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love one another! The holy virgin lived under his care till the day of her death :' which is supposed to have taken place 15 years after the crucifixion.
John is usually painted holding a cup in his hand, with a serpent issuing from it: this took its rise from a relation by the spurious Procorus, who styles himself a disciple of St. John. Though the story is not worth relating, curiosity will naturally wish to be gratified with it. Some heretics had privately poisoned a cup of liquor, with which they presented him : but after he had prayed to God, and made the sign of the cross over it, the venom was expelled in the form of a serpent!
Some of the first disciples of our Lord, misunderstanding the passage, John xxi. 22, 23. If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? believed that John should never die. Several in the primitive church were of the same opinion : and to this day his death is doubted by persons of the first repute for piety and morality. Where such doctors disagree, it would be thought presumption in me to attempt to decide, otherwise I should not have hesitated to say, that seventeen hundred years ago, he went the way of all flesh, and instead of a wandering lot in a miserable, perishing world, is now glorified in that heaven, of which his writings prove, he had so large an anticipation both before and after the crucifixion of his Lord.
Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. lib. iii. cap. 24.) treats particularly of the order of the Gospels; and especially of this Evangelist – his observations are of considerable importance, and deserve à place here. Dr. Lardner has quoted him at large, Works, vol. iv.
“ Let us,” says he, “ observe the writings of this apostle, which are not contradicted by any. And first of all must be mentioned, as acknowledged of all, the gospel according to him, well known to all the churches under heaven. And that it has been justly placed by the ancients the fourth in order, and after the other three, may be made evident in this manner. Those admirable and truly divine men, the apostles of Christ, eminently holy in their lives, and as to their minds, adorned with every virtue, but rude in language, confiding in the divine and miraculous power bestowed upon them by our Saviour, neither knew, nor attempted to deliver the doctrine of their master with the artifice and eloquence of words. But using only the demonstration of the divine spirit, working with them, and the power of Christ performing by. them many miracles, they spread the knowledge of the kingdom of heaven all over the world. Nor were they greatly concerned about the writing of books, being engaged in a more excellent ministry which was above all human power. Insomuch that Paul the most able of all in the furniture both of words and thoughts, has left nothing in writing, beside some very short, (or a very few) epistles ; although he was acquainted with innumerable mysteries, having been admitted to the sight and contemplation of things in the third heaven, and been caught up into the divine paradise and there allowed to hear unspeakable words. Nor were the rest of our Saviour's followers unacquainted with these things, as the seventy disciples, and many other beside the twelve apostles. Nevertheless of all the disciples of our Lord, Matthew and John only have left us any memoirs : who too, as we have been informed, were compelled to write by a kind of necessity. For Matthew having first preached to the Hebrews, when he was about to go to other people, delivered to them in their own language, the gospel according to him, by that writing supplying the want of his presence with those whom he was then leaving. And when Mark and Luke had published the Gospels according to them, it is said, that John, who
PREFACE TO ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL.
all this while had preached by word of mouth, was at length induced to write for this reason. The three first written Gospels being now delivered to all men, and to John himself, it is said that he approved them, and confirmed the truth of their narration by his own testimony: saying there was only wanting a written account of the things done by Christ in the former part, and the beginning of his preaching. And certainly that observation is very true. For it is easy to perceive, that the other three Evangelists have recorded only the actions of our Saviour for one year after the imprisonment of John as they themselves declare at the beginning of their history. For after mentioning the forty days fast, and the succeeding temptation, Matthew shews the time of the commencement of his account in these words, When he had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed out of Judea inlo Galilee. In like manner Mark, Now after that John, says he, was cast into prison, Jesus came into Galilee. And Luke before he begins the account of the acts of Jesus, gives a like hint in this manner; that Herod added yet this, above that he shut up John in prison. For these reasons as is said, the apostle John was intreated to relate in the Gospel according to him, the time omitted by the four Evangelists, and the things done by our Saviour in that space, before the imprisonment of the Baptist. And they add farther, that he himself hints as much, saying, This beginning of miracles did Jesus: as also in the history of the acts of Jesus, he makes mention of the Baptist, as still baptizing in Ænon nigh unto Salem. And it is thought that he expressly declares as much, when he says, For John was not yet cast into prison. John therefore, in the Gospel according to him, relates the things done by Christ while the Baptist was not yet cast into prison. But the other three Evangelists relate the things that followed the Baptist's confinement. Whoever attends to these things, will not any longer think the Evangelists disagree with each other, forasmuch as the Gospel according to John contains the first actions of Christ, while the others give the history of the following time. And for the same reason John has omitted the genealogy of our Saviour according to the flesh, it having been recorded before by Matthew and Luke; but he begins with his divinity, which had been reserved by the Holy Ghost, for him as the most excellent person.” The whole of this chapter, with the preceding and following, may be profitably consulted by the Reader. See also Lardner, Works, vol. iv. 224. and vi. 156—222.
Besides the Gospel before us, John is generally reputed to have been the author of the three Epistles which go under his name; and of the Apocalypse. The former, certainly breathe the genuine spirit of this Apostle; and are invaluable monuments of his spiritual knowledge, and deep piety, as well as of his divine inspiration : as the Gospel and Epistles prove him to have been an Evangelist and Apostle ; his book of Revelations, ranks him among the profoundest of the Prophets.
Learned men are not wholly agreed about the language in which this Gospel was originally written. Some think St. John wrote it in his own native tongue, the Aramean or Syriac, and that it was afterwards translated, by rather an unskilful hand, into Greek. This opinion is not supported by any strong arguments. That it was originally written in Greek, is the general and most likely opinion.
What the design of St. John was in writing this Gospel, has divided and perplexed many critics and learned divines. Some suppose that it was to refute the errors taught by one Cerinthus, who rose up at that time, and asserted that Jesus was not born of a virgin, but was
PREFACE TO ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL:
the real son of Joseph and Mary: that at his baptism, the Christ, what we term the divine nature, descended into him, in the form of a dove, by whose influence he worked all his miracles; and that when he was about to suffer, this Christ, or divine nature, departed from him, and left the man Jesus, to suffer death. See Irenæus, advers. Hæreses. Others
suppose he wrote with the prime design of confuting the heresy of the Gnostics, a class of mongrels, who derived their existence from Simon Magus, and who formed their system out of Heathenism, Judaism, and Christianity; and whose peculiar, involved, and obscure opinions, cannot be all introduced in this place. It is enough to know, that concerning the person of our Lord, they held opinions similar to those of Cerinthus ; and that they arrogated to themselves the highest degrees of knowledge and spirituality. They supposed that the Supreme Being had all things and beings included in a certain seminal manner, in himself; and that out of Him they were produced. From God or Bythos, the infinite Abyss, they derived a multitude of subaltern governors, called Æons ; whom they divided into several classes, among which we may distinguish the following nine. Ilaong, Father ; Xagos, Grace ; Movoryerns, First-begotten; Any Deid, Truth; Hoyos, Word; Qws, Light; Zani Life ; Av.Igatos, Man; and Exxanova, Church; all these merging in what they termed Tangajia, Fulness, or complete round of being and blessings; terms which are of frequent occurrence in John's Gospel, and which some think he has introduced to fix their proper sense, and to rescue them from being abused by the Gnostics. But this is not very likely, as the Gnostics themselves appealed to St. John's Gospel for a confirmation of their peculiar opinions, because of his frequent use of the above terms. These sentiments therefore do not appear to be tenable.
Professor Michaelis has espoused the opinion, that it was written against the Gnostics and Sabians, and has advanced several arguments in its favour; the chief of which are the following.
“ The plan which St. John adopted to confute the tenets of the Gnostics and the Sabians, was first to deliver a set of aphorisms, as counterpositions to these tenets; and then to relate such speeches and miracles of Christ as confirmed the truth of what he had advanced. We must not suppose that the confutation of the Gnostic and Sabian errors is confined to the fourteen first verses of St. John's Gospel; for in the first place it is evident that many of Christ's speeches, which occur in the following part of the Gospel, were selected by the Evangelist with the view of proving the positions laid down in these fourteen verses; and secondly the positions themselves are not proofs, but merely declarations made by the Evangelist. It is true, that for us Christians, who acknowledge the divine authority of St. John, his bare word is sufficient; but as the Apostle had to combat with adversaries, who made no such acknowledgment, the only method of convincing them, was to support his assertion by the authority of Christ liimself..
“ Some of the Gnostics placed the · WORD,' above all the other Æons, and next to the Supreme Being: but Cerinthus placed the • Only begotten,' first, and then the · WORD.” Now St. John lays down the following positions.
“ 1. The Word and the Only begotten are not different, but the same person, chap. i. 14.. • We beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father.' This is a strong position against the Gnostics, who usually ascribed all the divine qualities to the Only begotlen. The proofs of : this position are, the testimony of John the Baptist, chap. i. 18, 34. iii. 35, 36. the conversation , of Christ with Nicodemus, chap. iii. 16, 18. in which Christ calls himself the only begotten
PREFACE TO ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL.
Son, the speech delivered by Christ to the Jews, chap. v. 17, 47. and other passages, in which he calls God his father.
“ 2. The Word was never made, but existed from the beginning, chap. i. 1. The Gnostics granted that the Word existed before the creation ; but they did not admit that the Word existed from all eternity. The Supreme Being, according to their tenets, and according to Cerinthus, the only begotten Son likewise, as also the matter from which the world was formed, were prior in existence to the Word. This notion is contradicted by St. John, who asserts that the Word existed from all eternity. As a proof of this position may be alledged perhaps what Christ says, chap. viii. 58.
“ 3. The Word was in the beginning with God, chap. i. 1, 2. The Gnostics must have maintained a contrary doctrine, or St. John, in confuting their tenets, would not have thought it necessary to advance this position, since God is omnipresent, and therefore all things are present with him.
“4. The IVord was God, chap. i. 1. The expression GOD must be here taken in its highest sense, or this position will contain nothing contrary to the doctrine of the Gnostics. For they admitted that the Word was an Æon, and therefore a deity in the lower sense of the word. The proofs of this position are contained in the 5th, 10th (ver. 30.) and 14th (ver. 7, 11.) chapters.
“ 5. The Word was the creator of all things, chap. i. 3, 10. This is one of St. John's principal positions against the Gnostics, who asserted that the world was made by a malevolent being. The assertion that the Word was the creator of the world, is equivalent to the assertion, that he was GOD in the highest possible sense. In whatever form or manner, we may think of God, the notion of Creator is inseparable from the notion of Supreme Being. We argue from the creation to the Creator; and this very argument is one proof of the existence of God.
“ 6. In the Word was life, chap. i. 4. The.Gnostics, who considered the different attributes or operations of the Almighty not as so many separate energies, but as so many separate persons ; considered Life as a distinct Æon from the Word. Without this Æon, the world they said, would be in a state of torpor: and hence they called it not only Life, but the Mother of the living ; from this Æon therefore, inight be expected the resurrection of the dead and eternal life. The proofs of this position are in chap. iii. 15, 21. the whole of the sixth, and the greatest part of the eighth chapter, as also chap. xiv. 6, 9, 19. But no part of St. John's Gospel is a more complete proof of this position, than his full and circumstantial account of the resurrection of Lazarus, which the other Evangelists had omitted.”—See more in Michaelis' Introduction to the New Testament. And for a general account of the Logos, see chap. i. at the end.
Though it is likely that the Gnostics held all these strange doctrines, and that many parts in John's Gospel may be successfully quoted against them, yet I must own I think the Evangelist had a more general end in view than the confutation of their heresies. It is more likely that he wrote for the express purpose of giving the Jews, his countrymen, proper notions of the Messiah and his kingdom; and to prove that Jesus, who had lately appeared among them, was this CHRIST. His own words sufficiently inform us of his motive, object, and design in writing this Gospel, These things are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name. chap. xx. 31. This is a design as noble as it is simple; and every way, highly becoming the wisdom and goodness of God.
Ussherian years of the World, 3999_4033. Alexandrian years of the World, 5497—5531. Antiochian years of the World,
5481–5521. Constantinopolitan Æra of the World, 5503—5537. Rabbinical years of the World, 3754—3788. Years of the Julian Period, 4708—4742. Æra of the Seleucidæ, 307–341. From B.C. 5, to A. D. 29. From An. Olymp. CXCIII. 3. to CCII. 1. Years of the building of Rome, 748–782. Years of the Julian Æra, 41-75. Years of the Cæsarean Æra of Antioch, 44—78. Years of the Spanish Æra, 34–68. Years of the Paschal Cycle or Dionysiun Period, 529–31. Years of the Christian Lunar Cycle, or Golden Number, 15–11. Years of the Rabbinical Lunar Cycle, 12–8. Years of the Solar Cycle, 4—10. From the 25th year of the reign of the Emperor Augustus to the
18th of that of Tiberius. N.B. As it was impossible to ascertain the precise dates of several transactions recorded in this Gospel, I have constructed
the above Chronology in all the Æras which it includes, so as to comprehend the whole of our Lord's life on earth, from his conception to his ascension, which is generally allowed to comprize the space of 34 years. Therefore, S4 added to the first date in any of the above Æras, gives the second date; e. g. Ussherian year of the world, 3999+34= 1033. and so of the rest.
CHAPTER I. The eternity of the Divine Logos or Word of God, the dispenser of light and life, 1–5. The mission of John the Baptist, 6–13. The incarnation of the Logos or Word of God, 14. John's testimony concerning the Logos, 15—18. The priests and Levites question him concerning his mission and his baptism, 19–29. His answer, 23—28. His farther testimony on seeing Christ, 19-34. He points him out to two of his disciples, who thereupon follow Jesus, 35—37. Christ's address to them, 38, 39. Andrew invites his brother, Simon Peter; Christ's address to hiin, 40–42. Christ calls Philip, and Philip invites Nathanuel, 43–46. Christ's charucter of Nathanael, 47. A remarkable conversation between him and this disciple, 48–51.
N the beginning was the Word, 2 • The same was in the beginning
and the Word was with God, with God. and the Word was God.
3* All things were made by him ;
Ante Orbem conditum.
I and the word was
Ante Orbem conditum.
• Prov. 8. 22, 23, &c. Col. 1. 17. 1 John 1. 1. Rev. 1. 2. & 19. 13.
• Prov, 8. 30. ch. 17. 5. 1 John 1. 2.
c Phil. 2. 6. 1 John 5.7.-Gen. 1. 1. Ps. 33. 6. Col. 1. 16. ver. 10.
Eph. 3. 9. Hebr. 1. 2. Rev. 4. 11.
NOTES ON CHAP. I.
made flesh. Verse 15. refers to ver. 6, 7, and 8. and in these John's introduction is from ver. 1. to ver. 18. inclusive. passages John's testimony is anticipated in order of time, and Some harmonists suppose it to end with ver. 14. but from the is very fitly mentioned to illustrate Christ's pre-eminence. connection of the whole, ver. 18. appears to be its natural Verses 16, and 17. have a plain reference to ver. 14.. See close, as it contains a reason why the Logos or Word was || Bp. Newcome.