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John 1:23-31


1:23 John 1  said, “I am the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, ‘Make straight 2  the way for the Lord,’ 3  as Isaiah the prophet said.” 1:24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 4 ) 5  1:25 So they asked John, 6  “Why then are you baptizing if you are not the Christ, 7  nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

1:26 John answered them, 8  “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not recognize, 9  1:27 who is coming after me. I am not worthy 10  to untie the strap 11  of his sandal!” 1:28 These things happened in Bethany 12  across the Jordan River 13  where John was baptizing.

1:29 On the next day John 14  saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God 15  who takes away the sin of the world! 1:30 This is the one about whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is greater than I am, 16  because he existed before me.’ 1:31 I did not recognize 17  him, but I came baptizing with water so that he could be revealed to Israel.” 18 

John 1:33-41

1:33 And I did not recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining – this is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 1:34 I have both seen and testified that this man is the Chosen One of God.” 19 

1:35 Again the next day John 20  was standing there 21  with two of his disciples. 1:36 Gazing at Jesus as he walked by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” 22  1:37 When John’s 23  two disciples heard him say this, 24  they followed Jesus. 25  1:38 Jesus turned around and saw them following and said to them, “What do you want?” 26  So they said to him, “Rabbi” (which is translated Teacher), 27  “where are you staying?” 1:39 Jesus 28  answered, 29  “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. Now it was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 30 

Andrew’s Declaration

1:40 Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two disciples who heard what John said 31  and followed Jesus. 32  1:41 He first 33  found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” 34  (which is translated Christ). 35 

1 tn Grk “He”; the referent (John the Baptist) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

2 sn This call to “make straight” is probably an allusion to preparation through repentance.

3 sn A quotation from Isa 40:3.

4 sn Pharisees were members of one of the most important and influential religious and political parties of Judaism in the time of Jesus. There were more Pharisees than Sadducees (according to Josephus, Ant. 17.2.4 [17.42] there were more than 6,000 Pharisees at about this time). Pharisees differed with Sadducees on certain doctrines and patterns of behavior. The Pharisees were strict and zealous adherents to the laws of the OT and to numerous additional traditions such as angels and bodily resurrection.

5 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

6 tn Grk “And they asked him, and said to him”; the referent (John) has been specified in the translation for clarity, and the phrase has been simplified in the translation to “So they asked John.”

7 tn Or “the Messiah” (Both Greek “Christ” and Hebrew and Aramaic “Messiah” mean “one who has been anointed”).

sn See the note on Christ in 1:20.

8 tn Grk “answered them, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

9 tn Or “know.”

10 tn Grk “of whom I am not worthy.”

sn The humility of John is evident in the statement I am not worthy. This was considered one of the least worthy tasks of a slave, and John did not consider himself worthy to do even that for the one to come, despite the fact he himself was a prophet.

11 tn The term refers to the leather strap or thong used to bind a sandal. This is often viewed as a collective singular and translated as a plural, “the straps of his sandals,” but it may be more emphatic to retain the singular here.

12 tc Many witnesses ([א2] C2 K T Ψc 083 Ë1,13 33 pm sa Or) read Βηθαβαρᾷ (Bhqabara, “Bethabara”) instead of Βηθανίᾳ (Bhqania, “Bethany”). But the reading Βηθανίᾳ is strongly supported by {Ì66,75 A B C* L Ws Δ Θ Ψ* 565 579 700 1241 1424 pm latt bo as well as several fathers}. Since there is no known Bethany “beyond the Jordan,” it is likely that the name would have been changed to a more etymologically edifying one (Origen mistakenly thought the name Bethabara meant “house of preparation” and for this reason was appropriate in this context; see TCGNT 171 for discussion). On the other hand, both since Origen’s understanding of the Semitic etymology of Bethabara was incorrect, and because Bethany was at least a well-known location in Palestine, mentioned in the Gospels about a dozen times, one has to wonder whether scribes replaced Βηθαβαρᾷ with Βηθανίᾳ. However, if Origen’s understanding of the etymology of the name was representative, scribes may have altered the text in the direction of Bethabara. And even if most scribes were unfamiliar with what the name might signify, that a reading which did not contradict the Gospels’ statements of a Bethany near Jerusalem was already at hand may have been sufficient reason for them to adopt Bethabara. Further, in light of the very strong testimony for Βηθανίᾳ, this reading should be regarded as authentic.

13 tn “River” is not in the Greek text but is supplied for clarity.

14 tn Grk “he”; the referent (John) has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

15 sn Gen 22:8 is an important passage in the background of the title Lamb of God as applied to Jesus. In Jewish thought this was held to be a supremely important sacrifice. G. Vermès stated: “For the Palestinian Jew, all lamb sacrifice, and especially the Passover lamb and the Tamid offering, was a memorial of the Akedah with its effects of deliverance, forgiveness of sin and messianic salvation” (Scripture and Tradition in Judaism [StPB], 225).

16 tn Or “has a higher rank than I.”

17 tn Or “know.”

18 sn John the Baptist, who has been so reluctant to elaborate his own role, now more than willingly gives his testimony about Jesus. For the author, the emphasis is totally on John the Baptist as a witness to Jesus. No attention is given to the Baptist’s call to national repentance and very little to his baptizing. Everything is focused on what he has to say about Jesus: so that he could be revealed to Israel.

19 tc ‡ What did John the Baptist declare about Jesus on this occasion? Did he say, “This is the Son of God” (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, |outo" estin Jo Juio" tou qeou), or “This is the Chosen One of God” (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἐκλεκτὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, outo" estin Jo eklekto" tou qeou)? The majority of the witnesses, impressive because of their diversity in age and locales, read “This is the Son of God” (so {Ì66,75 A B C L Θ Ψ 0233vid Ë1,13 33 1241 aur c f l g bo as well as the majority of Byzantine minuscules and many others}). Most scholars take this to be sufficient evidence to regard the issue as settled without much of a need to reflect on internal evidence. On the other hand, one of the earliest mss for this verse, {Ì5} (3rd century), evidently read οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἐκλεκτὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. (There is a gap in the ms at the point of the disputed words; it is too large for υἱός especially if written, as it surely would have been, as a nomen sacrum [uMs]. The term ἐκλεκτός was not a nomen sacrum and would have therefore taken up much more space [eklektos]. Given these two variants, there is hardly any question as to what Ì5 read.) This papyrus has many affinities with א*, which here also has ὁ ἐκλεκτός. In addition to their combined testimony Ì106vid b e ff2* sys,c also support this reading. Ì106 is particularly impressive, for it is a second third-century papyrus in support of ὁ ἐκλεκτός. A third reading combines these two: “the elect Son” (electus filius in ff2c sa and a [with slight variation]). Although the evidence for ἐκλεκτός is not as impressive as that for υἱός, the reading is found in early Alexandrian and Western witnesses. Turning to the internal evidence, “the Chosen One” clearly comes out ahead. “Son of God” is a favorite expression of the author (cf. 1:49; 3:18; 5:25; 10:36; 11:4, 27; 19:7; 20:31); further, there are several other references to “his Son,” “the Son,” etc. Scribes would be naturally motivated to change ἐκλεκτός to υἱός since the latter is both a Johannine expression and is, on the surface, richer theologically in 1:34. On the other hand, there is not a sufficient reason for scribes to change υἱός to ἐκλεκτός. The term never occurs in John; even its verbal cognate (ἐκλέγω, eklegw) is never affirmed of Jesus in this Gospel. ἐκλεκτός clearly best explains the rise of υἱός. Further, the third reading (“Chosen Son of God”) is patently a conflation of the other two. It has all the earmarks of adding υἱός to ἐκλεκτός. Thus, υἱός τοῦ θεοῦ is almost certainly a motivated reading. As R. E. Brown notes (John [AB], 1:57), “On the basis of theological tendency…it is difficult to imagine that Christian scribes would change ‘the Son of God’ to ‘God’s chosen one,’ while a change in the opposite direction would be quite plausible. Harmonization with the Synoptic accounts of the baptism (‘You are [This is] my beloved Son’) would also explain the introduction of ‘the Son of God’ into John; the same phenomenon occurs in vi 69. Despite the weaker textual evidence, therefore, it seems best – with Lagrange, Barrett, Boismard, and others – to accept ‘God’s chosen one’ as original.”

20 sn John refers to John the Baptist.

21 tn “There” is not in the Greek text but is implied by current English idiom.

22 sn This section (1:35-51) is joined to the preceding by the literary expedient of repeating the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus being the Lamb of God (1:36, cf. 1:29). This repeated testimony (1:36) no longer has revelatory value in itself, since it has been given before; its purpose, instead, is to institute a chain reaction which will bring John the Baptist’s disciples to Jesus and make them Jesus’ own disciples.

23 tn Grk “his”; the referent (John) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

24 tn Grk “And the two disciples heard him speaking.”

25 sn The expression followed Jesus pictures discipleship, which means that to learn from Jesus is to follow him as the guiding priority of one’s life.

26 tn Grk “What are you seeking?”

27 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

28 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

29 tn Grk “said to them.”

30 tn Grk “about the tenth hour.”

sn About four o’clock in the afternoon. What system of time reckoning is the author using? B. F. Westcott thought John, unlike the synoptic gospels, was using Roman time, which started at midnight (St. John, 282). This would make the time 10 a.m., which would fit here. But later in the Gospel’s Passover account (John 19:42, where the sixth hour is on the “eve of the Passover”) it seems clear the author had to be using Jewish reckoning, which began at 6 a.m. This would make the time here in 1:39 to be 4 p.m. This may be significant: If the hour was late, Andrew and the unnamed disciple probably spent the night in the same house where Jesus was staying, and the events of 1:41-42 took place on the next day. The evidence for Westcott’s view, that the Gospel is using Roman time, is very slim. The Roman reckoning which started at midnight was only used by authorities as legal time (for contracts, official documents, etc.). Otherwise, the Romans too reckoned time from 6 a.m. (e.g., Roman sundials are marked VI, not XII, for noon).

31 tn Grk “who heard from John.”

32 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

33 tc Most witnesses (א* L Ws Ï) read πρῶτος (prwtos) here instead of πρῶτον (prwton). The former reading would be a predicate adjective and suggest that Andrew “was the first” person to proselytize another regarding Jesus. The reading preferred, however, is the neuter πρῶτον, used as an adverb (BDAG 893 s.v. πρῶτος 1.a.β.), and it suggests that the first thing that Andrew did was to proselytize Peter. The evidence for this reading is early and weighty: Ì66,75 א2 A B Θ Ψ 083 Ë1,13 892 al lat.

34 sn Naturally part of Andrew’s concept of the Messiah would have been learned from John the Baptist (v. 40). However, there were a number of different messianic expectations in 1st century Palestine (see the note on “Who are you?” in v. 19), and it would be wrong to assume that what Andrew meant here is the same thing the author means in the purpose statement at the end of the Fourth Gospel, 20:31. The issue here is not whether the disciples’ initial faith in Jesus as Messiah was genuine or not, but whether their concept of who Jesus was grew and developed progressively as they spent time following him, until finally after his resurrection it is affirmed in the climactic statement of John’s Gospel, the affirmation of Thomas in 20:28.

35 tn Both Greek “Christ” and Hebrew and Aramaic “Messiah” mean “the one who has been anointed.”

sn This is a parenthetical note by the author. See the note on Christ in 1:20.

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