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ch. v. 30.
1 Matt. xii. 38. 18 n Then answered the Jews and said unto him, 'What
sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these m Matt. Had things ? 19 Jesus answered and said unto them, m Destroy Marke. iv.68: this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in
Brender, The Jews therefore answered.
that passion-Psalm, was the marring and is an instance in point. (2) The words wasting of the Saviour's frame by His zeal I will raise it up-seeing that the resurfor God and God's Church, which resulted rection of the Lord is ever spoken of as in the buffeting, the scourging, the Cross. the work of the Father. Yes,—but by
18.] On the demand of the Jews, power committed to Christ Himself ;-see see Deut. xiii. 1-3. It was not only to ch. x. 18, where this is distinctly asserted : justify His having driven out the abomina- and ch. vi. 39, 40, 44, where it is implied, tion ; this any one might have done ; for He is the first-fruits of them that but to justify the mission and the whole sleep, -and (though the whole course of course of action which the words my His working was after the will of the Father's house implied. They used the Father,--and in the Spirit, which wrought same expression at the end of His ministry, in Him) strictly and truly raised Himself Matt. xxi. 23. 19.] This answer of from the dead in the sense here intended. our Lord has been involved in needless (3) The utterance of such a prophecy at so difficulty. That in uttering the words, early a period of tis official life. But it this temple, He pointed to His own Body, was not a prophecy known and underis inconceivable ;—for thus both the Jews stood,—but a dark saying, from which no and His own disciples must have under- one could then draw an inference as to stood Him, which (see vv. 20, 22) neither His death or resurrection. The disciples of them did. That He implied in saying, did not understand it; and I cannot agree Destroy this temple, that their lawless with Stier that the Jews could have had proceedings in the temple would at last any idea of such being His meaning. bring it to an end, is equally inconceivable; Chrysostom says, " He speaks many such both on account of the latter part of His things, which were not plain to men at the declaration, which would thus have no time, but to those who should come after. meaning, -and because of the use in this Why does He do this ? that He might be case of the peculiar word, - which signifies shewn to have foreknown future events, the holy and the holiest place, the temple when the accomplishment of the prophecy itself, -as distinguished from the whole should have come: which has come to pass enceinte of the sacred buildings. Stier has in the case of this very prophecy.” Lücke well remarked that our Lord in this saying remarks, that the circumstance of the comprehended in the reality, -His own words being spoken so long before bis trial Body, its type and symbol,--the temple by the Sanhedrim, would make it more then before them. That temple, with all easy for the false witnesses to distort them. its ordinances and holy places, was but This they did, but not so as to agree with the shadow of the Christian Church ;- one another. They reported it, 'I can dethat, the type of the Body of the Lord, stroy,' &c. which makes a wide difference, represented the Church, which is veritably and represents our Lord as an enemy His Body. And so the saying was ful of the temple (Matt. xxvi. 61), and some filled by the slaying of His actual Body, added to this temple the epithet “which is in which rejection of Him the destruction made with hands," and that He would of the Jewish temple and city was in. raise another" made without hands” (Mark volved, -and the raising of that Body xiv. 58). 20.] The building of the after three days, in which resurrection temple by Herod the Great is stated by we, all the members of His new glorified Josephus in one place to have been begun Body, are risen again. The difficulties in the eighteenth year of his reign; in attending the interpretation are,—besides another, in the fifteenth : the difference the double meaning which I have treated being made by counting his reign from the above,-(1) the use the imperative, as death of Antigonus, or from his appointapplied to the death of Christ. But this ment by the Romans. Reckoning from surely may be understood as used hypo. this latter, we shall have twenty years till thetically, and not by way of command, the birth of Christ, and thirty years since Matt. xii. 33 (“ make the tree good, &c.") that event, from which Afty, however, four
o Luke xiv.8.
Matt. ix. 4. Mark ii. s. ch. vi. Ở: xvi. 30.
building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days ? 21 But he spake " of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore n col. 11. 9. he was risen from the dead, °his disciples remembered So. 1.Cor. that he had said this [P unto them]; and they believed the cor
. vi. 16. scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, a in the feast [r day], many believed in his name, when they
saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not t commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, p 1 Sam. Ivi. 7. 25 and needed not that any should testify of man: for wie pa he knew what was in man.
III. 13 There was man of the Pharisees, named Acts 24. Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews : 2 a the same came to a che vit. 50: O render, raise it.
P omit, with the most ancient authorities. 9 render, at. 8 render, beheld.
t render, trust. U render, of himself he knew. X render, But there. must be taken, since our era is four years same verb is used for believed,' in ver. 23, too late. This gives forty-six. The temple and for trust' in this verse) to them,-i.e. was not completed till A.D. 64, under treat them as true and earnest disciples : Herod Agrippa II., and the procurator they entered into no spiritual relation with Albinus; so that was in building must Him, and He in consequence into none with refer to the greater part of the work now them. The fact of this being narrated completed. 22.] the Scripture, by all shews that it made an impression on the analogy, must mean the 0. T. scriptures. Evangelist, and led him perhaps first to That the resurrection of the Lord is the the conclusion which he here expresses, subject of 0. T. prophecy, we find in several And which higher knowledge enabled him passages of the N. T., see ch. xx. 9; Luke afterwards to place, as he here does, on its Xxiv. 26, 27 ; 1 Cor. xv. 4. At first sight right ground;—His knowing what was in it appears difficult to fix on any passage in man. Nothing less than divine knowledge which it is directly announced: but with is here set forth; the words are even the deeper understanding of the Scriptures stronger than if the reference had been to which the Holy Spirit gave the Apostles the persons here mentioned (“ needed not and still gives the Christian Church, such that any should testify of them: for He prophecies as that in Ps. xvi. are recognized knew what was in them”): as the text now as belonging to Him in Whom alone they stands, it asserts an entire knowledge of are properly fulfilled ; see also Hos. vi. 2. all that is in all men.
23-25.] MANY BELIEVE ON JESUS AT CHAP.III. 1—21.] The Lord's discourse THE PASSOVER : HIS KNOWLEDGE OF with Nicodemus,-one of these believers THEIR CHARACTER, AND WITHHOLDING on account of His miracles,-of the spiri. HIMSELF FROM
23. tual nature of the kingdom of God and when they beheld the miracles which he the necessity of the new birth. did] They believed on Him, but not 1.] There is mentioned in the Talmud a firmly. Those converts believed in a stricter Nicodemus ben Gorion, who was properly sense, who believed not owing to the mira. called Bonai, and said to have been a dis.com cles only, but owing to His teaching." ciple of Jesus : but he is found living at Euthymius. What miracles these were, the destruction of Jerusalem. This might is not related :-certainly_some notable certainly have been; still it must be quite ones, see ch. iii. 2.
The mention of uncertain whether he be the same with them precludes us from understanding ch. this Nicodemus. He is mentioned again iv. 54, as indicating that the healing of ch. vii. 50 ; xix. 39. He was a member of the ruler's son was absolutely His second the Sanhedrim, and, besides, a teacher of miracle. 24, 25.] The meaning is, He the law (ver. 10). 2.] by night, for did not trust Himself (in the original, the fear of the Jews : see ch. xii. 42. The
Acts ii. 22. c Acts x. 38. dch. i. 13.
Gal. vi. 15.
y Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that bch. ix. 18, 88. thou art a teacher come from God : for no man can do
these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say
unto thee, a Except a man be born z again, he cannot see y read, him.
z render, anew : or, from above : see note. discourse seems to have taken place be- by the Lord Himself, when speaking of tween Jesus and Nicodemus alone,- and John the Baptist as the subject of proinay have been related by our Lord to the phecy (see Matt. xi. 14 al.). a teacher] Evangelist afterwards. If this be deemned In this and the following words, Nicodeimprobable (though I do not see why it mus seems to be cautiously withdrawing should), - of the two other alternatives I from his admission being taken as expresswould rather believe that St. John was pre- ing too much. For who of the Jews ever sent, than that Nicodemus should have so expected a teacher to come from God ? minutely related a conversation which in They looked for a King, to sit on David's his then position he could not understand. throne,-a Prophet, to declare the divine
we know] This plural may be merely will ;- but the Messiah was never desig. an allusion to others who had come to the nated as a mere teacher, till the days of same conclusion, e.g. Joseph of Arimathæa; modern Socinianism. So that he seems or it may express that Nicodemus was sent trying to qualify or recall his “ art . in the name of several who wished to know come" by this addition.
The following the real character of this Person who words exhibit the same cautious inconsiswrought such miracles. It is harsh, in tency. No man can do, &c. unless-wo this private conversation, to take the plural expect some strong expression of the truth, as merely of singular iinport, as Lightfoot such as we had from Nathanael in ch. i. 50, seems to do. His other rendering, “it is but the sentence drops to merely-'God commonly acknowledged,” is better, - but be with him,' which is a very poor and innot satisfactory; for the common people sufficient exponent of “art come from did not generally confess it, and Nicode- God.” Against this inconsistency,--the mus, as a “ruler,” would not be likely to inner knowledge that the Kingdom of God speak in their name (see ch. vii. 49). I was come, and He who was to found it, on would rather take it to express the true the one hand, -and the rationalizing en. conviction respecting Jesus, of that class to deavour to reduce this heavenly kingdom which Nicodemus belonged-the “rulers:" to mere learning, and its Founder to a and see in it an important fact, that their mere teacher, on the other,-is the follow. persecutions and murder of the Prince of ing discourse directed. 3.] We are Life hence found toeir greatest aggrava. not to imagine that any thing is wanting tion, that they were carried on against the to complete the sense or connexion. Our conclusions of their own minds, out of Lord replies, It is not learning, but life, bitter malice, and worldly disappointment that is wanted for the Messiah's Kingdom; at His humble and unobtrusive character, and life must begin by birth. Luther and the spiritual purity and self-sacrifice says : “My teaching is not of doing and which He inculcated. Still this must not leaving undone, but of a change in the though undoubtedly it has truth in it, be man ;-so that it is, not new works done, carried too far: compare Acts iii. 17, and but a new man to do them; not another Acts xiii. 27 ; 1 Cor. ii. 8. Some degree life only, but another birth.” And only of ignorance there must necessarily have by this means can Nicodemus gain the been in all of them, even Caiaphas included, teaching for which he is come,- " see the of our Lord's office and Person. Stier Kingdom of God," — become a disciple of seems to think that Nicodemus, by using Christ:'~" see, that is, understand,” says the plural, is sheltering himself from ex- Theophylact,—'understand, by sharing' pressing his own conviction, so as to be able have any conception of.' anow) to draw back again if necessary. art “some say, from heaven, some, from tho
... come] Stier and others think that beginning.” Chrysostom :-who, as also there is involved in this word a recognition Euthymius, explains it by 'regeneration :' by Nicodemus of the Messianic mission of - Origen, Cyril, and Theophylact taking Jesus :—that it expresses His being “ He the other meaning. The true meaning that was to come” (Matt. xi. 3 al.). It is is to be found by taking into account the vever used of any but the Messiah, except answer of Nicodemus, who obviously un
the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old ? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born ? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Excepte Marketing: 16. a man be born of water and [a of] the Spirit, he cannot
derstood it of a new birth in mature life. the views of expositors have been warped. Born anew or afresh is a better rendering Such we have in Calvin : who explains the than born again, being closer to the words to mean, “the Spirit, who cleanses meaning of the Greek word, ‘from the very us, and by diffusing His influence in us beginning ;'-—'unless a man begin his life inspires the vigour of heavenly life:”— anew altogether (see Gal. iv. 9), he cannot' Grotius, "the Spirit, who cleanses like &c. It is not impossible that the other water ;"-Cocceius, “the grace of God, meaning may lie beneath this,--as the king. washing away our uncleanness and sins;" dom is of God, and so must the birth be ;- - Tholuck, who holds that not Baptisin but Grotius has made the important remark, itself, but only its idea, that of cleansing, that in the language in which our Lord is referred to ;- and others, who endeavour probably spoke, there is no word of double to resolve water and the Spirit into a meaning corresponding to the Greek word figure, so as to make it mean the cleansing here:-sothat He must have expressed it, as or purifying Spirit. All the better and Nicodemus understood it, of an entirely new deeper expositors have recognized the co. birth. 4.] It is impossible that Nico. existence of the two, water and the Spirit. demus can have so entirely and stupidly This being then recognized, to what misunderstood our Lord's words, as his does water refer ? At that time, two question here would seem to imply. The kinds of baptism were known : that of the idea of new birth was by no means alien proselytes, by which they were received from the Rabbinical views. They described into Judaism,—and that of John, by which, a proselyte when baptized as “like an in- as a preparatory rite, symbolizing repentfant just born." Lightfoot. I agree with ance, the people were made ready for Him Stier in thinking that there was some- who was to baptize them with the Holy thing of the spirit that would not under- Ghost. But both these were significant of stand, and the disposition to turn to ridi- one and the same truth; that, namely, of cule what he heard. But together with the entire cleansing of the man for the this there was also considerable real igno- new and spiritual life on which he was to
The proselyte might be regarded enter, symbolized by water cleansing the as born again, when he became one of the
Both were appointed seed of Abraham : this figure would be means,—the one by the Jewish Church, easily explained on the Judaical view : but the other, stamping that first with apthat every man should need this, was proval, by God Himself,—towards their beyond Nicodemus's comprehension. He respective ends. John himself declared therefore rebuts the assertion with a re- his baptism to be incomplete,- it was only duction to an absurdity, which in spirit with water ; One was coming, who should expresses, as in ch. vi. 60,- This say- baptize with the Holy Ghost. That de. ing is hard; who can hear it?'
claration of his is the key to the underwhen he is old : probably he himself was standing of this verse. Baptism, comold, and he instances his own case.
plete, with water and the Spirit, is the 5.] Our Lord passes by the question of admission into the kingdom of God. Those Nicodemus without notice, further than who have received the outward sign and that this His second assertion takes as it the spiritual grace, have entered into that were the ground from under it, by explain. Kingdom. And this entrance was fully ing the token and means of the new birth. ministered to the disciples when the Spirit
There can be no doubt, on any descended on them on the day of Pentebonest interpretation of the words, that cost. So that, as spoken to Nicodemus, to be born of water refers to the token or these words referred him to the baptism outward sign of baptism,-to be born of of John, which probably (see Luke vii. 30) the Spirit to the thing signified, or inward he had slighted. But they were not only grace of the Holy Spirit. All attempts spoken to him. The words of our Lord to get rid of these two plain facts have have in them life and meaning for all ages sprung from doctrinal prejudices, by which of His Church: and more especially there
enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit
is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be Eccles. Il. 8. born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and
thou hearest the sound thereof, but e canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth : so is every one that is
born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto render, anew : or, from above: see on ver. 3. C render, knowest not.
1 Cor. ii. 11.
opening declarations of His ministry. He of God is a spiritual kingdom, such only here unites together the two elements of who are so born can enter into it. a complete Baptism which were sundered 7.] The weightiest word here is Ye. The in the words of the Baptist, ch. i. 33-in Lord did not, could not, say this of Himwhich united form He afterwards (Matt. self. Why? Because in the full sense xxviii. 19, 20; Mark xvi. 16) ordained it in which the flesh is incapacitated from as a Sacrament of His Church. Here he entering the kingdom of God, He was speaks of spiritual Baptism, as in ch. vi. of not born of the flesh. He inherited the spiritual Communion, and in both places in weakness of the flesh, but His spirit was connexion with the outward conditions and not, like that of sinful man, alien from media of these sacraments. It is obsery- holiness and God; and therefore on Him able that here as ordinarily (with a special no second birth passed; when the Holy exception, Acts x. 44 ff.), the outward sign Spirit descended on Him at his baptism, comes first, and then the spiritual grace, the words spoken by the Father were invouchsafed in and by means of it where dicative of past approval, not of renewal. duly received.
enter into is more His obedience was accepted as perfect, and than “ see" above, though no stress is to the good pleasure of the Father rested on be laid on the difference. The former word Him. Therefore He includes not Himself was perhaps used because of Nicodemus's in this necessity for the new birth.
spectation of teaching being all that was The Marvel not points on to the next verse, required; but now, the necessity of a real in which Nicodemus is told that he has vital change having been set forth, the things as wonderful around him every day expression is changed to a practical one- in the natural world. 8.] Our Lord the entering into the Kingdom of God. might have chosen any of the mysteries of
6.) The neuter gender (that nature to illustrate the point :-He takes which is born ....) denotes not only that one, which is above others symbolic of the universal application of this truth, but the action of the Spirit, and which (in both (see Luke i. 35) the very first beginnings of languages, that in which He spoke, as well life in the embryo, before sex can be pre- as that in which His speech is reported) is dicated. So Bengel : “ It denotes the expressed by the same word as it;very first elements of life.”
The Pneuma being both wind and spirit. So Lord here answers Nicodemus's hypo- that the words as they stand apply themthetical question of ver. 4, by telling him selves at once to the Spirit and His workthat even could it be so, it would not ing, without any figure. Bengel, after accomplish the birth of which He speaks. Origen and Augustine, takes the word
In this flesh is included every part pneuma with which this verse opens, and of that which is born after the ordinary which we have rendered wind, of the method of generation : even the spirit of Holy Spirit exclusively: but this can man, which, receptive as it is of the Spirit hardly be. The form of the sentence, as of God, is yet in the natural birth dead, well as its import, is against it. The sunk in trespasses and sins, and in a state words “bloweth," "hearest,"
“ knowest," of wrath. Such “flesh and blood’ cannot are all said of well-known facts. And the inherit the Kingdom of God, 1 Cor. xv. comparison would not hold on that suppo50. But when the man is born again of sition—As the Spirit is in His working the Spirit (the water does not appear any on those born of Him, so is every one that more, being merely the outward form of is born of the Spirit. But on the other reception,—theless included in thegreater), interpretation, we have the wind bloweth, then just as flesh generates flesh, so spirit &c. :
:-80 is, i. e. 'so it is with' (see a generates spirit, after its own image, see similar construction Matt. xiii. 45) every 2 Cor. iii. 18 end; and since the Kingdom one born of the Spirit. The word