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I have had in view, in writing this Commentary on John, the wants of the ordinary reader, rather than critics, preachers and theologians, and have therefore aimed to write in plain and simple language, avoiding technical phrases and Greek words which would only be intelligible to the learned. While I have endeavored to avail myself of the studies of the great Biblical scholars I have sought to present in a popular form the results of their studies, rather than their methods. As it has been the aim of my life to speak or write for the benefit of the common people, so in this volume I have constantly had before my mind that class to whom the Great Teacher so adapted his instruction that “they heard him gladly.” I have felt the more need of simple forms of speech, copious illustration and application, in that the Fourth Gospel itself, on account of its lofty themes, rises to an elevation far above the ordinary channels of human thought, and is less likely to be understood by the common reader than the more matter of fact treatises that precede it in the New Testament.
It is fitting that I should acknowledge my indebtedness to those of whose studies I have freely availed myself. With most of the commentaries of note in the English language at hand for consultation, I have industriously compared them, often adopting their views, and even when I did not, frequently receiving suggestions that have aided me to a satisfactory conclusion. Where I have quoted an author I have given proper credit, but I cannot refrain from expressing my especial obligation to the critical Greek Testament of Dean Alford. I have found no other author whose calm and impartial temper and sound judgment were so generally trustworthy. I also place a high value upon the work of Canon Westcott.
I have thought it would help to an understanding of the text to give the Revision and the Common Version, side by side. The former, while not likely to become the “Accepted Version” until it has undergone further revision, is probably the most accurate translation yet made, and often clears up obscure passages. While it is given, and used in the comment, it is not made the basis for the reason that it is not yet the Accepted Version of the English speaking world.
On the difficult question of the Chronology of the ministry of our Lord I have, in the main, followed Andrews, from whose very careful arrangement, a departure is not lightly to be made, though in one or two instances I have thought there were sufficient reasons for a deviation. It will be seen that John, while passing many details, follows the natural order of events and, in order that each may be seen and studied in its proper connection, I have 5aimed to outline, in their place, the incidents of our Savior's history which are to be supplied from the other Evangelists.
Whatever imperfections of style the reader may discover are to be ascribed, in part, to the fact that this work has been written at intervals snatched from a very busy life. While the study of the writings of John has been a pursuit and joy for years, the writer feels that the quiet and studious repose of the library would have been more favorable to satisfactory arrangement of the results than the hurry of an editorial career. Still he trusts that his labors may aid some of his fellow mortals to a fuller knowledge of Him whom to have seen and known is to have seen the Father. He commits this study of the last and greatest of the Gospels to the public with the prayer that it may be blessed as a means of leading men to “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, they might have life through his name.” 6 11
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