《Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary – John (Vol. 1)》(Heinrich Meyer) Commentator

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θεοῦ) points simply to generation on the man’s side; nor even of the multiplicity of the children of God (B. Crusius), to which there is no reference in what follows; quite as little does it refer to the continuos propagationum ordines from Adam, and afterwards from Abraham downwards (Hoelemann, p. 70), which must necessarily have been more distinctly indicated. Rather is the plural used in a sense not really different from the singular, and founded only on this, that the material blood is represented as the sum-total of all its parts (Kühner, II. p. 28). Comp. Eur. Ion. 705, ἄλλων τραφεὶς ἀφʼ αἱμάτων; Soph. Ant. 121, and many places in the Tragedians where αἵματα is used in the sense of murder (Aesch. Eum. 163, 248; Eur. El. 137; Or. 1547, al.); Monk, ad Eur. Alc. 512; Blomf. Gloss. Choeph. 60. Comp. Sirach 22:22; Sirach 31:21; 2 Maccabees 14:18; also Plato, Legg. x. p. 887 D, ἔτι ἐν γάλαξι τρεφόμενοι.

The negation of human origination is so important to John (comp. John 3:6), that he adds two further parallel definitions of it by οὐδέ

οὐδέ (which he arranges co-ordinately); nor evennor even, where σαρκός designates the flesh as the substratum of the generative impulse, not “the woman” (Augustine, Theophylact, Rupertus, Zeger, Schott, Olshausen),—an interpretation which is most inappropriately supported by a reference to Genesis 2:22, Ephesians 5:28-29, Jude 1:7, while it is excluded by the context ( ἀνδρός, and indeed by what follows). The man’s generative will is meant, and this is more exactly, i.e. personally, defined by ἐκ θελ. ἀνδρός, to which the contrasted etc ἐκ θεοῦ is correlative; and hence ἀνήρ must not be generalized and taken as equivalent to ἄνθρωπος (Lücke), which never occurs—even in the Homeric πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε only apparently—but here least of all, because the act of generation is the very thing spoken of. The following are merely arbitrary glosses upon the points which are here only rhetorically accumulated to produce an ever increasing distinctness of description; e.g. Baumgarten Crusius: “There is an advance here from the most sensual to the most noble” (nature, inclination, will—in spite of the twice repeated θελήματος!); Lange (L. J. III. p. 558): “There is an onward progress from natural generation to that which is caused by the will, and then to that consummated in theocratic faith;” Hoelemann: “ σάρξ, meant of both sexes, stands midway between the universalis humani generis propagatio ( αἵ΄ατα) and the proprius singularis propagationis auctor ( ἀνήρ).” Even Delitzsch refines upon the words, finding in θελή΄. σαρκός the unholy side of generation, though John has only in view the antithesis between the human and the divine viewed in and by themselves.

ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθ.] were begotten of God, containing the real relation of sonship to God, and thus explaining the former τέκνα θεοῦ, in so far as these were begotten by no human being, but by God, who through the Holy Spirit has restored their moral being and life, John 3:5. Hence ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγενν. is not tautological. ἐκ indicates the issuing forth from God as cause, where the relation of immediateness (in the first and last points) and of mediateness (in the second and third) lies in the very thing, and is self-evident without being distinctively indicated in the simple representation of John.

Verse 14

John 1:14. καὶ] and; not assigning a reason for the sonship just mentioned (Chrys., Theophyl., Jansen, Grotius, Lampe, and several others); nor even = οὖν (Bleek), nor in the sense of namely (Frommann), nor yea (Godet), but simply carrying forward the discourse, like every καὶ in the Prologue; and not therefore pointing back to John 1:4 (Maldonatus) or to John 1:9 (De Wette), nor joining on to John 1:11 (Lücke: “The Logos came not only to His own possession, but appeared visibly;” so, substantially, also Baur and Hilgenfeld), which would be a merely apparent advance in the exposition, because the visible manifestation is already intimated by φαίνει in John 1:5 and in John 1:9-13. No; after having in John 1:4-13 spoken of the Logos as the light, of the melancholy opposition of the darkness of unbelief to that true light which had been attested by the Baptist as divine, and of the exceedingly blessed effects which He exercised on believers through the bestowal of the gift of sonship, the evangelist, on arriving at this last point, which expresses his own deepest and most blessed experience, can no longer hesitate formally and solemnly again to proclaim the great event by which the visible manifestation of the Logos—previously so frequently presupposed and referred to—had, with all its saving power, been brought about; and thus by an outpouring of speech, which, prompted by the holiest recollections, soars involuntarily upwards until it reaches the highest height, to set forth and celebrate the How of that manifestation of the Logos which was attended with such blessed results (John 1:12-13), and which he had himself experienced. The transition, therefore, is from what is said in John 1:12-13 of the efficacy of the manifested Logos, to the nature and manner of that manifestation itself, i.e. consequently to the incarnation, as a result of which He, as Jesus Christ, exhibited the glory of the Only-begotten, and imparted the fulness of grace and truth,—that incarnation which historically determined what is recorded of Him in John 1:12-13. Accordingly καὶ is not definitive, “under such circumstances, with such consequences” (Brückner, who inappropriately compares Hebrews 3:19, where καὶ connects the answer with the question as in continuous narration), but it carries the discourse onwards, leading up to the highest summit, which even from John 1:5 showed itself as in the distance. We must interpret it: and—to advance now to the most momentous fact in the work of redemption, namely, how He who had come and wrought so much blessing was manifested and was able to accomplish such a work—the Word was made flesh, etc.

ὁ λόγος] John does not simply say καὶ σὰρξ ἐγένετο, but he names the great subject as he had done in John 1:1, to complete the solemnity of the weighty statement, which he now felt himself constrained still to subjoin and to carry onwards, as if in joyful triumph, to the close of the Prologue.

σὰρξ ἐγένετο] The word σάρξ is carefully chosen, not indeed in any sort of opposition to the divine idea of humanity, which in this place is very remote,(89) but as opposed to the purely divine, and hence also to the purely immaterial nature(90) of the Logos (Clem. ad Cor. II. 9, ὢν μὲν τὸ πρῶτον πνεῦμα ἐγένετο σάρξ; comp. Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. 197), whose transition, however, into this other form of existence necessarily presupposes that He is conceived of as a personality, not as a principle (Beyschlag, Christol. p. 169); as is, besides, required by the whole Prologue. The actual incarnation of a principle would be for John an unrealizable notion. Just as decidedly is ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο opposed to the representation that the Logos always became more and more completely σάρξ (Beyschlag) during the whole unfolding of His earthly life. The ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο is a definite act in the consummation of His history. He became flesh, i.e. a corporeal material being, visible and tangible (1 John 1:2), which He was not before,(91) and by which it is self-evident that the human mode of existence in which He appeared, which we have in the person of Jesus, and which was known to the reader, is intended. ἐν σαρκὶ ἐλήλυθεν (1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7; comp. 1 Timothy 3:16) is, in fact, the same thing, though expressed from the point of view of that modality of His coming which is conditioned by the σὰρξ ἐγένετο. As, however, ἐγένετο points out that He became what He was not before, the incarnation cannot be a mere accident of His substantial being (against Baur), but is the assumption of another real existence, whereby out of the purely divine Logos-Person, whose specific nature at the same time remained unaltered, and in order to accomplish the work of redemption (chap. 6; Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:14-15), a really corporeal personality, i.e. the God-man Jesus Christ (John 1:17), came into existence. Comp. on the point, 1 John 4:2; Philippians 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 5:7. Since σάρξ necessarily carries with it the idea only of the ψυχή (see Schulz, Abendm. p. 94 ff.; Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 256), it might seem as if John held the Apollinarian notion, that in Christ there was no human νοῦς, but that the λόγος took its place.(92) But it is not really so (see, on the other side, Mau, Progr. de Christolog. N. T., Kiel 1843, p. 13 ff.), because the human ψυχή does not exist by itself, but in necessary connection with the πνεῦμα (Beck, bibl. Seelenl. § 13; Hahn, Theol. d. N.T. I. § 154), and because the N. T. (comp. John 8:40) knows Jesus only as perfect man.(93) In fact, John in particular expressly speaks of the ψυχή (John 12:27) and πνεῦ΄α of Christ (John 11:33, John 13:21, John 19:30), which he does not identify with the Logos, but designates as the substratum of the human self-consciousness (John 11:38).(94) The transcendental character, however, of this self-consciousness, as necessarily given in the incarnation of the Logos, Weizsäcker has not succeeded, as is plain from his interpretation of the passages referred to, in explaining away by anything Jesus Himself says in this Gospel. The conception of weakness and susceptibility of suffering (see on Acts 2:17), which Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, Olshausen, Tholuck, Hengstenberg, Philippi, and others find in σάρξ, is quite remote from this verse (comp. 1 John 4:2), where the point in question is simply the change in the divine mode of existence, while the σάρξ is that which bears the δόξα; and so also is any anti-Docetic reference, such as Frommann and others, and even De Wette and Lechler, imagine.

The supernatural generation of Jesus is neither presupposed nor included (as even Godet maintains), nor excluded,(95) in John’s representation ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο, for the expression contains nothing as to the manner of the incarnation; it is an addition to the primitive apostolical Christology, of which we have no certain trace either in the oldest Gospel (Mark), or in the only one which is fully apostolic (John), or even anywhere in Paul: see on Matthew 1:18; comp. John 5:27, Romans 1:3-4.

καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν] and tabernacled, i.e. took up His abode, among us: ἐσκήνωσεν here is chosen merely to draw our attention to the manifestation of the incarnate Logos, whose holy σκήνωμα (2 Peter 1:13) was in fact His human substance,(96) as the fulfilment of the promise of God’s dwelling with His people (Exodus 25:8; Exodus 29:45; Leviticus 26:11; Joel 3:21; Ezekiel 37:27; Haggai 2:8 : comp. Sirach 24:8; Revelation 21:3), and therefore as the Shekinah which formerly revealed itself in the tabernacle and in the temple (see on Romans 9:4); an assumption which the context justifies by the words: ἐθεασ. τ. δόξαν αὐτοῦ. The Targums, in like manner, represent the Word ( מימרא ) as the שׁבינה, and the Messiah as the manifestation of this.

ἐν ἡ΄ῖν] refers to the ὅσοι ἔλαβον αὐτόν, John 1:12-13, to whom John belongs, not simply to the Twelve (Tholuck), nor to the Christian consciousness (Hilgenfeld), nor to mankind generally; comp. John 1:16. The believers whom Jesus found are the fellowship who, as the holy people, surrounded the incarnate Word, and by whom His glory was beheld (comp. 1 John 1:1).

καὶ ἐθεασά΄εθα, κ. τ. λ.] We must not (as most expositors, even Lücke, Frommann, Maier, De Wette) take this clause as far as πατρός to be a lively insertion, interrupting the narrative; for the having beheld the δόξα is the essential element in the progress of the discourse. It is an independent part in the connection; so that πλήρης χάρ. κ. ἀλ., which is usually joined grammatically with ὁ λόγος, is to be referred to αὐτοῦ in an irregular combination of cases, determined by the logical subject (B. Crusius, Brückner, Weiss, comp. Grotius), by which the nominative instead of the dependent case (Augustine read πλήρους) sets forth the statement more emphatically without any governing word. See especially Bernhardy, p. 68; Heind. ad Plat. Theaet. 89, Soph. 7; Winer, p. 524 [E. T. p. 705].

τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ] the Majesty ( כבוד ) of the Logos, i.e. of necessity the divine glory (in the O. T. symbolically revealing itself as the brilliant light which surrounded the manifestation of Deity, Exodus 24:17; Exodus 40:34 ff.; Acts 7:2), so far as the Logos from His nature (see what follows) essentially participated therein, and possessed it in His pre-human state and onwards.(97) It presented itself to the recognition of believers as a reality, in the entire manifestation, work, and history of Him who became man; so that they (not unbelievers) beheld it(98) (intuebantur), because its rays shone forth, so as to be recognised by them, through the veil of the manhood, and thus it revealed itself visibly to them (1 John 1:1; comp. chap. John 2:11). The idea of an inner contemplation is opposed to the context (against Baur). The δόξα τοῦ λόγου, which before the incarnation could be represented to the prophet’s eye alone (John 12:41), but which otherwise was, in its essence, incapable of being beheld by man, became by means of the incarnation an object of external observation by those who were eye-witnesses (Luke 1:2; 1 John 4:14) of His actual self-manifestation. We must, however, bear in mind that the manifestation of this divine glory of the Logos in His human state is conceived of relatively, though revealing beyond doubt the divine nature of the Logos, and nothing else than that, yet as limited and conditioned on the one hand by the imperfection of human intuition and knowledge, and on the other by the state of humiliation (Philippians 2:6 ff.) which was entered upon with the σὰρξ ἐγένετο. For the δόξα absolutely, which as such is also the adequate ΄ορφὴ θεοῦ, was possessed by Him who became man—the Logos, who entered upon life in its human form—only in His pre-existent state (John 17:5), and was resumed only after His exaltation (John 12:41, John 17:5; John 17:22; John 17:24); while during His earthly life His δόξα as the manifestation of the ἴσα εἶναι θεῷ was not the simply divine, but that of the God-man.(99) See on Philippians 2:8, note, and chap. John 17:5. No distinction is hereby made between God’s δόξα and the δόξα of the God-man (as objected by Weiss); the difference is simply in the degrees of manifestation and appearance. Still Weiss is quite right in refusing, as against Köstlin and Reuss, to say that there is in John no idea whatever of humiliation (comp. John 12:32; John 12:34, John 17:5).

δόξαν] more animated without δὲ. Comp. Hom. Od. A, 22 f.; Dem. de. Cor. 143 (p. 275, Reisk.): πόλεμον εἰς τ. ἀττικὴν εἰσάγεις … πόλεμον ἀμφικτυονικόν. See Krüger, § 59, 1. 3, 4.

ὡς ΄ονογενοῦς] as of an only-begotten, i.e. as belongs to such an one,(100) corresponds to the nature of one who is μονογενὴς παρὰ πατρός; Chrysostom: οἵαν ἔπρεπε καὶ εἰκὸς ἔχειν μονογενῆ καὶ γνήσιον υἱὸν ὄντα, κ. τ. λ. The idea of reality (Euthymius Zigabenus: ὄντως) lies as little in ὡς as in the erroneously so-called כְ veritatis (against Olshausen, Klee, and earlier writers); there is rather the supposition of a comparison, which approaches the meaning of quippe (Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 1002); see Kühner, § 330. 5.

΄ονογενής] of Christ, and regarded, indeed, in His divine nature, is Johannean, expressing the apostle’s own idea of Christ’s unique relationship as the Son of God, John 1:18, John 3:16; John 3:18, 1 John 4:9, though it is put into the mouth of Christ Himself in John 3:16; John 3:18. Comp. the Pauline πρωτοτόκος, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:6, which as to the thing certainly corresponds with the Johannean μονογενής, but presents the idea in the relation of time to the creation, and in Romans 8:29 to Christendom. ΄ονογ. designates the Logos as the only Son (Luke 7:12; Luke 8:42; Luke 9:38; Hebrews 11:17; Tobit 8:17; Herod, vii. 221; Plato, Legg. III. p. 691 D Aesch. Ag. 898; Hes. ἔργ. 378), besides whom the Father has none, who moreover did not become such by any moral generation, as in the case of the τέκνα θεοῦ, John 1:12-13, nor by adoption, but by the metaphysical relation of existence arising out of the divine essence, whereby He was ἐν ἀρχῇ with God, being Himself divine in nature and person, John 1:1-2. He did not first become this by His incarnation, but He is this before all time as the Logos, and He manifests Himself as the μονογ. by means of the incarnation, so that consequently the ΄ονογ. υἱὸς is not identical (Beyschlag, p. 151 ff.) with the historical person Jesus Christ, but presents Himself in that person to believers; and therefore we are not to think of any interchange of the predicates of the Logos and the Son, “who may be also conceived of retrospectively” (Weizsäcker, 1862, p. 699). In other respects the designation corresponds to human relations, and is anthropomorphic, as is υἱὸς θεοῦ itself,—a circumstance which, however, necessarily limited its applicability as an expression of the metaphysical relation, in apprehending which we must also leave out of view the conception of birth as such, so far as it implies the idea of the maternal function. Origen well remarks: τὸ δὲ ὡς ΄ονογ. παρὰ πατρ. νοεῖν ὑποβάλλει, ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρὸς εἶναι τὸν υἱὸνεἰ γὰρ καὶ ἄλλα παρὰ πατρὸς ἔχει τὴν ὓπαρξιν, ΄αταίως τοῦ ΄ονογενοῦς ἔκειτο φωνή.

πατρός] without the article (Winer, p. 116 [E. Tr. p. 151]). παρὰ πατρ. must be joined to ΄ονογ., to which it adds the definite idea of having gone forth, i.e. of having come from the Father (John 6:46, John 7:29, John 16:27). Correlative with this is John 1:18, ὁ ὢν εἰς τ. κόλπον τοῦ πατρός, where the, only-begotten Son who came forth from the Father is viewed as having again returned to the Father. The conception of having been begotten, consequently of derivation from the essence, would be expressed by the simple genitive ( πατρός) or by the dative, or by ἐκ or ἀπό, but lies in the word μονογενοῦς itself; since this expresses the very generation, and therefore the ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρὸς εἶναι (Origen). Its connection with δόξαν (Erasmus, Grotius, Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. 120, Weiss; already Theophyl.?) is in itself grammatically admissible (Plut. Agis, 2; Plato, Phaedr. p. 232 A Acts 26:12), but is not favoured here either by the position of the words or by the connection, from which the idea of the origin of the δόξα lay far remote, the object being to designate the nature of the δόξα; moreover, the anarthrous μονογ. requires a more precise definition, which is exactly what it has in παρὰ πατρός.

πλήρης χάρ κ. ἀληθ.] To be referred to the subject, though that ( αὐτοῦ) stands in the genitive. See above. It explains how the Logos, having become incarnate, manifested Himself to those who beheld His glory. Grace and truth(101) are the two efficaciously saving and inseparable factors of His whole manifestation and ministry, not constituting His δόξα (Luthardt),—a notion opposed to John 2:11; John 2:17,—but displaying it and making it known to those who beheld that glory. Through God’s grace to sinful man He became man; and by His whole work on earth up to the time of His return to His Father, He has been the instrument of obtaining for believers the blessing of becoming the children of God. Truth, again, was what He revealed in the whole of His work, especially by His preaching, the theme of which was furnished by His intuition of God (John 1:18), and which therefore must necessarily reveal in an adequate manner God’s nature and counsel, and be the opposite of σκοτία and ψεῦδος. Comp. Matthew 11:27. The ἀλήθεια corresponds formally to the nature of the Logos as light ( φῶς); the χάρις, which bestows everlasting life (John 3:15), to His nature as life ( ζωή), John 1:4-5. That the χάρις κ. ἀλήθεια with which He was filled are divine grace and truth, of which He was the possessor and bearer, so that in Him they attained their complete manifestation (comp. John 16:6), is self-evident from what has preceded, but is not specially indicated, as would necessarily have been done by the use of the article, which would have expressed the grace and truth (simply) κατʼ ἐξοχήν. John 1:16 f. is decisive against the construction of πληρής with what follows (Erasmus, Paulus). Whether John, moreover, used the words πλήρ. χάριτος κ. ἀληθ. with any reference to Exodus 34:6 (Hengstenberg) is very doubtful, for אֱמֶת in that passage has a different meaning (truthfulness, fidelity). John is speaking independently, from his own full experience and authority as a witness. Through a profound living experience, he had come to feel, and here declares his conviction, that all salvation depends on the incarnation of the Logos.

Verse 15

John 1:15. It is to this great fact of salvation to which the Baptist bears testimony, and his testimony was confirmed by the gracious experience of us all (John 1:16).

μαρτυρεῖ] Representation of it as present, as if the testimony were still sounding forth.

κέκραγε] “clamat Joh. cum fiducia et gaudio, uti magnum praeconem decet,” Bengel. He crieth, comp. John 7:28; John 7:37, John 12:44; Romans 9:27. The Perfect in the usual classical sense as a present ( βοῶν … καὶ κεκραγώς, Dem. 271, 11; Soph. Aj. 1136; Arist. Plut. 722, Vesp. 415). Not so elsewhere in the N. T. Observe, too, the solemn circumstantial manner in which the testimony is introduced: “John bears witness of Him, and cries while he says.”

οὗτος ἦν] ἦν is used, because John is conceived as speaking at the present time, and therefore as pointing back to a testimony historically past: “This was He whom I meant at the time when I said.” With εἰπεῖν τινα, “to speak of any one,” comp. John 10:36; Xen. Cyr. vii. 3. 5; Plato, Crat. p. 432 C Hom. Il. ζ. 479. See on John 8:27.

ὁ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμ. ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν] “He who cometh after me is come before me;”—in how far is stated in the clause ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν, which assigns the reason. The meaning of the sentence and the point of the expression depend upon this,—namely, that Christ in His human manifestation appeared after John, but yet, as the pre-mundane Logos, preceded him, because He existed before John. On γίνεσθαι with an adverb, especially of place, in the sense of coming as in John 7:25, see Krüger on Xen. Anab. i. 2. 7; Kühner, II. p. 39; Nägelsbach, note on Iliad, ed. 3, p. 295. Comp. Xen. Cyrop. vii. 1. 22, ἐγένετο ὄπισθεν τῶν ἁρμαμαξῶν; Anab. vii. 1. 10; i. 8. 24. Both are adverbs of place, so that, however, the time is represented as local, not the rank ( ἐντιμότερός μοῦ ἐστι, Chrysostom; so most critics, even Lücke, Tholuck, Olshausen, Maier, De Wette),(102) which would involve a diversity in the manner of construing the two particles (the first being taken as relating to time), and the sentence then becomes trivial, and loses its enigmatical character, since, indeed, the one who appears later need not possess on that account any lower dignity. Origen long ago rightly understood both clauses as relating to time, though the second is not therefore to be rendered “He was before me” (Luther and many, also Brückner, Baeumlein), since ἦν is not the word;(103) nor yet: “He came into being before me,” which would not be referable “to the O. T. advent of Christ” (Lange), but, in harmony with the idea of μονογενής, to His having come forth from God prior to all time. It is decisive against both, that ὅτι

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