Father McIntyre’s Commentary on John 1:29-34
Posted by Dim Bulb on January 10, 2011
Jn 1:29. The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.
The next day. Our Lord had gone, as the Evangelist supposes his readers to know, immediately after His baptism into the desert for forty days; and now, on the day after that on which John had given testimony, He returns. John saw Him, and pointing Him out to the multitude, said: Behold (Gr. ἴδε) the lamb of God. The word ἴδε and several others are used in the singular, even by classical writers, as interjections. The article denotes some well-known, some appointed and expected lamb. We are thus referred to the well-known passage of Isaias in which the Messiah is described as a lamb before His shearers, and bearing the sins of many (Isa 53; comp. Matt 8:17; Luke 22:37; Acts 8:32; Rev 5:6, 12, 13, 14:1-4, 22:1-3). He is the lamb of God (genitive of possession), i.e., God’s own lamb, and appointed by God: The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa 53:6).
Who taketh away (Gr. ο αιρων) the sin of the world. αιρων might mean who taketh on Himself, or who taketh away. The latter meaning seems to be that determined by the evangelist himself (1 John 3:5). The sin, i.e., all the sins, as a collective whole, of all mankind. According to St. Paul, almost all things, according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood there is no remission (Heb 9:22). The reference, therefore, is to our Lord’s offering of Himself to death for all mankind.
Jn 1:30. This is he of whom I said: After me there cometh a man, who is preferred before me: because he was before me.
This is he of whom I said, &c. The Baptist refers to testimony already given. This testimony is that of Jn 1:15.
Jn 1:31. And I knew him not, but that he may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
And I knew him not (see introductory remarks of previous #1), i.e., His features were unknown to me. This prepares the way for what follows.
But that he may, &c. The past tense is preferable: That He should be made manifest in Israel (or, to Israel) I came baptizing with water. John’s baptism was a manifestation of Christ, (1) for the reason given in Jn 1:25; (2) because the Father had designed to give testimony to Christ on occasion of His baptism by John (Matt 3:13-17).
Jn 1:32. And John gave testimony, saying: I saw the Spirit coming down as a dove from heaven, and he remained upon him.
And John gave testimony. These words mark either the continuation of the preceding testimony, or the beginning of a distinct act of testimony. John testifies to what he had witnessed at Christ’s baptism the descent of the Holy Ghost upon Christ (Luke 3:22). The Holy Ghost remained upon him; not by a continuation of the bodily shape (dove), but by manifesting His presence in our Lord’s public life. St. Luke expresses it thus: Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the desert (Lk 4:1).
Jn 1:33. And I knew him not: but he, who sent me to baptize with water, said to me: He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending. This descent of the Holy Ghost had been promised to John as a sign whereby he might recognise the Son of God (see Jn 1:31).
Jn 1:34. And I saw; and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God.
In this verse the verbs are in the perfect tense. St, John repeats the words which he had heard from heaven: Thou art (this is) my beloved Son (Matt 3:17; Mark 1:11). By those words the Father pointed out Christ as the Eternal Son, the promised Messiah-King foretold in Ps 2. Whether John’s audience understood the full import of these words may be doubted; but that John himself understood, there can be no doubt. The purpose of the evangelist in quoting John s testimony is a decisive proof of this. Now John has testified to three thin,gs concerning Christ: (1) that He is the lamb of God, who taketh away all sin; (2) that He baptizes in the Holy Ghost, i.e., gives life and light to all; (3) that He is the Son of God.