John 3:30
He must increase; I must decrease.
Christ's Increase, and Our DecreaseJ. H. Holford, M. A.John 3:30
Great Workers Must be Content to Die and be Replaced by OthersJ. A. James., S. R. Bosanquet.John 3:30
John and JesusD. Young John 3:30
Opinions of SelfDean Young.John 3:30
Self AbnegationW. Baxendale.John 3:30
Spiritual IncreaseH. J. W. Buxton, M. A.John 3:30
The Certain Increase of the Glory and Kingdom of JesusJ. Ryland, D. D.John 3:30
The Increase of ChristA. B. Chambers, LL. B., G. Cross.John 3:30
The Increase of ChristE. D. Griffin, D. D.John 3:30
The Increase of ChristJ. A. James.John 3:30
The Servant and the SonT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 3:30
Aenon Near to SalimC. Geikie, D. D.John 3:22-36
All Men May Come to ChristW. Bridge.John 3:22-36
Christ Attracts SinnersT. Watson.John 3:22-36
Christ Sufficient for AllBowden.John 3:22-36
Jesus and John and Their DisciplesBp. Ryle.John 3:22-36
John and JesusG. J. Brown, M. A.John 3:22-36
John First, Then JesusC. S. Robinson, D. D.John 3:22-36
John's Joy FulfilledW. Bridge.John 3:22-36
The Attractive Power of ChristBiblical TreasuryJohn 3:22-36
The Controversy About PurifyingA. Beith, D. D.John 3:22-36
The Masters and the DisciplesA. B. Grosart, D. D.John 3:22-36
The Ministry of JohnBp. Wordsworth.John 3:22-36
The Bridegroom's Friend True to the LastB. Thomas John 3:25-30
Christ the Bride- Groom Announced by ProphecyF. D. Maurice, M. A.John 3:29-30
Christ the BridegroomR. Besser, D. D.John 3:29-30
Christ the Bridegroom of the ChurchJ. Cumming, D. D.John 3:29-30
John's Joy At His Master's IncreaseJohn Stephens.John 3:29-30
The Bridegroom and Bride with Their RetinueJ. Stoughton, D. D., J. Clayton, jun.John 3:29-30
The Bridegroom and His FriendJ. Stoughton, D. D.John 3:29-30
The Bridegroom and the BrideJohn 3:29-30
The Friend of the BridegroomDixon's, Holy Land."John 3:29-30
The Friend of the BridegroomW. Austin.John 3:29-30
The Joy of the BrideAndrew Grey.John 3:29-30
The Love of Christ in Espousing the ChurchJ. Dyke.John 3:29-30
The Purpose of BeingW. Jones.John 3:29-30
The Royal EspousalsJohn 3:29-30
We have here -

I. A MAN PUTTING SELF IN ITS PROPER. PLACE. John is a man ready to say, "I must decrease." If he had not been a man ready to say it, he would never have got the chance of saying it. Ability to speak in this spirit does not spring up all at once. Much in John's position was very tempting to self. It is easily seen how painful it might have been to hear friends coming to say that the crowds once wont to flock round John were now flocking round Jesus. But John had self well in check and discipline. And we must have the same attainment, or self-humiliation in some shape will assuredly come. The truly humble man never can be humiliated. John must ever have borne himself humbly, not forgetting his own sins while so earnest in denouncing the sins of others. We must be willing to accept any kind el decrease that is for the world's good and Christ's glory. Put self in the proper place; that is, always keep it out of the first place.

II. A MAN PUTTING CHRIST IN HIS PROPER PLACE. The increase of Christ and the decrease of John were all of a piece. John's work was soon done. His message was soon given, and then he could only begin over again. With all his greatness he was only one among the company of witnesses. He did his own work in his own generation, and then passed away. He had his time of increase - disciples increasing, influence increasing, name more widely known; and then Jesus comes on the scene, and there is no room for Jesus and John together. But in his own decrease John can rejoice, for it is a consequence of the increase of Jesus. The day never came when Jesus had to look upon some successor to himself and say, "He must increase, and I must decrease." That is the only satisfactory decrease in any of us which comes by the increase of Christ. He can never have too much authority, never be too much spoken about. As life goes on, the feeling should deepen that we cannot do without him.

III. A MAN PUTTING HIS FELLOW MEN IN THEIR PROPER PLACE. One can see a certain chivalry and nobleness in these disciples of John, a certain intention not to desert their master. But John intimates that going to Jesus in the right spirit is advance and not apostasy. It is going from a lower school to a higher. John can only begin; Jesus must finish. Swearing by human teachers and authorities is a miserable business. It is the Spirit of the Lord Jesus himself who is to lead us into truth. There is no true getting of understanding unless we understand from Jesus what he wishes, what he claims, what he proposes.

IV. A MAN WHOM JESUS WILL PUT IN HIS TRUE PLACE AT LAST. It is only relatively that John decreases. Ceasing to serve in a way that draws great public attention, he yet goes on with real service just as much. Jesus will glorify in his own way those who glorify him, and it will be the best way. Not a servant of Christ, however obscure his sphere, however self-forgetting his life, slips to the grave without his Master's notice. There is a sense in which we are able to say, and bound to say, "He must increase, and I must increase too." - Y.

He must increase, but I must decrease.I. JOHN'S MAGNANIMITY. His character was here put to the proof

1. His lofty contentment (ver. 27, cf. 1 Chronicles 29:14; Psalm 129:1, 2; Daniel 4:35; Acts 17:26) a maxim of universal application, in the realm of nature (Romans 11:36) and in the sphere of grace (1 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:6; James 1:17); specially significant with reference to individual success, in the world (Psalm 57:2), in the Church (2 Corinthians 3:5). Christ's popularity, so far from exciting John to jealousy, filled him with holy peace; exhibiting the spirit afterwards exemplified by Christ (Matthew 11:26; Matthew 26:39) and by Paul (Acts 21:14).

2. His profound humility (ver. 28). This man, who was in danger of being mistaken for the Messiah, and whom Christ pronounces the greatest of men, forms the most lowly estimate of himself throughout, in chap. John 1. as here.

3. His absolute unselfishness (ver. 29). Had he been inflamed with ambition, he could have played the role of a Messianic pretender, and snatched a crown; or have founded a rabbinical school; or at least drawn around him an independent gathering. Instead of this, the end of his aspiration and effort was to espouse the nation to its Lover, and then stand aside. John pleased not himself, but lived for his Lord.

4. His cheerful resignation (ver. 30). This was just what he desired, for what he had lived; he could, therefore, view Christ's popularity and his own supercession with delight.


1. His pre-existent Being. The historical appearing cannot be explained on natural principles.

2. His universal sovereignty "above all" — all persons, all things — in the dignity of His person, the elevation of His character, the vastness of His power, the absoluteness of His authority and sway. They are His creatures, for He made them (chap. John 1:3, 10; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16, 17; Hebrews 1:2); His property (ver. 35); His subjects (Psalm 8:6; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Ephesians 1:22; Hebrews 2:8).

3. HIS AUTHORITATIVE TESTIMONY. John exhibits this as resting on three things, which mark him off from ordinary witness bearers:

(1)A direct vision of the truth (Ver. 32).

(2)A special commission to reveal the truth (ver. 34).

(3)A complete impartation to Him of the truth (ver. 34).

4. His supreme Divinity, implied in what has already been said and in His Sonship.

5. His twofold work.



1. The secret of true greatness: humility before Christ.

2. The insignificance of human glory compared with that of Christ.

3. The dignity of ministerial service: that of acting as Christ's friend.

4. The pathway to renown: to efface one's self for the sake of Christ.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)


1. Because this is the design of God the Father. He has commissioned His Son to destroy the works of the devil, and to fill the world with His glory (Isaiah 9:7; Psalm 2:7, 8; Philippians 2:10). Failure in this is impossible. For what Divine design has failed?(1) When our first parents sinned, He promised a Deliverer. Let the manger, the cross, and the open tomb say whether He failed.(2) Did He fail when He threatened the Flood?(3) Did He fail to give Canaan to Abraham's seed, although Egypt and five centuries lay between the promise and the fulfilment?

2. Because the forces employed are adequate.(1) Love. To what is not human love, imperfect as it is not equal? But this force is the love of God, making, redeeming, and preparing heaven for man.(2) The Holy Spirit, who has power to convert every sinner upon earth.

3. The Holy Scriptures. Ask Mohammedanism why it fears the Bible? Because the Koran, when it comes in contact with it, loses its power. Ask Romanism. Because the power of priestcraft dies in its presence, and the chains of superstition are sundered. Is the Bible a power? Ask the fires in which its enemies have endeavored to burn it. While the writings of Porphyry, Julian, Hume, Voltaire, are lost or forgotten, where is the Bible? Wherever there is light. These, with their adjuncts, are adequate to the consummation of the text.


1. Individual felicity. Examine the experience of all who have fully embraced Christ. With this increase the circle of those enjoying happiness will extend.

2. Social elevation. The increase of Christ subdues the savage in man's breast, make marriage honourable, child-life happy, elevates woman, liberates the slave, provides refuges for the homeless, etc.

3. National advancement. Look at once famous empires, and compare them with the condition of countries in which Christ has increase.


1. By individual effort and influence (John 1:40-51). One of the conditions of Christ's increase in the heart is to contribute to His increase in the world.

2. By organised advance upon the strongholds of darkness.

(A. B. Chambers, LL. B.)John was one of God's nobility. Christ was deeply impressed with his intellectual, moral, and even professional greatness. The commanding proof of this is his state of heart and his conduct relative to the Messiah. The popularity of Jesus perplexed and annoyed John's disciples, but it made him profoundly glad. As a friend of the Bridegroom, the Bridegroom's voice was to him the sweetest music.

I. "I MUST DECREASE." John was not thinking of himself —

1. As subject to the law of decay and death. We are all subject to that, good and bad; and in the article of temporal death there was no difference between John and Jesus.

2. As an immortal being. His path shone more and more unto the perfect day. We can put no limit to the growth of holy intelligencies.

3. As being held in lesser esteem in the future. He is thought as highly of now as he was then; and the Master passed upon him the highest eulogium, and this Christians accept.

4. But that his authority and influence as the forerunner, or a religious reformer, would of necessity be taken up and absorbed by the higher authority and influence of the Messiah. After Christ's entrance, there was nothing for John but to point to him. "Behold the Lamb of God" now took the place of "Repent." Christ's rise was unavoidably John's fall; and to no one was it clearer or more welcome than John. It would have been a serious thing for John as a sinner and as a forerunner had this not been the case. But his influence was only relatively lost as a river flowing into the sea.

II. "HE MUST INCREASE." About this there is a glorious indefiniteness. John did not go into details as to the amount and manner. All he says is that it was a moral necessity.

1. When we take into account the marvellous progress already made, we can see that "Christ shall see the travail of his soul," etc. The leaven must go working on. The issue of the great contest between Christ and Satan is not uncertain. "He must reign," etc.

2. Some Christians cannot see this as they look on hindrances, corrupt institutions, depraved customs, false systems, inert and inconsistent Christians; but Christ must increase.

3. Not that God will ever compel men. All that the Gospel wants is a fair chance; and this it will eventually secure for itself.

4. The advance of Christianity is undoubted, although it has receded in certain places.

5. The real progress is much greater than the seeming progress. The atmosphere of certain countries has become impregnated with Christian elements, and their inhabitants cannot help breathing it.

6. Humanity needs Christ, and Christ is adapted to humanity. So much so, that the two must coalesce. A strong confirmation of the Baptist's saying.

(G. Cross.)


1. That Christ must still increase would appear probable even though we had no express assurances of it.(1) God has abolished a partial dispensation and established one suitable to all mankind.(2) Christ has made by His atonement a satisfaction for the sins of all.(3) Therefore we naturally believe and hope and desire that the tidings of salvation will be carried to all for whom He was given.

2. But we have stronger grounds — the plain and unequivocal promises of God — and are therefore firmly persuaded. Listen to David (Psalm 22:27; Psalm 72:8, 11; Psalm 86:9). To Isaiah (Isaiah 2:2; 40:5; 11:9). To Daniel (Daniel 7:13,14,27). To Malachi (Malachi 1:11). To John (Revelation 14:6; Revelation 11:15).

3. Can these promises fail? If so; owing to what? Want of wisdom? Want of power? Want of faithfulness? (Numbers 23:19).

4. Resting, then, on the promises of a God omniscient, almighty, faithful, the Church may bid defiance to all her enemies (Isaiah 8:9, 10).


1. Can a man inflamed with love to God fail to be grieved as he views the idolatry of the heathen and the sins of nominal Christendom? His mind can find no rest but in the assurance of the increase of Christ.

2. This truth is no less effectual to heal those wounds which proceed from love to the Saviour as it contemplates His present wide-spread rejection.

3. The lover of mankind is comforted by the thought that the increase of Christ will exterminate the rampant miseries over which he groans.


1. We should pray earnestly.

2. Labour diligently.

3. Give liberally.

(E. D. Griffin, D. D.)


1. Many things render this probable.

(1)The introduction of a system adapted to the wants of the whole race.

(2)The known kindness of Jehovah.

(3)The amazing apparatus of the Gospel.

2. The prophecies render it certain.


1. Not by miracles.

2. Not by a Millennial dispensation.

3. But by the preaching of the gospel.


(J. A. James.)

I. This is true of CHRIST HIMSELF — take His miracles, e.g. — beginning with water turned into wine and culminating at the Resurrection.

II. This is true of His CHURCH. At first a few persons meeting in an upper room, now in millions and still there is room. Increase will be promoted by —

1. Preaching.

2. A good example.

3. Prayer.

III. This is true of CHRISTIANS. We must grow in grace.

(H. J. W. Buxton, M. A.)

It is a humbling lesson to human vanity and tends to cheek the growth of self-importance to consider how well the world will go on when we are laid in the dust and no longer partake in the direction of its affairs. Leaves fall in autumn! trees are felled in the spring! but the next vernal season renews the foliage. Another age replaces the veteran oak removed by the axe or the tempest, and the forest still presents its broad expanse and deep shade to the eye of the traveller. So it is with the Church of God. Its members and its ministers die; but others are baptised for the dead and fill up their vacant seats in the spiritual house.

(J. A. James.)John here figures himself by the moon, whose light wanes and decreases when the month is drawing to a close, and when the morning light of the sun begins to break forth; and he figures Jesus Christ by the sun, which is to eclipse and destroy his brightness. John the Baptist, the witness of Jesus Christ, is justly figured by the moon, which is called the faithful witness in heaven; being the witness to the sun's existence, and of his future coming, whereas it is not yet seen, because it shines by a borrowed light, and except for the sun's existence and original light, it would not itself shine, and would be as nothing. So when, and as soon as the day begins to spring, the light of the moon fades and is invisible, and all eyes which were turned to it, and delighted in it, are now at once turned to the sun itself, as all men now came to Christ to be baptized, who before delighted and were satisfied to be baptized with John's baptism.

(S. R. Bosanquet.)

Opinion of ourselves is like the casting of a shadow, which is always longest when the sun is at the greatest distance; but by the degrees that the sun approaches the shadow still shortens, and under the direct meridian light it becomes none at all; it is so with our opinion of ourselves: whilst the good influences of God are the greatest distance from us, it is then always that we conceive best of ourselves; but still, as God approaches, the conceit lessens; till such time as we receive the fuller measures of His graces; and then we become absolutely voided, pure nothing in our own conceit, and God appears to be (as really He is) "All in all."

(Dean Young.)

Mr. Durham, a father of the Scottish Church was walking one Sabbath to his place of worship with a much admired young minister who was to officiate in one adjoining. Multitudes were thronging into the one, and only a few into the other. "Brother," said he to his young friend, "you will have a crowded church to-day." "Truly," said the other, "they are greatly to blame who leave you and come to me. "Not so, dear brother," replied Mr. Durham; "for a minister can receive no such honour and success in his ministry except it be given him from heaven. I rejoice that Christ is preached, and that His kingdom and interests are gaining ground, though my estimation in people's hearts should decrease; for I am content to be anything, so that Christ may be all in all."

(W. Baxendale.)

I. IT IS PROPOSED TO CONSIDER THE NATURE OF THAT INCREASE, WHICH THE BAPTIST CONFIDENTLY EXPECTED SHOULD ATTEND HIS BLESSED LORD. l, It was announced, that "He must increase"; and, lo! in the midst of poverty and reproach, of apparent weakness, and of cruel sufferings, Jesus exhibited an increasing display of Godlike fortitude and resolution; of spotless purity and rectitude; of infinite zeal for His Father's honour; and of the riches of grace and compassion for wretched ruined man.

2. On these transactions all the future increase of His kingdom absolutely depended. But now the purchase of redemption has been completed, what shall prevent the Saviour from receiving His full reward (John 12:23, 24)?

3. Well, then, might John the Baptist affirm, "He must increase," when he foresaw that His shameful death would be followed by so glorious a resurrection.

4. And how much more did the transactions of Pentecost justify this blessed prediction.


1. Because He is the Son of God, in the highest and most absolute sense, and therefore heir of all things.

2. We are persuaded, therefore, that He must increase, because He hath all power to overcome every enemy that opposeth His blessed reign.

3. He must increase, for the decrees of heaven ascertain the great event.

4. A great part of Scripture consists of promises of the increase of the Messiah's kingdom, and it is evident that the season of their chief accomplishment is yet future (see Isaiah 40., 60.).

5. We conclude that Jesus must increase, since this world and all others were "made by Him, and for Him."

(J. Ryland, D. D.)

I. "HE MUST INCREASE." In one sense the words do not apply. The Saviour is God, very God of very God, and there can be no increase to that which is already infinite. He is also perfect man, without spot or imperfection, but it was in His office of Mediator, and in the glories of His mediatorial kingdom, that the Saviour was capable of increase. The greatness and glory of His work was to be manifested; the love which promoted, and the wisdom which carried out, the wondrous plan of salvation, were to be revealed, and fresh conquests to be achieved. Through faith in a crucified, yet risen and ascended Saviour, His people also shall prevail, yea, and be made more than conquerors through Him that loved them; and then as one nation after another has been brought into professed subjection to Christ, and as soul after soul has been rescued from Satan and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God, we see the fulfilment of the words, "He must in. crease."

II. "I MUST DECREASE." We have already noticed, that in a high and important sense, the increase of Christ is the increase of His people — they are concerned in the triumphs of His grace, and are to share His glory. But there is also a sense in which the believer in Christ, who is rejoicing in his Lord, and in the full salvation he has secured, can join in these words of the Baptist, "I must decrease." Yes, there is the carnal self, that which is of the earth, earthy — the old man, the old nature — which still retains so much of power, even in the regene rate, that which the believer desires daily to crucify, the flesh with its affections and lusts. All this is to decrease, and finally — although not entirely until he has put off the body of this death — to disappear. Surely we greatly need to decrease in self-esteem, in pride, in carnality, in all that tends to hinder us in our Christian life, and bring dishonour on our Christian profession. We are to decrease in having self as the all-engrossing object. New hopes and desires are to have fuller power over us; the great motive of the love of Christ is to have its place, constraining, compelling, drawing. Opportunities of usefulness, and of actively working for God, may also be diminished, and in failing strength and energies the Christian reads the words, "I must decrease." The work of Christ, indeed, will not suffer.

(J. H. Holford, M. A.)

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