the judgment of the Judge in any such case (ho mˆ pisteu“n already mentioned) while in 1Jo 5:10 hoti ou pepisteuken gives the reason objectively (ou instead of mˆ) conceived as an actual case and no longer hypothetical. See 1:12 for eis to onoma with pisteu“ (believing on the name) and 1:14 for monogenous (only begotten) and also 3:16.

3:19 {And this is the judgment} (hautˆ de estin hˆ krisis). A thoroughly Johannine phrase for sequence of thought (15:12; 17:3; 1Jo 1:5; 5:11,14; 3Jo 1:6). It is more precisely the process of judging (kri-sis) rather than the result (kri-ma) of the judgment. "It is no arbitrary sentence, but the working out of a moral law" (Bernard).
{The light is come} (to ph“s elˆluthen). Second perfect active indicative of erchomai, a permanent result as already explained in the Prologue concerning the Incarnation (1:4,5,9,11). Jesus is the Light of the world. {Loved darkness} (ˆgapˆsan to skotos). Job (Job 24:13) spoke of men rebelling against the light. Here to skotos, common word for moral and spiritual darkness (1Th 5:5), though hˆ skotia in Joh 1:5. "Darkness" is common in John as a metaphor for the state of sinners (8:12; 12:35, 46; 1Jo 1:6; 2:8,9,11). Jesus himself is the only moral and spiritual light of the world (8:12) as he dared claim to his enemies. The pathos of it all is that men fall in love with the darkness of sin and rebel against the light like denizens of the underworld, "for their works were evil (ponˆra)." When the light appears, they scatter to their holes and dens. Ponˆros (from ponos, toil, pone“, to toil) is used of the deeds of the world by Jesus (7:7). In the end the god of this world blinds men's eyes so that they do not see the light (2Co 4:4). The fish in the Mammoth Cave have no longer eyes, but only sockets where eyes used to be. The evil one has a powerful grip on the world (1Jo 5:19).

3:20 {That doeth ill} (ho phaula prass“n). The word phaulos means first worthless and then wicked (usually so in N.T.) and both senses occur in the papyri. In 5:29 see contrast between agatha poie“ (doing good things) and phaula prass“ (practising evil things).
{Hateth the light} (misei to ph“s). Hence talks against it, ridicules Christ, Christianity, churches, preachers, etc. Does it in talk, magazines, books, in a supercilious tone of sheer ignorance.
{Cometh not to the light} (ouk erchetai pros to ph“s). The light hurts his eyes, reveals his own wickedness, makes him thoroughly uncomfortable. Hence he does not read the Bible, he does not come to church, he does not pray. He goes on in deeper darkness.
{Lest his works should be reproved} (hina mˆ elegchthˆi ta erga autou). Negative final clause (hina mˆ) with first aorist passive subjunctive of elegch“, old word to correct a fault, to reprove, to convict. See also 8:46; 16:8. To escape this unpleasant process the evil man cuts out Christ.

3:21 {That doeth the truth} (ho poi“n tˆn alˆtheian). See 1Jo 1:6 for this striking phrase.
{Comes to the light} (erchetai pros to ph“s). Is drawn by the light, spiritual heliotropes, not driven from it.
{That may be made manifest} (hina phaner“thˆi). Final hina with first aorist passive subjunctive of phanero“. {They have been wrought in God} (en the“i estin eirgasmena). Periphrastic perfect passive indicative of ergazomai. He does not claim that they are perfect, only that they have been wrought in the sphere of and in the power of God. Hence he wants the light turned on.

3:22 {After these things} (meta tauta). Transition after the interview with Nicodemus. For the phrase see 5:1; 6:1; 7:1. {Into the land of Judea} (eis tˆn Ioudaian gˆn). Into the country districts outside of Jerusalem. The only example of this phrase in the N.T., but "the region of Judea" (hˆ Ioudaia ch“ra) in Mr 1:5.
{He tarried} (dietriben). Descriptive imperfect active of diatrib“, old verb to rub between or hard, to spend time (Ac 14:3).
{Baptized} (ebaptizen). Imperfect active of baptiz“. "He was baptizing." The six disciples were with him and in 4:2 John explains that Jesus did the baptizing through the disciples.

3:23 {John was also baptizing} (ˆn de kai ho I“anˆs baptiz“n). Periphrastic imperfect picturing the continued activity of the Baptist simultaneous with the growing work of Jesus. There was no real rivalry except in people's minds.
{In Aenon near to Salim} (en Ain“n eggus tou Saleim). It is not clearly known where this place was. Eusebius locates it in the Jordan valley south of Beisan west of the river where are many springs (fountains, eyes). There is a place called Salim east of Shechem in Samaria with a village called 'Aimen, but with no water there. There may have been water there then, of course.
{Because there was much water there} (hoti hudata polla ˆn ekei). "Because many waters were there." Not for drinking, but for baptizing. "Therefore even in summer baptism by immersion could be continued" (Marcus Dods). {And they came, and were baptized} (kai pareginonto kai ebaptizonto). Imperfects both, one middle and the other passive, graphically picturing the long procession of pilgrims who came to John confessing their sins and receiving baptism at his hands.

3:24 {For John had not yet been cast into prison} (oup“ gar ˆn beblˆmenos eis tˆn phulakˆn I“anˆs). Periphrastic past perfect indicative of ball“ explaining (gar) why John was still baptizing, the reason for the imprisonment having been given by Luke (Lu 3:19f.).

3:25 {A questioning} (zˆtˆsis). Old word from zˆte“. See Ac 15:2 for the word where also zˆtˆma (question) occurs. Zˆtˆsis (process of inquiry) means a meticulous dispute (1Ti 6:4).
{With a Jew} (meta Ioudaiou). So correct text, not Ioudai“n (Jews). Probably some Jew resented John's baptism of Jesus as implying impurity or that they were like Gentiles (cf. proselyte baptism).
{About purifying} (peri katharismou). See 2:6 for the word. The committee from the Sanhedrin had challenged John's right to baptize (1:25). The Jews had various kinds of baptisms or dippings (Heb 6:2), "baptisms of cups and pots and brazen vessels" (Mr 6:4). The disciples of John came to him with the dispute (the first known baptismal controversy, on the meaning of the ceremony) and with a complaint.

3:26 {Rabbi} (Rabbei). Greeting John just like Jesus (1:38; 3:2).
{Beyond Jordan} (peran tou Iordanou). Evident reference to John's witness to Jesus told in 1:29-34.
{To whom thou hast borne witness} (h“i su memarturˆkas). Note avoidance of calling the name of Jesus. Perfect active indicative of marture“ so common in John (1:7, etc.). These disciples of John are clearly jealous of Jesus as a rival of John and they distinctly blame John for his endorsement of one who is already eclipsing him in popularity.
{The same baptizeth} (houtos baptizei). "This one is baptizing." Not personally (4:2), as John did, but through his six disciples.
{And all men come to him} (kai pantes erchontai pros auton). Linear present middle indicative, "are coming." The sight of the growing crowds with Jesus and the dwindling crowds with John stirred John's followers to keenest jealousy. What a life-like picture of ministerial jealousy in all ages.

3:27 {Except it have been given him from heaven} (ean mˆ ˆi dedomenon aut“i ek tou ouranou). See the same idiom in Joh 6:65 (cf. 19:11). Condition of third class, undetermined with prospect of determination, ean mˆ with the periphrastic perfect passive subjunctive of did“mi. The perfect tense is rare in the subjunctive and an exact rendering into English is awkward, "unless it be granted him from heaven." See 1Co 4:7 where Paul says the same thing.

3:28 {I said} (eipon). As in 1:20,23. He had always put Jesus ahead of him as the Messiah (1:15).
{Before him} (emprosthen ekeinou). "Before that one" (Jesus) as his forerunner simply.
{I am sent} (apestalmenos eimi). Periphrastic perfect passive indicative of apostell“.

3:29 {The bridegroom} (numphios). Predicate nominative without article. Both numphˆ (bride) and numphios are old and common words. Jesus will use this metaphor of himself as the Bridegroom (Mr 2:19) and Paul develops it (2Co 11:2; Eph 5:23-32) and so in Revelation (19:7; 21:2). John is only like the "paranymph" (paranumphios) or "the friend of the bridegroom." His office is to bring groom and bride together. So he stands expectant (hestˆk“s, second perfect active participle of histˆmi) and listens (akou“n, present active participle of akou“) with joy ({rejoiceth greatly}, charƒi chairei, "with joy rejoices") to the music of the bridegroom's voice.
{This my joy therefore is fulfilled} (hautˆ oun hˆ chara peplˆr“tai). Perfect passive indicative of plˆro“, stands filled like a cup to the brim with joy.

3:30 {Must} (dei). It has to be (see 3:14). He is to go on growing (present active infinitive auxanein) while I go on decreasing (present passive infinitive elattousthai, from comparative elatt“n, less). These are the last words that we have from John till the despondent message from the dungeon in Machaerus whether Jesus is after all the Messiah (Mt 11:2; Lu 7:19). He went on to imprisonment, suspense, martyrdom, while Jesus grew in popular favour till he had his "via dolorosa". "These last words of St. John are the fulness of religious sacrifice and fitly close his work" (Westcott).

3:31 {Is above all} (epan“ pant“n). Ablative case with the compound preposition epan“. See the same idea in Ro 9:5. Here we have the comments of Evangelist (John) concerning the last words of John in verse 30 which place Jesus above himself. He is above all men, not alone above the Baptist. Bernard follows those who treat verses 31-36 as dislocated and put them after verse 21 (the interview with Nicodemus), but they suit better here.
{Of the earth} (ek tˆs gˆs). John is fond of this use of ek for origin and source of character as in 1:46; 1Jo 4:5. Jesus is the one that comes out of heaven (ho ek tou ouranou erchomenos) as he has shown in 1:1-18. Hence he is "above all."

3:32 {What he hath seen and heard} (ho he“raken kai ˆkousen). Perfect active indicative followed by aorist active indicative, because, as Westcott shows, the first belongs to the very existence of the Son and the latter to his mission. There is no confusion of tenses here.
{No man} (oudeis). There were crowds coming to Jesus, but they do not really accept him as Saviour and Lord (1:11; 2:24). It is superficial as time will show. But "no one" is not to be pressed too far, for it is the rhetorical use.

3:33 {Hath set his seal} (esphragisen). First aorist active indicative of sphragiz“ for which verb see Mt 27:66. The metaphor of sealing is a common one for giving attestation as in 6:27. The one who accepts the witness of Jesus attests that Jesus speaks the message of God.

3:34 {The words of God} (ta rˆmata tou theou). God sent his Son (3:17) and he speaks God's words.
{By measure} (ek metrou). That is God has put no limit to the Spirit's relation to the Son. God has given the Holy Spirit in his fulness to Christ and to no one else in that sense.

3:35 {Hath given all things into his hand} (panta ded“ken en tˆi cheiri autou). John makes the same statement about Jesus in 13:3 (using eis tas cheiras instead of en tˆi cheiri). Jesus makes the same claim in 5:19-30; Mt 11:27; 28:18.

3:36 {Hath eternal life} (echei z“ˆn ai“nion). Has it here and now and for eternity.
{That obeyeth not} (ho apeith“n). "He that is disobedient to the Son." Jesus is the test of human life as Simeon said he would be (Lu 2:34f.). This verb does not occur again in John's Gospel.

[Table of Contents]
[Previous] [Next]
Word Pictures in the New Testament
(John: Chapter 3)

| About LW | Site Map | LW Publications | Search
Developed by © Levend Water All rights reserved