William Kelly Major Works Commentary - John

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William Kelly Major Works Commentary - John

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Verse Commentaries:

W. Kelly.

Part 1 of An Exposition of the Gospel of John.

Edited with annotations, by E. E. Whitfield.

(The reference figures, relate to the notes respectively so numbered in the Appendix - john_app.doc.)

Author's Preface.

The work now before the Christian did not consist of discourses taken down in shorthand and corrected, as many books of mine have been. It was written with care from first to last, with the deep conviction how little my plummet, perhaps anyone's, can sound its revealed depths. Still, its communications are freely given by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, that we might know them through the Spirit in our measure. May the truth, and nothing but the truth, commend itself to the conscience and heart of all God's children. It is a day when many, listening to the tempter, have found a hard saying in the matchless words of life eternal, and even gone back, so as to walk no more with the Lord. May they so learn, as it were from His own lips, that the words He has spoken are spirit and are life. Of these sayings none is more eminent a witness among the inspired than the apostle, and of his inspired writings none so rich in these sayings as his Gospel. May grace use whatever help may be in this exposition to better appreciate the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. No reader is likely to feel its shortcomings so much as the writer, but he also feels that the Father delights in honour truly paid to the Son. This throughout he has sought humbly and heartily, counting on the Spirit's presence and power, Who is here to glorify Him.

London, April, 1898.

Preface to the Second Edition.

The Exposition of the Fourth Gospel issued, within the last ten years, by Mr. William Kelly happily contained his own translation of the Greek text preferred by him, with critical apparatus. Each of these is reproduced in the new edition, whilst the footnotes now record also the voice of the Syriac codex of Sinai among the ancient versions, besides the respective readings adopted for their texts by Professor B. Weiss (1901) and Professor Blass (1902). Such additions are enclosed in crotchets, which are used also for the few alternative renderings here added in harmony with the Exposition. Quotations from the Old Testament have been treated as in the recently published volume of the same writer's "Exposition of Mark." The few marginal references to parallel passages of the Synoptics, the Appendix and Indexes are likewise new features.

The expositor had before him the English works in chief repute relating to this Gospel that had appeared down to the time of the publication of his book. The outlook has been extended to the latest-in particular German and American-literature noticed in the Appendix. Although, as a learned dignitary has just been saying from his pulpit, "the Gospel of St. John is the one book in the Bible which stands in least need of the apologist," there has been a keen attack upon it in recent years, so that the Notes at the end are largely devoted to an examination of the criticism in fashion, by many regarded with deep concern.

Mr. Kelly had the happiness of being outside the ranks of those who have "to do the best they can for the side on which they are retained." Neither adhesion to ecclesiastical tradition nor academical influences hampered his independence, which was therefore no more governed by antecedent theories of the conventional "apologetic" than by those of the rigidly "critical" type. His robust religious belief was as far from being synonymous with "dogma" on the one hand as with "mysticism" on the other. In conflict with current unbelief, he did not understand any process of buttering bread on both sides: he seriously and consistently did battle for the Faith of the Gospel, as he understood that, "once for all delivered to the saints." A melancholy feature at the present day is the readiness of some without pain to write in derogation of the faith in which they were reared; with such Mr. Kelly had nothing in common.

The editor associates himself closely with the standpoint of the Exposition; his notes, as a Scottish review of the volume on Mark has stated of the Appendix there, are "in logical development of Mr. Kelly's views." He has endeavoured to speak plainly, yet with becoming respect towards scholars whose statements are combated. One may value the better aspects of a method, whilst questioning the application of it in the light of actual results obtained.

How a singularly precious book of Holy Scripture served William Kelly's ministry may be learned from this Exposition, which is reissued in the hope that it will continue to afford help to those at least who care for neither sentimental tradition nor traditional sentiment, but do love the Christ of God.

E. E. W. January, 1908.


That the fourth Gospel is characterised by setting forth the Lord Jesus as the Word, the Only-begotten Son, God Himself, on earth can be questioned by no intelligent Christian. It is not as Messiah, Son of David and of Abraham, yet withal the Jehovah of Israel, Emmanuel; nor yet as the Son devoted to the service of God, above all in the Gospel; neither is it as the Holy Thing born of the Virgin by the miraculous agency of the Holy Ghost, and in this sense too Son of God, that He is presented, as in each of the other inspired accounts respectively by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In the Gospel of John 1 His Divine nature shines from under the veil of flesh, as He moves here and there, evermore displaying the Father in His Person and words and ways; and then, on His going above, giving and sending the Holy Ghost to be with and in His own for ever.

1 [This and all other reference figures relate to the Editor's notes respectively so numbered in the Appendix.]

Hence it is that He is here declared the giver of eternal life to the believer, who is accordingly entitled in virtue of this new life to become a child of God. For it is no question here of dispensational dealings, nor of testimony to the creature, nor yet of the moral perfections of the man Christ Jesus. All these have their fitting places elsewhere; but here the Spirit of God has in hand a deeper task-the manifestation of the Father in the Son, and this as the Word become flesh and tabernacling here below, with its immense consequences for every soul, and even for God Himself, glorified both in the exigencies of His moral being and in the intimate depths of His relationship as Father.

Further, we may take note of the Divine wisdom which wrote and gave such a Gospel at a comparatively late date,2 when the enemy was seeking to corrupt and destroy, not by Pharisaic or Sadducean adversaries, nor by idolatrous Gentiles, but by apostates and antichristian teachers. These, under the highest pretensions to knowledge and power, were undermining the truth of Christ's Person, on the side both of His proper Deity and of His real humanity,3 to the ruin of man and to the most thankless and daring dishonour of God. No testimony came in more appropriately than that of John, who, like the writer of the earliest Gospel, was an eyewitness,4 and even above all others familiar, if one may reverently so say, with the Lord Jesus as man on earth. Yet none the less, but above all, is he the instrument of attesting His Divine glory. The bearing of both on the closing efforts of Satan, even then and thenceforward prevalent (1Jn_2:18), is also most evident and of supreme importance. The Lord, on the other hand, as ever in His grace, met the efforts of Satan by a fuller assertion of "That which was from the beginning," for Divine glory in the clearing, comfort, and consolidation of the family of God-yea, of the babes. For what greater security than to find themselves the objects of the Father's love, loved as the Son was loved, Himself in them, and they in Him, Who on departing assures them of the abiding presence of that other Paraclete, the Holy Spirit?-a blessedness so great that He declares His own deeply missed absence "expedient" for them in order to secure it.

Consequently, along with the reality and manifestation of eternal life in man, in Christ the Son, there is the careful, complete, and distinct abolishing of Jewish or any other relationships for man in the flesh with God; while it is shown clearly both in the introduction and at the end of the Gospel that the dispensations of God are not overlooked, nor Christ's relation to them, His Person, Divine yet a man, being the pivot on which all turns.

Indeed, it was a great oversight of the ancient ecclesiastical writers to regard John as the evangelist who views the Lord or His own in their heavenly connections, ill as the eagle could symbolize any such thing; though even Augustine accepted the fancy, as Victorinus seems first to have suggested it. But theologians do not at all agree; for Irenæus will have Mark to be the eagle, and Andreas follows in his wake. Williams of late-and he is not alone-revived the interpretation of Augustine, who strangely applied the man to Mark and the ox to Luke, where the converse would have been at least more plausible. Many more applications equally wild prevailed, but they are hardly worth recording.

For the "living creatures" in Rev. 4 and elsewhere have no real or intended relation to the four Gospels. These present to us the grace of God which appeared in Christ among men, and the redemption which He accomplished in the rejected Messiah. The cherubim, on the contrary, are revealed when the throne on high assumes a judicial character in chastisements, preparatory to the Lord's taking the kingdom of the world and appearing from heaven for that reign. They symbolize the Divine attributes in figures taken from the heads of creation. Ingenious but superficial analogies cannot avail against the entire moral bearing of their associations as contrasted as grace is with judgment.

But the characteristic truth which it is hard to overlook in John, with a slight exception here and there, is God manifesting Himself in His Son, yet man on earth; not man in Him the exalted Christ on high, which is the line assigned to the apostle Paul, and among the inspired accounts of the Lord to the end of Luke and even, in a measure, of Mark. Therefore we may notice that there is no Ascension scene (though abundantly supposed) in John any more than in Matthew, though for wholly different reasons. For the first Gospel shows us the Lord in His final presentation, risen indeed, but still maintaining His links of relationship with the disciples or Jewish remnant in Galilee, where He gives them their great commission, and assures them of His presence with them till the consummation of the age. The last shows us Him uniting in His person the glory not only of the risen man and Son of God, the last Adam, but also of the Lord God, Who as the quickening spirit breathes the breath of a better life in resurrection power into His disciples, and thereon gives also a mystical view of the age to come, with the special places of both Peter and John.

It is God on earth, therefore, that appears in the account of our Lord here, not (save for exceptional purposes) man glorified in heaven, as in the writings of St. Paul.5 Hence in the first chapter, so remarkable for the fulness with which the titles of Christ are brought before us there, we do not read of Him either as priest or as head of the church-relations which are exclusively bound up with His exaltation above and service at the right hand of God. John presents all that is Divine in Christ's person and work on earth; and as he gives us the setting aside of the first man in his best shape, so also the absolute need of the Divine nature if man is to see or enter the kingdom of God. What is essential and abiding naturally flows from the presence of a Divine Person revealing Himself here below in grace and truth.

Again, the character of the truth before the Holy Spirit evidently excludes any genealogy such as is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, who respectively traced our blessed Lord down from Abraham and David, or up to Adam, "which was [the son] of God." Here John gives no such birth-roll; for how trace the line of Him Who in the beginning, before a creature existed, was with God and was God? If Mark is devoted to the details of His service, especially His service in the gospel, accompanied by suited powers and signs (for He would arouse man and appeal to unbelievers in the patient goodness of God), he in the wisdom of the same Spirit was led to omit all record of His earthly parentage and early life, and at once enters on His work, only preceded by a brief notice of His herald, John the Baptist, in his work.6 Hence, as the Lord was the perfect Servant, so the perfect account of it says nothing here of a genealogy; for who would ask the pedigree of a servant? Thus, if His service seems to keep it out from Mark, His Deity, being the prominent truth, renders it unsuitable for the Spirit's purpose by John. It is only from all the four that we receive the truth in its various fulness:7 only so could even God adequately reveal to us our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Gospels He is given us in view not merely of our need, but of the Divine love and glory.

The contents of this Gospel may be more clearly apprehended by the summary that follows.* Chapters 1-4 precede the Galilean ministry of our Lord given by the three Synoptists. John the herald was still baptizing, and free (Joh_3:23-24); while our Lord was on His way to Galilee (John 4) through Samaria. John 1 to 2: 22 are preliminary, Joh_1:1-18 being the wondrous and suited preface of His personal glory, seen in the chapter throughout. Then from verses 19-42 is John's testimony historically, not to others only about Jesus, but to Himself and its fruit. From verse 43 Christ calls individually and gathers, wherein He passes from the truth of His position as the Christ in Ps. 2 to the wider and higher glory of the Son of man in Ps. 8 Then we have in Joh_2:1-22 the marriage in Cana of Galilee which manifests His glory, and His execution of judgment in purifying the temple, as risen from the dead.

* [Cf. subsequent "God's Inspiration of the Scriptures (Divine Design, § 31. JOHN)," pp. 347-357 ]

From Joh_2:23 is shown the impossibility of God's trusting man as he is, and in John 3 the necessity of his being born anew to see or enter the kingdom of God, even on its earthly side. The cross of the Son of man is no less requisite; but God's Only-begotten Son is given in His love to save the world. Only faith in His name is indispensable. It is not a charge of law violated, but of light come and hated, men's works being evil. But John, the Bridegroom's friend, rejoices to be eclipsed by His glory Who comes from heaven and is above all, not only the Sent One with God's words, but the Son of His love to Whom the Father has given all things. To believe on Him, therefore, is to have life eternal; to disobey Him in unbelief is to have the wrath of God abiding on him. Such is the introduction.

John 4 is the Son of God humbling Himself in grace to draw a reprobate Samaritan to God, in order to worship Him and as Father too in spirit and truth, Jerusalem being now gone, as her rival was nothing. For He is the Saviour of the world. Yet the courtier in Capernaum proves that his faith in the Saviour for his sick son, though in Jewish form, was not in vain. He does not despise feeble faith.

John 5 shows us Jesus the Son of God, not a healer only, but quickening the dead souls that hear Him now, and raising to a life resurrection at His coming; while those who hearken not and live wickedly He, the Son of Man, will raise to a resurrection of judgment. The grounds of faith are therefore added in the rest of the chapter.

In John 6 the sign of the bread He gave the great crowd introduces the teaching of Himself, incarnate, the true Bread from heaven, and in death His flesh truly food and His blood truly drink, followed by His ascension. He is the object of faith thus, as the Quickener in the preceding chapter.

Thence John 7 lets us into His sending down the Holy Spirit from Himself in glory before the Feast of Tabernacles is literally fulfilled. Such is the power for witness, as in John 4 for worship. In these four chapters the Lord is set as Himself the truth of which Israel had possessed forms.

In John 8 and John 9 His word and His work are rejected respectively and to the uttermost. Nevertheless the sheep, which receive both to their blessing, He not only keeps, but leads outside the fold to better still, one flock, one Shepherd. Nothing can harm. They are in the Father's hand and in the Son's (John 10).

John 11 and John 12 give us the testimony to Christ, as Son of God in resurrection power, as Son of David according to prophecy, and as Son of man bringing in through His death a new, unlimited, and everlasting glory, which His jointheirs should share with Him.

From John 13 to 17 is unfolded the Lord's position in heaven, and what He is for us then and there-an entirely new thing for the disciples who looked for the kingdom here and now. He is our Advocate (1Jn_2:1), and washes by the word our feet defiled by the way; and when Judas is gone out, opens His death as morally glorifying Himself, glorifying God in every way, and His glorification in Him as the immediate consequence. But He is coming (John 14) to receive them to Himself in the Father's house, the proper Christian hope. Meanwhile Christ promises another Advocate, or Paraclete, to dwell with them and be in them for ever, Who is the present power of Christianity, and works in the obedience of the Christian. In John 15 we have the Christian position on earth contrasted with Judaism. It is not union but communion with Christ to bear fruit, and render testimony to His glory: moral government is in question rather than sovereign grace. John 16 treats of the presence of the Spirit, what it proves to the world, and how He deals with the believers who now ask the Father in Christ's name. John 17, in Christ's outpouring to the Father, gives our place with Him, and apart from the world, in past, present, and future unity, both privilege in heaven with Him by and by, and our wondrous blessedness even now.

John 18 and John 19 characteristically sketch the closing scenes of His varied mock trials after His willing surrender, and the humiliating experience of His disciples; then the death of the cross, and its fruit, as well as the beloved disciple's witness, to whom He confided His mother. John 20 presents Him risen, His message through Mary of Magdala, and His manifestation to the gathered disciples on the Resurrection, and in eight days to Thomas, the type of Israel seeing and believing. John 21 adds the mystical picture of the millennial age, when the Gentiles become Christ's, and the net is not broken as heretofore. As an appendix, we have Peter restored and reinstated, with the assurance that in the weakness of age grace would strengthen him to die for his Master, Whom he failed thus to glorify in the day of his more youthful self-confidence. John is left in no less mysterious guise, though it was not said that he should not die, but in suspense, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me." So we know that the same pen, which God employed to set out the Son of God in His personal glory and ineffable grace, was to give us, after the translation of the heavenly on high, the Divine government which will at length invest Christ and them with the world's kingdom in the day when He will be the manifest centre of all glory, heavenly and earthly. For this and more we find in the Revelation.8

John - Appendix.

Notes (E. E. Whitfield.)


1 THE traditional writer of the fourth Gospel was John the Apostle. Of the two oldest manuscripts of the original text, the Vatican (B) has simply "According to John" as both columnar title and subscription, whilst the Sinaitic () shows this as subscription (so also the Old Latin copies). "Gospel according to John" is found in ACEFGL, etc. Manuscripts of the Apocalypse bear the superscription of "John the divine (θεόλογος which refers to his λόγος doctrine (Reuse, p. 21), but, Weiss and Zahn think, was not so used before the third century. Dr. Barry has described him as "last of Apostles and first of divines" (p. 264).

Most manuscripts assign to it the last place among the Gospels, but in D it is placed next to Matthew's, as being both by Apostles.

This John was, it would seem, the younger of the two sons of Zebedee and Salome (cf. Matt. 28: 56 with Mar_15:40). The Gospels "according to" Matthew and Mark both always name James first; and so Luke generally, but twice the third Evangelist writes "John and James" (Luk_8:51, Luk_9:28).

The Synoptic Gospels would lead us to suppose that theirs was a Galilean family, and probably of Bethsaida (Cf. Joh_1:45 with Luk_5:9), in easy circumstances (Mar_1:20). Until the brothers became permanently attached to JESUS they followed the calling of fishermen (see, further, notes on Joh_1:35 and Joh_18:15).

John's definite call to discipleship is recorded in Mat_4:21 f. and Luk_5:1-11. The Lord gave to him and his brother the joint name of "Boanerges" (Mar_3:17); so that writers concerned with the question of the authorship of the Apocalypse have to consider the fitness of the designation of a son "of thunder" in that connection, as also when investigating the authorship of the Epistles which go under John's name.

The "disciple whom Jesus loved," spoken of in the Gospel attributed to John the Apostle, is generally supposed to be a designation of himself (see, further, note on Joh_13:23). To the disciple so described our Lord when dying bequeathed the care of His mother (Joh_19:26). This Apostle is, besides, spoken of as one of the "pillars" of the Church at Jerusalem (Gal_2:19; cf. Acts 15, A.D. 51). The last glimpse we have of him in the New Testament is as an exile in the island of Patmos during the reign, Eusebius (ii. 18) states, of Domitian. Before that time, according to Tertullian (Præscr. Hæret.), while the Apostle was in Rome, he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, from which he emerged unhurt. Ecclesiastical tradition carries on the story of his life, when released from Patmos, by representing him as prominently connected with the churches of Asia Minor, with Ephesus in particular (Irenæus). Zahn supposes that he removed from Palestine during the fatal Jewish war of the year 69, whilst Blass, comparing Acts 15 with John 21 there, considers that he must have finally left Jerusalem by at least the year 54. His residence in Asia Minor has been questioned, on insufficient grounds, by Keim, Scholten, H. Holtzmann, Harnack, Bousset, and Schmiedel, from its not suiting their theory as to the authorship. Amongst other familiar incidents related of that period of his life are the stories of his reclaiming a notable backslider (Eusebius iii. 33), and of his meeting a Gnostic in a public bath, when he at once rushed out of the place. Irenæus's account (iii. 3, 4) gives Cerinthus as the name, but Epiphanius (xxx. 24) says that it was Ebion. The last-named writer states that the Apostle remained unmarried. John is generally reported to have passed away in Ephesus by a natural death soon after the year 98 - i.e., after the accession of Trajan (so Irenæus, ii. 22, 5). Eusebius (vii. 25) states that his grave was shown there, another account is that two graves were shown at Ephesus connected with the name John (see, further, note on Joh_21:22 f.).

1a Indications of authorship present themselves in the Gospel itself at Joh_1:14, Joh_19:35, Joh_21:24. So much of the tradition as concerns the Apostle's connection with it is pieced together from the Church History" of Eusebius (iii., chapter xxiv.), who has preserved the Preface to comments on Logia of the Lord, by Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis (see Col_4:13) about A.D. 130 or 140 (see Sanday, "Gospels in the Second Century," pp. 145-160, or Stanton, pp. 166-168), from the Muratorian Fragment, about A.D. 170 (see Westcott on the Canon), and from Irenæus in his treatise against heresies (A.D. 180), whose statement in iii. 11 Weizsäcker acknowledges as documentary evidence, not mere tradition. The language of Papias is too vague to be of any help as to this Gospel and its authorship. Justin Martyr came in between this Papias and Irenæus. He seems to quote from the Gospel in both his Apology and his Dialogue with Trypho, but does not name the author. The Muratorian Fragment, however, is distinct in its evidence, not only for the Apostolic authorship, but for the supreme value it attached to the fourth Gospel. By the time of Irenæus acceptance of the Johannine authorship is clear; of him Jülicher candidly says that "he was not the man to spin tradition out of his own brain" (p. 405). Indeed, the late Dr. Ezra Abbot, an American Unitarian, was convinced that we need not travel lower down for recognition of John's authorship than the time of Justin Martyr - i.e., in the middle of the second century (p. 80, cf. Stanton, pp. 181-191). Justin's adherent, Tatian (A.D. 160), seems to have used this Gospel for his "Diatessaron," which begins with "In the beginning was the Word" (cf. testimony of Theodoret, in Zahn). As far as is known, recognised opponents of Christianity, such as Celsus and Porphyry, did not attempt to disturb the received opinion. It is true that so-called Alogi (see note on Joh_1:1) attributed the authorship to Cerinthus, and the acceptance of the Johannine claim in the second century was retarded by the circumstance that the Gnostic heretic did actually appeal to this Gospel (see notes on Joh_1:3; Joh_1:5; Joh_1:14, etc.). So according to Origen, Heracleon in Italy (170-180), whilst the Alexandrian Basilides, "about the year 175," as wrote Matthew Arnold ("God and the Bible," p. 268 f.), "had before him the fourth Gospel." Zahn (ii. 459 note) gives ample references for such writers, as well as to Theophilus of Antioch, who died in 186, the first of the orthodox distinctly naming the author. Stanton well says: "That this Gospel, umlike as it is to the Synoptics, should have overborne the resistance offered to its acceptance is, humanly, only to be explained by its Apostolic authorship" (p. 277; cf. Sadler, Introduction to Commentary, xxv.).

In the early years of the third century we find Clement of Alexandria (according to Eusebius, vi. 14) affirming that he had heard from men of Asia Minor that John the Apostle wrote this Gospel after being "urged by his friends and divinely moved by the Spirit." Origen's acceptance, soon after Clement's, of the received opinion is no lefts clear; the great Christian scholar does not even hint at any diversity of opinion about it. All down the centuries such was the belief, until in 1792 an English clergyman named Evanson questioned it ("The Dissonance of the Evangelists"). In 1820 a German professor, Bretschneider, followed, and, again, Strauss in 1835, as Baur of Tubingen in 1844. But for some thirty years after the appearance of Strauss's famous "Life of Jesus" most German theologians, including independent workers like Neander. De Wette, and Ewald, followed the lead of Schleiermacher in adhering to the old view, and resisting the ideas of the "Tübingen school." So also Renan in his "Life of Jesus," belonging to the sixties; but by the time he wrote his "Evangiles" this famous French writer's opinion had changed (p. 428; cf. the "Life," etc., 13th ed., p. 10 f.).

In 1864 appeared a work by Weizsacker (Baur's successor), entitled "Investigations respecting the Gospel History," and also the Dutch theologian Scholten's "The Gospel according to John," which may together be taken as marking increased academical acceptance of the "modern" view, now largely held in Protestant circles on the Continent, especially since the publication of Keim's "Jesus of Nazara." Weizsäcker's position in his later work, "The Apostolic Age," is that the Apostle was the indirect, a confidential disciple of his the direct author (cf. Harnack's "The Gospel of John the Elder according to John the son of Zebedee"). Such, likewise, was essentially the view of the late Auguste Sabatier, of the French "Liberal" school, as it is of Loisy, his counterpart among French Romanists, to whom Nouvelle has replied. Schürer (see English edition of his pamphlet) is of the same opinion, which was adopted also by Matthew Arnold ("God and the Bible," p. 256 f.).

Amongst Germans the names of Lücke, Bleek, Meyer, Hengstenberg, Credner, Luthardt, Bunsen, Ritschl, B. Weiss, Schanz, Beyschlag, Zahn (as Haussleiter and Blass, regarding the "Elder" as none other than the Apostle), and Goebel stand for defence of the Johannine authorship; but those of the two Holtzmanns, Pfleiderer, Schürer, Jülicher, Bousset. Clemen, and the Swiss professors Wernle and Schmiedel, rank as opponents. In this country Dr. S. Davidson, Dr. Jas. Martineau, and Dr. E. A. Abbott, as, of course, the now disclosed author of "Supernatural Religion," support the negative position; whilst Bishops Lightfoot and Westcott, with Professors Sanday and Stanton, Dr. Plummer, Dr. Salmon and Dr. Gloag, besides Dr. Jas. Drummond among Unitarian scholars, uphold the older view. So also the Swiss scholar, Professor Barth, and the late F. Godet. French and American writers are likewise in different camps.

The literary question has been complicated by the fact that Eusebius (book iii.) evidently understood Papias as saying that there were two Johns of Ephesus - John the Apostle and John the Elder (see Stanton, pp. 168-171) the passage would be found in Routh's "Reliquiæ Sacræ," vol. i., p. 8. The tendency now is to discredit the existence of two such contemporaries at the same place: so Harnack ("Chronology," i., pp. 409, 662 note, 674), for whom it is merely "a third-century idea," with Schürer, Loisy, etc. The distinguished professor of Berlin holds that whilst the Apostle's influence lies behind (p. 677), the Evangelist was the Elder, to whom he ascribes all the Johannine writings (op. cit., i., p. 659 f.). On the other hand, conservative scholars, by specially "critical" Germans called "Apologists," generally regard "the Elder" as identical with the Apostle (cf. 2Jn_1:1, 3Jn_1:1, with 1Pe_5:1). Even Hilgenfeld (of the Tübingen school) thought the existence of a distinct Elder (still held by H. J. Holtzmann and others) very shadowy; so also Drummond.

Wendt (reviving an idea of Weisse) takes a mediating position; he analyses the book into a "Source" (the Evangelist, John the Apostle) and an Editor ("redactor"). The American professor, Briggs, is of the same mind. His countryman, Bacon of Yale, sets up a triple authorship, although disclaiming classification with the writers last-named (for him the "redactor" was "Theologos," the teacher of Justin Martyr). But most scholars, as Pfleiderer (ii., p. 480 f.) and Martineau ("Seat of Authority," p. 189),decide for a single writer. There are, accordingly, three main views - that the writer was (a) the Apostle; (b) a distinct Elder; (c) a disciple, whether of the Apostle or of this Elder (as Bousset and von Soden think). The last takes the form in the hands of Dr. Salmon (see his posthumous work, p. 436) of a hermeneutes, or interpreter acting as amanuensis.

The third view is akin to the idea of a "Second (Third) Isaiah" in Old Testament criticism. "That the author of this Gospel," writes Sir R. Anderson, "should not have left even a tradition of his personality or name is a supposition which tries even a trained capacity for misbelief" (p. 142 of 2nd ed. of "Christianized Rationalism" in Twentieth Century Papers).

Opinion differs amongst the "advanced" writers as to whether the Evangelist was of Jewish or of Gentile descent. Keim and Scholten thought that he was a Gentile Christian; others, as O. Holtzmann and J. Réville, hold that he was a Hebrew Christian (see, further, notes on Joh_4:27 and Joh_18:15). With this goes, of course, the question of the linguistic style of the Gospel, from which the critics seek to determine the amount of "culture" (Acts iv. 13) at the Evangelist's command. Some, as O. Holtzmanu and Jülicher (after F. W. Newman in this country), speak of "monotony" characterising the discourses, whilst von Soden complains of "the poverty of vocabulary," which seems ill to accord with the same writer's saying that the Evangelist's mind was "rooted in the Greek culture in which he grew up" (p. 440). The device is, accordingly, adopted of supposing him to be a Hebrew Christian with a Gentile education. Dr. Briggs holds strongly that this Gospel was first written in Hebrew (p. 147). There is a great unwillingness to own Ewald's demonstration of its Hebraising style, or the justice of Lightfoot's very competent opinion that "a scholarly Greek could not have written as John" (see his "Biblical Essays," pp. 16 f., 128 ff., 135 ff. for illustrations). Ewald supposed that the book was taken down by a friend from the Apostle's dictation; that the amanuensis had some control over the language used ("Johannine Writings," p. 50 f.), thus rendering the Apostle service like the aid that another is believed to have given to Paul in the literary form of the Epistle to the Hebrews (cf. Salmon. p. 206). Dr. Barry finds no difficulty in assuming that "St. John gave the substance, which his Hellenistic secretary put into shape" (p. 169).*

* Professor Gregory (p. 312, A.) states that Prochorus (cf. Act_6:5) is portrayed in several manuscripts as the amanuensis (cf. Zahn, "Exposition," p. 28).

2 A decision as to the date of the publication of this Gospel, of course, depends mainly on the view that one takes of the authorship. The old Tübingen opinion, now happily dead, was that it arose in the latter half of the second century. This has been brought back by H. Holtzmann to the years from 100 to 140 (Schmiedel, between 132 and 140). But Dr. Plummer inquires: "If the Gospel was published between these years, why did not the hundreds of Christians who had known St. John during his later years denounce it as a forgery?" (p. xxxvii.). Other dates are J. Réville's, 100-125, Julicher's, 100-110, until we reach O. Holtzmann's convenient "not before 100" (because of alleged dependence on Luke's Gospel). There remain the views of the two specially representative scholars, all of whose writings, from different points of view, command English respect - Harnack, who does not conceal his dissatisfaction with nineteenth-century results, and puts the date at between 80 and 110; and Zahn, whose date is from 75 to 90. Eusebius says that the Gospel was written in the Evangelist's old age, with which Harnack's and Zahn's respective dates would sufficiently agree. And so W. Kelly: "God directed that the truth should be held back from his pen for fifty years at least" ("Exposition of the Epistles of John," p. 6). "Repetition of phrases," as Barry says, "is characteristic of old age" (p. 161); see also note on v. 2.

The best short popular statement as to the authorship is that by Colonel Turton in his clearly written, sane, and, to opponents, markedly fair book (pp. 323-335).

3 See notes on Joh_1:3-5, etc.

4 See note on Joh_1:14.

5 See note introductory to John 3.

6 It is clear that the latest of the Gospels supposes acquaintance with those which preceded it (see Joh_2:12, Joh_3:24, Joh_11:2, Joh_18:24; Joh_18:28).

Renan started the absurd notion that this Evangelist bore testimony against whatever he omitted. Thus, the second chapter of the "Vie de Jésus" begins with "Jesus was born at Nazareth," with footnote referring to Joh_1:45 f. (see, further, in note 42 below).

O. Holtzmann enumerates certain omissions from this Gospel (as of any account of the Temptation), and says that such incidents were deemed derogatory to the Son of God. Nowhere, however, in the Synoptics is greater insistence placed on the Lord's humanity than in John's Gospel.

Dr. E. A. Abbott, in book 4 of his "From Letter to Spirit," has a chapter on "The Silence of John," but Dr. Drummond shows, by an illustration taken from old ecclesiastical literature, how little the argument drawn from silence serves the purpose for which it is used (p. 157).

Nine-tenths of this Gospel is peculiar to itself, and five-sixths is composed of discourses

On its relation in general to the Synoptic records, see Westcott, Introduction 78-80, or Salmon, Lecture 17, Mulligan, 29 f., Reynolds, 88-128. Ewald and Godet suppose that John designedly gave his narrative a supplementary ohmmeter, whilst Weiss and Zahn consider that he did so without intending it, but Reuss rejects either view (see Introduction to the Exposition of Mar_1:7, and note 12 there). Pfleiderer (as now Heitmüller) has differed from German critics in general with regard to the Johannine Christ; these two writers hold that the fourth Gospel exhibits the "historical Jesus" (sees further, next note).

7 A very serious point is the claim of the fourth Gospel to be accounted historical i.e., as setting forth what our Lord actually said and did. This is discussed in Westcott's Introduction, p. 53. Cf. the Advent Lectures (1907) of the Dean of Westminster. Many critics depreciate it relatively to the Synoptic Gospels from the fancy that the "Jesus" of Paul (2Co_2:4) and John (1Jn_4:3) is "another" than the "historical" Jesus of the Synoptists. The followers of Renan criticize by the light of this. All careful readers may discern, alongside of parallel statements in the Synoptists (Reuss, p. 226 f.), the difference between the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, on the one hand, and that going under the name of John on the other, in regard of (1) the duration of the Lord's ministry (see note on Joh_2:13); (2) the scene of it (ibid.); (3) the style of our Lord's teaching (see note on Joh_3:1), (4) the assertion of His Messianic claim (see notes on Joh_1:33; Joh_1:41). The personality of the writers does seem to enter more largely into the last than that of the writers of the earlier narratives into their respective texture. And yet if John was to portray the inwardness of our Lord's life and mind, how could he do so without projection of his own soul into the task of setting forth the way in which he had "learned Christ" (Eph_4:20)? Such even as Schmiedel talk of the application of their "own intellect" to analysis of the mind of Christ ("Jesus in Modern Criticism," p. 36). Clement of Alexandria described the fourth Gospel as predominantly "spiritual" in contrast with the "bodily" Synoptic Gospels (Eusebius, vi. 7, 14), as to which see W. Kelly, "Elements of Prophecy," p. 82, or Bruce, "Kingdom of God," p. 346. This may have referred to the inner spirit in contrast with the facts of the Lord's life (Milligan, Introduction, 19). Cf. T. H. Green, "The Gospel at its Highest Potency and in its Finest Essence" (iii. 171). It may be said to set before us "heavenly" rather than "earthly" things (Joh_3:12; cf. Joh_7:46, Joh_16:12). Nevertheless, as W. Kelly has written in his "Exposition of the Revelation," the "general bent" of this Gospel is to trace what He was on earth rather than what He is in heaven (p. 100).

There may be a difference between theological veracity and scientific exactness (see F. W. Robertson, sermon on "The Kingdom of the Truth," vol. i. of "Sermons") respectively expressed in Professor Kaftan's recent pamphlet ("Jesus and Paul," p. 66) by Wahrheit (veracity) and Wirklichkeit (reality); but can one safely apply that distinction to the discourses in the fourth Gospel? With Robertson it is easy to go when he says (sermon on "The Sanctification of Christ," vol. ii., No. 17): "Feel a truth: that is the only way of comprehending it. St. John felt out truth. He understood his Lord by loving Him." So already Origen (Inge, "Christian Mysticism," p. 45). However that may be, to use the words of Bishop Moule, "In the record as it stands I have a report revised by the ever-blessed Speaker" (p. 14). Cf. Bernard, "The Central Teaching of Jesus Christ" p. 179.

That the material accuracy of its statements should be questioned is soul-corrupting in the light of the express assurance conveyed by Joh_21:24. But it is the centre of the position of those who uphold New Testament revelation in general (cf. Lightfoot, "B. E.," p. 47), and so must be attacked. Dr. Salmon, moreover, has remarked that "critics nowadays trust far more to their own power of divination than to historical testimony" (p. 256). Intellectual honesty is incumbent on all of us. As says Bishop Gore: "We must all train ourselves in the very rare quality of submission to good evidence. This quality is as rare among sceptics as among believers" ("First Sermon on the Permanent Creed," etc., p. 17). It may be added, indeed, that the "free science" upon which some German professors flatter themselves belongs rather to the mythology of the nineteenth century. It is the duty of historians to hold the balance between the "objective" and "subjective"; but Kaftan, in his pamphlet already mentioned, remarks that those of the "Liberal" school "wish to know history not as it was, but as it ought to be - that is, according to their presuppositions, governed by the modern view of the world" (p. 56).

8 The various foregoing aspects of this Gospel will receive detailed consideration in the following notes on passages specially used by the "critical school" for the statement of their respective views, and, it is hoped, some aid will be given towards discrimination of that which is true from what is false in current theories. For example, the writer of "Supernatural Religion" has: "If the doctrines preached in the fourth Gospel represent Christianity, then the Synoptic Gospels do not teach it" (vol. ii., p. 463). There is an element of truth in these words. The three first Gospels supply us only with "the word of the beginning of Christ" (Heb_6:1). The late W. Kelly ("God's Inspiration of the Bible," p. 524 note) would have associated himself entirely with the following extract from Sir R. Anderson's Reply to Harnack: "The distinctive doctrines of Christianity are not to be found in the teaching of the Synoptic, as they are called. The first two Gospels belong as much to the Old Testament as to the New. . . . The Synoptical Gospels are divinely described as the records of what Christ began to do and teach, of what began to be spoken by the Lord. And His voice, like that of Moses and the prophets then Spoke on earth. But to us He speaketh from heaven" ( Twentieth Century Papers, p. 189). Cf. Professor Kaftan: "To proclaim the Jesus religion as the proper and true Christianity is contrary to history (p. 50)." Cf. Seeley "Ecce Homo," p. 78 f. (edn. of 1908). The position taken up by Baur, later German professors, with Mr. W. R. Cassels, have but plagiarised. As the late Professor Schlottmann has said: "It is the right and duty of the Church to reject the popularising of crude hypotheses put forth with the semblance of scientific results" ("Compendium of Biblical Theology," p. 137).

Without any reservation, the view, expressed towards the end of his life by W. Kelly, of the authorship of the Gospels and the Epistles going under the name of John, was that the Apostle so-called was the instrument of the Holy Spirit for furnishing the Church with these writings in succession, and that the Apocalypse was that which appeared last ("Exposition of the Epistles," pp. 3- 7).

This Gospel begins with a Preface ("Prologue"), which most writers regard as extending to Joh_1:18 (so Tischendorf's Synopsis), and ends with an "Epilogue" (John 21). It is variously divided, as into seven parts (Milligan), or three parts (H. Holtzmann, Zahn). Some look upon the "Prologue" as the key to the whole, whilst Harnack thinks that it was intended only to engage the interest of Greek readers (p. 235).