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PASSAGES IN WHICH THE FOURTH EVANGELIST SPEAKS IN HIS OWN PERSON

The passages in which the Evangelist himself refers to the Passion are as follows:

233

ii. 21f.: 'But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he spake this; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.'

iii. 14f.: 'And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life.'

iii. 16: 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.'

vii. 30: 'They sought therefore to take him: and no man laid his hand on him, because his hour was not yet come.'

viii. 20: 'These words spake he in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man took him; because his hour was not yet come.'

xi. 51f.: 'Now this he said not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad.'

xii. 33: 'But this he said, signifying by what manner of death he should die.'

xiii. 1-4: 'Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And during supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came forth from God, and goeth unto God, riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments; and he took a towel, and girded himself.'

xviii. 14: 'Now Caiaphas was he which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.'

xviii. 32: 'that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying by what manner of death he should die.'

Most of these passages are 'parenthetic comments', in which, as it were, the Evangelist turns aside and makes reflections on the story he is narrating. Along with other 234 passages of a like tenor (cf. ii. 11, iv. 54, vi. 46, vii. 39, viii. 27), they have often been explained as editorial expansions; but V. H. Stanton is probably right in thinking that 'critics have been tempted to use their knives too hastily by the facility of the operation in these cases'.11   The Gospels as Historical Documents, iii. 58. It is a difficult question to decide whether iii. 14 and 16 ought to be attributed to the Evangelist or classified as sayings of Jesus. There is considerable agreement that the well-known words: 'God so loved the world...' are part of the Evangelist's soliloquy, and probably the words: 'And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness...' should be similarly explained.22   Bernard thinks that the Evangelist's comments begin at iii. 16, I.C.C., St. John, 112; cf. Lagrange, Evangile selon Saint Jean, 86. Stanton marks the break at iii. 13, op. cit., iii. 62, 171.

The doctrinal ideas in these sayings should be carefully noted.

In the first place, the Evangelist believes that the course of events, including death itself, lay entirely under the sovereign control of Jesus.33   From the beginning, Jesus, as master of His own fate, has fixed his "hour", and Himself ordains all the conditions that will lead up to it,' E. F. Scott, The Fourth Gospel: Its Purpose and Theology, 169. Three times he speaks of 'his hour' (vii. 30, viii. 20, xiii. 1), and twice he refers to Jesus as 'signifying by what manner of death he should die' (xii. 33, xviii. 32). This point is of interest because, in the sayings ascribed to Him, Jesus is also represented as speaking of His 'time' (vii. 6, 8)44   These two passages, however, probably do not refer to His death. See p. 234f. and of His 'hour' (xii. 23, 27, xvii. 1). Secondly, the Evangelist thinks of the death of Jesus as a fulfilment of Scripture. This appears in his statement that after the Resurrection the disciples remembered that Jesus had said: 'Destroy this temple, 235 and in three days I will raise it up'; and his comment: 'they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said' (ii. 22). It is also found in the references to Scripture in connexion with the events of the Crucifixion (cf. xix. 24, 28, 36). How this belief harmonizes with the idea that Jesus is the master of His own fate, the Evangelist does not explain. Probably it is an element in current Christian belief which he simply takes over as a piece of traditional theology. It is noteworthy that he never introduces the idea of the fulfilment of Scripture into any of the Passion-sayings of Jesus, apart from the doubtful exceptions in xiii. 18 and xvii. 12, which refer to the treachery of Judas, and xv. 25, which speaks of the hatred of the Jews. In xviii. 8f., 32 he mentions the fulfilment of the word of Jesus Himself.

A third element in the writer's belief is the conviction that the Only-begotten Son is God's gift, and a demonstration of His love (iii. 16). This thought is not directly related to the death of Christ, but, in the light of iii. 14, there can be no doubt that he is thinking of the Cross. In the same passage the universality of Christ's work is stated, and it is characteristic of the Evangelist that he speaks of faith as believing in Christ Himself apart from any particular theory of the Atonement. The same emphasis on love appears in xiii. 1. Here, however, the love is that of Jesus Himself: 'Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.' Beyond general statements of this kind the Evangelist does not go. He is content to speak of the death of Jesus as His departure out of the world. The 'hour' which Jesus recognizes is that in which 'he should depart out of this world unto the Father'. In the Evangelist's presentation Jesus knows 'that he came forth from God and goeth unto God' (xiii. 3). It is therefore true to say, with E. F. Scott, that 236 for the Evangelist the death 'marks the return of Jesus to the Father, His reinvestment with the glory which He had in the beginning'. 11   The Fourth Gospel: Its Purpose and Theology, 227; cf. The Literature of the New Testament, 255. The same feature appears in the sayings ascribed to Jesus. Cf. H. J. Holtzmann: 'An die Stelle seines Geschickes tritt seine Person, Neutestamentliche Theologie, ii. 474.

At first sight there is an approach to a theory in the interest which the Evangelist takes in the counsel of Caiaphas: 'it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people' (xi. 50; cf. xviii. 14). When, however, he comments on the words of the high priest, he does not explain the necessity as occasioned by sin, but rather as a means of gathering into one, not only 'the nation', but also 'the children of God that are scattered abroad' (xi. 51f.). This emphasis upon the universality of Christ's work must be regarded as a fourth element in his thought.

Lastly, the Evangelist is strongly conscious of a moral necessity in the death of Christ. It is to this that he refers in iii. 14: 'And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life.' The phrase, 'lifted up,' refers to the Cross,22   Cf. Bernard, 112-5; Lagrange, 81f. as the mention of the action of Moses shows, and the word 'must' implies inward constraint. As in iii. 16 the motive is that of communicating life to believers. How, and in what way, the death of Jesus makes this possible, the Evangelist does not say, and, in the light of his teaching as a whole, we can only infer that it is because in death He is released from the limitations of earthly existence, and enters into the spiritual conditions of His glory.

In general, it may be said that, in the passages under review, the Evangelist shares important beliefs with St. 237 Paul and the Synoptists, but that he expresses them differently in terms of his favourite conceptions of life, love, and faith. He believes that the Cross is the supreme expression of the love of God, that it reveals an inward moral constraint, and that its efficacy is universal; but, in these passages, he does not speak of it in sacrificial terms or as a means of expiation, It does not therefore follow that sacrificial or expiatory ideas have no place in his thought. It is necessary, indeed, to consider how far his own ideas are reflected in the sayings which remain to be examined. The value of the present section is that it illustrates the ideas which he introduces when he is writing most freely.


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