Hath everlasting life - He has already the seed of this life in his soul, having been made a partaker of the grace and spirit of him in whom he has believed. See on John 3:8; (note).
He that believeth not - Or, obeyeth not - απειθων : from α, negative, and πειθω, to persuade, or πειθομαι, to obey - the want of the obedience of faith. The person who will not be persuaded, in consequence, does not believe; and, not having believed, he cannot obey.
Shall not see life - Shall never enjoy it: there being no way to the kingdom of God, but through Christ Jesus, Acts 4:12. And none can expect to enter into this kingdom but those who obey him; for to such only he is the author of eternal salvation, Hebrews 5:9.
But the wrath of God abideth on him - Οργη, the displeasure of God. I should prefer displeasure to wrath, because the common acceptation of the latter (fury, rage) is not properly applicable here. Perhaps the original word is used in the same sense here as in Romans 2:5; Romans 3:5; Romans 13:4, Romans 13:5; Ephesians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; where it evidently means punishment, which is the effect of irritated justice. Taken in this sense, we may consider the phrase as a Hebraism: punishment of God, i.e. the most heavy and awful of all punishments; such as sin deserves, and such as it becomes Divine justice to inflict. And this abideth on him - endures as long as his unbelief and disobedience remain! And how shall these be removed in a hell of fire! Reader! pray God that thou mayest never know what this continuing punishment means!
There are many very important topics brought forward in this chapter; the principal of which have been already illustrated in the notes: the subject in the 29th verse is of great consequence, and requires some farther explanation.
The friend of the bridegroom is the person called among the Jews שושבי shoshabin ; and παρανυμφος, paranymph, among the Greeks. Several matters are found in the Jewish writings relative to these, which may serve to throw light, not only on the discourse of John, but also on other passages of Scripture.
These shoshabinan had a threefold office to fulfill, viz. before, at, and after the marriage: of each of these in order.
II. At the wedding: it was the business of the shoshabin, if necessary: -
III. After marriage.
From the preceding particulars, collated with the speech of John in John 3:29, and with the words of St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:2, it is plain that Christ is represented as the Bridegroom: the Church, or his genuine disciples, the Bride: the ministers of the Gospel, the שושבינים Shoshbeenim, whose great and important duty it is to present to the bridegroom a pure, uncontaminated virgin, i.e. a Church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, Ephesians 5:27, alluding evidently to the office of the paranymph, on whom the bridegroom depended to procure him, for wife, a chaste and pure virgin. Hence that saying of St. Paul, who considered himself the paranymph to Jesus Christ: I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:2.
From all these particulars, we see that the office of the shoshabin, or paranymph, was a very important one among the Jews; and that, to it, some interesting references are made in the New Testament, the force and true meaning of which passages cannot be discerned without considering the character and office of the Jewish paranymph. See several good observations on this in Lightfoot's notes on John 2:1, and Schoettgen, on John 3:29.
As the Christian Church was now to take place of the Jewish, and the latter was about to be cast off because it was polluted, John, by using the simile of the bride, bridegroom, and paranymph, or friend of the bridegroom, points out, as it were prophetically, of what kind the Christian Church must be: it must be as holy and pure as an uncontaminated virgin, because it is to be the bride or spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ: and God honors the Baptist by making him the paranymph; and indeed his whole preaching and baptism were excellently calculated to produce this great effect, as be strongly proclaimed the necessity of a total reformation of heart and manners, among all classes of the people. See the notes on Matthew 3:8-12; (note), and on Luke 3:10-14; (note). He heard the bridegroom's voice - he faithfully communicated what he had received from heaven, John 3:27, and he rejoiced exceedingly to find that he had got a people prepared for the Lord. The success of John's preaching greatly contributed to the success of that of Christ and his disciples. For this purpose he was endued with power from on high, and chosen to be the paranymph of the heavenly bridegroom.
Hath everlasting life - Has or is in possession of that which is a recovery from spiritual death, and which will result in eternal life in heaven. Piety here is the same that it will be there, except that it will be expanded, matured, purified, made more glorious. It is here life begun the first breathings and pantings of the soul for immortality; yet it is life, though at first feeble and faint, which is eternal in its nature, and which shall be matured in the full and perfect bliss of heaven. The Christian here has a foretaste of the world of glory, and enjoys the same kind of felicity, though not the same degree, that he will there.
Shall not see life - Shall neither enjoy true life or happiness here nor in the world to come. Shall never enter heaven.
The wrath of God - The anger of God for sin. His opposition to sin, and its terrible effects in this world and the next.
Abideth on him - This implies that he is “now” under the wrath of God, or under condemnation. It implies, also, that it will continue to remain on him. It will “abide” or “dwell” there as its appropriate habitation. As there is no way of escaping the wrath of God but by the Lord Jesus Christ, so those who will not believe must go to eternity “as they are,” and bear alone and unpitied all that God may choose to inflict as the expression of “his” sense of sin. Such is the miserable condition of the sinner! Yet thousands choose to remain in this state, and to encounter alone all that is terrible in the wrath of Almighty God, rather than come to Jesus, who has borne their sins in his own body on the tree, and who is willing to bless them with the peace, and purity, and joy of immortal life.
The rules in regard to purification were numberless. The period of a lifetime was scarcely sufficient for one to learn them all. The life of those who tried to observe the rabbinical requirements was one long struggle against ceremonial defilement, an endless round of washings and purifications. While the people were occupied with trifling distinctions, and observances which God had not required, their attention was turned away from the great principles of His law. DA 396.1
Christ and His disciples did not observe these ceremonial washings, and the spies made this neglect the ground of their accusation. They did not, however, make a direct attack on Christ, but came to Him with criticism of His disciples. In the presence of the multitude they said, “Why do Thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” DA 396.2
Whenever the message of truth comes home to souls with special power, Satan stirs up his agents to start a dispute over some minor question. Thus he seeks to attract attention from the real issue. Whenever a good work is begun, there are cavilers ready to enter into dispute over forms or technicalities, to draw minds away from the living realities. When it appears that God is about to work in a special manner for His people, let them not be enticed into a controversy that will work only ruin of souls. The questions that most concern us are, Do I believe with saving faith on the Son of God? Is my life in harmony with the divine law? “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” John 3:36; 1 John 2:3. DA 396.3Read in context »
Immortality, promised to man on condition of obedience, had been forfeited by transgression. Adam could not transmit to his posterity that which he did not possess; and there could have been no hope for the fallen race had not God, by the sacrifice of His Son, brought immortality within their reach. While “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” Christ “hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Romans 5:12; 2 Timothy 1:10. And only through Christ can immortality be obtained. Said Jesus: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” John 3:36. Every man may come into possession of this priceless blessing if he will comply with the conditions. All “who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality,” will receive “eternal life.” Romans 2:7. GC 533.1
The only one who promised Adam life in disobedience was the great deceiver. And the declaration of the serpent to Eve in Eden—“Ye shall not surely die”—was the first sermon ever preached upon the immortality of the soul. Yet this declaration, resting solely upon the authority of Satan, is echoed from the pulpits of Christendom and is received by the majority of mankind as readily as it was received by our first parents. The divine sentence, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20), is made to mean: The soul that sinneth, it shall not die, but live eternally. We cannot but wonder at the strange infatuation which renders men so credulous concerning the words of Satan and so unbelieving in regard to the words of God. GC 533.2
Had man after his fall been allowed free access to the tree of life, he would have lived forever, and thus sin would have been immortalized. But cherubim and a flaming sword kept “the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24), and not one of the family of Adam has been permitted to pass that barrier and partake of the life-giving fruit. Therefore there is not an immortal sinner. GC 533.3Read in context »
At last Jacob came to his journey's end, “unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, ... which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.” Here he remained during the closing years of his father's life. To Isaac, infirm and blind, the kind attentions of this long-absent son were a comfort during years of loneliness and bereavement. PP 207.1
Jacob and Esau met at the deathbed of their father. Once the elder brother had looked forward to this event as an opportunity for revenge, but his feelings had since greatly changed. And Jacob, well content with the spiritual blessings of the birthright, resigned to the elder brother the inheritance of their father's wealth—the only inheritance that Esau sought or valued. They were no longer estranged by jealousy or hatred, yet they parted, Esau removing to Mount Seir. God, who is rich in blessing, had granted to Jacob worldly wealth, in addition to the higher good that he had sought. The possessions of the two brothers “were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle.” This separation was in accordance with the divine purpose concerning Jacob. Since the brothers differed so greatly in regard to religious faith, it was better for them to dwell apart. PP 207.2
Esau and Jacob had alike been instructed in the knowledge of God, and both were free to walk in His commandments and to receive His favor; but they had not both chosen to do this. The two brothers had walked in different ways, and their paths would continue to diverge more and more widely. PP 207.3
There was no arbitrary choice on the part of God by which Esau was shut out from the blessings of salvation. The gifts of His grace through Christ are free to all. There is no election but one's own by which any may perish. God has set forth in His word the conditions upon which every soul will be elected to eternal life—obedience to His commandments, through faith in Christ. God has elected a character in harmony with His law, and anyone who shall reach the standard of His requirement will have an entrance into the kingdom of glory. Christ Himself said, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” John 3:36. “Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21. And in the Revelation He declares, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14. As regards man's final salvation, this is the only election brought to view in the word of God. PP 207.4Read in context »