Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures














THE four canonical Gospels are representations of one and the same Gospel, in its fourfold aspect and relation to the human race, and may be called, with Irenæus, “the fourfold Gospel” (τετράμορφον εὐαγγέλιον). Taken together, they give us a complete picture of the earthly life and character of our Lord and Saviour, in whom the whole fulness of the Godhead and of sinless Manhood dwell in perfect harmony. Each is invaluable and indispensable; each is unique in its kind; each has its peculiar character and mission corresponding to the talent, education, and vocation of the author, and the wants of his readers.

MATTHEW, writing in Palestine, and for Jews, and observing, in accordance with his former occupation and training, a rubrical and topical, rather than chronological, order, gives us the Gospel of the new Theocracy founded by Christ—the Lawgiver, Messiah, and King of the true Israel, who fulfilled all the prophecies of the old Dispensation. His is the fundamental Gospel, which stands related to the New Testament as the Pentateuch does to the Old. MARK, the companion of Peter, writing at Rome, and for warlike Romans, paints Christ, in fresh, graphic, and rapid sketches, as the mighty Son of God, the startling Wonder-Worker, the victorious Conqueror, and forms the connecting link between Matthew and Luke, or between the Jewish-Christian and the Gentile-Christian Evangelist. LUKE, an educated Hellenist, a humane physician, a pupil and friend of Paul, prepared, as the Evangelist of the Gentiles, chiefly for Greek readers, and in chronological order, the Gospel of universal humanity, where Christ appears as the sympathizing Friend of sinners, the healing Physician of all diseases, the tender Shepherd of the wandering sheep, the Author and Proclaimer of a free salvation for Gentiles and Samaritans as well as Jews. From JOHN, the trusted bosom-friend of the Saviour, the Benjamin among the twelve, and the surviving patriarch of the apostolic age, who could look back to the martyrdom of James, Peter, and Paul, and the destruction of Jerusalem, and look forward to the certain triumph of Christianity over the tottering idols of Paganism, we must naturally expect the ripest, as it was the last, composition of the gospel history, for the edification of the Christian Church in all ages.

The Gospel of John is the Gospel of Gospels, as the Epistle to the Romans is the Epistle of Epistles. It is the most remarkable as well as the most important literary production ever composed by man. It is a marvel even in the marvellous Book of books. All the literature of the world could not replace it. It is the most spiritual and ideal of Gospels. It introduces us into the Holy of Holies in the history of our Lord; it brings us, as it were, into His immediate presence, so that we behold face to face the true Shekinah, “the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” It presents, in fairest harmony, the highest knowledge, and the deepest love, of Christ. It gives us the clearest view of His incarnate Divinity and His perfect Humanity It sets Him forth as the Eternal Word, Who was the source of life from, the beginning, and the organ of all the revelations of God to man; as the Fountain of living water that quenches the thirst of the soul; as the Light of the world that illuminates the darkness of sin and error; as the Resurrection and the Life that destroys the terror of death. It reflects the lustre of the Transfiguration on the Mount, yet subdued by the holy sadness of Gethsemane. It abounds in festive joy and gladness over the amazing love of God, but mixed with grief over the ingratitude and obtuseness of unbelieving men. It breathes the air of peace, and yet sounds at times like a peal of thunder from the other world; it soars boldly and majestically like the eagle towards the uncreated source of light, and yet hovers as gently as a dove over the earth; it is sublime as a seraph and simple as a child; high and serene as the heaven, deep and unfathomable as the sea. It is the plainest in speech and the profoundest in meaning. To it more than to any portion of the Scripture applies the familiar comparison of a river deep enough for the elephant to swim, with shallows for the lamb to wade. It is the Gospel of love, life, and light, the Gospel of the heart taken from the very heart of Christ, on which the beloved disciple leaned at the Last Supper. It is the type of the purest forms of mysticism. It has an irresistible charm for speculative and contemplative minds, and furnishes inexhaustible food for meditation and devotion. It is the Gospel of peace and Christian union, and a prophecy of that blessed future when all the discords of the Church militant on earth shall be solved in the harmony of the Church triumphant in heaven.


No wonder that this Gospel has challenged the enthusiastic love and admiration of great and good men in all ages and countries; and, on the other hand, provoked the utmost skill and ingenuity of the modern assailants of Christianity, who rightly feel that it is the strongest fortress of the Divine character of our Lord.

Let us hear some of the most striking testimonies of divines, philosophers, and poets, which tend at the same time to describe more fully its characteristic peculiarities.1

ORIGEN, the father of biblical exegesis, calls the fourth Gospel the main Gospel, and says that those only can comprehend it who lean on the bosom of Jesus, and there imbibe the spirit of John, just as he imbibed the spirit of Christ.2

CHRYSOSTOM, the ablest expounder and greatest pulpit orator of the Greek Church, extols, with all the ardor of his eloquence, the celestial tones of this Gospel: it is, he says, a voice of thunder reverberating through the whole earth; notwithstanding its all-conquering power, it does not utter a harsh sound, but is more love-bewitching and elevating in its influence than all the harmonies of music. Besides, it awakens the awe-inspiring consciousness, that it is pregnant with the most precious gifts of grace, which elevate those who appropriate them to themselves above the earthly pursuits of this life, and constitute them citizens of heaven and heirs of the blessedness of angels. 3

JEROME, the most learned of the Latin fathers, says: “John excels in the depths of divine mysteries.”4

AUGUSTINE, the greatest of all the fathers, after speaking of the differences of John and the Synoptists, and the incomparable sublimity of the Prologue, gives him the preference and says: “John did but pour forth the water of life which he himself had drunk in. For he does not relate the fact without good reason, that at the Last Supper the beloved disciple laid his head on the Lord’s bosom. From this bosom his soul drank in secret. Then he revealed this secret communion to the world, that all nations might become partakers of the blessings of the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection.”5

LUTHER speaks of the Gospel of John as being “the unique, tender, genuine, leading Gospel, that should be preferred by far to the others,6 John records mainly the discourses of Christ in his own words, from which we learn truth and life as taught by himself. The rest dwell at length upon his works.”

CALVIN appropriately designates it as the key that opens the way to a right understanding of the other three. This Gospel reveals the soul of Christ; the others seek rather to describe His body.7

LESSING pronounces it, without qualification, to be the most important portion of the New Testament.

ERNESTI calls it “The heart of Christ.”

HERDER enthusiastically exclaims: “Written by the hand of an angel!”

SCHLEIERMACHER, in his “Weihnachtsfeier,” expresses his own preference for John’s Gospel in the language of Edward, the third speaker at the festival: “The mystic among the four Evangelists communicates but little information about particular events, and does not even relate the actual birth of Christ, but eternal, childlike Christmas joys pervade his soul.”

Commentators of recent date, such as LUECKE, OLSHAUSEN, THOLUCK, MEYER, ALFORD, GODET, and LANGE, share the same preference.

“The noble simplicity,” says THOLUCK, “and the dim mystery of the narration, the tone of grief and longing, with the light of love shedding its tremulous beam on the whole—these impart to the Gospel of John a peculiar originality and charm, to which no parallel can be found.” He also applies to it, in an elevated sense, the language of HAMANN in reference to CLAUDIUS: “Thy harp sends forth light ethereal sounds that float gently in the air, and fill our hearts with tender sadness, even after its strings have ceased to vibrate.”

MEYER, the ablest grammatical exegete of the age, who is rather dry and jejune, and apparently indifferent to dogmatic results, but who, by a life-long study of the Word of God, gradually rose from rationalistic to an almost orthodox standpoint, and marks, this steady progress in the successive editions of his valuable commentary, endorses Luther’s eulogy, and expresses the conviction that “the wonderful Gospel of John, with its fulness of grace, truth, peace, light, and life,” is destined to contribute to a closer union of Christians.8

DR. LANGE calls the fourth Gospel “the diamond among the Gospels which is most fully penetrated by the light of life, and which reflects the glory of the Godhead in flesh and blood, even in the crown of thorns.”9

DR. ISAAC DA COSTA, of Amsterdam, in a discriminating analysis of the peculiarities of the four Gospels, says of the fourth: “As John was the special object of his Master’s choice, so is his Gospel a select and exquisite production.…It is a voice from heaven; it is the language of a seer. It is a Gospel from the height, and likewise from the depth.…We find in it something more than the artless and childlike simplicity of St. Matthew’s narrative; more than the rapidity and terseness of St. Mark’s record; more than the calm and flowing historical style of Luke. With that artlessness, and that terseness, and that calmness, there is here mingled a higher and more elevated tone—a tone derived from the monuments of the remotest sacred antiquity, as well as from the hidden depths of the most profound theology; a tone reminding us sometimes of the Mosaic account of creation, sometimes of the wise sayings of Solomon, sometimes akin even to the later theology of Jewish-Alexandrine philosophers.”10

Dean ALFORD thus speaks of John: “The great Apostle of the Gentiles, amidst fightings without and fears within, built in his argumentative Epistles the outworks of that temple, of which his still greater colleague and successor was chosen noiselessly to complete, in his peaceful old age, the inner and holier places. And this, after all, ranging under it all secondary aims, we must call the great object of the Evangelist: to advance, purify from error, and strengthen that maturer Christian life of knowledge, which is the true development of the teaching of the Spirit in men, and which the latter part of the apostolic period witnessed in its full vitality. And this, by setting forth the Person of the Lord Jesus in all its fulness of grace and truth, in all its manifestation in the flesh by signs and by discourses, and its glorification by opposition and unbelief, through sufferings and death.”11

Canon BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT represents the Synoptical Gospels as the Gospel of the Infant Church, that of St. John as the Gospel of its maturity; the former as containing the wide experience of the many, the latter as embracing the deep mysteries treasured up by the one. “No writing,” he continues, “combines greater simplicity with more profound depths. At first all seems clear in the childlike language which is so often the chosen vehicle of the treasures of Eastern meditation; and then again the utmost subtlety of Western thought is found to lie under abrupt and apparently fragmentary utterances. St. John wrote the Gospel of the world, resolving reason into intuition, and faith into sight.”12

Bishop WORDSWORTH applies to the Gospel of John, as compared with the Synoptists the words of the marriage feast at Cana: “Thou hast kept the good wine until now “(John 2:10).13

HENRY PARRY LIDDON: “St. John’s Gospel is the most conspicuous written attestation to the Godhead of Him Whose claims upon mankind can hardly be surveyed without passion, whether it be the passion of adoring love, or the passion of vehement and determined enmity.”14

Not only theologians, but profound philosophers also have been particularly fascinated by the Introduction (John 1:1–18), which may be regarded as a compendium of the highest philosophical wisdom. FICHTE, during the latter and more religious period of his life, and SCHELLING, in his Philosophy of Revelation, regard John as the typical representative of the perfect ideal church of the future. And this idea, already suggested by a mediæval monk, JOACHIM DE FLORIS, has taken root in the theological consciousness of the nineteenth century.15

Finally, poets too have lavished their praises on this mysterious and wonderful production of the Apostolic age.

ADAM of ST. VICTOR, one of the greatest poets of the Latin Church, who died about 1192, describes John in one of the finest and most musical stanzas ever written in Latin or any other language:—

“Volat avis sine meta

Quo nec vates nec propheta

Evolavit altius;

Tam implenda, quam impleta, 16

Nunquam vidit tot secreta

Purus homo purius.”17

In another poem, on the four Evangelists, after praising Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Adam of St. Victor places John above them all:—

“Sed Joannes ala bina

Caritatis aquilina,

Forma fertur in divina

Puriori lumine.”18

The pious and childlike German poet CLAUDIUS, of Wandsbeck, who remained faithful in an age of almost universal skepticism and apostasy, gives perhaps the best description of the Gospel of John in these words, which are conceived in the very spirit of the Evangelist:—

“Above all do I like to read the Gospel of John. There is something truly wonderful in it: twilight and night; and athwart flashes the vivid lightning, A soft evening sky, and behind the sky, in bodily form, the large full moon! Something so sad, so sublime, so full of presage that one can never weary of it. Every time I read John, it seems as if I could see him before me reclining on the bosom of his Master at the Last Supper—as if his angel were standing by my side with a lamp in his hand, and, when I come to particular passages, would clasp me in his arms and whisper a word in my ear. There is a great deal that I do not understand when I read; but I often feel as if John’s meaning were floating before me at a distance; even when my eye lights on a dark place, I have nevertheless a presentiment of a grand and glorious sense that I shall some day understand. On this account I grasp eagerly at every new exposition of John’s Gospel. But alas! the most of them only ruffle the evening clouds, and the bright moon behind them is left in peace.”19


Yet this very Gospel, which has exerted such an irresistible charm upon the purest and profoundest minds of all Christian ages, is now the main point of attack in the great conflict of modern skepticism with the old faith. This is no matter of surprise, any more than that Jesus Christ Himself, in the days of His flesh, should have provoked the malignity of the whole Jewish hierarchy, who charged Him with having an evil spirit, and at last nailed Him to the Cross—as a rebel, a false Messiah, and a blasphemer. The power of truth and life with which John bears testimony to the historical and ideal Christ, is the very reason of the intensity of interest on both sides of the controversy; it is as if Christ Himself lived His life over in the pages of His faithful biographer, and confronted there His enemies in person. Human nature is the same now as it was eighteen hundred years ago, and cannot remain neutral on the great question of Christ and His amazing claims upon our faith: it must either declare for Him or against Him, either accept or reject the offer of His salvation. And as He can no more be crucified in person, He is crucified in the Gospels by the modern Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees.

In putting the case so strongly, I do not mean to deny the valuable learning, acumen, and a certain measure of honest earnestness in some of the negative critics of our age. There are among them skeptics of the order of Thomas, who loved and found the truth, as well as skeptics of the tribe of Pilate, who connived at the crucifixion of the Truth. The inquiring doubt of the former has a useful and important mission in the church, and has done good service in solving the problems connected with the origin, character, plan, and mutual relations of the Gospels.

A live Commentary in a live age must be written in full view of these modern attacks, and the new aspects and relations which old truths and facts have assumed. Reference direct and indirect to the present state of the controversy is as important and necessary in a critical work as the frank record of the bitter hostility of the Jewish leaders in the Gospels. The old and the new phases of opposition to the Christ in the flesh explain and illustrate each other.

I have no misgiving as to the ultimate result. I am as confident as I am of my own existence that the Gospel of John will come triumphant out of this fiery ordeal. The old doctrinal opposition of the Alogi has long passed into history. Bretschneider’s critical battery was soon silenced and spiked by the commander himself. The heavier artillery of Strauss, Baur, Renan, and their sympathizers has nearly spent its ammunition without effecting a single breach in this fortress. Indeed, the latest and wisest utterance from the Tübingen School on the Johannean question is the significant concession, that the fundamental ideas of the fourth Gospel lie far beyond the horizon of the Church in the second century, and indeed of the whole Christian Church down to the present day.20

I accept this statement both as a just tribute of an able and honest opponent to the value of the Gospel, and as a confession of the entire failure of modern criticism to disprove its apostolic origin. Verily, no man in the second century, no man in any subsequent age or section of the Church could have written, or could now write, such a work. More than this, no man in the first century could have written it but John the Apostle, and even John himself could not have written it without inspiration.

To declare such a Gospel, which is admitted to reach the highest attainable or conceivable height of moral purity and sublimity, beyond which the Christian world has been unable to go to this day—to declare such a Gospel a conscious fiction, not to use the plain term, a literary forgery, of some obscure, unknown, and unnamable pseudo-John in the second century,21 involves not only a psychological and literary impossibility, but also a moral monstrosity almost as great as the blasphemous charge of the Jewish hierarchy, that Christ Himself was an impostor and in league with the devil. The compromise-hypothesis, which divides it between truth and fiction, by admitting the historical truthfulness either of the discourses of Jesus,22 or of the narrative portions,23 is set aside by the unmistakable unity in language and thought of the fourth Gospel, which is a work of instinctive literary art, complete and perfect in all its parts.

We are shut up to the choice either to adopt the whole as historical, or to reject the whole as an invention. Were the Gospel of John not a Gospel, but some secular story, it would, with half the evidence in its favor, be admitted as genuine by scholars without a dissenting voice. For it is better attested than any book of ancient Greece and Rome, or modern Germany and England. The unanimous testimony—heretical as well as orthodox—of antiquity reaching to the beginning of the second century, i.e., almost to the lifetime of John, the language and style,24 the familiarity with Jewish nature and Palestine localities, the minute circumstantiality of account, the number of graphic touches and incidental details which unmistakably betray an eye-witness, the express and solemn testimony of the writer to have witnessed the issue of blood and water from the pierced side of Jesus, and his indirect and delicate self-designation as the most favorite among the chosen Twelve, the high and lofty tone of the whole narrative, the perfect picture of the purest and holiest being that walked on the face of this earth—all point irresistibly to the conclusion that the fourth canonical Gospel is the composition of none other than the inspired Apostle whom Jesus loved, who leaned on His breast at the last supper, who stood at the cross and the open tomb, and who personally witnessed the greatest facts which ever occurred or ever will occur in the history of mankind.


The preparation of the English edition of Dr. Lange’s Commentary on John (from the third edition, revised and improved, 1868) was attended with unexpected difficulties and delays, which demand some explanation.

The work was first intrusted to the late Rev. EDWARD D. YEOMANS, D. D. From his rare ability and experience as a translator, and his admiring appreciation of Lange, he was admirably qualified for the difficult task;25 but before he had half finished the first draft of a translation, he was called to his rest in the prime of his life and usefulness (at Orange, New Jersey, August 26,1868), and left his manuscript as a sacred legacy in my hands. It is due to the memory of an esteemed and dearly beloved friend and co-laborer, who was one of the purest and noblest Christian gentlemen I ever knew, that I should insert his last letter to me on the subject:—

ORANGE, N. J., June 13, 1868.

MY DEAR DR. SCHAFF:—I have been again attacked with a return of the difficulty which caught me in the pulpit some four months ago. It has now shown itself distinctly mental, and has been more acute. Just four weeks ago it laid me up, and I have been unable till now to apply myself even to such a letter as this. I am strictly forbidden study for at least two months, and must then return to nothing beyond what my congregation requires, if I can return even to any good part of that.

Providence now plainly shows me that my work on Lange must cease. I suspected this, as I wrote yon some months ago; but hated positively to abandon it. I must now, however, relieve myself entirely of all connection with it. And I send you herewith, by express, the original and your books you have lent me, and all my own manuscripts.

I feel sad over this failure. It has the look of an entire failure on my part. It has, however, a very different side, when I remember that, after assuming the work, Providence called me, in succession, to the organization of two new parishes—devolving far more pastoral work upon me than my continuance in my already formed parish at Trenton would have required….

This continual delay of John I have been continually hoping to cut short. I can now only redeem it by offering you the free use of these MSS. of mine, with not the slightest pecuniary claim, and with no appearance of my name in the concern. This I most cheerfully do, and pray you leniently to accept it. My MSS., I see, need revision, as you will see by the first bunch, which I revised and have considerably changed. I cannot do anything further to them in the way of revision. I must positively retire from all connection with this great, and to me most engaging work. I only hope you will be able so to shape your work that John can go into no other hands but your own.

I am obliged to write with effort, to compose a letter. But, my dear and inestimable friend, I could not fairly express my heart to you, with my best powers, not only over my apparently mortifying failure to fulfil this important and long-promised service, but over this termination of a long, and to me most pleasant and profitable association with you in the highest walks of theology; though my part has been that of a mere amanuensis, in another tongue, to your own brains and learning. I am only the more happy to think that this terminates only an association of the letter, and touches not our personal friendship and companionship in the least, nor our association in laboring for the propagation of the common truth, as it is in Jesus.

I cannot say more, but must cut myself short with assuring yon that, with all my heart.

I am, as ever, yours, E. D. YEOMANS.

It was a sad pleasure to me to prepare the neat manuscript of my departed friend for the press. I treated it with scrupulous regard to his memory, which I shall ever sacredly cherish, hoping for a blissful reunion in a better world.

After considerable delay, I happily secured the assistance of an unusually gifted lady, Miss EVELINA MOORE (a grand-daughter of Bishop Moore of Virginia), who, with womanly instinct and intuition, penetrated to the very heart of John and his commentator, and finished the translation from Chs. 9 to 21 to my entire satisfaction.

In the Homiletical Department, from the tenth chapter to the close, I am also greatly indebted to the valuable aid of the Rev. Dr. CRAVEN, of Newark, who, with conscientious fidelity, selected the best thoughts and suggestions from the Catena Patrum, from Henry, Burkitt, Clarke, Ryle, Barnes, Owen, Stier, Krummacher, and other practical commentators, not already noticed by Lange. His additions are marked with his own name; they will be found in no way inferior to the corresponding selections of the German original, from Starke, Gossner, Gerlach, Schleiermacher, Heubner, etc., and help to make this department a complete thesaurus.

For the preparation of the Text, with the Critical Apparatus and the numerous additions to the Exegesis proper (enclosed in brackets), as well as for the final revision and editing of the whole Volume, I am responsible myself. My endeavor has been to combine the most valuable results of ancient and modern, European and American labors on the fourth Gospel, and to make the Commentary permanently useful for study and reference.

The revision of the Authorized English Version was, of course, made directly from the Greek, and with constant reference to the latest critical sources, viz.: the eighth large edition of TISCHENDORF now in course of publication, TREGELLES (Luke and John, 1861), ALFORD (Gospels, 6th ed. 1868), and advanced sheets of WESTCOTT and HORT’S forthcoming edition of the Greek Testament, which were kindly furnished to me by my friend Canon Westcott. In examining these critical editions of German and English scholars, I have gained the conviction that we are steadily approaching a pure and reliable text of the Greek Testament. Lachmann, following the hints of Bentley and Bengel, boldly opened the way by departing from the comparatively modern and unreliable “textus receptus,” and substituting for it the oldest text that can be obtained from the uncial manuscripts, the oldest versions and the quotations of the ante-Nicene fathers. The discovery and publication of the Sinaitic code (Aleph) by Tischendorf, has given additional weight to the readings of the uncial MSS. (A. B. C. D. etc.). In the great majority of variations I find a remarkable agreement between the best German and English critics. The latter are almost entirely unknown even to the best German commentators. Lange, with sound critical judgment, follows chiefly Lachmann, but could not make use of the eighth edition of Tischendorf, whose first volume (containing the Gospels) was not completed till 1869, and presents many variations from his former editions.

In the Exegetical and Critical Department I have carefully compared and freely used (always with due credit) the latest editions of the best commentaries on John, especially MEYER (fifth edition of 1869, which has 684 pages to 586 of the fourth edition of 1861, and required constant rectification of Lange’s frequent references to earlier editions), ALFORD (6th ed. 1868), and GODET (1865), who respectively represent the present state of German, English, and French research on the Johannean Gospel.26 On the more important passages I have also examined ORIGEN (Com. in Evang. Joh.), AUGUSTINE (124 Tractates on the Gospel of John, Tom. III., Part II., pp. 290–826, Bened. ed.), CHRYSOSTOM (88 Homilies on John, Tom. VIII., pp. 1–530, Bened. ed.), among the fathers; LUTHER and CALVIN, among the reformers; GROTIUS, BENGEL, OLSHAUSEN, DE WETTE-BRÜCKNER (5th ed. 1863), THOLUCK, HENGSTENBERG, LUTHARDT, STIER, WEBSTER and WILKINSON, WORDSWORTH (5th ed. 1866), BARNES, and OWEN, among more recent exegetes. The very elaborate Calvinistic commentary of LAMPE (1724), and the classical work of LÜCKE (3d ed., 1840), I had previously studied with care, when, in the first year of my academic career (1843), I wrote out a full course of lectures on the Gospel of John for my students in the University of Berlin. On all the principal passages I found myself in agreement with the views of my youth.

The American edition, then, is to a large extent a new work. It exceeds the German, which numbers only 427 pages (third edition), by more than one-third. It has not only 228 more pages, exclusive of the Preface, but each page, owing to the smaller type, contains two more lines (70 to 68). Add to this the fact that the whole Critical Apparatus (which is almost entirely new), and many of my exegetical notes are set in still smaller type; and it may be fairly said that the contents of this one volume, if leaded and printed in larger type, would fill four ordinary octavo volumes. I state this in justice to the publishers, who sell Lange’s Commentary at so low a price, in proportion to the vast cost of manufacture, that only a large and steady sale can save them from serious loss.

It would have been a more easy, certainly a more agreeable, task to prepare, on the basis of my own lectures, and on a simpler plan, an original Commentary in unbroken composition, instead of improving, supplementing, and adapting a foreign work, with constant restraints thrown around me. I confess that Dr. Lange has often sorely tried my patience and defied my efforts to interpret his uncommon sense to the common sense of the English reader. But, with all his defects, if such they may be called, he has rare qualifications for sounding the mystic depths and and scaling the transcendent heights of John ; and, in my humble judgment, he has dug more gold and silver from the mine of this Gospel, than any single commentator before him. He sees “the clear full-moon” behind the clouds, and where he does not see, he feels, divines, and adores. Every reader must admire his elaborate care, fertile genius, and lovely Johannean spirit.

Of the merits of my own additions others may judge. With all the minute labor bestowed upon it, the work is far from coming up to my own imperfect standard of a Commentary on this marvellous Gospel. At the end of my task I feel more strongly than ever that our best efforts to interpret the unfathomable depths of the words of the eternal Son of God, as recorded by His favorite disciple, are but the stammerings of a child. “Now we see through a glass, darkly,” and know only “in part;” but the time will come when we shall see “face to face,” and know “even as we are known.” “It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

One more volume remains to complete the American edition of the New Testament division Of this Bible-work. The Commentary on the Revelation of John has recently appeared in German, and the English edition has been intrusted to able hands. A full Index of the whole work is also in course of preparation.



[Shine graciously upon Thy Church, we beseech Thee, O Lord; that, being enlightened by the doctrine and filled with the mind of Thy blessed Apostle and Evangelist, Saint John, whom Jesus loved, it may come at last into Thy beatific presence, and enjoy the rewards of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.—Collect for St. John’s Day, the second day after Christmas.

[Volat avis sine meta

Quo nec vates nee propheta

Evolavit altius:

Tam implenda, quam impleta,

Nunquam vidit tot secreta

Purus homo purius.

Bird of God ! with boundless flight

Soaring far beyond the height

Of the bard or prophet old;

Truth fulfilled, and truth to be,—

Never purer mystery

Did a purer tongue unfold!—]








On the name Johanan, God is gracious, or, God graciously gives, see the Commentary on Matthew, 10:2.27 The character of the Evangelist and Apostle John, so peculiar in loftiness, idealness, richness, and depth, and yet clearly marked, cannot easily be described; though it seems easy to exhibit him in a sketch of his life from the New Testament authorities, and the statements of the fathers. The very difficulty is, to set forth duly the wonderful significance of all the historical features of his life, and to combine them in a true unit.

John, as a man, represents a firmness and unity of ideal turn, in which even inherent sinfulness veils itself without hypocrisy in the noble forms of devout zeal (Luke 9:54), proud aspiration (Mark 10:35), and perhaps even courtly ease (John 13:16). As a Christian and an Apostle, he represents in the Church an apostolate of the heart and spirit of Jesus, in which be attracts even little catechumens with the patriarchal charms of kindliness; while he remains, even for the awakened and believing, veiled in a mysterious and ghostlike glimmer, in which he is often rather revered and praised, than heard through and studied out. To most every-day Christians he is too much of a Sunday nature for them to make themselves familiar with; and if his apostolic and churchly dignity did not shield him, scholars of the ordinary stamp would doubtless be inclined to consider him, for his great, heaven-high, and world-embracing conceptions, fantastic or visionary.

We may try to catch the transcendency, the idealness of his nature, by analogies. Somewhat thus: As Plato was related to Socrates, so is John to Christ. Or: The Evangelist John opens to us a deep, shadowy, presageful insight into infinity, like a night illumined by the moon (Asmus Claudius; see Tholuck’s Introduction to his Commentary, p. 7 [Krauth’s translation, p. 22]). Or, again, according to the ancient Church symbol of this Apostle; As the eagle soars against the sun, so John, in high flight of spirit, faces the sun of revelation in Christ (e.g., Alcuin; see Credner’s Einleitung in das Neue Testament, p. 57; Heubner, Johannes, p. 214). That John is most easily intelligible when taken as the contemplative disciple, in distinction from the practical disciple, the Apostle Peter, is palpable. The two apostles form the centre of the two halves of the apostolate, in which the operation of Christ shades itself off in the world; and from this point of view Andrew and the sons of Alpheus, James the Less, Simon Zelotes, Judas Lebbæus, and, as to natural talent, Judas Iscariot, range on the side of Peter; James the Elder, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew-Nathanael, and Matthew, on the side of John. Our Evangelist is thus, in any case, balanced in his predominantly ideal tendency by the other side, as the Apostle Peter in his practical tendency is supplemented by his opposite.

But within this one sublime tendency itself there are opposites enough, which paraphrase this richest apostolic life. A repose of gaze, a predominance of insight, which, in the intensity of its light-like nature, easily springs into a lightning-flash; in other words, a serenity which manifests itself in the most glowing heartiness; a spiritual intuition which, with the most distinct logical consciousness, chooses the richest symbolical expression; an intellectual femineity of fervent surrender to the beloved central object of all its contemplations, displaying a masculine energy in the most copious organizing and formative works (Gospel, Epistles, Apocalypse) ; an originality which enriches itself with all the available material of religious learning (Logos-doctrine, Apocalyptics); a fervor of love which, in the keenest distinctions between light and darkness, proves its devoted personalness and its holiness; therefore a child-like and virgin-like nature, which unconsciously displays itself in an angelic majesty: all this pervaded with an unlimited depth of humility longing for salvation, and with a heroic faith, which, in assurance of consummation, soars above the already condemned world;—these are some of the antithetic features in which the character of John opens to us in the copiousness of his life.

And, like every predominantly ideal life, the life of John reveals itself most clearly in definite, more actual lines reflected from other characters. We prefer, therefore, to sketch his life by contrasts.

1. JOHN AND SALOME. (See Matt. 4:21; 20:20; Mark 15:40; 16:1; comp. Matt. 27:56). John was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman of Galilee, residing we know not certainly whether at Bethsaida (Chrysostom, and others) or Capernaum (on this latter supposition, see Lücke, Comment., p. 9). His mother was Salome, who no doubt was a sister of Mary, the mother of the Lord (John 19:25; comp. Wieseler, Studien und Kritiken, 1840, iii p. 648); and he himself, with his probably older brother James, was bred to his father’s calling. The family has been styled a poor fishing family (Chrysostom) ; Lücke shows (p. 9) that it must have possessed some wealth. Zebedee had hired servants (Mark 1:20), and a partnership in business (Luke 5:10); his wife Salome was one of the women who supported the Lord from their means (Luke 8:3), and embalmed his body; John himself owned a property (John 19:27.) Whether this property, and his residence in Jerusalem, were the ground of his acquaintance in the house of the high-priest Caiaphas, cannot be determined. “Jerome unwarrantably inferred from that acquaintance that the family of John belonged to the better class.”

Of his father Zebedee we know very little, yet enough. We may suppose that he consented to the discipleship of his sons, and probably (unless he died before Salome joined in the itinerancy of Jesus) to the discipleship of his wife. That “his mind seems not to have risen above the pursuit of earthly things” (Credner), is not necessarily to be inferred from his continuing at his nets. The family seems to have been fully of the sort who, familiar, in true Israelitish piety, with the Old Testament, were at that time living in quickened hope of the Messiah (Luke 2:38). Salome especially shared this hope with womanlike surrender of soul. It is remarkable that the New Testament apocrypha, and the legends, relate the affinity of Salome and her family with the Lord, without knowing the true connection. Salome is said to have been now a daughter, now a sister, now a former wife of Joseph. She looks spiritually like a sister of Mary; noble of thought like her, she is more ambitious, more wilful, and therefore, on the other hand, more visionary (see Matt. 20:20), though in spirit the true mother of a John and a James in cheerfulness of self-sacrifice (Luke 8:3; 23:55), and in that strength of attachment as a disciple, in which she remained steadfast under the cross. At the cross we lose sight of the noble woman (compare, however, Acts 1:14), who probably, with her sister Mary, lived a considerable time with her sons in Jerusalem in the house of John. We know not what part she may have had in John’s coming so early into the school of his namesake, the Baptist. All the indications are, that she was the motherly fosterer of the great gifts of her sons, their guide on the path of the future toward the New Testament salvation.

How variously did the seer-like, expectant spirit of the women then on the sea of Galilee bear itself toward the New Testament future ! The Mary in Nazareth becomes the chosen handmaid of the Lord; the Mary in Magdala lapses for a while, probably in wealthy circumstances, to a free-thinking, antinomian life of sensual love, misinterpreting the new time; Salome kindles in her sons the fire of a Messianic hope and search. Perhaps James, the more practical, was her favorite; John was her richer inheritance.

2. JOHN AND JAMES. Probably James (major) was the older in relation to John as well as the other James, for he is always placed before John. Both were named, from their common traits, “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17; comp. the Comm. on Matthew, 10:2). It is simply inconceivable that the Lord, as Gurlitt thought (Studien und Kritiken, 1829, No. 4; comp. Leben Jesu, i. p. 281), should have given the two sons of Zebedee this name in pure censure. Though the well-known anger of the two brothers against a Samaritan city (Luke 9:51), as is not at all improbable, gave occasion for this epithet, yet the Lord must have intended to denote and immortalize, not the sinfulness of His disciples, which was disappearing under the working of His Spirit, but only such a trait of character as was in itself capable of sanctification, though it had expressed itself sinfully here. Nathanael asks, in a sinful way: “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Christ calls him, immediately after, a true Israelite, in whom is no guile. As in him a sinful haste in judgment was associated with noble uprightness, so, in the sons of thunder, that carnal zeal dwelt with an energy, a loftiness and decision of moral feeling, an exalted strength of character, which may utter itself in indignation like lightning. Theophylact referred the name to the thunder-like elevation and depth of their discourse (μεγαλοκήρυκες καὶ θεολογικώτατοι). Lücke remarks, that even the metaphorical sense of the Greek βροντᾷν is not quite suitable to this; still less the Aramaic רֶגֶשׁ (p. 17). But energy, grandeur, elevation of mind, according to the Old Testament import of thunder and storm, are, at all events, well expressed by this title. (See Ps. 29.) That the name does not occur more frequently, is doubtless due to its being a collective name of both the brothers. But John gradually acquired a surname of his own: “the disciple whom Jesus loved;” the friend of Jesus in the most eminent sense, the bosom friend, who lay on His breast; hence, among the fathers, ἐπιστήθιος (Lücke, p. 14). And James had to be distinguished from the other James, as the son of Zebedee; and thus, in his case also, the surname remained unused. But he proved himself the spiritual brother of John on his entrance upon his discipleship (Matt. 4:21) ; in the fiery zeal just mentioned (Luke 9:51) ; in that well-known request of the sons of Zebedee, which was at the same time the request of their mother (Mark 10:35 ; Matt. 20:20) ; and his superior character was recognized by the Lord, who made James, with Peter and John, in the select triad, a confidant of His highest mysteries (Matt. 17:1; 26:27).

But if John takes precedence of him as the companion of Peter in the Lord’s most special errands of symbolical prophetic meaning (Luke 22:8), and if afterwards, in the apostolic fortunes of the brothers, the greatest contrast appears which is to be found in the history of the apostles, there must have been also a contrast in the character of the two. We suppose that the lofty energy of soul in James received from his mother Salome a practical direction, and hastened to outward action; while John found his highest satisfaction in ideal action, developing and reproducing his impressions. Hence it was probably James in particular who, in the indignation against the Samaritan village, and in other cases, urged to action; while John was perhaps the one to ask the Lord: “Wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven?” And again, it was probably James in particular who forbade the exorcist casting out devils in the name of Jesus (Mark 9:38), and who afterwards was foremost in the request for the first place in the kingdom of the Lord. We infer this from the fact that James the Elder seems at the first to have been, above all others, the leader or representative of the church at Jerusalem. At all events, it could not have been without reason that he was the first seized by Herod Agrippa I. in his persecution of the apostles (Acts 12:1).

Thus the elder son of Zebedee was the first martyr among the apostles, while the younger was almost the last of the apostles (Simon Zelotes probably died later, about 107, a martyr’s death) to be taken home, and, after a temporary exile, died a natural death, toward the end of the century. John, with his contemplative, stately, ideal mind, went angel-like through life. As he did not interfere directly and by main force with the world, he was little heeded by the world; though, by virtue of his hidden depth of life, lie was doubtless a mighty lever of motion, an awakener of kindred spirits, even from the time he was a disciple of the Baptist.

The contrast between the two sons of Zebedee may also explain the fact that James the Elder is only once mentioned in the fourth Gospel, John 21:2. The Evangelist used only those materials of the gospel history which would completely present his ideal view. Notices of James lay in another direction. Even his mother John mentions only in circumlocution; and he speaks in the same indirect way of himself. (See John 20:4 ; 21:7.)

3. JOHN THE EVANGELIST AND JOHN THE BAPTIST. A John represents in the gospel history the deepest trend of the Old Testament, as it prepares for and points to the first advent of Christ (John 1:6) ; a John again represents the New Testament, which proceeds from Christ, as, in its deepest current, it prepares for the second coming of Christ in glory (John 21). God is gracious, is the name of the forerunner, who is greater than all the prophets; God is gracious, is the name of the disciple of Jesus who does not die. Believing hope of the Messiah made the younger son of Zebedee, even in youth, a disciple of John; believing certainty of the Messiah makes him one of the first to enter the discipleship of Christ (John 1:35); and that, at the words of the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God.” Indeed, it is a characteristic, that the ideal Apostle has taken even the Baptist entirely on his evangelical side, leaving the severe preacher of the law and of repentance quite out of view. The difference between the treatment of the Baptist in the Synoptical Gospels and in John exactly corresponds with the difference in the portraiture at Christ. And yet it is the same Christ, the same John the Baptist, viewed on the side most congenial to this disciple.

The Old Testament John was to the New Testament John the voice of the gospel spirit of the Old Testament (John 1:23), the witness-bearer of God who pointed to Christ. In this spirit the disciple was joined to the master in a fellowship which embraced the strongest antithesis. In energy of moral indignation he could assuredly vie with the Baptist; and the words of John the Baptist: “He shall baptize you with fire,” “He will burn up the chaff,” might have been in his mind when he wished to baptize with fire and burn the Samaritan village.

But by degrees the mighty contrast appeared between the master senescent in spirit, legal, ascetic, austere, and practical, and the disciple eternally youthful, contemplative, joyful, festal, hovering over the earthly world. The christology of the Baptist ended in the historical Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth, and His priestly atoning sufferings and kingly judging; the christology of the son of Zebedee transfigured heaven and earth into an emblem and copy of the universal Christ. And between the later disciples of John the Baptist and the theology of John the Divine, this contrast became a very chasm.

Nevertheless, both names doubtless have given the name John unlimited currency in Christendom. Every encyclopædia testifies how many princes, scholars, and divines are graced with this name; and how many popes—sometimes, shamelessly enough, without a breath of the spirit of John—have chosen his name for their decoration.

4. JOHN AND ANDREW. The fisherman’s son John had gone with the fisherman Andrew from Bethsaida into the school of the Baptist on the Jordan. That Andrew was one of the foremost pioneering spirits among the apostles, is attested by the few traces of him in the gospel history, and by the legend. (Leben Jesu, ii. 2, p. 695; comp. Winer: Andreas), Andrew brought Simon Peter, his brother, to Jesus. It is possible that John had, in like manner, won over his brother James. At all events, both Andrew and John were men of pioneering, progressive mind. Hence they were admitted, with Peter and James, to the confidential eschatological discourse of Christ on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13:3). But they led off on different paths: the one on the path of missionary action, the other on the path of that knowledge which overcomes the world.

5. JOHN AND JUDAS ISCARIOT. If we can suppose that Judas the traitor had blinded most of the disciples by his Messianic enthusiasm, and was able often to carry them with him (Leben Jesu, ii. 2, p. 702; comp. p. 651 sqq.)—indeed, that he had probably been received into the circle upon the special intercession of the disciples in their blind confidence—John was the first to see through him (John 6:71; 12:6; 13:27). The silent depth of a solid enthusiasm and devotion finds itself instinctively repelled by the flaring fire of an impure ambition. And as Judas was the serpent which coiled himself upon the bosom of the Lord (John 13:13), John lay on the breast of Jesus as a chosen friend. Even he might often grieve Him (Luke 9:54; Mark 9:38; 10:35), and for a moment forsake Him, but he soon returns to His side (John 18:16), and, though not a confessor in word, as he was not yet required to be, he is a confessor in act, as he stands and waits with the mother of Jesus beneath the cross (John 19:26).

6. JOHN AND ABRAHAM, or, JOHN THE FRIEND OF JESUS. As Abraham was distinguished above all the men of the Old Covenant by being called, in a special sense, a “friend of God” (James 2:23), so John is honored above all the men of the New, as the friend of Jesus. And in both cases the reason of this eminence must have lain in an energy of personal knowledge or steadfast love in these friends of God and Christ, arising from a particular Divine election. Abraham was called by a personal God into a personal covenant, and, by his self-surrender to the personal God, his own personal life was transfigured and secured to him down to an endless posterity; for this personal love he gave up home and friends, and all things, and gained the promise of the Holy Land and an hereditary kingdom (Gen. 12:1–7). So John resigned himself to the knowledge of the world-embracing, divine personality of Christ, with a devotion which cast the whole world into the shadow of Christ. In this contemplation of the personal Christ he acquired that peculiar radiance in which he appears as the friend of Christ. Judas loved Jesus for a while for the sake of the Messianic kingdom as he conceived it; the other disciples, on the path of their discipleship, loved Jesus and His kingdom; John found all in the person of Jesus: kingdom and redemption, Father and home.

Hence he is at first one of the disciples, in the general sense (John 1; Matt 4); then, one of the twelve (Matt 10); then, one of the three (Matt 17); then, one of the two (Luke 17:18); at last, the one who lies on the bosom of Jesus (John 13:23), to whom Jesus commits His mother at the cross (John 19), to whom alone He promises a tarrying till He come again (John 21), and to whom, on the island of his exile, the Lord once more appears in personal majesty, long after His personal appearances among His people have ceased (Rev. 1).

7. JOHN AND MARY. That a special affinity of spirit existed between the mother and the friend of the Lord, might naturally be presumed, and is confirmed by the direction of Christ upon the cross. It would be contrary to all christological principles to suppose that Jesus, by that bequest, severed and abolished His human relation to His mother. The kingdom of glory glorifies human relations; it no more annuls them, than it abolishes the human nature of Christ himself. But the comfort of intimate friendship, which contributes to the edification of His people, Christ appoints to these two sufferers. To Mary and John the form of Christ had become most copiously and most purely transfigured. Mary seems to have led, for a considerable time, a quiet life in communion of spirit with John in his house at Jerusalem (John 19:27; see the article “Maria,” in Winer). Both lived in joyful musing on the past, the present, and the future of the Lord. Without doubt they formed a most efficient support of the congregation at Jerusalem, which was the whole church at first; and Mary might well have had a mental part in the “one tender leading Gospel.”28

John himself, indeed, was a predominantly feminine nature, if by that be understood the perfect receptivity and self-surrender which is proper to all religious feeling and exercises of faith. (See the article “John” in Herzog’s Encyclopœdia, by Ebrard.) But a feminine nature, in the stricter sense, he cannot be called. He was great not merely in receiving and feeling, but also in contemplative reproduction, statement, and imagination, though his statement and imagination were eminently ideal. More sublime compositions than the fourth Gospel and the Revelation cannot be conceived. This plastic, creative work, was by no means of the nature of secular art for being ideal. It produced awakening and edifying creations for the Church. But John also, in his way, labored practically, as much perhaps as Peter, only in a direction less striking to the eye.

8. JOHN AND PETER; or, John and the first half of the apostolic age. It is not correct to call Peter, without qualification, the first of the apostles. Peter and John mark the contrast in the position of the apostles between Christ and the world. John is the first on the side of the apostolate toward Christ; Peter, the first on the side toward the world, and in that view truly the first of the apostles in the stricter sense. If, therefore, John for the most part stands in lofty silence beside the speaking and acting Peter (Acts 3, 8, 15), we should greatly err if we should take him for a mute or in any way passive figure, according to the measure of his silence. John had no talent for popularity; he was always too much the whole man for that (see the above-mentioned article of Ebrard), too directly exposed his inward views and movements; but it may well be supposed that, as a support, a spiritual guide, he exerted almost as determining an influence upon Peter, as Peter exerted upon the world and the Church. The indications of this we find, for example, in John 18, 20, and 21. So far as Peter might still need human advice, he found his privy council in the house of John and Mary; though we need not attribute to this circumstance the fact that in the apostolic council at Jerusalem he stood so firmly for the freedom of faith (Acts 15), while soon after, at Antioch, where he was without the guidance of John, he wavered once more, and should have found his support in Paul. We at last find John, however, in that council in Jerusalem (about the year 53 [50]), and find him, with Peter and James the Less, one of the three pillars of the church (Gal. 2). If there was at that time any definite demarcation of the three several positions of those pillars in the Jewish mission, as there was between that mission as a whole and the Gentile mission of Paul, James, it seems to be certain, was the president of the mother-church at Jerusalem, Peter more especially devoted to the Hebrew Diaspora, John to the Hellenists, or the Jews and proselytes of Grecian education.

This explains the wavering of Peter at Antioch, and his journey to Babylon to the Jews resident there; and it explains the later residence of John in Asia Minor, and his doctrine of the Logos, which we regard as determined by his intercourse with Hellenistic Jews. This direction of John’s labors rested upon the universal destination which Christ had assigned him (John 21).

Peter may be said to have laid the foundation of the Christian Church, as a historical martyr; John, as a spiritual martyr, to have embraced in his mind all the ages of the development of the Church; to form her ideal, mystical background; to move through the dark times of her conflicts and through her predominantly practical tendencies as the great unknown, notwithstanding the thousand Johns in Christendom; perpetuating himself especially in all the healthful mystical and contemplative theology, to break forth in the end of the days with his full spiritual operation, and present to the Lord, as a bride adorned for her husband, a John-like church, matured in spiritual life.

Thus, as Peter was the first of the apostles in their relation to the world, John was the first in their relation to Christ. The talent of Peter was ideally practical; that of John, practically ideal. Peter is the chief of the working, edifying, upbuilding spirits of the Church; John, the chief of the contemplative. In John, the basis of enthusiasm or devotion to Christ was not an inexhaustible impulse to do, but a deep, wondering celebration of the eternal fact and work of the perfection of Christ.[29] The fundamental characteristic of Peter was energetic heart; that of John, reposing heartiness. John’s piety, therefore, like that of Peter, has the character of the highest purity. In his humility he goes, with great delicacy, even to the suppression of himself, his mother, and his brother James, in his Gospel; introducing himself merely as “a disciple” of Christ (1:40), or as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (13:23); his mother Salome, only as sister of the mother of Jesus (19:25); and James the Elder but once, as son of Zebedee. In like manner, through the terrors of the world his heart goes almost equally undisturbed. In the house of the high-priest he stands upright beside the falling Peter. His love has the character of tender depth; his believing knowledge is an intuitive beholding, rising to lyric stateliness. The ideas of love, life, and light, hatred, death, and darkness, are the fundamental elements of his ideal conception of Christianity and the world. Hence, to him, the Logos, as the original unity of these three elements, is the groundwork—the glory (the δόξα), or the absolute manifestation (ἐπιφάνεια), the final goal of the revelation of God. Peter sees the glory of Christ chiefly in the mighty unfolding of the glory of His kingdom; John sees all the glory of the kingdom of Christ comprised in the single glory of His personal exaltation and His future appearing. But his contemplativeness is not an idle posture; it is the energy of faith; it therefore supplies a silent force which proves itself preëminently an inwardly purifying agency in the Church; and it therefore expresses itself in the strongest abhorrence of evil. Thus John clarifies the Christian doctrine, the body of believers, the Church. And as, therefore, the contemplative Apostle was called to enlarge and complete the New Testament in all its constituent elements [historical, didactic, and prophetic], so also the purifying Apostle was called to be longest at the head of the apostolic Church. (Lange’s Apost. Zeitalter, i. p. 358; comp. Leben Jesu, i. p. 262; Schaff’s Hist. of the Apost. Church, § 103, pp. 407–411.)

[9. JOHN AND PAUL. As our author omits to contrast the beloved disciple who impressed Christ’s image most deeply into the heart of the Church, with the great Apostle of the Gentiles, who labored more than all in word and work, we insert here the following, by way of supplement, from Schaff’s History of the Apostolic Church, Amer. ed., p. 411: “John and Paul have depth of knowledge in common. They are the two apostles who have left us the most complete systems of doctrine. But they know in different ways. Paul, educated in the schools of the Pharisees, is an exceedingly acute thinker and an accomplished dialectician. He sets forth the doctrines of Christianity in a systematic scheme, proceeding from cause to effect, from the general to the particular, from premise to conclusion, with logical clearness and precision. He is a representative of genuine scholasticism, in the best sense of the term. John’s knowledge is that of intuition and contemplation. He gazes with his whole soul upon the object before him, surveys all as in one picture, and thus presents the profoundest truths as an eye-witness, not by a course of logical demonstration, but immediately as they lie in reality before him. His knowledge of divine things is the deep insight of love, which ever fixes itself at the centre, and thence surveys all points of the circumference at once. He is the representative of all true mysticism. Both these apostles together meet all the demands of the mind thirsting for wisdom; of the keenly-dissecting understanding, as well as the speculative reason, which comprehends what is thus analyzed in its highest unity; of mediate reflection as well as immediate intuition. Paul and John, in their two grand systems, have laid the eternal foundations of all true theology and philosophy; and their writings, now after eighteen centuries of study, are still unfathomed.”]

10. JOHN AND SIMON. After the Apostolic Council, John disappears from the New Testament history of the apostles. When Paul made his last visit to Jerusalem (about the year 59 or 60), he conferred only with James and the elders. John was away—at all events, not present with the others. And he could not yet have been in Ephesus when Paul, some years later (about 67), wrote thither to Timothy. To the question, where he may have been in the meantime, the traditions of the ancient Church give no answer (see Lücke, p. 23; my Apost. Zeitalter, ii. p. 420). If we suppose that, in his noiseless solicitude, he went to Peræa on the first symptoms of the Jewish war, and prepared the way for the settlement of the community in Pella, it is only a conjecture. But since John was the greatest seer among the Christians, the statement of Eusebius (iii. 5), that an oracle was imparted by revelation to the most approved of the Church, which directed the whole Christian people to emigrate from Jerusalem and seek a new abode in a city of Peræa called Pella; and the statement of Epiphanius, that an angel from heaven instructed the Christians to leave the capital (De ponderibus et mensuris, cap. 15), may naturally be referred above all to the outstripping prophetic gift of John. To this, add the presumption that John, even before taking his residence in Ephesus—that is, while preparing for the composition of his Gospel, which seems to have taken place, at least in part, before the destruction of Jerusalem (see below, and Apost. Zeitalter, ii. p. 420)—became familiar with Grecian modes of thought, as his Gospel shows. This familiarity he might have first gained in the Palestinian Decapolis, especially in Pella. Here the Jewish-Christian type of thought must have mingled with the Greek-Christian.

Pella therefore formed the natural bridge for the Apostle from Jerusalem to Ephesus, and probably he did not leave the congregation at Pella, to pass to Asia Minor, until it was firmly established.

We infer this course of things also from the harmonious correspondence in which the Jewish-Christian church at Pella (Apost. Zeitalter, ii. p. 263), under the direction of Simon, stood with the Gentile-Christian church of John at Ephesus. It is the fact, that the Jewish-Christian church in Pella, under the bishop Simon, stood in communion with the Gentile Christians. This appears, first, from the very fact of the flight of these Jewish Christians to Pella; they did not share the fanaticism of the Jews who went to destruction with their temple. Then, from the account of Hegesippus, that the aged Simon was martyred through the treachery of the Jewish-Christian heretics (Euseb. iii. 32). What they hated in Simon, could only be his more liberal, anti-Ebionistic position. Finally, from the account of Epiphanins and Sulpitius Severus, that “at the time that Hadrian prohibited the Jews from going to Ælia Capitolina, the Christians, in order that they might return to the Holy City, had put away every connection with the Jewish worship, and had confirmed this renunciation by choosing a Gentile bishop by the name of Mark.” But certainly so great a freedom must have time to ripen; and this was afforded by the episcopate of Simon. It is further to be observed, that, according to the testimony of the monk Maximus, Aristo of Pella wrote an apology against the Jews; Clement of Alexandria attributed this apology to Luke (Apost. Zeitalter, ii. 464).

But if the church of Pella was in decided fellowship with the Gentile Christians, the church of Ephesus and Asia Minor, which in its main element was Gentile-Christian, was in equally decided fellowship with the Jewish Christians. In favor of this is, first of all, the strong affinity of the writings of John, especially of the Apocalypse (which most certainly belongs to Asia Minor), with the Old Testament, and with Old Testament images and modes of expression. Then it is a fact that John, with the Christians of Asia Minor, observed Easter according to the Jewish reckoning, and at the same time with the Jews; as is proved by the testimony of the bishop Polycrates in the Easter controversies (Euseb. iii. 31; v. 24). Finally, it is well known that John had to contend as firmly in Ephesus against the Gentile-Christian Gnosticism, as Simon in Pella against the Jewish-Christian Ebionism. This his writings, and the testimony of the ancients, prove. (See the section on the Design of the Gospel, below.) His contest was, indeed, in part with the mixed forms of a Gnostic Ebionism, as represented by Cerinthus. As to the affinity of John with Judaism, Irenæus infers from the Acts, and from Gal. 2:9, that, so long as he was in Jerusalem, John, with the other apostles, continued the strict (religious) observance of the Mosaic law (Adv. Hareses, iii. 12) “This, however,” observes Lücke (p. 19), “is to be very much qualified on account of the growing separation between the Jewish and Christian communities in Jerusalem.”

But the degree of this separation, and the whole import of it, must be distinctly fixed. The apostles were severed from Judaism in principle by the death of Christ (Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14; Acts 15). By the real Passover, the Jewish Passover, as a type, was for them abolished; that is to say, the centre of communion in the Jewish religion was for them destroyed (John 19:36). No element of Judaism could henceforth appear to the apostles necessary to salvation (Acts 15:10, 11). But this did not require them to abandon the fellowship of the temple; the less, since, on the preaching of Peter (Acts 2), a large Jewish-Christian congregation had formed itself about them. According to the law of the Spirit, they did not withdraw, but they suffered themselves to be thrust out. The gradations of this passive excommunication appear plainly in Acts 5:40; 7:58; 12:1, 2; 15; to which add especially the execution of James the Just (see “James,” in Winer). But if, nevertheless, the apostles supposed that circumcision might continue among the Jewish Christians, and if they even, according to Acts 15, made it the duty of the Gentile Christians to bind themselves to the so-called Noachic commandments, we must again insist, that these were not religious conditions of the inward assurance of salvation, but ethical conditions of the outward fellowship of salvation, or of the communion between Jewish and Gentile Christians, ecclesiastical, ethical dogmas, the formal obligation of which might vanish with the vanishing occasion of them (the prohibition of blood). The statement of Polycrates of Ephesus (Euseb. iii. 31; v. 24), that John, being of the family of the high-priest, continued, while an Apostle, to wear the high-priest’s diadem (πέταλον) among the Jews, we consider, like the similar statement of Epiphanius respecting James the Just, (with Solomon Cyprian,) a symbolical mode of expressing the preëminent authority of John among the early Christians (Lücke, p. 20, note).

Thus we see the harmonious contrast which existed in the first half of the apostolic age between the churches of Jerusalem and Antioch under the leadership of Peter and Paul, and then of James and Paul, in the second half of the apostolic age, the most obscure period of the rise of the Church, the time of its sprouting in the field of the world like winter grain under the snow, propagating itself in the contrast of Pella and Ephesus under the apostolic episcopates of Simon and John.

How the residence of John in Ephesus is related to the Church tradition that Timothy was the first bishop of Ephesus (Euseb. iii. 14), cannot be accurately determined. If it be possible that Timothy continued to labor in Ephesus under the direction of John, it is, on the other hand, improbable that he should have died here as a martyr under Domitian (Niceph. iii. 14), while banishment only was inflicted upon John.

Two points in reference to the later life and the death of John remain to be particularly noted: the question of the time of his banishment to Patmos, and the testimonies respecting his great age and his end.

We consider the assumption that John was banished to Patmos under the reign of Domitian, established both by ancient testimonies and by modern researches. According to Irenæus (v. 30), John had his vision toward the end of the reign of Domitian. According to Clement of Alexandria (Quis Dives salvus, § 42, and in Euseb. iii. 23), John was recalled from the island of Patmos to Ephesus after the death of the tyrant. He does not, indeed, name the tyrant; but this indicates that the tradition was already quite established. Origen also appeals to a settled tradition (on Matt. 20:22, 23). Eusebius (iii. 18, 23, Chronicon on the fourteenth year of Domitian) has explicitly fixed this tradition under Domitian, The variations from it begin with Epiphanius. They are divided between Claudius and Nero. The older rest on conjectures, the later in good part on dogmatic prejudice. Internal evidences: the picture of a later condition of the Church in the Apocalypse (e.g., c. 3:18, &c.) speaks likewise for the time of Domitian. Also a more general form of persecution than that under Nero. In a more extended induction, specially directed against Lücke, Hengstenberg (Die Offenbarung des Johannes, p. 2 sqq.) has vindicated anew the ancient tradition The composition of the Apocalypse accordingly falls in the years 95 and 96. Tertullian has supplemented the historical fact by the legend that John, before his banishment, was immersed in boiling oil at Rome, but came out unharmed.

There lies, then, probably a long interval between the first settlement of John in Ephesus and his banishment to Patmos. In this interval of great, silent ministry, the Johannean school and church bloomed in Ephesus and Asia Minor.

The death of John in Ephesus is attested by the Easter Epistle of the Bishop Polycrates of Ephesus, so early as the middle of the second century. According to Irenæus, he died in the reign of Trajan; therefore after the year 98. According to Jerome, he attained the age of one hundred years; according to Suidas, a hundred and twenty. The Chronicon Paschale says he had lived in Ephesus for nine years before his exile on Patmos, spent fifteen years in exile, lived twenty-six years after the exile, and died at the age of a hundred years and seven months, in the seventh year of the reign of Trajan. He must have been near a hundred years old; for Polycarp, who died about 170, and Papias, who died in 164, had been his disciples.

The Church tradition has preserved some significant incidents of his later life: (1) Of his heroism in rescuing from robbers a youth who had been converted by him, and had afterwards apostatized (Euseb. iii. 23, after Clement of Alexandria); (2) of his flight from a bath in which the heretic Cerinthus was (Iren., Haers. iii. 3, 28); (3) of the raising of a dead man by his hand at Ephesus (Euseb. v. 18); (4) of his play with a partridge, which he made the emblem of the blessing of recreation (Joh. Cassian, Collat. xxiv. 21);30 (5) of his last sermon: Little children, love one another (Hieron., Comment ad Galat. vi).

The statements of tradition have gathered embellishing legends of his miraculous burial and end, and even of his continuing alive, with reference to John 21:22: (1) According to pseudo-Hippolytus, he did not die, but was translated, like Enoch and Elijah. (2) Augustine tells the story, from apocrypha, that he caused his grave to be prepared while he yet lived, and laid himself in it, as in a bed, to die; and on the ground of the expression in John 21, it was believed that he did not actually die, but only slept; his breathing moved the earth over his grave, and continually threw up a white powder from beneath. This last was reported, Augustine says, by trustworthy people. (3) In the Middle Ages, and even in modern times, the saying has been widely spread, that he still lives. Lücke says: Certainly in his writings. Why not as much in his spiritual kin, and in the John-like mystical and mysterious background of the Church? (4) The legend that God raised him from the grave, and preserved him for the last times, in which he was to bear witness to the truth, and, with Enoch and Elijah, resist Antichrist.

Polycrates called him a martyr (according to Euseb. iii. 31; v. 24); no doubt in the antique sense of a witness who persevered even unto death. Subsequently it was a trouble to Chrysostom and Augustine, that he was not a martyr in the literal sense. The early Church, on the contrary, celebrated his remaining always a stranger to sensual love, and extolled him as the virgin-like, παρθένιος, παρθένος, from Rev. 14:4.31

That John was a martyr and a virgin-like spirit in a higher sense than the legalistic Church could conceive, is evinced by the whole character of his inner life. Who can tell what griefs a legalistic and formalistic tendency in the later apostolic age alone had already prepared for him (see the first of his three Epistles)? He has the promise, that he shall not die, but live till the Lord come, and doubtless come forth in some special way toward the end of the days, before the coming of the Lord;—which has given occasion to Schelling’s profound construction of the three successive apostolic periods (the Petrine, the Pauline, and the Johannean). See my Geschichte des apostolischen Zeitalters, ii. p. 649, and Schaff’s Hist. of the Apostolic Church, Amer. ed., pp. 674–678 [and Schaff’s note to Lange on Romans, Amer. ed., pp. 1, 2].

There are named to us as immediate disciples of John, Papias (underrated by Eusebius), Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp (Euseb. iii. 22, 39; Iren. iii. 3; Euseb. v. 20 and 24). But with the rising importance of Irenæus, Hippolytus, and other representatives of the Asiatic Church in Italy, South France, and Britain, the importance of the school of John also must come more into view. It was the salt of the mediæval Church, and continues to prove itself a quickening element in theology and the Church, tarrying for a richer future (see the citations of Meyer, p. 4; my Apost. Zeitalt., ii. p. 448; p. 466; p. 603; the article “John,” by Ebrard, in Herzog’s Encyclopœdia; the same article in Winer’s Real-Lexikon and in the Commentaries, &c.). For further sources for the biography of John, see especially Credner’s Einleitung, p. 214 sqq. [The reader is also referred for biographical details to the article John in the English Bible Dictionaries of Smith (Hackett and Abbot’s ed.), Kitto, and Fairbairn, and to Schaff’s Hist. of the Apost. Church, §§ 99–108, pp. 395–430. On the legends respecting the Apostle, see Mrs. Jameson’s Sacred and Legendary Art, i. 157–172, 5th ed.—P. S.]


The writings preserved by the Church under the name of John, of the genuineness of which we must speak in the proper place, with all their diversity, corresponding to the diversity of their literary species, have so many and so important peculiar traits, and have these traits, too, so much in common, that, with a better developed taste in regard to biblical style, we shall be no more able to ascribe them to different authors, than to attribute the different masterpieces of one great painter to different masters.

The peculiarities of the matter of these writings are: (1) The depth and fulness of the christological idea of Christ and His kingdom (the Word); (2) The spiritual concentration of the depth and fulness of the Messianic life in the personality of the Lord, making heaven and earth a symbolism of Christianity, of its struggles and its triumphs (Love); (3) The universalism of Christianity, grounded in God, embracing and shining through the world (Life); (4) The festive spirit of the assurance of victory, wherein Christ in His imperial power destroys the works of the devil as works of falsehood and darkness (Light). Love, life, and light, in the sense of infinite fulness and personal distinctness, come forth with the Word, and destroy the kingdom of hatred, darkness, and death.

In reference to the first trait, compare John 1:1–3; 1 John 1:2; Rev. 1:5–8. For the second, see John 1:4, 14; 1 John 4:8, 12; comp. John 1:7; Rev. 1:17, 18; comp. John 5:6. For the third, John 5:26; 11:25; 14:6; 1 John 1:2; 2:25; Rev. 7:13; John 21. For the fourth, John 8:12; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 21:23. The views homogeneous, however, pervade all the writings of John; everywhere the divine Word, Love, Light, Life; the destruction of the destroyer of man, and of his manifestations, hatred, darkness, and death.

If it be objected that these traits appear also in the other apostolic authors, we most readily grant it in a certain sense; for John is not Christ, and has no new Christ. But in the proportions of his christology he is beyond even Paul, with reference to the first trait, in the distinctly expressed celebration of the Logos with God in an ontological trinity, his eternal existence God-ward; with reference to the second, in the fact that for him the personality of Christ is his history, not the converse, and of Christ not only as made man, but also as made flesh; with reference to the third, in his making Christ not only the creative and upholding force of the world, as in Paul (Col. 1:17), but also the inmost kernel, the gist, the truth of its life (John 15:1); with reference to the fourth, in the fact that, with John, Christ not only in an ethical operation enlightens the world, and luminously judges and awakens it, but also is the ideal truth and reality of the world, reducing and exalting the whole real world to a transparent symbol of the eternal kingdom of light and love.32

To these peculiarities of the matter of the Johannean writings, their peculiarities of form correspond: (1) The mighty unity of principle, ruling the whole representation—that is, the clearness and transparence of the theme, the motto of the books. (2) The personal holding and shaping of all historical and didactic matters, to give their central, spiritual, hearty expression. (3) The universal grandeur, sublimity, and organically pure structure of the compositions, and the richness of the elements embraced and organized by them. (4) The lyric, festive diction, with the consequent directness of expression, the limited but pregnant fund of language, and the inimitable coloring, reminding only of the Song of Songs, and of the highest products of human poesy. On the diction of John, and his circle of words, see Credner, Einleitung, p. 222; Guericke, Isagogik, p. 205 [p. 213 in the 3d ed. of 1868].

Just this deep and beautiful monotony of the Johannean view and statement contains the reason, however, why the Johannean spirit unfolds itself in the copious variety of views and of forms. The trunk, rooted in a bottomless depth, strong in its solitary unity, spreads its palm-crown far out over the New Testament.

We have four Evangelists in the New Testament; John, the Evangelist who lay on Jesus’ bosom, wrote the most profound and far-reaching Gospel, the fourth, and the complement of the other three.

The Apostle Paul left the richest treasure of Epistles; John, the Apostle and primitive presbyter of the Church, left a trilogy of Epistles, in which the deepest essence and the ideal order of the fellowship of the Church in Christ reflects itself for all ages.

The Evangelist Luke is, next to Paul and John, the most copious author of the New Testament (the Gospel of Luke and the Acts). Luke, in his exhibition of the life of Jesus, went back to the historical beginning of his childhood, and Luke’s final historical goal was the Church in Rome; but the Gospel of John goes back into the depths of the Godhead, and the Apocalypse exhibits the entire history of the Church to its consummation in the new, eternal city of God (not in the eternal world, for the actual world must merge organically in the thoroughly personal city of God).

If we remember that the first three Evangelists wrote on special occasion, and that the Epistles of Paul were in reality not literary productions, but historical acts, John appears as preëminently the author of the New Testament, even more than Luke, and, as such, entirely fitted to appear for the holiness of the Bible. The language of Scripture is the word of spirit; in this language must the disciple who does not die especially speak.

Some have found a considerable difference between the Gospel and the Epistles of John. But here the unity in the diversity needs apology least of all.

But the contrast between the Gospel of John and the Apocalypse has been urged with very special emphasis. It has been said [by De Wette, Lücke, Bleek, and others] that John, the author of the Gospel, cannot have written the Revelation. Minds like Luther and Göthe have measured and mismeasured their strength upon the Apocalypse. Then again it has been said [by Dr. Baur and the Tübingen school], John was the author of the Apocalypse, and therefore cannot have written the fourth Gospel. But in the end it has to be conceded that only one person, the author of the fourth Gospel, could have written the Apocalypse; and that, conversely, only one man, the author of the Apocalypse, can have been the writer of the Gospel. It is one thing to speak in the understanding [νοῦς], in reflective consciousness; another, to speak in the spirit [πνεῦμα], in the directness of an inspired frame (1 Cor. 14:15). The Gospel requires the Apocalypse, the Apocalypse presupposes the Gospel (see my Vermischte Schriften, vol. ii. p. 173, and Schaff, Hist. of the Apost. Church, § 107, pp. 422 ff.). The supposition of two authors, besides, is connected with Eusebius’ old fiction of the presbyter John of Ephesus, which arose from a misinterpretation of Papias. (On this, comp. Guericke, Die Hypothese von dem Presbyter Johannes, als verfasser der Offenbarung, Ha*e, 1831; my Apost. Zeitalt., i. p. 215; Schaff, l. c. p. 421.)

On the relation of the fourth Gospel to the first three, the Synoptists, comp., in the vol. on Matthew, the Introduction to the New Testament, § 2, and the works cited there. The Epistles of John belong together to the division of Catholic Epistles. On the idea and the group of the Catholic Epistles, compare Guericke, p. 430 [p. 416 ff., 3d ed.].

In the Apocalypse the highest immediacy and directness—that of vision—is combined in the most wonderful manner with the highest sacred art—that of apocalyptic, traditional symbolism (see Lücke, Einleitung in die Apoc.). And in this view, we have in the form of this Apocalypse a sealing of the incarnation, an incarnation raised to the highest power; the intensely earnest seer-spirit becomes art in the purest sense; art in ghostly severity becomes the prophetess of the judgment and the glorification of the world.

To come to the contents: The writings of John form a trilogy. The Gospel, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse represent the evangelic founding, the organic shaping, and the eternal future of the Church; Christ who was, and is, and is to come.

But each unit has again a trilogical constitution. The Gospel testifies in the prologue the outgoing of Christ from eternity (John 1:1–18); in the body of it, His historical manifestation; in the epilogue (John 21), His future spiritual presence in the world, represented by the Petrine and Johannean type of Christianity and the Church.

As to the three Epistles: The second and third form corollaries to the first. The first sets forth the fellowship of believers in the love of Christ, in opposition to those who do not belong to them; the second speaks against the lax obliteration of the line of this fellowship, requiring the condition of the essential confession; the third reproves the harsh contracting of the line in fanatical stringency. We readily see that these two Epistles stand in regular sequence, and that the second could not be the third, nor the third the second.

The Apocalypse places itself at the beginning on the historical basis of the seven churches, and of the seven epistles which transform those churches into types of the future (John 1–3). Upon this the prophetic images of the future are unrolled. (After the seven churches, the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the seven thunders, the seven heads of Antichrist, the seven vials of wrath, then the consummation, as the total manifestation of the seven spirits at the beginning.) At the end, after the consummation of the judgment, appears the counterpart of the seven churches, the eternal city of God (John 21).


The Gospel of John is the Gospel of the real ideality of the life of Jesus and His eternal operation; the Gospel of the real ideality of Christianity; or, the Gospel of the ideal personality, therefore, of the glorification of all the ideal relations of the world and of life. In this view we may consider it (1) in its intrinsic import; (2) as the complement of the three Synoptical Gospels; (3) as the antidote to the false, religious idealism and realism of its time; (4) as the consummation of the gospel history and doctrine in general; as exhibiting the realization of all the types in the world; as the ideal transfiguration of all real relations of the world; as the Gospel of absolute personality, of the unity of idea and life.


(a.) Its Character in General

The Christ of John has been called a “shadowy form” (Nebelgestalt). The truth is, that He comes into the purest light of personality; that the Gospel is, throughout, the most distinct biography of the most distinct character, though of a character which to the beclouded eye can appear cloudy on account of its ideal fulness, and on account of the delicacy and majesty of its outlines. The Gospel sets out from the manifestation of the personal God in his Logos (John 1:1–14); it ends in the personal epiphany of the glorified Christ. It places all antiquity, the entire ancient covenant, before our eyes in personal concentration in John the Baptist. The second personage, in whom the old covenant was in a still higher manner concentrated—Mary—remains for a while in the background (John 1:13, 14). She herself is represented by her Son, so far as the old covenant fulfils itself in Him (John 1:17). Likewise the life of the post-historical Christ to the end of the world is here represented by the antithesis of two persons: Peter and John (John 21:15–23), in their connection with the company of the Apostles represented by a number seven (John 21:2). Between this introduction and conclusion the Gospel places the biography of the historical Christ; and in distinct chronological order.

The first section extends to the first Passover, at which Christ openly appears as the great, anonymous Prophet (John 1:19–2:12). John has pointed the Jews to Jesus, and they have not known Him (John 1:19–28). Therefore Jesus, renouncing the name of Messiah, must reveal himself in His Messianic power. So He reveals himself at first to the first disciples (John 1:29–51), represented by Andrew, John (intimated, not named), Peter, Philip, Nathanael (Bartholomew). He reveals himself to them by His master-look into their inmost life, and His distinct exposure of it, by a prophetic reading of character in the miraculous power of Divine knowledge; the copy of the election of God himself. He reveals himself next to the pious in general at the marriage in Cana by His first miracle. The mother of Jesus becomes the personal expression of faith in the need of life, which He only can supply; the master of the feast becomes witness to the richness of life which He gives. With this the holy family is established, the first germ of the Church in purely personal outlines (John 2:12).

The second section extends from the Passover of the year of Rome 781 (see Wieseler, Chronologische Synopse, p. 166) to the feast of Purim of 782 (see Winer, Purimfest, in the Spring, before the Passover), and relates the first public manifestations of the Lord (John 2:13–4:54). Jesus reveals himself first to the people in the temple, then to Nicodemus by night, afterwards to the disciples of John the Baptist, then to the Samaritans, finally to the noblemen of the government of King Herod Antipas. The Jews find Him, in the purification of the temple, the most genuine of Jews, whom zeal for His Father’s house threatens to consume; Nicodemus, the master of Israel, must do homage to Him as the divine Master; John the Baptist must utter his acknowledgment of the greater Baptizer; the Samaritans, represented by the woman of Samaria, learn to greet in Him the Messiah of the Jews, who makes an end of the old antagonism between Mount Moriah and Mount Gerizim; the royal official must recognize in Him a royal power which sends its saving behests afar.

The third section extends from the feast of Purim in 782 to the feast of Tabernacles in the same year, according to Wieseler, the 12th of October (John 5:1–7:9). The decisive struggle with guilt and need in Israel begins. The pool of Bethesda, with its angel-miracles in Jerusalem, heals no more; the cripple who has waited there thirty-eight years for help, and who represents the impotence of effete Judaism, Jesus heals on the Sabbath, and presents himself to the Jews, who would kill Him for the act, as the life-giving healer and the quick ener of the dead. The people faint on their pilgrimage to the Passover on Zion; Jesus feeds and satisfies the people with His miraculous bread, overcoming the anxieties of the natural view of things, which Philip, who calculates the great demand, and Andrew, who counts up the small store, mutually represent. And as He has avoided the persecutions of the Jews in Jerusalem who would kill Him, so the Jews of Galilee, who persecute Him with their sensuous homage, to make Him king, He escapes first on the mountain in the night, then upon the sea, in a miracle which here appears only as an incident (as an exertion of miraculous power, in which He flees from false disciples, and seeks the true), and then declares to them plainly that He comes not to give them bread outwardly, as Moses, but, in the sense of the spirit, He must be to them Himself the bread of life, the living food from heaven. By this He effects the beginning of a separation between His true and false disciples (John 6:66–71). Thus is expressed the antagonism between Him and the world, in which even His brethren, as representatives of His discipleship in general, do not yet know themselves to be, and which determines Him to continue His course in sporadic manifestations (John 7:1–9).

The fourth section extends from the feast of Tabernacles in the year 782 to the feast of the Dedication of the Temple in the same year, Dec. 20th, according to Wieseler (John 7:10–10:22). Jesus brings His controversy with the Jews to an issue.

(1) In respect to His authority as a teacher (John 7:15–18).

(2) In respect to His miracle on the Sabbath (John 7:19–24).

(3) In respect to His extraction (John 7:25–31).

(4) In respect to His and their future (John 7:32–36).

(5) In respect to His relation to the temple solemnities, first the festival of the drawing of water from the well of Siloam (John 7:37–53), then the torch-light celebration at the feast of Tabernacles (John 8:1–11; 12–27).

(6) In respect to the false hope of the Messiah (John 8:28–59).

(7) In respect to the true and false power of enlightenment for the world on Temple Hill (John 9) presented in the healing of the man born blind by means of the water of Siloam.

(8) In respect to the true and false claims to the pastorship of the people of God (chap 10:1–21).

With this great contest He brings on the incipient separation between His friends and His enemies, the children of the light and the children of darkness.

The fifth section goes from the feast of the Dedication in 782 to the Passover of 783 (John 10:22–12:50). Jesus offers himself more distinctly to the Jews on their inquiry (probably for the second time to the authorities) as the true Messiah, the Son of God.

(1) Appealing to His works (10:22–31).

(2.) Appealing to the Old Testament (vers. 32–42), likewise by the sign of the raising of Lazarus, the great-life miracle among his friends, represented by the family of Bethany hard by the gates of Jerusalem (John 11:1–45), and by that very step He draws on the final resolution of the Jews, represented by the high-priest Caiaphas, to kill Him (John 11:46–57).

He prepares himself for death.

(1) By the anointing in the family at Bethany, among whom He has proved himself the resurrection, in a circle in which the anointing disciple and the objecting traitor represent the part of His friends and His enemies in His death (John 12:1–8).

(2) By His triumphal entry into the city and the temple, where the homage of the Greeks fills Him with the presentiment of His death (John 12:9–33).

(3) By the last parting words with which He withdraws from the people (vers. 34–50). The sixth section gives the history of the last Passover at large (John 13:1–19:42).

(1) The feet-washing, as the symbolical purification of the disciples and the real example of the Lord, connected with the virtual expulsion of the traitor from the circle (John 13:1–30).

(2) The parting discourses concerning the spiritual glorification of the Son of Man: a. Connected with the supper, His approaching departure, His denial by Peter (John 13:31–38); b. Pointing to His Father’s house and the reunion beyond the grave, and answering the questions of Thomas respecting the way, and of Philip respecting the goal (John 14:1–15); c. Promising, by the Comforter, full compensation for His departure from them in this world, and His own return and reunion with them in the fellowship of the Father through the Holy Ghost, and answering the question of Judas, why this revelation was given only to His own, and not to the world (John 14:16–31); d. The condition of the new death-spanning fellowship of the disciples with the Lord; He being the vine, they the branches. Their relation to the Lord. Their relation to the world (John 15:1–16:11); e. The preparation of the disciples for the impending distress and the ensuing time of joy (John 16:12–32); f. The glorification of the whole redeeming work of Christ, to the perfection of His Father’s house amidst the dissolution of the ungodly world, in the prayer of Christ for the glorification of His person; or the high-priestly prayer (John 17).

(3) Jesus, the Lord of glory, judged by the world (John 18:1–19, 22); a. Jesus, with the traitor Judas, and the hostile guard; their dismay before the majesty of Jesus; b. Jesus, and the carnal zeal of Peter, in contrast with the sublime calmness of the Lord; c. Jesus in the house of Annas, the two disciples in the hall; the serenity of the Lord; d. Jesus before Caiaphas; the fulfilled prophecy of the Lord; e. Jesus before Pilate; the judicial acts and struggles of Pilate; the royal dignity of Jesus; f. Jesus on the cross, the King of the Jews; g. The forsakenness of the dying Christ; h. His last word: “It is finished;” i . The miracle in His dead body; the miraculous awakening of silent friends to their discipleship.

The seventh section embraces the course of the feast of the Passover from the first to the second Lord’s Day (John 20). Christ risen makes himself known to His disciples, and makes them perfectly free from the wretchedness and unbelief of the world. Magdalene, Peter, and John, the disciples in general, the first fruits of the Spirit, and the mission of Christ. Thomas.

The histories of the last chapter have a typical, symbolical import, and, as an epilogue on the post-historical movement of Christ in the world, correspond to the prologue on His pre-historical movement in the world. That the life of Jesus is here set before us in the grandest outlines of personal life, is plain. The Gospel brings few personages before us, but these all have a general import besides their individual; they represent human nature and the world in their most diverse aspects. The personality of Christ, however, throws light on all, now to condemnation, now to salvation; and in and above the personality of Christ, the being and the movement of God himself becomes manifest to us in the threefold radiance of the Father, the Son, and the Comforter.

(b.) The Ideality and Symbolism of the Gospel

Agreeably to the peculiarity of the Gospel of John, all the real persons, things, and circumstances in it are symbolically or allegorically transparent, being suffused with the light of the idea. John gives us not only a symbolism of the Old Testament word, of Old Testament institutions, histories, and persons; he gives us also the symbolism of nature, of antiquity, and of history, of personal life; hence the absolute symbolism, or the ideal import of all real existence in significant outlines. He thus goes far beyond the symbolism of Matthew, and of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and even of Paul.

As scriptural symbolism we adduce: John 1:1, with reference to Gen. 1:1 sqq.; ver. 11, with reference to Ex. 9; ver. 23, with reference to Isa. 40:3; ver. 27, with reference to Mal. 4:5; ver. 29, with reference to Isa. 53:7; ver. 51, with reference to Gen. 28:12; chap 2:17, relating to Ps. 69:10; John 3:13, to Dan. 7:13; ver. 14, to Num. 21:8, 9; ver. 29, perhaps to Ps. 45:8, 10; John 5:39, 46, and John 7:38, to Zech. 14:8 et al.; John 8:17, to Deut. 17:6; 19:15; ver. 44, to Gen. 3; John 10:14, to Zech. 11:7; John 10:34, to Ps. 82:6; John 12:14, to Zech. 9:9; ver. 38, to Isa. 53:1; ver. 39–41, to. Isa. 6:1; John 16:32, to Zech. 13:7; John 17:12, to Ps. 40:10; John 19:24, to Ps. 22:19; John 19:29, to Ps. 69:22; ver. 36, to Ex. 12:46; ver. 37, to Zech. 12:10.

That John accounts not only conscious verbal prophecies as symbolical utterances, is evinced by many of his citations. In him, the sense of the anticipation of the New Testament element in Old Testament types of mind and of things is especially developed. In the life of Christ, every important word of the Old Testament finds its purest expression, its final fulfilment. And the symbolism of Old Testament persons, institutions, and events, unfolds itself in equal richness. The whole Old Testament is concentrated in the prophecy of John (John 1:6). The ground-thought of the Old Testament is: Israel the people of God; the Evangelist declares forthwith that Christ has a new people, born of the Spirit, for His possession (John 1:11–13). The mysterious centre of the Old Testament system is the manifestation of the “glory of the Lord,” the δόξα (Shekinah); the Evangelist declares that this glory has appeared essentially in Christ (John 1:14). The antithesis between the Old Testament and the New is fully drawn in the antithesis between Moses and Christ (John 1:17).

But Christ comes forth as the substance of the Old Testament itself, for He was before John the Baptist (John 1:15, 27). He is the Messiah of promise, not only baptized, but baptizing with the Holy Ghost (John 1:32, 41). Nathanael represents the true Israelite (ver. 47), even an Israel who should see without ceasing the angels of God ascending and descending (ver. 51; see Gen. 28:12). And the temple of the Israelites is a symbol of the body of Christ (John 2:19). Circumcision in connection with washing is a symbol of the second birth into the real kingdom of God, the counterpart of His typical kingdom (John 3:5). The brazen serpent which Moses lifted up as a healing sign, is a symbol of Christ lifted up on the cross (John 3:14). The typical nuptial relation between Jehovah and His people in the Old Testament, is a symbol of the relation between Christ and His Church (John 3:29). Jacob’s well in Sychem is a symbol of the inner life from the fountain of the peace of Christ (John 4:10). Mount Zion is a symbol of the supremacy of spirit and truth wherein God should be worshipped (John 4:23); the pool of Bethesda, with its angelic help, a symbol of the divine healing workings of Christ in His Church (John 5). The raging sea is an emblem of the raging voices of the people, above which Jesus walks, as the mountain is an emblem of the exaltation of His life of prayer above the world (John 6). The manna of the wilderness is a symbol of Christ, the true bread of life, from heaven (John 6). Circumcision in its old patriarchal import is a symbol of the higher restoration of man (John 7:23). The water-drawing from the fountain of Siloam is a symbol of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost (John 7:38, 39). The torch-display at the feast of Tabernacles, was a symbol of the enlightenment of the world which proceeds from Christ (John 8:12). The prescription of the law concerning the validity of the testimony of two witnesses before the judgments-seat, is a symbol of the concurrent testimony of the divine consciousness (Christ) and the divine works which the Father performs (John 8:17). The bondage of the Jews is an allegory of the bondage of sin (John 8:32). Abraham’s children after the flesh are only symbols of Abraham’s true children (John 8:39). The serpent in paradise is an allegory of Satan (John 8:44). Abraham is a symbol of Christ (John 8:56). The Old Testament sons of God (judges and kings) are symbols of the Son of God (John 10:34). So the Urim and Thummim, or, what is essentially the same, the judicial opinion of the high-priest Caiaphas, becomes an unconscious symbolical representation of the judicial decision of God, which turns the judgment of the world to salvation (John 11:51). The Jewish festival salutation, Hosanna, is a symbol of the salutation of the Messiah (John 12:13). The hardening of the people in the old covenant, is a typical foreboding of the complete hardening of Israel against Christ (John 12:38). Therefore also the Paschal supper is become the symbol of the celebration of the death of Christ (John 13), as the killing of the Passover is the symbol of His death itself (John 19:36). Friday, as the day of preparation, is a symbol of the toil of Jesus and of His being laid to rest (John 19:30, 31). The great Sabbath is a symbol of His repose in the grave (ver. 31).

And it must especially be observed, further, that here all the great festivals of Israel, the Passover, the Purim, the feast of Tabernacles, the feast of the Dedication, and then the Passover again, become to the legal Israel days of darkening and hardening against the light and substance of all the festivals, the Messiah, and days of the glorifying of the Messiah to the believing Israel.

Among the symbolical personages of the Old Testament, Abraham and Moses, John and Mary, have special prominence.

The Old Testament symbolizing of the fourth Gospel rests, however, on a universal view, which makes all the finite a similitude of eternal substance in Christ and in His kingdom. The whole universe, nature and history, is a mirror-like work of the Logos (John 1:3); light and darkness is an emblem of the great antagonism between Christ, or the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of evil; birth, an emblem (in the way of antithesis) of regeneration (John 1:13); the pure manifestation of the world, an emblem of the holy Word (ver. 14); the dove, an emblem of the Holy Ghost (ver. 32); the dwelling of Christ, an emblem of fellowship with Him (ver. 39); the prejudice of Nathanael against the wretched Nazareth, an emblem of all prejudice in the world against the earthly origin and form of the life of the Spirit (John 1), like the dishonoring of a prophet in his own country (John 4:44); the marriage, an emblem of the festivity of human life, which issues in sheer want (the water-pots), till Christ comes into the midst and turns the water into wine (John 2); the wind, an emblem of the Spirit of God blowing where it listeth (John 3:8); marriage, a symbol of the union of Christ with His people (John 3:29). The living water in the sacred well of Jacob signifies the peace of Christ; earthly food, the spiritual nourishment of Christ; the fields white to the harvest, the field of Christ’s mission; the sower and the reaper, the earlier and later laborers in the kingdom of God (John 4). The earthly healing fountain signifies the silent healing agency of Christ in the world (John 5); earthly bread, the heavenly food in Christ which gives new life to the world (John 6); the earthly day, with its hours, the working-day of Christ in the world (chaps 8, 9); the true shepherd, Christ the Good Shepherd; and the thief and the hireling, the false prophets and the faithless keepers of souls; the twofold flock of a rich shepherd, the heathen and the Jewish worlds in their relation to redemption; the shepherd’s voice, the call of Christ (John 10); the Greeks at the feast who inquire for the Lord, the heathen world drawing near; the perishing corn of wheat which brings forth much fruit, the death of the good, especially the death of Christ, with the fruits of His resurrection; the approaching evening, the declining of the day of grace (John 12). The hospitable feet-washing is an emblem of love which humbly serves, especially of brotherly, cleansing admonition (John 13). The heavenly world, revealed in the starry sky of night, is an emblem of the Father’s house (John 14). The vine and the branches are Christ and His kingdom; the fruitful branches, living disciples of Christ; the dead branches cut off and burning, apostate Christians in the judgment of fire (John 15). The travailing woman in her pangs and her joy of motherhood, is an emblem of sorrowful Good-Friday and Jubilant Easter in the Church (John 16). The crossing of the brook Kedron, is the sign of decision (John 18).

The position of Christ toward Pilate is an enlightening of Rome by Christianity, as His position toward the Greeks (John 12:20) is an enlightening of Greece. Christ in the crown of thorns and the purple robe is the royal manifestation of the suffering One. The superscription on the cross is a prophecy of the dominion of Christ in all the languages of the world. The draught of vinegar is the refreshment of the dying Christ from the side of the world; the blood and the water flowing from the side of Christ after His death, are the sign of His miraculous transformation (John 19). The carefully-laid linen with the napkin in the tomb is a sign of the resurrection rest, peaceful in God; the breath of Christ and His breathing upon His disciples signify the communication of the Holy Ghost to His people (John 20). The fish in the net betoken the apostles’ converting the world (John 21).

(c.) The Reality or Historic Energy of the Christological Ideas of the Gospel

As, in this Gospel, on the one hand, all that is real and historical bears reference to the ideal world, and has an ideal, universal significance, so, on the other hand, all the fundamental ideas of the kingdom of God take living form in the actual world. Out of the one ideal form of the eternal being of Christ, the Word, come forth the ground forms of His revelation, to manifest Him in the world. In operation, His nature branches into life and light (John 1:4); His nature is love (John 3:16; 1:17); His manifestation is glory (the δόξα).

Over against Him stands, however, the anti-deal acting of the kingdom of evil, darkness; its nature, hatred; its operation, death (John 8:44; 15:25); the manifestation of its children involuntary self condemnation-and a going out and extinction in night (John 13:30).

The nature and movement of the life in love for the sinful world is grace; the nature and movement of light is truth. The light divides the children of light from the children of darkness, and this affects the ideal judgment manifesting itself in wrath (John 3:36), as the basis of the judgment to come. The children of the light are children of truth and uprightness; the children of the darkness are children of falsehood (John 3). Grace and truth, become personal in the glory of Christ, are the principle of the glorification of life (John 2) and of the beginning of that glorification in regeneration (John 3.). In their personal appearance in Christ, they give peace of soul (John 4), abolish sickness and death as a negative liberation of life (John 5), nourish the restored life with positive food (John 6), bestow a life-awakening life in the Holy Ghost (John 7). The truth leads to freedom in Christ, the counterpart of which is bondage (John 8); to the living knowledge of Christ, the counter-part of which is blindness; to trustful and obedient following of Christ, the counterpart of which is apostasy (John 10).

To believers the grace of Christ unfolds itself as eternal life (John 10:28); to His friends, as the power of resurrection (John 11); to the Gentiles, as the power of spiritual exaltation to the heavenly life (John 12:24, 32; to the confidential circle of the disciples, as the most self sacrificing love (John 13). This resurrection is accompanied with the judgment of unbelievers, whose unbelief discovers itself in steady aggravation (John 11–13). The gracious truth initiates in all the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven: the mystery of the Father’s house above (John 14:1–15); the mystery of heaven upon earth, constituted by the Holy Ghost (vers. 16–31); the mystery of the kingdom of heaven in this life and in the life to come (John 15:1–17); and the mystery of the enmity of the world, and of the disciples victory over the world (John 15:18–16:12). This leads to the glorification of Christ: the promise of His glorification in the Spirit (John 16:12–33); the eve of His glorification in His sacerdotal prayer (John 17). The glorification of His passion, and of all the elements of His passion (John 18 and 19). The glorification of the risen Christ among His own (John 20), and through His own in the world (John 21).

(d.) The Idealism and the Realism of the Gospel int the Unity of Personal Life

We have already remarked that we find the unity of the real and the ideal in personal life; hence the unity of this Gospel of the ideal history is in the history of personality. Therefore it is that personages, both good and bad, play so significant a part in the light of the personality of Christ, the image of the personality of God: On one side, John the Baptist, Mary, the disciples, Nicodemus, the man born blind, Mary of Bethany, Martha, Magdalene, Joseph of Arimathea, more especially Thomas, Peter, John; on the other, the Jews, an Annas, a Caiaphas, a Judas, a Pilate. How sharply and at the same time how delicately are all these life-figures marked, and how transparent their meaning!

With equal significance is the fermenting, the shaping, the separation of the parties for and against the Lord portrayed.

And hence the same may be said of the small selection of the miraculous acts of the Lord. It is in keeping with the character of this Gospel that the miracles of knowledge here stand out so prominently (John 1:42, 48; comp. 2:25; 2:19; 4:17; 6:70; 11:11; 13:3; 17:12; 20:27; 21:6; ver. 18; ver. 22). The first miraculous work of the Lord according to John stands, entirely in the spirit of the fourth Gospel, at the head: a miracle of the exaltation of life to heavenly festivity out of earthly need (John 2); and it is suitably followed by the purification of the temple, as a chiefly moral miracle, foretokening the restoration of the temple in the raising up of the real temple (John 2). The second sign, of Jesus in Galilee is the performance of a cure at a distance, which the Lord sends before to His home as a speaking token of His approach. The first miracle in Judea, the healing of the cripple at the pool of Bethesda, is rendered specially significant by its being wrought at a medicinal fountain religiously sacred to the Jews, and wrought on the Sabbath—a doubly mortal offence to the “Jews”—that is, to the Pharisees and the priest party. The first miraculous feeding in the wilderness appears here in contrast with the solicitude of the disciples, as the miraculous provision of wine in contrast with the solicitude of the mother; and at the same time it marks the turning-point in the life of Jesus, where He strikes clear to the ground the false Messianic hopes of the people, to direct their mind to the eternal (John 6). The second miracle of Christ in Jerusalem, the healing of the man born blind, again has a twofold offence for His enemies; the taking of the pool of Siloam, the sacred well of the temple, as an instrument, and the performance of the work again on the Sabbath, notwithstanding his adherents had been threatened with the ban. This miracle is intended to bring the issue nearer. But the final issue is brought on by the great public miracle of the raising of Lazarus in Bethany (John 11:53). This raising the dead from the grave is the crown of all the miracles of Jesus, and the presage of His own resurrection, and of the resurrection of all the dead.

John has thus recorded few miracles; but by the manner of his record he has made them great life pictures of the wonderful dominion of Christ in the province of personal life. And the great discourses of the Lord are likewise an exhibition of the realization of all the fundamental ideas of the kingdom of God in the province of personal life, in which He himself stands as the luminous centre.


After this sketch, we must observe the relation of the fourth Gospel to the three preceding.

If it may be said of each of the Gospels, that it completes in its own way the other three, since the whole four set forth the infinite fulness of the life of Christ in its four grand forms (see Leben Jesu, i. p. 234; the vol. of this Comm. on Matthew, General Introduction, p. 24–26, Amer. ed.), this may evidently be said with special emphasis of the fourth. But beyond this, the relation of the fourth Gospel to the Synoptists as a whole must be distinguished. The supplemental effect is so important, that it was in various ways explained even by the earliest writers. Eusebius (iii. 24) relates the opinion of the ancients, that John intended to confirm and complete the three already existing Gospels. And in modern times he is regarded preeminently as the completer [by Ebrard, Ewald, Godet, Wordsworth, and many others].

That the fourth Gospel has this office in fact—that John might have been conscious of it—and that he had it in view as a thing desired, are probable in the nature of the case; but the highest and ultimate design of his writing lay far beyond. The independent, original character of the work, as well as his own declaration (John 20:31), establish this. None the less stands it true, that we owe to the fourth Gospel not only some of the most weighty facts of the life of our Lord, as well as His most important discourses, but also the exhibition of His ministry from the very beginning, the extended accounts of His ministry in Judea, as well as an accurate chronological sequence of events, from which it is possible to construct a chronological view of the life of Jesus.

Of equal or greater importance with the extensive supplementing of the first three Gospels, is the intensive, the communication of the deepest and highest self-revelations of the Lord, and the exhibition of the whole life of Jesus in the most exalted light of an ideal apostolic intuition, as celebrated from Clement of Alexandria (Euseb. vi. 14) to Luther (“the one true, tender main Gospel;” see Lócke, i. p. 157), and made in recent times an occasion, with some, of extolling this Gospel as the only true one at the expense of the Synoptists (Gfrörer); with others of holding the synoptical portraiture of Christ as exclusively the correct, historical view (Weisse).

Even in the relation between the fourth Gospel and the Synoptists as to statements of fact, some have endeavored to find such differences as to make this relation an argument now against the exact reliability of the Gospel statements, now against the genuineness of the fourth Gospel. We recur to this in our discussion of the genuineness.

Here it must only be remarked, that, with all the elevation of its view of Christ and His work, this Gospel does not transcend the three others in their estimate of the Divine character of Christ, nor present another, a more spiritual, or a less historical Christ. The fourth Gospel’s portrait of Christ, as has been already elsewhere remarked, is still a Johannean Christ, not a Christian John, no picture of John’s fancy in Christlike colors (see Leben Jesu, i. p. 177); for John has taken his representation not from his own life, but from the depths of the life of Christ, though in conformity with his own deep contemplative and ideal turn of mind. In his drawing, no mastering subjective conception rides over the objective Master, as, in the other Evangelists, no subjective incapacity falls short of representing the objective Master.

The truth is, Christ was and appeared so boundlessly rich, that four specifically different original minds with different receptivities were needed to set forth the fulness of His revelation in adequate leading forms, each of which is alone in its kind. And thus the fourth Gospel could not properly compensate either of the other three with us, though, as the Gospel of the full idealization of the real life of Jesus in the perfect personal life of love, it must evidently stand as the conclusion, the completion, and the crown of the Gospel books.


This import of the Gospel of John with reference to the other three, expresses also its permanent relation to Gnosticism on the one hand, and to Ebionism on the other. Irenæus supposed (Adv. Hær. iii. 11, 1) that John composed his Gospel against the mischief of Gnosticism, particularly against Cerinthus and the Nicolaitans. Epiphanius (Hær. lviii. 12; lxix. 23) and Jerome (De viris illust. c. 9) added the Ebionites. The hypothesis of an antignostic aim is revived by modern scholars (Grotius, Michaelis, and others [Hug, Ebrard Alford, Hengstenberg, Webster and Wilkinson, Wordsworth]. Meyer [p. 43, 5th ed.], on the contrary, observes, that the Evangelist nowhere betrays a polemic aim against the opinions of the time.

It is, however, with this intrinsic polemic character as with the extrinsic supplemental office of the Gospel. Though it was not properly the main object of the Evangelist, yet, in a time when the germs of Gnosticism and Ebionism so plainly appeared (see the later Epistles of Paul, the Second Epistle of Peter, and the Epistle of Jude), he could not but feel his Gospel to be an actual argument against both these extremes; and a twofold series of strong assertions unmistakably reminds us, on the one hand, of that allegorical, fantastic idealism which could not allow the Word, or the idea life, to become flesh, because it assumed an essential antagonism between matter and spirit (John 1:3, 14; 6:54, 55; 19:34; 20:20, 27); and, on the other hand, of that realistic spirit of “the Jews,” which acknowledged no full revelation of the eternal light of the Godhead in this world (John 1:11, 14; 5:18; 6:62, 63; 10:36; and passim).

And we may well suppose that the prophetic spirit of the Evangelist was fully aware that his Gospel would actually exert this two-edged power against all Gnostic idealism and all Ebionistic realism in all times. For this is its effect, constantly beginning anew, and ever more powerful the more the Gospel discloses itself; though the consciousness of the Evangelist, reposing in the personal believing contemplation of the person of Christ unfolding its life for the redemption and glorification of the world, soared eagle-like above the need of an anxious attention to extreme views which had been already in principle utterly transcended and left behind by the birth of Christ.

The Christian doctrine of personality has in our day, for the first time, come forward in theology with independent distinctness. In the mighty unfolding of it, to which the pantheistic idealism lately impelled the theological mind, and a materialistic realism now impels it, the importance of this Gospel also must rise, as the consummation of the evangelic history in the contemplation of the perfect, world transforming, personal life. And with this will all just elements of the ideal in the world and in the Church, in science, art, and theology, be brought more and more into the true light, and instated in their real rights; as, on the other hand, under the blessing of this revelation of personality, the real also, the great fact and the little incident, the creature, and even matter, must maintain the ideal glow of significance. In this view the fourth Gospel will prove itself the Gospel for all the ideal that is misty and in love with itself, and for all the real that is dark and imprisoned within itself;[33] in a word, the Gospel of personality called to freedom in the personality of Christ and its personal work of love.


Accordingly, the fourth Gospel, in its import with reference to the consummation of the gospel history and doctrine, appears to us (1) as the specific Christian view of John, the pure reflection of the character of John; (2) as the first writing of John, which, in its spiritual expression, is perfectly homogeneous with the rest; (3) as the foundation of the Johannean type of doctrine; (4) as the highest revelation of the life of Christ in the mirror of John’s contemplation; (5) as the first member of the completed apostolic form of doctrine in general; (6) as the type of the future completion of the Christian doctrine, the Christian view of the world and of life.

On the import of the fourth Gospel, see Lücke, Einleitung, p. 153; the citations in Meyer, p. 4; Tholuck, Einleitung, p. 6 [Eng. ed., by Krauth, p. 11 sqq.]; Leben Jesu, i., p. 261 sqq.

The Gospel of John is much extolled and much abused, as the gospel of the Lord himself. The spiritual Gospel, said Clement of Alexandria; a mixture of heathenism, Judaism, and Christianity, said Evanson; the one true, tender, main Gospel, said Luther; a production without value or use for our time, said the Lutheran Superintendent Vogel in Wunsiedel (Lücke, p. 93); the heart of Christ (pectus Christi), said Ernesti; mystic, confused, tedious, a dissolving view, said others; least authenticated, decidedly spurious, mixed with Gnosticism, said the latest opponents; while, since Irenæus, it has remained, for the sons of the apostolic spirit, the crown of the apostolic Gospels.


[The Gospel of John has never been seriously assailed in the Christian Church till the nineteenth century. The rejection by the Alogi, of the second century, was a consequence of their denial of the doctrine of the Divine Logos, and unsupported by any argument. The doubts of Evanson, 1792, Eckermann, 1796, Ballenstädt, 1812, and others, were superficial, and made no impression. But more recently it has become the chief battle-ground between the old faith and modern criticism as applied to the documents of primitive Christianity. The first respectable critical attempt to dispute the Johannean authorship, was made by Bretschneider, in his Credibilia de evang. et epistolarum Johannis apostoli indole et origine, 1820. Since then, its apostolic origin was positively denied with more or less show of argument by Strauss, 1835, Bruno Bauer, 1840, Lützelberger, 1840, F. C. Baur (the ablest and most formidable opponent of the Gospel), 1844, 1847, 1853, &c., and his followers of the Tübingen school (such as Zeller, Schwegler, Hilgenfeld, Volkmar Lang), also by Schenkel, 1864, Scholten, 1865, and Keim, 1867. The composition was assigned by these writers to some anonymous author of the second century, though without any agreement as to the exact time. The author assumed the name of John to give apostolic sanction to his theological system, which, according to Baur, is the last and most ingenious attempt to reconcile the supposed antagonism of the Jewish-Christian or Petrine, and the Gentile-Christian or Pauline types of Chris tianity, and presents an artificial history as the symbolical vestment of ideas. Renan, like Weizsäcker (1864), denies only the genuineness of the discourses of Jesus, and admits the Johannean composition of the historical portions. He defends this position in a concluding essay to the thirteenth edition of his Vie de Jésus, 1867. See below, p. 31. Schenkel also, in his Chardkterbild Jesu (1864, p. 33), admits a basis of Johannean traditions for the post apostolic speculations of the fourth Gospel. But these inconsistencies are untenable, and must give way to the alternative of a whole truth or a whole fabrication. Strauss, in his new Life of Jesus, 1864, exchanges his former mythical hypothesis of unconscious poetic composition for Baur’s hypothesis of conscious invention, as the only other alternative to the orthodox view, and thereby he shows his sound and clear sense. Keim, in his Geschichte Jesu von Naeara (Zürich, vol. i., 1867, pp. 146 ff., 167 ff.), with all his attempts to mediate between the traditional view and the Tübingen school, arrives at the same result, but traces the composition of John about fifty years higher than Baur. He represents it as the production of an anonymous genius, a liberal Jewish Christian of Asia Minor in the age of Trajan (100–117), i.e., almost within the lifetime of John. To call such a pseudo-Johannean work by its right name—a literary forgery—is, according to Prof. Keim (p. 170), a sign of ignorance, or results from a rough nervous constitution! He even doubts that John ever was in Ephesus.—English and American divines so far have had too much reverence and common sense, or too little interest in such problems, to be affected to any considerable degree by the bold hypercriticism of the Continent. But quite recently, it has been reëchoed by some writers in the Westminster Review, more elaborately by J. J. Tayler, Attempt to Ascertain the Character of the Fourth Gospel, London, 1867, and by Dr. Samuel Davidson, in the new edition of his Introduction to the Study of the New Testament, Critical, Exegetical, and Theological, London, 1868, 2 vols., vol. ii. pp. 323 ff. and 357 ff. Dr. Davidson, a man of learning, but little judgment, who, in his first edition (1848, vol. i. p. 244 ff.), had vindicated the Johannean authorship of the fourth Gospel against the crude vagaries of Lützelberger, now openly advocates the subtle speculations of the Tübingen school, and assigns the composition of John to an anonymous writer about A. D. 150. “This great unknown” (as he calls the author, p. 449), “in departing from apostolic tradition, teaches us to rise above it. He has seized the spirit of Christ better than any apostle; and if, like him, we ascend through their material setting to ideas that bring us into close contact with the Divine ideal of purity to mankind, we shall have a faith superior to that which lives in the visible and miraculous.” This is all idle illusion. An anonymous tract, entitled, “Was St. John the Author of the Fourth Gospel?” by a Layman, formerly Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, London (Longmans, Green & Co.), 1868, takes a similar view, and, after a superficial discussion of the alleged discrepancies between the Synoptists and the fourth Gospel, arrives at the conclusion that the latter is the invention of some unknown author of the second century, with the exception of those passages that are to be found in some one of the other Gospels. But the discrepancies between the antagonists of John are far more serious and fatal than the discrepancies between John and the Synoptists. In one thing only they agree: in rejecting the Johannean origin of the fourth Gospel, and ascribing this sublimest of all literary compositions to an unknown impostor, they make it the greatest mystery in the history of literature. All these attacks will pass away without being able to “pluck a single feather from the mighty wing of this Eagle,” who sails serenely and majestically above the clouds, in full vision of the light of eternal truth.—P. S.]

On the historical testimony to the genuineness of the fourth Gospel, compare Lücke’s Commentary; Luthardt, Das Johannes-Evangelium; Tholuck’s Commentary on John; Tholuck’

s Glaubwürdigkeit der evangelischen Geschichte; Guericke, Isagogik, p. 179 [199 ff. in the third ed. of 1868—P. S.], Kirchhofer, Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons bis auf Hieronymus, p. 142; the treatise of Schneider, Die Aechtheit des johanneischen Evangeliums nach den ausseren Zeugnissen, Berlin, 1854; Heubner, p. 213; and others.

The evidences of the authenticity of this Gospel begin properly in the New Testament itself; to wit, in John 21:24 (see Tholuck, Glaubwürdigkeit p. 276). This testimony is, indeed, without subscription, and has become a constituent of the thing to be attested; but it has force from the fact that it passed under the criticism of the early Church, and was acknowledged by it (see my Leben Jem, i. p. 169). To this add the following consideration: The author of the Gospel does not, indeed, name himself; but he repeatedly speaks of the disciple whom Jesus loved, and is designated by the Gospel itself as this disciple, John 21:24. Of this disciple it is said, in John 13:25, that he lay on Jesus’ bosom; and the ancients named John as this disciple who lay on Jesus’ bosom (Tholuck, p. 6). Again, when the power to estimate the apostolic characters shall be further developed, it will undoubtedly be perceived that the Gospel of John, the Revelation, and the Epistles of John, stand or fall together (and they will stand), as the productions of one clearly distinct mind (see my Vermischte Schriften, vol. ii., p. 173 sqq.: “On the indissoluble connection between the individuality of the Apostle John and the individuality of the Apocalypse”). The relation of the two closing verses to the Gospel is to be treated hereafter. The words καὶ οἴδαμεν, ὅτι ἀληθής ἐστιν ἡ μαρτυρία αὐτοῦ, are undoubtedly to be considered in any case an addition, probably an interpolation of the Ephesian church.[34] We certainly cannot esteem it any glory to theology, to have made the Gospel and the Apocalypse mutually exclusive in regard to authenticity. (Lücke: Because the Gospel is Johannean, the Apocalypse cannot be; Baur, the reverse.)

So early as Ignatius, in his Epistle to the Romans, John vii, we find distinct allusions to the Gospel (Lücke, p. 43); and the fact that Papias does not name it, is accounted for by the predilection, extolled by himself, for oral tradition, which, in reference to John, he was permitted to enjoy. (See Leben Jesu, i. p. 151.)35 Yet, according to Euseb. iii. 39, 8, Papias knew the First Epistle of John, and this [in view of the obvious and universally admitted identity of thought and style in the two compositions] constitutes him indirectly a witness also to the Gospel. In Polycarp, too, appear proofs of intimacy with John (see Tholuck, p. 25).[36]

If John, according to an established tradition, lived to the close of the first century, a living Gospel, we may be satisfied if we find even in the middle of the second century perfectly sure signs of the existence of his Gospel, as we do in the Logos-doctrine of Justin Martyr, though the Evangelist is not cited by name (since Justin wrote primarily for the West, where the fourth Gospel was as yet comparatively very little current).37 On Justin’s acquaintance with the fourth Gospel, see Ewald, Jahrbücher, 1852–53, p. 186; Lücke, i. p. 44; Meyer, p. 4, and Tholuck, p. 27, with reference to Semisch’s Justin, p. 188. [See also Weizsäcker, Tischendorf, Keim, and the article of Prof. Fisher above cited, Essays, p. 46 ff., and his addition to Smith’s Dictionary, ii. p. 1433. Even the skeptical Keim, Leben Jesu, i. (1867) p. 138, admits that Justin knew the Gospel of John, and ridicules the absurd idea of a dependence of John on Justin.—P. S.].

These indications further appear in the fact that Tatian, a pupil of Justin, composed a work on the Gospels, entitled Diatessaron (διὰ τεσσάρων, one out of four, an expression looking back to the ἀπομνημονεύματα of his teacher), which could have had none but our four Gospels for its basis; that the Valentinians, toward the middle of the second century, knew the Gospel, since even the Valentinian Heracleon accompanied it with a commentary; and that the Montanists, in the second half of the second century, appealed to the promise of the Paraclete, which involves their familiarity with the Gospel of John.

Add to these the first new discovery, made by means of the close of the Clementine Homilies found by Dressel, that the author of it (perhaps about A. D. 160) knew the Gospel of John, and the second new discovery through the “Philosophoumena,” edited by Miller [1851, and better by Duncker and Schneidewin, 1859.—P. S.], that even the Gnostic Basilides, a younger cotemporary of John, knew his Gospel (Tholuck, p. 28, with reference to the treatise of Jakobi, Deutsche Zeitschrift, 1851, p. 222).38

The acquaintance of the Gnostic Valentine and of Marcion (first half of the second century) with this Gospel, has likewise become more and more certain. [Comp. Fisher, l. c. p. 59 ff., and especially Hofstede de Groot, Basilides, &c., pp. 90–106.—P. S.]

Nothing more can be desired than such a group of evidences, reaching back, some to the middle of the second century, some to the beginning of it.

But then, in the second half of the same century, Theophilus of Antioch (Ad Autolyc. ii. 22) and Irenæus (Adv. Hœres, iii. 1) appear as express witnesses for the authorship of John. They are followed by a series of the Church fathers, beginning with Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius.

The peculiarity and elevation of the fourth Gospel passed among the ancients, with scattering exceptions, for a special seal of its apostolicity. Characteristically, the same circumstance had that weight with them which to the modern rationalistic criticism makes the Gospel preëminently suspicious, or rather gives this criticism occasion for its cavils.

In the history of this criticism we must distinguish two stages: First, the objections of the vulgar rationalism, which we may designate also as Ebionistic. The judgment of its critique runs thus: The Johannean Christ is not true enough to have been actual; the Synoptists alone portray the actual and true Christ. Then, the objections of the modern pantheistic rationalism, which may, in like manner, be called Gnostic. In its opinion, the Christ of the fourth Gospel is too true—that is, a too far developed idea of the ideal Christ—to have been actual. The two views agree in establishing a contradiction between the Synoptists and the fourth Gospel. To the first class belong the Alogi of the ancient day,[39] and, in our time, Evanson (1792), Eckermann, Schmidt, Bretschneider, and others (see Lücke, Comm. i. p. 89; Guericke, Isagogik, p, 188); to the second, Baur and his disciples. A party which forms a bridge between these opposites, finds in this Gospel some things too real, some too ideal, for the book to have been genuine (Strauss, Weisse).

It is remarkable, that Bruno Bauer [not to be confounded with F. C. Baur] makes the Gospel to have proceeded from the bosom of the orthodox, poetizing Church; Lützelberger, from the borders of the Church, from the hand of a Samaritan Christian; Hilgenfeld, from the bosom of the Valentinian Gnosis. How wanton the confusion of notions sometimes is which this negative criticism permits, is shown by the remark of Hilgenfeld, that we have to do with an age in which the idea of literary property was wholly wanting. Tholuck, on the contrary (p. 6), adduces evidences against literary frauds. And it must above all be borne in mind, that the instinctive moral idea, which abhors falsification, and the modern legal idea of literary property, are utterly different things.

For extended demonstration of the genuineness, we refer to the works already cited; to Credner, p. 261, and others; to the Evangelienkritik of Ebrard, p. 828 sqq.; the well-known critical apologetic treatises on the life of Jesus; the work of Ebrard, Das Evangelium Johannis und die neueste Hypothese über sine Entstehung; and Bleek, Beiträge zur Evangelien-Kritik, pp. 175 sqq.

[In addition to these works, the following more recent apologetic treatises on the Johannean question deserve special mention: Prof. Riggenbach (of Basle), on the Testimonies for the Gospel of John, Basle, 1865; Prof. Godet (of Neuchatel), Examination of the Chief Questions of Criticism concerning John (French and German), Zurich, 1866; Prof. Van Oosterzee (of Utrecht), The Gospel of John, four Lectures (Dutch and German), 1867 (English translation by Dr. J. F. Hurst, Edinburgh, 1869); the fourth revised and enlarged German edition of Tischendorf’s valuable book on the Origin of the Gospels (Wann wurden unsere Evangelien geschriecen?) Leipzig, 1866 (English translation by W. L. Gage, Boston, 1868); Prof. Hofstede de Groot (Groningen), on the Testimony of Basilides for the New Testament Books, especially the Gospel of John (Dutch and German), Leipzig, 1868; Abbé Deramey, Défense du quatriéme évangile, Paris, 1868. See also the Commentaries of Lücke, Tholuck, De Wette (the 5th edition by Brückner, 1863), Meyer, Luthardt, Bäumlein, Astié, Godet, and Holtzmann in Bunsen’s Bibelwerk, vol. viii. (1866), pp. 56–77. The best English discussions of the Johannean question with reference to the attacks of the Tübingen school, are by Prof. George P. Fisher, of New Haven, The Genuineness of the Fourth Gospel, first published in the Bibliotheca Sacra for April, 1864, and then incorporated in his Essays on the Supernatural Origin of Christianity, New York, 1866, pp. 33–152 (comp. also his addition to Smith’s large Dictionary of the Bible, vol. ii. pp. 1431–’37); and by H. B. Liddon, in the fifth of his Bampton Lectures on the Divinity of Jesus Christ, London, 2d ed., 1868, pp. 207 ff. For a complete list of the polemic and apologetic literature on John, see Meyer, Comm., 5th ed. (1869, pp. 38–41; Ezra Abbot’s addition to W. Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. ii. (1869), pp. 1437–1439; and Dr. Hurst’s Appendix to his English translation of Van Oosterzee’s Apologetic Lectures on John’s Gospel, Edinburgh (1869), pp. 241–246.—P. S.]

Here it may be suggested, that the criticism which denies the genuineness of the Gospel, annihilates itself most effectually by its own internal confusion and contradiction. The earlier rationalists make the Gospel of John an obscuration of historical Christianity; the later, an ideal amplification and provisional completion of it. According to one, John existed as a Jewish apostle, who is supposed, in a qualified sense, to have written the Apocalypse (Baur); according to another, the Apostle did not exist at all, at least as the author of the fourth Gospel, which was composed by a Samaritan toward the middle of the second century (Lützelberger). Thus, a Samaritan forged it, according to Lützelberger; the Christian community invented it, according to Bruno Bauer. According to Zeller, Valentinianism grew out of the conceptions of John; according to Hilgenfeld, the Gospel grew out of Valentinianism.

The objections which have been made against the Gospel may be classified as follows:

1. Supposed historical contradictions with the Synoptists.

(a.) The different festival journeys of the Lord in John, together with the many incidents peculiar to him. Explained by the difference in the character of the Gospels, and by the complemental position of the fourth.

(b.) The many omissions of John: the Lord’s Supper, the agony in Gethsemane (with which the exhibition of the triumphant spirit of Christ in His sacerdotal prayer is supposed to be inconsistent). Explained by the fact that the place of the Supper is plainly enough marked (John 13:34), and that there is abundant cause for the strongest alternations of experience in the life of our Lord, and the actual occurrence of them in every Gospel by itself.

(c.) The dates of the last Passover and the death of Jesus. Compare, on this point, this Commentary on Matthew, Special lntrod. to chs. 26 and 27; my Geschichte des apostol Zeital-ters, i., p. 69; Tholuck, p. 38 ff. [also the Lit, on the Paschal controversy of the second century].

(d.) Supposed differences of minor importance. Accounted for by what has already been said; especially by the fact, to be emphasized, that the Evangelists have given Gospels, i.e., religious, historico-ideal views, each his own, of the gospel history; not chronological pragmatic reports of events.

2. Pretended doctrinal differences between John and the Synoptists. The presumption that John was a Jewish Apostle, and therefore Judaistic, and that, consequently, he could not have written the Gospel, we pass; it falls with the Ebionite hypothesis of Baur. (Comp. Tholuck, p. 53.)

(a.) Jesus here speaks, in general, chiefly of His person. Answer: He speaks of His person also in the Synoptists; John differs from them only by collecting more especially the utterances of the self-consciousness of Jesus.

(b.) The speculative tone. But this is just what makes John John. Tholuck refers to the fact that Plato has written of Socrates in a higher tone than Xenophon (Glaubuürdigkeit, and Comm. [Krauth’s translation, p. 30]). Heubner finds this doubtful (p. 213). The analogy would only be doubtful, if Tholuck had at the same time said that John has Johanneanly idealized the actual Christ, as Plato Platonically idealized Socrates (which Weisse holds). We can perfectly maintain the complete dependence of John’s view of the objective Christ, and yet perceive that John, according to his subjective individuality, has apprehended just that which is most distinctive in the objective Christ. Heubner mistakes this truth, and would not admit the individuality of John as a factor (p. 213). He is right, however, in insisting that Christ was inexhaustibly rich, therefore endlessly manifold, in His self-revelation; citing Demosthenes as an analogy (note on p. 213).

(c.) The difference in the teaching of Christ. But there is enough that is Johannean in the Synoptists, on the eternal Godhead of Christ, His preëxistence, His sole relation to the Father (see Matt. 2:15; 3:3, 17; 11:19 and 26–30; 16:16; 26:64; 28:18; Mark 1:2; 2:28; 12:35; 13:26; 16:19; Luke 1:16, 17, 76; 2:11, &c.,) and enough that is synoptical in John (John 2:14; 5:19; 6:3, &c.,), to establish the result that the Christ of all four Gospels is the same, but that the particular calling of John was to hold forth especially the spiritual glory of Christ. If in this he has his own mode of representation, he need not be found “dissolving” because he is solemnly elevated, nor “inaccurate” because, as is proper to his solemn style, he soars above logical forms of transition. If, finally, Christ speaks in proverbs and parables only in His discourses to the multitude, and, even according to the Synoptists, had other discourses besides, the prevalence of the dialogue and the discourse in John argues genuineness, since it corresponds to the different nature of the occasions and circumstances.

3. The mutually exclusive authorship of the Gospel and the Apocalypse. According to Lücke, this does not indeed touch the genuineness of the Gospel; only, the Evangelist John cannot have written the Apocalypse, because he wrote the Gospel. According to Baur, on the contrary, he cannot have written the Gospel, because he wrote the Apocalypse.

We maintain that the Gospel and Apocalypse require each other. If it be first sufficiently considered (a.) that there is an essential difference between speaking ἐν τῷ νοΐ and ἐν τῷ πνεύματι, according to 1 Cor. 14:15; (b.) an essential difference between a historical and an apocalyptic, poetico-symbolical work;40 (c.) that the Gospel of John has no special eschatology, as the others have; (d.) that the Apocalypse presupposes a kindred Gospel, especially the Evangelist and Apostle; (e.) that the Apocalypse evinces the same theological depth, the same fulness of ideas, the same universal view, as the Epistles of John and the fourth Gospel. After these considerations, we cannot help concluding, that all the books attributed to John can have been written only by one man; and that one, this unique John, with whose preeminent trait of contemplativeness in the Gospel and in the Apocalypse the contemplative character of the Johannean books is in perfect harmony.

4. Intrinsic difficulties which the Gospel is supposed to present. Particularly

(a.) The improbability that such discourses as those recorded by John should be retained by the memory. But this objection has never duly considered, that John could as well have put down his memorabilia at once during his intercourse with Jesus, as the many, of whom Luke speaks (Luke 1:1). Nor has it further put to the account, that the ways of memory are different, and that the memory of the loving worshipper is always tenacious of the words kindred to its spirit; and it has confounded the notions of a substantial and a verbal record. That Christ might receive a Johannean coloring in the representation of John, without being transformed from a Johannean Christ to a Christian John, is made perfectly clear by the analogy of the three Synoptists.

(b.) Wearying repetition and diffuseness. This objection becomes at once a self-accusation of the critics. The pregnant, the lyrically iterative, in the language of an inspired ideal intuition, presupposes yielding harmony and affinity of spirit.


The unity of character of the fourth Gospel, the whole incommunicable spirit of it, is so plain, that the hypothesis of the working over by a later hand of an original record by John (Weisse, Die Evangelische Geschichte, et al.), or of the filling out of such a record by interpolations (A. Schweizer, Das Evangelium Johannis), may be passed over (see Leben Jesu, i. p. 197; Luthardt, Die Integrität).41

The genuineness of the 21st chapter of the Gospel remains to be specially considered. The words of John 20:30 have been supposed to form the evident close of the Gospel; and then the 21st chapter itself has been thought to bear traces of spuriousness. Accordingly, many who have acknowledged and honored the Gospel, from Grotius to Lücke, and others, have declared against the genuineness of this chapter. (See the list in Meyer’s Comm. [p. 571, 4th ed.]). On the contrary, the genuineness of it has been as decidedly vindicated, from Calovius to Guericke and Tholuck. According to Meyer, the chapter, excepting the last verse, is a supplement to the Gospel of John, which closes with the 31st verse of the 20th chapter. But a supplement can be only an appendix, as Meyer intends, in case the book itself is completed according to its plan. Now, a careful estimate of the total structure of the Gospel leads to a plan which constitutionally includes the 21st chapter. In this view we distinguish the Prologue, John 1:1–18, the historical Gospel, more strictly speaking, and the Epilogue, John 21. The division of the Gospel, made and pursued in this volume, must justify this conception; and we here refer the reader thereto. Even most of the advocates of the genuineness, however, have more recently explained the 24th and 25th verses as a later addition; and again, Weitzel has declared against this (Studien und Kritiken, 1849, i. 1). We hold that, if the interpolation: “We know that his testimony is true,” be an interpolation of the Ephesian church, the rest reveals the hand of the Evangelist himself; since ver. 24 looks back to John 20:31, and the proverb in ver. 25, though termed by Meyer an absurd exaggeration, is entirely characteristic of John’s contemplation.42

It is otherwise with the section, John 8:1–11.43 It is, in the first place, established, that the section is wanting in a series of the most important codices, B. L. T. X. Δ., to which certainly Cod. Sin., and probably A. and C., are to be added; and that a series of the oldest and most eminent fathers, from Origen downward, are entirely silent respecting this section. Add to this the fact that the section, at first view, does not improve, but impairs the connection of the Gospel. We ourselves have hitherto thought there were sufficient proofs that it belongs to the day of the great onsets of questionings which the Pharisees made upon the Lord on the Tuesday after the feast of Palms (see Lücke, 2 p. 243; Hitzig, Ueber Johannes Markus, p. 205; my Leben Jesu, 2 p. 952; p. 1222). From this apparent misplacement of the section, however, it would not necessarily follow that the passage itself is not apostolic; not even that it is not Johannean. Since the other Evangelists have described those onsets, it is improbable that the section should have come from them (as, for example, Hitzig places the passage in Mark, between John 12:13–17 and vers. 18–27). On the contrary, it is more natural to suppose that this Gospel relic belongs to John, or, at all events, to the Johannean tradition in Ephesus. The codd. 1, 19, 20, put it at the close of the Gospel; codd. 69, 124, 346, put it after Luke 21:38. We might well suppose that the latter manuscripts are in the right as to the place of the incident, the former as to the authorship of the account. We think it suitable, however, to recur to the question in the Commentary on the section itself; since, on a more accurate weighing of the critical and historical considerations, the section might decidedly maintain its existing position. (On the critical treatises relative to this section, compare Meyer, on John 8 [p. 320, 5th ed.]).


The Gospel of John appears the most original of all the Gospels, in that it shows itself thoroughly independent of the Synoptical evangelical tradition while yet presupposing it, and confirming the essential substance of it. It manifestly rests on the personal memories of one of the earliest disciples of Jesus—the most profound and spiritual of all—on whom the Lord’s exhibitions of himself impressed themselves in indelible lines.

That John early committed to writing in memorabilia the most important matters of his recollection, especially the Lord’s discourses, we may well suppose, though these constituents of his Gospel continually became fresh again and clear by the suggestions of the promised Paraclete, which coöperated with his enthusiastic love for the Lord.

But since, by the direction of the dying Saviour, he was made the son of Mary, and Mary thenceforth lived with him in his house (see the article Maria, in Winer), and this little family, formed under the cross, could have had no more engaging matter of conversation than the memory of the Lord, we may doubtless ascribe to Mary a mental share in the gradual formation of this slowly maturing Gospel.

To the memories of the Apostle must be added the experiences of his life, especially the friendly and peaceful movements of his apostolic development. How he might thus have been led also to his peculiar shaping of his Logos doctrine, is suggested by Lücke’s and other treatises on the Prologue.

To speak now of the design: The Gospel, like Christian worship, which is in this respect akin to art, and, like every thing belonging to the Christian Church, must have been produced primarily for its own sake, as the one spontaneous effusion of the lofty contemplations of the Evangelist. If this may be said even of the first Evangelists, and our school-theology must be charged with inquiring far too readily and too exclusively for an exterior design, while a due regard to the fervid spontaneity of the four Gospels might cure criticism of many prejudices of a lower conception;—all this is true in a very peculiar degree of the fourth Gospel. Contemplative minds like that of John must give expression to their experiences and views first of all for their own satisfaction; and if we have understood any thing of the nature of John, we cannot wonder that we find five productions of his hand, forming at bottom a trilogy of the evangelic, epistolary, and the apocalyptic character in the New Testament.

Yet, as the Christian cultus, with all its art-like character, by no means stops in the idea of mere exhibitive art, but builds itself out of the elements of eternally active truth, and aims with distinct purpose in efficient enthusiasm at edification, the Evangelists must as distinctly, and with still more distinct consciousness, have had their objective impulse and their practical design. And the Evangelist John has himself distinctly stated his first and his next practical design, John 20:31. His immediate and decisive aim was neither to fight a heresy nor to complete the other Gospels. He knew too well that the positive statement of the life of Jesus, purely and fervidly given, was itself the most effective polemic (John 3:19), and that a round, complete collection of the most significant points in the life of the Lord, set forth in orderly succession, would form the most fitting supplement (John 20:31).

Nevertheless, this great apostolic presbyter-bishop of Ephesus could not have stood for half a century between the opposite germinant motions of Ebionism and Gnosticism, without writing his Gospel in the consciousness that it would practically transcend that antagonism, nor without, in this conviction, everywhere emphasizing the relevant anti-Ebionistic and anti-Gnostic points. The expressly polemic passages in his Epistles (comp. 1 John 2:18, 22, 23; 4:1 sqq., 2 John), as well as in the Revelation, particularly in the letters to the seven churches, give abundant proof that he was fully conscious of the historical and dogmatical points in his Gospel against the heresies of his time, and that he relied upon their operative force. And undoubtedly it was his Logos doctrine especially, in connection with the doctrine of the historical, personal Christ, which in the second century most effectively contributed to the victory of the Church over both Ebionism and Gnosticism. The doctrine of personality, concretely defined by the doctrine of the person of Christ, still ever operates as a two-edged sword against all Gnostic and Judaistic distortions of the truth. “With John, therefore, in his Gospel, the person of the Saviour is of supreme importance.”

The consciousness of supplementing the first three Gospels, which at the time of the origin of John’s Gospel had already gained a considerable currency among the Christians, was likewise natural. The Evangelist may even have been conscious of the twofold completion, internal and external, which he furnished; and in that case he surely intended to furnish it. But not in such sense as to be a theological or historical emendator.

When Clement of Alexandria (according to Euseb. vi. 14) remarks that the other Evangelists have delineated particularly the external history, giving us a εὐαγγἐλιον σωματικόν; and the object of John was to give something higher, a εὐαγγέλιον πνευματικόν, he unites in one expression a partial truth, and a leaning of the Alexandrian turn of thought which must not be overlooked. Luther’s dictum also, of the “one true, tender, leading Gospel,” needs to be reduced to the most strictly qualified sense. All the Gospels are spiritual, pneumatic, each in its way; but the fourth Gospel is preëminently the Gospel of the real ideal personality of Christ, and as such, in the phrase of Ernesti, the heart of Christ (pectus Christi).

Clement further states that John wrote his Gospel at the request of his friends; likewise, the canon of Muratori, which Jerome ingeniously interpreted thus: that the bishops and churches of Asia Minor urged him to write his Gospel against the incipient heresies, and in it to make the divinity of Christ distinctly appear. But John hardly needed such a spur; he might at most have been hastened by it in the publication of the Gospel. The historical supplementing of the three Synoptists is made prominent, particularly by Eusebius (iii. 24) and Theodore of Mopsvestia (Comment. in Joann.). But if, beyond his delight in a more exact statement and essential enrichment of the Gospel history, John had been moved by the desire of an external supplementing of the records of his predecessors, the chronological points would have appeared still more clearly marked, and the array of facts and events much more copious. His object lay on a higher level than this; and so, indeed, did the object of the first three Evangelists themselves.

The modern criticism has come down so low as to represent John in his Gospel, according to Strauss, as aiming an indirect polemic against Peter; according to the anonymous Saxon work, “Die Evangelien, ” as intending to glorify himself and put himself in Peter’s place; according to the Baur school, a fraudulent writer allowed himself to put forth, in the interest of an irenical tendency, a pseudo-Johannean Gospel!


As to the time of the composition of the Gospel: It is the unanimous tradition of the ancients (Irenæus, Clement, Origen, &c.,) that the fourth Gospel was the last written. We are also pointed probably in any case to the time of the Apostle’s residence in Ephesus, which cannot yet have begun at the date of the Second Epistle to Timothy, because that Epistle shows no trace of John in Ephesus. This date, it is true, must vary according to the view taken respecting the time of Paul’s death; we consider the traditional view well authenticated. For Ephesus as the place of composition, we have the authority of Irenæus, and, after him, many others.

According to Epiphanius, John wrote the Gospel at the age of ninety years; according to pseudographic traditions [Pseudo-Hippolytus De XII. App.], he wrote it on Patmos, and afterwards published it at Ephesus. Lücke supposes the Gospel to have been written between the seventh and the last decade of the first century, and says, only by way of conjecture, not before the eighth decade (p. 167). Guericke supposes [3d ed. p. 190] after the Apocalypse [between 80 and 90]. The first reason, however—viz., that the Gospel is written in purer Greek than the Apocalypse—amounts to nothing, since the Gospel was written ἐν νοΐ the Apocalypse ἐν πνεὐμαται; that is, the former in the language of conscious communication with the culture of the world, the latter in the spontaneity of inspired expression in a native Hebrew; and as to the second reason, the relation of the Gospel to the Gnosis, &c., the beginnings of the Gnosis appear as early as the Pastoral Epistles. Meyer also supposes that the Gospel originated a considerable time after the destruction of Jerusalem, say about the year 80 (p. 41). He therewith assumes as probable, that the Gospel circulated for some time in a narrower circle of Ephesian friends, and was afterwards published more generally with the addition of the 21st chapter. This theory has nothing improbable, in so far as it takes the addition to be the finishing of the Gospel itself by the hand of John.

We take, as betokening a later origin, the publication of the raising of Lazarus (on the supposition that the first three Gospels omitted it out of regard for the still living family); and the account of Peter’s use of the sword, with mention of his name, as well as the premonition of his martyrdom, John 21 (see my Apost. Zeitalt., ii. p. 419).

The question, however, arises, whether the passage (John 5:2) which speaks of the pool of Bethesda with its five porches as if still existing, does not indicate that Jerusalem was yet standing when John wrote the account (Apost. Zeitalt., ii. p. 420). Lücke disputes this; and Guericke. The preterite ἦν, 11:18; 18:1; 19:41, proves, of course, nothing against the present tense, ἔστι, 5:2; for in those cases it refers to constant circumstances which must outlast the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet the pillars of Bethesda are not a perfectly firm support; since we might have here a previously written memorandum, or John might have been writing in a general view of Jerusalem as still standing. Withal, there is no similar indication of a later date; and as regards the reference to John’s Greek, and to his familiarity with the theology of his time (the Logos doctrine), and with the incipient heresies, a few years are, in any case, enough to make him in these respects the author of the Gospel; and in Pella and in Decapolis there was material enough of Greek culture to bring him completely to his peculiar point of gospel view, which undoubtedly belongs to his residence in Ephesus.

That the Gospel belongs before the Apocalypse, and before the Epistles of John, and therefore, at all events, in the earliest part of his residence in Ephesus, seems to be especially indicated by its missionary leaning in John 20:31.

It is matter of interest, that the critical Semler (like Tittmann) sought to make the fourth Gospel the first written of all; while his latest critical descendants put its origin in the middle of the second century. Another proof of the pretended infallibility of morbid criticism!

As to the original home of the Gospel: Not only tradition, but also the spiritual character, and its references, point decidedly to Ephesus.44 The discourse of Paul to the elders of Ephesus, at Miletus, already indicates such antagonisms as the Gospel thrusts through in both directions at once; his Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians still more clearly indicate the same; and, finally, his Pastoral Epistles. The Gospel betokens a more advanced stage of these antagonisms, and a position of the Apostle’s preaching between the opposite errors; the Epistles and the Revelation exhibit the third stage. Thus, with the place of the Gospel in time between the end of Paul and the end of John, its geographical place also is fixed. The Gospel presents to us the Apostle John in Ephesus, while the Epistles and the Apocalypse denote rather in Ephesus the bishop and prophet of the apostolic Church.


The spirituality and subtilty, the ideality and pure mysticalness of John and his writings, throw the whole phenomenon into the background in proportion to the prevailing Petrine and Pauline character of the historical Church and her theology.

But, from the background, John has exerted in all ages the mightiest influence on the course of the Church. This influence is far from being fully appreciated. In the ancient Church it found a concrete embodiment in the Johannean school, whose import is yet further to be understood. Ignatius, Irenæus, Hippolytus, and others, are the earliest members of a spiritual family, which perpetuated itself in the British missionaries, in the Culdees, in the mediæval intellectual life of the Abbey of St. Gall.

In the Middle Age it was John who, in his writings, comforted and supported the Church, when, under the corruptions of the hierarchy, she was tempted to despair (see Gieseler, Church History, 2d vol. 2d part, p. 357, Germ. ed.). At the same time, it remains curious that the popes have not ventured to name themselves after Peter, but have freely called themselves after Paul and John. With the twenty-third John this self-judgment of an unsuspecting estrangement of spirit reached an extreme. The less they read John, the more they called themselves after his name in dark, deep reverence for the mysterious patron.

It cannot be wholly accidental that most of the forerunners of the Reformation bore the name of John; though even the Reformers, with all their deeper study of theology, have not yet quite reconciled themselves to the whole John, as we see from their posture toward the Apocalypse. And if, taking such a position as Paul took between Peter and John, they have introduced the transition to a Johannean age, the fact that the fourth Evangelist in particular has formed the rock of offence to modern criticism (comp. also Göthe’s opinion of the Apocalypse), may nevertheless be a proof that we are as yet none too near that age. In any case, Schelling’s construction of the three ages of the Christian Church will maintain its validity as an utterance of divinatory insight, which, of course, is exposed to much misinterpretation (comp. my Apost. Zeitalt., ii. p. 650 [and the Amer. ed. of Comm. on Romans, pp. 1 and 2, note]); and it has long since been perceived that the Gospel of John forms the culmination of the evangelic history, as theology will more and more acknowledge that John’s type of doctrine forms the consummation of the apostolic theology.

The saying among the disciples in the apostolic age must prove itself the truth in the higher sense: This disciple does not die!


Since the Gospel of John forms the complement of the Synoptical Gospels in respect of regular chronological order, the historical view of the life of Jesus must be completed on the basis of John. We give the result of our labors in the following sketch:


The eternal antecedents of Christ. The Logos and His function; John 1:1–5. His history in the Old Covenant, represented by the testimony of John; vers. 6–13. The temporal antecedents of Jesus. SYNOPTISTS: Luke and Matthew. LUKE: The genealogy of Jesus from Adam to Christ; John 3:23–38. MATTHEW: The genealogy from Adam to Christ; John 1:1–17. LUKE: The announcement of Jesus; Gabriel, Zachariah, Elizabeth, Mary, John; John 1:1–80. MATTHEW: The announcement; Mary and Joseph; John 1:18–25. Parallel to Luke 1.


JOHN: The birth of Christ, and the relation of His birth and operation to the natural birth; John 1:1–14. LUKE: The journey to Bethlehem, and the birth of Jesus. The holy night, and the shepherds; John 2:1–21. MATTHEW: The wise men from the East, and the flight into Egypt; John 2:1–19. The presentation of Jesus in the temple, and the residence in Nazareth; Luke 2:22–40; Matt. 2:20–23. Jesus at twelve years of age; Luke 2:41–52.


The testimony of the Baptist concerning Christ in general, connected with the baptism; John 1:15–18.—The baptism of Jesus at the Jordan in the parallels: Matt. 3:1–17; Mark 1:1–11; Luke 3:1–38.—The testimony of John concerning Jesus before the rulers of the Jews, that He is the Christ; John 1:19–28.—Parallels: The temptation; Matt. 4:1–11; Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:1–13.—The testimony of John concerning Jesus before His disciples. The first disciples of Jesus. The return of Jesus to Galilee. The marriage at Cana. The journey to Capernaum. The first public visit to the temple at the Passover in the year 781.


a. The First Ministry of Jesus in Judea, down to the Imprisonment of John the Baptist

Sojourn in Jerusalem. Nicodemus. Baptizing in the country of Judea. The repeated testimony of John the Baptist; John 1:29–3:36.

b. The First Ministry of Jesus in Galilee

The transfer of the ministry of Jesus to Galilee. Jesus in Samaria, and the Samaritan woman. The removal of the residence of Jesus from Nazareth to Capernaum. The healing of the son of an imperial officer; John 4:1–54. Parallels: The return of Jesus to Galilee. Jesus thrust out of Nazareth; Luke 4:16–31; Matt. 4:12; 13:53; Mark 1:14–16.—Residence of Jesus in Capernaum, and ministry there. The demoniac in the synagogue; the mother-in-law of Peter; Peter’s draught of fishes; the calling of the first disciples; Matt. 4:12–22; 8:14–17; Mark 1:14–38; 3:9–12; Luke 4:31–43 (44); 5:1–11.

c. The Three Great Missionary Tours of Jesus in Galilee. The Mountain Tour, the Sea Tour, the Tour through the Cities

The first journey of Jesus through the country of Galilee (the mountain region). The sermon on the mount and in the plain. The healing of the leper; Matt. 4:23–8:4; Mark 1:35–45; 3:12, 13; Luke 5:12–16; 6:12–49.—The return of Jesus from the tour of Galilee. The centurion at Capernaum. The followers. The second sermon on the sea. The voyage to Gadara, and the return; Matt 8:5–13, 18–34; 9:1; John 13; Mark 4:1–41; 5:1–21; Luke 7:1–10; 8:4–15, 22–39; 9:57–62.—The return of Jesus from His journey to Gadara. The crowd. The paralytic. The calling of Matthew. Particular conflicts with the Pharisees and the disciples of John. A series of miracles; Matt. 9:1–34; Mark 2:1–22; 5:21–43; Luke 5:17–39; 8:40–56.—The preparation for the third tour, through the coast cities. The selection of the twelve apostles. The instruction to the apostles; Matt. 9:35–10:42; 11:1; Mark 3:14–19; 6:6–16; Luke 6:12–16; 9:1–6.—The journey of Jesus through the cities, and the apostles’ going before. The woman who was a sinner. The fame of Jesus. The son of the widow of Nain; Matt. 11:1; Mark 6:12, 13; Luke 7:11–17, 36–50; 8:1–18.—The message of John the Baptist from prison; Matt. 11:2–19; Luke 7:18–35.


a. From the Feast of Purim to the Feast of Tabernacles, 782

Jesus at the feast of Purim in Jerusalem. His conflict with the hierarchy, and their first attempt to institute capital process against Him; John 5. The return of Jesus to Galilee. The account of the execution of John the Baptist. The first feeding of the multitude in the wilderness. Christ’s walking on the sea; John 6:1–21; Matt. 14; Mark 6:14–56; Luke 9:7–17.—Discourse of Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum on the manna from heaven. His rebuke of chiliastic Messianic hopes in Galilee. The turning back of many of His followers; John 6:22–71.—The Passover not attended by the Lord in the year of the persecution, and the occurrences connected therewith; John 6:4; Luke 10:38–42; Matt. 15:1, 2; comp. 21:1–3; 26:18, 36; 27:57.—The accusation of the Lord in reference to the plucking of the corn; Matt. 12:1–8; Mark 2:23–28; Luke 6:1–5; John 7:1.—The healing of the man with the withered hand; Matt. 12:9–21; Mark 3:1–6; Luke 6:6–11.—The decisive public contest of the Lord with the Pharisees of Galilee. The healing of the deaf and dumb demoniac. The (second; comp. Matt. 9:34) public culmination of the miraculous power of Jesus. Of the sin against the Holy Ghost. The second demand of a sign from heaven; comp. John 2:18. The family of Jesus. The banquet in the house of the Pharisee. The crowd. Warning against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and against covetousness. The delivery of parables on the sea; Matt. 12:22–50; 13:24–30, 33–58; Mark 3:20–35; Luke 8:18–21; 11:14–54; John 12.—Accounts of persons returning from the feast concerning the unfortunate Galileans whom Pilate had slain in the temple; Luke 13:1–9.—The healing of the crooked woman: another miracle on the Sabbath; Luke 13:11–17.—The deputation from Jerusalem, taking the Lord to task for the free conduct of His disciples. The removal of Jesus: His wandering through the borders of Phœnicia and through Upper Galilee to Gaulonitis, on the other side the sea. The Canaanitish woman. The deaf and dumb. The second miraculous feeding. The crossing to the western coast of the sea of Galilee; Matt. 15; Mark 7:1–37; 8:1–10.—Public hostility to Jesus at Magdala, and His return across the sea to the mountains of Gaulonitis. The healing of a blind man in the eastern Bethsaida. The confession of Peter, and his horror of the cross; Matt. 16; Mark 8:11–9:1; Luke 9:18–27.—The transfiguration; Matt. 17:1–13; Mark 9:1–13; Luke 9:28–36.—Healing of the lunatic; Matt. 17:14–21; Mark 9:14–29; Luke 9:37–45.—Homeward journey of Christ through Galilee, and His brethren’s proposal that He join the pilgrimage to the feast of Tabernacles. Refusal of Jesus, and His secret ascent to Jerusalem, to appear there, not as a pilgrim, but as a Prophet; John 7:1–10; Matt. 17:22, 23; Mark 8:31, 32.

b. From the Feast of Tabernacles to the Feast of the Dedication in 782

The sudden appearance of Jesus in the temple during the feast of Tabernacles. He accuses His enemies, before all the people, of seeking His life, and announces His departure; John 7:10–36.—Jesus begins to announce the antagonism between the Old Testament symbolism of the temple and the reality of the New Testament salvation in Him. His testimony of the living fountain in opposition to the Pool of Siloam. Futility of the design of the Sanhedrin to imprison Him; John 7:37–52.—Jesus the light of the world, in opposition to the lights and the torch festival in the temple; John 8 (1–1145) 12–20.—The more distinct announcement of Jesus, that He intended to take His departure from the Jewish people; John 8:21–30.—Flash of a chiliastic expectation among the people at Jerusalem. Discourse of Jesus on the distinction between the true freedom and the true bondage, and on the distinction between the faith of Abraham and the seeing of Christ; John 8:31–59.—Healing of the man born blind; John 9.—Jesus gives the false shepherds of Israel the marks of the true shepherd, and presents himself as the True Shepherd, ready to lay down His life for His sheep; John 9:40, 41–10:1–21.—Last appearance of Jesus in Capernaum. Conduct of the disciples respecting the primacy; Matt. 17:24–28:5; Mark 9:33–37; Luke 9:46–49.—Peril of offences; Matt. 18:6–11; Mark 9:38–50; Luke 17:1, 2.—Departure of Jesus from Capernaum, and intimation of the apostasy of a great mass of His people; Luke 13:22–30.—Intrigues of the Pharisees; Luke 13:31–35.—Banquet in the house of a Pharisee. The dropsical man. Address of the Lord to the guests; Luke 14:1–24.—Multitude following Jesus on His departure. His warning to undecided followers; Matt. 19:1, 2; Luke 14:25–35.—Reception of Publicans and sinners. Fellowship of the disciples of Christ. Parables; Matt. 18:12–35; Luke 15:1–17:10.—Hindrance to Jesus’ journeying through Samaria; Luke 9:51–62.—Sending of the seventy disciples, and the recurrence of Jesus to His labors in Galilee; Matt. 11:20–30; Luke 10:1–16.—Journey of Jesus through the border country between Galilee and Samaria to Perea; Luke 17:11–19.—Return of the seventy. The narrow-hearted Scribe, and the good Samaritan; Luke 10:17–37.—Jesus’ first sojourn in Perea, and His labors there; Matt. 19:1, 2; Mark 10:1; Luke 17:20–18:14.

c. From the Feast of Dedication in 782 to the Palm-Day before the Passover in 783

Jesus at the feast of Dedication in Jerusalem. Last attempt of the Jews to make Jesus chime in with their chiliastic expectation; tempting Him; John 10:22–40.—Second and last sojourn of Jesus in Perea. Treatment of divorce; children brought to the Lord. The rich youth; John 10:40–42; Matt. 19:3–20:16; Mark 10:2–32; Luke 18:15–30.—Raising of Lazarus in Bethany; John 11:1–44.—Definite decree of the Sanhedrin to put Jesus to death, and secret sojourn of Jesus in Ephraim till His last pilgrimage to the Passover; John 11:47–57.


Journey of Jesus to Jericho, and His intercourse with the pilgrims to the Passover. Renewed announcement of His crucifixion. Ambition of the family of Zebedee. Healing of the blind men at Jericho. Zaccheus. Parable of the ten servants and the ten pounds intrusted to them; Matt. 20:17–34; Mark 10:32–52; Luke 18:31–19:1–28. Saturday: Banquet in Bethany, and the anointing. Treason; John 12:1–11; Matt. 26:6–16; Mark 14:3–11; Luke 22:1–6. Sunday: Triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem; John 12:9–18; Matt. 21:1–11; Mark 11:1–11; Luke 19:29–46. Monday: The great day of the Messianic dwelling and administration of Jesus in the temple. Cursing of the fig tree. Purifying of the temple. Keeping holy the temple. Exercise of His office of teacher, and miraculous cures, in the temple. The hosanna of the children, objection of the Pharisees, and Christ’s vindication (the Greeks, and the voice from heaven; John 12:19–36. See the passage in the Commentary. It is hard to fix the precise moment of the appearance of the Greeks); Matt. 21:12–22; Mark. 11:12–19; Luke 19:45–48. Tuesday: End of the Old Testament theocracy. The withered fig tree. Attempt of the Sanhedrin to crush the Lord by its authority. Consequent ironical temptations on the part of Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes. Great counter-question of Christ. Great discourse of the Lord against the Pharisees and Scribes. Woes against Jerusalem, and departure from the temple. The widow’s mite; John 12:37; Matt. 21:10–24:2; Mark 11:20–13:2; Luke 19:47–21:6. Tuesday night, Wednesday: Jesus looking back upon the temple from the Mount of Olives in the circle of His confidential disciples. Announcement of the judgment of God, the destruction of the Holy City and the temple, and the end of the world. Parables of the Ten Virgins and the Talents. The final judgment; Matt. 24:3–25:46; Mark 13:8–37; Luke 21:7–36. Wednesday: Retirement of Jesus into secresy. The Evangelist John’s review of the ministry of the Lord; John 12:37–50; Luke 21:37, 38.


Introduction to the passion of Jesus. Distinct announcement of Jesus, that He should suffer at the Passover. Contemporaneous decree of the Sanhedrin (two days before Easter, Tuesday evening, the day of the decisive rupture) to put Him to death, but not at the Passover. The ordering and preparation of the paschal supper; Matt. 26:1–5; vers. 17–19; Mark 14:1, 2; vers. 12–16; Luke 22:1, 2; vers. 7–13.—The feet-washing. The paschal supper. Institution of the Holy Supper. Parting discourses of the Lord. Sacerdotal prayer. Exit to the Mount of Olives; John 13–17; Matt. 26:20–35; Mark 14:17–31; Luke 22:14–39.

a. Jesus in Gethsemane

The struggle and victory in His inward passion; John 18:1–12, 13; Matt. 26:36–46; Mark 14:32–42; Luke 22:39–46.—Jesus in Gethsemane before His enemies. The traitor. Free surrender of Jesus. Guarantee of the disciples, and their flight; Matt. 26:47–56; Mark 14:43–52; Luke 22:47–53.

b. Jesus before the Spiritual Court (Sanhedrin)

Jesus before Annas and before Caiaphas. The false witnesses. Christ the true witness, with the confession that He is the Son of God. The denial of Peter, and his repentance. The first mocking of the Lord, and the final hearing; John 18:13–27; Matt. 26:57–75; Mark 14:53–72; Luke 22:54–71.

c. Jesus before Pilate

Leading of Jesus away to the Prætorium, and end of Judas; John 18:28; Matt. 27:1–10; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1.—Jesus before the secular tribunal. The threefold accusation of sedition, blasphemy, and treason. The three hearings: before Pilate, before Herod, and again before Pilate. The three great forebodings: the jealous tumult of the Sanhedrin; the dream of Pilate’s wife; the saying, that Jesus is the Son of God. The three attempts at rescue: Barabbas; the scourging; the last remonstrance of Pilate. The three rejections of Christ on the part of the Jewish people: Christ offered with Barabbas; Christ declared innocent by Pilate’s washing of his hands; Christ crowned with thorns. The hand-washing of the Gentile, the self-imprecation of the Jews. The three condemnations: delivery to the mercy of the people; to scourging; to death. Threefold mockery of the Lord: in His own raiment before the High Council; in white before Herod; in purple before Pilate. Sentence of death; John 18:28–19:16; Matt. 27:11–31; Mark 15:1–20; Luke 23:1–25.

d. Jesus on Golgotha

The leading of Jesus away to Golgotha; John 19:16, 17; Matt. 27:31–33; Mark 15:20–22; Luke 23:26–33.—The crucifixion. The seven last words. The signs of divinity. The signs of judgment, or the scoffing and the beginnings of trembling after the uproar. The signs of faith. The signs of turning; John 19:17–30; Matt. 27:33–56; Mark 15:22–41; Luke 23:33–49.

e. The Burial on Good-Friday Evening

The new disciples. The old female disciples. The sepulchre. The burial; John 19:31–42; Matt. 27:57–66; Mark 15:42–47; Luke 23:50–56.


a. The Resurrection and the Appearances of Jesus in Judea

The resurrection, and the first announcement of it to Magdalene and the women; John 20:1–18; Matt. 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–11; Luke 24:1–12.—Announcement of the resurrection of Jesus among His enemies; Matt. 28:11–15.—The walk to Emmaus. Peter; Mark 16:12, 13; Luke 24:13–35.—First appearance of Christ in the circle of the apostles on the first Sunday evening,; John 20:19–23; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36–44. Second appearance of Jesus on the second Sunday evening in the circle of the apostles. Thomas; John 20:26–31.

b. The Appearances of Christ in Galilee

First appearance of Jesus in Galilee in a company of apostles; John 21. Second appearance of Jesus in the midst of a great company of disciples, as valedictory to the larger body of disciples in Galilee, or His people at large; Matt. 28:16–20; Mark 16:15–18; Luke 24:45–49. Comp. 1 Cor. 15:6.

c. Last Appearance of Jesus in the Circle of His Apostles in Judea. The Ascension

Walk to the Mount of Olives, and ascension; Mark 16:19, 20; Luke 24:50–53. Comp. Acts 1:1–12.

d. The Spiritual Return and Eternal Presence of Christ in His Church

Christ with His people alway, even to the end of the world; John 21:15–25; Matt. 28:20; Mark 16:20; Luke 24:51. Comp. Acts 1 and 2.

OBSERVATION.—John unites his peculiar selection of facts for points of view, which distinguishes his arrangement of the Gospel, with the closest chronological sequence. With the Synoptists the interest in facts induces greater deviation from chronological order. In regard to Matthew and Mark, we refer to the Introductions. In our construction of the Gospel history, some of the greatest changes of chronological order occur in Luke. The shaping of facts in Luke proceeds from his interest to exhibit the whole life of Jesus as a wandering, which had its goal at Jerusalem, and which the Evangelist viewed as a teaching of salvation in facts and the acts of the Lord (see Acts 10:37, 38. Comp. my Leben Jesu, iii. p. 345 sqq.). Matthew exhibits the gospel fulfilments of the Old Testament in great stadia; Mark the victorious conflicts of the gospel; John presents general gospel views of the moral universe in the light of the person of Christ; Luke, the gospel pilgrimages. The pilgrimage of Mary forms the centre of the first chapter. The pilgrimage of the parents, and of Jesus at twelve years, to the temple, is the issue of the second. In the third, John is a pilgrim on the Jordan, and the people make pilgrimage to him; so at last does Jesus. The history of the temptation also (John 4) stands here under the particular aspect of a caravan; hence probably the transposition of the second and third temptations. After this, Jesus journeys from His home in Nazareth to Capernaum. But in Capernaum He does not stay; the preaching and healing itinerancies through Galilee begin. In schools, on ships, at custom-stands, in harvest-fields, on mountains, the Lord unfolds the riches of His divine-human gentleness and kindness. The three pilgrimages through Galilee, also, Luke so transposes as to make the voyage to Gadara the close (John 8). And then, in the ninth chapter, Jesus, in the calling of the twelve apostles, and in the transfiguration, prepares himself for the great pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The journey begins, the seventy disciples in advance. Now the Evangelist distinguishes for us the several parts of the journey of Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem. These parts, put together without regard to chronological relations, form a grand panorama of the pilgrimage of the faithful in the kingdom of God, or a representation of saving truth in facts; John 10:38–18:30. The end of the journey is the progress of Jesus to Jerusalem; John 18:31–19:48. Here is most graphically painted the progress of Jesus over the Mount of Olives; and among the parables which the Lord now delivers in the temple, Luke gives prominence to that of the lord of a vineyard travelling into a far country; the disciples should flee to the mountains before the destruction of Jerusalem; they should lift up their heads in the last judgment, and escape all its terrors. The passage of Christ to Golgotha becomes, in Luke’s hand, a significant pilgrimage amidst the lamentations of the daughters of Jerusalem. The female disciples, who ministered to the Lord and aided in His burial, are female Galilean pilgrims. Even one of the chief appearances of the risen Lord we find, in Luke, interwoven with a journey of the disciples from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and the ascension is the end of a pilgrimage of Jesus with His disciples to Bethany. With this principle of arrangement, on the basis, no doubt, of existing memorabilia (see Luke 1:1, and Schleiermacher’s Lukas), Luke united the spirit of the Pauline type of doctrine in the form of Grecian culture; and in his human conception of the Divine kindliness and spiritual beauty of Christ he set points of gentleness, grace, compassion, foremost, especially in contrast with Pharisaic pride and self-righteousness. On these two subjects compare the admirable remarks [of Dr. Van Oosterzee] in the Introduction of the Commentary on Luke.

On the synoptical relations of the Gospel, should be further compared the Synopses of De Wette and Lücke, Tischendorf [Robinson, Strong], and others, and the modern works on the life of Jesus, especially that of Pressel. Also the Harmony of the Gospels, by Lex.


The fundamental idea of the Gospel is this: Christ, as the eternal, personal Word, is the personal basis of the world; its foundation of love, which branches into life and light, and the primal nature and form of which all things, by their symbolical formation, testify. Therefore also Christ, as the Life and Light of the world, breaks victoriously through the darkness of sin in the world, till He becomes incarnate, and thence, till His glorification, to redeem the world. And since the perfect glorification of Christ is the perfect redemption of the world, the operation of His redemption in the world must perfect itself in the glorifying of the world—that is, in His advent, which makes the world the Father’s house. Accordingly, the whole Gospel falls into three parts: (1) Concerning the pre-historical glory of Christ, or His pre-historical advent and His manifestation; the prologue, John 1:1–18; (2) Concerning the historical glory of Christ, or His victory in conflict with the darkness; the gospel history in the strict sense; John 1:19–20:31; (3) Concerning the post-historical glory of Christ over His Church, and in it, or His second advent; John 21.

The subdivisions arrange themselves as follows:

I. THE PROLOGUE, John 1:1–18.

1st Section.—Christ in His eternal essence and life, and His position between God and the world; vers. 1–5.

(1) The personal Word (Christ) in His eternal essence and life as related to God; vers. 1, 2.

(2) As related to the creation; ver. 3.

(3) To the world and to mankind in their original constitution; ver. 4.

(4) To the world in darkness; ver. 5.

2d Section.—The personal Light, or Christ, in His pre-historical advent in the world, especially in His Old Testament advent, testified by the Old Covenant as represented by John the Baptist.

(1) The representative of the advent of Christ, John the Baptist; vers. 6–8.

(2) The coming of Christ into the world as to its general groundwork and its historical development; ver. 9.

(3) Relation of Christ to the world, and conduct of the world toward Him, or the general groundwork of His advent; ver. 10.

(4) Relation of Christ to Israel, and conduct of Israel toward Him, or the imperfect, symbolical advent; ver. 11.

(5) Gradual breaking forth of Christ into the world in the distinction of the elect from the less susceptible, constituted (a.) by faith, as the beginning of the real advent; ver. 12; (b.) by the sanctification of births, and birth from God. Development of the real advent; ver. 13.

3d Section.—Incarnation of the Logos. Appearance of the real Shckinah among the faithful; vers. 14–18.

(1) Incarnation of the Logos, or the absolutely new birth. Appearance of the real Shekinah; ver. 14.

(2) Testimony of John in general; ver. 15.

(3) Experience of believers, or grace; ver. 16.

(4) Antithesis between Moses and Christ, the law of the Old Testament and Christianity, in their authority and work; ver. 17.

(5) Antithesis between the whole old world and Christ in their relation to God; ver. 18.


1st Section.—Reception which Christ, the Light of the world, finds in His life of love among the men akin to the light, the elect; John 1:19–4:54.

(1) John the Baptist and his public and repeated testimony concerning Christ (before the rulers of the Jews and his disciples); Jesus, accredited as the Christ, attested the Son of God, the eternal Lord, and the Lamb of God; vers. 19–34.

(2) The disciples of John and the first disciples of Jesus. Jesus acknowledged as the Messiah, the King of Israel, who knows His Israelites, and also knows the “Jews;” signalized by miraculous discernment of spirits, personal characters becoming manifest in His personal light; vers. 35–51.

(3) The kindred and friends of the Lord, and the first miracle of Jesus at Cana, as the earnest of the glorification of the world, and as the first manifestation of His glory. Christ transfiguring the earthly marriage feast into a symbol of the heavenly; John 2:1–11.

(4) Jesus the guest in Capernaum, and the pilgrim to the Passover. The purification of the temple, as a prelude of the redeeming purification of the world and reformation of the Church. Christ the true Temple. The sign of Christ: The destruction of the temple and the raising it again. The first spread of faith in Israel, and Christ the Knower of hearts; vers. 12–25.

(5) Jesus in Jerusalem, and Nicodemus as a witness of the first powerful impression of Jesus on the Pharisees. The conversation of Christ with Nicodemus by night concerning the heavenly birth as the condition of entrance into the kingdom of God. Symbolism of the water, the wind, and the brazen serpent; John 3:1–21.

(6) Jesus in the Judean country, and the spread of His baptism, with the faith of the people. Last testimony of the Baptist concerning Christ; Christ the true Baptist. The bridegroom of the Church, who comes from heaven (the real Song of songs); vers. 22–36.

(7) Jesus at Jacob’s well. The woman of Samaria. Christ the Fountain of Life, the Fountain of Peace. The white harvest-field, or the field of earth and the field of heaven. The sowers and the reapers. The faith of the Samaritans, a presage of the universal spread of the gospel; John 4:1–42.

(8) Residence of Jesus in Galilee, and believing Galileans in particular. The nobleman. The miracle of distant healing, as a second sign; vers. 43–54.

2d Section.—Open antagonism between Christ, as the Light of the world, and the elements of darkness in the world, especially in their proper representatives, unbelievers, but also in the better men, so far as they still belong to the world; John 5:1–7:9.

(1) The feast of the Jews and the Sabbath of the Jews, and their observance of it: killing Christ. The feast of Christ and the Sabbath of Christ, and His observance of it: raising the dead. Offence of the Judaists in Jerusalem at the Sabbath-healing of Jesus, and at His testimony concerning His freedom and His Divine origin (and besides, doubtless, at His outdoing the Pool of Bethesda). First assault upon the life of Jesus. Christ the true Fount of Healing (Pool of Bethesda), the Glorifier of the Sabbath by His saving work, the Raiser of the dead, the Life as the vital energy and healing of the world, accredited by John, by the Scriptures, by Moses. The true Messiah in the Father’s name, and false messiahs; John 5.

(2) The Passover of the Jews, and the manna of the Jews. The Passover of Christ, ver. 62, and Christ the Manna from heaven. Miracle of feeding in the wilderness. Miracle of the flight and escape over the sea, wherein Christ withdraws himself from the chiliastic enthusiasm of earthly-minded admirers, and hastens to the help of His disciples. Decisive declaration of Christ. Offence of His Galilean admirers and many of His disciples at His refusing to give them bread in the sense of their chiliasm, and presenting himself in His Spirit with His flesh and blood as the Bread of Life; John 6:1–65.

(3) Apostasy of many disciples. Incipient treason in the circle of the twelve. Confession of Peter; vers. 66–71.

(4) Approach of the feast of Tabernacles, and offence of even the brothers of Jesus at His refusing to go to it. Christ, the object of the world’s hatred; Christ’s time, and the time of the worldly mind; John 7:1–9.

3d Section.—Ferment in the contest between the elements of light and darkness. Formation of parties, as a prelude to the maturing opposition between the children of light and the children of darkness; John 7:10–10:21.

(1) Fermentation and party division among the people in general. (a.) Christ, the Teacher and the One sent from God, in opposition to the human rabbinical office, and in agreement with Moses. His earthly descent, in opposition to descent from heaven. His opponents, who would kill Him, in contradiction with Moses. The Prophet of God, intending to return to God; vers. 10–36. (b.) Christ, as the Dispenser of the Spirit, the real Siloam with its water of life. Increasing ferment in the people; vers. 37–44.

(2) Fermentation and parties in the High Council; vers. 45–53.

(3) Christ, the Light of the world, the real fulfilment of the Jewish torch-light festivities, as against the pretended seers, the false lights, in Israel. The adulteress, and Christ’s sentence. His ideal appearance into the court of the Jews, and the two witnesses. The judges shall come into judgment. A twofold lifting up of Christ at hand. Appearances of yielding, or a great vacillation toward faith; John 8:1–30.

(4) Christ the Liberator, as son of the house, in distinction from servants; the One sent from God, as against the agents of the devil; the Eternal, and the Hope of Abraham, as against the bodily seed of Abraham; or: the Liberator of Israel, the Adversary of Satan, the Hope of Abraham. A great swinging from faith to unbelief. Attempted stoning; vers. 31–59.

(5) Christ the Light of the world, over against the blind; healing of the man born blind on the Sabbath, with the symbolical coöperation of the temple spring of Siloam. The day of Christ, and Christ the Light of this day. The light of the blind, a judgment on the blindness of those who pretend to see. Symbolism of the light, the day, the day’s work. The ban, or the incipient separation; John 9.

(6) Christ the fulfilment of all symbolical shepherd life; the truth of the theocracy and the Church. (a.) The Door of the fold, as against the thieves. (b.) The True Shepherd, as against the hireling and the wolf. (c.) The Chief Shepherd of the great twofold flock. The symbolical communion and the real communion, or the symbolical and real ban.—The fermentation in its utmost intensity; John 10:1–21.

4th Section.—Separation between the friends and the enemies of Christ, the children of light and the children of darkness; John 10:22–13:30.

(1) Contrast between the unbelievers in Judea, who would kill the Lord, and the believers in Perea, with whom He finds refuge. Feast of the Dedication. Last collision between the false Messianic hope and the working of the true Messiah; quickly followed by stoning. The true and the false dedication of the temple. Christ the Son of God, the true realization of the deified or Messianic forms of the Old Covenant; John 10:22–42.

(2) Contrast between the believing and unbelieving Jews of Judea and Jerusalem at the grave of Lazarus. Christ devoted to death in consequence of His raising of Lazarus from the dead. Symbolism of day’s work, and of sleep. The resurrection of the dead; John 11:1–57.

(3) Contrast between fidelity and apostasy in the circle of the disciples themselves. The life-feast over Lazarus, the eve or fore-festival of the death of Jesus: the anointing; John 12:1–8.

(4) Contrast between the homage of the pious Jews and feast-pilgrims and the Chief Priests and their party, who consulted to destroy His friends also with the Lord. The Prince of Peace, and the palm-branches; vers. 9–17.

(5) (a.) Contrast between the worshipful heathen Greeks from abroad and the majority of the Jewish people who fell away from Christ in unbelief, and occasioned His withdrawal into concealment. Symbolism of Hellenism, the Jewish Passover, the corn of wheat. Glorification through the suffering of death, or the spiritual self-sacrifice of Jesus in the temple; vers. 20–36. (b.) Contrast between self-hardened Israel, and the longing, susceptible world, or the retirement of Christ, and the Evangelist’s review of His official ministry; vers. 37–50.

(6) Return of Jesus from concealment, in love to His own. Division in the circle of the disciples themselves. Perplexity and trembling of the faithful. Exclusion of Judas. Christ’s washing His disciples’ feet an exaltation of ministering lordship: symbolism and establishment of brotherly discipline in the Church. Actual excision of the adversary from the discipleship of Jesus; John 13:1–30.

5th Section.—The Lord in the circle of His friends, the children of the light, opening and imparting to them the riches of His inner life, and thereby consecrating them vehicles and mediators of His own life, to enlighten and glorify the world, and unite this world and that which is to come; the heaven opened; John 13:31–17:26.

(1) The clearly pronounced opposition between this world and that which is to come, and its mediation through the new institution of Christ (the Holy Supper, as) the ordinance of brotherly love. Earnest greatness of this opposition, expressed in the announcement of Peter’s denial. Glorification of Christ, and the New Covenant. The new commandment, the exaltation of the law, and of the opposition between the departure of Christ and the remaining of His people in the world; John 13:31–38.

(2) Opening and revelation of heaven (the heavenly home), by the revelation of the heavenly Christ in the present world. The glorification of the world to come, which was to arise from His departure, and His union with His disciples in the Spirit. Under the starry heavens. Christ the Way to the Father’s house; John 14:1–31.

(3) Glorification of the present world. Brought about by the judgment, and by the abiding of the disciples in the love of Christ, and by their influence upon the world, for which He would send His Spirit upon them. Between the burning garden fires in the vale of Kedron. Christ the Vine. Exaltation of the noble plant, and its culture. Exaltation of friendship and joy. Proving of the spiritual life of the disciples against the hatred of the world. Victory of the Holy Ghost in them over the world. Development of Christianity through the Holy Ghost. The holy excommunicated state of the children of God; John 15:1–16:15.

(4) Higher union of the eternal world and the present world in the New Testament Easter and Pentecost. Glorification of Christ through the Holy Ghost, and of the Father through Christ. The going and returning of the Lord. The watchword of the Church: “A little while.” Symbolism of suffering, of birth-pangs, and birth-joys. Good-Friday sorrow and Easter joy in the life of the Lord and in the life of the Church; John 16:16–27.

(5) Glorification of the departure of Christ by His glorious coming from the Father into the world; vers. 28–33.

(6) The high-priestly intercourse of Christ for His own, a prayer for the glorification of His name even to the glorification of His people and the world, even to the disappearance of the world, as world, to the honor of the Father. Christ the Truth and Fulfilment of the Shekinah and all manifestations of God in the world, in His self-sacrifice for the world. Glorification of prayer, of mental crises, of sacrifice. The heavenly goal; John 17.

6th Section.—The Lord in the circle of His enemies, as the light invaded by the darkness; the sublime Judge, or the personal Tribunal, when He is judged; triumphant in His outward surrender; carrying out judgment to the victory of light and salvation; John 18 and 19.

(1) Christ as the Tribunal of the Light amidst the confused nocturnal quarrel of the world against and about His person; over against His betrayer, His arresters, His violent defender. The majesty of the Betrayed in contrast with the nothingness of the betrayer; voluntariness of the suffering in contrast with the powerlessness of the arresters; the reference to the decree of the Father in contrast with the unlawful help of Peter. The repudiation of the violent act of Peter, and the vanity and insignificance of employing violent means for spiritual ends; John 18:1–11.

(2) Christ in contrast with Annas and Caiaphas. Clearness of the Lord, over against the inquisition of the high priest and the abuse from the servant. The two disciples in the high priest’s palace, and the wavering, falling Peter; vers. 12–27.

(3) Christ in contrast with Pilate. Conduct of Pilate in reference (a.) to the first charge, that Jesus was a malefactor; (b.) to the charge that Jesus aspired to be King of the Jews; (c.) to the charge that Jesus had made himself the Son of God.—Decided fall of Pilate, when Jesus was accused of being an insurgent against the Emperor.—Kingdom of Jesus in opposition to the kingdom of this world. Symbolism of the Roman Empire. Jesus King in the realm of Truth. Acquittal of Jesus. Choice of the murderer Barabbas. Jesus in the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Judgment of Jesus upon Pilate. Pilate conceals his defeat in the disguise of disdain. The sentence of death; John 18:28–19:16.

(4) Christ on Golgotha, the Light of salvation, or the glorification of the curse of the old world. Christ the cross-bearer. The Crucified in the midst of crucified. The superscription: “The King of the Jews,” a motto of contempt, turning itself into a motto of honor. The booty of the soldiers, also, a fulfilment of Scripture. The appointment of departing love. The last draught. The word of victory: “It is finished!” vers. 17–30.

(5) Christ the glorification of death, Life in death itself. The corpse of Jesus, a dark, evil omen to His enemies, a mysterious resurrection-omen to His friends (a sign that He was the true paschal Lamb, and that something wonderful would come to pass in Him), a decisive reanimating omen to the undecided disciples. The honorable burial in the garden, and in the new rock-hewn sepulchre. Premonitions of the victory of Christ; vers. 31–42.

7th Section.—Accomplished victory of Christ over the world and the kingdom of darkness, and His manifestation in the circle of His own. Christ proves His victory by banishing the last remnants of darkness, of sadness and unbelief, from His people, and making them certain of His resurrection; John 20.

(1) How the risen Lord, by the signs in the grave, prepares His disciples for the signs in His life; vers. 1–10.

(2) How He turns the disconsolateness of Mary Magdalene into blessed peace, and makes her the messenger of the resurrection; vers. 11–18.

(3) How Christ delivers the circle of the disciples from their old fear, and raises them by the breathing of His Spirit to the presentiment of their apostolic calling; vers. 19–23.

(4) How Christ puts to shame the unbelief of Thomas, and turns the doubting disciple into the most joyful confessor; vers. 24–29.

(5) Purpose of the facts of the Gospel: testimony concerning Christ, and life in His name; vers. 30, 31.


(1) The manifestation of the risen Saviour on the sea of Galilee as a type of the future relation and conduct of Christ with His apostolic Church in this world; vers. 1–14.

(2) The continued working of Christ in His Church, represented by the office, the walk, and the martyrdom of Peter, or the fortunes of the Church in her predominantly official and external character; vers. 15–19.

(3) The continued working of Christ in His Church, represented by the office, the spiritual life, and the patriarchal age of John; or the fortunes of the Church in her predominantly inward character, and her immortal spiritual life; vers. 20–23.

(4) The testimony of John and the testimony of the Church. The endlessness of the gospel history; vers. 24, 25.

For other arrangements, see Luthardt’s Commentary, “Disposition and Construction,” p. 254.


For the general exegetical works on the Bible, or on the New Testament, which embrace the Gospel of John, see the Introduction to the New Testament prefixed to the Gospel of Matthew in this Commentary; also, for the literature relating to the four Gospels, and for the general homiletical works.

The exegetical and homiletical literature relating to the Gospel of John by itself, may be found in Lilienthal, Biblischer Archivarius, Königsberg, 1745, p. 265 sqq.; Walch, Biblioth. theol., 4th part, p. 646; Winer, Handbuch der theol. Literatur, 1 p. 248; 2 p. 118 sqq.; Supplement, pp. 38, 175; Danz, Universal-Wörterbuch der theol. Literatur, p. 460, and Supplement, 1 p. 54; Zimmer, Handbibliothek der theol. Liter. des 19ten Jahrhunderts, pp. 10, 69; Hertwig, Tabellen zur Einleitung ir’s N. Test., Berlin, 1855, p. 19; Guericke, Isagogik, p. 169 [3d ed., pp. 188, 189]; Tholuck, Commentary [Amer. ed., p. 49].

The most notable expositors are: Among the fathers, Origen [Commentaria in Evang. Joannis], Chrysostom [Homiliœ LXXXVIII in Joh. Evang.; Engl. transl. in the Oxford Library of the Fathers, vols. xxviii. and xxxvi., 1848–’52; Cyrillus Alex., Comment. in Ev. Joh.], and Augustine [Tractatus cxxiv in Joh. Evang., practical homilies, see Opera, Tom. 3, P. ii. pp. 290–826, ed. Bened., Paris, 1658; transl. in the Library of the Fathers, Oxford, 1848–’49, 2 vols.];46 of the Roman Catholic expositors, Erasmus, Maldonatus, Este, Cornelius a Lapide, and the recent Ad. Maier (1845, 2 vols.) [Messmer, 1860, Bisping, 1865]; of the Reformers, Luther, Melanchthon, Bucer, Calvin, Beza, Chemnitz [d. 1586], &c.; of the seventeenth century, J. Piscator [1613], Hunnius [d. 1603], Grotius [d. 1645], Cocceius [d. 1669]; of the eighteenth, Lampe (Comm. in Evang. Joh. [1st ed., Amsterdam, 1724–’26, 3 vols. 4to.; a work of immense erudition and Calvinistic orthodoxy]), Bengel (Gnomon); of the nineteenth, Lücke [1st ed., 1820–’24; 3d ed., 1840–’43, 3 vols.; an exegetical masterpiece], Olshausen [1st ed., 1832; 4th ed., by Ebrard, 1862; the English translation from an older edition], Baumgarten-Crusius [1843–’45], H. A. W. Meyer [1834; 5th ed., 1869], De Wette [1837; 5th ed., revised by Bruno Brückner, 1863, much enlarged and improved]; Tholuck [1827; 7th ed., 1857; Engl. translation by Ch. F. Krauth, Philad., 1859, from the 6th ed., with additions from the 7th]; Luthardt, Das Johanneische Evangelium, 2 parts, 1852. More recently has appeared: E. W. Hengstenberg, Das Evangelium des heil. Johannes, Berlin, 3 vols., 1881–’63 [2d ed., 1867 ff. Engl. translation, Edinburgh, 1865, 2 vols.—To these must be added: H. Ewald, Die Johanneischen Schriften übersetzt und erklärt, Gött., vol. 1, 1861; W. Bäumlein, Comm. über das Evang. d. Joh., Stuttgart, 1863 (grammatical and brief); C. H. A. von Burger, Das Evang. nach Joh. deutsch erklärt, Nördlingen, 1868; and the excellent French works of J. F. Astié, Éxplication de Vévangile selon St. Jean, Genève, 1864, and F. Godet, Commentaire sur Vévangile de St. Jean, Paris, 1865, 2 vols.—P. S.].

As practical expositions, Tholuck mentions O. v. Gerlach, N. T., 2 parts; Stier, Reden Jesu, 4th part; Fr. Besser, Bibelstunden über das Evangelium Johannis [1851, 4th ed., 1860]. To these we add: S. J. Baumgarten, Auslegung des Evangeliums Johannis , Halle, 1762; Mich. Wirth, Das Evangelium des Johannes erläutert, Ulm, 1829; Fickenscher, Biblisch-praktische Auslegung des Evangeliums Johannis, Nürnberg, 1831; Diedrich, Das Evangelium Johannis, Leipzig, 1859; Heubner, Praktische Erklärung des N. T., vol. ii. The Homilies on the Gospel of John, delivered by Fr. Schleiermacher in 1823 and 1824, published by Sydow, in 2 parts, Berlin, 1837, are to be especially noted.

As to the separate portions of the Gospel: The 11th chapter has been treated in sermons by Fr. Wilhelm Jul. Schröder, first series, Elberfeld, 1853; various sections in the Bremen Post, by Dr. Mallet, vols. i. and ii. Reichhelm, Christus die rechte Speise und der rechte Trank, sermons on John 4–7, Frankfurt a. d. O., 1857; Schmieder, Das hohepriesterliche Gebet unsers Herrn Jesu Christi, 20 Meditations, Hamburg, Agency of the Rough House. Also the sermons: “Wir sahen seine Herrlichkeit,” Berlin, 1853, treat in good part the Johannean text.

On the Evangelist and his Gospel there are: Herder, Von Gottes Sohn, der Welt Heiland, nach Johannis Evangelium, 1797; Kleuker, Johannes, Petrus, und Paulus als Christologen, Riga, 1785; K. M. L. Köster, Der Apostel Johannes nach der Entstehung, Fortbildung, und Vollendung seines christlichen Lebens dargestellt, Leipzig, 1838; Da Costa, De Apost. Joh. en zijne Schriften, 1831; Herwerden, Het Evang. van Joh., 1851; also the article, “John the Apostle,” by Dr. Ebrard, in Herzog’s Encyclopœdia, and the same article in Zeller’s Biblisches Wörterbuch für das christliche Volk, Stuttgart, 1856.

On the Johannean type of doctrine, we have: Schmidt, De theologia Joannis Apostoli, ii. progr., Jena, 1801; Frommann, Der Johanneische Lehrbegriff, Leipzig, 1839; K. R. Köstlin, Der Lehrbegriff des Evangeliums und der Briefe Johannis, Berlin, 1843; Hilgenfeld, Das Evangelium und die Briefe des Johannes, Halle, 1849, in the spirit of the ultra criticism; Neander, Schaff, and Lange, in the doctrinal sections of their Histories of the Apostolic Age. [C. F. Schmid, Bibl. Theol. des N. T., 2d ed., Stuttgart, 1859, pp. 588–617 (abridged translation by G. H. Venables, Edinburgh, 1870, pp. 519–552); E. Reuss, Histoire de la théol chrétienne, Strasburg, 1860, 2, 369–600; Weiss, Der johann. Lehrbegriff, Berlin, 1862; Beyschlag, Die Christologie des N. T., Berlin, 1866, pp. 65–107; van Oosterzee, Theology of the New Test., transl. by M. J. Evans, London, 1870, pp. 372–415.—P. S.]

The apologetic literature on John has already been mentioned, pp. 28 f.

Poetical Literature: A. E. Fröhlich, the celebrated Swiss poet, Das Evangelium St. Johannis, in Liedern, Leipzig, 1835; A. Köttgen, Lazarus, a religious drama, in A. Köttgen’s Gedichte, edited by me, Essen, 1839. [The poetical paraphrase of Nonnus, in Migne’s Patrol., Tom. 43; Adam of St. Victor, Poem on the Four Evangelists (Jucundare, plebs fidelis), and De Joanne Evangelista, in which the famous description occurs: Volat avis sine meta, &c. (in Daniel’s Thes. hymnol., Tom. 2, 166; in Mone’s Lat. Hymnen des Mittelalters, iii, 118, and in Trench, Sacred Latin, Poetry, p. 71). Bishop Ken has a long poem on St. John in his Christian Year, new ed., London, 1868, pp. 28 ff.—P. S.]

[ENGLISH LITERATURE ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN.—The commentaries which cover the whole Bible, or the New Testament, have been mentioned in the American edition of Matthew, pp. 18, 19, and more fully in that of Romans, pp. 51, 52. Alford (Greek Test., vol. i., ed. 6, 1868) is brief, critical, sound, and judicious; Wordsworth (5th ed., 1866) is reverent, patristic, fanciful, unequal, and avoiding rather than solving difficulties. Canon B. F. Westcott (who, in his Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, John 5, very ably discusses the characteristics of the fourth Gospel) is preparing a work on John for the forthcoming “Speaker’s Commentary.” Besides, we have translations of Lücke, Olshausen, Tholuck, Stier, and Hengstenberg. A translation of Meyer is announced.—The special English literature on John is mostly of a popular and practical character. Hutcheson, Exposition of John, London, 1657 (highly spoken of by John J. Owen in his Comm. on John, p. iii.); Archbishop Sumner, A Practical Exposition of the Gospel of St. John, London, 1835; 3d ed., 1838; R. Anderson, do., London, 1841, 2 vols.; James Ford, The Gospel of St. John Illustrated from Ancient and Modern Authors, London, 1852; John Cumming, Sabbath Evening Readings on St. John, London, 1855; F. D. Maurice, Discourses on the Gospel of St. John, Cambridge, 1857; J. C. Ryle, Practical Exposition of the Gospel of John, London, 3 vols., 1868 ff.—America has produced several useful popular commentaries on the Gospels, including that on John, by Barnes, Jacobus, Ripley, Owen (new edition, 1866), Whedon, and others.—Of Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Gospels, which are especially adapted for Sunday-schools, and have an immense circulation both in Great Britain and the United States, a revised edition appeared shortly before his death (1870).—Comp. the Literature supplied by Mr. Ezra Abbot to the article John, Gospel of, in Hackett’s and Abbot’s edition of Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. ii (1869), pp. 1437–’39. For special dissertations and sermons on single chapters and verses of John, see James Darling’s Cyclopædia Bibliographica, i, pp. 1058–1166.—P. S.]


[1]Some of these testimonies were collected by Tholuck (Com. on John, Introduction, p. 19, Krauth’s translation).

[2]Commentaria in Ev. Ioa., (Opera, tom. IV. p. 6 ed. Delarue).

[3]Compare his first Homily on John, in the 8th volume of the Bened. ed. of the works of Chrysostom, pp. 2 sqq.

[4]Catal. cap. 9.

[5]See the 36th Tractate of Augustine on John’s Gospel, in the third tom. of the Bened. edition, fol. 543 and 544. As we find here the finest patristic appreciation of John, I shall give the original passage in full: “In quatuor Evangeliis, vel potius quatuor libris unius Evangelii sanctus Johannes apostolus, non immerito secundum intelligentiam spiritalem aquilo? comparatus, altius multoque sublimius aliis tribus erexit prædicationem suam, et in ejus erectione etiam corda nostra erigi voluit. Nam ceteri tres Evangelistæ, tanquam cum homine Domino in terra ambulabant, de divinitate ejus pauca dixerunt: istum autem quasi piguerit in terra ambulare, sicut ipso exordio sui sermonis intonuit, erexit se, non solum super terram et super omnem ambitum aëris et cœli, sed super omnem etiam exercitum Angelorum, omnemque constitutionem invisibilium potestatum, et pervenit ad eum per quem facta sunt omnia, dicendo, ‘In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum: hoc erat in principio apud Deum. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt, et sine ipso factum est nihil.’ Huic tantæ sublimitati principii etiam cetera congrua prædicavit, et de Domini divinitate quomodo nullus alius est locutus. Hoc ructabat quod biberat. Non enim sine causa de illo in isto ipso Evangelio narratur, quia et in convivio super pectus Domini discumbebat. De illo ergo pectore in secreto bibebat; sed quod in secreto bibii, in manifesto eructavit, ut perveniat ad omnes gentes non solum incarnatio Filii Dei, et passio, et resurrectio; sed etiam quid erat ante incarnationem Unicus Patri, Verbum Patris, coærnus generanti, equalis eæ a quo missus est; sed in ipsa missione minor factus, quo major esset Pater.”

[6]Das einzige zarte rechte Haupi-Evangelion und den anderen dreien weit vorzuziehen und höher zu heben.”— Luth.’s Preface to the N. T., in the earlier editions. The passage was afterwards (since 1539) omitted, probably from apprehension that the preference given to John above other books of the Bible might be misunderstood.

[7]In the introduction to his Commentary on John: “Quum omnibus [Evangelistis] communiter propositum sit Christum ostendere, priores illi corpus, si ita loqui fas est, in medium proferunt, Joannes vero animam. Quamobrem dicere soleo, hoc Evangelium clavem esse, quæ aliis intelligendis januam aperiat.”

[8]See the closing words to his preface to the fifth edition of his Commentary on John (I869). He adds that “the Lutheran Church (to which he belongs), born with a manifesto of war and grown up in fierce controversy, has been unable as yet to rise to the clear height and quiet perfection of this Gospel.” But the same may be said of other Churches. The Moravians have, perhaps, more of the spirit of John than any other denomination.

[9]Leben Jesu, vol. iii., p. 539.

[10]The Four Witnesses: being a Harmony of the Gospels on a new Principle. Translated by David Dundas Scott. New York: 1855. pp. 229, 232. (Against Strauss.)

[11]The Greek Test., etc., Vol. I. 6th Ed. 1868. p. 61.

[12]Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, pp. 254, 255, 308 (Am. Ed., Boston, 1852).

[13]The New Text., etc., Vol. I., p. 257, 5th Ed. 1866. Most of what Dr. Wordsworth, in the General Introduction, says of the characteristics of the four Gospels is a reproduction of patristic fancies which cannot stand the test of sober criticism.

[14]Bampton Lectures on The Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2d ed., Lond. and Oxf., 1868, p. 206.

[15]Comp. the closing section of my History of the Apostolic Church, p. 674.

[16]Implenda refers to the Revelation, impleta to the Gospel.

[17] From the poem De Joanne Evangelista, commencing: Verbum Dei Deo natum; see Daniel’s Thesaurus hymnologicus, tom. II., p. 166, and Mone’s Lat. Hymnen des Mittelalters, III. 118. I append an English and a. German version of this rare gem:—

“Bird of God! with boundless flight

Soaring far beyond the height

Of the bard or prophet old;

Truth fulfilled, and truth to be,—

Never purer mystery

Did a purer tongue unfold!”—(Dr. WASHBURN.)

Seht zum Licht den Adler fliegen,

Höher als sonst nie gestiegen

Dichter noch Prophete war.

Niemals sah so tief Verhülltes,

Jetzt und künftig erst Erfülltes

Ein so reiner Mensch so klar.”

[18] This poem commences Jocundare, plebs fidelis, and is given in full by Daniel, Thesaurus hymnol., II. 84, translated by J. M. Neale, Mediœval Hymns, third ed., p. 106. The “double wing of love,” means, of course, love to God and love to man.

“John, love’s double wing devising,

Earth on eagle plumes despising,

To his God and Lord uprising,

Soars away in purer light.” (John M. Neale.)

“But on twofold eagle pinion,

Wrought by love in her dominion,

John, a form divinely bright,

Upward soars in purer light.”—(THOS. C. PORTER.)

Mone, vol. III., pp. 112 sqq., gives a number of other mediœval hymns on John which, however, are of inferior merit.

[19] The quaint originality of this classical passage it is difficult to reproduce in English.

Am liebsten lese ich im Sanct Johannes. In ihm ist so etwas ganz Wunderbares—Dämmerung und Nacht, und durch sie hin der schnelle, zuckende Blitz! Ein sanftes Abendgewölk und hinter dem Gewölke der grosse, volle Mond leibhaftig! So etwas Schwermüthiges und Hohes und Ahnungsvolles, dass man’s nicht satt werden kann. Es ist mir immer beim Lesen im Johannes, als ob ich ihn beim letzten Abendmahl an der Brust seines Meisters vor mir liegen sehe, als ob sein Engel mir’s Licht hate und mir bei gewissen Stellen um den Hals fallen und etwas in’s Ohr sagen wolle. Ich verstehe lange nicht alles, was ich lese, aber oft ist’s doch, als schwebt’ es fern vor mir, was Johannes meinte, und auch da, wo ich in einen ganz dunklen Ort hineinsehe, habe ich doch eine Vorempfindung von einem grossen herrlichen Sinn, den ich einmal verstehen werde. Und darum greife ich so gerne nach jeder neuen Erklürung des Evangelium Johannis. Zwar—die mcisten kräuseln nur an dem Abendgewölke, und der Mond hinter ihm hat gute Ruhe.”

[20]Prof. Holtzmann, of Heidelberg, in his article Evangelium des Johannes, in Schenkel’s Bibel-Lexikon, vol. ii. (1869), p. 232, says of the Gospel of John: “Dieses sinnlich-übersinnliche Evangelium ist durchgängig die kunst-und sinnvollste Verbindung von ‘Wahrheit und Dichtung,’ die wir kennen;” and p. 234: “Die grundlegendsten und weitreichendsten Gedanken des vierten Evangeliums liegen weit über die dem zweiten Jahrhundert und überhaupt der ganzen bisherigen Enlwickelung der Kirche erreichbar gewesene Höhe hinaus.

[21]The hypothesis of a historical romance to illustrate the Logos doctrine. So, with various modifications, Baur, the leader of the Tübingen School(Kritische Untersuchungen über die Evangelien, 1847, etc.), Schwegler, Zeller, Köstlin, Hilgenfeld, Schenkel, Volkmar, Lang, Réville (1864), Scholten (1864), Keim (1867), J. J. Tayler (1867), S. Davidson (1868). Strauss originally (1835) applied to the Gospel of John his mythical theory of an unconscious, innocent poem; but the subsequent investigations of the Tübingen School convinced him that the only alternative here is between the orthodox historical view and Baur’s hypothesis of conscious invention in the interest of a specific doctrinal and speculative tendency. In his new Leben Jesu (1864), p. 79, he says with regard to the Gospel of John: “Hier hat sogar die Einmischung philosophischer Construction und bewusster Dichtung alle Wahrscheinlichkeit”

[22]The view of Weisse (1838), Freytag (1861), etc.

[23]So Renan (comp. the 13th ed. of his Life of Jesus, 1867), and Weizsäcker (1864). Weizsäcker, however, who is Baur’s successor in Tübingen, admits a considerable amount of historical substance also in the discourses of Jesus, and is a man of altogether different spirit from Renan.

[24]The style of John is altogether unique: it is a pure Hebrew soul in a pure Greek body. Thus I reconcile the apparently contradictory judgments of two of the most eminent orientalist scholars. “In its true spirit and afflatus,” says Ewald, “no language can be more genuinely Hebrew than that of John.” “His style,” says Renan, “has nothing Hebrew, nothing Jewish, nothing Talmudic,” Renan looks to the surface, Ewald to the foundation. The style of John has been carefully discussed by Luthardt, in the second section of his Introduction (I. pp. 21–69), and by Westcott, in his Introduction to the Gospels (pp. 264–281). Comp. also the remarks of Godet (II p. 712, 713), who says: “Dans te style de Jean, le vétement seul est grec; le corps eat hêbreu.

[25]Competent judges (such as Drs. Jos. A. Alexander, Hodge, Stowe, H. B. Smith, McClintock, Bunsen, etc.) had previously assigned to Dr. Yeomans the very first rank among translators of theological works from the German into pure, idiomatic English. A reviewer of my Church History, in the British and Foreign Evangelical Quarterly Review, London April, 1868, pays him the following tribute: “In point of style and general structure there is nothing to indicate that the book is a translation from the German. Indeed in this respect it will stand a favorable comparison with the best English classics.” Similar views were expressed on his translation of my History of the Apostolic Church, when first published in 1853.

[26]The pleasure of daily spiritual communion with these distinguished scholars, during the preparation of this volume, was deepened by personal reminiscences which can never be effaced. On my last visit to Europe, in 1869, I spent some delightful days with Dr. Lange in Bonn, who is still in full vigor and unceasing activity; with Dr. Alford at the Deanery of Canterbury, who was called from his earthly labors before I finished my task: with Professor Godet at Neuchatel, with whom I studied and prayed at Berlin, when he was superintending the education of the present crown prince of Prussia, And heir to the new imperial crown of reunited and reconstructed Germany; and with the venerable Dr. Meyer, at Hannover, who devotes his whole time to new editions of his Commentary on the New Testament.

[27][It is probable that the indirect self-designation of the Evangelist, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (13:23; 19:25; 20:2; 21:7, 20), is an ingenious interpretation of his name John, Ἰωάννης, יוֹחֶנִו for יְהוֹחָנָו—i.e., Jehovah is gracious (comp. the Greek Theodore, and the German Gotthold, Gottlieb); for, according to the prologue, and John 12:41, the Jehovah, of the Old Testament, or God revealed, is the eternal Logos who became incarnate for our salvation. His name contained a prophecy which was fulfilled in his intimate relation to Christ.—P. S.]

[28][“Das eine zarte Hauptevangelium,” an expression of Luther applied to the Gospel of John.—P. S.]

[29][The difference between Peter and John in their relation to Christ is parallel with the difference between Martha and Mary. Both loved the Saviour with their whole heart, but the one showed it more by outward, busy action, the other by inward, quiet contemplation; the one loved Him in His official dignity as the Messiah, the other in His personal character as the fountain of spiritual life. As Grotius ingeniously suggests, Peter was more a friend of Christ (Christophilos, or Philochristos), John a friend of Jesus (Jesuphilos), his bosom friend.—P. S.]

[30] [Prof. Plumptre, in his article on John in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, i, p. 1107 (in Hackett’s ed. p. 1423), is disposed to accept this tradition of Cassian, as illustrating the truth—

“He prayeth best who loveth best

All things both great and small.”—P. S.].

[31][Augustine calls him “virgo mente et corpore.” St. John may certainly be regarded as the highest male type of all moral chasity, as the Virgin Mary stands out as the model of female purity.—P. S.]

[32][From Schaff’s History of the Apostolic Church, p. 618: “John’s theology is by no means so complete, or developed with such logical precision and argumentative ability, as that of Paul. It is sketched from immediate intuition, in extremely simple, artless, childlike form, in grand outlines, in few but colossal ideas and antitheses, such as light and darkness, truth and falsehood, spirit and flesh, love and hatred, life and death, Christ and Antichrist, children of God and children of the world. But John usually leaves us to imagine far more than his words directly express—an infinity lying behind, which we can better apprehend by faith, than grasp and fully measure with the understanding. And especially does he connect every thing with that idea of a theanthropic Redeemer, which had become part and parcel of his own soul; nor can he strongly and frequently enough assert the reality and glory of that which was to him, of all facts and experiences, the surest, the holiest, and the dearest. But with regard to its principle, and the point of view from which it is constructed, the doctrinal system of John is the highest and most ideal of all—the one toward which the others lead and in which they merge. It wonderfully combines mystic knowledge and love, contemplation and adoration, the profound wisdom and childlike simplicity, and is an anticipation, as it were, of that vision face to face, into which, according to Paul (1 Cor. 13:12; comp, 2 Cor. 5:7), our fragmentary knowledge, and faith itself, will finally pass.”]

[33][Lange: das Evangelium fur alles gelrubte, in sich selbst verliebte Ideale, wie far alles finstere, in sich selbst verfangene Reale.]

[34][Comp. the Exeg. Notes on John 21:24, 25, and Abbot’s addition to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, ii. p. 1430. Abbot justly concludes: “The only plausible explanation of vers. 24 and 25 seems to be, that they are an attestation of the trustworthiness of the Gospel by those who first put it into general circulation—companions and friends of the author, and well known to those to whom it was communicated; and the only plausible account of the first 23 verses of the chapter is, that they are a supplementary addition" [or rather the Epilogue, corresponding to the Prologue, as Dr. Lange regards it], “which proceeded directly from the pen, or substantially from the dictation, of the author of the rest of the Gospel.”—P. S.]

[35][Dr. Lange omits to notice, in his third edition of 1868, some important data which have come to light since his second edition in 1862. We can now appeal to two or three direct and explicit testimonies of Papias in favor of the Gospel of John. These set aside the argument from his alleged silence, which has been recently urged by Strauss, Renan, Zeller, Hilgenfeld, Volkmar, and others, as a very dangerous argument against the apostolic origin of the same. (1) The first is found in a Latin MS. of the Gospels in the Vatican Library, marked “Vat. Alex. No. 14,” and dating apparently from the ninth century, where, in a prologue to the Gospel of John, the following remark occurs: “Evangelium iohannis manifestatum et datum est ecclesiis ab iohanne adhuc in corpore constituto, sicut papias nomine hiera-politanus discipulus iohannis carus in exotericis [no doubt an error of the copyist for exegeticis] id est in extremis quinque libris [i.e., at the close of the fifth book of his lost λογίων κυριακῶν ἐξηγήσεις] retulit. This testimony (which is not invalidated by the additional improbable notice that John dictated his Gospel to Papias) was known already to Cardinal J. M. Thomasius, who entered it in his collections (Opp. omnia, Rom, 1747, tom. i. p. 344; comp. Aberle in the Roman Catholic Quarialschrift of Tübingen, 1864, pp. 1–47), but it attracted no attention until it was recently rediscovered in the Vatican Library, and brought to notice by the eminent Benedictine scholar, Cardinal Pitra, and Prof. Tischendorf, on his visit to Rome, March, 1866, who assigns the Prologue to a writer before the time of Jerome. (2) The second testimony which was discovered by Aberle (l. c.) in a Proëmium to the Gospel of John in the Catena Patrum Græcorum, ed. by Corderius, is from an anonymous Greek commentator, who asserts that John, the Son of Thunder, dictated his Gospel to his disciple Papias of Hierapolis (τῷ ἐαυτοῦ μαθητῇ Παπίᾳ εὐβιώτῳ) [probably for ἐπισκόπῳ] τῷ ἱεραπολίτῃ. Although this tradition may have no foundation in fact, it proves, nevertheless, the intimate connection of Papias with the Gospel of John in the opinion of the ancient Church. (3) Finally, Irenæus, at the close of his work, Adv. Haer., v. 36, §§ 1, 2, quotes a passage from John 14:2 in such connection with Papias, and other presbyters who had known John personally (presbyteri qui Johannem discipulum Domini viderunt), as to make it extremely probable that he quoted either from the work of Papias, or of the presbyters, who were still older and better witnesses.—On the other hand, we can make no use (as Dr. Wordsworth does for another purpose) of the fragment of “Papias” in an Oxford MS. (see Grabe, Spicil. ii. 34, 35, and South, Reliquiæ Sacra, vol. i. 16) on the four Marys (among whom he mentions “Mary Salome, the wife of Zebedæus, the mother of John the Evangelist”), for this passage is an extract from a Dictionary or Glossary of another Papias, of Lombard, in the twelfth century, as Hofstede de Groot (Basilides, &c., p, 112 f.) has conclusively proved from another copy of the Lexicon Catholicum of the mediæval Papias.—Comp. on these testimonies of Papias to the Gospel of John (which have escaped also the attention of Prof. Fisher and Mr. Abbot), the fourth revised and enlarged edition of Tischendorf, Wann wurden unsere Evangelien geschrieben? Leipzig, 1866, pp. 101–119, especially p. 118, and P. Hofstede de Groot, Basilides, &c., Leipzig, 1868, pp. 109–116. The latter closes his discussion with the remark: “Who knows what else may not yet be discovered? But, for the present, the facts adduced are sufficient to prove that Papias was acquainted with the fourth Gospel as a production of John.”—P. S.]

[36][Polycarp, a disciple of John, quotes from 1 John 4:3 the passage concerning the mark of Antichrist (Ep. ad Philipp., c. 7).—P. S.]

[37]According to Volkmar (Ueber Justin den Märtyrer und sein Verhällniss zu unserem Evahgelium, Zürich, 1853), it should of course he granted that Justin was ignorant of the fourth Gospel. John writes ἄνωθεν γεννηθῆναι, Justin ἀναγεννηθῆναι. But Justin was free from pedantry j and in Rome, where the Petrine term (1 Peter 1:3, 23) was familiar, did well to use it. [That Justin, Apol. i. 61, in quoting from memory (as was usual with him) the passage on regeneration, John 3:3–5, uses ἀ ν α γεννάω for γεννάω and βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν forβασ. τοῦ θεοῦ is not strange if we consider that besides being found in a few MSS., had become the current term for regeneration; that the Synoptists use and that the same inaccuracy in quoting this very passage occurs frequently in Irenæus, Eusebius, Chrysostom, and other fathers, as has been shown in a learned note by Abbot in his and Hackett's edition of Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible (1869), ii. 1433. Even Jeremy Taylor once quotes the passage inaccurately thus: “Unless a man be born of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”—P. S.]

[38][On the important testimony of Basilides (A. D. 65–135) brought to light in 1851 with the discovery of the “Philosophumena” of Hippolytus, see the learned and able treatise of P. Hofstede de Groot, of Groningen, written first in Dutch, and then enlarged in German: Basilides als erster Zeuge für Alter und Autorilät N. T. Schriften, insbesondere des Johannesevangeliums, Leipzig, 1868—P. S.].

[39][From the account of Epiphanius, Hæresis L. adv. Alogos, which is almost the only source of our information on the Alogi (so called first by Epiphanius, as deniers of the Logos, with a sarcastic insinuation of their unreasonableness), it is not clear whether they rejected the divinity of Christ altogether, or simply John’s doctrine of the Logos (1:1–14). He says, indeed, that they denied the Gospel of John, καὶ τὸν ἐν αὐτῷ ἐν ἀρχῇ ὄντα θεὸν λόγον (Hær. liv. c. i.); but, on the other hand, he closely distinguishes them from the Ebionites, as well as from the Gnostics. They rejected both the Gospel and the Apocalypse, and absurdly ascribed these books to the Gnostic Cerinthus, a later contemporary of John. This very fact, however, proves that these books were regarded as ancient at the time of the Alogi, who flourished during the Montanist controversy, about 170, and furnishes a strong argument against the position of the Tübingen school which would put the composition of the Gospel of John down to the middle of the second century. Had the Alogi had any idea of its late origin, they would no doubt have turned it to account. According to Heinichen (De Alogis, Theodotianis atque Artemonitis, Leipzig, 1829), they rejected merely the Apocalypse, not the Gospel of John. But this is irreconcilable with the account of Epiphanius, who expressly says (Hær. l. c. 3), that if they had cast off the Apocalypse only, there might he some excuse in view of the obscurity of that book; but since they rejected all the writings of John, they showed clearly that they belonged to the antichrists spoken of, 1 John 2:18. They tried to refute John with the Synoptists, but very feebly. They were also violently opposed to the Montanists, and denied the continuance of prophecy and miraculous gifts in the Church.—P. S.]

[40][The remark of Tholuck, p. 11, that “the Old Testament prophets speak not a whit more impure Hebrew than the prose-writers,” mistakes the main point here at issue—to wit, the difference between the states of consciousness, in which a Hebrew at one time speaks pure Greek, at another, Hebraizes.]

[41][Luthardt, in the first chapter of his able work: Das Johanneische Evangelium nach seiner Eigenthümlichkeit geschildert und erklärt (Nürnberg, 1852, pp. 1–20), satisfactorily defends the integrity of the fourth Gospel against the views of Weisse and Schweizer, which may be regarded as exploded. But since that time the game error has been renewed in a modified form. Renan (Vie de Jésus, 1863) is disposed to regard the narrative portions of John as genuine and to acknowledge a historical substratum even in the discourses. He accepts as historical the belief in the resurrection of Lazarus, but turns it into a counterfeit miracle, the result of guilty collusion, which is certainly no better, but worse, than the German notion of a mythical poem, or a symbolical vestment of the idea of immortality. In the 13th edition of his Vie de Jésus, Paris, 1867, Renan enters for the first time into a discussion of the Johannean question. He distinguishes, in the Preface, four views on the subject: (1) the orthodox, which holds fast to the whole Gospel of John as genuine; (2) the middle position, which recognizes him as the first author, but admits that it has been brought into its present shape and form by his disciples; (3) the critical, which derives it from a disciple of John about A. D. 100, and gives up the discourses, but admits a Johannean tradition in the historical portion; (4) the second critical view, which regards the whole as a fiction or historical novel of the second century. He professes to hold the third view, and defends it in a concluding essay. Weizsäcker, who is Baur’s successor in Tübingen, (in his Untersuchungen über die evangel. Geschichte, Gotha, 1864; comp. his notice of Renan in the Jahrbücher für Deutsche Theologie, for 1868, pp. 521 ff.), substantially agrees with Renan, and divides the authorship between John and one or more of his disciples, probably the elders at Ephesus.—P. S.]

[42][Comp. the first foot-note on p. 26.—P. S.]

[43][The genuineness of John 8:1–11, or rather 7:53–8:11, as also of John 5:4, with the last clause of ver. 3, is purely a question of textual criticism. See the Textual Notes in loc.—P. S.]

[44][The unanimous tradition of the ancient Church concerning the labors of John in Asia Minor, which even the skeptical school of Baur left untouched, has been quite recently rejected by Dr. Keim in his History of Jesus of Nazara, vol. i. (1867) p. 161 ff., but ably defended by Dr. Stertz in the Studien und Kritiken for 1868, p. 487.—P. S.]

[45][See remarks on vers. 1–11 in the section on the Genuineness, and the passage in its place in the Commentary.]

[46][Comp. Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, collected out of the works of the Fathers, by S. Thomas Aquinas, fourth vol. St. John. Oxford, 1845.—P. S.]

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Top of Page
Top of Page