DISSECTING THE SCRIPTURES – No. 8
JOHN 3:22 THROUGH 4:1-3
BY: DAVE and SHEILA GARNER
DECEMBER 14, 2007
FOR COMPARISON: TRADITIONAL KJV
JOHN 3:22-36; 4:1-3 22After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. 23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. 24 For John was not yet cast into prison. 25 Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. 33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. 34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. Chapter 4 1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) 3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
After Jesus said these things, He and His disciples went into the land of Judea and remained there and baptized the people who came to them. John the baptizer had not yet been thrown into prison, he was also in Aenon near Salim because there was an abundance of water there, and people were coming to him to be baptized.
There arose a dispute between John’s disciples and the Jews about baptism (purification, cleansing) and they came to John. They said to him, “Rabbi (My Master), the man Jesus who was with you beyond the Jordan of whom you testified of, He is baptizing and everyone is coming to Him.”
John answered and said, “A man cannot receive one thing unless it is given to him from the heavens. Rom 12:33-36; 1Cor 8:6; 2Pet 1:1-4 You yourselves bore me witness when I said, ‘I am not the Messiah (the anointed one), but I was sent as a witness to go before Him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom who stands with Him and hears Him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. This truly is the fulfillment of my joy, I decrease (to lessen in influence and importance), but He must increase (enlarge, grow in influence and importance). He who comes from above is above (over) all, but he who is from the earth is from the earthy and talks of the earth. He who comes from the heavens is above (over) all and testifies of what He sees and hears but no one receives His testimony. He who receives His testimony declares (sanctions, certifies) that God is true (not hidden). For He whom God sends speaks the word from the Spirit, not by measuring who baptizes the most people. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. He who believes to (into) the Son has everlasting life. Rom 5:21, 6:23; 1John 5:13-14 He who does not believe will not see life, for God’s wrath remains (stays) upon him.”
When the Lord heard that the Pharisees knew He baptized and made more disciples than John, though Jesus Himself did not do the baptizing; His disciples did all of the baptizing, He departed from Judea and went into Galilee again. Matt 4:12
JOHN DECLARES JESUS TO BE GREATER THAN HE
Jesus and His disciples came down from Galilee to the upper part of Judea and stayed there for a short time, by this time Jesus’ fame had begun to spread. Hearing that He and His disciples were there, many people came out of the cities to Him to be baptized, instead of going to John. The Gospel of John states that John the baptizer was also in Aenon near Salim, which could not have been very far from where Jesus and His disciples were staying. Down through time, the actual location of Aenon or Salim has long been lost, but it must have been near the Jordan River in Judea, which would limit it to being somewhere a little north of the Dead Sea. According to John, there was an abundance of water and many of the people were coming to Jesus and His disciples to be baptized and fewer were going to John. It was over this issue that the dispute arose between John’s disciples and the Jews.
There is no reference made concerning how long John the baptizer had been baptizing the people before the appearance of Jesus; but it was certainly long enough for John’s disciples to see him as the man of the hour, and as the one by whom the Jews needed to be baptized. It should be no surprise then that a dispute arose when more people began to go to Jesus, rather than John. John the baptizer did not do anything to draw attention to himself by performing any miracles, but fulfilled what he was sent to do, which was to point the way by repentance, to Jesus. John was sent before the appearance of Jesus to proclaim the message of repentance saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is approaching (near).” When John baptized the people, he was baptizing them into his message of repentance which prepared the way for them to receive Jesus. He was not there to become the fulfillment of their salvation. Jesus by this time had performed many miracles and so the people began to be drawn away from him toward Jesus. John’s disciples began to question among themselves the difference between the cleansing power of his baptism and that of Jesus’ and thus came to John and said, “He is baptizing and everyone is going to Him.”
John 3:22-36 through John 4:1-3 is the only place within the scriptures which tell of the people coming to Jesus to be baptized. According to John, Jesus Himself did not do any of the physical baptizing; only His disciples performed water baptisms. As we thought on the significance of this, we began to see, the baptism of John spiritually speaking, was only intended to prepare their hearts to receive Jesus (the Living Word). It was never intended to become a ritual performed as a rite of passage for membership into a particular organization or group. Jesus did not tell the people who had been baptized by His disciples to return John and receive his baptism. The word “disciple” simply means to be a pupil or learner by following another who is greater. Jesus’ disciples were baptizing people with water, but spiritually speaking the disciple’s baptism represented more than just the act of preparation through repentance which John’s did. It was essentially the disciples baptizing others, who in turn by the act of baptism became disciples (pupils or students) themselves, thus it was disciples baptizing (total immersion) disciples, which symbolized being immersed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the Word of God (Jesus, the Anointed Son). John’s message of repentance was dramatic in that his proclamation “to repent” pointed out their sinful condition to those who heard it, but repentance by itself only prepared their hearts to see and receive the Son of God, the Savior of the world. He said that unless they repented, they would not see their salvation, therefore repentance in itself does not produce salvation. But repenting (turning around away from what was), gets the heart prepared to see Jesus, and only by being immersed completely into Him can they see and experience salvation.
As we begin to follow Jesus (the Anointed Word of God) and are immersed into Him, we become messengers of the Word of God through the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. As we minister the life of the Word to others, we are immersing them into the truth. The truth is then able to cleanse away the darkness of their past, and they in turn become messengers of the Word to others, and the people to whom they minister are also cleansed by His Word through the power of the same Holy Spirit. John’s baptism only prepared the way for Jesus by turning their hearts toward Him. His baptism spoke to the turning around away from sin of the outward man, but the baptism of the Word of God (Jesus) speaks to the cleansing of the inward man. Jesus did not come to be an extension of John the baptizers purpose by carrying on the same ministry of repentance through water baptism. Nor did He come to take away anything from John. Clearly the message of repentance which John declared was necessary, but Jesus was the end result or conclusion of John’s message which He was sent to proclaim. To remain bound to John’s message instead of going on to be spiritually reborn in the spirit, is to reject the baptism or immersion into the Living Word of God. If Jesus Himself had performed the baptisms, He would have only succeeded in becoming Jesus the second water baptizer and confusion would have won the day.
John knew he had been sent only to prepare the way for someone greater than himself who would come after him, and he recognized it was time for the people to begin to go to Jesus and not him. He certainly knew Jesus’ reputation and standing with man had to increase, and in order for it to do so, his reputation had to decrease. We are certain, when he began to see these things happening, he knew his ministry was coming to a close. When his disciples came to him concerning the people being drawn away to Jesus, his response was, the ministry of repentance and baptism which he had been called to do, did not belong to him, but had been given to him from God, and therefore not his to bemoan its end. He saw Jesus receiving all the glory and recognition from the people as being given to Him from God and He (Jesus) could not draw anyone away from him (John), unless God had ordained it to be so.
John declared it was the fulfillment of His joy that all of the people were beginning to turn to Jesus. It was the testimony that he had fulfilled that which he was sent to accomplish. The people going to Jesus validated what he had been sent to do, which was announce the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus the Son of God who would save the world from their sins. He likened himself to being a friend of the bridegroom which he identified as Jesus. In order for there to be a bridegroom there had to be a bride and an impending wedding. John was not using the description “bridegroom” lightly, but was describing the status (position) in which he saw Jesus standing at that present moment. The people who were coming to Him (Jesus) represented the bride, and he (John) was rejoicing at the sound of the bridegroom’s voice, knowing that the union which he had proclaimed, was preparing to take place before him.
John said about himself that he was from the earth and was earthy and could only speak of the things from the earth, but he said about Jesus, “He who comes from the heavens is above all and testifies of what He sees and hears but no one received His testimony.” He (the Living Anointed Word of God) alone sees into the heavens and hears the voice of His Father speaking to Him. He (the Living Word of God) testified of what He saw, but nobody (man or woman) heard/received His testimony. Those who did receive His testimony of what He saw and heard in the heavens, certified (in agreement with, sanctioned, endorsed, confirmed) that God was true, but those who did not receive His testimony declared that God was not true. John was not concerned about how many people he was baptizing because he knew he had accomplished that which he was sent from God to do, and that the words which he had spoken were from the Spirit. He was not measuring his testimony or his success with God based upon natural appearances.
John the baptizer declared an astounding truth concerning Jesus and the importance of who He was, “He who believes to (into) the Son has everlasting (lasting through the ages) life. Rom 5:21, 6:23; 1John 5:13-14 He who does not believe will not see life, for the wrath of God remains (stays) upon him.” John not only lowered himself in the eyes of his own disciples, but at the same time exalted the eminence of Jesus as being the Son of God. He was telling his disciples that Jesus was the one they needed to be following now for his purpose had been fulfilled. It was time for them to look to Jesus, rather than him; they had to lower him in importance and exalt Jesus in their hearts, for the Father had given all things into His Son’s power (hands) and all who believed in the Son had (right then) everlasting life. But, on the other hand, all who did not believe would not see life for God’s wrath (passion) remained upon them. Simply stated, all who do not believe in Jesus (the Living Word of God, their salvation) cannot/will not see God and therefore remain in the darkness of death.
JOHN No. 8 [Dave-Sheila Garner] 12-14-07 ~ BIBLE STUDY 1