« PreviousContinue »
“ I know, that ye are Abraham's seed: but ye seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I have heard of God. This did not Abrabam.” Ver. 59, “ Then took they up stones to cast at bim.”—And ch. x. 39, 40, “ Therefore they sought again to take bim: but he escaped out of their hand, and went away beyond Jordan.” And when our Lord proposed to go to Bethany, upon occasion of the sickness and death of Lazarus, the disciples go unwillingly, and would have dissuaded bim from that journey, being apprehensive of the imminent danger therein both to bim and themselves, ch. xi, 1–16. See likewise ver. 45–57. All these are things quite omitted by the other evangelists. As is also what is said, ch. xii. 10, 11. And in their last persecution of Jesus before Pilate there are some very aggravating particulars mentioned by St. John, which the other evangelists have not taken notice of. See ch. xviij. 29–32 ; ch. xix. 1–15.
Our blessed Lord, preparing his disciples for alictions, reconciling their minds to them, and encouraging them to endure them patiently, says, ch. xv, 21–24, “ All these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not bim that sent me. If I had not come, and spoken unto them, they bad not had sin: but now they have no excuse for their sin. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the work's which no other man did, they had not had sin : but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.” That is a strong, but just and true representation of the heinousness of the guilt of the Jewish people. For which reason I could not forbear to allege it here, though it should be thought out of place.
And now having, as I suppose, shown this design of the evangelist, let me mention an observation or two, by way of corollary.
First. We see the reason of St. John's recording the miracle of raising Lazarus, omitted by the other evangelists. There was no necessity that they should mention it; for without it they have recorded sufficient evidences of our Lord's mission and character. Nor was it possible, without an improper prolixity, to record all our Saviour's discourses and miracles, as St. John himself has observed. Moreover the first three evangelists have chiefly insisted upon the most public part of our Lord's ministry : for which reason this miracle did not come so directly in their way. But St. John could not omit it. His design necessarily led him to relate this great miracle done so near Jerusalem, and with
all its circumstances. For it manifestly shows the perverse and incorrigible temper of the Jewish priests and rulers, .
Secondly. None ought any more to make a question, whether our Lord twice cleansed the temple, or once only. It was cleansed by bim at the time of his last passover, as related by the first three evangelists. But it was very proper for St. John to record that done at the first passover of our Lord's ministry: it affording an alarming evidence of his being the expected Messiab, wbich should have been taken notice of by the Jewish rulers at Jerusalem. It was an early and open claim of the character of the Messiah. And their neglecting that, and so many other claims and eviden)ces of the same great truth afterwards, manifests the obstinacy of their unbelief: which was fitly shown by this evangelist.
I now proceed to some other arguments.
3. One argument, that St. John's gospel was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, is taken from ch, v. 2, “ Now there is at Jerusalem, by the sheep-market,” or sheep gate, “ a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.”
On this passage insist both w Basnage and * Lampe. St. John does not say, as they observe, there was, but there is. And though the pool might remain, it could not be said after the ruin of the city, that the five porches still subsisted. · Mr. Whiston argues in this manner. · St. John'sy speak• ing of the pool of Bethesda in the present tense, better • agrees to the time here assigned, A. D. 63, before the de• struction of Jerusalem, when that pool and porch were • certainly in being, than to the time afterwards, when pro• bably both were destroyed.'
Dr. Wbitby likewise was somewhat affected by this text, and says : If “ there is" be the true reading, as the con. • sent of almost all the Greek copies argues, it seems to in"timate, that Jerusalem and this pool were standing when · St. John wrote bis gospel: and therefore, that it was writ• ten, as Theophylact and others say, before the destruction • of Jerusalem, and not, as the more ancient fathers thought, • long after.'
" Porro quod tam sero scriptum Joannis evangelium tradamus, id ex sententiâ potius veterum, quam ex rei veritate, fecimus. Ex ipso quippe evangelio nascitur argumentum ad existimandum, lucem prius aspexisse, quam Hierosolyma everteretur. • Est,' inquit, • Hierosolymis ad portam ovium piscina.' Stetisse ergo videtur urbs sancta, Joanne ea verba scribente. Secus, non præsens, est, €51, sed præteritum adhibuisset. Basn. an. 97. n. xii.
* Habetur igitur hic non tantum mentio. portæ ovium,' tanquam tunc adhuc exstantis, cum scriberet evangelista, sed etiam ædificii ex quinque porticibus constantis, quales structuræ post dirutam a Romanis Hierosolymam illic frustra essent quæsitæ. Licet enim piscinam superesse velint itineraria, portæ tamen ac muri solo æquata erant. Inde igitur colligimus, stetisse urbem sanctain, Joanne ea verba scribente. Secus, non præsens, est, sed præteritum adhibuisset. Lamp. Prol. 1. 2. cap. 2. num. xi.
y Essay on the Constitutions, ch. i. p. 38.
But Mr. Jones, beside other things, says, that? in all • probability the pool was not filled up, but was still in "ibe same state, after the destruction of Jerusalem, as be
fore.' To which, bowever, it might be answered, that supposing the pool not to have been filled up, it would not be reasonable to tbink, that the porches and the gate still subsisted, after the destruction of the city. But then Mr. Jones adds: “ Supposing the pool was destroyed, and St. John to • have known it, there is no impropriety in using the verb 6“ is :" nothing being more common among writers, than to • use verbs in the present tense, to denote the preterperfect.'
Having represented this argument, as it has appeared to divers learned men, I leave every one to judge of it.
4. In cb. xxi. 18, 19, Cbrist foretells, that Peter would die by martyrdom. Then it is added : “ This spake he, signifying, by what death he should glorify God.” Some may hence argue, that a Peter was not yet dead when this was written : or that St. John did not then know of it. But others may be of opinion, that b though Peter had suffered martyrdom a good while before, and St. John knew it very well; yet he was not obliged to take notice of it, but might write as he does.
Indeed, I am of opinion, that St. John could not take notice of Peter's death. It was not a thing within his province. As an evangelist, he wrote the bistory of our Saviour, not of his apostles.
5. A 'like argument may be taken from the following verses, 20, 21, 22, “ Peter seeing John, saith to Jesus: Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto hiin: if I will, that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad, that that disciple should not die. Yet Jesus said not uuto him, he shall not die,
2 New and Full Method, Vol. iii. p. 141.
a Post Petri martyrium editum esse Joannis evangelium consensus est patrum omnium. Fit tamen in eâ re scrupulus. Petro Christus mortem diserte portendit, cap. xxi. 18—--Quæ si scripta sunt, jam misso ad mortem Petro, injici de ea re mentio debebat, ut et completi oraculi cognitio caperetur, et martyri Christi laus sua concederetur. Basn. Exercit. p. 384.
b Locus ex Joh. xxi. 18, non magni in hac causså momenti est. Nullam enim video necessitatem, cur mortem Petri commemoraret, si vel actu notitiam ejus habuisset, quia sic per se satis veritas prædictionis Jesu innotuisset, &c. Lamp. ib. I. 2. c. 2. sect. xiii.
but if I will, that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee pos If by Christ's coming be bere intended the overtbrow of Jerusalem, as many think, it may be supposed reasonable by some to expect, that St. John should bave taken some notice of it here, if he wrote after that event. Nevertheless, I humbly apprehend, that this is not an argument of much weight. I do not think, that as an evangelist he was obliged to give an account of the fulfilment of Christ's prediction, though he had been a witness of it.
6. “ This is the disciple tbat testifieth these things, and wrote these things. And we know that his testimony is true." By these last words Mr. Lampec supposed to be meant some Jews, then living in Asia, who were eye-witnesses of our Lord, and his ministry: which might well be, if St. Jobn’s gospel was written before the destruction of Jerusalem : but would not be reckoned likely, if it was writ. ten not before the year of the vulgar epoch 97, or 98. They who confirm the testimony of another, ought to bave the same certain knowledge of the thing testified, as he who speaks, or writes. But after the destruction of Jerusalem, it is not reasonable to think, there were many to bear witness to things done forty or fifty years before. These Jews, eye-witnesses of our Lord, Mr. Lampe supposeth to have been believers of that nation, who accompanied John into Asia, when he left Judea.
I have thought it proper, not to omit this argument of tbat learned writer: but it depends upon his interpretation of this verse ; which is not certain. For some bave supposed, thatd it is the church of Ephesus, which here speaks : and others think it to be • St. John himself. The change of number and person, of we for I, is no valid objection. So 1 John i, 1–5, “ That wbich we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes.”—3 epist, 12, “ Yea, and we also bear record, and ye know that our record is true.” And St. Paul, 1 Thess. ii. 18, “ Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again ; but Satan hindered us.” Cbrysostom f and Theophylacts understood St. John to speak here of himself, as an eye-witness, wbo had been present at almost every thing related by him in his bistory.
c Ibid. 1. 2. cap. 2. num. ix.
d. Et scimus.') Loquitur ecclesia Ephesina. "Scimus,' aiunt, fide dignum,' ex vitæ scilicet puritate, et miraculis ab eo editis. Grot. in loc.
e • The evangelist had • said before, ch. xix. 35. “ He knoweth, that he says true." Here in this • place he changeth the person, saying: “ We know, that his testimony is "true,"' Lightfoot upon John xxi. 24. Vol. II. p. 627. See likewise Whitby, L'Enfant, and Doddridge upon the place.
Kal oida, onowy, ori al non est å deyel. Kau waoi de aapnv, kai 80€ savpopevo ArowaveTo, kai Tiv untepa avexeLOLOn. Chrys. hom. 88. al. 87. T. VIII. p. 588. C. D. E.
8 Και οιδα, φησιν, ότι αληθη λεγει,
7. It is said : . The three epistles of St. John do ever suppose the gospel of St. John to have been written long be• fore, and to be well known by those to whom he wrote. ! And they are written with a constant view and regard to • the contents of the same gospel.' That is an argument l' of Mr. Whiston, whicb, with what he adds by way of confirmation, is referred to the reader's consideration.
8. Some have argued for an early date of this gospel, or at least, that it was written before the Revelation, which was seen in Patmos, because i it is said at the beginning of that book, cb. i. 1, 2, “ Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things which he saw.” They suppose, that therein St. Jobn refers to his gospel, and what he had written in it. But to me the most reasonable account of those words appears to be that which k was given formerly: that they are most properly understood of that very book, the Revelation and the things contained in it. The writer there says very pertinently, in his introduction, that in that book lie bad discharged the office assigned him: having therein faithfully recorded the word of God, received from Jesus Christ, and all the visions which he had seen.
9. Once more it is argued from inscriptions, at the end of this gospel, in divers manuscripts, that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem : it being there said, that this gospel was written in the time of Nero, at thirty years, or about two and thirty years after our Saviour's ascension. Upon these insisted' Mr. Wetstein in a passage quoted from him some while ago. Upon them likewise insists Mr. Lampe. τετεσι πληροφορηθεις εγραψα, ά εγραψα, άτε πασι παρων, και τους εργοις, και τοις λογους, και τοις παθεσι, και τοις μετα την ανασασιν. Αγαπητος γαρ ημων, και ουκ απελιμπανομην, ώςε παρρησιαζομαι, και περι εμαυτο λεγω, ότι αληθευω. Theophyl. in Jo. tom. I. p. 847.
" See his Commentary upon St. John's three Catholic Epistles, p. 8, &c.
Ipsum porro audiamus evangelistam idem non obscure, uti nobis videtur, subindicantem, quando Apoc. i. 2. se ita circumscribit, ós euaptuonge rov loyoy To 088- Et versu 9.-—Plurimi optimi interpretes in eo consentiunt, quod in his verbis ad evangelium respiciatur, licet in modo demonstrandi differant, &c. Lamp. Prol. 1. 2. cap. 2. sect. viii. * See Vol. ii. p. 708.
See before, p. 431. m Accedit multarum glossarum et versionum in id consensus, quod sub Nerone evangelium sit exaratum. Licet enim auctoritates hæ sequioris ævi sint, ob earum tamen frequentiam et harmoniam valde est credibile, quod in antiquiori traditione fundatæ sint--Id tamen observavi discrimen, ut quædam numero rotundo xxx. post Christi adscensionem, aliæ xxxii. nominent. Lampe, ibid. I. 2. cap. 2. num. xii. Vid. et num. xiv.