+ He had said that the Jews regarded the Gospel with hatred, because they did not know God.
+ Now after making such a statement, some may think that this would give them an excuse to alleviate their guilt.
Is it not true that there a many who think that it is absurd for God to condemn men to hell who have never had a copy of the Bible and consequently they do no know God having never heard of the God of the Bible much less the Gospel.
They could have brought as an objection against Him as some do now. Well, "If they do not know thy Father, why then don't you cure their ignorance? Or, why don't you at least test them to see whether they are completely incapable of being taught, or not?"
+ So, here he adds, that it is through their own malice that they are blind and ignorant, just as if one were to shut his eyes so that he refuses to see the light of the truth when it is shown to them.
+ By this he address the negative implication, that he has performed the duty of a good and faithful Teacher, but without success, because their own malice prevents them from acquiring soundness of mind.
+ The questing then logically arises, Well then if there will be those who are ignorant and are so because of their own malice, Why even make this statement to them since they will not receive the truth anyway? There is a two fold purpose one major and one minor in this statement:
1. The minor reason is that he intends to strike terror into all who reject the truth of God or intentionally fight againt it, especially when it has been presented to them.
2. The major reason is that even though there is a vengeance that awaits those who reject the truth, yet, Christ is looking primarily at his own disciples, to animate them to a confident expectation of victory over the enemies of the truth. Without this confidence there is the potential for them to feel defeated and yield to the malice of wicked men who refuse to believe. But if we learn of their methods and subsequent ad homenim arguments before hand, then through this knowledge there is a victory that comes even before the battle begins.
They would not have sin.
+ From this phrase there are some who think that Christ intended by these words to say, that there is no other sin but unbelief.
+ Although Augustine spoke more soberly than most, yet, he approaches that opinion. His argument was that since faith forgives and blots out all sins, therefore, he says, that the only sin that damns a man is unbelief.
+ While it is true that unbelief not only hinders men from being delivered from the condemnation of death, but is the source and cause of all evils.
+ Nevertheless, that reasoning as a whole is not applicable to the present passage; because the word sin here must not be taken in a general sense, but only as related to the subject which is now under consideration.
+ So, what Christ is saying is that their ignorance is utterly inexcusable, because in his person they maliciously rejected God. It is just as if a person who has committed only one crime, is innocent of everything else. This is confined then to one kind of sin, because it takes away from the Jews every pretense of ignorance in this sin, the sin of despising and hating the Gospel.
If I had not come, they would not have sin:
I have heard some say that because of this, it would have been better for Christ not to have come because they would not have him to reject, and thus have no sin, and thus no condemnation.
And so, the question arises: "Was unbelief alone enough to condemn men before the coming of Christ?" There are fallacious fanatics who reason from this passage, that all who died before the coming of Christ died without faith, and remained in a state of doubt and suspense till Christ manifested himself to them. I suppose this is where the foolish doctrine of purgatory addresses the superstitious ignorance of some. It is as if there were not enough passages of Scripture which testify that their conscience alone was sufficient to condemn them. Moreover, Death,says Paul, reigned in the world even to Moses,(Romans 5:14.) arguing that Death itself is evidence enough to indicate the affects of condemnation even prior to the law being published by Moses. And again he declares, that
they who have sinned without law shall perish without law, (Romans 2:12.)
What, then, does Christ mean? There is undoubtedly an admission made in these words, by which he means that the Jews have nothing more to offer in extenuation of their guilt, since they knowingly and willfully rejected the life which was offered to them.
+ Therefore, the excuse or explanation which he makes for them does not free them from all blame, but only extenuates the heinousness of their crime, according to that saying, The servant, who knoweth the will of his master, and despiseth it, shall be severely punished?
+ For it was not the intention of Christ here to promise pardon to any, but to hold his enemies convicted, who had obstinately rejected the grace of God, that it might be fully evident that they were unworthy of all pardon and mercy.
If I had not come and SPOKEN TO THEM. It ought to be observed, that he does not speak of his coming, as viewed by itself, but as connected with his doctrine, for they would not have been held guilty of so great a crime on account of his bodily presence alone, but the contempt of the doctrine made them utterly inexcusable.
+I hope that with this teaching on passages such as this and what together Bro. David and I have been saying that it is becoming more and more evident to you all the importance of seeing the connection of Christ with the doctrine of Scripture.
23. He who hateth me hateth my Father also.
+ This is a remarkable passage, which teaches us that no man can hate the doctrine of the Gospel without manifesting his irreverence for God.
+ There are many, indeed, who profess differently in words; for, though they abhor the Gospel, still they wish to be thought very good servants of God, even ministers of God
+ But it is false, in fact it shows to those who have wisdom that even a contempt of God is concealed within.
+ In this manner Christ reveals the hypocrisy of many by the light of his doctrine; and on this subject we have spoken more largely under that passage,
Whosoever doeth what is evil hateth the light (John 3:20,) (and what is the light but the truth of the gospel and Scripture?) Notice that Scripture defines "doing evil" as "hating the truth".
and under that passage,
He who honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father, 4 (John 5:23.)
24. If I had not done among them the works.
+Under the word works he includes
-all the proofs which he gave of his Divine glory;
- for by miracles, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, and by other demonstrations, he clearly proved that he was the Son of God, so that in him was plainly seen the majesty of the Only-begotten Son, as we have seen under John 1:14. 5
- The Jews commonly object, that he did not perform more miracles or greater miracles than Moses and the Prophets. The answer is well known, that Christ is more eminent in miracles in this respect, that he was not merely a minister, like the rest, but was strictly the Author of them; for he employed his own name, his own authority, and his own power, in performing miracles.
- he includes in general all the testimonies of heavenly and spiritual power by which his Divinity was displayed.
They have seen and hated.
+ He concludes that his enemies cannot escape by any shifts to which they may have recourse, since they despised his power, which evidently was altogether Divine; for God had openly manifested his Divinity in the Son; and therefore it would serve no purpose for them to say that they had only to do with a mortal man. This passage reminds us to consider attentively the works of God, in which, by displaying his power, he wishes us to render the honor which is due to him. Hence it follows, that all who obscure the gifts of God, or who contemptuously overlook them, are ungrateful to God, and malicious.
25. But that the word may be fulfilled.
+ What is contrary to nature appears to be incredible. But nothing is more contrary to reason than to hate God; and, therefore, Christ says that so great was the malice with which their minds were poisined, that they hated him without a cause. Christ quotes a passage from Psalm 35:19, which, he says, is now fulfilled. Not that the same thing did not happen, formerly, to David, but to reprove the obstinate malice of the nation, which reigned perpetually from age to age, being continued from grandfathers to grandchildren in unbroken succession; as if he had said, that they were in no respect better than their fathers, who hated David without a cause.
+ Which is written in their Law. By the word Law, he means the Psalms; for the whole doctrine of the Prophets was nothing else than an appendage to the Law; and we know that the ministry of Moses lasted till the time of Christ. John Calvin said, Christ "calls it their Law, not as an expression of respect for them, but to wound them more deeply by a designation which was well known among them; as if he had said, "They have a Law transmitted to them by hereditary right, in which they see their morals painted to the life."
26. But when the Comforter is come.
+ After having explained to the apostles that the Gospel ought not to be less highly valued by them, because it has many adversaries, even within the Church itself; Christ now, in opposition to the wicked fury of those men, produces the testimony of the Spirit, and if their consciences rest on this testimony, they will never be shaken; as if he had said, "True, the world will rage against you; some will mock, and others will curse your doctrine; but none of their attacks will be so violent as to shake the firmness of your faith, when the Holy Spirit shall have been given to you to establish you by his testimony." And, indeed, when the world rages on all sides, our only protection is, that the truth of God, scaled by the Holy Spirit on our hearts, despises and defies all that is in the world; for, if it were subject to the opinions of men, our faith would be overwhelmed a hundred times in a day.