Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


John 1:15

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Of him - The glorious personage before mentioned: John the Baptist, whose history was well known to the persons to whom this Gospel came in the beginning, bare witness; and he cried, - being deeply convinced of the importance and truth of the subject, he delivered his testimony with the utmost zeal and earnestness, - saying, This is he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me - for I am no other than the voice of the crier in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3, the forerunner of the Messiah.

Was before me - Speaking by the prophets, and warning your fathers to repent and return to God, as I now warn you; for he was before me - he was from eternity, and from him I have derived both my being and my ministry.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

John bare witness of him - The evangelist now returns to the testimony of John the Baptist. He had stated that the Word became incarnate, and he now appeals to the testimony of John to show that, thus incarnate, he was the Messiah.

He that cometh after me - He of whom I am the forerunner, or whose way I am come to prepare. See the notes at Matthew 3:3.

Is preferred before me - Is superior to me. Most critics have supposed that the words translated “is preferred” relate to “time,” and not to “dignity;” meaning that though he came after him publicly, being six months younger than John, as well as entering on his work after John, yet that he had existed long before him. Most, however, have understood it more correctly, as our translators seem to have done, as meaning, He was worthy of more honor than I am.

He was before me - This can refer to nothing but his pre-existence, and can be explained only on the supposition that he existed before John, or, as the evangelist had before shown, from the beginning. He came “after” John in his public ministry and in his human nature, but in his divine nature he had existed long before John had a being - from eternity. We may learn here that it is one mark of the true spirit of a minister of Christ to desire and feel that Christ is always to be preferred to ourselves. We should keep ourselves out of view. The great object is to hold up the Saviour; and however much ministers may be honored or blessed, yet they should lay all at the feet of Jesus, and direct all men to him as the undivided object of affection and honor. It is the business of every Christian, as well as of every Christian minister, to be a witness for Christ, and to endeavor to convince the world that he is worthy of confidence and love.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
As to the order of time and entrance on his work, Christ came after John, but in every other way he was before him. The expression clearly shows that Jesus had existence before he appeared on earth as man. All fulness dwells in him, from which alone fallen sinners have, and shall receive, by faith, all that renders them wise, strong, holy, useful, and happy. Our receivings by Christ are all summed up in this one word, grace; we have received "even grace," a gift so great, so rich, so invaluable; the good will of God towards us, and the good work of God in us. The law of God is holy, just, and good; and we should make the proper use of it. But we cannot derive from it pardon, righteousness, or strength. It teaches us to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, but it cannot supply the place of that doctrine. As no mercy comes from God to sinners but through Jesus Christ, no man can come to the Father but by him; no man can know God, except as he is made known in the only begotten and beloved Son.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 394

Abundant grace has been provided that the believing soul may be kept free from sin; for all heaven, with its limitless resources, has been placed at our command. We are to draw from the well of salvation. Christ is the end of law for righteousness to everyone who believeth. In ourselves we are sinners; but in Christ we are righteous. Having made us righteous through the imputed righteousness of Christ, God pronounces us just, and treats us as just. He looks upon us as His dear children. Christ works against the power of sin, and where sin abounded, grace much more abounds. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1, 2). 1SM 394.1

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26). “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). [John 1:14-16 quoted.] 1SM 394.2

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 310

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, ... full of grace and truth.... And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:11-16). 1SM 310.1

Those who are adopted into the family of God are transformed by His Spirit. Self-indulgence and supreme love for self are changed for self-denial and supreme love for God. No man inherits holiness as a birthright, nor can he, by any methods that he can devise, become loyal to God. “Without me,” Christ says, “ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). Human righteousness is as “filthy rags.” But with God all things are possible. In the strength of the Redeemer, weak, erring man can become more than conqueror over the evil that besets him. 1SM 310.2

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 236.5

“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me” (John 1:14, 15). Yes, He was before John. Enshrouded in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, He led the children of Israel through the wilderness. “And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”—Manuscript 118, August 10, 1905, “A Divine Saviour.” UL 236.5

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 136.5

When men submit entirely to God, eating the bread of life and drinking the water of salvation, they will grow up into Christ. Their characters are composed of that which the mind eats and drinks. Through the Word of life, which they receive and obey, they become partakers of the divine nature. Then their entire service is after the divine similitude, and Christ, not man, is exalted.—Letter 64, May 2, 1900, to a lay family in Massachusetts. UL 136.5

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