John 3:22-36

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 22) This verse must be read in the light of John 4:2. By linking these two verses together, an important principle is established – what is done by the servants of Christ BY HIS AUTHORITY is as though it had been done by Christ Himself (II Cor. 5:20; Luke 10:16).

(Vs. 23) This is one of the verses in the New Testament, which plainly teaches the proper mode of baptism. If baptism were by sprinkling or by pouring, "much water" would not be required. The scriptural form of baptism is by immersion, for which "much water" is needed. The very word "baptized" (both in the Greek and the English) signifies to dip or to immerse. The example of our Lord Himself ought to settle all controversy. No unprejudiced mind can read Matt. 3:16 without seeing that the Lord was immersed (Rom. 6:3).

(Vs. 24) John's ministry had not yet been terminated by his imprisonment and death.

(Vs. 25) Some of John's disciples and the Jewish religionists were in conflict over purifying. The Jews had so many purifyings, some scriptural and some traditional. We really have no way of knowing what this was about, for it does not say.

(Vs. 26) But these same Jews (Read John 1:19) came to John and told him that Jesus of Nazareth, to whom he bore witness, was baptizing and that all men now were coming to Him, not to John! What was their motive? Were they seeking to make John jealous and envious? Were they seeking to divide John and Jesus Christ? Perhaps! This is a favorite device of Satan, to make one servant of the Lord envious of another. An example of this is found in Num. 11:26-29. (Phil. 1:14-18; Eph. 3:8.)

(Vs. 27) It is beautiful to see how John conducted himself on this occasion. His reply was most becoming of grace. He bows to the sovereign will of God! (I Cor. 4:7; I Cor. 12:11, 18.) Like the Apostle Paul, he declares, "I am what I am by the grace of God."

(Vs. 28) Continuing to reply to these Jews, John reminds his tempters of what he had told them before (John 1:20-23), that the only place he claimed was that of a voice sent by God before Christ to bear witness of Him.

(Vs. 29) Continuing, John said, "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom." The bride is the church, the elect of all generations, the people of God; and they BELONG to the Bridegroom (given to Him by the Father, redeemed by His blood, and brought to Him by His Spirit). The friend of the Bridegroom is not jealous and envious. He is truly a friend and loves the Bridegroom, he rejoices in the happiness of the Bridegroom, and his joy is fulfilled when the Bridegroom is glorified. The servant of Christ is occupied with Christ and His glory.

(Vs. 30) Finally, John adds, "He must increase and I must decrease." Blessed climax this was to John's modest reply and well calculated to crush all party feelings, ambitions, jealousy, and self-glory that may be found in our hearts. "He must increase." This is the will and purpose of the Father (Col. 1:16-18). Therefore, I MUST decrease. The more I am occupied with Christ, the less I shall be occupied with myself. Humility is the BY-PRODUCT of a genuine faith in and love for Christ (II Cor. 3:18).

(Vs. 31) There are several contrasts between the Saviour and His servant given in Verses 28-31.

(Vs. 32) The testimony, which our Lord bore, was a perfect one! We know in part and preach in part; but our Lord Jesus knows all heavenly things by His own perfect knowledge, for HE IS GOD!

"No man receiveth His testimony." This is not to be understood without qualification, for Verse 33 tells us some who did receive His gospel. John meant that COMPARATIVELY, none received His testimony. Compared with the crowds, the nation Israel, and the world's population, those who believed were FEW! (John 1:10-11; I Cor. 2:14; John 6:44-45.)

(Vs. 33) To "set to his seal" means to certify and ratify. By faith in the Lord Jesus, the believer says God hath fulfilled in Christ all that He promised of the Messiah. Not one word of God has failed (I John 5:10). Faith glorifies God; unbelief dishonors God.

(Vs. 34) The Father sent the Son, and the Son spoke only the words of the Father (Matt. 17:5). He differed from other messengers in that "In ALL things he has the pre-eminence." Others had the Spirit by measure, but the Spirit ABODE on Him. The Lord Jesus knew the full truth, for HE IS THE TRUTH! (Col. 2:9).

(Vs. 35) "All things" here simply means all things – all things pertaining to the universe, to life, to the new heavens and new earth, to the church, and if there be anything else, to it.

(Vs. 36) Here is the inevitable alternative. All things are in Christ: all things are ours through union with Christ; that union with Christ comes through faith in Christ. Those who believe not shall not see life, nor enter in, nor enjoy it.

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.


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