John chapter 1, verse 6.-"There was a man sent from God,
whose name was John."
[1.] Having in the introduction spoken to us things of urgent importance1
concerning God the Word, (the Evangelist) proceeding on his road, and in
order, afterwards comes to the herald of the Word, his namesake John. And
now that thou hearest that he was "sent from God," do not for the future
imagine that any of the words spoken by him are mere man's words; for all
that he utters is not his own, but is of Him who sent him. Wherefore he
is called2 "messenger" (Mal. iii. 1), for the excellence of a messenger
is, that he say nothing of his own. But the expression "was," in this place
is not significative of his coming into existence, but refers to his office
of messenger; for "`there was' a man sent from God," is used instead of
"a man `was sent' from God."
How then do some say,3 that the expression, "being in the form of God"
(Phil. ii. 6) is not used of His invariable likeness4 to the Father, because
no article is added?5 For observe, that the article is nowhere added here.
Are these words then not spoken of the Father? What then shall we say to
the prophet who says, that, "Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face,
who shall prepare Thy way" (Mal. iii. 1, as found in Mark i. 2)? for the
expressions "My" and "Thy" declare two Persons.
Ver. 7. "The same came for a witness, to bear witness of that Light."
What is this, perhaps one may say, the servant bear witness to his Master?
When then you see Him not only witnessed to by His servant, but even coming
to him, and with Jews baptized by him, will you not be still more astonished
and perplexed? Yet you ought not to be troubled nor confused, but amazed
at such unspeakable goodness. Though if any still continue bewildered6
and confused, He will say to such art one what He said to John, "Suffer
it to be so now for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matt.
iii. 15); and, if any be still further troubled, again He will say to him
too7 what he said to the Jews, "But I receive not testimony from man."
(c. v. 34.) If now he needs not this witness, why was John sent from God?
Not as though He required his testimony -this were extremest blasphemy.
Why then? John himself informs us, when he says,
"That all men through him might believe."
And Christ also, after having said that "I receive not testimony from
man" (c. v. 34), in order that He may not seem to the foolish to clash
with8 Himself, by declaring at one time "There is another that beareth
witness of Me and I know that his9 witness is true" (c. v. 32) (for He
pointed to John;) and at another, "I receive not testimony from man" (c.
v. 34); He immediately adds the solution of the doubt, "But these things
I say" for your own sake,10 "that ye might be saved." As though He had
said, that "I am God, and the really-Begotten11 Son of God, and am of that
Simple and Blessed Essence, I need none to witness to Me; and even though
none would do so, yet am not I by this anything diminished in My Essence;
but because I care for the salvation of the many,12 I have descended to
such humility as to commit the witness of Me to a man." For by reason of
the groveling nature and infirmity of the Jews, the faith in Him would
in this way be more easily received, and more palatable.13 As then He clothed
Himself with flesh, that he might not, by encountering men with the unveiled
Godhead, destroy them all; so He sent forth a man for His herald, that
those who heard might at the hearing of a kindred voice approach more readily.
For (to prove) that He had no need of that (herald's) testimony, it would
have sufficed that He should only have shown Himself who He was in His
unveiled Essence, and have confounded them all. But this He did not for
the reason I have before mentioned. He would have annihilated14 all, since
none could have endured the encounter of that unapproachable light.15 Wherefore,
as I said, He put on flesh, and entrusted the witness (of Himself) to one
of our fellow-servants, since He arranged16 all for the salvation of men,
looking not only to His own honor, but also to what might be readily received
by, and be profitable to, His hearers. Which He glanced at when He said,
"These things I say" for your sake, "that ye might be saved." (c. v. 34.)
And the Evangelist using the same language as his Master, after saying,
"to bear witness of that Light," adds,
"That all men through Him might believe." All but saying, Think not
that the reason why John the Baptist came to bear witness, was that he
might add aught to the trustworthiness of his Master. No; (He came,) that
by his means beings of his own class17 might believe. For it is clear from
what follows, that he used this expression in his anxiety to remove this
suspicion beforehand, since he adds,
Ver. 8. "He was not that Light."
Now if he did not introduce this as setting himself against this suspicion,
then the expression is absolutely superfluous, and tautology rather than
elucidation of his teaching. For why, after having said that he "was sent
to bear witness of that Light," does he again say, "He was not that Light"?
(He says it,) not loosely or without reason; but, because, for the most
part, among ourselves, the person witnessing is held to be greater, and
generally more trustworthy than the person witnessed of; therefore, that
none might suspect this in the case of John, at once from the very beginning
he removes this evil suspicion, and having torn it up by the roots, shows
who this is that bears witness, and who is He who is witnessed of, and
what an interval there is between the witnessed of, and the bearer of witness.
And after havingdone this, and shown His incomparable superiority, he afterwards
proceeds fearlessly to the narrative which remains; and after carefully
removing whatever strange (ideas) might secretly harbor18 in the minds
of the simpler sort, so instills into all19 easily and without impediment
the word of doctrine in its proper order.
Let us pray then, that henceforth with the revelation of these thoughts
and rightness of doctrine, we may have also a pure life and bright conversation,20
since these things profit nothing unless good works be present with us.
For though we have all faith and all knowledge of the Scriptures, yet if
we be naked and destitute of the protection derived from (holy) living,
there is nothing to hinder us from being hurried into the fire of hell,
and burning for ever in the unquenchable flame. For as they who have done
good shall rise to life everlasting, so they who have dared the contrary
shall rise to everlasting punishment, which never has an end. Let us then
manifest all eagerness not to mar the gain which accrues to us from a right
faith by the vileness of our actions, but becoming well-pleasing to Him
by these also, boldly to look on Christ. No happiness can be equal to this.
And may it come to pass, that we all having obtained21 what has been mentioned,
may do all to the glory of God; to whom, with the Only-Begotten Son and
the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 ta\ katepei/gonta.
2 al. prohgo/reutai, "is foretold."
3 Vid. supra, Hom. iv. 3.
4 a0parallaci/a vid. supra, Hom. iii. 4 ad fin.
5 i.e. to Qeou=.
6 i0liggiw=n, "dizzy."
7 [kai\ pro\j au0to\n], perhaps "and with reference to
him (the Baptist), Sav. al. kai\ pro\j se/.
9 au0tou=. h#n marturei= peri\ e0mou= G. T.
10 di' u9ma=j (not in G. T.)
11 gnh/sioj, "genuine."
12 tw=n pollw=n.
15 Lit. "unapproachable encounter of that light."
19 al. "goes on and instills."
21 al. "living worthily of."