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§ 146. The Discourse continued: Christ Appeals to the Testimony of his Works. (John, v., 30-37.)

Having thus unfolded his whole Messianic agency, embracing both the present and the future, Christ returns (v. 30) to the general proposition with which he had commenced (in v. 19). As he had applied his unity of action with the Father to his whole course, so now he applies it specifically to his judgment, which must, therefore, be just and 221true: “I can of mine own self do nothing; as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just.”

His decision against his opponents must, therefore, be just and true also. They need not say (he told them) that his testimony was not trustworthy, because given of himself (v. 31), It was another that bore witness of him, whose testimony he knew to be unimpeachable (v. 32). He did not allude to John, whose light, which had been to them, as to children, a source of transitory381381   The words of John, v., 35, imply that the ministry of the Baptist belonged to the past, and they may have been spoken after his death; although the only necessary inference is, that he had ceased his public labours. pleasure, they had not followed to the point whither it ought to have guided them; he did not allude to John’s, nor, indeed, to any man’s testimony, but to a greater, viz., the works themselves, which the Father had given him to accomplish, and which formed the objective testimony to the Divinity of his labours: “The same works that I do, bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me; and the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me382382   I cannot agree with those who (like Lücke, Comm. John, v., 37) refer the first clause of verse 37 to the testimony of the Father, as given in the Old Testament. The connexion demands a climax. But how could the testimony of God in the Scriptures be more direct than in the Divine agency of Christ itself? There could be no revelation more direct or powerful than this. The present tense (“the works bear witness”) is used in verse 36, because Christ’s agency was still going on, and to continue. But because part of it was already past, and a subject of contemplation, the perfect tense is used in verse 37 (“the Father hath borne witness”). The 37th verse looks back to the 36th, the ὁ πέμψας με referring to the ὅτι ὁ πατήρ με ἀπέσταλκεν. The climax consists in the transfer of what has been said of the works, as testifying of God, to God himself, as testifying through the works. Then Christ shows why the Jews do not perceive this testimony, but always demand new proofs. They ask a testimony that can be heard and perceived by the carnal senses; and there is none such to be had. God reveals himself only in a spiritual way, to the indwelling Sense for the Divine. This last they have not; and the revelation of the Old Testament has always been to them a dead letter; the word of God has not penetrated their inner being. To this very naturally follows verse 39, “Ye search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life;” which life only Christ can impart. In opposition to the most recent commentators, I must think this the true connexion of the passage. (v. 36, 37).

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