John 3:27 MEANING

John 3:27
(27) A man can receive nothing . . .--Do these words apply to the Baptist himself, or to Christ? Do they mean "I cannot assume this higher position which you wish to give me, because it is not given me by heaven;" or, "His work, with its influence over men, ought to convince you that His mission is divine "? Expositors have given, now this, now that answer. The immediate connection with John 3:26 points to the latter view as the correct one (but see Alford's Note on the other side). The power that had shown itself in word and work, teaching as none ever taught before, binding men--aye, some of their own brotherhood--to Himself, convincing men whose minds were open to the truth that He was the very Christ--all this could only have been received from heaven. Did they feel the movement around them? Let them recognise it as divine, and seek to be borne with it. (See Note on John 6:36.)

Verses 27-32. -

(2) The earthly and heavenly commission. Verse 27. - John answered and said, A man can receive nothing - neither office, function, faculty, nor life work, in the kingdom of God - except it has been given him from heaven. The raying is broad, general, comprehensive, sustaining. It is not the glorification of success, but an explanation of the ground of high service. All good service, all high faculty, all holy mission, all sacred duty, are assigned to us by Heaven. "No man taketh this honour unto himself, unless he be called of God." Commentators have ranged themselves into three groups as to the primary application of the words.

(1) Those who have limited the mental reference to John himself. "My function is, as I am about to explain, a subordinate one," "I have received that and nothing else from heaven." "I cannot make myself into the Bridegroom of the Church, or the Light of the world, or the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost." "I have received that only which is given and assigned to me by God." (So Bengel, Calvin, Hengstenberg, and at one time Godet.)

(2) Those who regard it as being a distinct reference to Christ, and as a vindication of Jesus from the complaint of John's own disciples. The high activity and present position of Jesus is declared by John to have been conferred on Christ "from heaven." He would not, could not, have taken it upon himself apart from the Divine order. (So Godet, Meyer, Watkins, Thorns.)

(3) Those who refer it to both "John and Jesus;" i.e. accept it as the general principle, applicable with equal force to them both. Intense man that he was. John felt justified in referring the entire function and mission of both the Christ and his forerunner to the will, predestination, and bestowment of Heaven. (So Wettstein, Lunge, Luthardt, Lucke, Westcott, Geikie, Moulton.) This is surely the most obvious and rational interpretation. Perhaps "heaven" is not exactly identical with "God," but may point to the whole of the providential circumstances, to the Divine resources, to the inheritance of effects from more remote antecedents in the Divine will; but it is difficult to press this distinction in all cases.

3:22-36 John was fully satisfied with the place and work assigned him; but Jesus came on a more important work. He also knew that Jesus would increase in honour and influence, for of his government and peace there would be no end, while he himself would be less followed. John knew that Jesus came from heaven as the Son of God, while he was a sinful, mortal man, who could only speak about the more plain subjects of religion. The words of Jesus were the words of God; he had the Spirit, not by measure, as the prophets, but in all fulness. Everlasting life could only be had by faith in Him, and might be thus obtained; whereas all those, who believe not in the Son of God, cannot partake of salvation, but the wrath of God for ever rests upon them.John answered and said,.... The Syriac and Arabic versions add, "to them"; the answer being made to the disciples of John, who came to him with their complaint:

a man can receive nothing; the Syriac and Persic versions add, "of his own will": some understand this of Christ, as man, who did not take upon him the character of the Messiah, nor the office of a Mediator, nor the honour of it of himself; and who received the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, without measure, and had his success in his work from above: and indeed, it is true of both Christ, and John; for as Christ, so John received his office, and honour, as the harbinger and forerunner of Christ, and all his gifts qualifying for it, and his success in it, not of himself, but of God: and since therefore the superior office, and honour, and usefulness of the one above the other, were according to the sovereign will of God, there was no room for complaint, murmuring, and envy; but there ought to be contentment and pleasure in the wise disposition of things by God. Yea, this is true of every man, who has nothing of his own; and whatever he has in nature, providence and grace, is a gift to him; and all he enjoys is in a way of receiving: nor can he receive it,

except it be given him from heaven; from God who dwells there; See Gill on Matthew 21:25; who is the author and donor of every gift, temporal, spiritual, and eternal; particularly he cannot perceive, and discern spiritual things, nor receive Gospel truths; as it appeared to John his disciples could not, unless spiritual light is given from above; and such a favour is bestowed, as to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven: and therefore, for every office, whether of a superior, or inferior kind, and for every degree of honour, and for whatsoever blessing and gift, whether for soul or body, for time, or for eternity, men ought to be thankful, and not glory in them, as though they had not received them; nor is there any reason to murmur against God, or envy one another, as these disciples did.

Courtesy of Open Bible