Aware that he was being followed, Jesus turned and asked John’s two disciples, “What are you seeking?” This question served as an invitation for them to express their wishes respecting him. They addressed him as “Rabbi” (“Teacher”) and asked, “Where are you staying?” Their question implied that they wanted to spend time with him. Jesus invited them to come with him and to see for themselves. They then remained with him that day. It was about the tenth hour when they arrived where Jesus was staying. Possibly this was Roman time or about 10:00 a.m., as roughly only two hours would have remained before the start of a new day according to Jewish reckoning. With the Jewish day (the daylight hours) starting at 6 a.m., the tenth hour would have been 4:00 p.m. (John 1:38, 39)
One of the disciples was Andrew, the brother of Simon (to whom Jesus would later give the name Peter). The other disciple likely was John the brother of James. This is suggested by the fact that John is never named in a single verse of the account to which he is linked as the writer. (John 1:40)
Upon leaving Jesus’ company, Andrew located his brother Simon and excitedly told him, “We have found the Messiah” (Christ or the Anointed). With his brother, Andrew then headed back to the place where Jesus was staying. Upon seeing Simon, Jesus said to him, “You are Simon, son of John [Jonah]. You will be called Cephas” (Peter). The name “Cephas” or “Peter” means “rock,” and this name reflected Jesus’ confidence in Simon as one who would prove to be rocklike or solid in his faith and provide strengthening aid to fellow believers. (John 1:41, 42; Mark 3:16; compare Luke 22:32.)
The next day Jesus wanted to leave Judea to go to Galilee. He personally approached Philip, doubtless also one of John’s disciples, inviting him to be a follower. Philip must have known Peter and Andrew. Before taking up residence in Capernaum, Peter and Andrew, like Philip, lived in Bethsaida, a town on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. (John 1:43, 44; compare Luke 4:31-39.)
Philip then located Nathanael, telling him, “The one of whom Moses wrote in the Law and the Prophets we have found, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” The link to Nazareth appeared puzzling to Nathanael, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” His question may suggest that Nazareth did not have a good reputation. On the other hand, Nathanael may have meant that he found it difficult to believe that the promised Messiah, the great good to which Philip had referred, would come from this city in Galilee (and not Bethlehem in Judea). Could it really be that the Messiah, of all places, would have Nazareth as his home? Philip did not try to persuade Nathanael with words but invited him to come and find out for himself. (John 1:45, 46)
As Philip and Nathanael approached, Jesus’ first words to Nathanael were, “See, a true Israelite in whom nothing is false.” Surprised by this observation from one whom he had never met, Nathanael responded, “How do you know me?” Revealing that he had knowledge about Nathanael beyond the ordinary, Jesus told him that he had seen him under the fig tree before Philip called him. An event or circumstance associated with that fig tree revealed the kind of person he was, and Nathanael immediately grasped the significance of Jesus’ words. With conviction, he replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Having believed on the basis of being told that he had been seen under the fig tree, Nathanael heard Jesus say that he would see things greater than this. In fact, he and the other disciples would see heaven opened and “the angels of God ascending and descending to the Son of Man.” Through him, the very heavens would be opened up to them. (John 1:47-51; see the Notes section for additional comments.)
From this time onward, these early disciples (and those who would join them later) came to see in Jesus, though having become flesh, a divine glory or splendor. His was the glory of an only-begotten of a father. He was the unique one, full of kindness and truth. As the one full of “kindness,” favor, or grace, Jesus manifested a gracious disposition of unparalleled love. He himself was the living truth, the one through whom all the promises of God find their fulfillment and the one who, through his attitude, words, and deeds, provided to humans the most complete disclosure possible regarding his Father. (John 1:14)
He alone, as John the Baptist had testified, already “was” prior to his arrival on the earthly scene. From the fullness of the Son of God, his disciples received kindness “upon” (literally, “instead of” [antí]) kindness, or favor upon favor. This favor or kindness was unearned and unmerited. The disciples continued to be the objects of Jesus’ care and compassionate concern as he taught them, came to their aid and defense, and, finally, in expression of his boundless love, gave his life for them. (John 1:15, 16; see additional comments in the Notes section on verse 16.)
Whereas the law had been given through Moses, through Christ came the favor and truth or the full expression of godly kindness and the complete revelation of divine truth. Unlike humans who have never seen God, Jesus had both seen him and enjoyed an intimacy with him reaching into the infinite past. That intimacy is revealed in the expressions used concerning him. He is the “only-begotten,” the unique one, the one and only. “God” (theós), if this is the original reading of John 1:18 (later manuscripts read, “only-begotten Son,” signifying unique Son), describes him as being exactly like his Father. The closeness to the Father is further shown by his being portrayed in his bosom position. This is the kind of intimacy a person would enjoy when reclining in front of another person on the same couch while eating a meal. As the intimate of his Father, Jesus could reveal him to others in a way that no one else could. (John 1:17, 18; see additional comments in the Notes section on verse 18.)
See http://bibleplaces.com/bethsaida.htm for pictures of and comments about Bethsaida.
See http://holylandphotos.org for pictures of and comments about Cana. Enter “Cana” in the “search” box.
John’s account does not reveal what happened under the fig tree or what may have been Nathanael’s thoughts. Whatever was involved, Nathanael recognized that Jesus’ knowledge respecting him was of a miraculous nature, removing any doubt from his mind about Jesus’ true identity.
Nathanael is only mentioned in John’s account. Based on the mention of Philip and Bartholomew together in listings of the apostles, Nathanael and Bartholomew appear to be the same person. (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14) Similarly, Matthew is also called Levi. (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27-29)
The reference to the ascending and descending of angels from the Son of Man somewhat parallels what Jacob saw in his dream at Bethel. In that case, angels descended and ascended by means of a ladder-like or stair-like arrangement that reached from the land to the sky, and the Almighty was positioned at the top. Jacob then heard God’s promise that through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. (Genesis 28:12-14) As the apostle Paul wrote when referring to the promise first made to Abraham, that seed proved to be Christ. (Galatians 3:16) Jesus’ statement therefore may also have served to confirm Nathanael’s expression of faith, “You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Not until after Jesus’ death do angels figure prominently in the biblical accounts, being seen at various times. (Matthew 28:2-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:1-7; John 20:11, 12; Acts 1:10, 11) Manuscript evidence concerning the appearance of an angel in the garden of Gethsemane to strengthen Jesus is inconclusive. The omission of this incident in early extant manuscripts suggests that it may not have been mentioned in Luke’s original account. (Luke 22:43) So it would appear that Jesus’ words about the ascending and descending of angels relate more to the disciples being able to see the free approach he had to his Father and that angels were always available to minister to him. (Compare Matthew 26:53.)
In John 1:16, the words about receiving “favor upon [anti; literally, “instead of”] favor” could be understood to mean receiving unmerited kindness followed by receiving even greater unmerited kindness.
In John 1:18, the Greek term monogenés (often rendered “only-begotten”) points to the uniqueness of the relationship of the Son to the Father. There is no other son like him. The emphasis is not to be placed on the second part of the compound (begotten), but the expression is to be regarded as a unit. This is evident from the way the term is used in the Septuagint as a rendering for the Hebrew term yahíd (only, only one, alone). Jephthah’s daughter was his only child. (Judges 11:34) The psalmist pleaded that YHWH might rescue his “only-begotten one” (Brenton), meaning the only life he possessed or his precious life. (Psalm 21:21 [22:20(21)]; 34:17 [35:17]) He also prayed for mercy because he identified himself as an “only-begotten,” that is, one of a kind (like an only child). In this case, the Hebrew often has been translated “lonely” or “alone.” (Psalm 24:16 [25:16])
Possibly on the third day after Nathanael’s first meeting Jesus, a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee. Among those present were Jesus’ mother Mary, Jesus, and his disciples. Likely there were six disciples at this time, Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew, Philip and Nathanael (Bartholomew), and John and his brother James. While the record is silent about when James became a disciple, it would seem reasonable that John (probably the unnamed disciple mentioned in the first chapter of John) would have shared the news about Jesus with his brother. Their mother appears to have been Salome, usually identified as the wife of Zebedee. She may also have been Mary’s sister. (Compare Matthew 27:56 with Mark 15:40 and John 19:25 with Matthew 27:55 and Mark 15:40, 41.)
During the wedding festivities, the supply of wine ran out. Mary became concerned about this embarrassing development. Her personal interest in preserving the joyous spirit of the occasion appears to be more typical of a relative or a close family friend than of an invited guest. She approached Jesus, informing him that there was no more wine. Possibly based on what her son had done at other times, she apparently believed that he would be able to come up with a solution for the problem she had brought to his attention. His initial reply to her, however, indicated that their relationship had changed. As the Christ, God’s unique Son, he would be the one to initiate action in his own time. A literal English translation of his words is harsher in tone than is the Greek, where the term for “woman” gyné can also denote “lady” or “wife.” For this reason, a number of translations represent Jesus as addressing Mary as “dear woman.” His response in question form was, “What to me and to you?” The idiomatic expression implied that in this specific matter the two of them had nothing in common. Jesus then added, “My hour has not yet come” (possibly meaning the time for him to intervene to handle the problem regarding the wine or the time for him to reveal his identity as the promised Messiah). Mary evidently understood that Jesus would no longer be taking motherly direction from her but did not doubt that he would act. This is suggested by her words to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:1-5)
For ceremonial washing purposes, six large stone jars were available. Each of these could hold two or three measures (perhaps bath measures or roughly between 12 and 18 gallons). Jesus directed the servants to fill the containers with water and then to take a sample of the liquid to the master of the festivities. The servants did not tell him the source of the liquid. Upon tasting it, he perceived it to be choice wine and thereafter told the bridegroom that he had not followed the customary procedure. Unlike others, the bridegroom had set out the inferior wine first and reserved the best wine until the guests had partaken to a degree where their sense of taste had ceased to be keen. (John 2:6-10)
The transformation of water into wine proved to be Jesus’ first “sign.” It indicated that his ministry would differ markedly from that of John the Baptist, who lived an austere life and never drank wine. (Matthew 11:18; Luke 1:14) John proclaimed a serious message, calling upon the people to repent, and his bearing and actions harmonized with a spirit of godly sorrow. The arrival of the Messiah, however, opened up a period of joy and hope, extending to responsive ones the opportunity to become sharers with him in his royal realm and all the blessings associated therewith. By means of this first sign, Jesus also manifested “his glory” or magnificence, revealing his divinely granted power, his role as a benefactor, and the kind of joy he alone would be able to impart to his disciples. Whereas the disciples had earlier made expressions of belief in him as being the Messiah and God’s Son, this sign, as a manifestation of his glory, served to deepen their faith. As the biblical record states, “His disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)
See http://holylandphotos.org for pictures of and comments about Cana. Enter “Cana” in the “search” box.
The term “sign” (semeíon) designates an occurrence that is viewed as having a special significance. In the context of John 2:11, the Greek word refers to a miracle or a miraculous sign. All the “signs” Jesus performed served to identify him as the promised Messiah, the Son of God. At the same time, the individual “signs” revealed aspects about him or his activity.
After the wedding, Jesus, his mother, his brothers, and his disciples went down to Capernaum, a city on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Originally Peter and Andrew had lived in nearby Bethsaida. At this time, however, they were residing in Capernaum, and the city may also have been the home of James and John. (Compare Mark 1:16-21.) As the Passover was near, Jesus, his brothers, his disciples, and Mary did not remain there long. To observe the Passover, they traveled to Jerusalem. (John 2:12, 13)
There, in the “temple” (hierón) or, more specifically, the Court of the Gentiles, which was part of the extensive temple complex, Jesus saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and money changers seated at their tables. Worshipers would buy animals for sacrifice and exchange coins that were unacceptable for the payment of the temple tax, contributions for the support of the temple, and possibly also for the purchase of sacrificial animals. (John 2:14)
For the merchants and money changers, this proved to be a profitable enterprise. The Mishnah, compiled around 200 CE and consisting of a collection of ancient Jewish traditions, says (Shekalim 1:3) that money changers set up in the temple area on the 25th of Adar (February/March). This Jewish work also reveals extreme price gouging in connection with the sale of sacrificial animals. On one occasion, a pair of doves was being sold for 25 times more than the usual price. (Keritot 1:7)
Filled with indignation about the defilement of a sacred location with commercial activity, Jesus made a whip of ropes and drove the sheep and cattle out of the temple area, forcing the sellers to leave with their animals. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and told the sellers of doves to leave with their birds, rebuking them for having turned his Father’s house into a place of business. Upon witnessing Jesus’ taking such firm action, the disciples recalled the words of the psalmist, “The zeal for your house will consume me.” (Psalm 69:9; John 2:15-17)
Based on the words recorded in Malachi 3:1-7, the Jews may have expected the promised Messiah to take decisive action in connection with the sanctity of the temple. His foretold role included purifying the Levites for offering acceptable sacrifices. It therefore appears that certain Jews challenged Jesus to show them a sign, a sign establishing Messianic authority to stop commercial activity in the temple complex. In response to their challenging question about what sign he would be showing them, Jesus replied, “Pull down this temple [naós, usually applying to the main sanctuary building], and in three days I will raise it.” In disbelief, they said, “This temple [naós] was built in 46 years, and you are going to raise it in three days?” Neither they nor his disciples understood that Jesus was speaking about “the temple [naós] of his body.” Not until Jesus was raised from the dead did his disciples understand what he meant. It was then that they believed the “Scripture” foretelling Jesus’ resurrection and the “word” he spoke in the temple area relating to his rising from the dead. (John 2:18-22)
While in Jerusalem for the Passover and the seven-day festival that followed, Jesus did perform miraculous signs. Witnessing these signs, many came to believe in “his name” or in him. Jesus, however, recognized that those who initially responded favorably did not have a solid faith. He did not trust himself to them, for he knew them all or he knew who they really were at heart and understood human weaknesses fully. He did not need anyone else’s testimony about “man,” for “he knew what was in man.” (John 2:23-25) Jesus discerned how easily humans could be swayed or wrongly influenced despite having clear evidence respecting the rightness of a particular course.
See http://bibleplaces.com/capernaum.htm for pictures of and comments about Capernaum.
From the historical information contained in the writings of Josephus, it is not possible to determine just what the Jews in the temple area meant when saying to Jesus that the temple was built in 46 years. Work on the entire temple complex was not completed until some six years before the Romans destroyed it in 70 CE. As for the start of the rebuilding undertaken at the direction of Herod the Great, Josephus says in War (I, xxi, 1) that it was the 15th year of Herod’s reign, whereas in Antiquities (XV, xi, 1) he states that it was the 18th year. If the reference to the 15th year is not in error, possibly it was then that preparatory work began, with actual construction on the site not commencing until the 18th year.
Jesus’ answer about a sign was basically the same as his reply on other occasions when challengingly asked for a sign. This sign, which came to be widely known, was that he would rise in three days. (Matthew 12:38-40; 16:4; 27:62-64; Luke 11:29) Jesus could refer to raising “the temple of his body” in three days, as his Father had granted him the authority or right to surrender his “soul” or life and to receive it again. (John 10:18)
One night during Jesus’ stay in Jerusalem, Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews (probably meaning a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish supreme council or the highest religious authority), came to see him. Likely Nicodemus was aware of negative sentiments about Jesus among influential Jews and may have chosen to be cautious to avoid potential problems. A night visit would also have been more suitable for an uninterrupted private interchange. He addressed Jesus as “Rabbi” and acknowledged him as a teacher having come from God, for the miraculous signs he had performed proved that God was with him. The first person plural verb oídamen (“we know”) may indicate that he was aware of others who recognized Jesus as having come as a teacher from God. On the other hand, this could simply be the editorial first person plural verb. (John 3:1, 2)
In response, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) The expression “amen, amen” signifies “truly, truly,” and serves to introduce an important truth in a solemn manner. For one to see the “kingdom of God” (or to be part of the royal realm where the Most High is recognized as Sovereign and all the members thereof share in the blessings and privileges he grants) requires a tremendous change. The Greek term ánothen means either “above” or “again.” Earlier in John’s account, the new birth is attributed to God (John 1:13), and this suggests that “born from above” (instead of “born again”) is the preferable significance.
Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus meant. He replied, “How can a man who is old be born? Indeed he cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born.” Clarifying what the new birth involves, Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, Unless a person is born from water and spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Whoever is born from flesh is flesh, and whoever is born from spirit is spirit. Do not be surprised that I say to you, You must be born from above [ánothen]. The wind [pneúma, meaning “wind” or “spirit”] blows where it wills, and you hear its sound, but you do not know from where it has come and where it is going. Thus [it] is [with] everyone who is born from the spirit.” Still not grasping the significance of Jesus’ words, Nicodemus said, “How can these things take place?” Based on his knowledge of the Scriptures, he should have understood what Jesus meant. This is evident from Jesus’ response, “You are a teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things?” (John 3:4-10)
As a recognized teacher among fellow Jews, Nicodemus knew what the holy writings contained. The prophets Isaiah, Joel, and Ezekiel, for example, spoke about a future outpouring of God’s spirit. Isaiah referred to mourning resulting from divine chastisement as ending upon God’s spirit being poured out from on high upon the people. (Isaiah 32:12-15) Joel’s prophetic words (2:28, 29) indicated that the spirit would be poured out on sons and daughters, men and women, young and old. Ezekiel (36:25-28, Tanakh) specifically mentioned cleansing as preceding the outpouring of God’s spirit: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your fetishes. And I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit into you: I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh; and I will put My spirit into you. Thus I will cause you to follow My laws and faithfully to observe My rules. Then you shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers, and you shall be My people and I will be your God.”
Repeatedly, the prophets urged the people to repent and change their ways in order to be recipients of God’s mercy and blessing. (Isaiah 1:15-20; Ezekiel 18:31; Joel 2:12-14; Malachi 3:7) Therefore, from what he knew the prophets had proclaimed, Nicodemus should have understood that repentance preceded a cleansing as by water and only then would God pour out his spirit upon those whom he recognized as clean before him. This was also the message John the Baptist proclaimed, and his immersing Israelites in the Jordan followed an acknowledgment of their sins. Moreover, he announced the future outpouring of God’s spirit, saying of the one to come, “he will baptize you with holy spirit.” (Matthew 3:2, 5, 6, 11; Luke 3:10-16)
Accordingly, as Jesus said to Nicodemus, without being made new by the kind of cleansing represented by the water and receiving God’s spirit, a person would not be able to “see” the kingdom of God. He would not be recognized as one of God’s people and so could not possibly be in his royal realm.
Born of flesh, all humans are flesh, and are burdened by the flawed condition they have inherited. This is why all are sinners, repeatedly disappointing themselves and others in attitude, word, and deed. All are in need of help from outside the human sphere. That aid must come from “above” or the realm of the spirit. A newness of life can only be brought about by an operation of God’s spirit, and the outward manifestation thereof would be a marked change in conduct, motivated by a desire to do God’s will. As Jesus pointed out to Nicodemus, just how God’s spirit operates within an individual cannot be perceived. One can hear the wind and observe its effects, but one cannot see its source or where it is going. Nevertheless, just as the wind is real and its effects are real, the invisible working of God’s spirit within individuals is real.
The Son of God, having come from the spirit realm, fully understood the functioning of holy spirit. He knew what none of earth’s inhabitants knew and had seen what they had never seen. His authoritative testimony, however, did not gain general acceptance. The transformation about which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus related to the earthly realm, for it involved a change in the human condition. If this earthly aspect was not believed, how could it possibly be that Jesus’ words about heavenly things only known to him would be believed? No man had ascended to heaven, precluding any possibility of possessing testimony regarding heavenly things. Jesus, though, had descended from heaven. When referring to himself as the “Son of Man,” Jesus evidently identified himself as the promised Messiah portrayed in the book of Daniel (7:13, 14). Having come from heaven, he alone could teach what no one else could. Additionally, only he could reveal how an eternal relationship with his Father would be possible. (John 3:11-13)
An event during Israel’s wandering in the wilderness revealed an aspect of how restoration to divine favor would come about. When many Israelites died from being bitten by poisonous serpents, Moses was divinely instructed to make a serpent and place it on a pole. Anyone bitten by a serpent, upon looking at the bronze serpent Moses had made, would live. There was nothing in that metal serpent that could remove the lethal venom from those who had been bitten. Their response to God’s arrangement made it possible for them to continue living. (Numbers 21:5-9)
Similarly, response in faith to Jesus’ being lifted up on the implement on which he would die would lead to eternal life. Just as the Israelites acknowledged their sin and had to recognize the danger in which they found themselves because of having been bitten, humans must acknowledge their sinful state, recognize the death-dealing effects of sin, and avail themselves of God’s provision through Christ to be liberated. It is an arrangement that reveals the hideous nature of sin (considering what Jesus endured for sinners) and God’s great love by having his Son die for the world of mankind, reaching the inmost selves of those who believe and appreciatively acknowledge that God and Christ did this for them so that they might live in eternal fellowship with them. (John 3:14-16)
In expression of his boundless love, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, depriving humans of all hope, but to save the world of mankind, opening up to all the opportunity for eternal life or an abiding relationship with him. The individual responding in faith would not have a condemnatory judgment expressed against him. A failure to put faith in the “name” or in the person of the unique Son of God when the testimony concerning him is presented would, however, lead to adverse judgment. (John 3:17, 18)
The only-begotten or unique Son of God is the “light” that came into the world, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and evil. Whenever people love the darkness more than the light, preferring a life contrary to God’s upright ways, they are not drawn to his Son. Having chosen to engage in wicked works, harming themselves and others by their lawless actions, they hate the light embodied in him. They do not want their works to be exposed by the light that radiates from God’s Son. (John 3:19, 20)
The person who “lives the truth,” striving to harmonize his life with what is true and right, is drawn to the light. Instead of fearing exposure, such a person makes a confident approach, letting the light reveal his works as having been done “in God.” The expression “in God” suggests that the individual recognized the need for divine aid and lived a life that acknowledged the Most High and focused on pleasing him. (John 3:21)
The words of John 3:16-21 are not necessarily part of the discussion with Nicodemus, but may be the comments of the writer of this account. Translations vary in the placement of the quotation marks, either ending the quotation with verse 15 or verse 21.
Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them, and they did baptizing, evidently at his direction or with his approval. (John 3:22; 4:1, 2) As there was abundant water in Aenon near Salim, John did baptizing there, and people continued coming to him to be immersed. (John 3:23, 24)
In the minds of the Jews who disputed with John’s disciples about purification, baptism would have been associated with cleansing, especially in view of the call to repentance. The nature of the argument is not specified in the account. In view of what his disciples later said to John, it would appear that the dispute centered on what seemed to be competing baptisms. John had ceased to be the only one doing baptizing. The disciples of John called to his attention that the one concerning whom he had testified was baptizing and that “all” were going to him. They attributed to Jesus what his disciples were doing and appear to have been disturbed by the decreasing number of people coming to John. (John 3:25, 26)
Responding to their concern, John told them that a man cannot receive anything unless it has been given him from above or by God. As he reminded them, they knew full well that he had said, “I am not the Christ,” and that he had been sent to prepare the way before him. Likening himself to the bridegroom’s friend, John continued, “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The bridegroom’s friend stands and hears him, rejoicing greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore, this, my joy, has been made complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:27-30)
The Son of God had come from above and so was above all. Although a prophet, John had not come from the realm above. He was from the earth and was limited to conveying information that related to the earthly sphere. Although God’s unique Son had come from heaven and is above all and could testify about things that no one from the earth had seen or heard, people generally did not accept his testimony. (John 3:31, 32)
The person accepting this testimony placed his seal upon it, certifying that God is true or that he had kept his word to send the one who was promised to come. With the fullness of God’s spirit operating upon him (unlike the prophets to whom the spirit had been given by measure), Jesus spoke his Father’s words. As the one whom he dearly loved, the Father had given everything into the hands of his Son—everything relating to the eternal future of the world of mankind. To have faith in the Son would result in coming into possession of eternal life or a life distinguished by an abiding relationship with the Father. Those who reject the Son will not see life or experience an abiding life as persons whom the Father approves and loves. As persons against whom a record of sin remains, they continue to be the objects of God’s wrath or disapproval. (John 3:33-36)
Whereas Jesus’ disciples and not he himself did baptizing, the news reached the Pharisees that he was making and baptizing more disciples than John. Learning about this development, Jesus left Judea and returned to Galilee. (John 4:1-3) According to Matthew 4:12 and Mark 1:14, Jesus’ departure coincided with John’s arrest and imprisonment for having exposed the wrongness of Herod Antipas’s incestuous relationship with Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. (Mark 6:17, 18) This suggests that the apparent jealousy of the Pharisees and John’s imprisonment created an environment hostile to Jesus. As his time for laying down his life had not yet come, he may have left for Galilee, where the potential personal dangers would not have been as great.
There is a question as to whether the words of John 3:31-36 are part of John the Baptist’s testimony. The revelatory nature of the comments about God’s Son would seem to indicate that this is a summation of the gospel writer. As in the case of verses 16-21, translators vary respecting the placement of the closing quotation marks, either including verses 31 through 36 or ending the quotation with verse 30.
The location of Aenon near Salim is uncertain.