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Comments on John 3:22-36

From John: The book about Life, by Matthew R. Freije

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLEģ, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission.


Comments on verses 22-30 | 31-35 | 36

Return to John 3:22

3:22-30

When John the Baptistís disciples found out that Jesusí disciples were baptizing people, they mentioned it to John (3:26), expressing a somewhat competitive spirit. John responded, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven" (3:27). John made it clear that no work--ministry, project, task, etc.--will please God or bear fruit unless it has been assigned by God. If it's the work of people rather than of God, it will not bear fruit. Therefore, in order to do fruitful work thatís pleasing to God, we must pray and follow Godís leading, rather than deciding what we want to do, and concocting our own plans and strategies. Whatís more, we need to trust God, not only in deciding what to do, but also in the doing of it. The work must be performed by the Spirit of Christ, working through us, rather than in our own strength.

I am not the Christ (vs. 28). John the Baptist had accepted who he was--and who he wasnít. He clarifies that he is not the bridegroom (Christ), but one who rejoices greatly to hear the bridegroomís voice. John expressed no bitterness or resentment about having a lower rank than Jesus; in fact, he said that his joy had "been made full." John's statement is consistent with what Jesus taught in 15:4-11: the person who abides in Him (seeking, listening, submitting, obeying) will have His joy in him, and his joy will be full.

He must increase, but I must decrease (3:30). John accepted that he was not to be praised by people--Jesus was. John did not seek his identity, personal value, or contentment based on how his circumstances compared with those of other people. He focused on God, not on himself. He wanted to live out Godís plan for his life. And his identity was tied up in his relationship with God. Likewise, Christians should be content with God's will for them--nothing more, nothing less. We should view our circumstances, not through the eyes of the world, but from Godís perspective. Each Christian is given different gifts, talents, and opportunities; but one thing applies to all of us: Christ must increase, and we must decrease.

The Apostle Paul condemned those who compared themselves with others:

2 Cor 10:12 For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.

It is a great paradox, that people who seek to be recognized for their achievements, to protect their territory and rights, to gain control of people and circumstances, and to grab all the things and pleasures they can get, are among the most miserable. Yet those who abide in Christ, let God control their lives, are thankful in all circumstances, and seek praise for Him instead of themselves, are the ones who are filled with great joy.

Don't be discouraged about your attitude. Give it to Christ. Only Christ can make you a person who is content instead of miserable, who seeks praise for God instead of yourself, who does not compare yourself with others, and who participates in Godís work instead of trying to force his own plans. Christ transforms those who say Yes to Him. He wants to do good works through you. Say Yes to Him.

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

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3:31-35

John the Baptist explains why he must decrease but Jesus must increase. He describes ways in which he is different than Jesus:

  • 31: Jesus came down from heaven, but John is of the earth
  • 32 and 34: Jesus speaks the words of God, given by the Holy Spirit (what He sees and hears).

John 15:15 Ö"for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

As explained in the comments on 1:4,5, Jesus was in continual communion with the Father while on earth, speaking whatever He received from Him.

  • 35: The Father has put all things into the hands of the Son. John the Baptist acknowledges Jesusí deity.

Back to verses 32 and 33: John the Baptist says that he has received the message of Jesus. He expresses confidence in his belief by saying that he knows that God is true. The same thing happens today to those who receive the message of Jesus and entrust their lives to Him: The Holy Spirit gives us confidence that God exists, and that He accepts us through Christ. As we seek God, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to better understand the ways, works, and wonders of God.

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3:36

John the Baptist confirms what Jesus Himself said: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life."

It's no surprise that John (the writer of the book) quotes this statement made by John the Baptist, because John's purpose in writing the book was to convince the readers that they can have Life through Jesus Christ:

John 20:30,31 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

John makes the same point in another Bible book he wrote: Those who have Jesus have life; those who do not have Him do not have life--

1 John 5:11,12 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

He who does not obey the Son will not see life. The Greek root of does not obey is apeitheo. In the context of the Bible, apeitheo means to generally rebel against God instead of submitting our lives to Him. Strongís definition of apeitheo is "to disbelieve willfully and perversely." In the context of 3:36, to not obey the Son means to reject His message. In verses 32 and 33, John the Baptist said that he had received Jesusí testimony. Now he is referring to those who do not receive Jesusí testimony. Apeitheo is used in other verses to refer to those who rebel against God instead of placing their trust in Him:

Acts 14:2 But the Jews who disbelieved (apeitheo) stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren.

Acts 19:9 But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient (apeitheo), speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

Rom 2:8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey (apeitheo) the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.

Rom 10:21 But as for Israel He says, "ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT (apeitheo) AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE."

Heb 3:18,19 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient (apeitheo)? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.

Heb 11:31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient (apeitheo), after she had welcomed the spies in peace.

1 Pet 2:8 and, "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE"; for they stumble because they are disobedient (apeitheo) to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

1 Pet 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient (apeitheo) to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives

1 Pet 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey (apeitheo) the gospel of God?

The wrath of God abides on him. The one who does place his trust in Christ is under judgment (see comments on 3:18).

Have you obeyed the Son, transferring your trust from yourself to Him? If you receive Christ, you will immediately receive forgiveness, life, and freedom from God's wrath.

There is nothing you can do to earn forgiveness and new life through Christ. Christ is a gift. Like any gift, you need merely to accept Him. You will never deserve Him. You can only admit your need for the gift, ask for it, and say Thank You.

Do you want to receive Christ now? You donít have to go to church to do it; no special ceremony is needed. To do it now, see the comments under 1:12.

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