Hath everlasting life - He has already the seed of this life in his soul, having been made a partaker of the grace and spirit of him in whom he has believed. See on John 3:8; (note).
He that believeth not - Or, obeyeth not - απειθων : from α, negative, and πειθω, to persuade, or πειθομαι, to obey - the want of the obedience of faith. The person who will not be persuaded, in consequence, does not believe; and, not having believed, he cannot obey.
Shall not see life - Shall never enjoy it: there being no way to the kingdom of God, but through Christ Jesus, Acts 4:12. And none can expect to enter into this kingdom but those who obey him; for to such only he is the author of eternal salvation, Hebrews 5:9.
But the wrath of God abideth on him - Οργη, the displeasure of God. I should prefer displeasure to wrath, because the common acceptation of the latter (fury, rage) is not properly applicable here. Perhaps the original word is used in the same sense here as in Romans 2:5; Romans 3:5; Romans 13:4, Romans 13:5; Ephesians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; where it evidently means punishment, which is the effect of irritated justice. Taken in this sense, we may consider the phrase as a Hebraism: punishment of God, i.e. the most heavy and awful of all punishments; such as sin deserves, and such as it becomes Divine justice to inflict. And this abideth on him - endures as long as his unbelief and disobedience remain! And how shall these be removed in a hell of fire! Reader! pray God that thou mayest never know what this continuing punishment means!
There are many very important topics brought forward in this chapter; the principal of which have been already illustrated in the notes: the subject in the 29th verse is of great consequence, and requires some farther explanation.
The friend of the bridegroom is the person called among the Jews שושבי shoshabin ; and παρανυμφος, paranymph, among the Greeks. Several matters are found in the Jewish writings relative to these, which may serve to throw light, not only on the discourse of John, but also on other passages of Scripture.
These shoshabinan had a threefold office to fulfill, viz. before, at, and after the marriage: of each of these in order.
II. At the wedding: it was the business of the shoshabin, if necessary: -
III. After marriage.
From the preceding particulars, collated with the speech of John in John 3:29, and with the words of St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:2, it is plain that Christ is represented as the Bridegroom: the Church, or his genuine disciples, the Bride: the ministers of the Gospel, the שושבינים Shoshbeenim, whose great and important duty it is to present to the bridegroom a pure, uncontaminated virgin, i.e. a Church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, Ephesians 5:27, alluding evidently to the office of the paranymph, on whom the bridegroom depended to procure him, for wife, a chaste and pure virgin. Hence that saying of St. Paul, who considered himself the paranymph to Jesus Christ: I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:2.
From all these particulars, we see that the office of the shoshabin, or paranymph, was a very important one among the Jews; and that, to it, some interesting references are made in the New Testament, the force and true meaning of which passages cannot be discerned without considering the character and office of the Jewish paranymph. See several good observations on this in Lightfoot's notes on John 2:1, and Schoettgen, on John 3:29.
As the Christian Church was now to take place of the Jewish, and the latter was about to be cast off because it was polluted, John, by using the simile of the bride, bridegroom, and paranymph, or friend of the bridegroom, points out, as it were prophetically, of what kind the Christian Church must be: it must be as holy and pure as an uncontaminated virgin, because it is to be the bride or spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ: and God honors the Baptist by making him the paranymph; and indeed his whole preaching and baptism were excellently calculated to produce this great effect, as be strongly proclaimed the necessity of a total reformation of heart and manners, among all classes of the people. See the notes on Matthew 3:8-12; (note), and on Luke 3:10-14; (note). He heard the bridegroom's voice - he faithfully communicated what he had received from heaven, John 3:27, and he rejoiced exceedingly to find that he had got a people prepared for the Lord. The success of John's preaching greatly contributed to the success of that of Christ and his disciples. For this purpose he was endued with power from on high, and chosen to be the paranymph of the heavenly bridegroom.
Hath everlasting life - Has or is in possession of that which is a recovery from spiritual death, and which will result in eternal life in heaven. Piety here is the same that it will be there, except that it will be expanded, matured, purified, made more glorious. It is here life begun the first breathings and pantings of the soul for immortality; yet it is life, though at first feeble and faint, which is eternal in its nature, and which shall be matured in the full and perfect bliss of heaven. The Christian here has a foretaste of the world of glory, and enjoys the same kind of felicity, though not the same degree, that he will there.
Shall not see life - Shall neither enjoy true life or happiness here nor in the world to come. Shall never enter heaven.
The wrath of God - The anger of God for sin. His opposition to sin, and its terrible effects in this world and the next.
Abideth on him - This implies that he is “now” under the wrath of God, or under condemnation. It implies, also, that it will continue to remain on him. It will “abide” or “dwell” there as its appropriate habitation. As there is no way of escaping the wrath of God but by the Lord Jesus Christ, so those who will not believe must go to eternity “as they are,” and bear alone and unpitied all that God may choose to inflict as the expression of “his” sense of sin. Such is the miserable condition of the sinner! Yet thousands choose to remain in this state, and to encounter alone all that is terrible in the wrath of Almighty God, rather than come to Jesus, who has borne their sins in his own body on the tree, and who is willing to bless them with the peace, and purity, and joy of immortal life.
For a time the Baptist's influence over the nation had been greater than that of its rulers, priests, or princes. If he had announced himself as the Messiah, and raised a revolt against Rome, priests and people would have flocked to his standard. Every consideration that appeals to the ambition of the world's conquerors Satan had stood ready to urge upon John the Baptist. But with the evidence before him of his power, he had steadfastly refused the splendid bribe. The attention which was fixed upon him he had directed to Another. DA 178.1
Now he saw the tide of popularity turning away from himself to the Saviour. Day by day the crowds about him lessened. When Jesus came from Jerusalem to the region about Jordan, the people flocked to hear Him. The number of His disciples increased daily. Many came for baptism, and while Christ Himself did not baptize, He sanctioned the administration of the ordinance by His disciples. Thus He set His seal upon the mission of His forerunner. But the disciples of John looked with jealousy upon the growing popularity of Jesus. They stood ready to criticize His work, and it was not long before they found occasion. A question arose between them and the Jews as to whether baptism availed to cleanse the soul from sin; they maintained that the baptism of Jesus differed essentially from that of John. Soon they were in dispute with Christ's disciples in regard to the form of words proper to use at baptism, and finally as to the right of the latter to baptize at all. DA 178.2Read in context »
“A man can receive nothing,” he said, “except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him; rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3:27-30.] GW 56.1
Looking in faith to the Redeemer, John had risen to the height of self-abnegation. He sought not to attract men to himself, but to lift their thoughts higher and still higher, until they should rest upon the Lamb of God. He himself had been only a voice, a cry in the wilderness. Now with joy he accepted silence and obscurity, that the eyes of all might be turned to the Light of life. GW 56.2
Those who are true to their calling as messengers of God, will not seek honor for themselves. Love for self will be swallowed up in love for Christ. They will recognize that it is their work to proclaim, as did John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] GW 56.3
The soul of the prophet, emptied of self, was filled with the light of the Divine. In words that were almost a counterpart of the words of Christ Himself, he bore witness to the Saviour's glory. “He that cometh from above,” he said, “is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all.” “For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.” [John 3:31, 34.] GW 56.4Read in context »
John the Baptist was pronounced by our Saviour the greatest of prophets. Yet what a contrast between the language of this man of God and that of many who profess to be ministers of the cross. When asked if he was the Christ, John declares himself unworthy even to unloose his Master's sandals. When his disciples came with the complaint that the attention of the people was turned to the new Teacher, John reminded them that he himself had claimed to be only the forerunner of the Promised One. To Christ, as the bridegroom, belongs the first place in the affections of His people. “The friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all.” “He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.” 5T 224.1
It is such workers that are needed in the cause of God today. The self-sufficient, the envious and jealous, the critical and faultfinding, can well be spared from His sacred work. They should not be tolerated in the ministry, even though they may apparently have accomplished some good. God is not straitened for men or means. He calls for workers who are true and faithful, pure and holy; for those who have felt their need of the atoning blood of Christ and the sanctifying grace of His Spirit. 5T 224.2
My brethren, God is grieved with your envying and jealousies, your bitterness and dissension. In all these things you are yielding obedience to Satan and not to Christ. When we see men firm in principle, fearless in duty, zealous in the cause of God, yet humble and lowly, gentle and tender, patient toward all, ready to forgive, manifesting love for souls for whom Christ died, we do not need to inquire: Are they Christians? They give unmistakable evidence that they have been with Jesus and learned of Him. When men reveal the opposite traits, when they are proud, vain, frivolous, worldly-minded, avaricious, unkind, censorious, we need not be told with whom they are associating, who is their most intimate friend. They may not believe in witchcraft; but, notwithstanding this, they are holding communion with an evil spirit. 5T 224.3Read in context »
In order to give such a message as John gave, we must have a spiritual experience like his. The same work must be wrought in us. We must behold God, and in beholding Him lose sight of self. 8T 333.1
John had by nature the faults and weaknesses common to humanity; but the touch of divine love had transformed him. When, after Christ's ministry began, the disciples of John came to him with the complaint that all men were following the new Teacher, John showed how clearly he understood his relation to the Messiah, and how gladly he welcomed the One for whom he had prepared the way. 8T 333.2
“A man can receive nothing,” he said, “except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:27-30. 8T 333.3
Looking in faith to the Redeemer, John had risen to the height of self-abnegation. He sought not to attract men to himself, but to lift their thoughts higher and still higher, until they should rest upon the Lamb of God. He himself had been only a voice, a cry in the wilderness. Now with joy he accepted silence and obscurity, that the eyes of all might be turned to the Light of life. 8T 333.4
Those who are true to their calling as messengers for God will not seek honor for themselves. Love for self will be swallowed up in love for Christ. They will recognize that it is their work to proclaim, as did John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. They will lift up Jesus, and with Him humanity will be lifted up. “Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15. 8T 333.5Read in context »
Unless he makes it his life business to behold the uplifted Saviour, and by faith to accept the merits which it is his privilege to claim, the sinner can no more be saved than Peter could walk upon the water unless he kept his eyes fixed steadily upon Jesus. Now, it has been Satan's determined purpose to eclipse the view of Jesus and lead men to look to man, and trust to man, and be educated to expect help from man. For years the church has been looking to man and expecting much from man, but not looking to Jesus, in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered. Therefore God gave to His servants a testimony that presented the truth as it is in Jesus, which is the third angel's message, in clear, distinct lines. John's words are to be sounded by God's people, that all may discern the light and walk in the light: “He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all. And what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth; and no man receiveth His testimony. He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” TM 93.1Read in context »
The term “higher education” is to be considered in a different light from what it has been viewed by the students of the sciences. The prayer of Christ to His Father is full of eternal truth. “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee: as thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” “For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hands. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” The power and soul of true education is a knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” FE 392.1
Of Jesus it is written: “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him.... And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” A knowledge of God will constitute a kind of knowledge that will be as enduring as eternity. To learn and to do the works of Christ, is to obtain a true education. Although the Holy Spirit worked the mind of Christ, so that He could say to His parents, “How is it that ye sought Me? wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?” yet He worked at the carpenter's trade as an obedient son. He revealed that He had a knowledge of His work as the Son of God, and yet He did not exalt His divine character. He did not offer as a reason why He should not bear the burden of temporal care, that He was of divine origin; but He was subject to His parents. He was the Lord of the commandments, yet He was obedient to all their requirements, thus leaving an example of obedience to childhood, youth, and manhood. FE 392.2Read in context »
The rules in regard to purification were numberless. The period of a lifetime was scarcely sufficient for one to learn them all. The life of those who tried to observe the rabbinical requirements was one long struggle against ceremonial defilement, an endless round of washings and purifications. While the people were occupied with trifling distinctions, and observances which God had not required, their attention was turned away from the great principles of His law. DA 396.1
Christ and His disciples did not observe these ceremonial washings, and the spies made this neglect the ground of their accusation. They did not, however, make a direct attack on Christ, but came to Him with criticism of His disciples. In the presence of the multitude they said, “Why do Thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” DA 396.2
Whenever the message of truth comes home to souls with special power, Satan stirs up his agents to start a dispute over some minor question. Thus he seeks to attract attention from the real issue. Whenever a good work is begun, there are cavilers ready to enter into dispute over forms or technicalities, to draw minds away from the living realities. When it appears that God is about to work in a special manner for His people, let them not be enticed into a controversy that will work only ruin of souls. The questions that most concern us are, Do I believe with saving faith on the Son of God? Is my life in harmony with the divine law? “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” John 3:36; 1 John 2:3. DA 396.3
Jesus made no attempt to defend Himself or His disciples. He made no reference to the charges against Him, but proceeded to show the spirit that actuated these sticklers for human rites. He gave them an example of what they were repeatedly doing, and had done just before coming in search of Him. “Full well ye reject the commandment of God,” He said, “that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: but ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do aught for his father or his mother.” They set aside the fifth commandment as of no consequence, but were very exact in carrying out the traditions of the elders. They taught the people that the devotion of their property to the temple was a duty more sacred than even the support of their parents; and that, however great the necessity, it was sacrilege to impart to father or mother any part of what had been thus consecrated. An undutiful child had only to pronounce the word “Corban” over his property, thus devoting it to God, and he could retain it for his own use during his lifetime, and after his death it was to be appropriated to the temple service. Thus he was at liberty, both in life and in death, to dishonor and defraud his parents, under cover of a pretended devotion to God. DA 396.4Read in context »
Immortality, promised to man on condition of obedience, had been forfeited by transgression. Adam could not transmit to his posterity that which he did not possess; and there could have been no hope for the fallen race had not God, by the sacrifice of His Son, brought immortality within their reach. While “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” Christ “hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Romans 5:12; 2 Timothy 1:10. And only through Christ can immortality be obtained. Said Jesus: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” John 3:36. Every man may come into possession of this priceless blessing if he will comply with the conditions. All “who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality,” will receive “eternal life.” Romans 2:7. GC 533.1
The only one who promised Adam life in disobedience was the great deceiver. And the declaration of the serpent to Eve in Eden—“Ye shall not surely die”—was the first sermon ever preached upon the immortality of the soul. Yet this declaration, resting solely upon the authority of Satan, is echoed from the pulpits of Christendom and is received by the majority of mankind as readily as it was received by our first parents. The divine sentence, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20), is made to mean: The soul that sinneth, it shall not die, but live eternally. We cannot but wonder at the strange infatuation which renders men so credulous concerning the words of Satan and so unbelieving in regard to the words of God. GC 533.2
Had man after his fall been allowed free access to the tree of life, he would have lived forever, and thus sin would have been immortalized. But cherubim and a flaming sword kept “the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24), and not one of the family of Adam has been permitted to pass that barrier and partake of the life-giving fruit. Therefore there is not an immortal sinner. GC 533.3Read in context »
At last Jacob came to his journey's end, “unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, ... which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.” Here he remained during the closing years of his father's life. To Isaac, infirm and blind, the kind attentions of this long-absent son were a comfort during years of loneliness and bereavement. PP 207.1
Jacob and Esau met at the deathbed of their father. Once the elder brother had looked forward to this event as an opportunity for revenge, but his feelings had since greatly changed. And Jacob, well content with the spiritual blessings of the birthright, resigned to the elder brother the inheritance of their father's wealth—the only inheritance that Esau sought or valued. They were no longer estranged by jealousy or hatred, yet they parted, Esau removing to Mount Seir. God, who is rich in blessing, had granted to Jacob worldly wealth, in addition to the higher good that he had sought. The possessions of the two brothers “were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle.” This separation was in accordance with the divine purpose concerning Jacob. Since the brothers differed so greatly in regard to religious faith, it was better for them to dwell apart. PP 207.2
Esau and Jacob had alike been instructed in the knowledge of God, and both were free to walk in His commandments and to receive His favor; but they had not both chosen to do this. The two brothers had walked in different ways, and their paths would continue to diverge more and more widely. PP 207.3
There was no arbitrary choice on the part of God by which Esau was shut out from the blessings of salvation. The gifts of His grace through Christ are free to all. There is no election but one's own by which any may perish. God has set forth in His word the conditions upon which every soul will be elected to eternal life—obedience to His commandments, through faith in Christ. God has elected a character in harmony with His law, and anyone who shall reach the standard of His requirement will have an entrance into the kingdom of glory. Christ Himself said, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” John 3:36. “Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21. And in the Revelation He declares, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14. As regards man's final salvation, this is the only election brought to view in the word of God. PP 207.4Read in context »
To my brethren I now say: Speak words that will draw souls to Christ. Bring forth fruit in good works. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36). Every conceivable thing will be brought in to deceive, if possible, the very elect; but the Lord will certainly take care of His work.—The Writing and Sending Out of the Testimonies to the Church, 10-16. 1SM 57.1Read in context »
When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature. The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan.52The Desire of Ages, 324. SD 23.2
Christ is ready to impart all heavenly influences. He knows every temptation that comes to man, and the capabilities of every human agent. He weighs his strength. He sees the present and the future, and presents before the mind the obligations that should be met, and urges that common, earthly things shall not be permitted to be so absorbing that eternal things shall be lost out of reckoning.53The Youth's Instructor, July 5, 1894. SD 23.3
The gifts of His grace through Christ are free to all. There is no election but one's own by which any may perish. God has set forth in His Word the conditions upon which every soul will be elected to eternal life—obedience to His commandments, through faith in Christ. God has elected a character in harmony with His law, and any one who shall reach the standard of His requirement, will have an entrance into the kingdom of glory. Christ Himself said, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.”54Patriarchs and Prophets, 207. SD 23.4
What an exalted position to be identified with one in whom is all perfection centered, who is indeed the Majesty of heaven, but who loved us, although fallen, so much that language cannot express it! He for our sakes laid aside His royal robe, stepped down from the throne of heaven, and condescended to clothe His divinity with humility, and became like one of us except in sin, that His life and character should be a pattern for all to copy, that they might have the precious gift of eternal life.55The Youth's Instructor, October 20, 1886. SD 23.5Read in context »