James Stevenson Riggs.

The messages of Jesus according to the Gospel of John; the discourses of Jesus in the Fourth gospel online

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C5e Sl^e!Ef0age0 ot tje T5ih\t


ffRANK K. Sanders, PlvD., President of Washburn CoUefl^

Topeka, Kansas, and Professor Charles F. Kent,

Ph.D., of Yals University

Anew series, in which emphssis is placed upon the concise, for-
cible, and realistic interpretation of the Bible. The books of the
Bible are grouped according to a natural classification, their contents
arranged in the order of appearance, and a scholarly yet jxjpular
paraphrase of their distinctive thought given in plain and expressive
English. The purpose of this series is to enable any reader of the
Bible to understand its meaning as a reverent scholar of to-day does,
and in particular to receive the exact impression which the words as
originally heard or read must have made i pon those for whom they
were delivered.

This series is not a substitute for the Bible, but an aid to the
reverent, appreciative, and enthusiastic reading of the Scriptures; in
fact, it will serve the purpose of an

Technicalities and unsettled questions will be, as far as possible,
ignored. Ea h volume will be prepared by a leading specialist, and
will contain such brief introductions as serve to put the reader into
intelligent relation to the general theme treated. The editorial re-
arrangement of the order of the Biblical books or secticrs will repre-
seni the definite results of sober scholarship.

I. The Messages of the Earlier Prophets.

n. The Messages of the Later -Prophets,

in. The Messages of the Law Givers.

IV. The Messages of the Prophetical and Priestly Hl9»

V, The Messages of the Psalmists.

VI. The Messages of the Sages.

VII. The Messages of the Poets.

III. The Messages of the Apocalyptic Writers.

IX. The Messages of Jesus according to the Synoptistft

X. The Messages of Jesus according to John-

XI. The Messages of Paul.

d. The Messages of th« Apo»tle9>

^be fiPeggaocg of the Bible


Professor Frank K. Sanders, Ph.D.

formerly of Yale University

Professor Charles F. Kent, Ph.D.

of Yale University


Ube /IDeggaQcs of tbe Bible





James Stevenson Riggs, D.D.

Professor of 'Biblical Criticism in Auburn Theological Seminary



Copyright, 1907,



Published, November, 1907



This little voiume has a twofold aim. It seeks to give
an interpretation of the Gospel and to set forth the Gospel's
peculiar structure and nature. The former aim is ac-
complished by means of a paraphrase in which underlying
connections of thought are supplied, figurative terms are
explained and such amplifications of the text are intro-
duced as shall make the meaning clear. Such a method
gives room for only the results of exegesis. The discussions
showing why and how these results are obtained belong to
commentaries which consider the text piece by piece. If
a paraphrase is of any value it is in presenting as a con-
nected, readable whole what has been obtained by a careful
critical study of each phrase and sentence. Such value we
hope the book offers.

Every earnest student of this Gospel knows how pro-
longed and determined has been the battle of criticism
over its worth and its authorship. Hardly a chapter has
escaped destructive attack and noble work has been done
in defense. In the form of introductions and explanatory
additions I have sought to call attention not so much
t^ negative critical theories as to the points against which



these theories have been directed. The striking difference
between the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptics requires
explanation. Has it been made by declaring that the book
is a second-century production or by postulating another
author than the Apostle John? It is to help the student
to answer such questions for himself that all along the way
attention has been called to those points in style, structure
and thought which bear upon these critical inquiries. In
considering them all may not come to the same conclusion,
but to him who studies with devout, reverent sympathy
one judgment is sure to be formed, and that is that the
Gospel's exalted, spiritual conception and presentation
of Christ are matchless.

I am indebted to many interpreters and critics for
help and suggestions. It is a pleasure to acknowledge
the unfailing courtesy and assistance of the editors at
whose request this work was undertaken.

James S. Riggs.

Auburn, October 21, 1907.





I. The Problem of John's Gospel 1-15

II. Did the Apostle John write the Gospel? . 16-35

1. External Evidence 16-21

2. Internal Evidence 22-35

III. Influences Formative of the Gospel . . . 36-56

1. The Old Testament 45-47

2. The Teaching of Paul 48-50

3. The Ephesian Environment 5 1-56

IV. The Apostle John 57-71


Chapters I-II: 11

I. Its Representative Character 75-82

II. Its Interpretation : (i: 1-18) 82-85

III. The Beginnings of the History 86-87

IV. The Testimonies of the Baptist 88-95

I . First Testimony to Deputation from Jerusalem

(i : 19-28) 88-90




a. Second Testimony (i : 29-34) 90-q^

3. Third Testimony (i : 35-42) 94-95

V. The Testimony of Philip and Nathanael

(i :43-SO 96-97

VI. The Miracle at Cana (2:1-11) 98-99


Incidents selected to illustrate that self-revelation of Jesus which
awakened faith in Judea, Samaria and Galilee

Chapters II: 12 — IV: 54

I. The Ministry in Judea (2:13-3:21) . . . 103-115

1. The Cleansing of the Temple (2 : 13-22) . 103-106

2. The Signs wrought in the city (2 : 23-25) . . 107

3. The Conversation with Nicodemus (3 : i-i 5) 108-112

4. Comments of the Evangelist (3 : 16-21) . . 11 3-1 15

II. Jesus in tke Country Districts of Judea

(3:22-36) 116-121

1. The Last Witness of John the Baptist (3:22-

26) u6-ii8

2. The Words of the Baptist (3 : 27-30) . . . 118-119

3. Reflections of the Evangelist (3 : 31-36) . . 119-121

III. The Ministry in Samaria (4:1-42) .... 122-128

1 . The Conversation with the Samaritan Woman

(4: 1-26) 122-126

2. The Return of the Disciples (4 : 27-39) • • 126-128

IV. The Ministry in Galilee (4:43-54) .... 129-131

I. The Cure of the Noi^lcinan's Son .... 129-131




Events selected to show that self-revelation of the Messiah which

was made in the presence of unbelief and opposition

both in Galilee and Jerusalem

Chapters V-XII


I. The Miracle AT THE Pool OF Bethesda (5 : 1-47) 135-150

1. Introductory (5:1) 135

2. Healing of the Cripple (5 : 2-16) .... 136-139

3. Teaching Following the Miracle (5 : 17-47) 139-150

(a) Outline of Teaching and Interpretation of verses

19-30 141-145

(t) Outline of Teaching and Interpretation of

Verses 31-47 i45~iS°

II. The Feeding of the Five Thousand (6 : 1-59)150-166

1. Introductory 1 50-1 51

2. The Narrative Concerning the Miracle

(6 : 1-21) 151-156

3. The Teaching of Jesus (6 : 26-59) .... 156-166

1. Introductory 156

2. The First Discourse: The True Bread (6:26-40) 157-161

3. The Second Discourse: Coming to (that is be-
lieving in) the Son (6 : 41-51) 162-164

4. The Third Discourse (the .Appropriation of Life)
(6:52-38) 164-166

III. The Crisis in Galilee (6:60-71) 166-169

1. The Fourth Discourse : The Essential in the
Messiah is the Spiritual (6 : 62—65) . . . i66-i6cS

2. The Confession of Peter (6:67-71) . . . 168-169

IV. Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles (7:1-52) 169-184

I. Introductory 169-170




2. The Conversation in Galilee with His Brethren

(7 : i-io) 171-172

3. The Public Interest in Him (7 : 11-13) . . 172

4. The Discourse Concerning His Teaching

(7: 14-24) 173-175

5. The Discourse Concerning His Origin (7 : 25-

29) 176-178

6. The Discourse Regarding His Departure
(7:30-34) 178-180

7. The Discourse Regarding the True Fountain
(7:35-38) 180-181

8. Comment of the Evangelist (7 : 39) . . . 182

9. A General Summary of the Effect of these
Addresses upon the Multitude and upon the
Officials (7 : 40-52) 182-184

V. The Rupture in Jerusalem (8: 12-59) • • • 184-201

1. Introductory 184-185

2. The First Discourse : Christ's Witness — I am

the Light of the World (8 : 12-20) .... 185-187

3. The Second Discourse: The Seriousness of the
Difference between the Jews and Jesus

(8: 21-30) 187-191

4. The Third Discourse (8 : 31-59) .... 191-201

(i) Encouragement and Warning to be Faithful

(8 : 31-36) 192-194

(2) A Conversation showing what Their Claim of
Descent from Abraham was Worth (8 : 37-47) • 195-197

(3) The Preeminence of Jesus (8 : 48-5Q) . . . 198—201

VI. The Cure of the Man Born Blind (9 : 1-38) . 201-209

1. Introductory 201-202

2. The Account of the Miracle (9 : 1-7) . . . 202-204

3. The Consequent Discussions and Investiga-
tion (9 : 8-34) 204-208

4. The Spiritual Outcome of the Miracle (9 : 35-

38) 208-209




VII. The Spiritual Teaching in Connection with

THE Cure of the Man Born Blind (9 : 39-10 : 42)209-224

1. Introductory 209-211

2. The General Effects of the Ministry of Jesus
upon the World as Suggested by His Experi-
ences with the Blind Man (9:39-41) . . . 211-212



3. Jesus the Shepherd (10 : 1-21) . . .
(i) The Real Shepherd (10; 1-6) . . .

(2) Jesus the Door of the Sheep (10 : 7-10)

(3) The Good Shepherd (10:11-18) . .

(4) The Result of these Teachings (lo : 19-21)

4. His Sweeping Claims (10 : 22-40) . .

(i) His Witness to His Messiahship (10 : 22-30) . 220-222
(2) The Justification of His Claim to be Son of

God (10:34-39) 222-223

5. The Departure Beyond the Jordan (10 : 40-42) 224

VIII. The Raising of Lazarus (11:1-57) .... 224-236

1. Introductory 224-226

2. In the Perea (11 : 1-16) 226-228

3. In Bethany (11 : 17-46) 228-232

4. In Jerusalem (11 : 47-53) 233-235

5. Jesus Goes to Ephraim (n : 54) .... 235

6. All Watch for Him in Jerusalem (11 : 55-57) 236

IX. The Threefold Relationship of Christ

(12 : 1-36) 236-252

1. Introductory 236-238

2. The Supper in Bethany (12 : 1-8) .... 238-240

3. The Triumphal Entry (12 : 9-19) .... 240-244

4. The Request of the Greeks (12 : 20-36) and
subsequent addresses 245-247

(i) Introductory 245-246

(2) First Address: The Way to Life's Enlargement

and Glorification (12 : 24-26) 247-249



(3) Second Address: The Significance of the Passion
(12:27-33) 250

(4) The Perplexity of the Jews and Christ's Treat-
ment of it (12 : 34) 251

(5) Their Duty in Reference to the Light (12 : 33,

36) 251-252

X. A Review of Jewish Unbelief by the Evangel-
ist (12 : 37-50) 253

1. The Cause (12 : 37-43) 254-255

2. The Seriousness of the Unbelief of the Jews

(12 : 44-50) 255-256


The self-revelation made to faith

Chapters XIII-XVII

I. The Purification of the Disciples' Faith

(13:1-30) 259-268

1. Introductory 259-261

2. General Introduction to Chapters 13-17 . . 261

3. TheWashingof the Disciples' Feet (13 : 2-20) 261-265

4. The Dismissal of Judas (13 : 21-30) . . . 265-268
II. The Discourses (13:31-14:31) 268-284

1. Introductory 268-271

2. The Announcement of His Departure (13:31-

38) 272

3. Comfort for Disciples Perplexed and Saddened

by the Thought of His Departure (14 : 1-3 1) . 273-284
(i) The Promise of Reunion (14 : i-ii) . . . 273-277

(2) The Promise of Power (14: 12-17) • • • 277-279

(3) The Promise of Personal Manifestation (14:18-

26) 279-282

(4) The Bequest of Peace (14:27-30) . . . 282-284
III. The Relation of Christ's Disciples to Him

AND OF the World TO Them (15 : 1-16 : 6) . . 284-292
I. Introductory 284-287




2. The Relation of Christ's Disciples to Him

(15: 1-17) 287-290

3. The Relation of the World to the Disciples
(15:18-16:6) 290-292

IV. The Mission of the Spirit (16: 7-15) . . . 292-295

V. The Joy of the Disciples on the Resurrection

Morning (16:16-24) 296-299

VI. A Summary and a Conclusion (16 : 25-33) . . 299-301

VII. The Prayer of Jesus (17:1-26) 302-309

1. Introductory 302-304

2. A Prayer for Himself: Glorify Me (17 : 1-5) 304-303

3. Prayer for His Disciples: Keep them in Thy

Name (17:6-19) 306-308

4. Prayer for Those Who through the Disciples'
Wordshould Believe on Him (17 : 20-26) . . 308-309


The Triumph of Unbelief. Victory through Death. The Highest
self-revelation of Jesus

Chapters XVIII-XIX

I. General Introduction 313-314

II. The Arrest (18:1-12) 314-317

III. The Examination before Annas (18 : 13-27) . 317-320

IV. Jesus Before Pilate (18 : 28-19 : 16) . . . . 320-327

V. The Crucifixion and Death (19: 17-30) . . 327-329

VI. The Four Enemies and Five Friends

(19: 23-27) 329-333

VII. The Burial (19:38-42) 333-33S




The Beginning of Exaltation. The Messiah Glorified. Faith

Chapter XX


I. Introductory 339-34°

II. Peter and John at the Empty Sepulchre —

John's Faith (20 : i-io) 340-342

III. Christ's Appearance to Mary Magdalene

(20: n-18) 342-344

IV. The Appearance to the Disciples, Thomas

BEING Absent (20: 19-23) 344-346

V. The Appearance to the Disciples, Thomas

BEING Present (20 : 24-29) 346-347

VI. Conclusion and Purpose of the Gospel (20 : 30-

31) 348

Chapter XXI '

I. Introductory 351-35*

II. The Episode at the Sea of Tiberias (21 : 1-23) 352-357
III. Concluding Words (21 : 24, 25) 357-35^


I. The Narrative of the Woman taken in Adul-
tery (7 : 53-8 : n) 361-364

II. Books of Reference 364-370

III. Index of Biblical Passages 373-374





All critical questions concerning the Gospel of John The two
really narrow down to these two: "Is the Gospel trust- "ons^regard-
worthy histor>'?" "Did the Apostle John write it?" The oosj^f"''
discussion of matters pertaining to the answering of these
questions has called into being a voluminous literature.
As might be expected, that literature furnishes all varieties
of opinion, from a radical, negative reply on the one side,
to a fully conservative estimate on the other. Through
all the years in which this discussion has been going on the All varieties
Church has read and cherished this priceless treasure of ° ^"^^«"
its Scriptures, finding in it that exalted and spiritual con-
ception of her Lord which she believes is truthful and
trustworthy. That the judgment of the Church shall ever
be the unanimous verdict of criticism may be too much
to expect, but it is safe to say that the time has gone by
when such estimates as make the book wholly a creation
of the imagination or a mere speculative theological treatise
can find much support.


Introduction The Messages of Jesus

Book not a In some form reality is expressed in the remarkable
thelmagina- scencs and sayings of this Gospel. Whether that reality
inThe'^Gos-^ inheres in reminiscences which have been freely handled,
P*^' or in constructions which reflect the mind and purpose of

Jesus, it is there, and gives abiding value to the whole.
Theprob- The problem concerning the Gospel has been to discover
in it that substance of fact and teaching which shall con-
stitute a reliable source of our knowledge of the Master
and to give an explanation of the form under which it all
has been presented to us.
The differ- Every reader of the Gospel is familiar with the striking
tween Synop- differences between its account and that of the Synoptics.
Fourth^Gos- Except for a few incidents Judea, not Galilee, is the scene
P^' of its events. As we follow its story we move in a different

atmosphere. The plain, simple recital of the other gos-
pels gives place to a selection of events which are illustra-
tive of the truth which the author sees and which it is his
The Gospel main object to set forth. So intent is he upon this that
evJntsmus- he does not hesitate to tell over quite fully some things
truth^ " which we already know, in order that we may have their
inner meaning, and to leave out some whose omission sur-
prises us, until we find that in another way he has given
us also their deeper interpretation. By far the greater
number of events seems to be those whose significance has
N;rr:itive comc to light Only in the fulness of his experience and in
aTv^Miean the progress of the truth. The narrative prcsupjx)ses a
mmi.stry Galilean ministry, but it was at Jerusalem, the theological


Accordhig to the Gospel of Jo Jin Introduction

centre of the nation, that Jesus spoke more largely of him-
self in terms that needed both time and experience to bring
out their full value. The Gospel is supplementary, there- Gospel only
fore, not so much in the way of seeking to add a series of sense supple-
events to those given us by the Synoptics as in offering us, "^'^"'-"'^
by means of its peculiar reminiscences, a larger, more
spiritual portrait of the world's Saviour. We are con-
stantly brought face to face with the abiding realities of
the spiritual. Jesus is their embodiment and their ex-
ponent. He is not a mere passing figure of earthly history;
he is a revelation of the unseen; the exalted standard of
spiritual achievement and destiny.

No writing of the New Testament consequently reveals A marked
more clearly what criticism speaks of as a "tendency" than in^he GoL
does the Fourth Gospel. Indeed, it states its purpose in ^
explicit terms "that ye may believe that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have
life in his name" (20:21). The Fourth Gospel is no more Notabiog-
a biography than are the others. It makes no claim any more^than
more than they do toward giving us a "life of Christ," ^""^
hence lays no emphasis upon a complete record as regards
the places of his activity or the deeds of his ministry. In
this respect it offers no more of a problem than does the
Gospel of Mark. Either is simply a collection of memora-
bilia; in the one case of experiences in Galilee, in the other
in Judea. There is also a difference in the chronology of Difference in
the Fourth Gospel, but here again the difference springs '^ '"^""^ °^*


Introduction The Messages of Jesus

from the purpose of the Gospel. The times of most in-
tense interest in the capital were when the people gathered
from all parts of the land and from the Dispersion for the
solemn feasts of the Temple ritual. In part from loyalty to
the system under which he was born; in part to give to
his teachings the widest reach, Jesus went up to the feasts.
The record of his witness to himself contains, therefore,
the reminiscence of the various festivals and the hints for
a larger ministry than the Synoptics, with their account of
TheSynop- but one passover, require. We are not left without indi-
morethan cations in the Synoptics themselves, that John's chronology
one year j^ ^^ more Hkely (see Mk. 2: 23; Mk. 6: 39; Mk. 24: 37;
Luke 13: 34), and some results are difficult to account for
without the longer time and the repeated visits to Jerusa-
The dates of lem which he supplies. When it comes to specific instances,
supper and such as the cleansing of the Temple or the date of the
probaw'y° Last Supper and the Crucifixion, we believe that the ul-
corrett timate decision will favor the accuracy of the Fourth


Difference in The great outstanding difference, however, between

ti'onoTjesus John and the others is in his presentation of Jesus. This

difference has been so emphasized by certain students of

the Gospels as to compel a categorical "either — or" —

either the Synoptic portrait must be accepted or the Johan-

nine, since, they tell us, both cannot be historically true.

Opinion of "The Johannine Christ," says Holtzmann, "is complete

mann° ^ from the very first. He appears without childhood and


According to the Gospel of John Introduction

youth, but is all along the divine Word manifested in the
flesh. All traces of growth, of struggle, and of wrestling
such as mark the growing Son of God of the Synoptics,
are for the most part expunged and weakened, character-
istically transformed and renovated. In this way is
treated whatever speaks of dependence, as, for example,
the stories of birth and youth; whatever points to deficient
foreknowledge or to failure, the choice of the traitor
Judas; whatever to real passivity, Gethsemane and Gol-
gotha." ^ Wernle concludes a similar contrast with the Wemle's
words: "In fine, the difference between the Christ por-^"'^'"™
traits may be expressed in the simple formula: Here man
— there God."^ "It is a peripatetic God who is depicted,"' Opinion of
says Wrede.

The fact that these judgments are given by those who The Gospel
acknowledge that "Jesus Christ is Lord" makes them the humnn-
seem all the more prejudicial to the historicity of the Gos- "^ ° ^^^^^
pel. The simple question is. Are they correct? That the
Fourth Gospel intends that we shall understand the ex-
alted, divine character of Jesus is unquestionable. The
description "the Word made flesh" is its own, and is of the
highest significance, but we are not to forget that it is "the
Word made flesh." That implies limitations and puts em-
phasis upon the humanity of Jesus. How can one whose
body becomes weary (4: 6), whose spirit is vehemently

■ EinUilung, p. 432. * Die Qurllen ilrs Lrbcns Jesu, p. 35.

' Character und Tendenz, pp. 31, 37.


The Messages of Jesus


Does the
Gospel lack

Its point of
view of

troubled (13: 21), and whose soul is deeply disturbed
(12: 27) be said to give no evidence of his real humanity?
Why does he ask for information (11: 34), declare that he
can do nothing of himself (5: 19), and enter into all the
earnestness of prayer, if we are to see in him only a God?
Beyschlag's words are much nearer the truth when he says
"The Fourth Gospel denies nothing that is innocently
human to Jesus, neither hunger nor thirst, weariness nor
sadness, suffering nor death, nor struggle of soul, neither
the distinction of his will from the divine, nor the exercise
of prayer and worship toward God; the Johannine Christ
acknowledges all human dependence upon God. And it
is simply not true, what is so often asserted, that John con-
ceived his Christ as omniscient and omnipotent." ' As
to all lack of development set forth in Holtzmann's criti-
cism that "the Johannine Christ is complete from the very
first," the question is. For what kind of development do we
look? The scope of the Gospel excludes designedly all
consideration of the birth and childhood of Jesus. Be-
lieving, as we do, that Jesus became conscious of his Mes-
siahship at the Baptism, and that the Temptation, which
was the psychological outcome of the call given him at the
Jordan to take up his Messianic place and work, both
settled his supremacy and defined for him the character of
his mission, we think it but in accord with the purpose of
the writer that he should begin just where he does, after

' A^. T . Theol., vol. ii, p. 416.


According to the Gospel of John Introduction

the trying days in the wilderness. From the first it is the
Messiah in the full consciousness of his position and mis-
sion whom we are to contemplate. Neither in the Synop- Neither the
tics nor in John is there any development after the norjohn"
baptismal scene in the consciousness of Jesus as to his Mes- opmentln^
siahship. It is one thing to say this of Jesus; it is quite an- ^gss oUesua
other to assert that in the recognition of this Messiahship
there is no development in John's Gospel. The Synoptics
let us see how gradual the process is by which the disciples
attained this great conception. It is no contradiction of
this belief that in the opening chapters of the Fourth Gos-
pel some of those disciples in their first enthusiasm declare
that they have found the Messiah, inasmuch as they use

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