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|The Confession of John
John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh
after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we
received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by
Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the
bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to
ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias?
And he saith, I am not.
Art thou that prophet?
And he answered, No.
Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us.
What sayest thou of thyself?
He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as
said the prophet Esaias.
And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him,
Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom
ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am
not worthy to unloose.
These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. (John 1:15-
Preferred Before Me
This is the kind of statement that makes people go, Huh? John speaks of Jesus. He came after
him, John being about six months older than Jesus. Yet, He was before him; for He existed with
God since before the beginning of the world
He was to be preferred, because He was the Lamb of God Who would take away the sins of the
world. He was the Christ.
Jesus, for all Christians, has provided favor and blessings. And those blessings continue to be
Each blessing or grace being replaced by another grace. There is a literal cornucopia of endless
blessings which we receive through Jesus Christ.
The law, the great covenant made with Israel at Sinai, may have come through Moses; but, the
new covenant, the doctrine of Christ, presents us with blessings and clarity that were never
possible through the Old Testament.
No one has ever seen God. Moses only saw the glory of the hindquarters of God. The references
to seeing God face to face are references to familiarity, not to proximity or vision. However, Jesus,
who was more than a mere man, had seen God. He was with God. Therefore, He, in a way none
other before Him or since, is able to declare God unto us.
Who Was John
The Jews had sent a board of inquiry to John, to determine who he was. This was probably sent
from The Sanhedrin, the council of the Jews, itself. Though questioned repeatedly, John was
steadfast and sure in his answer: he was not the Christ.
Though the temptation would be to allow others to think more highly of him, John never wavered,
taking no more credit for himself than he deserved.
They did not ask him if he was the fulfillment of the prophecy about the coming of Elijah, they
asked him if he was Elijah. They mistakenly thought that Elijah would be resurrected, not that
one would come in the spirit of Elijah.
When the apostle John wrote this Gospel it had become fashionable with many of the Baptist's
disciples to assert that the Baptist was the Christ. (Recognitions of Clement 1:50, 60;
Olshausen, Hengstenberg, Godet.) In giving this testimony of the Baptist, John corrects this
error; but his more direct purpose is to show forth John's full testimony, and give the basis for the
words of Jesus found at Joh 5:33. – The Fourfold Gospel
This is a reference to being the Messiah. The earlier statement is a general reference to the
results of the conversion. This is the specific question they asked of John.
Art thou the prophet? Moses had foretold a prophet who should come (De 18:15-18), but the
Jews appear to have had no fixed opinion concerning him, for some thought he would be a
second Moses, others a second Elijah, others the Messiah. The Scriptures show us how
uncertain they were about him (Mt 16:14; Joh 6:14; 7:40,41). As to Jeremiah being that prophet,
see 2 Macc. 2:7. Even Christians disagree as to whether Moses refers to Christ or to a line of
prophets. Though divided in opinion as to who this prophet would be, the Jews were fairly
unanimous as to what he would do. Finding in their Scriptures two pictures of the Christ, one
representing him as a great Conqueror, and the other of his priesthood, setting him forth as a
great Sufferer, they took the pictures to refer to two personages, one denoting a king--the
Messiah--and the other a prophet. The Jews to this day thus divide the Christ of prophecy, and
seek to make him two personages. – The Fourfold Gospel
Why Did John Baptize?
If neither Christ, Elijah, nor that prophet, why did John baptize? By what authority did John
The baptism in water that John practiced was different from anything that the Jews had
experienced. An immersion for repentance for (unto) the remission of sins was administered to
the Jews preparing them to accept the Messiah who was to come.
Everything that John did was to prepare the people for the acceptance of the Messiah, the Christ.
That was his purpose. That is what he did.
The latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose. The words "standeth" (Joh 1:26) and
"shoe" showed that the person of whom the Baptist spoke had a visible, bodily form. To loose
the latchet was a peculiarly servile office. The Talmud says, "Every office a servant will do for his
master, a scholar should perform for his teacher, except loosing his sandal-thong." The greatest
prophet felt unworthy to render Christ this humble service, but unconverted sinners often
presume to serve Christ according to their own will, and fully expect to have their service honored
and rewarded. Taken as a whole, the answer of John appears indirect and insufficient. What was
there in all this to authorize him to baptize? This appears to be his meaning: "You demand my
authority for baptism. It rests in him for whom I prepare the way. It is a small matter to introduce
baptism in water for one so worthy. If you accept him, my baptism will need no explanation; and if
you reject him, my rite and its authority are both wholly immaterial." -- The Fourfold Gospel
Mt 3:11; Mr 1:7; Lu 3:16; Joh 1:27,30,32; 3:31-32; 5:33; 8:58; Col 1:17; Joh 3:34; Eph 1:6-8;
Col 1:19; 2:9-10; Ex 20:1; De 4:44; 5:1; 33:4; Joh 8:32; 14:6; Ro 3:24; 5:21; 6:14; Ex 33:20;
De 4:12; Mt 11:27; Lu 10:22; Joh 1:14; 3:16,18; 6:46; 1Ti 1:17; 6:16; 1Jo 4:9,12,20; Joh 5:33;
Lu 3:15; Joh 3:28; Ac 13:25; De 18:15,18; Mal 4:5; Mt 17:10; Isa 40:3; Mt 3:3; Mr 1:3; Lu 3:4;
Joh 3:28; Mal 3:1; Mt 3:11; Joh 1:15,30; Ac 19:4; Jg 7:24; Joh 10:40