Q: In Jn, what are some of the distinctive elements of this gospel?
A: John emphasizes that Jesus is God. Jesus Christ, God and God the Son, came and died so that his sheep will believe, and believing may have the light and life through the Son. He uses the word "believe/belief" 89 times, which is more than Matthew, Mark, and Luke combined. Christ is the only hope. For those who hope in Christ, He restores the Samaritan woman, the adulterous woman, Peter, and other guilty of greater sins than these.
It is generally agreed that John is the last gospel written, probably even after Clement of Rome wrote in 87/98 A.D. In John 20:30, John indicates he did not write many things that Jesus did. John probably was aware of the other gospels and his gospel has less emphasis on the doings of Jesus and fills in the gaps on the teaching not in the other gospels. A key verse is John 20:31, where these are written that we might believe.
As for cults, John 5:23 and John 20:28 stand out as good verses to use with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Q: In Jn, are the details of Jesus' life quite different from what the first three synoptic gospels have in common as the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.952 says?
A: John has different details, but they are compatible. John was most likely written after the first three gospels. He focused less on the historical details, which were already amply covered in the first three gospels, and more on the meaning of what Christ taught.
See the gospel section for a harmony of the four gospels.
Q: In Jn 1:1, should this be translated as "was divine", "was God", or "was a God" as Jehovah’s Witnesses say?
A: It should be "was God". Here is a summary of the linguistic and other evidence.
Not just a god: The same grammar, theos without the ho in Greek, refers to Jehovah-God in Luke 20:38. Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not translate the same Greek words as "a God" in John 1:6,12,13,18.
While the Jehovah’s Witnesses from 1962 to 1983 used to quote the translation of Johannes Greber to support their translation, they knew even back in 1956 that Greber’s wife acted as a spirit medium to produce the translation! See Sixty Question Every Jehovah’s Witness Should be Asked p.23 for more info.
Not just divine: The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.108-109 points out that if John had intended merely to say that Jesus was divine, John could have used the adjective theios. However, John emphasized that Jesus is actually God.
The word was God:
Please note that modern linguistic study is not the strongest evidence available to show that John 1:1 meant that the Word was God. There is another approach. What if we could ask Christians who were the native speakers of New Testament Greek what John 1:1 meant? We can do so. See the question after the next for the answers, though you probably might not like how the early Christians understood their own language if you are a Jehovah’s Witness.
Q: In Jn 1:1, what are some other examples of how Jehovah’s Witnesses corrupt their scripture?
A: Here are a few examples.
John 1:1 Added "a" in the Word was a god.
Luke 23:43 "Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise." (Made it sound like Jesus was speaking today, rather than the Greek meaning of the repentant thief being in Paradise today.)
Acts 10:36 added the word "other" putting it in square brackets.
Rom 8:32 Added "other" with no italics or brackets.
Colossians 1:16-20 added the word "other" four times.
Philippians 2:9 added the word "other" with no italics or brackets.
Q: In Jn 1:1, what did the early church teach about this verse and the Word being God?
A: It is insightful to hear what modern scholars, 2000 years later, say the Greek meant. However, what is more interesting what church leaders who lived 1700-1800 years ago, many of whom spoke New Testament Greek since they were babies, interpreted what John 1:1, in their own language, meant to them.
Justin Martyr (wrote about 138-165 A.D.)
"for when we give out some word, we beget the word; yet not by abscission, so as to lessen the word [which remains] in us, when we give it out; and just as we see also happening in the case of a fire, which is not lessened when it has kindled [another], but remains the same;... The Word of Wisdom, who is Himself this God begotten of the Father of all things, and Word, and Wisdom, and Power, and the Glory of the Begetter, will bear evidence to me..." Dialogue with Trypho ch. 61. See also chapters 55,56,59,62-64,66,74-78.
Theophilus bishop of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.)
"For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice. But what else is this voice but the Word of God, who is also His Son?" Letter to Autolycus 2:22
Tertullian (200-220/240 A.D.)
"The Word, therefore, is both always in the Father, as He says, ‘I am in the Father;’ and is always with God, according to what is written, ‘And the Word was with God;’ and never separate from the Father, or other than the Father, since ‘I and the Father are one.’" Against Praxeas chapter 8.
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.)
"But that He [Jesus] is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, and Lord, and King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles, and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have obtained to even a small portion of the truth." (Irenaeus Against Heresies 3:19:2).
"Know thou that every man is either empty or full. For if he has not the Holy Spirit, he has no knowledge of the Creator; he has not received Jesus Christ the life; he knows not the Father who is in heaven;..." (Against Heresies 3:16)
"She [the church] also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul.... For the churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different nor do those in Spain nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East nor those in Egypt nor those in Libya, nor ..."
Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.) after quoting part of John 1:1
"If, then the Word was with God and was also God what follows? Would one say that he speaks of two Gods? I shall not indeed speak of two Gods but of one; of two Persons however and of a third economy (disposition), viz., the grace of the Holy Ghost. For the Father indeed is One but there are two Persons because there is also the Son; and then there is the third the Holy Spirit. The Father decrees, the Word executes and the Son is manifested, through whom the Father is believed on. The economy of the harmony is led back to one God; for God is One. It is the Father who commands and the Son who obeys and the Holy Spirit who gives understanding; the Father is above all, and the Son who is through all and the Holy Spirit who is in all. And we cannot otherwise think of one God, but by believing in truth in Father and Son and Holy Spirit." Against the Heresy of One Noetus chapter 14.
Q: In Jn 1:1, is it true that the doctrine that Jesus was God in human form was not finalized until after 300 A.D.?
A: No. Karen Armstrong categorically stated this in A History of God p.81, and it is amazing what some printed books can get away with saying. There are no Orthodox Christians or Arians who said Jesus was not God, though Arians said Jesus was a different substance, and God in a different and lesser way. Prior to 300 A.D. the five church fathers quoted in the previous question certainly did not think the doctrine of Jesus being God in human form needed any finalizing. Ignatius, who was a disciple of John the apostle, was fond of saying that "Jesus is God". Thomas the apostle did not need any council when he said to Jesus in John 20:28, "My Lord and My God!"
While it is true that Gnostics were heretics who had very strange views of God, they were never accepted as Christians by Orthodox Christians. Regardless, even they accepted Jesus was God, though in a very different and strange sense.
Arians were another heretical group that were condemned at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.. They had a "low" opinion of Jesus, believing there was a time when He was not, and that Jesus was of a different substance than the Father. However, even they agreed that Jesus was God; it was that they wrongly believed Jesus was not of the same nature as the Father.
I suppose a shortcoming of creeds is that some can misinterpret what they are for. The Nicene Controversy over Arianism was not whether or not Jesus was God, but over part of how Jesus was God.
Q: In Jn 1:1, how could the Word both be God and with God?
A: In the same way as the Son could be both God and have a God in Hebrews 1:8,9. Besides referring to false gods, the word "God" has at least four meanings with respect to the true God. "God" can mean just the Father, just the Son, just the Spirit, or the three in Trinity.
Here is what the church father Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.) said in Against the Heresy of One Noetus chapter 14, says "If, then the Word was with God and was also God what follows? I shall not indeed speak of two Gods but of one; of two Persons however and of a third economy (disposition), viz., the grace of the Holy Ghost. For the Father indeed is One but there are two Persons because there is also the son; and then there is the third the Holy Spirit."
Q: In Jn 1:1, how could God be incarnated as a man?
A: On one hand the answer is simple: God Almighty can appear however He wishes. On the other hand, this is a profound miracle. Melito the philosopher (160-170-177/180 A.D.) pondered the mystery of the incarnation in his Discourse on the Cross "On these accounts He came to us; on these accounts, though He was incorporeal, He formed for Himself a body after our fashion, appearing as a sheep, yet still remaining the Shepherd; being esteemed a servant, yet not renouncing the Sonship; being carried [in the womb] of Mary, yet arrayed in [the nature of] His Father; treading upon the earth, yet filling heaven; appearing as an infant, yet not discarding the eternity of His nature; being invested with a body, yet not circumscribing the unmixed simplicity of His Godhead; being esteemed poor, yet not divested of His riches; needing sustenance inasmuch as He was man, yet not ceasing to feed the entire world inasmuch as He is God; putting on the likeness of a servant, yet not impairing the likeness of His Father."
Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew chapter 61 gave the analogy of how fire is kindled from fire. The original fire is not lessened in any way.
(Note that early church quotes in this Web Sites are all from the Ante-Nicene Fathers and Post-Nicene Fathers I and II unless otherwise stated.)
Q: In Jn 1:1, how else do we know that Jesus is God?
A: 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.27 says this is proven by seven points.
1. All Old Testament names for God are merged into Jesus Christ.
2. Jesus received human worship. Either He was wrong to do so, or else He was correct to do so.
3. Jesus forgave sins against God.
4. Jesus showed omnipotent power.
5. Jesus showed omniscience (perhaps he did not have this on earth prior to his resurrection though.)
6. Jesus asserted omnipresence.
7. The New Testament says that Jesus is God, and is to be honored as the Father.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.490-492 for more on John 1:1 and the Trinity.
Q: In Jn 1:1, was this concept of an eternal word borrowed from Greek philosophy?
A: No, there is no evidence for this. The Greek philosopher Plato did write of an eternal word "logos" prior to John’s Gospel, and Heraclitus of Ephesus (ca.500 B.C.) used "logos" to represent rational principle. Philo the Jew also used the term Logos. However, there is no evidence that John borrowed from this.
Rather than John borrowing from Greek philosophy, even a secular person could make a case that the concept of a powerful and living Word was borrowed from Old Testament thought, such as Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew.
The Old Testament was not borrowed from Greek thought, as Moses and the Israelites preceded all written Greek literature we are aware of. Theophilus of Antioch, written (168-181/188 A.D.), was the first to point this out in the last chapter of his Letter to Autolychus.
The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.441 says that the Dead Sea scrolls indicate that the Gospel of John, rather than being a second century Hellenistic document, "is shown more clearly than ever to be a product of First Century Palestine by virtue of its many parallels with the Qumran texts."
Q: In Jn 1:1, was there a time before Jesus existed?
A: Most likely not. Ancient Arian heretics thought this, but Orthodox Christians more or less unanimously said that Jesus was begotten of the Father before time began. One exception to this was the early church father Justin Martyr (wrote about 138-165 A.D.) However, even though Jehovah’s Witnesses appeal to Justin Martyr to try to support their beliefs, their appeal is deceptive. In his Dialogue with Trypho, Justin devotes thirteen chapters (55-56,59,61-64,66,74-78) to prove that Jesus is God.
The Bible does not conclusively answer many questions about what it was like before time began. (Even if it did, would we understand the answers?) Titus 1:2 says that God promised eternal life "before the beginning of time". All things were created through Christ (Colossians 1:16; John 1:3). If all things include time (an assumption here), then Jesus existed before there was time.
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.27-28 for more on their not being a time before Jesus existed.
Q: In Jn 1:2, if all things were created by the Word, does that include time, space, science, natural laws, and mathematics?
A: Probably so, though this verse was not written to prove that. However, a logical truth, like a = a, and a logical contradiction, such as a not equal a, are not things, and this verse is not talking about those.
Q: Should Jn 1:3 (KJV), be translated "by Him" or "through Him?
A: One can legitimately translate the Greek either way.
by is the translation of the KJV, William F. Beck’s translation, and earlier editions of the NASB.
through is the translation of NASB (1973 edition), uNASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, RSV, George Ricker Berry’s Translation, and Jay P. Green’s Literal Translation, Williams Translation, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary.
Wuest’s Expanded Translation uses as many words as necessary to bring out the Greek text. He translates it "through His intermediate agency".
This is a moot point, because nobody says Jesus made everything apart from the Father. All say that Jesus had a role, along with the Father and Spirit, or creating everything, as Colossians 1:16 also shows. See also the next question for more info.
Q: In Jn 1:3, should it be "by" (KJV), or have the RSV, NIV and NKJV provided relief by craftily removing the word "by" and replacing it with the word "through", as one KJV-only person alleges?
A: There are six things to consider before making this charge.
1. The Greek word in question here is di, a form of dia. Strong’s Concordance says, "a prim[itive]. Prep[osition]. Denoting the channel of an act; through (in very wide applications, local, causal, or occasional): -after, always, among, at, to avoid, because of (that), briefly, by, for (cause) for sake, that, thereby, therefore, X though, through (-out), to, wherefore, with (-in). In composition it retains the same general import." Thus "by" and "through" are both legitimate translations.
2. The King James Version itself translates these two letters ("di"), as "through" in Matthew 12:43 and Luke 11:24. In John 3:17 "that the world might be saved through him", the Greek word for "through" is "di".
3. The translators of NASB, NIV, NRSV, and Williams translation probably did not assume Jesus spoke King James English. They translated from the Greek, and "through" is an acceptable translation of the Greek di according to both Strong’s Concordance and the King James Version itself.
4. One could try to argue that "by" meant that Jesus was the sole cause of Creation, and the word "by" neglects the role of the Father and Spirit. One could also try to argue that "through" meant that Jesus had a secondary role, like a postman delivering a letter, without actually helping to write it. The truth of the matter is that the Greek word di, along with the English words "by" and "through" have a wide range of meaning.
5. The King James Version translators did a good job translating the Bible into the English of their time, using the materials they had. However, if in some other passage Jesus’ words in Greek (in all manuscripts) differed from the King James Version, would you exalt this English Translation above Jesus’ word in Greek?
6. Before you accuse fellow Christians of craftily removing a word and inserting another, you should provide some evidence of this accusation, without simply assuming Jesus spoke King James English.
Q: In Jn 1:4, how is Jesus the life of men?
A: Jesus is the life of men in at least three ways.
Physically, All things are held together by Jesus, according to Colossians 1:17.
Eternally, it is only Jesus through which we are saved, as Acts 4:12 shows.
Life in Christ Today: Jesus gives meaning, joy, and fullness to the life of Christians on earth today.
Q: In Jn 1:4, did Jesus complete His mission even before he was ever crucified as Jamal Badawi asserts in his Tape Series 9 table 3?
A: No. John 1:4 was indeed written before the account of Jesus’ crucifixion. However, anyone should see that Badawi cannot be correct here: John 1:4 was even written before the account of Jesus’ birth.
Q: In Jn 1:6,19, is the John mentioned here the writer of this book?
A: No. The John mentioned here is John the Baptist, while the writer is John the Apostle, brother of James.
Q: In Jn 1:9, how is Jesus the true light which gives light to every man?
A: In at least two ways.
For all: The truth and offer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed to all. Jesus is the only true light. Some choose to live as children of the light, wanting to know what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:8-10) and others do not.
For believers: Jesus is the light of our life. He gives us joy, contentment, meaning, and purpose that makes everything worthwhile.
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.217 for more info.
Q: In Jn 1:13, is it not our will that makes us born again?
A: God is very merciful, gracious, and just. However, these facts should make us forget that the prerogative on us being born again belongs with God, not us.
Q: In Jn 1:14, how could Almighty God, with Everlasting Life, become a mortal man who died?
A: Since the Triune God is Almighty, God can make a distinct person of Himself become a mortal man. When Jesus was on earth, that does not mean Heaven was empty. When Jesus died on the cross, that does not mean the Father or the Holy Spirit ever died.
Q: In Jn 1:14, how did they see the glory of Jesus, since Jesus emptied Himself in Php 2:6-7?
A: Jesus’ glory is not a binary state. Also, Philippians 2:6-7 says that Jesus emptied himself, but it does mention glory.
Q: In Jn 1:14, how could God’s nature be mingled/synthesized/place alongside Jesus’ human nature?
A: Many heresies have answered this incorrectly. Christ was not a God who only appeared to be a man (Docetists), a man instead of God (Ebionites), a phantom (Gnostics), a man upon whom Christ settled (Paul of Samosata), separated/divided (Nestorians), or confounded (Monophysites). There is probably no analogy from life on earth that is really sufficient as an example of the divine nature and human nature of Jesus Christ. Here are two errors.
Nestorianism (two wills): Nestorius taught that Jesus had two separate wills: a divine one and a human one. While Nestorius was merely in error, some of his later followers went further. It is almost as if in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus’ human will and divine will struggled against each other, and the divine will won. The 200 or so bishops at the Council of Ephesus condemned Nestorianism in 431 A.D.
Monophysitism (only one nature): The opposite of Nestorianism, Monophysitism said the two were merged as if a drop of honey of human will falling into the ocean of divine will. While the Catholic Church accepts that a person can be a Monophysite and still be a Christian, Monophysitism can lead to some ugly scenarios. At the extreme, Jesus placidly went through life, and all of Jesus struggles, against temptation during the 40 days, at the Garden of Gethsemane, and at the cross, were almost a mere show. Monophysitism was condemned by 250 to 350 bishops at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. In modern times, the Catholic church and the Coptic (Monophysite) church restored their relationship with each other.
The Orthodox Christian position: After these two traumatic councils, the final position was "Jesus Christ, God’s logos made man, is a single person in two natures, which exists in this one Person without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation."
The Bible gives the following clues about Jesus’ human and divine natures.
a. Emphasized that Jesus was the son of man: Luke 5:24; 6:4; 6:22; 8:31; 22:22,69; John 12:34; Revelation 1:13
b. Ancestry: Luke 1:32; Romans 1:3; 9:5; 2 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 7:14; Matthew 1:1.
c. Physical body: Luke 24:39; John 4:2; Hebrews 10:5,10; 1 John 1:1; 1 Timothy 3;16; 2 John 7.
d. A man (with humanity0 while on earth: Acts 2:22,23; Philippians 2:7,8; Hebrews 2:14.
e. Still man in Heaven: 1 timothy 2:5; implied by Hebrews 13:8.
f. Our brother: Mark 3:35; Luke 8:21; Hebrews 2:11,12,17
g. Suffered like men: Hebrews 2:9,18; 5:8; Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 1:11; 4:13; 5:1.
h. Tempted like us: Hebrews 2:18; 4:15; Matthew 4:1-10; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1-12.
i. Jesus was a man in every way: Hebrews 2:17.
Q: In Jn 1:15, how was Jesus before his older relative, John the Baptist?
A: While John the Baptist was born a few months before Jesus, Jesus existed in Heaven from the beginning. Jesus was also before John the Baptist in honor, since Jesus is God the Son.
Q: In Jn 1:17, did Moses give the Law, or did God give it?
A: Both. God gave the Law to Moses to give to the people, and that is what Moses did.
Q: In Jn 1:18, since no man has seen God, how could Jesus be God, since people saw Jesus?
A: When Jesus came to earth, as Philippians 2:7 says, Jesus emptied Himself of much of His glory. Jesus prayed that the Father would return the glory to Him in John 17:5.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.492-493 and When Critics Ask p.403-404 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Jn 1:18, since no man has seen God, how could Jesus have seen God?
A: Jesus was not a human being before He was born to Mary.
Q: In Jn 1:18 is Jesus the only Son of God, or can we be sons of God too, as Jn 1:12 says?
A: We can be sons of God, but Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. The Bible gives two metaphors concerning us: we are adopted into God’s family, and we are born again into God’s family. Jesus was neither adopted nor born again. Jesus was God the Son from eternity past, and Jesus was incarnated as a man with no biological father.
See When Critics Ask p.404 for more info.
Q: In Jn 1:21 (KJV), who is Elias?
A: This is Elijah.
Q: In Jn 1:21, why did John the Baptist say he was not Elijah, since Jesus said he was in Mt 11:14?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. If John had simply said he was Elijah, they would have interpreted that he was literally the same person as Elijah, and John would have spoken incorrectly.
2. John could have explained that he was not the literal Elijah, but he came with the role and purpose of Elijah, as was Jesus’ meaning in Matthew 11:14.
3. However, though John knew he was the forerunner of the Messiah, perhaps John himself did not know that he was the fulfillment of the Elijah who was to come. Thus, John might have been speaking only based on what he knew.
See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 8 p.269 for more info.
Q: In Jn 1:21, was John the Baptist wrong to say he was not Elijah, as the heretic Rev. Moon teaches in the Divine Principle (fifth edition 1977)?
A: First here is what Rev. Moon, who allegedly is Christ returned says, and then the answer.
Rev. Moon’s Divine Principle p.161 "...John the Baptist who had offended Jesus. How did John the Baptist offend him? John failed to carry out his mission of serving and ministering to Jesus."
Refuted: 1. If John failed in his teaching, then why in Matthew 21:32 did Jesus say the people were to believe John the Baptist?
2. John 10:41-42 shows that John’s testimony led many to believe in Jesus. We should be cautious in condemning a martyr who died for God as failing and offending God. Jesus saying the one who is least in the kingdom heaven is greater than [John the Baptist] refers to the fact that Jesus had not opened the way to heaven, and John the Baptist was actually the last prophet under the old covenant.
3. If John the Baptist really was Elijah reincarnated, then of all people, John would know that. Yet, John the Baptist was correct to say that he was not Elijah come back from the dead.
4. John did preach in the spirit and power of Elijah, but Jesus never said that John and Elijah were the same individual.
John the Baptist was great in the Lord’s eyes in Luke 1:15, and the Lord knows the future.
Q: In Jn 1:29, why did God demand a sacrifice to forgive our sins, since we should forgive others without requiring more than repentance?
A: We forgive our brothers without requiring more than repentance, because a sin against us is different in kind than a sin against God.
Q: In Jn 1:31,33, how did John not know Jesus, since their mothers were cousins?
A: The Greek word here, oida, means fullness sof knowledge. John was saying that naturally he would not know. John said he did know because God revealed it to him.
When Critics Ask p.404-405 points out that John knew Jesus by reputation, and perhaps by personal acquaintance, but it was only through the Holy Spirit that He knew Jesus by divine manifestation.
Q: In Jn 1:32-33, how could the Holy Spirit have a localized presence and rest on Jesus in the form of a dove?
A: See the discussion on Habakkuk 3:3 for the answer.
Q: In Jn 1:38-39, why did Jesus not complain when they called him Rabbi (Master), since Jesus said in Mt 23:7,8 to have no man call you master?
A: Jesus, being God the Son, has an authority and honor we do not have. We should not call anyone else our God, Savior, or Lord either, and it is proper to call Jesus all of these.
Q: In Jn 1:39, when was the tenth hour?
A: In their culture, the day started at sunrise about 6:00 A.M. The tenth hour was after 4:00 P.M.
Q: In Jn 1:42, did Jesus first call Simon "Cephas / Peter" here, or later in his ministry at Capernaum, as in Mt 16:18?
A: There are a couple of explanations. The simplest one is that Jesus called him Peter here, but Jesus told him the significance of this name in Matthew 16:18.
Q: In Jn 1:51, when will Nathanael see the angels ascending and descending upon Jesus?
A: While it is possible that Nathanael could have had a dream, it is more likely that Nathanael will see this in Heaven. Jesus imagery here is reminiscent of Jacob’s ladder in Genesis 28:11-13. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.493-494 for more info.
Q: In Jn 1:51, why does Jesus frequently call Himself the Son of Man?
A: Probably for the following reasons
1. To emphasize his common humanity
2. People could agree with this, regardless of whether or not they recognized Him as the Son of God.
3. Jesus had not yet revealed Himself as the only-begotten Son of God.
Q: In Jn 2:3-10, I see always that Jesus never does things without purpose or at random. Why is the first recorded miracle turning water to wine at a wedding? Could it have to do with wine = His blood, ceremonial cleansing, or a new marriage covenant with all who believe in Him? These are things I have pondered and I wonder how off base I am, I don’t want to reach beyond the Scriptures like is soooo popular these days.
A: You ask an interesting question. If Jesus changing water to wine were a miracle to symbolize His blood, death on the cross, or ceremonial cleansing, nobody at that time, after His death, or even in early church writings got the message. Rather, I think this miracle was done because of circumstances, but in that we can see a deeper appreciation of God’s character, and an application for us.
There was a simple human need, the banquet wine ran out. When Mary asked Jesus to take care of this supernaturally, Jesus' initial response was that "his time is not yet come." In other words, it was not a point of His ministry that He needed to do that to show something. However, there was a need, and He was asked to do so, so He departed from what He originally planned and did that. Likewise, when the woman with the flow of blood touched Jesus' robe, Jesus did not have that on his "to-do" list for that day.
Many times God meets us where we are at. As a sad example, God had Isaiah tell King Hezekiah to get everything in order because Hezekiah was going to die. Faithful king Hezekiah became so bitter about that, that God relented and granted him 15 more years of life. However, during those fifteen years, King Manasseh, perhaps on of the most evil kings of Judah was born. It is not that God did not know, or that God is fickle or changed His mind. Rather, many times God's perceived will for us changes when our attitude changes (for better or for worse). When Pharaoh was Abraham's wife Sarah, God told Pharaoh in a dream that he was going to die, no if's, and's or but's about it. But when Pharaoh was he acted in ignorance, God said He knew that, and that is why He warned Pharaoh. Pharaoh restored Abraham's wife to him, and Pharaoh did not die. Likewise, Jonah prophesied that Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days. However, when they repented, Nineveh was not destroyed.
When we are busy with our ministry, our plans, and our life, many times people come to us with needs that are important, or sometimes are unimportant, but they think are important. We might think of those as distractions and interruptions, but we too are to meet people where they are at. Playing ball, going to a movie, or spending a little time "goofing off" with someone may not seem very important to us in what we think of as God's scheme of things, and indeed perhaps it might not be. But even so, it might be the one and only thing God wants us to do right now, if we want to be in the center of his will.
Q: In Jn 2:3-10, was this wine alcoholic?
A: It was not like hard liquor, but the wine of this time was alcoholic. Even "new wine" was alcoholic in Acts 2:13. However, as Difficulties in the Bible points out (p.147-149) it does not say the miraculous wine was intoxicating.
The children’s book, Jesus’ First Miracle by Vivian Dede (Concordia 1990) has an excellent summary of a lesson from this miracle: "When something is needed, Be it new life or wine, Jesus solves every problem In His own good time."
Q: In Jn 2:6 (KJV), what is a "firkin"?
A: This King James Version expression is a unit of measure. The jars held twenty to thirty gallons, according to the NIV.
Q: In Jn 2:8 (KJV), was the governor at the feast?
A: This King James expression refers to the emcee, or master of ceremonies, of the banquet.
Q: In Jn 3:1-21, whatever happened to Nicodemus?
A: John 20:39 says that after the death of Jesus, Nicodemus helped Joseph of Arimathea put Jesus’ body in the tomb.
Q: In Jn 3:3, was Jesus teaching reincarnation when He mentioned being born again?
A: No. He was teaching a "second" birth, not hundreds or thousands of multiple births. Jesus was teaching a birth by the Spirit, not physical birth. Reincarnation would contradict man only dying once in Hebrews 9:25-28, and would not make sense for people who are sent to heaven or Hell after their one death. See the extensive discussion on Hebrews 9:25-28, When Critics Ask p.405-406 and When Cultists Ask p.163-164 for more info.
Q: In Jn 3:3, does the Greek say "born again" or "born from above"?
A: The Greek word anothen can mean both, according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.281 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.495.
Q: In Jn 3:3-8, what does it mean to be born again?
A: Billy Graham wrote an entire book on this subject, called How to Be Born Again. In one sentence though, "Born again" is what God does to you through the Holy Spirit when you put your faith in Him. This means to
1. Believe in the One, True God, that He is the Creator of all, and acknowledge His right over you. Believe that He revealed His truth to us in His word, the Bible.
2. Confess that you are separated from God because of sin, and you are powerless to be reconciled to Him. The problem is not just the external actions we have done or failed to do, but also who we are on the inside.
3. Trust in the true Christ. When it was impossible for sinners like us to come to God, God made it possible by sending Jesus Christ to come to earth born in the flesh to the Virgin Mary, to live a sinless life. He died on the cross, with His body and blood being an atoning sacrifice for our sin. He was bodily raised on the third day and ascended to Heaven.
4. Call out to God. All who call on the Lord will be saved, and if you repent of your sins and ask Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of your life, you will be saved. He will give you a new life, and will begin the process of making you more Christ-like. After you die, you will go to Heaven and be with God forever.
Q: In Jn 3:5, is it impossible to go to Heaven unless one has the Holy Spirit?
A: No, Jesus did not actually say that. Jesus said that unless one is born of water and the spirit, he is not able to enter into the Kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God and Heaven are not identical. Heaven is where believers go when they die. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.991 says that many teach the kingdom of God refers to the spiritual rule of Christ within the heart of those who are saved. The International Dictionary of the Bible p.568 says that in general, the word "kingdom" can be a) the realm over which the king reigns, b) the people over whom the king reigns, or c) the actual reign itself. The New International Bible Dictionary (1962 IVP) says the Kingdom of God as present as well as future aspects. So clearly, the Kingdom of God is broader than Heaven, as it includes present earthly aspects. Heaven can be broader than the Kingdom of God, as it is possible that infants and others do not join the kingdom of God until they get to Heaven.
Infants do not have the Holy Spirit, yet it is generally agreed that nothing in the Bible says they cannot go to Heaven.
Most Old Testament believers did not have the Holy Spirit, yet they were not permanently barred from Heaven.
Neither group could be said to live on earth as part of the Kingdom of God (with Christ reigning), yet they can still be in Heaven.
In summary, the Spirit is required for someone on earth to be a part of the Kingdom of God. However, "God’s hands are not tied" in regard to Old Testament saints, infants, the severely retarded, and those with no opportunity to hear the Gospel.
Q: In Jn 3:5, very briefly, what is the water here?
A: Five points to consider in the answer.
1. According to Hank Hanegraff on the Bible Answer Man radio program 4/7/1999, the Greek can mean "water and Spirit" or "water even the Spirit. Thus this could mean "water, symbolizing the Spirit" the Aland et al Greek New Testament (3rd edition 1975) says that kai means "and, also, but, even; that is, namely;" Kenneth S. Wuest’s expanded translation also uses the word "even".
2. Water accompanying physical birth is what some, starting with Augustine, have thought. However, Jesus appears to be speaking of only one birth, not two, this metaphor is absent in the rest of the Bible and the Jewish culture up to this time. We do not know of any early Greek-speaking Christians who understood the verse this way.
3. Others say "water" means the word of God, (based primarily on Ephesians 5:26). The only merit of this view is that it avoids any problems saying water baptism is essential. Does this mean Nicodemus and the Pharisees were halfway born again, because they knew the word of God in the Old Testament? - Of course not. This interpretation also opens the door to the error called ultra-dispensationalism, that water baptism is not to be practiced today. Moreover, not a single Greek-speaking Christian is known who understood John 3:5 this way, and this requires Jesus to chide Nicodemus for failing to understand a New Testament that was not written yet.
4. Application to baptism is what early church writers unanimously taught, though complementary meanings were not excluded. The many washing basins in the Temple were there so people could obey the Old Testament rules for washings. Was the powerful ministry of John the Baptist meaningless? -Only in the closed minds of some Pharisees. It could be expected that Jesus would chide Nicodemus, the teacher, for failing to understand the repentance, need for cleansing, and required internal purification represented by baptism, before a person could be acceptable as a part of God’s kingdom.
5. The Kingdom of God is not Heaven, because it includes what believers can be a part of while living on earth. Water baptism is an important part of joining God’s Church on earth today. However, infants, Old Testament saints, the severely retarded, and possibly others should be glad that it is God who sends people to Heaven, not baptismal water.
Q: In Jn 3:5, what is the water here?
A: All agree that the spirit is the Holy Spirit which is involved with the new birth, but genuine Christians have various views on the water. Listed are some facts relevant to determining the correct interpretation, and then various views of the water, the pros and cons, and who holds these views.
The Greek indicates only one birth, by water and spirit, not two. However, Jesus probably did not speak to Nicodemus in Greek. The Greek word for and, kai, can mean "and" or "even/namely". Wuest’s the New Testament : An Expanded Translation says, "is born of water as a source, even out of the Spirit as a source, he is not able to enter the kingdom of God.".
No imagery of water for physical birth was used by the Jews until centuries after Jesus.
In Jerusalem, where they spoke, the Temple had many places for ritual washing, called Mikvahs.
John the Baptist was causing quite a stir at this time, with his preaching of baptism for repentance.
Baptism predated John the Baptist, as converts to Judaism were baptized. Thus baptism stood for repentance, purification, and conversion. According to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.441, the Jewish sect at Qumran also practiced baptism by immersion.
Nicodemus already knew all of God’s word at that time, since the New Testament had not been written yet.
All Pharisees, when seeing the Mikvahs, ought to be reminded of the many commands for ritual washing in the Old Testament and the water for cleansing in Ezekiel 38:25-27.
Every early church writing we have that mentions John 3:5, up until c.400 A.D., unanimously understand John 3:5 to refer to washing by baptism.
Titus 3:5 has very similar phrasing to John 3:5, saying "washing of rebirth and renewal of/by the Holy Spirit"
The Kingdom of God is what Jesus is referring to here, not Heaven or salvation. See the previous question for discussion on this.
1. Physical birth.
As amniotic fluid from a mother’s womb is involved with birth, the Holy Spirit is involved with the second birth. Nicodemus asked about being born a second time in his mother’s womb, and Jesus used this tautology to lead Nicodemus’ thoughts from the mother’s water of the first birth to the spiritual/baptismal water of the second birth.
However, Jews never used water as an image for birth until at least centuries after Jesus. Also, this would be a tautology; and instructing a person that they need to be born as a person is not particularly helpful.
Also, the Greek grammar indicates the water and spirit are not two items but one, according to the New Geneva Study Bible p.1665 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.495.
Nevertheless, you cannot make too much out of the Greek grammar, for Jesus probably spoke to Nicodemus in Aramaic or Hebrew, not Greek.
This view, combined with the view of baptism, was first advocated by Augustine of Hippo in his sermon on John 2:23-3:5 (c.400 A.D.). (Augustine spoke Latin and said in his Confessions that he disliked Greek, which prevented him from developing overmuch in it.) A reference to physical birth is also the view of the Ron Rhodes in the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.211, and Warren Wiersbe in Nelson’s Quick Reference (p.390).
2. The water stands for the word of God.
Psalm 119:9 mentions that a young man can keep his way pure by living according to God word (no mention here of water though)
Ephesians 5:26 says that Christ cleansed the church with the washing of water through/by/with/in the word.
In John 15:3, Jesus says they are clean through the word Jesus has spoken through them. (no mention of water, though)
James 1:18 says that we are born through the word. (no mention of water)
1 Peter 1:23 says that we are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God. (no mention of water)
However, exactly how did Jesus tell Nicodemus he was supposed to be "born of the word?" Remember, Ephesians, John 15:3, and 1 Peter 1:23 were not relevant to Nicodemus, as the New Testament had not been written yet. Nicodemus already knew all of God’s scripture that there was. Does this mean that Jesus was telling Nicodemus he was already halfway there because Nicodemus knew the Old Testament? The thought that Jesus was commending Nicodemus for his understanding is far from the meaning of this verse.
In contrast, Jesus expressed surprise that Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, did not understand. Unlike the Sadducees, Nicodemus and Pharisees were never accused of not knowing God’s word. Jesus referred to the water, he was talking about something that Nicodemus, as a Jewish teacher of the Law, would already know. What was Jesus chiding Nicodemus about? About 200 years before Christ, the Jews under the Pharisees had slipped from understanding the holiness, love, and spiritual relationship with God to a religious legalism. One who had studied the Old Testament should have known more about the repentance and purification associated with ritual washing, and the important role the Holy Spirit would have, as Joel and other prophets said.
If one can take the word "water" contrary to its plain meaning, then why can’t ultra-dispensationalists take the words "water" and "baptism" in other New Testament passages contrary to their plain meanings, too? See also the next question for more discussion on this paragraph.
This view is advocated by 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.225-226, James Boice, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1478 (and p.1948 for Ephesians 5:26)
3. Outward cleansing by water baptism, indicating inner repentance and cleansing
Nicodemus would be familiar with the metaphor of water baptism for cleansing, based on Ezekiel 36:25-27, the Torah, and other passages. See also the views 3a. and 3b.
However, Nicodemus could hardly be expected to understand full Christian baptism, as only Old Testament washings and John’s baptism had been revealed. Jesus expected Nicodemus to have been able to already understand this. This saying this refers to only Christian baptism cannot be correct.
Nevertheless, as Jesus spoke foreshadowing his death and communion in John 6:51-56, Jesus spoke not only foreshadowing Christian baptism, but they were already very familiar with baptism for repentance, thanks to John.
This view is advocated by:
John Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.) Homilies of St. John Homily 25
Gregory Nanzianzus (330-391 A.D.) Oration on Holy Baptism ch.8
F.F. Bruce in Hard Sayings of the Bible p.495-496
Jamieson, Fausset, Brown
Harper’s Bible Commentary.
3a. The water stands for baptismal regeneration.
The early church fathers held this view.
However, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.281 mentions that this interpretation contradicts being saved by faith alone, as Ephesians 2:8-9 and John 3:16 show.
This view is advocated by
Justin Martyr (wrote about 138-165 A.D.) First Apology chapter 61
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) in fragment 34
Tertullian (200-220 A.D.) in On Baptism ch. 12
Cyprian (wrote 248-258 A.D.) in Epistle 71.
Gregory Nanzianzus (330-391 A.D.) Oration on Holy Baptism chapter 8.
Basil of Cappadocia (357-379 A.D.) On the Spirit 15:35
John of Damascus Exposition of the Orthodox Faith chapter 9
Ambrose of Milan (340-397 A.D.) Of the Holy Spirit 3.10.63-64
Constitutions of the Holy Apostles (c.80-190 A.D.) 6.3.15 (This was a spurious work, which had an early date. Among other things, it also supports infant Baptism.)
3b. Water baptism is an outward sign of inner cleansing by the Spirit.
Most interpreters who deny 3 do so solely on the basis that 3a is not correct, without examining the alternative of 3b. John 3:5 does nothing to show the "mechanism" of how water baptism relates to the Kingdom of God, only that it does. Our water baptism does not save us any more than our repentance, our love, our faith, or our obedience to God save us. However, it would be wrong to deny that all four are related to the Kingdom of God.
The Greek conjunction kai is the common word for "and" but it can also mean "even/namely". Thus while it probably means "water and spirit", it could mean "water, namely the spirit".
When John the Baptist stirred up the people to repent, nobody asked "what is this new thing called baptism that you are doing?". The reason is that the Temple in Jerusalem was filled with Mikvahs, which were similar to baptismal fonts for the cleansing of the worshippers. The immediate audience here was Nicodemus, and Luke castigates the Pharisees in Luke 7:29-30 for rejecting God’s purposes for themselves by not being baptized by John.
However, interpreting John 3:5 this way sounds close to making baptism (whether John’s baptism or Christian baptism) a requirement for salvation.
Nevertheless, John’s baptism was looking for salvation, not something that brought salvation. In Acts 2:38, Peter said the people had to repent and baptized and they would receive the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 4:2 said some were not saved because they did not share the faith (or combine it with faith.) Things such as repentance, faith, and obedience, including obedience in water baptism are evidence of us receiving salvation, not that which saves us.
This view is advocated by:
The Applied New Testament Commentary p.368
Matthew Henry’s Commentary says that "it is probably that Christ had an eye to the ordinance of baptism."
4. Water stands for conversion.
Converts to Judaism went through a baptism ceremony. Jesus was implying that one had to convert to experience the new birth. Thus Jesus was saying "by conversion and by the spirit". This view does not preclude believing other views, too.
However, while Jewish converts were washed, a more common scene was Jews washing for ritual purification. This viewpoint is perhaps not so much false, as too narrow a view of 3.
This view is advocated by:
The IVP Bible Commentary : New Testament (1993) p.270.
5. Water stands for the baptizing ministry of John the Baptist, and the Spirit for Jesus’ ministry.
No one at that time could think of "baptism" and "new things" in the same sentence without thinking of John the Baptist’s ministry.
This view is advocated by F.B. Meyer in The Gospel of John p.64. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.281 gives five views, but commends only this view as having "the merit of historical propriety as well as theological acceptability." The Life Application Bible gives various views, one of which is the repentance that John the Baptist’s ministry signified.
6. Water is an image for the pouring out of the Spirit in Old Testament times.
Jesus said in John 7:38, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." (NKJV). The New Geneva Study Bible p.1676 says that while this is not an exact quote of any Old Testament Scripture, it can be a general reference to both Isaiah 44:3 and Ezekiel 36:25-27. Titus 3:5 has very similar phrasing to John 3:5, saying "washing of rebirth and renewal of/by the Holy Spirit" While Acts showed some special cases, the norm was for Christians to be baptized with literal water and the Holy Spirit.
However, water is used for ritual washings, not the pouring of the Spirit in the Torah. Also, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1478 points out that if the water represented nothing more than the ministry of the Spirit, then the verse would seem to say "unless one is born of the Spirit and the Spirit", which would be redundant.
1 John 5:8 speaks of the water, spirit, and blood. Since the spirit and blood are different, the water is different, too.
This view is advocated by the New Geneva Study Bible p.1665.
The Companion Bible says it is "spiritual water" as opposed to literal water. The IVP Bible Commentary : New Testament says that the Greek can either be translated "water and the spirit, or water, that is, the spirit."
1. is not particularly compelling. It only makes sense if you downplay the precision of the Greek, and think Jesus was telling Nicodemus one had to be physically born.
2. relies on Jesus chiding Nicodemus for understanding scripture that was not written yet. For some, this view is necessitated by the opinion that if "baptism" has to mean the error of baptismal regeneration, it cannot be baptism.
3a. is unbiblical, as Acts 10 shows that people could be saved and receive the Holy Spirit prior to water baptism.
3b, 4, and 5. can all be tied together. This view has the merit of the plain meaning, as well as the universal understanding of the Greek-speaking early church.
6. has no merit, except as a secondary implication of 3b, 4, and 5.
Perhaps we should focus less on "what this would mean to me" and observe "what this would mean to Nicodemus and early Christians". The most likely answer is a combination of 3b, 4, and 5. While views 2 and 6 are implied symbolism, they would not be recognized by Nicodemus as its main meaning, and were not recognized by any known Greek-speaking Christians.
When Critics Ask p.406 also discusses some of the views, without committing to a particular one.
Q: In Jn 3:5, is "baptismal regeneration" true, the belief that water baptism is necessary for salvation?
A: No. The Gentiles who were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues in Acts 10:44-48, prior to being baptized with water, probably did not think so. Jesus apparently did not think so either when He spoke to the thief on his right. One could try to argue that the thief on the cross was prior to Jesus’ resurrection, but then Jesus’ words to Nicodemus were spoken, and were true, prior to Jesus’ resurrection, too. Of course all of this was prior to the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and there being Christian baptism; John’s baptism and Old Testament washings were all they knew.
However, if an interpretation of a verse makes part of the verse without any meaning whatsoever, then that interpretation undoubtedly is incorrect. So what is the meaning of Jesus’ words here?
The answer is implied in Luke 7:29-30, where it was said the Pharisees and experts in the Law had rejected God’s purpose for themselves. The reason given is that they had not been baptized by John. Water baptism is neither a meaningless ritual nor merely an optional thing, like choir practice, to show special love to God. If a person with full knowledge rejects water baptism, and the truth it represents, they have rejected God. Unless they turn around, they are not going to Heaven.
See also 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.118-119, When Critics Ask p.406, When Cultists Ask p.165-166, and the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.210-211 for more info.
Q: In Jn 3:5, if someone did believe in the error of baptismal regeneration, would that be a soul-perishing heresy?
A: No. This question is important, not to teach us truth, but to give us perspective on the kinds of errors we should and should not divide over. Since we should take seriously the command in Romans 15:7, that we should accept one another just as Christ excepted us, we have to know what kinds of errors people can have and still be genuine Christians.
Early Campbellite groups taught baptism regeneration, and most Church of Christ groups believe in baptismal remission. Other Protestant denominations do not. Both Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican have taught a kind of baptismal regeneration, though very different from the Church of Christ denomination. However, if you thought only unsaved heretics could believe in baptismal regeneration, then you should no longer refer to Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Basil, Gregory Nanzianzus, John of Damascus, Ambrose, Augustine, Prosper of Aquitaine, Cyprian, and probably Athanasius as Christians. Here is what they said on John 3:5 and baptism.
Justin Martyr, who wrote about 138-165 A.D. in his First Apology chapter 61 "Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also, said, ‘Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven…. And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles this reason."
Irenaeus in fragment 34 said, "It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [it served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions; being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’"
Tertullian in On Baptism chapter 12, "When, however, the prescript [true in Tertullian’s view] is laid down that ‘without baptism, salvation is attainable by none’ (chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, ‘Unless one be born of water, he hath not life’), there arise immediately scrupulous, nay rather audacious, doubts on the part of some, ‘how, in accordance with that prescript, salvation is attainable by the apostles, whom - Paul excepted - we do not find baptized in the Lord? … And now, as far as I shall be able, I will reply to them who affirm ‘that the apostles were unbaptized.’"
Cyprian in Epistle 71:1, "…unless they receive also the baptism of the Church. For then finally can they be fully sanctified, and be the sons of God, if they be born of each sacrament; since it is written ‘Except a man be born again of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God". (Also Epistle 72:22.)
Gregory Nanzianzus (330-391 A.D.) in Oration on Holy Baptism chapter 8, "And since we are double-made, I mean of body and soul, and the one part is visible, the other invisible, so the cleansing also is twofold, by water and the spirit; the one received visibly in the body, the other concurring with it invisibly and apart from the body;… For, to say it all in one word, the virtue of Baptism, is to be understood as a covenant with God for a second life and a purer conversation."
Basil of Cappadocia (357-379 A.D.) On the Spirit chapter 15:35 "Hence it follows that the answer to our question why the water was associated with the Spirit is clear: the reason is because in baptism two ends were proposed; on the one hand, the destroying of the body of sin, that it may never bear fruit unto death; on the other hand, our living unto the Spirit, and having our fruit in holiness…"
John of Damascus (wrote after Gregory and Basil) in Exposition of the Orthodox Faith chapter 9 said, "And He laid on us the command to be born again of water and of the Spirit, through prayer and invocation, the Holy Spirit drawing nigh unto the water. For since man’s nature is twofold, consisting of soul and body, He bestowed on us a two-fold purification, of water and of the Spirit: the Spirit renewing that part in us which is after His image and likeness, and the water by the grace of the Spirit cleansing the body from sin and delivering it from corruption, the water indeed expressing the image of death, but the Spirit affording the earnest of life."
Athanasius, an architect of the Nicene Creed, had a high view of baptism, though he did not comment on John 3:5 per se. I have not yet been able to find if he believed in baptismal regeneration or not.
John Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.) did not mention baptismal regeneration, but for reference, here is what he said in his sermon on John 3:5. John Chrysostom’s Homilies on St. John Homily 25. "What then is the use of the water? This too I will tell you hereafter, when I reveal to you the hidden mystery. ... In Baptism are fulfilled the pledges of our covenant with God; burial and death, resurrection and life; and these take place all at once."
Ambrose of Milan (340-397 A.D.) in Of the Holy Spirit 3.10.64 said on John 3:5, "Who is he who is born of the Spirit, and is made Spirit, but he who is renewed in the Spirit of his mind? This certainly is he who is regenerated by water and the Holy Spirit, since we receive the hope of eternal life through the laver of regeneration… For who is he that is baptized with the Holy Spirit but he who is born again through water and the Holy Spirit?"
Ambrose also believed that baptism had power, in that for infants, baptism opens the kingdom of heaven to them (On Abraham 2:79)
Augustine of Hippo also believed in the efficacy of baptism. They believed the error that baptized babies went to Heaven, and unbaptized babies went to Hell.
Prosper of Aquitaine also believed the same error, that water baptism takes away original sin and previous personal sins of both the elect and reprobate. (Answer to the Gauls Articles 2 and 3).
As a final note, the opposite error, that Christians should not practice water baptism, is a part of the error called "ultra-dispensationalism". For more discussion on this, see the three questions relating to 1 Corinthians 1:17.
Q: Since Jn 3:13 seems to say that no one has ever ascended into heaven, what about Elijah and Enoch, etc? Or what about all the saints of the OT? Where were they, if not in heaven?
A: First let’s observe what the Bible shows about Elijah and Enoch, and then about Old Testament believers in general.
Elijah and Enoch: Genesis 5:24 says that Enoch walked with God, and then God took him away. It does not say precisely where God took Enoch, though I am sure Enoch was very glad to be there. 2 Kings 2:1,11 says that Elijah was taken up to heaven The Hebrew word for heaven here, shameh (Strong’s 8064) means sky as well as heaven. For example, it is used to mean sky in Genesis 15:5; Genesis 26:4 (where the stars are); Genesis 16:4; 1 Kings 18:45 (where the rain comes from). But we know that Elijah left this world to be with God.
The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1479 mentions that the Bible does not say Elijah and Enoch ascended [on their own power] into Heaven; rather they were taken up into heaven.
Believers Before Christ: All people went to Sheol, which is translated as "the grave". However, the Jews distinguished between two parts: prison and paradise. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He did not say to the thief on the right, "today you will be with me in heaven". Rather, he said, "today you will be with me in Paradise." This is the same place as Abraham’s side in Luke 16:22-26 When Jesus rose from the dead, Paradise was emptied, and Jesus led all of them to Heaven with Him.
Q: Compare Jn 3:13 ("And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man...) to 2 Ki 2:11 (". . . and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven"). Did Jesus err, because 2 Ki 2:11 shows Elijah went up earlier?
A: Jesus ascending to Heaven was fundamentally different from Elijah’s whirlwind and chariots in two ways.
1) A minor point is that the Greek word in John 3:13 (anabebukun, a form of anabaino) means to arise, climb, rise up, etc. Jesus ascended Himself, while Elijah was carried in a whirlwind.
2) More importantly, believers before Christ’s resurrection did not go to the same place Jesus was talking about. When Jesus was on the cross, He did not say the thief on his right would see Jesus today in Heaven; rather the thief would today would be with Jesus in paradise. In Luke 17 Jesus spoke of "Abraham’s bosom" a place of rest. In Ephesians 4:8, when Jesus rose from the dead, He opened the gates of Heaven, so that the Old Testament saints from Paradise went with Him. No one entered Heaven apart from Jesus or prior to Jesus.
Q: In Jn 3:13 and Jn 6:38,42, does Christ coming down from heaven only a spiritual symbolic fact, not a material fact as Baha’is teach in Some Answered Questions p.103-105?
A: No. ‘Abdu’l-Baha claims this because John 3:13f says, "…but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven," at the time that Jesus was on earth. (p.103).
First of all, this last phrase is a manuscript variation that is not present in the earliest manuscripts, though it is in the later Byzantine Lectionary. It is strange to base a doctrine on just one variant.
Second, Jesus’ divine nature can still be considered in heaven as well as earth according to the New Geneva Study Bible p.1665.
Finally, and most importantly, even if you do accept the manuscript variation, within the same verse it says that Jesus came down from Heaven. It is trivial to show from the Bible that Jesus existed in Heaven prior to the incarnation, and that same Jesus "came down" is a material fact.
Q: In Jn 3:14, how did a bronze serpent in the wilderness relate to Jesus?
A: In Numbers 21:4-9, God punished the Israelites for their sins with being bitten by poisonous snakes. However, God made a way for their healing. God instructed them to make a bronze image resembling the snakes they were bitten by. When they looked up to a bronze snake, they would live.
God’s setting up this analogy seems especially excellent here. We suffer the guilt and consequences for our sins. Jesus, who was sinless, took upon Himself the punishment for our sins. When we look to Jesus, we will live.
Q: In Jn 3:16, does God love people who are not saved, or does He hate them?
A: God loves them. However, as a crude analogy, when a baby is feverish, contagious, and about to throw up all over you, you will enjoy holding your cute, adorable baby in the future, but perhaps just not right now.
God can both hate sin and yet be compassionate to all. However, God knows the elect can look forward to eternity with Him, while the non-elect cannot.
Q: In Jn 3:16, is it contradictory that the death of Christ is both a sacrifice and a cosmic event? (Rudolph Bultmann taught this)
A: No. Imagine for a moment, that a tiny ant were suddenly given the body, some of the intelligence, but only a little of the knowledge of a human being. Either the ant would figure out that there are situations and things beyond his former understanding, or else the ant would see contradictions everywhere. For example, how could a beetle eat a person without harming him? And what difference does it make that the "beetle" was manufactured by Volkswagen? How could bugs live inside computer software? - and so forth. If you say something is a contradiction, of course you have to have a basis for why it is a contradiction. What is difficult for Bultmann (or any other non-believer) to show, is that the assumptions and requirements that we apply in our time to everyday life on earth, apply to a timeless, infinite God who fills the Heavens.
Many people have idols that are simply, crude statues. Some modern "theologians" have a more sophisticated idol, who lives entirely within their own mind. When people make up restrictions on God, instead of believing what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible, idolatry is an apt description of the god they are describing.
For another description of how God does not depend on human thinking, Hilary (wrote about 355-367/368 A.D.) said in On the Trinity 1:14 "These deeds of God therefore are beyond the understanding of our human nature and do not fit in with our rational process of thought because the operation of a limitless eternity demands an infinite comprehension of measuring things. So it is not a conclusion of reason but a limitation of power when God became man, when the Immortal dies, when the Eternal is buried. Again, on the other hand it does not depend on our manner of thinking but on the omnipotence that He appears as God from a man, as immortal from one who is dead, and as eternal from one who is buried. Hence we are revivified by God in Christ through his death."
Q: In Jn 3:16, does God love every single person in the world, or just the people who will be going to Heaven?
A: Genuine Christians disagree on this. In my opinion, there are three parts to this answer.
To All: God has love and mercy to everyone, as Psalm 145:9,13 shows. No matter how evil and vile a person might be, God still asks and invites them to believe in His Son, ask forgiveness and cleansing for their sin, and live together in holiness with God in Heaven. As God’s servants, we are messengers sent to communicate this message to everyone.
The Elect: God shows special love towards some that He did not show toward others. This is prior to their being saved. Some examples are Jacob and Esau in Romans 9:10-12, elect and reprobate in general in Romans 9:22-25, and David and Bathsheba’s two sons in 2 Samuel 12:15-25.
Believers?: Does God love a Christian more after he or she is saved than before they are saved? Scripture does not say how this would relate to a timeless God.
Q: In Jn 3:16, since Jesus is not a created being, how can He be begotten of God? Muslims deny that Jesus is begotten of God.
A: Begotten does not mean created, as we can create things but we beget children. Many Muslims have a slight similarity in their belief about the Qur’an being from Allah without being created by Allah. Before the beginning of time, Jesus, who is also called the Word of God, came from God the Father. So, in different ways, both Christians and many Muslims say the Word of God came from God but was uncreated. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.26-27, the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.109, and When Cultists Ask p.166 for more info.
Q: In Jn 3:16, why can people reject Jesus and go to Hell?
A: Jesus said that all who reject Him will go to Hell, in John 3:36. Why did God give us this responsibility, both awesome and awful, to choose to accept or reject Jesus, and have our eternal destiny determined accordingly? The answer might have to do with the value God places on us. God created us in His image, not as robots. He so values our free agency, that He allows us to choose our destiny and live with our choice. He allowed Adam and Eve to do the same, with the awful consequences for them, and their descendents. Perhaps God could have gone back in time and "uncreated" Adam and Eve, but for whatever reasons, God chose not to and let man’s choices stand.
Q: In Jn 3:18, are all people really born in a condemned or estranged state?
A: An estranged state, yes. A condemned state, not necessarily. While Augustine of Hippo and Prosper of Aquitaine taught that all babies who die before baptism automatically go to Hell, the Bible does not say that, and few Christians today believe that. People are born without the Holy Spirit inside of them, and yes, all are born separated from God. However, in Old Testament times God could choose to save people who did not have the Holy Spirit, and nothing restricts God from saving babies today.
Q: In Jn 3:18, is that justice, that we are born in an estranged state?
A: God is just, but that does not require us to have been born in any particular state. See the discussion on Romans 9:19-22 and Romans 11:8,10 for the answer.
Q: In Jn 3:24, since God is Spirit, how can Jesus be the Son of God?
A: Christians do NOT believe Jesus was the Son of God in a crude physical or sexual sense. Rather this term is an expression of deep meaning of how Jesus is different from every created being. As an example for Muslims, the Bukhari Hadith vol.9 no.543 mentions Allah’s finger. Now Muslims do not believe that Allah has literal fingers. Rather, the term "finger of God" is not meant physically, but as an expression.
Q: In Jn 3:32, since no man received Christ’s testimony, how come John the Baptist and others accepted Christ?
A: Verse 32 is qualified by verse 33. In modern writings, people often write, "No one …. Except …". Ancient writing is similar except that the "except" sometimes is implied.
John’s statement here relates to Jesus’ statement in John 6:44, that no one can come to God, unless the Father draws Him. Without God’s help, people left to their own do not want to seek God, as Romans 3:11 says.
Q: In Jn 3:36, are all who do not reject Christ going to Heaven, or do you have to actually believe in Christ?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
All who reject Jesus will "indeed die in their sins" according to Jesus in John 8:24. John 3:36 is also very clear, those who reject Jesus will go to Hell. Justin Martyr (wrote about 138-165 A.D.) was an early Christian who also taught that all Jews who reject Christ go to Hell in Dialogue with Trypho the Jew chapter 26.
All babies who die are never said to go to Hell. Of course babies do not have the understanding to accept Jesus, so unless all babies go to Hell, this shows that God is not restricted to working within this limitation. See also the next question.
Q: In Jn 3:36, what about those who have not heard of Christ? Does a just God condemn them to Hell with no chance whatsoever?
A: No. God is just and fair, as well as merciful. God says He does not count sin where there is no law (Romans 4:15; 5:12). We know that God will provide a way to judge them fairly. Excluding Purgatory, Limbo, and some extreme Calvinist positions, here are various speculations on way God might choose to do so.
God ensures that all who would accept hear: People who reject God have greater condemnation, based on greater knowledge (see 2 Peter 2:2:21). A person’s only hope is if they hear the Gospel and accept before death, but God makes sure all who need to hear it do.
Some hear the Gospel and accept after death:
This view hinges on the interpretation of two verses: 1 Peter 4:5-6 and Ephesians 4:8-10. 1 Peter 4:5-6 says that after Christ died he preached to the spirits in prison. Prison is not a term that describes where the righteous dead (like Abraham) went before Christ. Rather it describes either where lost human souls went before Christ or else other souls (some demons and/or Nephilim) were before Christ. Rather than simply informing them of what happened on earth, this view says Jesus preached so they could make the same choice they would have made on earth. It does not mean there is a second chance after death; instead, there is a first chance for those who never had a chance.
Some hear the Gospel accept in the millennium:
This answer is very similar to the Post-Death Salvation View. If you put the question "what happens those who never heard" next to "why will God resurrect people who have not made a decision for him", the two questions appear to answer each other.
Seekers can be saved through a Christ:
Could someone today be saved like Abraham and Job? They sought the Creator instead of a creature, realized their need for forgiveness, sought God’s mercy and salvation, and obeyed what they knew. This view does not say all go to Heaven or that there are many ways to God. It says that even if you are on a wrong road that does not lead to God, God may still honor your sincerity if you are truly seeking the True God and you have not rejected the available truth. This does not apply to those who could have investigated Christ, but they never chose to or thought it important enough.
See also the discussion on John 6:45 for more info.
Q: In Jn 4:1-2, why did Jesus not baptize anyone?
A: Scripture does not say, but we can speculate. In the context of Ephesians 4:3, the foundation is not Jesus but the apostles and prophets, and Jesus is the chief cornerstone upon which the foundation is based. If Jesus had baptized many people, some could think they could bypass the foundation. Spiritually, genuine Christians are all baptized with Christ. However, our faith rests on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. (Of course, these are New Testament apostles, and not unsubstantiated modern impersonators.)
Q: In Jn 4:1-2, did Jesus ever baptize anyone?
A: Scripture does not actually say. We have only two places in the New Testament where it said Jesus did or did not baptize. John 3:22 says that Jesus and His disciples were out in the countryside and baptized without specifying who was doing the baptizing. John 4:1-2, clarifies that though the Pharisees heard that Jesus was baptizing, it was actually the disciples following Jesus who were doing the baptizing.
Perhaps Jesus did not personally baptize anyone because He did not want someone to be tempted to think they were "better" in the faith because they were baptized directly by Him instead of someone else. This might also be the same reason why Paul had others baptize instead of himself (except that he baptized Crispus, Gaius, and Stephanas’ household). Others could handle the baptism, but Paul was to do the preaching (1 Corinthians 1:17)
Q: In Jn 4:4, did Jesus really have to go through Samaria?
A: Samaria was on the most direct route from Judea to Galilee, but most self-respecting Pharisees would go out of their way to take a detour to bypass that land. Jesus did not have to take the most direct route, but He chose to do so. Of course once he started by the most direct route, then He had to go through Samaria.
Q: In Jn 4:4, why was the Samaritan woman surprised that Christ spoke with her?
A: Jews did not associate with Samaritans, because Samaritans
1. Believed the center of worship should be at Mt. Gerazim in Samaria, not Jerusalem.
2. Were half-breeds and not of pure Israelite descent. Since they were not true Jews, Jews would not eat with them.
3. Did not accept any of the Old Testament except for the first five books.
4. Resented Jews.
Samaritans resented Jews because
1. Nehemiah, Ezra, and others excluded them from helping build the wall of Jerusalem and from worship at Jerusalem.
2. Jews resented Samaritans.
See Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.57-59 for more info.
Q: In Jn 4:6, since Jesus got tired, and God does not get tired in Ps 121:4, does that mean that Jesus was not God?
A: No, it means that Jesus voluntarily gave up some of His power when He came to earth, as Philippians 2:3-4 and John 17:5 show. Jesus had to be human like us in every way, according to Hebrews 2:14-17. Psalms 121:4 was written when Jesus was in Heaven. On earth, Jesus experienced tiredness, suffering, learned obedience, and did not know everything, such as the time of His second coming.
Here is what the Christian writer Hilary (353-368 A.D.) said: "The deeds of God therefore are beyond the understanding of our human nature and do not fit in with our rational process of thought because the operation of a limitless eternity demands an infinite comprehension of measuring things. So it is not a conclusion of reason but a limitation of power when God became man, when the Immortal dies, when the Eternal is buried. Again, on the other hand it does not depend on our manner of thinking but on omnipotence that He appears as God from a man, as immortal from one who is dead, and as eternal from one who is buried. Hence we are revivified by God in Christ through his death." (Trinity 1:14)
Q: In Jn 4:9, how did the woman at the well know Jesus was a Jew?
A: Scripture does not say, but there are three possible reasons?
1. A traveler passing through Samaria would likely be a Jew.
2. Apparently people from Galilee had a distinctive accent (Matthew 26:73), which Jesus likely had.
3. Perhaps by his clothing, though there is no evidence of this.
Q: In Jn 4:14, since whoever has drunk Jesus’ water of eternal life will never thirst, how come some Christians do not live contentedly like they should?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. Christians can always be content and never "thirst" in this life. However, Christians who are not abiding in Christ might be discontent. As a famous Christian hymn says, "Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer."
2. One can debate whether this verse includes an implied condition of the Christian choosing to abide in Christ or not.
3. Point 2 is a moot point for the truthfulness of this verse. Regardless of how a Christian abides in Christ on earth, this verse is unconditionally true of believers in Heaven.
Q: In Jn 4:23, what does it mean to worship God in "spirit and in truth"?
A: Jesus here was contrasting this with both Samaritan worship and Old Testament worship.
Samaritan worship: The Samaritans were descended from a mixture of Israelites and other peoples who lived in the land after the exile. Samaritan worship was based on tradition, including Mount Samaria being the most holy mountain. They had many errors, including not accepting any of the Old Testament except the Torah. Tertullian (200-240 A.D.) says Dositheus was the first to repudiate the prophets in Against All Heresies ch.1 p.649.
Jewish worship: The Jews were following the rituals God instituted in the Old Testament, but they too did not have the Holy Spirit, who was not poured out yet. While the Jews had the truth from the Old Testament, even they did not have the complete truth that Christ came to reveal.
See Now That’s a Good Question p.353-354 for more info.
Q: In Jn 4:24, since God is Spirit, and Jesus is God, how could Jesus really have a physical body? Did Jesus just seem to be a man, as the early heresy of Docetism taught?
A: No. Jesus wept real human tears in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus’ suffering was for real on the cross. God being spirit does not restrict Christ from being incarnated as a man, any more than we being flesh and blood restricts us from wearing clothes. While there is no earthly analogy that quite fits the incarnation, perhaps the analogy of an artificial organ is as close (and as far) from an accurate analogy as wearing clothes.
Q: In Jn 4:25 (KJV), was does the word "Messias" mean?
A: This word means Messiah.
Q: In Jn 4:26, is it impossible that Jesus could proclaim He was the Messiah for almost three years without being arrested (The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.968 asserts this)?
A: Even without appealing to God’s protection, it is not at all impossible. Jesus was often surrounded by sympathetic crowds. The Romans did not care about a Messiah as long as He did not challenge the political structure. He did miracles, and the cautious leaders, though he wanted Him gone for a long time, did not want to risk alienating the people. Finally, it was hard for the Jewish leaders in Rome to extend their reach to cosmopolitan Galilee.
Q: In Jn 4:34, is Jesus saying he was supernaturally fed here?
A: Probably not. Rather, his mission and purpose was concerned with doing God’s will. In this case, talking with the fallen Samaritan woman was a higher priority than his hunger for his regular meal. Will you be willing to miss a meal in order to do God’s will?
Q: In Jn 4:44, since a prophet has no honor in his own country, what about Moses, Ezekiel, and Daniel?
A: None of these three prophets lived in their own country while they were prophets, but that is actually not the point. This verse is saying that prophets are not universally respected in the place they came from, and Jesus was no different in this regard.
In Jesus’ cases, He is not saying that not a single person in the region of Galilee respected him. (After all, the disciples did.) Rather, the majority of the people had difficulty in believing a common-looking man from their own region could be a great prophet of God, much less the Messiah.
Even today, we should not forget that God often uses ordinary Christians to do great things.
Q: In Jn 5:1, which feast was this?
A: John did not say, perhaps because John himself did not remember. While we can speculate which feast it was, there is not much point in doing so. The Bible is the word of God written down by men. God was under no obligation to have them remember every detail, only the details He wanted them to remember and communicate.
Q: In Jn 5:2, is there any archaeological evidence for the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem?
A: Yes. This was actually twin pools in the northeast portion of the Old City. This section was called "Bezetha", or "new town" in the time of Christ. The Dead Sea scrolls mention the pools, a Christian pilgrim described them in 333 A.D., and modern archaeologists found these in 1888. See the New Testament Documents : Are They Reliable? P.94 by F.F. Bruce (IVP 1943) for more info.
Q: In Jn 5:3,7 (KJV), who were these folk?
A: This King James Version expression means handicapped.
Q: In Jn 5:4; Acts 14:12; 2 Thess 2:10; Rev 16:9,11, since God is Almighty and His decrees are irresistible, how can people refuse to come to Him. Either the offer was insincere (there was not given enough grace for all) or else God was unable or unwilling to ensure the people would accept this offer.
A: God permits: there is a vast amount of meaning in these two words. Yes, Almighty God certainly can make all His puppets perform their script perfectly and on cue. But He did not make us as puppets. God can do anything He wants, as He sees fit. God can control everything, even Himself. If God can do anything, then God can permit.
Q: In Jn 5:10, was the healed man breaking the Sabbath, since he was obeying Jesus in carrying his mat?
A: No. He was only disobeying the Pharisees’ added restrictions to the Sabbath. The Old Testament says people were not to work on the Sabbath. It never said someone could not carry their mat, and it was on the Pharisees who interpreted that as work.
I knew of a non-Jew who was paid by strict Orthodox Jews to live with them. On Saturdays, they believed they could not do anything that created something. Turning on a light switch completes a circuit and creates a current flow. So, among his other duties, he had to turn on light switches for them on Saturdays.
Q: In Jn 5:18, when Jesus called God His father, how was this making Himself equal with God?
A: Yes. Within a family, a father and son have different roles, and the son obeys the father, but the two are equal in nature. A good father does not consider his life more valuable than his sons, and vice versa. Within the Trinity, the same is true. God the Son is subordinate in role, but not inferior in nature.
The Nelson Study Bible p.1991 also gives the example of the wife not being inferior to the husband but having a different role.
Q: In Jn 5:18, is it OK for us to call God our Father, since we are not equal with God?
A: Not unless God gave us permission. God does give us permission to call Him our Father, in reverence. It was a great privilege Jesus gave us, when He started the first two words of His prayer as "Our Father".
Q: In Jn 5:19-20, since Jesus had free agency, why was Jesus unable to do anything except what He saw the Father do?
A: Jesus chose to obey everything the Father had Him do. On earth Jesus learned obedience, according to Hebrews 5:8. Jesus said He came not to please Himself but His Father in John 5:30. By the way, the word for "love" in John 5:20 says the Father has brotherly love/ friend love (phileo) toward the son
Q: In Jn 5:19-22, exactly how did the Father first do everything Jesus did?
A: While Jesus said the Father dwelled in Jesus, that is not the main point Jesus was making here.
Obviously, everyone understood that the Father was not born on earth, and the Father was not baptized by John the Baptist. Rather, Jesus is saying He would only do the kinds of works that His Father would plan for Him to do.
Q: In Jn 5:22, does Jesus judge us, or the Father?
A: Jesus said that the Father has entrusted all judgment to Him. This fits well with Acts 4:12, where there is no other name under Heaven by which men may be saved.
Q: In Jn 5:23, how are we to honor the Son just as we honor the Father who sent Him?
A: The followers of Jesus honor him in the following ways.
1. We worship Jesus, as angels do in Revelation and Hebrews 1:6.
2. We pray to Jesus, as Stephen did in Acts 7:59.
3. We call Jesus God as it says in Hebrews 1:8,9.
4. We call Jesus "my God" as Thomas did in John 20:28.
5. We believe and obey what He taught, as well as what His apostles taught about God and about Himself.
Following these verses of the Bible is one of the key things that separates the cults of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Way, and other cults on one side, from modern and early Christians on the other side. Here is what the early Christians said.
Hilary (wrote about 355-367/368 A.D.) remarked on John 5:23, "Since unless things are of the same nature they are never accorded equal honor, and equality of honor does not bring about a separation in those who are being honored. But the mystery of the birth demands equality of honor."
Justin Martyr (wrote about 138-165 A.D.) said in his Dialogue with Trypho: "Therefore these words testify explicitly that He [Jesus] is witnessed to by Him [the Father] who established these things, as deserving to be worshipped as God and as Christ." (chapter 63).
Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Novatian, Hippolytus, and others also spoke on the honor of Jesus being God.
Q: In Jn 5:26, what does it mean "to have life in Himself"?
A: While we have eternal life in Heaven, it is a derived eternal life that was both made possible and sustained by God. However, Jesus does not have derived eternal life, but intrinsic eternal life.
Q: In Jn 5:27, how does being a "Son of Man" provide a reason for the Father to give Jesus the authority to judge us?
A: Scripture does not explicitly say, but it does imply an answer. Hebrews 2:14-17 says that since we have flesh and blood, Jesus had to share in our humanity so that his death would atone for us. Jesus had to be one of us to become our high priests.
Q: In Jn 5:28-29, since those who did good will be resurrected to live, does this mean salvation by works is true?
A: No. It does not say the good works caused them to live. The good works of believers, limited though they may be, are evidence of being one of God’s children who will live forever in Him. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.369-371, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.496-498, and When Cultists Ask p.167-168 for more info.
Q: In Jn 5:31, if Jesus bore witness of Himself, would that make His witness untrue?
A: No, that is not what Jesus is saying here. Jesus is answering the Pharisees’ charge, that if Jesus is the only one bearing witness of Himself, in a court of Law that would not establish his authenticity.
Q: In Jn 5:34, is Jesus using an ad hominem argument, that He Himself did not accept?
A: No. First we will discuss what an ad hominem argument is, and then what Jesus said.
ad hominem in Latin means "to the man". It is an argument the speaker himself does not believe, but the speaker mentions it to persuade the listeners. For example, if a politician goes back on a promise, then someone who cares nothing about broken promises might mention this to persuade people who do care about keeping promises, in order to get them to vote for him. (Presumably this other guy would keep his promises better, but that is only an unstated assumption)
Jesus did fully accept what John the Baptist said. However, Jesus basically said He was using an ad hominem argument, in that while the Pharisees wanted multiple witnesses before believing something was true, Jesus did not agree with that approach. But, if they were going to use that approach, John the Baptist’s did corroborate Jesus’ testimony about Himself. John’s words did not "make" Jesus’ testimony true; his words only showed that it was true.
Today, people often can lose this distinction in a court of law. A judge or jury can pronounce the defendant "not guilty". Actually the verdict does not make the defendant guilty or innocent. They are guilty if they committed the crime, regardless of the correctness of the verdict. In the United States, in a criminal trial, if the jury thinks the defendant probably did it, but there is reasonable doubt, they are instructed to find the defendant "not guilty". Does that make the defendant innocent? -no.
See When Critics Ask p.410-411 for more info.
Q: In Jn 5:39, do we have eternal life from believing the Bible or not?
A: Actually, no. Eternal life is given by God. However, the Jews were part-way correct, in that the Scriptures show us the way to God, to have eternal life. It is possible for a person to be more concerned about the scripture, than they are about God, as the Pharisees were in Jesus’ time.
Q: In Jn 5:43, since Jesus came in His Father’s Name, does that mean that Jesus has the same name as the Father, and thus Jesus is the Father?
A: They do share a number of titles. However, I happen to have the same last name as my parents, but that does not prove we are all only one human being. When Cultists Ask p.168-169 says that some Oneness Pentecostals, such as Campbell, 1975 actually say this. If they were consistent in this, then Oneness Pentecostals would never preach in the name of Jesus, because they would think that doing anything "in Jesus’ name" would make them Jesus, too.
Q: In Jn 5:44, how does receiving honor from others relate to not believing?
A: Jesus is not saying they are not pleasing God, Jesus is saying something even worse. They are not even trying to please God. And as bad as this is, it looks even worse, given the effort they put out to try to please men.
Q: In Jn 5:45-46, how do all who believe Moses believe Jesus? Many Jews today would disagree.
A: Perhaps Jesus had in mind Deuteronomy 17:18-19. If anyone does not listen to the word of the coming prophet (Jesus), God Himself will call that person to account. John 5:46 says something similar.
Q: In Jn 6:5-6, why did Jesus ask a question, since he already knew the answer?
A: John 6:6 says that Jesus asked the question to test Philip. Using what today is called the Socratic method, and asking a disciple a question to which the teacher already knows the answer, is fine. Apparently, the disciples were not unfamiliar with this, as when Peter answered Jesus’ question in John 21:17, saying, "Lord, you know all things: you know that I love you." (NIV)
Q: In Jn 6:19, how 6:19, how could Jesus walk on water?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
The Sea of Galilee was very deep, so Jesus was not playing some kind of trick, by walking on stones.
Jesus was a real person with flesh and blood, so it was not some kind of phantom with no weight.
God, who created natural law, can supersede natural law whenever He chooses. We call that a miracle, but perhaps to God it is merely an alternate method of operation.
Q: In Jn 6:23, what do we know about the town of Tiberias?
A: It was a new town in Jesus’ time, since Herod Antipas built it between 16 and 22 A.D. as his administrative capital. It was a Gentile town, Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.822-823 says Jews avoided it because it was built on a cemetery.
However, the Encylopaedia Britannica and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1704 say that in the second century the editor of the Mishnah (c.200-220 A.D.), Judah hak-Kadhosh came from there. Also, the Talmud was edited there about 400 A.D.. Famous rabbis buried there include Maimonides, ‘Akiba (Akiva), Yohanan Ben Zakkai, and Eliezer the Great.
See The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1014 for more info.
Q: In Jn 6:31-36,48-51, how is Jesus the bread (or manna) of life?
A: Jesus is the bread of life in at least two ways.
For all: Jesus sustains everything in the universe, according to Colossians 1:17
For believers: It is sweet to have life in Jesus, who nourishes us, protects and preserves us, and prepares us to dwell eternally with Him.
Q: In Jn 6:37, since all the Father gives to Jesus come to Jesus, and since some do not come to Jesus, then does that mean the Father did not give them to Jesus?
A: Yes. The Gospel of salvation is sincerely offered to all. However, Hebrews 4:2 says the Gospel is of no use to those who do not combine it with faith. Luke 7:30 is a second example, and see the discussion on Luke 7:30 for more info.
Q: In Jn 6:39, did Jesus have a distinct will from God the Father or not?
A: To rephrase the question as a fourth grader asked, how many brains do the Trinity have? Except for the fact that God is not limited to cells, one could say they have their own brains. Jesus had a distinct will, as shown by His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. However, Jesus always chose to have His will be in accord with the Father’s will, as also indicated by His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Q: In Jn 6:42, is the virgin birth true, since the Jews said they knew Joseph, the father of Jesus?
A: This does not deny the virgin birth.
First, since Joseph was the husband of Mary, Joseph was the legal father of Jesus in the eyes of the law.
Second, many Jews assumed Joseph was also the biological father of Jesus. Every assumption that people make is not necessarily true.
Q: In Jn 6:44,65 and Jn 6:37,39, what does it mean that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him?
A: The Greek can mean compel, draw as in draw water, or woo/persuade. See Now That’s a Good Question p.27-29 for more on the Greek. Since the Greek word has a range of meeting, various Christians have this verse as a part of their theology in various ways.
Non-Calvinists say that Jesus draws all externally, and the offer of salvation is available to every individual. Internally, the Holy Spirit (also called the Spirit of Christ), convicts the world (both elect and reprobate) of sin. However, all the Father predestines are drawn to Heaven, and those who are not the elect do not come to God. Some non-Calvinists would say that predestination and foreknowledge work hand-in-hand, and other non-Calvinists would say that foreknowledge precedes predestination, since the two times they are mentioned together in scripture foreknowledge is always mentioned first.
Calvinists do not deny that the Gospel is to be offered to all, but the Father draws only the elect, and neither the Father nor Holy Spirit work in a salvific way for the reprobate, since Jesus did not die for them.
Hyper-Calvinists believe the same as Calvinists here, except that they teach the Gospel can be proclaimed to all, but it is wrong to offer to all.
See also the next question for more info.
Q: In Jn 6:44,65 and Jn 6:37,39 does the Father draw some people, or does Jesus draw all to Himself as Jn 12:32 says?
A: In the Greek, it simply says that Jesus draws "all". It does not actually say that Jesus draws "all men" or "all people". There are three views.
The Father draws every individual: We are so sinful that no one can come to the Father unless the Father draws him (enables him). However, the Father draws everybody. When John 6:37,39 say that all the Father gives Jesus will come to Him, the Father draws all, but only gives to Jesus those he foreknew (and thus predestined) to come to Jesus. However, this interpretation violates the plain sense of John 6:64-65, which indicates the Father must draw people was a reason why some did not believe.
Jesus draws externally and the Father chooses internally: Jesus draws both elect and reprobate to Him. Both the elect and reprobate make a decision to trust Jesus or not. However, the Father predestined the elect, and thus only the elect are drawn by the Father.
All kinds of people, the Father and Jesus both draw only the elect. Not drawing every individual is the Calvinist view, advocated in the New Geneva Study Bible p.1688.
See also the previous question for more info.
Q: In Jn 6:45, since everyone who is taught of God comes to Jesus, does that mean all who never heard of Jesus had no opportunity to escape Hell?
A: The Bible never says that. On the contrary, Hebrews 11 shows that Abel, Enoch, Noah, and many others apparently never heard of Jesus (while on earth), yet they presumably went to Heaven. There are two other points to consider in the answer:
2. Babies who die never hear of Jesus. The Bible never says that those below the age of accountability go to Hell.
3. Jesus did say that all who reject Him will indeed die in their sins. (John 8:24)
See also the discussion on John 3:36 for more info.
Q: In Jn 6:50-51, since one who eats the bread of heaven (Jesus) will live forever and not die, why do Christians still die?
A: There are two ways this can be understood.
1. Christians will live forever in Heaven, and so we will reach a state where our glorified bodies will never die. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1505 for more on this point.
2. In addition, while our bodies die once, from the time we first believe, our spirits never die. Revelation refers to the Lake of Fire as the second death.
Physical death is "only a small detail" compared to either eternal life or the second death. This verse is important in telling us that once a believer goes to Heaven, there is no fear that he or she will sin and fall.
Q: In Jn 6:51-56, what did Jesus really mean here?
A: There are at least three views.
1. Jesus gives believers spiritual nourishment
The Believer’s Bible Commentary : New Testament p.297 points out that since the Lord’s Supper did not come until a year later, this refers to the spiritual food and drink Jesus would give believers.
2. An illustration of spiritual union
Jesus was speaking to the crowds, who at this time would know nothing of the Lord’s Supper, as the New Geneva Study Bible p.1673 points out. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.498-500 clearly says it is this view, while also suggesting a combination with the third view, too.
3. In addition to both of the previous, a foreshadowing of the Lord’s Supper
When Jesus said "…my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world", Jesus was foretelling his death on the cross. Likewise, Jesus was foretelling their remembrance of that in the Lord’s Supper.
See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1505 for more on this view. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.498-500 suggests this view plus the previous because John does not record the Last Supper, and this would be his counterpart teaching on the importance of communion.
The issues here are somewhat similar to the interpretation issues of "water and spirit" in John 3:5.
Q: In Jn 6:52-56, why did Jesus not clear up the crowd’s confusion?
A: Jesus apparently wanted to say these words this way, and Jesus showed no surprise that some left at this point. To speak to a Jew about drinking blood would sound offensive to them.
Scripture does not give all the reasons why Jesus spoke this way, but here is a speculation. People who saw the miracles might believe in Jesus whether they wanted to follow God or not, because they have living proof right in front of them. Jesus spoke this way so that those who wanted to follow Jesus would later understand, and those who did not want to follow would have an excuse for leaving.
Q: In Jn 6:60-66, why does Jesus seem almost fatalistic here? - If they come, they will come. If they do not, they do not.
A: Jesus was not a fatalist, but He knew well the limitations of speech. If someone never wants to trust their life over to Christ, he or she will never be accepting of the things they cannot show to be true or false. If people do not want to follow the truth, they will almost always be able to find some excuse for not doing so.
Q: In Jn 6:70, since Jesus chose the twelve disciples, and Judas was one of these, was Judas one of the elect chosen by Jesus?
A: No. Like other men, Jesus had the freedom to make many choices. Jesus’ choice to eat a certain fig does not make that fig one of the elect. Likewise, Jesus choosing the twelve disciples was different from choosing the elect who go to Heaven. See Now That’s a Good Question p.133-134 for more info.
Q: In Jn 7:1 (KJV), what is "Jewry?
A: This King James Version expression refers to the Jews.
Q: In Jn 7:3,5,10 (KJV), who were the "brethren" of Jesus?
A: These are the biological half-brothers of Jesus. Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:4; Galatians 1:19; and Jude 1 also record that Jesus had brothers. Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History (c.360 A.D.) 2:23 and 3:20 also says that Jesus’ four brothers were James (called the Just, Joses (or Joseph), Judas (same as Jude), and Simon. See 1 Corinthians 9:5 for who for more discussion.
Q: In Jn 7:7, did the world not hate the disciples, or did the world hate them in Jn 15:20-21?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
In John 7:7, the disciples were still learning, and the world did not yet hate them, because they were not yet consistently preaching to turn to Jesus. The Jews and Romans had not reached to point of wanting to persecute Christians, yet.
In John 15:20-21, Jesus prophesied that the time would soon come when the world was going to hate them because they belonged to Christ.
Q: In Jn 7:8, why did Jesus say that He was not or not yet going to the feast?
A: Five points to consider in the answer.
1. Some manuscripts say "not going". These manuscripts include Sinaiticus, Cantabrigiensis, Bohairic Coptic, Armenian, and the Diatessaron.
2. Other manuscripts, such as Bodmer II (125-175 A.D.), Bodmer 14,15 (third century) and Vaticanus says "not yet".
3. Even if one knew the exact Greek, one cannot make too much out of the precise words, as it is not known whether Jesus was speaking here in Greek or Aramaic.
4. Regardless, Jesus was not making a promise, but stating his intentions, so either manuscript reading is fine.
5. Perhaps manuscript variations serve God’s purpose. They might show us the ways we are not to take the words of scripture at too high a level of precision.
Q: In Jn 7:8, why did Jesus say here that His time was not yet come?
A: It was not yet time for Jesus to start His public ministry, culminating in Him dying on the cross for our sins.
Q: In Jn 7:10, why did Jesus apparently change His mind and go to Jerusalem, after Jesus told his brothers He was not going?
A: Jesus did not break a promise, rather Jesus changed his mind on what He intended to do. However, behind this simple answer is an important point to learn. There is a difference between an expression of intent and a promise.
When Critics Ask p.414 gives a different answer. Jesus’ brothers wanted Jesus to go to Jerusalem and "openly show Himself as the Messiah." Jesus did go later, but not in the way His brothers suggested He go.
Q: In Jn 7:13, why did the people "fear the Jews"? They were all Jews!
A: The people here feared the Jewish authorities. It often makes sense to distinguish the beliefs and practices of the common people from the official religious teaching.
Q: In Jn 7:17, are all who choose to do God’s will going to Heaven? -even Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.
A: As Adam’s son Cain learned, God does not accept all sacrifices made to Him. As 1 Corinthians 10:20 shows, you have to at least offer your sacrifices to the True God. Many people focus on how other religions teach wrong doctrines and "mess with a person’s head". Equally important is that they anesthetize people to desiring what is best and "mess with their heart".
1. In some religions, including some forms of Hinduism, doing good is not a goal. Rather, a goal is to experience both good and evil. See the next question for proof of this.
2. In some religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism, they do not want to live forever in Heaven. Their goal is to escape the undesirable cycle of rebirth and go to Nirvana, or in other cases, be joined to the eternal flame.
3. In some religions, truth does not matter. Hinduism is noted as a religion where the "law of non-contradiction" is not a great concern.
Q: In Jn 7:17, what does a false religion, Hinduism, teach about doing good?
A: It teaches at least two very different things.
It is blessed to do good. "The good is one thing; the pleasant is another. These two, differing in their ends, both prompt to action. Blessed are they that choose the good; they that choose the pleasant miss the goal." Katha Upanishad p.16
On the other hand…
1. "Know that all states of being-be they of goodness, passion or ignorance - are manifested by My energy. I am, in one sense, everything, but I am independent. I am not under the modes of material nature, for they, on the contrary, are within Me. Deluded by the three modes [goodness, passion and ignorance], the whole world does not know Me, who am above the modes and inexhaustible" Bhagavad Gita 7.12-13 p.379-380.
2. "Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service, he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination." Bhagavad Gita 9.30 p.494
3. "It is written: ‘He who knows the joy of Brahman, which words cannot express and the mind cannot reach, is free from fear. He is not distressed by the thought, ‘Why did I not do what is right? Why did I do what is wrong? He who knows the joy of Brahman, knowing both good and evil, transcends both." Taittiriya Upanishad p.58.
4. "My sons kill their enemies and my daughter is an empress, and I am completely victorious. My voice is supreme in my husband’s ears. The oblation that Indra made and so became glorious and supreme, this is what I have made for you O gods. I have truly become truly without rival wives. Without rival wives, killer of rival wives, victorious and pre-eminent, I have grabbed for myself the attraction of the other women as if it were the wealth of flighty women." This wonderful little combination of worship and early Hindu "family values" is from the Rig Veda 10.159.3-5.
Q: In Jn 7:18, is Jesus saying there is no unrighteousness in all people who seek the Father’s glory?
A: No, rather, Jesus is obliquely referring to Himself, saying there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Q: In Jn 7:28, why did Jesus preach in the Temple, since He went to Jerusalem secretly in Jn 6:10 in order not to be noticed?
A: If Jesus went openly as an individual, the authorities could arrest him easily. However, once there, while Jesus was in the middle of a large and sympathetic crowd, they would not be able to arrest him. They would want to wait until there were as few other people as possible. Jesus and the disciples spent the night outside of Jerusalem in a spot where they would never be found, - that is, unless they were betrayed.
Q: In Jn 7:38-39, "where in scripture does it say "streams of living water will flow from him"?
A: Ancient literature did not distinguish between an exact quote, a paraphrase of one sentence, and a paraphrase of the common concept of multiple sentences. The New Geneva Study Bible p.1676 says that while this is not an exact quote of any Old Testament Scripture, it can be a general reference to both Isaiah 44:3 and Ezekiel 36:25-27.
Q: In Jn 7:38-39, how do streams of living water flow from Jesus?
A: Just as water gives life, growth, cleansing, and quenches thirst, Jesus gives us that spiritually.
Q: In Jn 7:39, was the Holy Spirit in the world prior to Jesus coming to earth?
A: Yes, but in a more limited way. In Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit was with the prophets, but the average believer then did not have the Holy Spirit.
Q: In Jn 7:51-52, I am not sure, if I lived back in the time of Christ, I would have been able to figure everything out that I was supposed to do. Is that necessary?
A: While you might not have figured out everything on your own back them, who says we can figure out everything on our own today, either? This is why we need to ask for God’s help, and we need the help of each other. Everyone, left on their own, can come up with some foolish and boneheaded views. We need God’s help and each other to provide help and correction.
Q: In Jn 7:52, was Jesus from Bethlehem in Judea, or Nazareth in Galilee?
A: Both; Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judah, and he was raised in Nazareth in Galilee.
Q: In Jn 7:52, why did they say a prophet never came from Galilee, when Jonah came from that region, Gath-Hepher, about three miles from Nazareth? (The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.971 brings this up.)
A: Notice the speakers are unbelieving Jews. The Bible does not say "no prophet ever came from that Galilee". Rather it says "they said, no prophet ever came from Galilee." The speakers who rejected Jesus were incorrect here.
Q: In Jn 7:53-8:11, what do English Bible translations today say?
A: The KJV has it with no comment.
The NKJV has it in the text with the footnote, "NU brackets 7:53 through 8:11 as not in the original text. They are present in over 900 mss. of John."
The NASB has it in brackets with a footnote saying, "Most of the ancient authorities omit John 7.53-8.11. Those which contain it vary much from each other."
The uNASB has it in brackets. A footnote says, "Later mss add the story of the adulterous woman, numbering it as John 7:53-8:11"
Wuest has it translated with no comment.
The NIV has it set up by lines and a comment saying "[The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11]"
The RSV has it in the text with a footnote "Some ancient authorities insert 7.53-8.11 either at the end of this gospel or after Lk 21:38, with variations of the text. Others omit it altogether."
The NRSV has it in brackets with a footnote saying, "The most ancient authorities lack 7.53-8.11; other authorities add the passage here or after 7.36 or after 21.25 or after Luke 21.38, with variations of text; some mark the passage as doubtful."
Williams translates it with two footnotes at the bottom both saying that the best mss. omit it.
Q: In Jn 8:3-4, why did the Pharisees bring the woman caught in the very act of adultery to Jesus and not the man?
A: That is a good question, especially since Deuteronomy 22:22-24 says that both were to be brought. It seems they were less interested in the man seeing justice than the woman. Or, perhaps they were not interested in justice at all, only in trapping Jesus. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.372, When Critics Ask p.415, and Josh McDowell (in a talk) noticed this illegality, too.
Q: Does Jn 8:3-4 show that Jesus did not accept capital punishment?
A: No, but the proceedings were not proper, as the man was not also brought. See the previous question for more info.
Q: In Jn 8:3-4, where in the Old Testament does it command that the woman be stoned to death for adultery (a Muslim brought this up)?
A: Execution was proscribed for adultery in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22-24. The form of execution, stoning, is given in Deuteronomy 22:24 in the example of a man who sleeps to a virgin betrothed to a husband in the city.
Q: In Jn 8:6, in the story of the adulterous woman, what did Jesus write in the sand?
A: Six points to consider in the answer.
1. Most Bible manuscripts say "wrote on the ground" These include Cantabrigiensis, the Byzantine Lectionary, Bohairic Coptic, and others.
2. However, the Armenian manuscripts (5th and 9th century) say, "wrote on the ground the sins of each of them".
3. However, other manuscripts and authors do not have this part of John. These include: Bodmer 2, Bodmer 14,15, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Sahidic Coptic, Gothic, Diatessaron.
4. Assuming most manuscripts are correct, Scripture is silent on what Jesus did with the stick on the ground. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.371-373 says that whatever it was, it convicted them of their own sins. Some speculate that Jesus was writing their sins, or the names of the girlfriends of some of them.
5. They only brought the woman caught in the act; they never brought the man. Perhaps some of the men the woman had committed adultery with were in the crowd.
6. On the other hand, Now That’s a Good Question p.586-587 says that not only do we not know, but we do not know for sure that Jesus wrote anything. He might have just been doodling while he was thinking. However, there was something that caused all the men to abruptly leave.
Q: In Jn 8:11, since Jesus followed the Mosaic Law, why did Jesus not condemn the woman?
A: There are two points to consider in the answer.
Jesus was not compelled to bring punishment on the woman he knew was guilty, because 1) Jesus was not a government authority here, 2) Jesus was the one who gave the law, and 3) the procedure was not proper, as the man was not brought also.
However, Jesus actually did follow the Mosaic Law. There had to be an accuser, and there were no accusers. In addition, the whole situation was strange, as she was caught in the act, and yet there was no man brought forth.
Q: In Jn 8:12, how is Jesus the light of the world?
A: Light is indispensable to our life. Not only does it attract people, it keeps people from stumbling in the dark, let’s us examine ourselves, recognize each other, and enjoy beauty. Even back then, people could figure out that without light, indoor plants do not grow. Jesus is more important to us than even physical light.
Q: In Jn 8:13-14, why did the Pharisees claim Jesus bearing record of himself meant his record was not valid?
A: If someone made a claim with no evidence, the claim would be suspect. Jesus thought that it would be strange to try to apply to Him. After all The Father in a sense testified to everyone about Jesus, by the prophecies written hundreds to a thousand years before, and by having Jesus perform many miracles at that time.
Q: In Jn 8:14-18, why did Jesus answer the Pharisees the way He did?
A: There probably are a variety of reasons.
1. Being a part of that culture, Jesus understood the preconceptions of the Pharisees in general.
2. Jesus understand these Pharisees individually.
3. Jesus often spoke figuratively by choice (John 16:25,29).
4. It could be merciful not to say too much to those who rejected Him, as 2 Peter 2:21-22 and John 15:22-25 show.
Q: In Jn 8:17 and Jn 10:34, did Jesus say "your" law?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
In John 8:17, Aland’s Greek New Testament (1975) does not mention any Greek manuscripts that say "the law of you". They say "the law"
On John 10:34, most manuscripts on John 10:34 says "the law". They include: Bodmer II 125-175 A.D. Bodmer 14,15 early 3rd century, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Byzantine Lectionary, Sahidic Coptic, Bohairic Coptic, Gothic, Armenian, Athanasius
However, some manuscripts on John 10:34 say, "the law of you". They include Chester Beatty I Papyrii 100-150 A.D., Sinaiticus (corrected), Cantabrigiensis, and the writers Tertullian and Hilary.
Q: In Jn 8:20 (KJV), was Jesus in the treasury?
A: Jesus was speaking in the part of the Temple near where the offerings were being taken. He was not in the place itself where the money was stored.
Q: In Jn 8:24,58, Jn 13:19, and Jn 18:5,6, in addition to "I am", what other titles do the Father and Jesus share?
A: Here is a partial list of Old Testament titles of God and the new Testament titles of Jesus.
|Old Testament reference
||New Testament Reference
Job 33:4; Isaiah 40:28
John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17
Psalm 106:21; Isaiah 45:21-23
John 4:42; Eph 5:23; Acts 4:12
Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 10:21
Mt 1:23; Jn 1:1; Rom 9:5; Col 2:9
Exodus 3:14; Dt 32:39
John 8:24,58; 13:19; 18:5,6
Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12
First and Last
Revelation 1:17; 2:8; 22:13
Dt 32:4; Psalm 28:1
1 Corinthians 10:4; Mt 16:18
Psalm 27:1; Micah 7:8
Luke 2:32; John 1:9; 8:12
Gen 18:25; Ps 58:11; Joel 3:12
Rev 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10; 2 Tim 4:1
Q: In Jn 8:29, how would the Father [allegedly] never leave Jesus, since Jesus said "My God, My God why have you forsaken me in Mt 27:26 and Mk 15:34?
A: John 8:29 does NOT say the Father would never leave Jesus. It says "has not left me alone" (NIV) or "did not leave me alone" (Wuest’s Expanded translation), the KJV says "hath not left me alone". The Father did forsake Jesus at the cross, but on the other hand, as Jesus died he said, "Into your hands I commit my spirit." in Luke 23:47.
Q: In Jn 8:31, is continuing in Jesus’ word a condition of being Jesus’ disciple?
A: It is evidence, not a precondition. An analogy can help answer this question. Is breathing a condition of being alive? Breathing is evidence of being alive. However, while one can perform artificial respiration endlessly on a corpse, that will not make the corpse alive. Furthermore, a living person can hold their breath for a few minutes, but then they will feel a strong urge to breathe again and they will do so.
In a similar way, continuing in obedience to Jesus’ word is evidence of new life in Christ. A non-Christian can follow the same commands, for a while, but that does not mean they have asked Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of their life. A Christian could choose not to obey Jesus for a while, but if they are a genuinely saved, they will feel a strong urge to return to Christ and they will do so.
Q: In Jn 8:32, what did Jesus mean by "set you free"?
A: Jesus sets us free in at least four wonderful ways.
Judicially: God pronounces all our sins "paid in full" because of the gift of Jesus dying on the cross
In this life, we being set free from the bondage of sin and the compulsion to sin.
Eternally, we are set free from the Second Death and will live forever eternally with God, without fear of falling.
Day-to-day, we can live a life of hope, love, and joy in the freedom of Christ.
See Now That’s a Good Question p.578-579 for more info.
Q: In Jn 8:37, how can it be that they had no place in their hearts for Jesus’ word?
A: Jesus gave a very appropriate description. They had no place in their peculiar logic for the Messiah to come in their midst. They had no desire in their hearts to see the Messiah. They had no intention of waiting for the Messiah, or following Him if He came and did not conform to their wishes.
Jesus was not merely criticizing their conclusions. Rather, he was criticizing their apathy to find out what was true.
Today, Christians, who sought the truth, can naively think that everyone else, whether in a right or wrong way, is seeking the truth too. Many have to first desire to find the truth, before finding the truth will do them any good.
Q: In Jn 8:44, why did Jesus tell people who valued their ancestry that their father was the devil?
A: I suppose it was because Jesus never took a course on "How to Win Friends and Influence People". The political correctness of Jesus is highly questionable here, as well as elsewhere.
Seriously, Jesus was more concerned about them and their eternal destiny than whether or not they liked His words.
Today, one reason some Christians (myself included) have been guilty of not sharing the Gospel as much as they should is that they loved the friendship more than they cared about the friend.
Q: In Jn 8:47, how do those who are of God hear God’s word?
A: Those who are of God hear God’s word in two different senses.
Believers have already heard God’s word, received it with joy, and trusted their lives over to God.
The elect may not be saved yet. However, the term "elect" means that they will be saved sooner or later.
Q: In Jn 8:48, why did they try to "insult" Jesus by accusing Him of being a Samaritan?
A: They would see this as a great insult, and Jesus would clearly understand what they communicated about their degree of despising Him. However, Jesus did not consider these words an insult, and apparently He did not even bother to respond to this.
Q: In Jn 8:48, does this somehow teach that all people have the "I Am" presence in them, as Mark and Elizabeth Clare Prophet teach?
A: No. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science cult, had a similar idea in Science and Health p.333-334.
However, just as Jesus was worshipped does not mean we should be worshipped, Jesus saying He was the "I Am" does not mean we can say that. It seems the height of arrogance to say for yourself what Jesus said only of Himself. Since no Scripture says that we have this alleged "I Am" principle, God might find people rather insolent who automatically assume for themselves what Jesus said about only Himself.
See When Cultists Ask p.174 for more info.
Q: In Jn 8:50 how is the Father the judge, since Jn 5:22 says that the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son"?
A: First what is not the answer, and then the answer. There are two judgments, the Great White throne judgment, and the bema-seat judgment of Christ for believer’s rewards. There are different Greek words for judgment, meaning discerning and condemning. However, understanding the differences in tense, the Greek word in both verses are the same: krinei.
The answer is that for the judgment of all people, the Father is the ultimate judge and authority, but the Father judges nothing except through Jesus. The Bible speaks of only the Father as predestining us, but we are predestined and saved through Christ. John 5:22 does not merely say the Father lets Jesus judge some people; rather the Father does no judging apart from what He has entrusted to Christ.
Here is how it plays out in Revelation 20:11-15. The one sitting on the great white throne is most probably the Father. There are two books, the book of deeds, and the Book of Life. The Book of Life is the "Lamb’s Book of Life" according to Revelation 21:27. The Father sends all to the Lake of Fire who not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Q: In Jn 8:51, how do those who keep Jesus’ words never see death?
A: See the discussion on John 6:50-51 for the answer.
Q: In Jn 8:58, why was Jesus using the Divine Name here?
A: Jesus was telling the Jews clearly that He was not just a prophet, not just the Messiah, but that Jesus was God Himself. Abraham knew of this name, but it was to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3) that God Himself first revealed the full import of the meaning of His name
Q: In Jn 8:59, why did Jesus, who is God, hide here?
A: Jesus hid because they were trying to stone Him. Jesus was God, even on earth, but as Philippians 2:7 shows, Jesus voluntarily emptied Himself and made Himself nothing when He came to earth. A person can be doing God’s will and hiding from evildoers.
Q: In Jn 9:1-3, why exactly was this man born blind?
A: Jesus said it was not because of his sin or his parents’ sin. People in general suffer in this life, including birth defects, because we are born as fallen creatures living in a fallen world. However, in this man’s particular case, his blind eyes would serve to glorify God, as Jesus healed Him and his eyes would be a testimony so others could see the truth of Jesus.
Q: In Jn 9:1, was this man born blind because of sins he committed before he was reincarnated, as the Unity school of Christianity teaches?
A: If Jesus had said, "this man was born blind because of sins he committed before he was born in this life", then the Unity School of so-called Christianity would have a point.
However, Jesus not only did not say this, Jesus said the opposite. As a matter of fact, this verse can be used to show that reincarnation was NOT a factor in this man’s blindness. Specifically, when Jesus was asked if this man or his parents sinned, Jesus answered: neither.
See When Cultists Ask p.174-175 and Todd Ehrenborg’s book Mind Sciences: Christian Science, Religious Science, Unity School of Christianity (Alan W. Gomes editor) p.7 for more info.
Q: In Jn 9:4, what did Jesus mean, that night is coming when no one can work?
A: There are two aspects to the answer.
Soon, this phase of God’s working, when Jesus walked on the earth, would be over.
For a short time, between the crucifixion and the Resurrection, they would all be scattered. They would not work again in ministry, in a major way, until Pentecost 50 days after Passover.
Most importantly, the Jews had an openness to hear Jesus’ new teaching, and this openness would soon be gone after the first days of the early church.
Today, a sense of timing is still required in ministry work. Countries open and close to the Gospel based on the political regime in power. Entire cultures become more open and closed based on their prosperity, their media, and other earthly (and not only earthly) influences.
Q: In Jn 9:6, why did Jesus make clay out of his spittle, since He simply could have spoken the words?
A: There are a great many ways Jesus could have used to heal the man. Perhaps Jesus wanted to use this way to emphasize that, as God’s word, He was the One who had made man, including his eyes, from the dust of the ground.
Q: In Jn 9:14-16, why did the Pharisees say Jesus did not keep the Sabbath?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
No Old Testament law prohibited healing, saving a life of an animal, or saving the life of a person on a Sabbath. No law said you could not demonstrate love for others and care for them on that day. It was only that you could not work.
The Pharisees added to God’s work by saying that you could not do many things (like you could walk one mile but not two), and you could not create things. They apparently considered healing to be "creating" and thus forbidden according to their interpretation.
Today, as back then, it is very important to differentiate between what God said, and your interpretation of what God said, as 1 Corinthians 4:6 and Proverbs 30:5-6 show.
Q: In Jn 9:24, why did the Pharisees say "give God the praise"?
A: This was a solemn charge to tell the truth. Joshua 7:19 uses a similar phrase.
Q: In Jn 9:34, why did the Pharisees say the blind man was born in sin?
A: They were probably not commenting on their view of human nature in general. Rather, they thought that the man being born blind proved that unlike other people, he was born in sin. Jesus contradicted this false teaching in John 9:1-3.
Q: In Jn 10:1-2, what is Jesus saying figuratively about thieves and robbers?
A: Any person, then or now, who tells people he is the way, or can show them the way, and he does not come from the true God, is a thief and robber. Sheep thieves usually did not come and forcibly pick up each sheep one by one. They would open the gate and try to lead the entire flock.
Now sheep can be excused, because they are not very bright. But what is amazing, is the number of human beings who think they can follow Christ, and yet at the same time dabble in following thieves and robbers.
Q: In Jn 10:2,7, in this parable, is Jesus the shepherd or the gate?
A: Both. In ancient times they did not have an aversion to mixing metaphors.
Q: In Jn 10:8, who were the thieves and robbers who came before Jesus?
A: These were false messiahs and false prophets. False messiahs, in general, persuade people to put their trust in them instead of the true messiah. False prophets would say to trust a false messiah or a false god.
Q: In Jn 10:14-33, at what point would Jesus’ words have been blasphemy if they had been spoken by an ordinary man?
A: While Scripture does not say, any other person saying John 10:1 on would be a false prophet, if he or she said these words about themselves. When Jesus talks about "His sheep", and "His authority", He is asserting His claims of being God, even prior to John 10:33-42.
Q: In Jn 10:16, who are the other sheep to which Jesus is referring?
A: Jesus is referring to Gentiles (non-Jews). It does not refer only to people of the New World as Mormons teach. It does not refer to all who believe and are not of the Jehovah’s Witness 144,000 as Jehovah’s Witnesses teach. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.57-58, When Cultists Ask p.175-176 and Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.78-79 for more extensive answers.
Q: In Jn 10:18, how was Jesus given the power to lay down His life and to take it up again?
A: Jesus emptied Himself when He came to earth, so He had no power except what the Father and Spirit gave Him. On earth, they gave Him the power to lay down His life (physically die) and come to life again.
Q: In Jn 10:23, what was the Feast of Dedication, which took place in winter?
A: This is the same as the Feast of Lights, or Hanukkah, according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.310 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1527. Hanukkah commemorated the rededication of the Temple after it was desecrated during the time the Maccabees freed Israel.
Q: In Jn 10:26, were some of the Jews not Jesus’ sheep because they did not believe, or did they not believe because they were not Jesus’ sheep?
A: First a simple word study, and then three views.
Word studies: The Greek word rendered "for" here is "gar". Strong’s Concordance gives the primary meaning as "reason". Strong’s also says it can mean "and, as, because (that), but, even, for, indeed, no doubt, seeing, then, therefore, verily, what, why, yet. Aland’s Greek New Testament says it means, for, since, then; indeed, certainly; What! Why!. Thus, "gar" has a range of meaning. Also, Jesus might have spoken this in Aramaic, not Greek, so one cannot pin down one definition with precision. Anyway, here are three possibilities, and the third possibility is most likely.
Therefore: They were not Jesus’ sheep because they did not believe. However, Greek has much stronger words for "therefore", such as oukoun, which were frequently used in the New Testament, and those words were not used here.
On account of: They did believe because they were not Jesus’ sheep. While the Greek word is similar to the English for "for" in that it could be this way or the previous way, the sentence structure favors this view over the previous view. People naturally emphasize the aspect that they were not Jesus’ sheep because they did not believe. However, this scripture says the opposite. The New Geneva Study Bible p.1683 mentions this view, though not necessarily excluding the other view.
Both: Saying either-or is an artificial simplification. It is similar to asking whether people are alive because they breathe, or do they breathe because they are alive? The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.311 mentions that this "is a simple statement of their conduct. It also reminds one of the ultimate mystery of God’s election."
Q: In Jn 10:28-29, what does this say about the possibility of one of Jesus’ sheep losing his or her salvation and going to Hell?
A: This verse clearly teaches that God will ensure that nobody, be it demons or humans, can forcibly take our salvation away from us. Romans 8:35-36 also says that nothing can separate us from God’s love. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.311 says the Greek is "they will indeed not ever perish". It also says that the word for snatch, harpasei, is related to the word for ravenous wolf: harpax. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1527 for more on eternal life not being conditional a person’s behavior.
Nevertheless, a non-elect person can convince the world, and even himself, that he is a Christians, and later choose to fall away from a profession of faith in Christ.
However, some Christians say that while nobody can take away our salvation, genuine Christians can choose to jump out of God’s hand themselves and go to Hell. This verse neither confirms nor denies that view.
David O’Brien in Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.307-310 says that a believer can never "misplace" their salvation, meaning no believer can sin so bad that that, unknown to them, their salvation is lost. Our staying saved is not maintained by works any more than our getting saved is by works. However, a genuine believer could consciously choose to "give back" his or her salvation to God. Then, they would be like those who knew the truth, and crucified Jesus.
On the other hand, see Ron Rhodes’ book, the Complete Book of Bible Answers 190-193 for the view that once a person is saved, nothing or nobody, (not even himself) can separate that person from what God has promised.
Q: In Jn 10:28-29, what is your view on eternal security (once-saved-always-saved)?
A: I believe in once-saved-always-saved for two reasons:
a) From a timeless perspective, it is an intrinsic contradiction for God to "know" that a person is saved, and then find out that He was wrong and the person is not saved. Actually, this could be summarized as "once an elect always and elect". (By the way, I am not a Calvinist).
b) From a perspective within time, God promises to set His seal of the Holy Spirit on us guaranteeing our inheritance. No one can snatch us out of God’s hand (John 10, I think). All who have been "... justified will be glorified" (Romans 8).
Here are some verses on that.
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Salvation is a gift of grace, not earned by works. No merit on our part can save us. Eph 2:8-9; 2 Tim 1:9; Tt 3:5; Acts 26:20; Rom 3:23-24; 4:5; 6:14-15; 9:32; 11:5-6; Gal 3:2,3,10-14
Real faith bears fruit, because faith without works is dead. Jms 2:14-26;~1 Jn 3:17-19
All true believers work to obey God and express love for God and people. 1 Jn 3:14-15
Believers can be confident of their eternal life. 1 Jn 4:17; 5:11-19; 3:24; 4:13; Eph 3:12
God not only saves us, He also seals & preserves us. Ep1:13-14;Jud24;1Tm1:14
On the other hand, I have seen the doctrine of once-saved-always-saved used in a false, unbalanced way. A lady told me one time about her college son who left home and went to live in California with his girlfriend. She knew that he was going to Heaven anyway though, because he walked the aisle in a church.
Once-saved-always-saved is true, but one must also know the "balancing doctrine" of counterfeit conversion. Some people who are not saved will be able to fool others, and even themselves, in thinking they are saved. Here are verses on that.
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We must examine ourselves, for counterfeit Christians can be deceived. 2 Cor 13:5
Believers must be diligent to the very end in order to make their hope sure. Heb 6:11
Some can have a false assurance of salvation Jer 17:10, even if they:
• Have the form of godliness; know the scriptures. 2 Tim 3:5; Jn 5:39-47
• Believe (in an intellectual, not a saving sense), are baptized. Acts 8:13,20; Jms 2:19
• At least themselves believed they prophesied in Jesus’ name, drove out demons, and performed many mighty miracles. Mt 7:21-23; 2 Th 2:9-10
• Once escaped the world’s corruption by knowing our Lord and Savior.2 Pet 2:17-22
We can have confidence in our salvation, we can KNOW we have eternal life (1 John 5). Yet we also have a responsibility to examine ourselves and be on our guard.
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We are responsible to watch our life & doctrine closely. 2 Tim 1:14; Col 1:23;Prov 22:5
Not to follow wisdom of this world. Col 2:8-9; Jms3:15;1 Cor 1:17-27;2:6,8,14; 2 Cor 1:12
Persevere. Heb 10:23,36; 12:1,12-13; 1 Jn 2:24; 1 Cor 13:7; Rom 5:3-4; Jms 1:3-4,12; 5:11; 2 Pet 1
Though I am not a Calvinist (I affirm universal aspects of the atonement), I do hold to perseverance of the saints, which I consider to be a blend of these two doctrines.
a) Once-saved-always-saved: God will not let anyone get unsaved
b) Counterfeit conversion: All the truly saved, even if they stray, will come back to God. Otherwise, they were not truly saved.
Q: In Jn 10:30, does this prove Modalism is true, since Jesus and the Father are One?
A: No. According to Novatian’s Treatise on the Trinity chapter 27, and Greek grammar, the Greek word is One (neuter), not One (masculine, so they are one in character and essence but not one in person. See When Cultists Ask p.176-177 and The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.149 for more info.
Q: Does Jn 10:30 show that Jesus is God?
A: It shows that Jesus is God in a greater way than humans who were so-called gods. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.120-121 for more info.
Q: In Jn 10:30, how are the Father and Jesus one?
A: Scripture reveals many ways in which they are one.
One: Here are a few of the ways.
1. They share common titles
|Old Testament reference
||New Testament Reference
Job 33:4; Isaiah 40:28
John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17
Psalm 106:21; Isaiah 45:21-23
John 4:42; Eph 5:23; Acts 4:12
Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 10:21
Mt 1:23; Jn 1:1; Rom 9:5; Col 2:9
Exodus 3:14; Dt 32:39
John 8:24,58; 13:19; 18:5,6
Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12
First and Last
Revelation 1:17; 2:8; 22:13
Dt 32:4; Psalm 28:1
1 Corinthians 10:4; Mt 16:18
Psalm 27:1; Micah 7:8
Luke 2:32; John 1:9; 8:12
Gen 18:25; Ps 58:11; Joel 3:12
Rev 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10; 2 Tim 4:1
Jesus is called Everlasting Father, which may refer to being the source of everlasting life. (Isaiah 9:6)
Ambrose of Milan (c.378 A.D.) in his work, Of the Holy Spirit Book 1 chapter 13, wrote more on the sharing of the divine names. See The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 2nd Series p.110-111 for more info.
2. They have the same nature. Philippians 2:5
3. They are the same honor. John 5:23
4. The Father and Jesus "own" all in common. John 16:15;17:10.
5. On earth the Father lived in Jesus. John 10:38;14:10-11.
6. On earth Jesus was in the Father. John 10:38;14:11
7. If you really know Jesus, then you know the Father and have seen the Father. John 14:7-9
8. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. John 14:6;6:45;~8:24; Acts 3:12
9. Both are rightfully worshipped. Hebrews 1:6
10. Both are rightfully called God. John 1:1; 20:28, Hebrews 1:8,9
11. Both are prayed to. Acts 7:7:59-60
12. Everything in the world was created through both of them. John 1:3, 10, Colossians 1:16
13. The fullness of deity is in Jesus. Colossians 1:19
14. They are one in spirit, love, and purpose. To truly obey one is to obey the other. ~John 14:23-24
However, they are not the same in every way.
1. They are distinct. Jesus was not a ventriloquist. Matthew 3:16; John 8:18.
2. The Father, Jesus, and us all share some things, like eternal life.John16:13-15
The Father does not have some things we share with Jesus after His human birth. Hebrews 1:6-10;2:14;7:3
3. The Father did not become, progress, or turn into Jesus. Hebrews 13:8;1:9; John 14:10,24,26;15:1;16:27-8,32;17:5
4. Jesus did not become, progress, or turn into the Father. Hebrews 13:8; ~Revelation 5:13; John 20:17; 14:10,24,26; 15:1
5. Jesus was forsaken at Calvary. Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46
6. As close as they were on earth, Jesus still would be going to the Father. John 14:12; Mark 16:19; John 20:11
Athanasius summarized this well, by saying "United without confusion, distinguished without separation. Indivisible and without degrees." Sermon on Luke 10:22
The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1528 has a slightly different answer. While saying that they are one in all their attributes, it says that in this passage, Jesus is referring to the Father and Him being one in power.
Q: In Jn 10:34, are human beings gods, too?
A: No. There are five points to consider in the answer.
Countless numbers of people have falsely claimed to be gods.
No human being is true God, besides Jesus.
Some men were appointed as "elohim" in the Bible. Moses was as God (elohim) to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1), in that Pharaoh was expected to obey God’s message given through Moses.
The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.309 and the NKJV also say Elohim refers to Judges in Exodus 21:6. In 1 Samuel 2:25, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.309 and the KJV says this refers to judges, and the NKJV says this refers to God. The NIV used "judges" but puts "God" in the footnote. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.3 p.586 says on 1 Samuel 2:25. "As the NIV margin indicates, we cannot always be sure whether (elohim) means "God" or "(the) judges" in certain contexts. … Here in verse 25, and in the Exodus passages, it is perhaps best to leave the question moot, since in any case the "judges" (if such they be) are viewed as God’s representatives who reflect his will and carry out his desires."
In Psalm 82:6 "elohim" refers to mere people, and it is translated as judge in the KJV, NKJV. It is also mentioned to be judge in The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.142 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.111. Christians disagree as to whether Psalm 82:6 is speaking in irony, calling evil men [so-called] "gods", or whether it is saying the appointed judges "elohim" were corrupt.
Regardless, the "elohim" in Psalm 82:6 judge unjustly, walk in darkness, and die like men.
See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.58, When Cultists Ask p.177-178, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.373-374 for more info.
Q: In Jn 10:34-36, why did Jesus refer to Ps 82:6 here?
A: Jesus was using three concepts of Scripture as a "lever" to try to pry open the minds of the Jews.
For the fulcrum (pivot) of the lever, Jesus relied upon their correct understanding that there was only One God.
On the high side of the lever, Jesus used the concept that in Scripture even wicked men were called "elohim" in Psalm 82. Now some see Psalm 82 as written in irony (sarcastically) about these men who stood as "gods’ but will still die in the dust. However, others see that men who stood as judges were called the title of "elohim", because they stood in God’s place, dispensing God’s justice. Psalm 82 was referring to corrupt judges. As to exactly what was meant when people were called Elohim in the Old Testament, see the previous question. Regardless though, mortal men in Psalm 82 were called elohim, in some sense of the word.
On the low side of the lever, since it was OK for people to read out loud this Psalm, and call these men "elohim", undeserving though they be, how much more fitting is it to call Jesus "elohim", since Jesus is the only begotten son of God. Jesus was not explaining all the details of the relationship between Him and the Father here, nor did He go into detail about how the Trinity is One God (the fulcrum) but Three Persons. Rather, Jesus is simply saying here that if these wicked guys were called elohim, ponder that Jesus might be elohim in a greater sense.
As When Cultists Ask p.177-178 mentions, a "how much more" type of argument is called an "a fortiori" argument.
See also Hard Sayings of the Bible p.279-280 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1528 for more info.
Q: In Jn 10:37-38, why is Jesus saying to at least believe in His works, if they are not going to believe in Him?
A: Jesus never said that believing in His works was sufficient for salvation. In Acts 8:13,18-19, Simon believed in the truth of the miracles, yet he was not saved.
Rather, Jesus was astonished, that seeing what Jesus did, they did not even take the first step and believe in the reality of the miracles. This would not be sufficient, but it would be a bridge so that perhaps later they would believe the one who performed the miracles.
Q: Does Jn 10:37-38 indicate that believing in Jesus’ works, and not Jesus, is sufficient for salvation?
A: No. It means that if they can at least believe in Jesus’ works, and believe in them being from God, that is a first step to believing in Jesus.
Q: In Jn 11:3, what was the basis of the appeal to Jesus here?
A: Mary and Martha did not say to come because Lazarus loves You, or because we love You. Rather they said to come because the one You love is sick. 1 John 4:19 says that we love God because He first loved us, not the other way around. When we pray to God, do not ask God to grant our request because of our righteousness, love, or works. Rather, ask Him because of His promises and His love for us. Of course, God can still say no to what is not best of us or in His will.
Q: In Jn 11:4, why did Jesus say Lazarus was not sick unto death, since Lazarus later died in Jn 11:11-14,17?
A: Jesus here obviously had a different perspective than the disciples. God in general has a different perspective, both on death and what is possible. In this case, Jesus knew Lazarus would come back to life, and Jesus spoke the way He did to emphasize that fact. See When Critics Ask p.417-418 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Jn 11:6, why did Jesus delay before seeing his sick friend Lazarus?
A: The ultimate answer is in John 11:15. Because of Jesus’ delay, Lazarus died, and raising Lazarus from the dead would be a greater demonstration of his power.
Did Jesus, knowing all of this, deliberately choose to delay for this reason? Or, did Jesus not deliberately choose this, but delayed going until the Father guided Him to go, and this was the result. Scripture does not say, and it could be either way.
Q: In Jn 11:9, how are there twelve hours of daylight, since the day is shorter in winter and longer in summer?
A: While Jesus primarily was teaching about ministry, not astronomy here, He was very precise here. Regardless of latitude, there are exactly 12 hours of daylight per day over the course of an entire year. Sometimes today we are so caught up in the hour-to-hour schedule, or the current season, that we fail to see how things average out over time.
Q: In Jn 11:16, why did Thomas say to go, so that we may die with him?
A: Thomas was committed but confused. In addition to Thomas’ courage, Scripture does not say what other reasons prompted Thomas to make this strange but remark. Here are two speculations.
Despair: Perhaps Thomas that that the authorities would probably find Jesus and arrest the disciples. Today, even in despair we still are supposed to follow Jesus, even unto death. Paul also felt despair in 1 Corinthians 1.
Lack of Faith: Perhaps Thomas thought that while Jesus could do miracles, not even Jesus could raise the dead. When Thomas said, "let us die with him", Thomas obviously had no expectation that Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead. Today, even when we have doubts, we should be like the convulsing boy’s father who told Jesus, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." in Mark 9:24.
Q: In Jn 11:23-25, what is Jesus saying here about the resurrection?
A: To say that the resurrection is just an event, is to truthfully speak of its secondary meaning, but neglect the primary reason behind the meaning. Jesus is the resurrection means that as Jesus had the power to raise Himself from the dead, in Jesus is the power for our resurrection from death too.
Q: In Jn 11:26, why did Jesus say those who believe in Him would never die?
A: They would have eternal life, first on earth and then in Heaven. Jesus did not say they would never die, but "he will live, even though he dies" (NIV). See When Critics Ask p.419 for more info.
Q: In Jn 11:33,38, why was Jesus troubled?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. Jesus was visibly troubled, because John 11:36 shows the crowd noticed this.
2. John 11:36 also implies the crowd assumed Jesus was troubled because of His love of Lazarus and his sorrow at Lazarus’ "permanent" death.
3. While Jesus did greatly love Lazarus, Scripture does not actually state the real reason why Jesus was visibly troubled.
4. Jesus might have been troubled, not because of Lazarus’ physical condition, but because of the fragile spiritual conditions of his sisters and others.
Q: In Jn 11:42, why was Jesus saying things to God in His prayers that were for the sake of the people?
A: Rather than being insincere, Jesus was being very candid and honest. Jesus was not saying "please hear me better than you usually do", or even "please hear me", but rather thanking the Father who already promised to hear him. If Jesus had not said "I know you hear" me, the people might have misunderstood and that He was asking God to hear Him.
Today, there is a difference between praying and praying in faith. As someone once said, if ever you feel that a little prayer will not do much harm, it probably will not do much good either. It is not disrespectful to "stand on the promises of God", and pray with assurance that God keeps His promises.
Q: In Jn 11:43, why did Jesus say, "Lazarus, come forth?
A: If Jesus had simply said. "come forth", then perhaps everyone who had died who come to life at that time. Jesus will not say that until later. I suppose that Jesus, being who He was, had to be very careful of His words.
Q: In Jn 11:44, how could Lazarus walk out, since he was bound hand and foot?
A: As When Critics Ask p.418 mentions, corpses were wrapped in linen, they were not tightly bound like the Egyptians bodies. Nothing here prevented Lazarus from walking.
Q: In Jn 11:46, why did some go and tell the Pharisees what Jesus did?
A: It probably was not due to any love to Jesus. They may have been acting as the "eyes and ears" of the Pharisees.
Q: In Jn 11:47-51, why did the Pharisees act the way they did?
A: The Pharisees clearly were at a loss on what to do. Their goal was to maintain their position, not follow God. They wanted to see public support for Jesus taken away, but they could not do so with Jesus performing these miracles.
Q: In Jn 11:49-52, why did Caiphas give a true prophecy, since He rejected Jesus?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. Caiphas was someone who rejected Jesus and wanted Jesus dead; Caiphas was displeasing to God.
2. The words Caiphas said were a true prophecy, though the meaning (Christ’s atoning for the world), was not Caiphas’s intended meaning.
3. God can use whom He wishes to reveal prophecy and truth; even evil men who displease Him.
4. Thus, if someone gives a prophecy, that does not automatically prove he or she is a godly person. Two other passages that support this conclusion are Numbers 22:32-33 (Balaam) and 1 Samuel 19:18-24 (Saul and his men).
Q: In Jn 12:3, why did Jesus permit the expensive perfume to be used on Him?
A: Since Jesus is God, Jesus is worthy of worship and adoration. Jesus accepted her love and reverence toward Him, and Jesus allowed others to see and learn from her example.
Q: In Jn 12:6, why did Jesus permit Judas to be a disciple, since Judas was a thief and a future traitor?
A: After he became a disciple, Judas was a thief according to John 12:4-6. God can use whatever means He chooses to carry out His plan. The betrayal of Jesus was a part of God’s plan, as Psalm 41:9, Acts 2:23, Matthew 26:24,54, Mark 14:21, Luke 22:22, and John 13:18 show.
Judas betraying Jesus was an evil thing, but God used this bad thing as a part of His plan to accomplish good, in this case, Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. This is an example of what is called "concurrency".
Q: In Jn 12:28-29, why did the Father speak, but the people did not understand?
A: The Father only wanted Jesus to understand. God Almighty is also an almighty communicator. He can make his message clear to whoever He wishes to hear, and either unheard or else nonsense, like an unbreakable secret code, to those who are not to understand it. As Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6;13;22 says, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says…"
Q: In Jn 12:31 and Jn 16:11, who is the prince of this world?
A: This is Satan, whom Jesus drove out. Other verses that refer to Satan as having influence over this world are 1 John 5:19, Ephesians 2:2, and 2 Corinthians 4:4.
Q: In Jn 12:32, how are all drawn unto Jesus?
A: The Greek simply says, "all". It does not specify either "all people" or "all the elect", and perhaps both were in mind.
All people: After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the Holy Spirit came into the world to testify of Christ (John 15:26), and to convict the world with respect to sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 15:8-11). The offer of the Gospel is sincerely and freely given to everyone, for all have a responsibility to obey it (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
All the Heaven-bound (elect): Everyone who goes to Heaven, even before Christ lived, goes to Heaven through Jesus (John 14:6). There is no other name (Acts 14:12), by which we can be saved.
Q: In Jn 12:34, why did the people say the law said the Messiah would abide forever?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. As The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.318 says, Daniel 7:13-14 says the Son of man will reign forever. However, the book of Daniel is not apart of the Law (Torah).
2. John 12:34 does not say this was a part of the law. It only says that the crowd spoke out that this was a part of the Law. In John 7:49, the Pharisees accused the crowd of knowing nothing of the Law.
3. However, if the crowd meant the Old Testament, when they used the word "Law", then this would be correct, though imprecise.
4. Regardless, of the correctness of what the crowd said, John is merely recording what they said.
Q: In Jn 12:37-40, why did some not believe even after all these miracles?
A: Sometimes things have a direct cause, and also a cause causing the direct cause, and finally an ultimate cause. That is the case here.
Direct cause: They did not turn to Christ because they chose not to follow Him.
Luke 7:30, Hebrews 4:2, Jeremiah 17:4, and other verses clearly show this. However, that is not the point of John 12:37-40.
Indirect cause: They could not believe, for God blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts If they had turned to Christ, God would have healed them, but God blinded them so that they would not come to the truth in their blindness. That is the main point of John 12:37-40 and Isaiah 6:10.
Ultimate cause (Supralapsarian view): Why would God choose to do this? A very small minority of Christians, called Supralapsarian Calvinists, say that God wanted to choose to decree that these people (called the reprobate) would go to Hell even before God chose to provide a way (through Christ) for anyone to go to Heaven. In other words, through God’s secret will that Supralapsarian Calvinists do not claim anyone can understand, God desired this. According to a dissertation by a Calvinist (Curt Daniel p.69), he estimates that no more than 5% of Calvinists have been Supralapsarians. According to Daniel, supralapsarians include Theodore Beza. He says that Hyper-Calvinists are those who reject the free offer of the Gospel to all. These include A.W. Pink (p.88) and John Gill (p.86,126). Loraine Boettner, a well-known Calvinist, in his book, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, p.129, estimates that only 1% of Calvinists are supralapsarians. On p.127, Boettner has some strong words on this form of Calvinism: "Supralapsarianism goes to as great an extreme on the one side as does universalism on the other."
Ultimate cause (the view of most other Calvinists): God only decided who the reprobate would be after He had chosen Christ as the way of salvation. Beyond this, they seem to pass on answering this question, saying only that this is a part of God’s secret, unrevealed will.
Ultimate cause (a mainstream view): Foreknowledge preceded God’s election in the two places there are mentioned together in the Bible. While the two could go hand-in-hand, nothing prevents God from electing who would go to Heaven and who would go to Hell based on His foreknowledge of what they would be, what choices they would make, and how God would choose to work in their life.
Q: In Jn 12:38-41, why did God appear not to want many to believe in Jesus?
A: In most times and cultures, believing in Christ has been an "uphill" struggle.
John 12:40 says that God did not want some to turn and be healed.
John 12:41 gives an example, that while many Pharisees believed in Jesus, they loved the praise of man more than the praise from God.
John 12:47-48 says that God does approve of those who hear Christ’s words (and even believe them) if they do not keep Christ’s words.
Apparently, God does not place great value in the faith of those who prefer the approval of men more than God’s approval.
However, John 12:40 and 12:46 also shows that God will ensure that absolutely nobody who truly believes in Christ will remain in darkness. This not only relates to eternal darkness, but it also relates to darkness in this life, as 1 John 3:6,9 and 1 John 4:20 show.
Q: In Jn 12:42-43, since many among the rulers believed in Jesus, why did they not follow Jesus?
A: There is a difference between merely intellectually believing He could do the miracles, and trusting your life over to following Him.
Q: In Jn 13:1-17, should footwashing be a ceremony we do today?
A: It is a good thing to wash each other’s feet. It can be a way of humbly demonstrating that you esteem others as better than yourselves. However, nothing in Scripture says it should be a ceremony, or an institution, as the Mennonites practice. Tertullian (200-220 A.D.) in de Corona ch.8 mentions the time Christ washed his disciples’ feet, but he does not mention any standard ceremony.
Q: In Jn 13:3, how did Jesus prepare to go to God, since Jesus was God?
A: The word "God", referring to True God, has at last four meanings: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and God in Trinity. The Father’s role of being God of Jesus is actually a fairly common concept in Scripture. Ten examples are
John 20:17 "I [Jesus] am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."
Hebrews 1:9 "…therefore God, your God,…"
Probably 1 Peter 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!…"
Probably Ephesians 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,…"
Ephesians 1:17 "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ"
Romans 15:6 "…you may glorify the God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ."
Matthew 27:46 "…my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Probably 2 Corinthians 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"
Revelation 1:6 "…has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father…"
Probably 1 Corinthians 11:3 "and the head of Christ is God" (However, Ambrose thought God here was the Trinity, not the Father).
(quotes are from the NIV)
Some see that the Father still has the role of Christ’s God even after Christ’s ascension. Others, such as The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.110-111, say that the Father was Jesus’ God only while Jesus was on earth.
Q: In Jn 13:4-17, why exactly did Jesus wash the feet of His disciples?
A: It is interesting that Jesus performed this service prior to explaining its meaning in John 13:12-17.
Jesus said He did this as an example for us. Genuine Christians disagree on whether we need to wash each other’s feet literally. Regardless, Christians all agree we should serve one another with the sincerity, humility, and sacrifice that Jesus set for us in His example.
Q: In Jn 13:19, was Jesus calling Himself by the Divine name here?
A: Yes. The Greek here is ego eimi, and Aland and Green do not show any manuscript variations here. Jay P. Green’s Literal Translation says, "before the happening, that when it happens you may believe that I AM." The NASB, KJV, and NKJV say "…believe that I am He." (italics in the original). The NRSV says "…believe that I am he." The Believers Bible Commentary p.1543 also points out that Jesus was calling Himself by the Divine name here. Williams translation says "I am the Christ" with a footnote saying "Grk., that I am He."
Q: In Jn 13:21, why was Jesus troubled here, since Jesus had already known Judas would betray Him?
A: Though Jesus had intellectually known what would happen, and how it would turn out. However, as the time approached, He was emotionally upset at what He knew He would have to endure.
Q: In Jn 13:26 (KJV), what is a "sop"?
A: The King James Version expression refers to a piece of bread after it has been dipped in a broth or sauce.
Q: In Jn 13:34 and 1 Jn 2:7-8, how is loving one another a new command?
A: We are not just to like one another. Jesus commands us to love one another as He loved us. By his impending crucifixion, Jesus was finally showing just how much He loved them. In 1 Jn 2:7-8, John acknowledges that loving one another is an old command, but John also wants us to acknowledge that loving one another, as Christ loved us, is a new command. John also emphasizes love being an old and new command in 2 John 5.
Q: In Jn 13:40, did God blind unbelievers, or did the god of this age (Satan) as 2 Cor 4:4 says?
A: While God and Satan could both be doing the same or similar things separately, that is probably not the correct meaning here. God often uses Satan as His instrument. When one person refuses to follow the truth that they know, God can "judicially harden" that person, as they have forfeited their opportunity to see more truth. God can use Satan as his tool to do this.
Q: In Jn 14:2, how are there many mansions in Heaven?
A: There probably are many types of mansions in Heaven, as well as many mansions in Heaven.
1. There are differing levels of rewards in Heaven; one could think of this as differing types of mansions. Basil (357-379 A.D.) taught this view, saying there were "differences of dignities". (On the Spirit 16.40)
2. In addition, there is a place in Heaven for every single person who is going to be saved, without any overcrowding. While the offer of salvation is made to all people without exception, there will be no empty mansions in Heaven.
Q: In Jn 14:6, is it just Jesus, and not His words, that are the way, truth and life, as Rev. Moon taught?
A: No. First here is what the alleged Messiah Rev. Moon said, and then what the Bible says in opposition.
Rev. Moon’s Divine Principle p.131 "Jesus did not say that His word was the truth but that he himself was the truth, way and the life (John 14:6). This is because His words were only a means of expressing himself as the truth... We can understand that the New Testament was given as a textbook for the teaching of truth to the people of 2,000 years ago... In consequence, today the truth must appear with a higher standard and with a scientific method of expression in order to enable intelligent modern men to understand it."
Refutation: Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Luke 21:22
"Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. ... He who does not love me will not obey my teaching." John 14:23-24
You cannot claim to follow and obey Jesus and yet reject His words.
Q: In Jn 14:6, how is Jesus the way, the truth, and the life?
A: Jesus’ choice of words is fascinating here.
A way is the path to follow to a destination. It is not a "point" but rather a series of points. We are supposed to be on one of the series of points. In addition, we are supposed to be progressing from point to point in the correct direction.
Truth includes correct facts and logic, but it also means much more than that. Truth is what lives inside us, what is to characterize our life, what we are to love, and what we are to practice. A life built on a lie is no truth of all. The western conceptions of "correctness" and "reality" both are combined in the Biblical concept of truth.
Life is both our experience in living, the reality of our living, and that which sustains our living. Elsewhere the Bible uses metaphors of the water of life, and a creature’s life is in its blood.
Q: In Jn 14:6, can anyone go to Heaven apart from Jesus?
A: No. Many in the Old Testament went to Paradise without hearing the name of Jesus. Today, nothing hinders God from having babies who die, and never had the Holy Spirit inside of them, from going to Heaven.
However, no one can come to the Father except through Jesus, according to Jesus in John 14:6. One would think that Jesus would be in a good position to know.
Also, Acts 4:12 says that there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we may be saved. Philippians 2:10-11 says that in the end every know will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.500-502 for more info.
Q: In Jn 14:6, can anyone go to Heaven who never heard the name of Jesus?
A: Babies who die, the severely retarded, and old Testament believers never heard of Jesus. Yet God is not restricted from having them go to Heaven through Jesus.
Q: In Jn 14:9, since Jesus said that anyone who saw Him has seen the Father show that the Father has a physical body, too?
A: No. On the contrary, this verse is better used to show that the Father does not have a physical body. Since anyone who has seen Jesus has seen the Father (who lives in Jesus), this verse implies (though does not prove) that the Father would not have a physical body. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.84-85 for more info.
Q: In Jn 14:10-11, how did the Father dwell in Jesus?
A: Perhaps in a way somewhat similar to how Jesus dwells in us. The Father, Son, and Spirit are still distinct, but nothing in Scripture says there is a separation between them. As Patrick of Ireland pointed out, if the lobes of a three-leaf clover can be distinct but not separate, then the Trinity can have three distinct, but not separate persons.
Q: In Jn 14:12, how do Christians do greater works than Jesus did?
A: The greater works we are to do is not to be understood as us "showing off", but rather greater and more numerous works for the kingdom. Christians did greater works than Jesus had done up to that time in at least four complementary ways.
Significance: While Jesus fed 4,000 and 5,000 people, Acts 2:41 records that with the apostles preaching over 3,000 were saved. Surely getting people saved is more important than just feeding them for a day.
Numbers: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.9 p.145 mentions that more people are mentioned as saved in Acts 2:41 than in all of Jesus’ entire ministry on earth.
Method: The Holy Spirit was not poured out on all peoples until Pentecost. The promise that they would do greater things is wrapped up in Jesus’ promise of the Comforter coming to them in John 14:15-18, 25
Area: While Jesus never left a fairly small geographic area while on earth, Jesus sent his followers not only to Judea and Samaria, but to the ends of the earth in Acts 1:8.
See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.58-59, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.502-503, Now That’s a Good Question p.48-49, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1546 for more info.
Q: In Jn 14:13-14, why is this statement on asking in Jesus’ name not qualified?
A: It is qualified in two ways.
Explicitly: Jesus used the word "you" here, and Jesus was speaking directly to the disciples, not everyone who claimed to follow God.
Implicitly: We are praying to our Heavenly Father, and our Heavenly Father knows what is best for us even more than our earthly fathers.
Q: In Jn 14:16, what does the term "Helper" mean?
A: Among other things, the Greek word "helper" here meant a legal advocate for the defense, according to the New Geneva Study Bible p.1692..
Q: In Jn 14:16-26; 15:26; 16:5-15, was Mohammed prophesied in the New Testament as the Paracletos, or Holy Spirit like some Muslims claim?
A: No. If this were true, then Muslims would believe these five things (which they generally do not).
1. Mohammed glorified Jesus. (John 16:14)
2. Allah sent Mohammed in Jesus’ name. (John 14:26)
3. Mohammed was also sent by Jesus too. (John 16:7)
4. Mohammed took Jesus’ wisdom and made it known to us. (John 16:15)
5. Mohammed was "in" the apostles. (John 16:17)
Thus, no knowledgeable Muslim would believe these verses refer to Mohammed. These verses must refer to another, who was sent from God.
On the other hand, maybe Muslims should glorify Jesus, if they think that Mohammed did, based on these verses. However, one imam told me that Muslims should praise and glorify Jesus, though not worship Him.
By the way, the word is parakletos/on is in John 14:6 in p75 (Bodmer 14/15) dated late second or possibly third century, p66 dated middle second century, and Sinaiticus. Also, Tertullian taught that the paraclete, the Comforter was working in people’s hearts in his time (193 A.D.) in On Monogamy ch.3 p.61
Archelaus (262-278 A.D.) also discussed how the Paraclete in John 14-16 is the God the Holy Spirit in Disputation with Manes ch.34-35 p.208-209
See When Cultists Ask p.182-183 and When Critics Ask p.419-420 for more info.
Q: In Jn 14:22-24, how is Jesus revealed to Christians and not to the world?
A: Admittedly everyone can know something about Jesus. However, only Christians know Jesus personally, because Jesus lives in our hearts.
Q: In Jn 14:27, how does the peace of Jesus, the prince of peace, differ from the peace of the world?
A: The peace of the world is external, and temporary because it depends on external circumstances. The peace of Jesus is internal as well as external, and it is long-lasting because it is independent of external circumstances.
Q: In Jn 14:27-28, how is the Father greater than Jesus?
A: On earth, Jesus had emptied Himself, and of course the Father was greater than Jesus then. In Heaven, Jesus has a subordinate role to the Father. The God of Jesus is the Father. See 1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:25-28; Matthew 12:18; Ephesians 1:3,17; John 1:33; 14:16,26,28; Romans 8:26-27.
The Father is not greater than Jesus in two ways:
Nature (Philippians 2:6). (For more info, see Hilary’s work On the Trinity 9:2 and 7:27.)
Honor. See John 5:18; 5:23; Colossians 2:9-10; (Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 1:8 vs. Revelation 1:17-18; 22:13)
As John 5:18 shows, a father is equal in nature to the son he begets. Otherwise, your father must be greater than you, your grandfather greater than him, and your hundredth ancestor must have been one super guy. People make things but "beget" only people. God made created things but "begets" only God, his only begotten Son. They both receive honor and praise in Revelation 5:9,12-14.
Now That’s a Good Question p.43-44 distinguishes between the falsehood of "inferiority" of the Son, and the true concept of the "subordination" of the Son. R.C. Sproul adds, "This is one of the reasons the church has always confessed a doctrine called the subordination of Christ." For more info, see 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.27, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.375, When Critics Ask p.420, The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.110, and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.503-505.
Q: In Jn 15:1 (KJV), what is a husbandman?
A: This is a farmer or one who took care of the vines and crops.
Q: In Jn 15:3, how could Jesus say they were all clean, since Judas betrayed Jesus?
A: Remember, by this time, Judas had already left and was not present when Jesus was speaking.
Q: In Jn 15:4, how do Christians abide in Jesus?
A: In a number of ways.
Trust Him to guide us step by step.
Obeying Jesus, not just because of duty, but prompt, complete, and joyful obedience because we know that God’s way is the best way.
Prayer should be a key distinguishing characteristic of our lives.
Longing for Jesus, to be with Him, and praying for His return.
Q: In Jn 15:6, does a branch being cast away mean a genuine believer can lose their salvation?
A: This verse says that one who does not remain in Jesus can be cast away and burned. Beyond this, there are two ways of interpreting this verse.
1. All should agree that since God knows everything, and God knew who would go to Heaven (the elect) before anyone was born, some will go to Hell even though they were in the church and had the appearance of being Christians. However, none of the elect will be lost, and all of the reprobate will be, because the Omniscient God knew beforehand.
2. Genuine Christians disagree on whether a person can be truly born again and later either lose their salvation, or choose to walk away from their salvation and go to Hell. See the discussion on Hebrews 6:4-14 and Ephesians 1:14 for more on this issue.
Q: In Jn 15:8, how do believers bear fruit in Christ?
A: Believers bear fruit in at least three ways:
Christ-likeness: Internally we should bear the fruit of the Spirit and it should show that we are in the process of becoming more godly.
Charity and Contributions: We should help both believers and non-believers with our time, money, and helping the oppressed.
Converts and disciples: We can help by preparing the soil, sowing the seed of the Gospel, and harvesting to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ. We can also disciple other Christians and helping to bring back stragglers.
Q: In Jn 15:14-15, should we still call ourselves servants of Christ?
A: Peter, who heard these words firsthand, would be in the best position to understand Jesus’ meaning. In 2 Peter 1:1 Peter called himself a servant (actually bondslave) of Jesus. In Romans 1:1, Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1, and James 1:1, Paul and James also refer to themselves as slaves of Christ Jesus.
Regardless of whether one interprets this as Jesus not calling the disciples "just servants", or "servants", Jesus is saying what He does not just call them servants. Jesus is not addressing what God’s children should call themselves.
Q: In Jn 15:16, in what sense did they not choose Christ but Christ chose them?
A: There are two ways to view this passage.
The immediate context is the ordination as apostles. Christ could have chosen anyone to be His apostles, and He chose them. He blessed them by choosing them; they were not doing Jesus any favors.
A general context of God’s election to salvation is seen by some.
Regardless of whether you believe this particular passage has this intended meaning, the Bible teaches that God chose us before the beginning of time. Thus, it is obvious that God chose us prior to us choosing Him. Furthermore, Romans 3:11-12, and other passages show that we would not even be able to choose God were it not for God’s working in our lives.
Q: In Jn 15:16, what is fruit that remains versus fruit that does not remain?
A: 1 Corinthians 4:12 enlightens us here. Works allegedly done for God, but done for pride, envy or other evil motives, God will not honor or reward. Likewise things done, not for ungodly motives, but for non-godly motives, such as financial wealth, will be judged appropriately too.
There are at least three kinds of fruit.
Internal: Character has been defined as who you are when you think nobody is looking.
External: Our actions bring forth fruit, either good or bad.
Financial: Our contributions to God’s work and to the poor and needy are noted, as Simon’s were in Acts 10.
Evangelism and discipleship: In Philippians Paul said that the Philippians themselves were Paul’s joy and crown.
Our children and those we watch over in the church: Included in the previous is how we raise our children, and how elders watch over those in their charge. They are responsible for their own decisions, but we have a responsibility as we watch over them.
Q: In Jn 15:18, how did the world hate Jesus?
A: In two ways:
By name: People usually do not use the names of Buddha, Confucius, or Mohammed in vain. They only seem to use "God" and "Jesus" in vain.
By character: Some reject anything to do with Christ. While some know much about Christ and then reject Him; others deliberately do not want to know anything of Christ.
Q: In Jn 15:22,24, how did the coming of Jesus make some more liable for their sin?
A: The good news is that God does not hold people accountable for what they do not know (Romans 4:15; 5:12). The flip-side is that 2 Peter 2:22 and other verses show that people have a more or less severe judgment when they reject the truth, based upon the truth that they knew.
Q: In Jn 15:23, why cannot anyone hate Jesus without also hating the Father?
A: As part of the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same in nature, purpose, honor, and our obedience, service, and love to One is as to another.
Q: In Jn 16:2-3, how could someone think they were doing God a service by killing the disciples of Jesus?
A: People often have very warped religious views of God. The following is a partial list of persecutions of Christians by religious people, and the thousands killed (where we know).
10 Early Christian Persecutions
Christians in Israel persecuted by Jews (not Romans) under the Bar Kochba Revolt
Christians flee Ethiopian Jewish persecution
Justinian persecutes Monophysites in Egypt
Muslims persecute Christians
Catholic persecution of Waldenses
10th -12th cent.
Burning and killing heretics in Europe
Mongols kill most Nestorian Christians
At Strasbourg, Waldenses burned
Innocent IV’s bull for torture to detect heresy
Dominicans bring in the Inquisition
Dominican Inquisition under Albert
Inquisition instituted by Gregory IX
Venice under heresy for opposing Clement V
In Czechoslovakia, the Hussites revolt
Crusade against Hussites in Hungary
Hussites scare off large Holy Roman Empire Army
Spanish Inquisition by Ferdinand and Isabella
Crusade against the Waldenses
Ottoman persecution of Balkan Christians
Felix Manz and other Anabaptists killed in Zürich
Waldenses persecuted in Italy
Waldenses persecuted in Italy
At Toulouse, French kill Huguenots
In France, Catholics and Huguenots fight
Thirty Year War kills 1/3 of Germans
"Trample the crucifix" persecution in Japan
Many Waldenses killed in Italy and France
Napoleon ends the Spanish Inquisition
Christians persecuted in Vietnam
Guatemala persecutes priests; only 100 left
Protestants persecuted in Colombia
Catholics murdered in Guatemala
Severe persecution in Sudan by Muslims
Q: In Jn 16:8-11, how does the Comforter convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment?
A: In at least two ways.
Directly and internally, the Holy Spirit convicts people that they should be sorry for their sins and come to God.
Indirectly and externally, the Holy Spirit works through people to bring others to Christ.
Q: In Jn 16:12, why did Jesus not tell them everything they would need to know?
A: The answer is found in John 16:13. God eventually did tell them all they needed to ever know, they just did not learn it right then. That is why they, and us, need the Holy Spirit to leads us, giving us the guidance we need for that day.
A beautiful story illustrates this. Once there was a wealthy king who had a son that he loved very much. Once a year, the son would come to his father and request his allowance for the year. The king would give it, and he would not see his son again for a whole year. Besides loving his son, the king was wise too. The next year when the son came, the father gave his allowance for one day. If the son wanted the allowance for the next day, he had to come and talk with his dad. In a similar way, if you are a believer, and you truly are not getting what you need from God, perhaps you need to spend more time coming to Him in prayer.
See When Critics Ask p.421 for more info.
Q: In Jn 16:12-13 is the Spirit of Truth here the Baha’u’llah?
A: No, the Spirit of truth here is a spirit, not a person. It is the same Holy Spirit Jesus was just talking about in John 14-16. You cannot say in John 16:12-13 "spirit" refers to one person, and spirit refers to the Holy Spirit or something else in John 14:16-18,25-26; 15:26; 16:5-11; 16:14-15.
Q: In Jn 16:13, how does the Holy Spirit guide into all truth?
A: Westerners often think of truth primarily as in true or false statements. However, a person can be correct on many insignificant points and still miss the boat on big points. A person can be truthful when they buy and sell, and yet be serving a religion that is a lie.
The truth is Jesus, not just true doctrinal statements. It is abiding in the true Jesus that will guide us to true doctrinal statements, rather than doctrine taking the place of the Spirit leading us to Christ. Of course in Heaven, we will know all the true doctrinal statements as well.
Genuine Christians all agree on the following:
1. God is Holy, loving, good, just, almighty, knows all, and is everywhere.
2. We have sinned and all need a Savior
3. Jesus, by His death and physical resurrection, is the only means for salvation.
4. We must repent and believe in Jesus.
5. We all should live holy lives.
Many other important matters.
Genuine Christians disagree on the following:
The precise meaning of baptism, and whether it should be applied to only believers or infants, too.
Whether it is better to worship on Saturday or Sunday.
Whether it is OK to work on Saturday or Sunday.
The precise meaning of the Lord’s Supper.
Whether Christians should ever fight in a war, or lie to save a life from evil people.
The balance between God’s predestination and human free agency.
The millennium and the timing of the rapture.
The correct number of books in the Old Testament.
Whether or not genuine Christians can lose their salvation.
Other secondary matters and trivial matters.
Q: In Jn 16:13, since the Holy Spirit guides into all truth, how come there have been many disagreements among genuine Christians?
A: See the discussion on Ephesians 4:4 for the answer.
Q: In Jn 16:20-22, how would the sorrow of the disciples turn to joy?
A: This happened dramatically after the resurrection, when they saw the beloved Jesus again. It will happen to all of Christ’s disciples when we die and go to be with Jesus in Heaven.
Q: In Jn 16:23, are we supposed to pray to Jesus for things, or only ask the Father?
A: The Lord’s prayer is addressed to the Father, and it seems more prayer were to the Father than to Jesus. However, it is fine to make requests of Jesus, as Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, made two requests of Jesus. Read Acts 7:59-60, if you do not remember what they were.
Q: In Jn 16:25, why did Jesus even speak to His own disciples in parables?
A: Perhaps this simple analogy will help explain. Imagine a school teacher who taught a math class with only lecture: no homework and no tests. With no need to give feedback, the students would soon grow complacent in their learning. In addition, for subjects such as calculus, partial differential equations, and finite element analysis, the challenge is not in the equations to memorize, but the concepts to grasp and apply. While Jesus never gave out written tests, he gave out questions, riddles, and parables, instead. One had to know God’s word to even hope to understand some of it. In addition, learning mere words is not sufficient either. We need to ponder the truths to grasp the concepts God communicated to us in the Bible.
We should not feel discouraged when some parts of the Bible are difficult for us to grasp. Like it or not, Jesus admitted to sometimes even speaking in unclear terms on purpose. It seems the process of learning the deep truths of the Bible, with the associated pondering and reasoning, is almost as important as arriving at the goal of learning the deep truths themselves.
Q: In Jn 17:2, does Jesus give eternal life only to those the Father has given Jesus?
A: Yes. Christians agree that Jesus gives eternal life to all the Father has given Jesus and only those whom the Father has given Jesus. Calvinists and non-Calvinists disagree on whether our decisions and the faith God has grown in us has any role in the Father’s choosing who to give to Jesus, or not.
Q: In Jn 17:3, since Jesus said, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent", how can we call Jesus God?
A: The term "God" has different usages in the Bible. "God" refers to the Father here in John 1:1 (first occurrence) and Hebrews 1:9 (second occurrence). However, this cannot use this to prove the Jesus cannot be called God because the term "God" refers to Jesus in John 1:1 (second occurrence) and Hebrews 1:9 (first occurrence).
There appears to me to be not one but two problems with Jehovah’s Witnesses trying to say John 17:3 says we should not call Jesus God.
1) Jehovah’s Witnesses do not appear consistent with themselves. If using the word "God" for the Father here meant Jesus is not God, then using God and Lord with Jesus being the Lord would mean the Father is not Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:16a mentions ""Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God." (KJV). Since Jesus is the Lord here, does not mean the Father is not the Lord?
Similarly, David Reed’s Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.82 mentions that if calling the Father God somehow excluded Jesus from being God, then calling Jesus our "only Lord" in Jude 4 would exclude the Father from being Lord. Even worse for their case, the Holy Spirit is also called Lord in 2 Corinthians 3:17.
"God [Father] and Lord Jesus" is also mentioned in James 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 3:11,13 and other places.
2) Jehovah’s Witnesses do not appear honest with themselves here. If they say "God and Jesus means that it is not right to refer to Jesus as God, they themselves refer to Jesus as God in their translation of John 1:1 and Hebrews 1:9. What Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to say is that Jesus is not God here by the usage of God in this verse; and we can agree with that statement.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have to agree with Christians that there are different definitions / usages of the word God in scripture. Besides referring to false gods (1 Corinthians 8:5-6; Genesis 31:30,33), there are three usages of the word God that are true.
The Father. Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:2-3,17, Hebrews 1:9 (2nd occurrence) John 17:3, etc.
Jesus. Hebrews 1:9 (1st occurrence); John 1:1,19: Hosea 1:7; Isaiah 7:14; 1 John 5:11,12 vs. 21; Colossians 2:9 and Matthew 1:23
The Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9-16; Luke 1:35; 1 John 4:12,13,15-16; 1 Corinthians 3:16 vs. 1 Corinthians 6:19; Acts 5:4.
Q: In Jn 17:3a, does the Greek say "This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you…", or "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you…" (NIV) similar to most translations?
A: "It is the second which is similar to most translations; the phrase "their taking in" is a bit forced. In Greek the first verb, estin (Strong’s 2076), means "is", and comes from the word "to be". In Strong’s list of 14 connotations it can mean, "meaneth" is listed too. The second verb, ginuskusi (Strong’s 1097), means "they may know you". Strong’s Concordance says that this word is used in a great variety of applications and with many implications.
Here are various translations of John 17:3a.
"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee…" (KJV)
"And this is everlasting life, that they may know You…" (Green’s Literal Translation)
"And this is eternal life, that they may know thee/you,…" (RSV, NRSV, NASB, NKJV)
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you,…" (NIV)
"This is eternal life, that they may know You,…" (Updated NASB)
"Now eternal life means knowing you…" Williams Translation
"And this is the eternal life, namely, that they might be having an experiential knowledge of you,…" (Wuest’s Expanded Translation)
Q: In Jn 17:4, why did Jesus say He had finished His work, prior to the crucifixion?
A: On the eve of His arrest, Jesus saw there was basically nothing left for Him to do. From this point on, everything would be done to Him. Perhaps Jesus was thinking the same thing when He told Peter that he would be in a similar situation in John 21:18-19.
Q: In Jn 17:5, since Jesus Himself had to ask the Father for things, does that mean He was less than the Father?
A: No. Three points to consider in the answer.
On earth, Jesus voluntarily emptied Himself, as Philippians 2:7 shows. He got tired (John 4:6). Jesus submitted to the Father, and learned obedience, as Hebrews 5:7-8 shows.
In nature and honor, the two are the same, as Philippians 2:7 shows. As an earthly son is the same and equal nature as His parents, Jesus is the same and equal nature as the Father. Jesus has the fullness of Godhood, according to Colossians 2:9. All should honor the Son just as they honor the Father, according to Jesus in John 5:23.
In role and rank, the Father is pre-eminent within the Trinity. Even after the resurrection, the Father has the role of God, to God the Son, as Hebrews 1:8-9 and 1 Corinthians 15:24,27,28.
Q: In Jn 17:9, why did Jesus explicitly decline to pray for the whole world?
A: Jesus did not pray for anything to happen that the Father explicitly said was not going to happen. Neither should we. Here, Jesus did not pray for universalism, that every single person will be in Heaven, and Hell will be empty.
As Jesus implied in John 17:16, the world is its own system, and God’s Kingdom is another. The people of the world often do not want to be a part of God’s Kingdom and live forever worshipping God.
See When Critics Ask p.421 for more info.
Q: In Jn 17:11,21-22, how are Christians one as the Father and Son are one?
A: There are a number of ways in which we are to be one with each other as Jesus and the Father are one.
Harmony: There are no arguments or fights within the Trinity. While genuine Christians disagree on many matters, we are agreed on the essentials of the faith, and we should not argue or be divisive with other genuine Christians.
Unity of purpose: The Father and Son never work at cross-purposes with each other. If we are fulfilling the purpose One has for us, it is the same purpose the Father, Son, and Spirit all have for us.
Love for each other: The Father, Son, and Spirit have complete and perfect love for each other. That is the goal of the love we should have for each other.
Not looking down on one another: We are not to claim or think we are better or more valuable than others, as Philippians 2:3 and 1 Corinthians 10:12 show.
However, the Father, Son, and Spirit are One in some ways that we are not one. See the discussion on John 10:30 for more on how the Father and Son are one God, and also on how they are distinct beings.
Q: In Jn 17:11,14,21, how should Christians be in the world but not of it?
A: Here is a list of how we are to be in the world, followed by a partial list of how we are not to be of the world.
Voluntarily In the world:
Relate to the people of the world: Be all things to all men for the sake of the Gospel, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
Submit to worldly authorities: We should obey kings and rules (1 Peter 2:13-15,17 Romans 13:1-5) as long as they do not contradict God, the highest authority. We should pay our taxes (Romans 13:6-7, Matthew 17:24-27).
Love the people of the world, since God loves them. (John 3:16)
Hope for people in the world, and desire that many would be saved.
Pray for people in the world, for their salvation.
Care for people of the world, to meet their physical and spiritual needs.
Involuntarily in the world: we have no choice in the following.
Origin: We are created by God and born of flesh in this world.
Physically, we are of the world. That includes suffering pain, hunger, death, and injustice in this life.
Consequences of others’ sins: Just as babies sometimes suffer the consequences of their mother’s drug and alcohol use, we all are subject to suffering for the sinful actions of others. Indeed, since we are born in a sinful world, we all suffer consequences for Adam’s sin, as Romans 5:12-17 shows.
Temptation is common to all in this world, as 1 Corinthians 10:12 says.
Voluntarily not of the world:
We have made a commitment to God: God gathers those who made a covenant with him (Psalm 50:5), water baptism (1 Peter 3:20; Hebrews 10:22) and a profession of faith (Hebrews10:23) and a clear conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21).
Not love the world: Neither the lust of the flesh, the lust of eyes, nor the pride of life, as 1 John 2:15-17 says.
Not love like the world loves: We do not love only those who love us, but we love even our enemies, as Jesus commands (not merely suggests) in Luke 7:27-36.
Not have the same motivation: We do not have the same standards, aspirations, motivation, and source of strength of the world. We do not just live under the circumstances. As Gene Getz put it in his book on Philippians, most things are done for one of three reasons: hope of reward, fear of punishment, and to be thought a better person in the eyes of yourself and others. While the Bible never criticizes these motives (and neither should we), we have a higher motivation, that the world cannot understand, of agape love.
Different values: We have a different measure of significance, value, and reason for living. We were created for God’s glory. (Isaiah 43:7; Ephesians 1:6)
Not yoked with unbelievers in marriage, dating, business, and other ways as 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 shows. (If you are married to an unbeliever, do not seek a divorce though, as 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 commands)
Involuntarily Not of the World: (Involuntary does not mean undesired, but rather it is not a choice or option for believers)
Destiny: The elect are Heaven-bound. We should make sure we do not make ourselves "too comfortable" here, as this is just a temporary place for us. We are aliens are strangers on this earth (1 Peter 2:9,11)
The Holy Spirit dwelling in us: All genuine believers have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them (Romans 8:9-16)
Children of God: While everyone was created by God, we are children of God. Scripture considers non-believers to not be children of God. (John 1:12-13; Romans 8:14-16; Ephesians 2:3-5; 1 John 3:1-2)
See Now That’s a Good Question p.249-250 for a different but complementary answer.
Q: In Jn 18:1, how do you pronounce Cedron?
A: This is also spelled "Kidron". Cruden’s Concordance says the first sound is an "s" sound, and the accent is on the first syllable.
Q: In Jn 18:2, how did Jesus go here often, since He was only in Jerusalem that week?
A: This was not the only time Jesus and the disciples were in Jerusalem. Also, they passed by Gethsemane twice a day going to and from the Temple, and twice a day is certainly often.
Q: In Jn 18:3, why did the soldiers bring lanterns?
A: They probably brought lanterns because they thought they might have to search the garden all night to for Jesus, and they brought swords to arrest the prince of peace. Note that Jesus met them at the gate.
Q: In Jn 18:13-27, is there some question as to the order of these verses?
A: Not really. The verses are in the present order in 55 texts and families of texts. Only three sources have a different order.
The order is 13, 24, 14-15, 19-23, 16-18, 25b-27 on the Sinaitic Syriac (4th - 7th centuries). The order is 13, 24, 14-23, 24, 25-27 in the writings of Cyril (444 A.D.). It is 13a, 24, 13b-23, 24-27 in manuscript 225 (written in 1192 A.D.)
Q: In Jn 18:28, why did the priests think they would be defiled if they went into Pilate’s judgment hall?
A: The Pharisees tradition was that they would be defiled not only if they ate with a Gentile, but if they went into a Gentile’s home, since Gentiles ate unclean food and the Pharisees considered Gentiles unclean.
This view was not limited to the Pharisees. Even Peter had a tendency to believe that, as Acts 10 and Galatians 2:12-15.
However, the Old Testament had no law against eating with Gentiles.
Q: In Jn 18:30 (KJV), what is a malefactor?
A: This is a modern word as well as a King James Version word, which means an evildoer. It is pronounced as "MAL-e-FAC-tor", with all short vowels except for the o.
Q: In Jn 18:31, why was the Jewish council unable to execute Jesus?
A: The power of execution was taken away from them by the Romans. Following is the historical documentation of this fact.
1. Josephus in his book, Wars of the Jews book 2 chapter 8 says, "And now Archelaus’ part of Judea was reduced into a province, and Caponius, one of the Equestrian order of the Romans, was sent as a procurator, having the power of life and death put into his hands by Caesar." Josephus also mentions that the Sanhedrin lost power over capital cases in Antiquities of the Jews 20.9. (Written about 93-94 A.D.)
2. In the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, Chap.4 following 37, recto. Rabbi Rachman said, "When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of the/their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them; they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming: ‘Woe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah, and the Messiah has not come!’" This happened around 7 A.D. (Taken from Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict vol.1 p.169., and Jesus Before the Sanhedrin by Augustin Lemann, 1886 translated by Julius Magath, NL#0239683, Library of Congress # 15-24973. See also Pugio Fidei, Martini, Raymundus, published by De Vosin in 1651. (p.148)
3. Talmud "A little more than forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the power of pronouncing capital sentences was taken away from the Jews." Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin folio 24. (p.147)
Q: In Jn 18:36, was Jesus’ Kingdom was not of this world because the Jews rejected Jesus?
A: Acts 2:23 reminded people that God foreknew that Jesus would be handed over to die. Nevertheless, Jesus came offering the entire nation the opportunity to be in His kingdom. The offer was sincere, and it was their own fault, not Christ’s, that they rejected it.
Perhaps an analogy will help. If 100% of all people accept the True God, then 100% of all people would go to Heaven; Hell would be empty. However, God knows that they will not. It is the person’s own fault, not God’s, that they miss out on God’s sincere offer.
Q: In Jn 18:37, can anyone be of the truth and not hear Jesus’ voice?
A: Ultimately, no. Could you imagine someone living in Heaven forever and never hearing Jesus’ voice? -Of course not. Likewise, contrary to Catholic legend it is not Peter that is the gatekeeper of Heaven. Rather, it is Jesus who is the gate, as John 10:7,9 shows. As Jesus emphasized in John 10:1,3,8-9, everyone who goes to Heaven, goes through the One Door. Even those who go to Heaven dying as little children go through Jesus.
Q: In Jn 18:38, what did Pilate mean by saying, "what is truth"?
A: First a joke with a point, and then the answer. Once a scientists, engineer, and a dishonest lawyer were all asked to give the sum of 1 + 1. The scientist said 2.0, the engineer said around 2, and the lawyer replied, "what do you want it to be?". Some people think that truth is negotiable or decided by a democratic vote, a leader, or a judge.
The answer: While Pilate could have naively asked this question because he never pondered the point, that is highly unlikely. Either he was wondering what Jesus’ view of truth was, or else Pilate was making a cynical remark, somewhat like the dishonest lawyer in the previous joke.
Q: In Jn 19:1, what was a Roman scourging like?
A: It was not something you would want to experience firsthand. The whip they used was not like a western bullwhip. Rather, it was called a cat-of-ninetails because it had nine ends. Tied to each end was a piece of metal or stone. The trained person who did the whipping tried to take off as much skin as possible. Many times the prisoner did not survive the scourging. Usually 40 lashes were prescribed, but one less, or 39 would be delivered, to show what nice guys they were.
Q: In Jn 19:2, what were the thorns like?
A: The thorns were from desert plants and were often over an inch long.
Q: In Jn 19:2, why did they put a purple robe on Jesus?
A: Purple dye was expensive, coming from murex shellfish that lived along the Phoenician coast. Purple was a color of royalty, and this would be a sarcastic expression of Jesus’ claims to be king.
Q: In Jn 19:8,12, why was Pontius Pilate afraid here?
A: Pontius Pilate had conflicting goals. He did not view Jesus as guilty and might have set him free. However, if the Jews might accuse Him of not being a friend of Caesar for letting a rebel king go free, then Pilate could not allow that. However, Matthew 27:19 says that Pilate’s wife sent Pilate a message saying that she suffered in a dream because of Jesus. Thus, Pilate had ample reason for caution. Who was this man, only arrested last night, who could enter his wife’s dream?
Q: In Jn 19:11, are some sins greater than others?
A: Some Christians are taught that all sins are the same, but this is not what Scripture teaches.
John 19:11, Jesus told Pilate that those who handed Jesus over to Pilate were "guilty of greater sin".
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is different from other sins as it is unpardonable. (Matthew 12:31,32; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10-11)
1 John 5:16-17 speaks of a sin which leads to death (blasphemy of the Holy Spirit) and other sins which do not.
Romans 1:24-28 speaks of wicked people being given over to greater and greater depravity.
Ezekiel 8:6-13 speaks of some abominations before God being greater than others.
In Matthew 23:14 Jesus says the Pharisees will have greater condemnation.
Matthew 23:15 says that some of the Pharisees’ disciples would be twice the sons of Hell as they were.
However, this being said, all sin is the same in one sense: even one sin is enough to keep you from being perfect and going to Heaven, and even breaking one law is enough to convict you as a lawbreaker (James 2:8-11)
See Now That’s a Good Question p.150-152 for more info.
Q: In Jn 19:22, why did Pilate not agree to the priests’ request not to write "King of the Jews"?
A: Pilate apparently saw no need to accommodate the Sanhedrin. Perhaps Pilate wanted the sign to not only discourage rebels, but also to insult the Jewish authorities.
Pilate and the priests were not on good terms. It is interesting that the one time they did work in harmony was only for a moment, when Satan used them jointly to crucify Christ.
Q: In Jn 19:23, was this cloak rare since it was seamless?
A: No, it was not rare, but it was more valuable. According to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.477, the inner cloak was typically made of two pieces of cloth and sown together at the sides. On p.480 it mentions that since Jesus’ garment was seamless, it probably was more valuable than the simple seemed garment. It speculates that it might have been given to Jesus by one of the women who financially ministered to Jesus and His disciples.
Q: Does Jn 19:26, imply that we can consider Mary our mother, too?
A: No. Everything that the Bible commands for one particular person does not necessarily mean that everyone is supposed to do it. As a ludicrous example, when God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute, or Jeremiah not to marry, that does not mean all Christian men are supposed to marry prostitutes, or that all Christians are not to marry.
Jesus entrusted John to take care of Mary as a good son takes care of his mother. We do not need to take care of Mary.
Q: In Jn 19:29, why would hyssop be nearby?
A: Hyssop was a mossy plant that everyone was to use to for sprinkling the blood of the Passover lamb on their door in Exodus 12:22. The priests also used hyssop for pronouncing lepers clean in Leviticus 14.
Q: In Jn 19:29 (KJV), what is a "spunge"?
A: This is an old fashioned spelling for sponge. Sponges today are often synthetic. Sponges back then were taken from sponges, which are primitive animals that grow on the ocean floor.
Q: In Jn 19:30, why did Jesus say, "It is finished" here?
A: The Greek word here, tetelestai, was an accounting term meaning "paid in full". The testing was done, and by Jesus’ death and later resurrection our ransom to the demands of justice was secured. Jesus’ cry was one of triumph, not of failure.
Also, the Passover meal had four cups. According to Tom J. Boone in a 8/29/1999 sermon at Richardson East Baptist Church, the second cup represented redemption from the death angel. After drinking it, the head of the family says "finished".
Q: In Jn 19:38, should we accept "secret believers" like Joseph of Arimathea was?
A: There is a great difference between a person who merely knows that the Gospel is true and a person who trusts their life over to Christ. Apparently there were two classes of secret believers.
Those who merely believe: The Pharisees in John 12:42-43 knew Jesus’ teaching was true, but they did not follow Jesus because "they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God". Others who merely believed, though not in secret, include Simon Magus in Acts 8:13,18-20, the workers of iniquity in Matthew 7:21-23.
Those who followed: Joseph of Arimathea did not just believe, but he followed in John 19:38. He did not oppose Jesus, and Joseph acted on his belief. A thought to ponder is, when does God desire a believer to be open, and in what circumstances does God desire a believer to believe secretly? Of course the same person can be secretive in one situation and open in another place.
Q: In Jn 20:14-16, why did Mary Magdalene not recognize Jesus?
A: There are three possible reasons, and all of them may be true.
1. Mary was not expecting to see Jesus again in this life. She was not looking to recognize him.
2. Mary "knew" what Jesus looked like now. She saw his broken body, white in death. When she saw Jesus alive, that was not at all according to her expectations. As an example, sometimes, when I am expecting a call any minute from a friend, and another friend calls, it takes me a second or two to recognize their voice.
3. In Luke 24:16, Cleopas and another disciple were kept from recognizing Jesus. Perhaps Mary was temporarily kept from recognizing Jesus here, too.
Today, some do not recognize Jesus being from God because they do not want to look or find anyone from God. Others do not recognize Jesus because He does not fit in with their preconceived expectation. Finally, others would see and follow the true Jesus, but they are kept from doing so by things such as Satan’s deception of false religion, the cares of this world, sin, and persecution.
Q: In Jn 20:17, why did Jesus tell Mary not to touch Him?
A: Jesus said that He had not yet ascended to His father. Perhaps Jesus’ body was not fully transformed yet, or perhaps it was just appropriate that the next one to physically "hug" Jesus was the Father in Heaven.
Q: In Jn 20:17, since Jesus called the Father "my God", does that prove that Jesus is not God?
A: No. Hebrews 1:9 says, "…Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You…" where Jesus is God, and "Your God" refers to the Father.
The word "God", when it does not refer to a false god, has at least four meanings in the Bible: God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit, and God in Trinity. In addition to the three beings all being one God, the Father also had the role of God to Jesus.
See the discussion on Matthew 28:19, Ephesians 1:3,17, and especially John 13:3 for more info. See the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.110 for a different, but complementary answer.
Q: In Jn 20:19, since Jesus had a physical body after the resurrection, how did Jesus get into closed rooms?
A: Even before His death, Jesus could miraculously pass through a crowd (Luke 4:28-30). Even Philip was miraculously transported in Acts 8:29-30. But now, Jesus had a glorified physical body. On one hand, Jesus had the power to go through locked doors. On the other hand, He could sit and eat fish. His glorified body was not "less" than our physical body in any way, but it was "more" than our physical body, as His glorified physical body did not suffer pain, decay, or death.
See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.136 and When Critics Ask p.422-423 for more info.
Q: In Jn 20:22, when Jesus said "peace be with you" and sent them out, did they receive the Holy Spirit prior to Pentecost?
A: No. Regardless of whether the Holy Spirit was with them in any way at this point, they were not filled with the Holy Spirit until the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.89-90, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.508-510, and When Critics Ask p.423-424 for more info.
Q: In Jn 20:23, how did the disciples have power to forgive or not forgive sins?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
All Christians agree that Ephesians 2:20 says the church is build on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. Thus the apostles were given the right to pronounce a sin forgiven or unforgiven. Beyond this, some Christians has one of two additional views.
All Christians can announce: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.343 says that not only the apostles, but the church has "the privilege of announcing heaven’s terms on how a person can receive forgiveness. If one believes in Jesus, then a Christian has the right to announce his forgiveness. If a person rejects Jesus’ sacrifice, then a Christian can announce that that person is not forgiven."
Only the disciples were given special authority to declare sins forgiven. They exercised this authority in Acts 5:1-11 (Ananias and Sapphira), 1 Corinthians 5:3-5,12-13, and 2 Corinthians 2:4-8 (the immoral man). The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1569 mentions the other views but recommends this view.
Q: In Jn 20:22-23, does this show that priests have the power to forgive sins?
A: No, unless the priest claims to be one of the twelve apostles. Prior to the New Testament being written, prior to the church being formed, and prior to the church growing in wisdom to discern the various cults, Jesus gave these men the power to forgive or not forgive sins.
1. It does not say this privilege was passed down to Popes or any other successors, and
2. It does not say priests received this privilege either.
3. However, all Christians, whether clergy or not, can communicate that God forgives our sins.
See When Critics Ask p.424-425 for more info.
Q: In Jn 20:23, did the Popes throughout history have the power over forgiving sins?
A: No, for at least three reasons.
1. As some Catholic theologians (such as Father Fastiggi) agree, many corrupt Popes were ungodly, and they will be found in Hell. That being the case, a person who is far from God, and not a follower of God, does not have the power to forgive or not forgive sins.
2. There is no evidence of papal succession.
3. Even if there were papal succession, or apostolic succession as some in the early church believed, the chain of succession was broken. When a Pope is party to the murder of the previous Pope, that would break the chain. When a Pope is deposed against his will, and as his last act excommunicates the succeeding Pope, then how could an excommunicated person have the power to forgive or not forgive sins, and then pass it on to his successors?
Q: In Jn 20:24-25, was this really the same body that Jesus had on earth?
A: Yes. For a simple example, a person can have an operation, and come home with the same body, yet improved. Likewise, Jesus had the same body, nail marks and all, yet it was a glorified body. Jesus was not using deception in appearing to Thomas, but Jesus was sincere and spoke the truth when He asked Thomas to see for himself by touching the wounds.
Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.) in a Letter to a Certain Queen (or Princess), says, "For He [Jesus], having risen, and being desirous to show that the same (body) had been raised which had also died when His disciples were in doubt, called Thomas to Him, and said "Reach higher: handle me, and see: for a spirit hath not bone and flesh, as ye see me have."
Q: In Jn 20:25, what does this say about Jesus being nailed to a cross?
A: Jehovah’s Witnesses say Jesus was nailed to a "torture stake", which they claim was a wooden pole with no crosspiece. They show pictures with just one big nail holding Jesus’ hands. The Greek, and even the Jehovah’s Witnesses own New World Translation says the word "nails" (plural), so it was more than one nail. See also Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.82-83 for more info.
Q: In Jn 20:28, did Thomas call Jesus God?
A: Unlike what Jehovah’s Witnesses might say, Thomas certainly did. Notice that the verse is not "Thomas said, My Lord and my God!", but "Thomas said to him, My Lord and my God!" Notice that the verse does not say "Oh Lord", like Thomas was looking up to Heaven and saying this. Rather, Thomas said to him, My Lord and my God!" Furthermore, Jesus neither rebuked nor corrected Thomas for saying this.
Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.84 also points out that in their own Kingdom Interlinear (1985) Bible, under the Greek it correctly says, "The Lord of men and the God of me"
Q: Was Jn 21 added later, as a Muslim suggested based on liberal skeptics?
A: No, there is not any evidence of that.
p66 (The Bodmer II Papyrii) contains most of John, including John 21:12,17. It was thought to be c.175 A.D., but is not thought to be c.125-150 A.D.
p109 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4448) John 21:18-20; 21:23-35 (3rd century)
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) and Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) contain all of John, including John 21.
Q: In Jn 21:11, what is the significance of the 153 fishes?
A: There are two points to consider.
Generally, they caught a large number of fish, and they counted to verify just how many they caught. Some see this specific, precise number showing that God counts every individual who comes to Him
Specifically, people who look for numeric patterns in the Bible point to John 21:11 as a key evidence. In this passage there are many patterns that give the number 153. See the next two questions for more info.
Q: In Jn 21:11, what is the "code" for numerology in the new Testament?
A: One form of numerology is theomatics, and Del Washburn wrote a book called Theomatics II. Like the Romans, the Greeks used letters to represent numbers. Here is the code Washburn used. Of course, if his "code" was wrong, then all of his conclusions would not stand up.
The "code": Theomatics II p.23 assigns numbers 1-5 to the consecutive Greek letters alpha through eta. 6 is assigned the letter "vau" which was in early Greek alphabets but not later ones. Numbers 7-10 are assigned the letters zeta through iota. Numbers 10-80, counting by tens, are assigned to the consecutive Greek letters kappa through pi. The number 90 is assigned to the Greek letter koppa, which was in early Greek alphabets but not later ones. 100 is assigned to "rho" The number 200 is assigned to both forms of the letter sigma. The numbers 300 - 800, counting by 100’s, are assigned consecutively to Tau through omega. There is, of course, a different assignment for Hebrew, since Hebrew has a different alphabet.
(Note that according to the Encyclopedia Britannica both 1956 and 1972, (under U), the Semitic alphabet used vaw as the sixth letter. The Greeks used it as a vowel, and it was the last letter in their alphabet, right after Tau. These Greeks made digamma (F) their sixth letter. Digamma represented the "w" sound. The following Greek alphabets had "vaw": Therean (700-600 B.C.), Attic (600 B.C.), Corinthian (600 B.C.), Chalcidian (600 B.C.), and Ionic (403 B.C.). In Attic Greek, vaw was pronounced as the German umlaut u. The letter vaw is in the New Testament as the number 6 in Revelation 13:18 ("666").
Independent of Theomatics, The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.25 (Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett) says this was not any secret code, but a standard way scribes used letters for numbers, including page numbers, and numbers in the Bible, including the 12 disciples, 7 angels, etc. It presents the identical assignment as Washburn, except for the trivial case of calling the sixth letter "stigma" instead of "vaw", and assigning "sampi" as 900 and ",alpha" as 1000. These last two additions are irrelevant, as no words in the Bible use sampi or ",alpha".
The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.4 p.1141 also describes the way Greeks used letters to represent numbers. It says that we do not know when this system was first used, but using letters for numbers was in a marriage contract at Elephantine, Egypt in 310 B.C. on coins in Ptolemy Egypt (286-246 B.C.), and on a papyri of multiplication tables in the 3rd century B.C. The actual code of Greek letters on p.1141 is the same as given in both Theomatics II and The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts, with the following exceptions. It called the obsolete letter used for 6 "digamma" and 900 "san". The thousands through ten thousands are signified by alpha through theta with special marks.
The Manuscripts of the Greek Bible (Bruce M. Metzger) p.6-10 has an extensive section on Greek letters used as numbers. It has the same "code" as Washburn, with the following trivial exceptions. It says the number of 6 was an obsolete Greek letter called either "waw" or "digamma", "sampi" was 900, and ",a" etc. representing 1,000 etc.
The Chester Beatty Papyrii (manuscript p47) in Revelation sometimes uses Greek letters to represent the numbers, instead of spelling the numbers out. (It spelled the number 72 out in John 10:1, though.) One can see a very legible transcription in The Complete Text of the Early New Testament Manuscripts p.336. It completely agrees with what Washburn says and shows in his photograph. Using this pattern of Greek letters for page numbers was done in the following manuscripts: p1, p13, p23, p30, p38, p39, p45, p46, p66, p72, uncial 0189, uncial 0232.
We have no evidence that early Christians tried or saw any benefit in using numerology to go through each word in a passage. Of course, tongue-in-cheek, we have no evidence they had the computers and calculators necessary to do so either. However, not only Washburn never claimed they did this in early times, this actually is one point of his theory. If the early Christians had recognized that the numeric totals of phrases could fit a pattern, they might be accused of changing the letters to make patterns. However, since we have no evidence anyone recognized any patterns, these patterns, if indeed they are more than coincidence, would be evidence of divine origin and preservation.
However, Bruce Metzger in The Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.9 says that some early Christians used a type of numerology, called gematria, to find special meanings in numbers. In the Letter/Epistle of Barnabas (100 A.D.) they used the number of Abraham’s men (318), to show that Christ was in Genesis. 300 = t, which reminded the author of the cross, and 18 is the first two letters of the Greek name for Jesus. Augustine of Hippo was even aware of this use of gematria. Metzger observes they forgot to consider that Greek was not even invented in Abraham’s time.
Conclusion: If one were use Greek letters to represent numbers, this proves that Washburn is using the same numerical shorthand Greek scribes commonly used in writing page numbers and sometimes other numbers.
Q: In Jn 21:11, what is "theomatics"?
A: "Theomatics" championed by Del Washburn, is one form of Biblical numerology. While "gematria" is a form of numerology that tries to find meaning from numbers, theomatics is different. It uses computers to turn words into numbers, and then tries to find meaning from numbers. As a personal note, I have not investigated theomatics enough to believe in it. My purpose here is not to convince you of anything, but just to attempt to objectively give you a flavor using a passage that gives one of his strongest cases. Before looking at sums of numbers, one must assign numbers to each of the Greek letters. For the code that theomatics uses, see the previous question.
Washburn’s Theomatics claims that
1. Theomatics, being a study of numbers in the Bible, is not capable of discovering any new doctrines.
2. It is useful, because the numerical intricacy demonstrates this could not be the work of men, as these patterns could not easily be found without modern computers.
3. It is useful to show the degree of preservation of the Word of God, and in many cases to sort out which manuscript variations are correct.
As such, one could be a conservative Christian and either accept theomatics or reject it.
Q: In Jn 21:15-17, why did Jesus ask Peter if he loved Him three times?
A: The first two times, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him, using the word agape for love. Both times, Peter answered that he loved phileo Jesus. Apparently after denying Jesus, Peter did not feel he could claim to love Jesus with agape love.
The third time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him using the word phileo. Peter was hurt, wondering if Jesus was believing that Peter even loved Him at all.
Rather than trying to justify himself, Peter stopped trying to quantify the sincerity of his love and balance that with his past insincere actions of denial. Rather, Peter simply acknowledged, "Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you."
God knows how much we love God, even better than we know ourselves. Instead of trying to tell God the exact degree of depth of our love, let us simply acknowledge that God knows and desire to draw closer and love Him more.
Q: How did Jn 21:18 prophecy Peter’s death?
A: Jesus said that Peter was going to die, and the emphasis was both on the situation prior to his death and Peter’s attitude. According to church tradition, Peter was crucified in Rome. Peter was crucified upside down, at his request, because he did not feel worthy to die the same way that Jesus died.
Q: In Jn 21:18, how did all the apostles die?
A: Hippolytus tells us in his book On the Twelve Apostles. "Peter preached the Gospel in Pontus, and Galatia and Cappadocia [all in Asia Minor], and Betania and Italy, and Asia and was afterwards crucified by Nero in Rome with his head downward as he had himself desired to suffer in that manner.
Andrew preached to the Scythians [in Russia] and Thracians, and was crucified, suspended on an olive tree at Patrae, a town of Achaia [in Greece]; and there too he was buried.
John, again in Asia was banished by Domitian the King to the isle of Patmos in which he also wrote his Gospel and saw the apocalyptic vision; and in Trajan’s time he fell asleep at Ephesus where his remains were sought for, but could not be found.
James his brother when preaching in Judea, was cut off with the sword by Herod the tetrarch, and was buried there. Eusebius 2:9 says beheaded.
Philip preached in Phrygia [in Asia Minor] and was crucified in Hierapolis with his head downward in the time of Domitian, and was buried there.
Bartholomew again preached to the Indians, to whom he also gave the Gospel according to Matthew, and was crucified with his head downward and was buried in Albanum, a town of Great Armenia.
And Matthew wrote the Gospel in the Hebrew tongue and published it at Jerusalem, and fell asleep at Hierees a town of Parthia [Iran]. Papias (65-156 A.D.) also records that Matthew was written in Hebrew.
And Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes Persians Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Margians (Magi?) [all in Iran and Afghanistan, and USSR], and was thrust through in the four members of his body with a pine spear at Calamene, the city of India and was buried there.
And James the son of Alphaeus when preaching in Jerusalem, was stoned to death by the Jews and was buried there beside the temple. Josh McDowell says crucified.
Jude, who is also called Lebbaeus preached to the people of Edessa, and to all Mesopotamia, and fell asleep at Berytus, and was buried there. Josh McDowell says killed by arrows.
Simon the Zealot, the son of Cleopas, who is also called Jude, became the bishop of Jerusalem after James the Just (Lord’s brother), and fell asleep and was buried there at the age of 120 years. Josh McDowell says crucified.
And Matthias, who was one of the seventy, was numbered along with the eleven apostles, and preached in Jerusalem, and fell asleep and was buried there.
And Paul entered into the apostleship a year after the assumption of Christ; and beginning at Jerusalem, he advanced as far as Illyricum, and Italy, and Spain, preaching the Gospel for thirty-five years. And in the time of Nero he was beheaded at Rome and was buried there."
In addition, According to legend the apostle Thomas visited northern India under Gondophares and preached there. Gondophares reigned from c.19 A.D. to 45 A.D.
Q: In Jn 21:22-23, what is Jesus saying here about John?
A: Actually Jesus is saying more about Peter here than about John. Jesus is saying that Peter is being too nosy, worrying about how John is going to die. (Peter probably figured that since Jesus spoke of Peter’s death, he wanted to hear about John’s death.). Jesus is saying that even if John were to remain alive until Jesus returned, that is not a concern of Peter’s.
Tertullian writing 200-240 A.D. in A Treatise on the Soul ch.50 p.227-228 says there had been a false expectation that he would remain alive until the coming of the Lord.
In actual history, John was the only apostle who died a natural death. He lived longer than any of the other apostles, and John actually did see Jesus again before he died: in a vision in Revelation.
We should be comfortable with the fact that there are some things God does not wish us to know right now. For example, throughout the New Testament, there is the thought that Christ could return at any time, so we should be watchful of Him and careful of how we live. This doctrine, called the "imminent return of Christ" is shown in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, where Paul himself did not know if Christ would return before Paul died or not.
Q: In Jn 21:25, why do we not have a record of all the other things that Jesus did?
A: Many seem to have a difficult enough time reading what is recorded about Jesus. Even in Jesus’ life, there were many facts that were not important, such as which position he slept in, his height, weight, how he ate, etc. By faith, we trust that God preserved for us all that we need to know, and we should be diligent to read all of that.
Q: In Jn, what evidence is there that John wrote the Gospel of John?
A: The early church universally accepted the Gospel of John as being written by John the apostle.
p66 (Bodmer II Papyrii) (dates of c.175 or c.125-150 A.D.) contains most of the gospel of John. The title given in Bodmer p66 is The Gospel According to John". You can see a photograph of it in The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts p.378.
Near misses: While the Letter of Barnabas, Ignatius, and To Diognetus allude to John, and Justin Martyr quotes from John saying the words were by Jesus, they did not mention John by name.
Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) was the first to mention the gospel was by John according to both my own study and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1463. This is in Theophilus to Autolychus ch.22 p.103.
Irenaeus in Against Heresies p.440 chapter 16 v.2 (written 182-188 A.D.) mentions the Apostle John along with the other gospel writers. On p.426 (ch.11 v.2) he quotes John 1:1,10,11,14 as being by John.
Clement of Alexandria (wrote 193-217/220 A.D.) in Stromata 2:15 mentions the Gospel of John is by John the apostle.
Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.) mentions that the heretic Basilides, who lived in the time of the apostles, quoted from the Gospel of John 1:9. (Refutation of All Heresies 7:10).
Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (248-258 A.D.) quotes from the Gospel of John as being by John in Treatise 12 The Third Book 24,25.
Novatian in On the Trinity ch.13 (257 A.D.) quotes John1:14 saying it is by John. He has numerous other quotes by John too.
The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1463 says that until the 19th century no one rejected John as the Gospel of John except for an obscure cult called the Alogi.
For the reliability of the Gospel of John in general, see the next three questions.
Q: When was the Gospel of Jn written?
A: We have a fragment of John, called the John Rylands manuscript dated by radiocarbon dating to 117-138 A.D., so it had to be written before then. John was probably written between 70 A.D. and 125 A.D.
Views of Various Writers
The New Geneva Study Bible p.1656 says church tradition suggests it was around 90 A.D.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.267 is it was probably between 85-95 A.D. Some critics have attempted a date as late as 150 A.D. based on similarities to Gnostic writings. Others date it as early as 45-66 A.D.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.268 says that archaeological finds support John 4:11; 5:2-3, word studies such as synchrontai in John 4:9, and the Dead Sea scrolls give support to an early date for John.
The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.534 says that the Gospel of John was written "sometime toward the close of the first century A.D."
The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.954 says that the fourth gospel is later than the others, but by 150 A.D. it seems already to have been known and referred to by writers. Perhaps 100 A.D. is a likely date, though it might be somewhat later still.
According to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.937, John was familiar with details of Jerusalem prior to its destruction, such as the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:2), the pavement (John 19:13). Used some terminology also used at Qumran A harmony of the Gospels, called the Egerton Papyrus 2, contains John 5 and is dated not later than 150 A.D. (See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1464 for more on this.)
Valentinus quoted the Gospel of John in his Gospel of Truth, written c. 140 A.D.
Roman catacombs have paintings of Christ as the Good Shepherd and the raising of Lazarus that are dated c.150 A.D.
Q: In Jn, how do we know that what we have today is a reliable preservation of what was originally written?
A: There are at least three good reasons.
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25; Matthew 24:35. It is freely conceded that ultimately this involves a degree of trusting in God. If God really did want to communicate something, God would want it preserved.
2. Evidence of the early church. Here are a few of the Christian and non-Christian writers who referred to verses in John.
Curiously, 1 Clement has no place that can be considered a reference to the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John was the last gospel written, and 1 Clement was written so early (97/98 A.D.), so it might not have reached Clement yet in Rome.
Ignatius alluded to verse in John according to the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1463.
The Gnostic heretics Basilides and Valentinus
Tatian’s Diatessaron (c.170 A.D.)
Constitutions of the Holy Apostles c.80-190 A.D.
Didache 120-150 A.D.
The Letter To Diognetus c.130 A.D.
John is mentioned in the Muratorian Canon (c.170 A.D.) along with the other three gospels.
Justin Martyr (wrote 138-165 A.D.) Justin quotes John 3:5 as being by Jesus, and paraphrases John 3:14.
Theophilus of Antioch 168-181/188 A.D.
Irenaeus wrote 182-188 A.D.
Clement of Alexandria wrote 193-217/220 A.D.
Tertullian 200-220 A.D. quotes John 1:14 and says it was by John and "in John’s Gospel" in Against Praxeas ch.226 (p.622).
Cyprian wrote 248-258 A.D.
Hippolytus 225-235/6 A.D. in discussing John 1:1-3 says this gospel was by the blessed John in Against the Heresy of One Noetus 14 p.228.
Origen 225-254 A.D.
Hilary wrote about 355-367/368 A.D.
Athanasius 326-373 A.D
Eusebius c.360 A.D.
Basil 357-379 A.D.
Gregory of Nyssa 335-394 A.D
Gregory Nanzianzus 330-391 A.D.
Ambrose 340-397 A.D.
Didymus 398 A.D.
Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.) wrote down 88 sermons on the Gospel of John. He said it was written by the son of Zebedee, the son of thunder who holds the keys of heaven.
Nonnus 431 A.D.
We still have all of these today.
3. Earliest manuscripts we have of John show there are small manuscript variations, but no theologically significant errors.
p2 John 12:12-15 (6th century)
6th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p5 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 208 1781) John 1:23-31,33-40; 16:14-30; 20:11-17, 19-20, 22-25 (47 verses) early 3rd century. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph of it on p.62. It says that the manuscript is of normal quality, except that the copyist tended to leave out unnecessary pronouns and conjunctions. It is a western text.
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament also includes John 1:41.
Early 3rd century - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts. It shows that John 1:41 is there but none of the letters are very clear.
p6 John 10:1-2,4-7,9-10; 11:1-8,45-52 (4th century) Agrees with Vaticanus.
4th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p22 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1228) (c.250 A.D.) Jn 15:25-27; 16:1-2, 21-32
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p28 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1596) (3rd century) John 6:6-12, 17-22
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p36 John 3:14-18,31-32,34-35 (6th century mixed text.
6th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament does not have 3:34-35.
p39 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1780) John 8:14-22 first half of 3rd century The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph of it on p.138. It also says p39 is verbatim the same as Vaticanus, which makes it Alexandrian.
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
First half of the 3rd century - Philip Comfort, C.H. Roberts, and T.C. Skeat.
3rd Century - Aland (3rd edition) and Aland (4th edition).
p44a John 10:8-14 (6th to 7th century)
6th to 7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p44b John 9:3-4; 12:16-18, also Mt 17:1-3,6-7; 18:15-17,19; 25:8-10 (6th to 7th century)
6th to 7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p45 Chester Beatty I. Much of all four gospels and Acts. It includes John 4:51,54; 5:21,24; 10:7-25; 2 complete out of 16 letters of 10:30; 10:31-11:10; 11:18-36,42-57. It was copied 100-150 A.D.. (Formerly thought late 2nd or early 3rd century.) The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph of one page of it on p.146. A General Introduction to the Bible p.389 says the original scroll was about 220 leaves, of which we have 30 leaves: 2 leaves from Matthew, 2 from John, 6 from Mark, 7 from Luke, and 13 from Acts.
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament
3rd century - 1975 - Aland et al. Third Edition
3rd century - 1998 - Aland et al. Fourth Revised Edition
Late 2nd or early 3rd century - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
p52 John Rylands papyrus (2 1/2 by 3 1/2 fragment of parts of John 18:31-33) 117-138 A.D. Another fragment, John 18:37-38, is generally believed to be from the same scroll and is also referred to as the John Rylands Papyrus. This is part of the trial before Pilate, where Jesus admits He is a king.) You can see a photograph of the John Rylands papyrus in the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.937, the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.534, Greek Manuscripts of the Bible p.62-63, and A General Introduction to the Bible p.388.
Beginning of the 2nd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p55 John 1:31-33,35-38 (6th to 7th century)
6th to 7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p59 John 1:26,28,48,51; 2:15-16; 11:40-52; 12:25,29,31,35; 17:24-26; 18:1-2,16-17,22; 21:7,12-13,15,17-20,23 (7th century)
7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p60 John 16:29-30,32-17:6; 17:8-9,11-15,18-25; 18:1-2,4-5,7-16,18-20,23-29,31-37,39-40; 19;-3,5-8,10-18,20,23-26 (7th century) Alexandrian text.
7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p63 John 3:14-18; 4:9-10 (ca.500 A.D.)
7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
c.500 A.D. - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p66 Bodmer II Papyrii (829 verses: John 1:1-6:11, 6:35b-14:26,29-30; 15:2-26; 16:2-4; 16:6-7; 16:10-20:20; 20:22-23; 20:25-21:9; 21:12,17 (fragments of John 19:16) (Jn 7:53-8:11 were never present.) (dates of c.175 or c.125-150 A.D.) We have 104 leaves and fragments of 40 other leaves. A photograph of John 6:58-64 from the Bodmer II Papyrus is in the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1003. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has photographs of p66 on p.368-370. It remarks that the manuscript was written by a professional scribe, with two correctors putting in corrections. The Archaeology of the New Testament (Finnegan) p.381 shows the page 137 is very fragmentary and contains part of John 19:16. By the way, the title given in Bodmer p66 is The Gospel According to John". You can see a photograph of it in The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts p.378.
100-150 A.D. - 1960 - Hunger according to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
c.200 A.D. - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament
200-250 A.D. - 1987 - Hunter according to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
Middle 2nd century - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts mentions that this is the earliest text that omits John 7:53-8:11 (the periscope of the adulteress). It based this date in part on the fact that the handwriting of Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1074 of Exodus in the 2nd century is an extremely close match.
p75 Bodmer 14/15 Papyrii (most of Luke and John. John 1:1-11:45; 11:48-57; 12:3-13:1; 13:8-9; 14:8-15; part of 14:16; 14:17-29; 15:7-8) 175-200 A.D., or 175-225 A.D. (Jn 7:53-8:11 was never present.) Originally 144 leaves, we have preserved 102 leaves) Very similar to Vaticanus (A General Introduction to the Bible p.390) The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a picture of part of it on p.496. It says a professional scribe wrote this manuscript. A photograph of part of the scroll of the Bodmer 14/15 Papyrii is in the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.706.
Beginning of the 3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament says the verses are John 1:1-13:1-; 14:8-15:8 with lacunae.
Late 2nd century (c.175 A.D.) - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
p76 John 4:9,12 (6th century)
6th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p80 John 3:34, followed by interpretation. Middle 3rd century.
Middle 3rd century - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
p90 Jn 18:36-19:7 (c.175 A.D.) The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph showing part of p90 on p.610.
Middle to late 2nd century - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
p93 John 13:15-17 (5th century)
p95 John 5:26-29, 36-38. 3rd century. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph of it on p.620.
3rd century - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
p106 (= Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4445) John 1:29-35; 40-46 (3rd century)
p107 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4446) John 17:1-2; 11 (3rd century)
p108 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4447) John 17:23-24; 18:1-5 (3rd century)
p109 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4448) John 21:18-20; 21:23-35 (3rd century)
0162 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 847) John 2:11-22. Late 3rd or 4th century. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph of it on p.632.
Late 3rd or early 4th century (ca.300 A.D.) - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
0217 – Parts of John 12:1 and possibly other verses
Vaticanus [B] (325-350 A.D.) and Sinaiticus [Si] (340-350 A.D.) have all of John.
Alexandrinus [A] c.450 A.D. has all of John except John 6:50-8:52.
Bohairic Coptic 3rd/4th century
Sahidic Coptic 3rd/4rth century
The Washington Codex (4th/5th century) has preserved all of John except for John 14:25-16:7.
Sinaitic Syriac 4th-7th century
T (fifth century) Jn 3:13,15; 5:1,3; 6:36,47,52,58 probably other verses.
Chester Beatty McAc1390 (probably 4th century) at Dishna (close to Nag Hamadi) has John 10:8-18:38 in Sahidic Coptic.
Cambridge 5th/6th century
Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Georgian [Geo] from 5th century
Ephraemi Rescriptus 5th century
Gothic 493-555 A.D.
Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.
Note that manuscripts up through 200 A.D. (p45, p52, p66, p75, p90), contain 855 out of the 878 verses of John (97%). They include verses 1:1-7:52; 8:12-14:30; 15:2-26; 16:2-4, 6-7, 10-33; 17:1-20:20; 20:22,23,25-41; 21:1-9,12,17. (not 7:53-8:11 though).
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