Faithful Witness, John 3:22-29

“After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison.” John 3:22-24.

Though J. N. Darby states in his synopsis of John chapter 3, that the Lord did not begin His public ministry until John was cast into prison, there is no indication of when the Baptist was imprisoned, just some information as to why and what led up to his beheading.

These accounts can be found in; Matthew 14:1-12, Mark 6:14-29, and Luke 9:7-9. Interestingly enough his death came shortly after Israel had rejected Jesus as their King and the kingdom of heaven which He offered to bring in.

As for the chronology of the death of John in the gospel of John, all that can be said is that it lies between the healing of a paralytic on the Sabbath, John 5:1-18 and the feeding of the 5000 in John 6:1-13.

“Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified – behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!’” John 3:25-26.

Both the New American Standard Version and its predecessor the American Standard Version of 1901 say that the dispute is between the disciples and a Jew. See the quote from the latter below.

“There arose therefore a questioning on the part of John’s disciples with a Jew about purifying.” John 3:25, ASV.

This is shown here to show how small things like an “s” can change the perception of a verse. In this case the difference makes little difference; however a dispute between one Jew and a number of Jews might indicate whether it is a heated discussion or a rumble.

There is some question as to what is meant by purification. Is this a reference to the ceremonial purifications and ablutions found in the Law of Moses or the ceremonial washings and rituals handed down by the elders?

This though does not seem to fit the context because a mention is immediately made of Jesus’ disciples baptizing. Because only John and Jesus’ disciples were baptizing, and the baptism was to repentance, the purification under discussion may have been that of baptism.

John’s disciples were concerned that Jesus was becoming more popular than John. His gracious answer is a lesson in humility that we all need to emulate.

“John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.’” John 3:27.

“Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth.”’” 2 Samuel 7:8-9.

“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep…” Acts 13:36a.

“Also it was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. I raised up some of your sons as prophets, and some of your young men as Nazirites. Is it not so, O you children of Israel?” Says the Lord. “But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets saying, ‘Do not prophesy!’” Amos 2:10-12.

“For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth. By You I have been upheld from my birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of You.” Psalm 71:5-6.

Speaking to the Pharaoh of the Exodus, God says the following through Moses.

“Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Exodus 9:15-16.

“Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the balance; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.” Isaiah 40:15.

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Proverbs 21:1.

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36.

“You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.” John 3:28-29.

This is probably not a reference to the bride of Christ spoken of in Revelation; rather it is a picture of the relationship between John the Baptist, Jesus’ herald, announcing the Christ, the Messiah spoken of numerous times in the Old Testament.

The picture of a wedding conveys the joy of the bridegroom and of the friend of the bridegroom. The bride of Christ, the church, was a mystery not yet revealed; though hinted at in the parables.

Folks often obsess with the doctrine of the bride of Christ, and forget that they are part of the body of Christ, which for now is a far more important doctrine.

The bride of Christ is not complete, and will not be until the last person is saved and added to the church, and then the church will be taken out of this world by Christ and travel to heaven where the wedding ceremony will be conducted.

This is what Scripture means when it says the following.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.

You will find that there is little said about the bride before being mentioned in the book of Revelation.

“For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2-3.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:25-32.

To be part of the bride of Christ is an exalted position which hints at a close relationship with Jesus causing us to serve Him with the knowledge that no matter what we go through here on earth, there are fantastic things in store for us in the ages to come.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

The bride of Christ is not complete yet, so as individuals we view this life as an opportunity to please Christ with all our strength looking to the day when we will see Him face to face.

This relationship however is pictured by marriage here on earth and is seen by God as inviolate and should not be meddled with as the ungodly in our society are trying to do; it is an intentional insult to God.

Do not be fooled, any corruption or trivialization of marriage is a doctrine straight out of the pit of hell, and Christians who accept these unscriptural things are aligning themselves against Christ.

As stated earlier, the bride of Christ is not yet complete and will not be until the last person is added to the church, so it is a doctrine that is not immediately as important as the body of Christ.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” 1 Corinthians 12:27.

“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…” Romans 12:4-6a.

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-14.

“…but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16.

Christians are a part of the body of Christ which is the church, and as such, have a responsibility to use the gifts God gave them to edify, encourage others, and build up the body.

It is the responsibility of the church leadership to follow Christ as the head of the church, and yes, He is capable of leading the church, if men are willing to follow.

At the same time it is the responsibility of the leadership to recognize and encourage the members to use their gifts, no matter how small. The bride of Christ is a glorious future; the body of Christ is the here and now.

Faithful Witness, John 3:22-29 taken from posted 7-18-12, updated on 6-30-17.

Scripture taken from the New King James version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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