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B. W. Johnson
The New Testament Commentary: Vol. III--John (1886)
The Fourth Gospel has in all ages been ascribed by the Church to John, the son of Zebedee, an apostle of Jesus Christ. Within less than an hundred years of the date of his death Christian writers living in different portions of the world, whose writings are still extant, indicate to us that this was the universal belief of the Church. The testimony to the authorship is stronger than can be furnished in behalf of almost any uninspired writing of antiquity, and it would hardly be worth while to allude to the question had not a class of modern critics arisen who decide the question of the authorship of a portion of Scripture by the agreement or non-agreement of its teachings with their own views. Since the Fourth Gospel is more emphatic in affirming the pre-existence and divine majesty of Jesus Christ than the other three, a school of recent rationalistic critics has held that it is not the work of an apostle. I will very briefly show the reasons why its authorship must be conceded to John.
1. It is certain that it was written by a Jew. The familiarity which is constantly shown with Jewish locations proves that the author must have been a resident of Palestine. Places are named that are not spoken of elsewhere in the Old or New Testament, and of the existence of which we would have had no knowledge were it not for the fact that they are mentioned in this Gospel. Some of these, whose sites were unknown for ages, have been brought to light by recent exploration. "Ænon near to Salim" is an example. Not only does the author exhibit the most intimate knowledge of places, but of Jewish rites, customs, prejudices and feelings. This is so constantly exhibited as to demonstrate that the Gospel could not be the work of a Gentile. Every ancient writer, not of the Jewish race, who attempts to describe the Jewish people falls into the greatest errors, and the exact acquaintance with Jewish life, portrayed in almost every chapter, leaves no doubt that the Fourth Gospel is the product of a man born and reared under Jewish influences. Not only does the author exhibit an intimate knowledge of Jewish life, usages, and religious views and feelings, but also of the Jewish Scriptures. These are quoted with great frequency and it is noted by scholars that these quotations are often not taken from the Septuagint, the version into the Greek language, in which only these writings were known to the Gentile world. They are at times from the Hebrew, where it differs from the Septuagint, and at times the translation is original, instead of [xi] that of the Greek version. This establishes beyond a doubt, not only that the author was a Hebrew, but a Hebrew of Palestine. Among the Jews dispersed abroad (The Dispersion) the service of the synagogue was conducted, not in Hebrew, but in Greek by means of the Septuagint version. To Gentiles of all conditions of life and to Jews of the Dispersion with rare exceptions, the Hebrew Scriptures were, even in the Apostolic Age and earlier centuries, unknown. No instance is known of a Gentile in those times becoming possessed of such knowledge.
To the same conclusions the Hebraic style of the book bears testimony. Dr. Ewald, the greatest Hebrew scholar of the nineteenth century, declares "The Greek language of our author bears the strongest marks of a genuine Hebrew who, born among the Jews of the Holy Land, and having grown up among them, had learned the Greek language in later life, but still exhibits in the midst of the whole the spirit and air of his native tongue."
2. The Jewish author must have been a personal attendant of the Savior and a witness of the scenes which he describes. There is a life-like portraiture and an attention to details that could not come from hearsay. The first chapter furnishes an illustration in its account of the witness of John, the disciples directed to the Lamb of God, the disciples gathering around Jesus, and the conversation with Nathanael. The same characteristic is seen in the account of the wedding feast at Cana of Galilee, at the feeding of the Five Thousand, in the conversation at the Passover Supper, and on many other occasions. The writer must either describe as an eye-witness what he saw and heard, or he must have manufactured the details, a hypothesis utterly improbable, for reasons that will be given elsewhere. He claims to have been an eye-witness, and the internal evidence declares that his claim is true.
3. If the writer was a Jew, an attendant on Christ and a disciple, he must have been an apostle. There were none others who were with him from the beginning to the end of his earthly ministry. He must have been an apostle, too, who was admitted to the most sacred intimacy with the Lord, and who shared his thoughts to a degree not common even to the apostolic band. There is no other portion of the Scriptures, not excepting the other Gospels, that so completely reveals the inmost thoughts of our Lord. Elsewhere we have the Savior portrayed as the teacher of Israel and as He appeared in his conflicts with his adversaries. Here, in addition, we hear his confidential counsels to his chosen disciples, his tender consolation and intense solicitude; we behold the very pulsations of his loving heart as he stands revealed as Lord and Master, Friend and Brother. Of the apostolic band only three, Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, were admitted to the inner circle of the Savior's confidence. Peter could not have been the author, because (1) the style and mode of thought differ materially from what we observe in Peter's addresses and the two Epistles of which he was the author, and (2) all antiquity holds that the Gospel of Mark was written under the supervision of Peter. James could not have written it, for he suffered martyrdom at the hands of Herod long before the date to which it must be assigned. John [xii] only, remains, and it follows from this induction that it must have been written by John the Apostle.
4. This harmonizes with the statements made in the Gospel itself and with its internal character. Certain facts should be noted. (1) The author never mentions John the Apostle by name, and barely once names the sons of Zebedee. When he names John the Baptist, he calls him simply John, as if no other John was worthy of mention. (2) The author was an intimate companion of Peter. It was to him Peter whispered at the Supper; he and Peter come to the sepulcher together; they were fishing together in Galilee when the risen Savior appeared; it was of his future fate that Peter asked the Lord on this same occasion. When we turn to the history of Peter and John we find that the same intimacy existed, they were fishermen together and partners before they became disciples of Jesus; they were constant companions and fellow-workers in the early preaching of the Gospel as recorded in Acts.
5. There can be no doubt but that the same person was the author of the Fourth Gospel who wrote the First Epistle of John. There is an identity of thought and a similarity of phraseology that are unmistakable. If it is from the hand of John, as is generally conceded, so must be the Gospel also.
We have now considered the internal evidence of authorship which points unmistakably to the younger of the two sons of Zebedee. It will be of service to inquire whether this view is confirmed by the testimony of antiquity. As stated by Lucke, who has made an exhaustive examination of the subject, "down to the end of the second century this Gospel was universally recognized and attributed to the apostle whose name it bears." In the Canon Muratori, the first list of the New Testament writings, a fragment which belongs to somewhere near A. D. 180, it is named and ascribed to John. About the close of the century or the beginning of the next, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian of Carthage, and Irenæus of Gaul, all bear similar testimony. That the reader may see his opportunity for full knowledge upon the subject we will quote from Irenæus. This eminent writer, an earnest Christian and a martyr, says: "I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse--his going out and his coming in--his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses he delivered to the people; also how he spoke of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he could call their words to remembrance. . . . What I heard of him I wrote, not on paper, but in my heart, and by the grace of God I constantly keep it in mind." It will be seen that Irenæus was a pupil of Polycarp who was a pupil of John, and surely had every opportunity of knowing just what John did write. He states it as an undoubted fact that John wrote the Gospel that bears his name. The testimony stands as follows. 1. All the internal evidence points directly to John as the author. 2. Men who talked with those who were his companions, affirm that be was the author. 4. The universal voice of the Church at the close of the second century harmonizes in ascribing the Gospel to John; an array of testimony that can leave no [xiii] doubt that it came from the pen of the beloved apostle. If we reverse the order of proof it stands as follows:
1. In the fourth century all the ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, including the Sinaitic and Vatican, which belongs to the age of Constantine, and are copies of older manuscripts; all the ancient versions made during the second and third centuries, and all the canons of the books of the New Testament contain John and ascribe it to the apostle.
2. The Greek and Latin Fathers up to the middle of the second century, without a dissenting voice, bear the same testimony. This includes Jerome who died A. D. 419, Eusebius (340), Origen (254), Tertullian (200), Clement (190), Irenæus who wrote about A. D. 178, Theophilus (180), Muratorian Canon (170), Tatian (155-170) who quotes the Gospel, Justin Martyr (103-166) who also quotes it. It may be added that Polycarp, the disciple of John, of whose writings only a fragment is preserved, in it quotes the First Epistle of John, but it is conceded that it had the same author as the Gospel. This martyr died A. D. 155, when about 86 years old, and was 25 or 30 years old when John went to rest.
If, then, John did not write the Fourth Gospel, it must have been written about the time he died by a great Unknown, the mightiest mind of the Gospel historians and palmed off on the men who knew John personally and had been educated at his feet as the genuine composition of the last of the apostles. This must have been done so skilfully that no dissenting voice in the Church protested against the fraud!
"Either we must have here truths which Christ taught reported by one who lived after the spiritual and catholic character of Christianity had begun to show its actual development, and who, therefore, comprehended his profounder instructions as they were not comprehended during his lifetime; or else we must believe that the centuries immediately following the Christian era produced a spiritual genius whose insight into the profounder truths of human experience, when inflamed into more than merely human life by the inbreathing of God, makes him the equal if not the superior of the Jesus portrayed in the three Synoptic Gospels, and yet one who has been utterly unknown to fame, and who has left no other monument to his memory than a document that is a fraud if not a forgery. The skepticism that asserts this lays too heavy a tax on human credulity. It asks us to believe not only in a Socrates who had no Plato to reveal his teachings and his influences, but in one who did not hesitate to employ a petty and a useless fraud as a setting for the most transcendent spiritual truth."--Abbott.
THE AUTHOR'S LIFE.
John the Apostle, was evidently born and reared in the vicinity of the sea where he afterwards assisted his father in the calling of a fisherman. It has been thought that Bethsaida on the northern shore was his early home. As James is usually mentioned first, John is supposed to have been the younger of the two sons of Zebedee. Salome, his mother, is thought to have been a sister of Mary the mother of Christ, a hypothesis that would make John the [xiv] cousin of our Savior. He was probably a few years younger than Jesus as all antiquity testifies that he lived until the year 98 of our era. His parents seem to have been in comfortable circumstances, since we have an allusion to the hired servants of his father, and his mother was one of that band of noble women who followed Jesus, supported him with their means, who brought spices to his tomb, and who were last at the cross and first at the open sepulcher. John was himself a personal acquaintance of the high priest and seems to have had a home in Jerusalem into which he received the mother of our Lord after the crucifixion. The fact that he was called on to do so favors the idea that he was a kinsman.
He was pronounced by the Jews (Acts 4:13) an "unlearned and ignorant man." This, however, does not mean that he was illiterate, but that he had taken no theological course in the rabbinical schools, without which they thought that it was great presumption for any one to assume to be a teacher of religion. The education of John was such as all respectable Jewish children were wont to receive and we know that they were better educated than the children of any other nation in the world. There never was a people where the requirements of home education were so rigid and, in addition, a school was attached to the synagogue. Familiarity with the Scriptures in the Hebrew original was required from the earliest childhood, five years being the age named by the Jewish writers as that at which the child should begin to read, and the education was continued by regular gradations to the age of eighteen. John had not only passed through this course but had also been a disciple of John the Baptist and enjoyed the benefit of his preparation for the ministry of Christ. In addition to this, before he entered upon the work of the Twelve as the representatives of the will of Christ on the earth, he had sat for three years at the feet of Jesus and enjoyed the benefit of his constant teachings. Surely with these opportunities few men have enjoyed such educational opportunities as the author of the Fourth Gospel.
It was while attending upon John as his disciple that he was pointed to Jesus by the Forerunner, and left him to become a disciple of our Lord. This incident occurred on the banks of the Jordan where John was baptizing, shortly after the Temptation. A little later he was enrolled as one of the Twelve, and becomes one of the Three who stood nearest of all to Christ, who beheld his transfiguration and the scene of the Garden of Gethsemane. He leaned on the bosom of Christ at the last Supper, followed him to the court of the high priest, alone of all the apostles stood near the cross at the crucifixion, and was entrusted by the dying Savior with the care of his mother. He was the first to recognize the Savior at the sea of Galilee, and seems to have had a rare faculty of spiritual perception, shown in the reception of the deepest sayings of the Lord.
While quiet, contemplative and loving, he was not without traits of a different character. It is James and John who are styled by the Savior the Sons of Thunder, a name which seems to imply a fiery, energetic temper; it is James and John who wish to call down fire upon the Samaritan village which had refused to receive Jesus (Luke 9:54-56); it is John who forbade others who were doing a good work in the name of Christ, because they were not of the [xv] apostolic circle (Luke 9:49); it is Salome who asks, in behalf of her two sons, that they may be the prime ministers of Christ in the earthly kingdom that they expected him to establish; and it is John who in his epistles exhibits the most intense indignation over the wiles of opposers. Here every one who dishonors the Christian profession is a liar; one who hates his brother a murderer; one who sins wilfully a child of the devil, and those who deny the incarnation are Antichrist. Evidently John's was a strong, fiery nature, of intense feeling, but sweetened down by the love of Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit.
From the era of the founding of the Church on Pentecost John stands along with Peter as one of the foremost characters. At a little later period Paul speaks of Peter and James and John "as seeming to be the pillars" (Gal. 2:9), and as apostles of the circumcision, while Paul and Barnabas represented the uncircumcision. With Peter he heals the cripple at the gate of the temple; he is arrested with Peter and threatened by the Sanhedrim, and with him he was sent to confirm the Christian converts at Samaria. While it is evident that he made his home in Jerusalem and Judea for twenty or thirty years after the establishment of the Church, he seems to have stood aloof from the Judaizing controversy that assumed such prominence during that period. Though not mentioned by name he is included in those said to be present at the conference on this question about A. D. 50 or 51, and Paul, in Gal. 2:9, referring to a visit to Jerusalem which is believed to have been at this time, says expressly that he saw him. At the fifth and last visit of Paul, made some eight or ten years later, he saw only James (Acts 21:18). All the apostles living had dispersed to other fields of labor.
It seems probable from this that before the year 60 John had left Jerusalem. He must have made that city his home until the death of Mary, but from this time we have no scriptural testimony of his whereabouts until we behold him as an exile on the island of Patmos.
The gap that remains between his disappearance from Jerusalem and his reappearance at Patmos can only be partly filled from the testimony of the early church. There can be no doubt but that he passed many years in Asia Minor with his headquarters at Ephesus, but it is almost certain that he did not remove there until after the death of Paul, placed by the best authorities in A. D. 68. According to Conybeare and Howson Paul wrote to Titus from Ephesus in A. D. 67, and in the same year wrote to Timothy at Ephesus. In neither epistle is the name of John mentioned, which is sufficient proof that he was not yet in that part of the world. Already the disturbances had begun which culminated three years later in the destruction of Jerusalem, and as after a few years John was at Ephesus, we are justified in concluding that on, or shortly before, the overthrow of the Jewish state, he left Judea, and finally was led by the need of apostolic influence in the flourishing churches of Asia Minor, after the death of their founder, to locate at Ephesus. This change could hardly have taken place until after the fall of Jerusalem.
Concerning the length of the period John spent in this section of the world, or the details of his evangelical labors, we can do little more than conjecture. It is only in the dim twilight of the apostolic age that we again behold him [xvi] certainly as the exile of Patmos. Of the following facts we may be sure: 1. That at some time during this period he wrote his Gospel, the Epistles ascribed to him, and Revelation. 2. That he was exiled for a season to Patmos and while there wrote the last named book. 3. That the Seven Churches of Asia, of which Ephesus was the center, were to him special objects of solicitude (Rev. 1:11), and if we accept the voice of antiquity he died and was buried at Ephesus in the reign of Trajan, and at that place his grave was pointed out for centuries.
It is a pleasing picture that the early writers draw of the closing years of the last of the Apostles. He is described as the apostle of love, who in his extreme old age was carried on the arms of the disciples to the place of meeting, and repeated again and again the exhortation, "Little children, love one another." Various legends have come down, some of which may be true, but are not confirmed by satisfactory testimony.
THE PLACE AND DATE.
We have found that the later years of John were passed in Asia Minor and principally at Ephesus. Irenæus, who had such excellent sources of information and who was himself educated in the same region by a disciple of John, declares that the Gospel was written at Ephesus; with him agree Jerome and later writers. Irenæus also states that it was the latest written of the Gospels, and this agrees with judgment of all commentators. It was therefore written after the departure of the Apostle to this portion of the world, and there can be little doubt that its place of composition was the great metropolis of this portion of the world, and for along period after the fall of Jerusalem, the chief center of Christianity. "After the destruction of Jerusalem Ephesus became the center of Christian life in the East. Even Antioch, the original source of missions to the Gentiles, and the future metropolis of the Christian patriarch, appears for a time less conspicuous in the obscurity of early church history than Ephesus, to which Paul inscribed his Epistle, and in which John found a dwelling place and a tomb. This half Greek, half Oriental city, visited by ships from all parts of the Mediterranean, and united by great roads with the markets of the interior, was the common meeting place of various characters and classes of men."--Conybeare and Howson.
Of the date we can have no certain knowledge. There are internal evidences that would refer it to the last quarter of the first century. It has been held by some critics that it is the last composition of the New Testament, but I think it contains internal evidence that it was composed before Revelation, while the latter seems in its final words to close the sacred canon. In addition, the voice of the early church agrees that the Gospel had the earlier date. It was almost certainly composed between A. D. 75 and A. D. 90. A vague tradition that it was written during the exile to Patmos has no authority. Alford fixes the date between A. D. 70 and 85; Macdonald at A. D. 86 or 86; Godet between A. D. 80 and 90; Tholuck at not far from A. D. 100. [xvii]
CHARACTER OF THE GOSPEL.
The last record made of the Life and Words of our Lord is contained in the Fourth Gospel. The only survivor of the band that had attended his footsteps, heard his words, beheld his life, and been a witness of his resurrection, was John. The consciousness that he was closing the record, giving the last witness, and paying the last tribute to the Master which would come from a personal witness, must have produced a profound impression upon John when he undertook the task of outlining the ministry of Christ. Apart from all promptings of the Spirit, which would bring, all things to remembrance, he would be moved by his love and reverence for the Savior to give the truest possible revelation of his heart, life and majesty.
That this consciousness was ever present is manifest from the first to the last line of the Gospel. The last is the deepest, the highest, the most tender and loving, the most spiritual and the best of all the Gospels. Origen calls it "the crown of all the Gospels." Dr. Schaff pronounces it the most influential work of literature that was ever given to the world. There can be no doubt that John, with the exception of Paul, is the greatest human force that has appeared in Church history, and it may be regarded certain that no single book of the Bible has exerted as profound and far-reaching an influence as the Gospel of John. Nor is it difficult to account for this. He not only wrote after all the other apostles had passed from earth; after Jerusalem had fallen, the Jewish nation scattered, the church separated from the synagogue, the Jewish and Gentile Christians moulded into one, and the Jews regarded by even Jewish converts as an alien people, but he was a member of the apostolic band; one, too, of the sacred inner circle who were permitted to look into the very heart of Christ. Nay, more, of these three he was the "beloved apostle," the one who leaned on the bosom of the Lord, who spoke with him as a confidential friend, and who had charge of the mother of Christ after the tragedy of the cross. Surely there never was anyone else who enjoyed such precious advantages or who so nobly used them.
The appreciative reader is struck with the difference between John and the other Evangelists as soon as he reads the first sentence. He is conscious that a loftier and sweeter key has been struck. He has entered the Holy of Holies of the New Testament. He is in the presence of the Divine. It is not the tender, helpless Babe of Bethlehem, hanging on the bosom of an earthly mother, that meets him at the threshold, but the Incarnate Word, the Word who was in the beginning with God and is God. Yet while the Lord first appears clothed with Divine majesty, and though no one else has so exalted his matchless glory, yet, on the other hand, no one else has so lifted the veil from the humanity of the Master, revealed his heart and the tenderness of his soul in the intimacy of his private life. It is John who takes us within the sacred circle and allows us to sit at the Master's feet and listen to his "table talk" with his own beloved disciples. While we have combined, such exalted revelations of the "One sent by the Father," on the one hand, and such near views of the loving Brother, upon the other, [xviii] all is told in a plain, clear and natural way; simple as the story of a child and yet lofty as the flight of a seraph. If we search for the peculiarities that make it different from the other Gospels the following will be most apparent:
I. It is the Gospel of the Incarnation. The emphasis is upon the grand truth that Christ is the Word made flesh, the One sent from the Father, the Bread of Life come down from heaven, the One who hath life in himself and is therefore the Life of men, the Vine from whence the branches draw their life, the Light that cometh into the world, the I AM, the Son of God. John expressly disclaims having recorded all the words and deeds of the Lord, and assures us that he had selected from almost infinite resources. He has omitted much that is recorded in the other Gospels; he has added five miracles that they omitted and a series of discourses to which they hardly alluded, but a study of his material will show that the leading thought has been its bearing upon the oneness of Christ with the Father. We search in vain for many things found in the other Evangelists that portray the human side of the Redeemer's nature. No genealogies are given, there is no mention of the birth at Bethlehem, or of the life at Nazareth; the childhood is passed over as well as the baptism of our Lord, and the Lord appears before the reader, in the very beginning, not only as the Son of man but as the Son of God. The Divine Word is traced, step by step, as he speaks and acts in human form, as he controls the elements of nature, creates food and drink for man, creates new organs in those without them from birth, unlocks the tomb and calls forth a friend from the embrace of death, as he speaks to friends and foes of his relations to the Father, as he suffers and is humiliated, and in the sublimest of all miracles, overthrows Death who claimed him as a victim. He is traced when he comes forth a conqueror because "he had life in himself," and after a continued manifestation to his disciples, ascends in order that the Comforter might come "to abide with them forever." Never for a moment does John lose sight of the truth that the Savior in the "brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person." Yet it must not be supposed that in this respect there is any contradiction between John and the other Gospels. While the Savior is regarded from different standpoints the pictures are in complete harmony. John shows us the mother and "his brethren," the Baptist as the "Voice in the wilderness" who bears witness of Christ; he reveals the Lord "groaning" and "troubled in spirit," as weeping at the grave of a friend, or weary at Jacob's well. He attests that with his own eyes he saw him wounded to death and die, and indeed he concedes all they narrate of the human life of our Lord. On the other hand, they affirm, if with less emphasis, the matchless majesty of the Son of God. He is conceived without sin, is the Lord of David (Matt. 22:43), claims power on earth to forgive sins, declares himself the judge of the world (Matt. 7:21 and 25:31-46), will come riding on the clouds of heaven, will come in his glory with his holy angels with him, will take his seat on the throne of glory to judge all nations, is seen on the Mount of Transfiguration shining with heavenly glory, declares after the resurrection that all power in heaven and earth is [xix] given into his hands, associates himself with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the baptismal formula, as the connecting link between the two and thus assumes a place on the very throne of the Deity. There is nothing in the Johannean conception of the Son that is higher. This statement with which Matthew closes shows in what sense he uses the term Immanuel, "God with us," in the very first chapter of his Gospel (1:23). Indeed, it is strange that any candid man should have held that the Christ of John is a different conception from the Christ of the three Evangelists. With all four he is the Son of man, but with all four he is the Son of God, not a son, but the Son of God, and it is because he made this claim before the Sanhedrim, according to these Gospels, that he was condemned to death. In the earlier Gospels the Son of David, the Son of Mary, is demonstrated to be the Son of God; in the last Gospel he is seen as the Godhead in bodily form, the Son of God who is the manifestation of the Father. In the first three the human is divine; in the Fourth the Divine is human.
II. The Gospel of John is the Gospel of Love. It is true that the same doctrine is taught by the others. There the Savior declares that love is the very basis of eternal life; there is taught, perhaps the sweetest of all parables, that of the Good Samaritan. Yet there is an emphasis of love by John not found elsewhere. He it is who declares, "God is love," and of this he gives the highest possible proof in the fact that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." Here it is that Christ is revealed as the "Good Shepherd who layeth down his life for his sheep;" here is also given the New Commandment, "Love one another, as I have loved you;" and here it is, also, the sin of unbelief in rejecting a Savior whose very being is love, is most fully described.
III. It is the most Spiritual Gospel. Within about a hundred years of the time when it was written Clement of Alexandria declared that John wrote a Gospel of spiritual things, while the earlier Evangelists wrote Gospels of material things. By this he meant that they were more matter of fact, and did not enter into the deep questions, or take the deep spiritual views which are constantly exhibited in John. As the student of Scripture drinks more deeply into the word of God he will observe this more and more. Not only does John bring to the front the profoundest questions, but he beholds a significance in every act of Christ. Every miracle and act becomes a kind of parable. The water of the well of Jacob gives occasion to the precious utterances concerning the Living Water; the feeding of the Five Thousand brings out the discourses on the Bread of Life; the rejection of the healed blind man by his spiritual shepherds calls out the beautiful picture of the Good Shepherd; the fruit of the Vine on the table of the Last Supper occasions the delineation of the True Vine. Not only does John unfold a deep spiritual meaning, as just described, but he gives an emphasis to the Holy Spirit that is not found in the preceding Gospels. They are by no means silent; they speak of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the sin against it, praying for it, baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and of the promise of the Father that the disciples shall be endued with its power in Jerusalem, [xx] but it is John who unfolds the great doctrine of the Comforter, outlines his work, and declares in explicit terms that he shall be a perpetual possession of the church. Nor can it be doubted that when he penned, "He shall guide you into all truth," "shall bring all things to your remembrance," that he was gratefully conscious of the Spirit's help in bringing the Savior's life and discourses vividly to memory, a half century after his ascension to the heavenly throne. [xxi]
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B. W. Johnson
The New Testament Commentary: Vol. III--John (1886)
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