31.But these are written, that you may believe. By these words he means, that he committed to writing what ought to satisfy us, because it is abundantly sufficient for confirming our faith; for he intended to reply to the vain curiosity of men, which is insatiable, and allows itself excessive indulgence. Besides, John was well aware of what the other Evangelists had written; and, as nothing was farther from his intention than to set aside their writings, he unquestionably does not separate their narrative from his own.
It may be thought strange, however, that faith is founded on miracles, while it ought to rest exclusively on the promises and word of God. I reply, no other use is here assigned to miracles than to be the aids and supports of faith; for they serve to prepare the minds of men, that they may cherish greater reverence for the word of God, and we know how cold and sluggish our attention is, if we be not excited by something else. Besides, it adds no small authority to the doctrine already received, when, for the purpose of supporting it, he stretches out his mighty hand from heaven; as Mark says that the Apostles taught,
the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by accompanying signs,
Although, therefore, strictly speaking, faith rests on the word of God, and looks to the word as its only end, still the addition of miracles is not superfluous, provided that they be also viewed as relating to the word, and direct faith towards it. Why miracles are called signs we have already explained. It is because, by means of them, the Lord arouses men to contemplate his power, when he exhibits any thing strange and unusual.
That Jesus is the Christ. He means the Christ, such as he had been promised in the Law and the Prophets, as the Mediator between God and men, the Father’ highest Ambassador the only Restorer of the world, and the Author of perfect happiness. For John did not seize upon an empty and unmeaning title to adorn the Son of God, but included, under the name Christ, all the offices which the Prophets ascribe to him. We ought, therefore, to contemplate him such as he is there described. This shows more fully what was said a little ago, that faith does not confine its view to miracles, but carries us direct to the word; for it is as if John had said, that what the Prophets formerly taught by the word has been proved by miracles. And, indeed, we see that the Evangelists themselves do not occupy their whole attention in relating miracles, but dwell more largely on doe-trine, because miracles by themselves would produce nothing but a confused admiration. The meaning of the words therefore is, that these things have been written, that we may believe, so far as faith can be aided by signs.
The Son of God. The Evangelist adds this, because not one of the ordinary rank of men could have been found, who was competent to perform so great undertakings; that is, to reconcile the Father to us, to atone for the sins of the world, to abolish death, to destroy the kingdom of Satan, to bring to us true righteousness and salvation. Besides, as the name, Son of God, belongs only to Christ, it follows that he is a Son, not by adoption, but by nature; and, therefore, under this name is comprehended the eternal Divinity of Christ. And, indeed, he who, after having received those striking proofs, which are to be found in the Gospel, does not perceive Christ to be God, does not deserve to look even at the sun and the earth, for he is blind amidst the brightness of noonday.
That believing, you may have life. This effect of faith was also added, to restrain the foolish longings of men, that they may not desire to know more than what is sufficient for obtaining life. For what obstinacy was it, not to be satisfied with eternal salvation, and to wish to go beyond the limits of the heavenly kingdom? Here John repeats the most important point of his doctrine, that we obtain eternal life by faith, because, while we are out of Christ, we are dead, and we are restored to life by his grace alone. On this subject we have spoken largely enough in our exposition of the Third and Fifth Chapters of this Gospel.
Through his name. As to his saying, through the name of Christ, rather than through Christ, the reason of this form of expression has been assigned by us in our exposition of the twelfth verse of the First Chapter of this Gospel. The reader may consult that passage, if he think proper, that I may not be troubled with repeating the same things frequently. (224)