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.
This chapter is based on John 3:22-36.
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 178.1Read 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 56.3Read 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 333.3Read in context »