He was speaking about Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. For although Judas was one of the Twelve, he was later to betray Jesus.
I. JESUS" QUESTION. "Will ye also," etc.? This implies:
1. His regard for the freedom of the will. Christ does not destroy, nor even interfere with, the freedom of the human will, but ever preserves and respects it. He ever acknowledges the sovereignty of the human soul and will.
2. That it was his wish that each disciple should decide for himself. "Will ye," etc.?
(1) The personality of religious decision. Religion is personal. Every religious act must be personal, and is ever judged as such.
(2) The importance of religious decision, "Will ye," etc.? A most important question to them in its immediate and remote issues. Their destiny hangs upon it.
(3) The urgency of immediate decision. If they had a wish to leave him, the sooner the better. The question of our relationship to Christ cannot be settled too soon. It demands immediate consideration.
3. That it was not his wish to retain them against their will.
(1) This would be against the principle of his own life.
(2) It would be against the principle of all spiritual life.
(3) And against the great principle of his kingdom, which is willing obedience and voluntary service. Whatever is done to him against the will, or without its hearty concurrence, has no virtue, no spiritual value. All his true soldiers are volunteers. Unwilling service must lead to separation sooner or later.
4. His independency of them.
(1) He is not disheartened by the great departure. Many went back. He was doubtless grieved with this, with their want of faith and gratitude, but was not disheartened.
(2) He is independent of even his most intimate followers. "Will ye," etc.? If even they had the will to go away, he could afford it. One might think that he could ill afford to ask this question after the great departure from him. He had apparently now only twelve, and to these he asks, "Will ye also," etc.? He is not dependent upon his disciples. If these were silent, the very stones would speak; if the children of the kingdom reject him, "many shall come from the east," etc.
5. His affectionate care for them. "Will ye also," etc.? In this question we hear:
(1) The sound of tender solicitude. There is the note of independency and test of character; but not less distinctly is heard the note of affectionate solicitude for their spiritual safety. He did not ask the question of those who went away.
(2) The sound of danger. Even the twelve were not out of danger. Although they were in one of the inner circles of his attraction, they were in danger of being carried away with the flood.
(3) The sound of tender warning. "Will ye also," etc.? You are in danger. And their danger was greater and more serious than that of those who left; they were more advanced, and could not go away without committing a greater sin.
(4) The sound of confidence. The question does not seem to anticipate an affirmative reply. With regard to all, with the exception of one, he was confident of their allegiance.
II. THE DISCIPLES ANSWER. Simon Peter was the mouthpiece of all. The answer implies:
1. A right discernment of their chief good. "Eternal life." This, they thought, was their greatest need, and to obtain it was the chief aim of their life and energy; and in this they were right.
2. A right discernment of Jesus as their only Helper to obtain it. Little as they understood of the real meaning of his life, and less still of his death, they discerned him
(1) as the only Source of eternal life;
(2) as the only Revealer of eternal life;
(3) as the only Giver of eternal life. "With thee are the words," etc.
3. Implicit faith in his Divine character. "We believe and know," etc. They had faith in him, not as their national, but as their personal and spiritual Deliverer - the Saviour of the soul. and the Possessor and Giver of eternal life.
4. A determination to cling to him.
(1) This determination is warmly prompt. It is not the fruit of study, but the warm and natural outburst of the heart and soul.
(2) It is wise. "To whom shall we go?" They saw no other one to go to. To the Pharisees or heathen philosophers? They could see no hope of eternal life from either. To Moses? He would only send them back to Christ. It would be well for all who are inclined to go away from Christ to ask first, "To whom shall we go?"
(3) It is independent. They are determined to cling to Christ, although many left him. They manifest great individuality of character, independency of conduct, and spirituality and firmness of faith.
(4) It is very strong.
(a) The strength of satisfaction. Believing that Christ had the words of eternal life, what more could they need or desire?
(b) The strength of thorough conviction. They not only believe, but also know. They have the inward testimony of faith and experience. True faith has a tight grasp. Strong conviction has a tenacious hold.
(c) The strength of willing loyalty. "Lord, to whom," etc.? "Thou art our Lord and our King, and we are thy loyal subjects." Their will was on the side of Christ, and their determination to cling to him was consequently strong.
(d) The strength of loving attachment. The answer is not only the language of their reason, but also the language of their affection. Their heart was with Jesus. They could not only see no way to go from him, but they had no wish.
(e) The strength of a double hold. The Divine and the human. The hold of Jesus on them, and their hold on him. They had felt the Divine drawing, and they were within the irresistible attraction of Jesus. They were all, with one notorious exception, by faith safely in his hand.
1. Loving faith in the Saviour is strengthened by trials. It stands the test of adverse circumstances. In spite of forces which have a tendency to draw away from Christ, it clings all the more to him.
2. The success of the ministry must not always be judged by additions. Subtractions are sometimes inevitable and beneficial. The sincerity of the following should be regarded even more than the number of the followers.
3. It is afar greater loss for us to lose Jesus than for Jesus to lose us. He can do without us, but we cannot do without him. He can go elsewhere for disciples; but "to whom shall we go?" B.T.
Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?I. WHO THEN WILL SAY THAT THE MEN WITH WHOM CHRIST BEGAN HIS NEW KINGDOM WERE MORE THAN MEN; not bone of our bone, but a princely sort, quite away from the common herd? On the contrary, they fairly represented human nature in its best and worst aspects — gentleness, ardour, domesticity, enterprise, timidity, courage, and one of them was a devil — a man like the others, but in him a pre-eminent capacity for the foulest mischief.
II. A wonderfully instructive fact is this that JESUS DID NOT POINT OUT THE SUPREMELY WICKED MAN, but simply said, "One of you is a devil." Thus a spirit of mournful self-suspicion was excited, culminating in the mournful "Is it I?" It is better not to know the worst man in the Church: to know only that judgment will begin at the House of God, and to be wondering whether that judgment will take most effect on ourselves. No man fully knows himself. The very star of the morning fell from heaven: why not you or I?
III. ISCARIOT'S WAS A HUMAN SIN RATHER THAN A MERELY PERSONAL CRIME. Individually, I did not sin in Eden, but humanly I did; personally, I did not covenant for the betrayal of my Lord, but morally I did; I denied Him, and pierced Him; and He loved me and gave Himself for me.
IV. WHY DID CHRIST CHOOSE A MAN WHOM HE KNEW TO BE A DEVIL.? A hard question, but there is one harder still. Why did Jesus choose you?
(J. Parker, D. D.)I. FOR THE TWELVE. Peter had spoken in their name as well as for himself: Christ replies that nevertheless there is ground for self-examination. Their honour and the position they enjoyed as apostles, and possible future heads of the Church, was no infallible guarantee of their sincerity. There was, therefore, with a devil in their midst, room for heart-searching before God.
II. FOR JUDAS. How Christ came to elect him presents no more inseperable problem than that involved in any attempt to harmonize Divine sovereignty and human freedom. Why should God employ wicked men anywhere, particularly in His Church? All men are dealt with as free agents. If Christ elected Judas, it was probably because —
1. He recognized that to be the Father's Will.
2. He would rescue if He could a soul as black as his.
3. He would make it clear that Judas was self-destroyed. The warning was manifestly for the sake of Judas to discover to Him his awful danger.
(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)John 2:24, 25; John 13:11)? A number of questions will suggest themselves; but we note only the brief account given in the Bible.
I. THE DEVELOPMENT OF HIS DEPRAVITY. As treasurer, he develops selfishness, avarice, thievishness: a typical defaulter. The anointing at Bethany showed satan in possession. Conference with the chief priests, and the compact with them. The upper room, the betrayer revealed. The kiss, and the cowardly disappearance.
II. HIS DREADFUL DEATH. The accounts in Matthew and Acts are not contradictory: one is supplemental to the other. Conviction, remorse, suicide (Matthew 28:3-5.)
III. HIS DOLEFUL DESTINY. "Own place" (Matthew 26:24). The two Scripture hints indicate his dark doom. Remarks:
1. This betrayer a minister. Official prominence has special dangers. Hierarchies have been traitors, in destroying foundation doctrines, and individuals have pierced Christ in the house of his friends.
2. But the loyal far outnumber the betrayers. Do not forget the faithful standard-bearers.
3. A warning to all against making worldly gain out of professed godliness. Let avarice be shunned.
4. Each impenitent sinner will have his "own place." Remorse will be his constant companion.
5. Contrast the joy in prospect of departure which a loyal faith yields (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
(H. F. Smith, D. D.)
(J. Culross, D. D.)1 Samuel 16:6). In that case, his election by Jesus is perfectly intelligible. The Head of the Church simply did what the Church has to do in analogous circumstances. The Church chooses men to fill sacred offices on a conjunct view of ostensible qualifications, such as knowledge, zeal, apparent piety, and correctness of outward conduct. In so doing, she often makes unhappy appointments, and confers dignity on persons of the Judas type, who dishonour the positions they fill. The mischief resulting is great; but Christ has taught us, by His example in choosing Judas, as also by the parable of the tares, that we must submit to the evil, and leave the remedy in higher hands. Out of evil God often brings good, as He did in the case of the traitor. Supposing Judas to have been chosen to the apostleship on the ground of apparent fitness, whet manner of man would that imply? A vulgar, conscious hypocrite, seeking some mean by-end, while professedly aiming at a higher? Not necessarily; not probably. Rather such a one as Jesus indirectly described Judas to be when he made that reflection: "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." The false disciple was a sentimental, plausible, self-deceived pietist, who knew and approved the good, though not conscientiously practicing it; one who, in aesthetic feeling, in fancy, and in intellect, had affinities for the noble and the holy, while in will and in conduct he was the slave of base, selfish passions; one who, in the last resource, would always put self uppermost, yet could zealously devote himself to well-doing when personal interests were not compromised. In thus describing Judas, we draw not the picture of a solitary monster. Men of such type are by no means so rare as some may imagine. History, sacred and profane, supplies numerous examples of them, playing an important part in human affairs. Baalam, who had the vision of a prophet and the soul of a miser, was such a man; Robespierre, the evil genius of the French Revolution, was another. The man who sent thousands to the guillotine had, in his younger days, resigned his office as a provincial judge, because it was against his conscience to pronounce sentence of death on a culprit found guilty of e capital offence. A third example, more remarkable then either, may be found in the famous Greek Alcibiades, who, to unbounded ambition, unscrupulousness, and licentiousness, united a warm attachment to the greatest and best of the Greeks. The man who in after years betrayed the cause of his native city, and went over to the side of her enemies, was in his youth an enthusiastic admirer and disciple of Socrates. How he felt towards the Athenian sage may be gathered from words put into his mouth by Plato in one of his dialogues, words which involuntarily suggest a parallel between the speaker and the unworthy follower of a greater than Socrates: "I experience towards this man alone (Socrates) when no one would believe me capable of: a sense of shame. For I am conscious of an inability to contradict him, and decline to do what be bids me; and when I go away, I feel myself overcome by desire of the popular esteem. Therefore I flee from him, and avoid him. But when I see him, I am ashamed of my admissions, and oftentimes I would be glad if he ceased to exist among the living; and yet I know well, that were that to happen, I should still be more grieved." The character of Judas being such as we have described, the possibility at least of his turning a traitor becomes comprehensible. One who loves himself more than any man, however good, or any cause, however holy, is always capable of bad faith more or less heinous. He is a traitor st heart from the outset, and all that is wanted is a set of circumstances calculated to bring into play the evil elements of his nature.
(A. B. Bruce, D. D.)
(Abbott's "Napoleon. ")
(L. M. Stretch.).
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