John 1:26
John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there stands one among you, whom you know not;
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(26) I baptize with water.—The passage of Ezekiel is probably present to the mind, with its contrast between water and spirit.

1:19-28 John disowns himself to be the Christ, who was now expected and waited for. He came in the spirit and power of Elias, but he was not the person of Elias. John was not that Prophet whom Moses said the Lord would raise up to them of their brethren, like unto him. He was not such a prophet as they expected, who would rescue them from the Romans. He gave such an account of himself, as might excite and awaken them to hearken to him. He baptized the people with water as a profession of repentance, and as an outward sign of the spiritual blessings to be conferred on them by the Messiah, who was in the midst of them, though they knew him not, and to whom he was unworthy to render the meanest service.I baptize - He did not deny it; nor did he condescend to state his authority. That he had given. He "admitted" that he had introduced an important "change" in the rites of religion, and he goes on to tell them that this was not all. Greater and more important changes would soon take place without their authority. The Messiah was about to come, and the "power" was about to depart from "their" hands.

There standeth one - There is one.

Among you - In the midst of you. He is undistinguished among the multitude. The Messiah had already come, and was about to be manifested to the people. It was not until the next day John 1:29 that Jesus was manifested or proclaimed as the Messiah; but it is not improbable that he was then among the people that were assembled near the Jordan, and mingled with them, though he was undistinguished. He had gone there, probably, with the multitudes that had been drawn thither by the fame of John, and had gone without attracting attention, though his real object was go receive baptism in this public manner, and to be exhibited and proclaimed as the Messiah.

Whom ye know not - Jesus was not yet declared publicly to be the Christ. Though it is probable that he was then among the multitude, yet he was not known as the Messiah. We may hence learn:

1. That there is often great excellency in the world that is obscure, undistinguished, and unknown. Jesus was near to all that people, but they were not conscious of his presence, for he was retired and obscure. Though the greatest personage ever in the world, yet he was not externally distinguished from others.

2. Jesus may be near to men of the world, and yet they know him not. He is everywhere by his Spirit, yet few know it, and few are desirous of knowing it.

26. there standeth—This must have been spoken after the baptism of Christ, and possibly just after His temptation (see on [1759]Joh 1:29). This was no strict answer to their question, which was not, how, but why he baptized? But proper replies are often called answers in Scripture, though not apposite to the question.

I baptize with water; I baptize you with mere water:

but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; but there hath stood one amongst you, esthken, or (by a usual putting of one tense for another) there standeth one; Christ had been there with the crowd, Luke 3:15,21, and possibly was amongst them still when John spake these words; whom you know not, not so much as ore tenus, by face. John answered them, saying, I baptize with water,.... Or in water, so the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions render it. The sense of the answer is, that he indeed baptized persons in water, which was all that he could do, or pretended to do; and he owned, that this was a new rite, and that he was the administrator of a new ordinance; but he suggests, as may be supplied from Matthew 3:11 that there was one at hand, and even now among them, that should baptize, and so it is read in one of Stephens's copies here, in the Holy Ghost, and in fire; and it was by his authority, by a commission he had received from him, that he baptized in water; and that his speedy manifestation and appearance as the Messiah, which would be confirmed by his power of baptizing in the Holy Ghost, and by his ministry and miracles, would be a sufficient vindication of his conduct, and support him in his administration of water baptism:

but there standeth one among you; or "hath stood", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it; referring, not to his being among them at twelve years of age, but a few days ago when he came to John to be baptized, and was baptized by him; for from John 1:29 it is plain he was not now, or "today", as Nounus expresses it, standing in the midst of them. The Ethiopic version renders it, there is one about to stand among you, as he did the next day: though the meaning of the phrase may only be, that he was then in being, and dwelt somewhere among them, and not that he was personally present at that time:

whom ye know not; neither from whence he is, nor who he is, or what is his work and office; neither the dignity of his person, nor the end of his coming into the world, nor the nature of his business in it.

John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one {m} among you, whom ye know not;

(m) Whom all the world sees, and sees even amongst you.

26. ‘You ask for my credentials; and all the while He Who is far more than credentials to me is among you. I am not a prophet to foretell His coming, but a herald to proclaim that He has come.’John 1:26. Μέσος[30]) ὑμῶν, in the midst of you) especially at the time of His baptism.—ἕστηκεν) Hath taken His stand [statuit sese].—οὐκ οἴδατε, ye know not) He addresses the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who had not been present at the baptism of Jesus: and he whets their desires, that they may be anxious to become acquainted with Him.

[30] δέ, but) The Antithesis is to be taken from the pre-eminence of Him who followed after John: He truly baptizes with the Holy Ghost, ver. 33.—V. g.Verses 26, 27. - The answer is not very explicit. John answered them and said, I baptize with water; not as Messiah, or Elijah, or a resuscitated prophet, not as making proselytes to the faith of Abraham's sons, not as an Essene admitting the children of the kingdom to a close spiritual corporation, but because the Messiah has come. Some have laid great emphasis on the limitation which John assigns to his baptism. It is said he thus anticipated the contrast afterwards expressed between it and the Spirit baptism of Jesus. This is. however, reserved for a later utterance. The baptism with water inaugurated the Messianic kingdom, prepared the people to receive the Lord. If, then, Messiah were reasonably expected thus to create a fellowship of those, who, substituted this simple lustration for a cumbrous cycle of ceremonial purifications, John, as the "voice," the "herald," the "crier" in the wilderness, was justified in administering the rite. I baptize with water, seeing that there standeth in the midst of you one (whom you know not) who is coming after me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to loose. This standing in the very crowd before him of the Mightier than John, now being searched out as it were by the glances of the Baptist, and recognized by him as One over whom the heavens had opened, gave ample support to the Baptist in his baptismal functions. The One coming after John, i.e. "after," because of John's chronological precedence in showing himself to Israel, is yet of such lofty rank and mighty power that John is not fit in his own opinion to be his humblest slave. This solemn assurance justifies to the Sanhedrin the preparatory rite. This closes the first great testimony. Before proceeding to the second, the evangelist supplies a geographical hint, which up to the present day has not been satisfactorily interpreted. I baptize with water: but there standeth

The best texts omit but; so that the two clauses illustrate John's characteristic parallelism, and bring out the sharp contrast between the Baptist and his successor.

Among you (μέσος ὑμῶν)

The Greek idiom is a mid one in respect of you. Ἑγὼ, I, and μέσος, a mid one, stand respectively at the head of the parallel clauses, thus emphasizing the two contrasted parties.

Standeth (ἕστηκεν)

The best texts read στήκει, a verb which is kindred to ἕστηκεν, but with the added sense of firm, persistent standing. Thus, stand fast (1 Corinthians 16:13; Galatians 5:1 : Philippians 1:27). The verb emphasizes the firm, dignified attitude of Christ.

Ye know not (ὑμεῖς)


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