Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: John
Book: John
Chapter: 1

The Divinity of Christ. (1-5) His Divine and human nature.
(6-14) John the Baptist's Testimony to Christ. (15-18) John's
public Testimony concerning Christ. (19-28) Other testimonies of
John concerning Christ. (29-36) Andrew and another Disciple
follow Jesus. (37-42) Philip and Nathanael called. (43-51)

1-5 The plainest reason why the Son of God is called the Word,
seems to be, that as our words explain our minds to others, So
was the Son of God sent in order to reveal his Father's mind to
the world. What the Evangelist says of Christ proves that he is
God. He asserts, His existence in the beginning; His coexistence
with the Father. The Word was with God. All things were made By
him, and not as an instrument. Without him was not any thing
made that was made, from the highest Angel to the meanest Worm.
This shows how Well qualified he was for the work of our
Redemption and Salvation. The Light of reason, as Well as the
Life of sense, is derived from him, and depends upon him. This
eternal Word, this true Light shines, but the Darkness
comprehends it not. Let us pray without ceasing, that our eyes
may be opened to behold this Light, that we may walk in it; and
thus be made Wise unto Salvation, By Faith in Jesus Christ.

6-14 John the Baptist came to Bear Witness concerning Jesus.
Nothing more fully shows the Darkness of men's minds, than that
when the Light had appeared, there needed a Witness to Call
attention to it. Christ was the true Light; that great Light
which deserves to be called So. By his Spirit and Grace he
enlightens all that are enlightened to Salvation; and those that
are not enlightened By him, perish in Darkness. Christ was in
the world when he took our nature upon him, and dwelt among us.
The Son of the Highest was here in this lower world. He was in
the world, but not of it. He came to save a lost world, because
it was a world of his own making. Yet the world knew him not.
When he comes as a Judge, the world shall know him. Many say
that they are Christ's own, yet do not receive him, because they
will not part with their sins, nor have him to reign over them.
All the children of God are born again. This new Birth is
through the Word of God as the means, 1Pe 1:23, and By the
Spirit of God as the Author. By his Divine presence Christ
always was in the world. But now that the Fulness of time was
come, he was, after another manner, God manifested in the Flesh.
But observe the beams of his Divine Glory, which darted through
this Veil of Flesh. Men discover their weaknesses to those most
familiar with them, but it was not So with Christ; those most
intimate with him saw most of his Glory. Although he was in the
form of a servant, as to outward circumstances, yet, in respect
of graces, his form was like the Son of God. His Divine Glory
appeared in the Holiness of his doctrine, and in his miracles.
He was full of Grace, fully acceptable to his Father, therefore
qualified to plead for us; and full of Truth, fully aware of the
things he was to reveal.

15-18 As to the order of time and entrance On his work, Christ
came after John, but in every other way he was before him. The
expression clearly shows that Jesus had existence before he
appeared On Earth as Man. All Fulness dwells in him, from which
alone fallen sinners have, and shall receive, By Faith, all that
renders them Wise, strong, holy, useful, and happy. Our
receivings By Christ are all summed up in this one Word, Grace;
we have received "even Grace," a Gift So great, So rich, So
invaluable; the good will of God towards us, and the good work
of God in us. The Law of God is holy, just, and good; and we
should make the proper use of it. But we cannot derive from it
Pardon, Righteousness, or strength. It teaches us to adorn the
doctrine of God our Saviour, but it cannot supply the place of
that doctrine. As No Mercy comes from God to sinners but through
Jesus Christ, No Man can come to the Father but By him; No Man
can know God, except as he is made known in the only begotten
and beloved Son.

19-28 John disowns himself to be the Christ, who was now
expected and waited for. He came in the Spirit and power of
Elias, but he was not the person of Elias. John was not that
Prophet whom Moses said the Lord would raise up to them of their
brethren, like unto him. He was not such a Prophet as they
expected, who would rescue them from the Romans. He gave such an
account of himself, as might excite and awaken them to hearken
to him. He baptized the people with water as a profession of
Repentance, and as an outward sign of the spiritual blessings to
be conferred On them By the Messiah, who was in the midst of
them, though they knew him not, and to whom he was unworthy to
render the meanest service.

29-36 John saw Jesus coming to him, and pointed him out as the
Lamb of God. The paschal Lamb, in the shedding and sprinkling of
its Blood, the roasting and Eating of its Flesh, and all the
other circumstances of the ordinance, represented the Salvation
of sinners By Faith in Christ. And the lambs sacrificed every
morning and Evening, can only refer to Christ slain as a
Sacrifice to redeem us to God By his Blood. John came as a
preacher of Repentance, yet he told his followers that they were
to look for the Pardon of their sins to Jesus only, and to his
Death. It agrees with God's Glory to Pardon all who depend On
the atoning Sacrifice of Christ. He takes away the Sin of the
world; purchases Pardon for all that repent and believe the
Gospel. This encourages our Faith; if Christ takes away the Sin
of the world, then why not my Sin? He bore Sin for us, and So
bears it from us. God could have taken away Sin, By taking away
the sinner, as he took away the Sin of the old world; but here
is a way of doing away Sin, yet sparing the sinner, By making
his Son Sin, that is, a Sin-Offering, for us. See Jesus taking
away Sin, and let that cause Hatred of Sin, and resolutions
against it. Let us not Hold that Fast, which the Lamb of God
came to take away. To confirm his Testimony concerning Christ,
John declares the appearance at his Baptism, in which God
himself bore Witness to him. He saw and bare record that he is
the Son of God. This is the End and object of John's Testimony,
that Jesus was the promised Messiah. John took every opportunity
that offered to lead people to Christ.

37-42 The strongest and most prevailing argument with an
awakened soul to follow Christ, is, that it is he only who takes
away Sin. Whatever Communion there is between our souls and
Christ, it is he who begins the discourse. He asked, What seek
ye? The question Jesus Put to them, we should all Put to
ourselves when we begin to follow Him, What do we design and
desire? In following Christ, do we seek the favour of God and
eternal Life? He invites them to come without delay. Now is the
accepted time, 2Co 6:2. It is good for us to be where Christ
is, wherever it be. We ought to labour for the spiritual welfare
of those related to us, and seek to bring them to Him. Those who
come to Christ, must come with a fixed resolution to be firm and
constant to him, like a Stone, solid and stedfast; and it is By
his Grace that they are So.

43-51 See the nature of true Christianity, it is following
Jesus; devoting ourselves to him, and treading in his steps.
Observe the objection Nathanael made. All who desire to profit
By the Word of God, must beware of prejudices against places, or
denominations of men. They should examine for themselves, and
they will sometimes find good where they looked for none. Many
people are kept from the ways of religion By the unreasonable
prejudices they conceive. The best way to remove false notions
of religion, is to make trial of it. In Nathanael there was No
guile. His profession was not hypocritical. He was not a
dissembler, nor dishonest; he was a sound character, a really
upright, godly Man. Christ knows what men are indeed. Does He
know us? Let us desire to know him. Let us seek and pray to be
Israelites indeed, in whom is No guile; truly Christians,
approved of Christ himself. Some things weak, imperfect, and
sinful, are found in all, but hypocrisy belongs not to a
believer's character. Jesus witnessed what passed when Nathanael
was under the Fig-tree. Probably he was then in fervent Prayer,
seeking direction as to the Hope and Consolation of Israel,
where No human Eye observed him. This showed him that our Lord
knew the secrets of his Heart. Through Christ we commune with,
and benefit By the holy angels; and things in Heaven and things
On Earth are reconciled and united together.