Yohanan Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 1
1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
In the beginning was the Word. The language echoes the first sentence of Genesis, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The Word which was with God and... was God is not named as such in Genesis but is immediately seen in action: "And God said, 'Let there be light'"(Genesis 1:3). "And God called the light Day" (Genesis 1:5). And so on, through Genesis and indeed throughout the whole Tanakh. God's expressing himself, commanding, calling and creating is one of the two primary themes of the entire Bible (the other being his justice and mercy and their outworking in the salvation of humanity). This expressing, this speaking, this "word" is God; a God who does not speak, a Word-less God is no God. And a Word that is not God accomplishes nothing. In the Tanakh God himself puts it this way:
"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goes out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which 1 please, and it shall prosper in that for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)

Thus the Tanakh lays the groundwork for Yochanan's statement that the Word was with God and was God. In v. 14 we learn that this Word is Yeshua the Messiah himself: moreover, at Rv 19:13 Yeshua is explicitly called "the Word of God." "Word" translates Greek logos. While "logos" had a role in pagan Gnosticism as one of the steps through which people work their way up to God and as such found its way into numerous Jewish and Christian heresies, here it does not bespeak a pagan intrusion into the New Testament, as some suppose. Rather, it corresponds to Aramaic "memra" (also "word"), a technical theological term used by the rabbis in the centuries before and after Yeshua when speaking of God's expression of himself. In the Septuagint logos translates Hebrew davar, which can mean not only "word" but "thing" or "matter"; hence the Messianic Jew Richard Wurmbrand has suggested this midrashic understanding of the initial phrase of this verse: "In the beginning was the Real Thing."

Thus the Messiah existed before all creation (compare 17:5). In fact, he was involved in creation (Co 1:15-17, MJ 1:2-3). The Talmud too teaches the Messiah's pre-existence. According to a baraita (an unattributed teaching from the Mishnaic period rabbis, who are lcnown as Tanna'im),
"It was taught that seven things were created before the world was created; they are the Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gey-Hinnom, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah.... The name of the Messiah, as it is written: 'May his name [as understood here, the name of the Messiah] endure forever, may his name produce issue prior to the sun' (Psalm 72:17)." (Pesachim 54a, N'darim 39a; also Midrash on Psalm 93:3)

2. He was with God in the beginning.
3. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing made had being.
Is Yochanan speaking about two (the Word was with God) or one (the Word was God)? Yochanan's answer expresses Hebraic rather than Greek thinking: it is a matter of both/and, not either/or. We learn in these verses that the Word was not a created being, as the fourth-century heretic Anus taught and as Jehovah's Witnesses teach today.

4. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.
Йешуа как истинный свет для этого мира - основная тема книги Йоханана. См. 8:12 и ком.

5. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not suppressed it.
6. There was a man sent from God whose name was Yochanan.
Yochanan the Immcrscr; see Mt 3:1N.

7. He came to be a testimony, to bear witness concerning the light; so that through him, everyone might put his trust in God and be faithful to him.
8. He himself was not that light; no, he came to bear witness concerning the light.
9. This was the true light, which gives light to everyone entering the world.
Yeshua as the true light for the world is a major theme of Yochanan. See 8:12&N.

10. He was in the world — the world came to be through him — yet the world did not know him.
11. He came to his own homeland, yet his own people did not receive him.
His own homeland... his own people, literally, "his own things [neuter]... his own people [masculine]." His own homeland and people could be either the world and all humanity, or the Land of Israel and the Jewish people; the latter seems more relevant, since he spent his entire life in or near Eretz-hrael. A still narrower interpretation. Natzeret and the people who knew him there, conforms to Lk 4:16-30 and Mk 6:1-6 but seems out of context here. In any case the majority of those he reached did not become his followers.

12. But to as many as did receive him, to those who put their trust in his person and power, he gave the right to become children of God,
Put their trust in his person and power, literally, "put their trust in his name." The concept of "name" in the Ancient Middle East included everything a person was. We retain the sense today when we say someone speaks "in a person's name," meaning with his authority and expressing his views. To "trust in the name of Yeshua the Messiah" certainly does not mean to attribute magic properties to the name itself.

The right to become children of God. Isn't everyone a child of God? In a sense, yes (Ac 17:28); indeed, all are created "in his image" (Genesis 1:26-27, Ya 3:9). In numerous places God reveals himself as a Father (and in at least one place, Isaiah 49:14-15, as a Mother) to Israel. But here being a "child of God" means having an intimate personal relationship with him, as did Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya'akov, Moshe and David. God spoke to them personally and they spoke to him. It is exactly the same way with everyone who comes to trust in the Messiah, meeting the conditions of the New Covenant: the believer is able to be in touch with God his Father; see below. Chapters 15-17 and numerous places in Sha'ul's letters.

13. not because of bloodline, physical impulse or human intention, but because of God.
14. The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw his Sh’khinah, the Sh’khinah of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.
The Word became a human being, literally, "the Word became flesh." It is not that a man named Yeshua. who grew up in Natzeret, one day decided he was God. Rather, the Word, who "was with God" and "was God," gave up the "glory [he] had with [the Father] before the world existed" (17:5) and "emptied himself, in that he took the form of a slave by becoming like human beings are" (Pp 2:7). In other words, God sent "his own Son as a human being with a nature like our own sinful one" (Ro 8:3), so that "in every respect he was tempted just as we are, the only difference being that he did not sin" (MJ 4:15). It is God the Word, then, who decided to become man, not the other way round.

But can the one God, whose ways are as high above our ways as the heavens above the earth (Isaiah 55:8-9), "become a human being" and still be God? Does not the assertion that the Creator becomes the creature contradict the very essence of what it means to be God? The New Testament writers were aware that the concept of God becoming human needed unique treatment. For example. Sha'ul writes that in Yeshua the Messiah, "bodily, lives the fullness of all that God is" (in Co 2:9); likewise, see v. 18&N. Such circumspect language points to the extraordinariness of the idea. Mattityahu writes that when the Son of Man will come "no one knows — not the angels in heaven, not the Son, only the Father" (Mt 24:37): God is omniscient, yet there is something the Son does not know. Instead of rejecting the incarnation because it contradicts his prejudices about God, an open-minded person tries to discover what the concept means in the New Testament. Its writers are pointing to and attempting to describe a mystery which God has revealed in considerable measure but not altogether, for "now I know partly; then I will know fully" (1С 13:12).

The Tanakh reports many instances of God's appearing as a man — to Avraham in Genesis 18, to Ya'akov (Genesis 32:25-33), Moshe (Exodus 3), Y'hoshua (Joshua 5:13-6:5), the people of Israel (Judges 2:1-5), Gid'on (Judges 6:11-24), and Manoach and his wife, the parents of Shimshon, (Judges 13:2-23). In all of these passages the terms "Adonai" and "the angel of Adonai" (or "Elohim" and "the angel of Elohim") are used interchangeably, and in some of them the angel of Adonai (or Elohim) is spoken of as a man. The Tanakh itself thus teaches that the all-powerful God has the power, if he chooses, to appear among men as a man. The New Testament carries this already Jewish idea one step farther: not only can God "appear" in human form, but the Word of God can "become" a human being — and did so.

Non-Messianic Judaism has generally taken a defensive theological position against Christianity and its concept of incarnation. Thus the Rambam's thirteen-point creed has as its third article:
"I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be his name, is not a body, that he is free from all material properties, and that he has no form whatsoever."

Maimonides clearly did not mean to contradict the Tanakh's own descriptions of God as having physical features such as a back, a face (v. 18N) and an outstretched arm; rather, he meant to exclude incarnation. In the light of the New Testament a Messianic Jew can simply pronounce him wrong. However, for the sake of retaining a traditional Jewish formulation, he can preserve the words but reinterpret them against Maimonides" purpose. For example, a New Testament believer can agree that God's nature is not physical or material, but he would insist that the article does not exclude the incarnation of the Word as Yeshua if it is understood as an occasional, rather than essential, attribute of God, an event necessitated because sin occurred in human history. On the other hand, the Malbim (Meir Loeb fien-Yechiel Michael). writing in the middle of the nineteenth century, though a staunch defender of Orthodoxy against Reform Judaism, had a concept of hitgalmut ("incarnation") surprisingly close to the Christian idea of incarnation; it is found in his commentary on Genesis 18. where Adonai appears to Avraham. (The word "hitgalmut" is related to golem — recall the Yiddish play, "The Golem," based on a folktale about a clay body which its maker caused to come alive.) Sh'kliiiuih. God's manifest presence. See paragraph (3) of MJ 1:2-3N.

15. Yochanan witnessed concerning him when he cried out, “This is the man I was talking about when I said, ‘The one coming after me has come to rank ahead of me, because he existed before me.’”
See v. 30.

16. We have all received from his fullness, yes, grace upon grace.
Grace, Greek charts, is equivalent to Hebrew then ("grace, favor'") or chesed ("loyal love and kindness").

17. For the Torah was given through Moshe; grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah.
On Torah see Mt 5.I7N. On "Yeshua" and "Messiah" see Ml 1:1N. Another passage comparing Moshe and the Torah with Yeshua and the New Covenant is 2C 3:6-16. It is sometimes thought that the present verse demeans Moshe, but this is not the case. On the contrary, that a mere man for whom no claim to divinity has ever been made should even be compared with the Word of God incarnate shows how highly Yochanan regards Moshe. Nor does he demean the Torah, God's eternal "teaching" about himself as given to Israel, by comparing it with grace and truth. Elsewhere Yeshua himself says that he did not come to abrogate the Torah but to fill it out (Mt 5:17-20&NN), and proceeded to follow this program by interpreting the Torah in ways that make its meaning and commands even clearer (Mt 5:21-48).

Grace and truth are personal attributes of God which Yeshua not only revealed in a unique way during his brief earthly lifetime, but, in his eternal capacity as the Word of God, has been continually bestowing on humanity since the dawn of creation. Grace, truth and the Torah are all from God, supreme expressions of who he is; see Rv 19:11 N.

18. No one has ever seen God; but the only and unique Son, who is identical with God and is at the Father’s side — he has made him known.
No one has ever seen God. Yet many who saw the angel of Adonai thus saw God (v. 14N). Moreover, Moshe saw "God's back" (Exodus 33:19-23), Isaiah "saw Adoruii sitting on a throne, high and lifted up" (Isaiah 6:1), and the seventy elders of Israel "saw the God of Israel...and ate and drank" (Exodus 24:9—11). Therefore this passage must be taken to mean thai the ultimate glory and nature of God are hidden from sinful humanity. As Exodus 33:20 puts it, "And [God| said, 'You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.'"

The only and unique Son, who is identical with God. Greek monogenis theos is to Jewish people a shocking and problematical phrase. ''Theos " means "God," and "monogenes" can mean either "only-begotten" or "only, unique." If "monogenes" is an adjective, the phrase may be rendered, "the only-begotten God" or "the only and unique God." The former concept is alien to the Tanakh and the rest of the New Testament and inconsistent with the remainder of Yochanan's Gospel as well; while the latter does not make sense in the context of the sentence.

The JNT takes "monogenes " as a substantive, with "theos " ("God") standing in apposition and describing it. In this case the phrase means either "the Only-Begotten One, who is God" or "the Only and Unique One, who is God." The word "Son" is supplied and is nol in (he Greek text used for the JNT, although some manuscripts do have "uios" ("son") instead of "theos."

What, then, does it mean to call the only and unique son "God," especially when the Son, who is God, has made him, the Father, who is also God, known? Is there more than one God? Again, refer to v. IN: this "Only and Unique One" is fully identified with God, yet not in such a way as to negate the basic truth of the Sh 'ma that "Adonai is one" (Deuteronomy 6:4, Ro 3:30). For this reason I have supplied the words, "who is identical with." in order to reflect the delicacy of the incarnation concept (see v. 14&N) when the predicate "God" is applied to "the only and unique Son": throughout his Gospel Yochanan teaches that the Father is God, and the Son is God; yet he distinguishes between the Son and the Father, so that one cannot say that the Son is the Father. I submit that the chief difficulty in our understanding this lies neither in the Greek text nor in my translation of it. but in the very nature of God himself.

In his prologue to the Good News Yochanan sets forth both the divine and human origin and nature of the Messiah. Contrary to modem Jewish opinion, which holds that the Messiah is to be human only, numerous Jewish sources speak of the supernatural features of the Messiah; see below on specific verses in this prologue and also I7:5N.

The passage consists of groups of couplets separated by prose explanations. Pliny the Younger, one of the first pagans to mention Christians, wrote that they would meet on a fixed day before daylight "and recite by turns a form of words" (or: "sing an antiphonal chant") "to Christ as a god" (Letter to Emperor Trajan, around 112 C.E.).

Besides the prologue to Yochanan, additional New Testament passages lending themselves to "aniiphonal chant" or other liturgical use are found in Lk 1-2 and at Ro 11:33-36. Pp 2:6-11. 1 Ti 3:16 and 2 Ti 2:11-13. The Hebrew parallelism of the Psalms and other books in the Tanakh was probably designed for aniiphonal chanting.

19. Here is Yochanan’s testimony: when the Judeans sent cohanim and L’vi’im from Yerushalayim to ask him, “Who are you?”
.Indians Is the New Testament antisemitic? Here, with the word "Judeans" (rather than "Jews" as in most English translations) being used to translate Greek loudaioi the first time it is used in Yochanan's Gospel, we must go beyond what is found in Mt 2:2N, 3:7N, 23:13N and Lk 23:3N, and aim for the heart of the subject.

The charge usually takes the form of accusing the New Testament in general and Yochanan's Gospel in particular of making statements about "the Jews" that not only are negative, unfriendly, misleading and false, but are intended by the authors to induce dislike and hatred of "the Jews" as a class and as individuals. After all — to use the language of KJV, which is echoed in most later English versions — was it not "the Jews" who "did persecute Jesus" (John 5:16), "sought the more to kill him" (5:18), '"murmured at him" (6:41), again "sought to kill him" (7:1), induced people to fear him (7:13,19:38, 20:19), spoke against him (8:22, 48, 52, 57), "did not believe" (9:18), "took up stones again to stone him" (10:31,11:18), said that Jewish law required Jesus to die (19:7), and exerted political pressure on Pilate to kill Jesus (19:14)? If the charge is true either Christianity and Messianic Judaism stand condemned, or the New Testament must be discounted as not inspired by God and untrustworthy as a guide to Messianic behavior.

The matter cannot be decided by pointing to antisemitic acts committed through the centuries in the Messiah's name or claiming New Testament justification, because that assumes what must be proved; but I intend to disprove the charge by showing that, to the contrary, Yeshua and the New Testament condemn antisemitism.

Nor will I acknowledge that a scholarly commentary asserting or assuming that there is antisemitism in the New Testament carries weight if its author's theology and presuppositions have not been examined for antisemitic bias or for misconstruction of the relationship between Israel and the Messiah's Body (the Church). As an example of such, consider these remarks of Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976), the distinguished liberal Christian theologian:

"The term oi loudaioi, characteristic of the Evangelist [John], gives an overall portrayal of the Jews, viewed from the standpoint of Christian faith, as the representatives of unbelief.... The Jews are spoken of as an alien people.... Jesus stands over against the Jews.... Oi loudaioi does not relate to the empirical state of the Jewish people [e.g., currently unsaved], but to its very nature." (The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1971, pp. 86-87)

So, instead of relying on other commentators or on how the Church has historically applied its understanding of the New Testament's "oi loudaioi" I will look at the linguistic and historic-cultural contexts surrounding the uses of the word "loudaioi" in the New Testament to see if it really means "Jews."

A non-Messianic Jewish neurologist named Jack Epstein wrote an article. "Roots of Religious Prejudice" (Journal of Ecumenical Studies 5:4, pp. 697-724), in which he categorizes the 197 instances of the word "loudaioi" and 5 instances of cognate words in the New Testament as being used positively 16 times, negatively 80 times and neutrally 106 times. His solution is to replace the word "Jews" in the 80 negative uses by other words — "Pharisees," "High Priests." "bystanders," "moneylenders," "chief priests," "a band" (Ac 23:30), or "old wives' tales" (in place of "Jewish fables." Ti 1:14&N).

Obviously the intent of this exercise is to modify the harsh and antisemitic sound of the text in the light of modem sensitivities. Its justification is that the opposition attributed supposedly to "the Jews" was aimed at the Jewish man Yeshua and his Jewish followers; thus it could not have been all "the Jews" who opposed them but some subgroup. Epstein compares the attribution of these negative acts to "the Jews" as a whole with speaking of "the whites" as opposing Abraham Lincoln, plotting against him and killing him at (he theater: such a misreporting of American history would inflame black-white racial tensions no less than the mis-translating of the New Testament has inflamed tensions between Jews and Christians. A similar rationale seems to underlie the Living Bible's use of the phrase "Jewish leaders" instead of "Jews" at a number of points in John's Gospel and Acts.

But Epstein's analysis, though interesting as far as it goes, lacks authority because it does not address the basic question of how the word "loudaioi" should be exegeted. Malcolm Lowe, in an article called "Who Were The loudaioi?" (Novum Testamentum, 18:2, pp. 101-130), has done the analysis necessary for a reliable answer to this question, and the Jewish New Testament reflects most of his conclusions. Lowe argues that three distinct meanings may be presumed possible for "loudaioi" and its Hebrew precursor "Y'hudim":
(1) Members of the tribe of Judah (Hebrew Y'hudah, Greek loudas).
(2) Followers of the Jewish religion, that is, Jews.

(3) People living in or originating from Judea (Hebrew Y'hudah, Greek loudaia). Since Judea's boundaries did not remain fixed, three possible regions may reasonably have been referred to in Yeshua's time:
(a) Judea "in the strict sense," approximately the territory assigned to the tribe of Judah, and not including Shomron (Samaria) or the Galil (Galilee).
(b) The procurate of Pontius Pilate, namely, Judea as in (a) plus Shomron and Idumea.
(c) The kingdom of Herod the Great and the last Hasmoneans, that is, the whole of the historic Land of Israel, which means Judea as in (b) plus the Galil and territory north of the Galil (in modern Lebanon) and east of the Yarden River (the Golan Heights and parts of modern Jordan and Syria).

While "loudaioi" today means only the second of these three possibilities (Jews by religion), in Yeshua's time all three meanings were possible. This is not a new discovery, and I dare suggest (but do not assert) that only implicit antisemitic bias on the part of translators and their intended audiences can account for the continued and unrelieved use of the word "Jews" to translate "loudaioi" in most English translations until this day. (A few occasionally note "Judeans" as an alternate translation in the margin.)

Throughout all four Gospels and Acts 1-8 "loudaioi" in nearly all instances means "Judeans" and not "Jews." In these books when Jews refer to "loudaioi" they are generally distinguishing Judean Jews from Galilean or other Jews: for when Jews of this period wanted to refer to Jews in the religious sense they invariably spoke of the "people of Israel" — one finds this in the Mishna as well as the New Testament (see Ro 9-1 l&NN, and especially Ro 1 l:26a&N: also Ep 2:12&N). Judean Jews were characterized as being more committed than other Jews to the forms of Judaism taught by the two parties headquartered in Yerushalayim, the P'rushim and the Tz dukim, who included most of the cohanim. It was these Judean Jews (and, it should be emphasized, even of them only a subgroup, not every single one) who spearheaded the opposition to Yeshua. as reported by Yochanan. Thus Lowe's sense (3)(a) is most common when Jews are the speakers.

But when non-Jews refer to "loudaioi" in the Gospels and Acts 1 -8, it is often sense (3)(b) or (3)(c) that is meant, for the term is used in a political sense: the territory of the tribe of Judah is rarely in mind, and what is meant is the province of Judea as the Romans had to deal with it. One could even render "king of the loudaioi' as "king of the Judeans" in the Gospels, since the phrase is used largely by Gentiles for whom the primary interface with the Jewish people was political and not theological; however. since the concept of "Messiah" was known to the Gentile rulers as a religious concept, I have preserved the more common "king of the Jews" (see Mt 2:2&N, Lk 23:3&N).

The several festivals which Yochanan identifies as being "of the loudaioi" (2:13, 5:1, 6:4, 7:2, 11:55) are specifically Judean festivals. Of course they are Jewish too; that goes without saying. But all the festivals Yochanan names — Pesach at 2:13, 6:4 and 11:55. and Sukkot at 7:2 — are pilgrim festivals, that is, festivals during which all Jews-by-religion were required by the Torah to go up to Yerushalayim in Judea (see 5: IN). Moreover, in 10:22 Chanukkah is not identified as a festival "of the loudaioi," since it is not a pilgrim festival.

At 2:6, 11:19, and Mk 7:3 customs are spoken of that today have the force of halakhah (Jewish religious law). But in New Testament times, before these practices became binding on all Jews, it would have been the Judeans who would have been most insistent on their observance.

From Acts 9 onward "loudaioi" usually means "Jews" and not "Judeans" or "Judahites," since the context is no longer the Land of Israel but the Diaspora, where the word is used to distinguish Jews from the Goyim — Gentiles, pagans, followers of other religions. For example, at Ga 2:13-15 Sha'ui calls himself, Kefa and the other believers "Jews." not "Judeans" (and certainly not "former Jews"; see notes there). Also, Paul calls himself a Jew even though he was from the tribe of Benjamin, not Judah (Ac 13:21, Ro 11:1, Pp 3:5). The exceptions to this rale occur in Ac 12, Ac 21-28 and the very important case of 1 Th 2:14 (see note there); in these instances the context is the Land, and "Judeans" is the proper rendering.

So then, has the locus of difficulty merely been shifted from the Gospels to the latter portions of the New Testament? Are the Gospels exonerated from the charge of antisemitic tendency but the Book of Acts and the Letters convicted? For—again using KJV — it is clear that it was "the Jews" who "took counsel to kill" Paul in Damascus (Ac 9:23); in Pisidian Antioch they "were Filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming" (Ac 13:45), and eventually they "stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts" (Ac 13:50); in Berea "the Jews of Thessalonica...came...and stirred up the people" (Ac 17:13); in Corinth "the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law" (Ac 18:12-13); in Greece "the Jews laid in wait for" Paul (Ac 20:3); in Ephesus Paul himself is quoted as speaking of "the lying in wait of the Jews" (Ac 20:19); and he writes the Corinthians that "Of the Jews 1 received forty stripes save one" (2C 11:24). These loudaioi cannot be only Judeans; they must be members of 'am-lsrael (the people of Israel), followers of Judaism, Jews.

Nevertheless, are they "Jews in general"? or must they be some limited portion of the Jewish people? I don't believe it prejudices my case to admit beforehand that I want to arrive at the latter conclusion, because at the same time 1 commit myself to do so only if there is evidence for it in the text of the New Testament and not merely in my own wishings. Fortunately, there is such evidence. In the synagogue at Iconium Paul and Barnabas "so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren...and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully. and to stone them. They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe...." (Ac 14:1-6, KJV). We see here that it was the unbelieving Jews who caused the trouble (the Greek word translated "unbelieving" in KJV, "apeithisantes," may also be rendered "disobedient").

Likewise, although "the Jews" came from Thessalonica to stir up the Bereans, which Jews were they? It was "the Jews who believed not" who, "moved with envy took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar..." (Ac 17:5, KJV); the preceding verse informs us that other Jews did believe.

From the first Diaspora presentation of the faith (Ac 9:20-22) lo the end of the book of Acts (Ac 28:24-25a&N) the story is the same: the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah divided the Jewish community, so that some Jews believed it and were obedient to its truth; while other Jews did not believe it and were disobedient, opposing it and its followers. The believing Jews, while still Jews, are referred to as God's people, members of the Body of the Messiah or the Messianic Community (Greek ekklesia, "called-out ones," "church"; see Mt 16:18N). The unbelieving Jews, explicitly called this in Ac 14:2 and Ac 17:5, are elsewhere called "the Jews"; but this term should be taken as a kind of shorthand for "the unbelieving Jews" or "the disbelieving Jews." To apply to New Testament times modern sensitivities concerning statements about "the Jews" produces bad exegesis. It is clear from the New Testament that those who refuse to believe the Gospel, whether Jewish or Gentile, fall under God's condemnation; while those who trust and obey, whether Jewish or Gentile, receive his blessing.

For this reason, whenever a negative statement is made about the loudaioi and the referent is properly Jews and not Judeans. the JNTadds the word "unbelieving," even when it does not appear in the text; see Ac 9:22-23N for a complete listing of these places. The purpose, of course, is to make clear that the reference is not to the Jewish people as a whole but to a subgroup who opposed the Gospel, and that therefore none of the references to loudaioi in the New Testament are antisemitic.
Cohanim. See Mt 2:4N.
L'vi'im. See Lk 5:27N.

20. he was very straightforward and stated clearly, “I am not the Messiah.”
21. “Then who are you?” they asked him. “Are you Eliyahu?” “No, I am not,” he said. “Are you ‘the prophet,’ the one we’re expecting?” “No,” he replied.
Are you Eliyahu? That is, are you the Prophet Elijah, who is to come before the Great Day of Adonai, according to Malachi 3:23(4:5)? See notes at Mt 11:10,14; 17:10, where Yeshua makes clear that Yochanan the Immerser is not Eliyahu reincarnated but does come in his spirit for those who will accept him.

Are you the prophet? That is, are you the "prophet like me" whom Moshe promised would come to the people of Israel, and whom they were to heed (Deuteronomy 18:15. 18)? For more, see Ac 3:22-23&N.

22. So they said to him, “Who are you? — so that we can give an answer to the people who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?”
23. He answered in the words of Yesha‘yahu the prophet, “I am "Я The voice of someone crying out: ‘In the desert make the way of Adonai straight!" (Isaiah 40:3)
Adonai. On the use of this word in lieu of God's name, YHVH. see Mt 1:20N.

24. Some of those who had been sent were P’rushim.
P'rushim. See Mt 3:7N.

25. They asked him, “If you are neither the Messiah nor Eliyahu nor ‘the prophet,’ then why are you immersing people?”
Immersing people, Greek baptizeis, usually rendered, "baptize." See Mt 3:1N.

26. To them Yochanan replied, “I am immersing people in water, but among you is standing someone whom you don’t know.
27. He is the one coming after me — I’m not good enough even to untie his sandal!”
28. All this took place in Beit-Anyah, east of the Yarden, where Yochanan was immersing.
29. The next day, Yochanan saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, “Look! God’s lamb! The one who is taking away the sin of the world!
God's lamb. Yochanan identifies Yeshua with the dominant sacrificial animal used in connection with Temple ritual, and particularly with the sin offerings, since he is the one who is taking away the sin of the world. Elsewhere in the New Testament Yeshua the Messiah is equated with the Passover lamb (1С 5:7&N). The figure of the lamb connects Yeshua with the passage identifying the Messiah as the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 (Ac 8:32); and his sacrificial death by execution on a stake is compared with "that of a lamb without a defect or a spot" (1 Ke 1: 19), as required by the Torah (e.g., Exodus 12:5, 29:1; Leviticus 1:3, 10: 9:3; 23:12). In the book of Revelation Yeshua is referred to as the Lamb nearly thirty times. On God's requiring a human sacrifice for sins, see 1С 15:3N, MJ 7:26b-28N, and indeed the entire book of Messianic Jews.

30. This is the man I was talking about when I said, ‘After me is coming someone who has come to rank above me, because he existed before me.’
31. I myself did not know who he was, but the reason I came immersing with water was so that he might be made known to Isra’el.”
32. Then Yochanan gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven like a dove, and remaining on him.
Spirit, i.e., the Holy Spirit.

33. I myself did not know who he was, but the one who sent me to immerse in water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining, this is the one who immerses in the Ruach HaKodesh.’
Ruach HaKodesh. See Mt 1:18N.

34. And I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Son of God, a title descriptive of the Messiah. See Mt 4:3N.
This is Yochanan's version of the events reported in the Synoptic Gospels at Mt 3:11-17, Mk 1:7-11, and Luke 3:15-17, 21-22.

35. The next day, Yochanan was again standing with two of his talmidim.
Talmidim. See Mt 5:1N.

36. On seeing Yeshua walking by, he said, “Look! God’s lamb!”
37. His two talmidim heard him speaking, and they followed Yeshua.
38. Yeshua turned and saw them following him, and he asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi!” (which means “Teacher!”) “Where are you staying?”
"Rabbi!" (which means "Teacher!"). The Greek text first transliterates the Hebrew word "rabbi" and then gives the meaning, "Teacher" (Greek Didaskale). "Rabbi" appears 15 times in the Greek text of the New Testament, always in reference to Yeshua, except at Mt 23:7-10&NN, where Yeshua discusses the word itself.

39. He said to them, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and remained with him the rest of the day — it was about four o’clock in the afternoon.
40. One of the two who had heard Yochanan and had followed Yeshua was Andrew the brother of Shim‘on Kefa.
Kefa. See v. 42N.

41. The first thing he did was to find his brother Shim‘on and tell him, “We’ve found the Mashiach!” (The word means “one who has been anointed.”)
Mashiach.... The word means "one who has been anointed." See Mt 1:1N on "Messiah." This is one of the two places in the New Testament where the Hebrew word for "Messiah" is transliterated into Greek as "Messias" (the other is at 4:25). It shows that the author wanted to reflect the Jewish or Hebraic character of the speaker's words. KJV renders this phrase, "Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ."

42. He took him to Yeshua. Looking at him, Yeshua said, “You are Shim‘on Bar-Yochanan; you will be known as Kefa.” (The name means “rock.”)
You are Shim'on Bar-Yochanan — that is your name in Aramaic, Simon the son of John. "Bar-Yonah" is the majority reading, but mostly from late witnesses; Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, considers it a scribal assimilation to Mt 16:17; see note there. You will be known as Kefa, Greek Kephas. transliterating Aramaic Kefa, and usually given in English as "Cephas." The name means "Rock," Greek Petros, usually given in English as "Peter." See Mt4:18; 16:16, 18 and notes there.

43. The next day, having decided to leave for the Galil, Yeshua found Philip and said, “Follow me!”
44. Philip was from Beit-Tzaidah, the town where Andrew and Kefa lived.
45. Philip found Natan’el and told him, “We’ve found the one that Moshe wrote about in the Torah, also the Prophets — it’s Yeshua Ben-Yosef from Natzeret!”
The one that Moshe wrote about in the Torah. See v. 21 &N. Deuteronomy 18:15-18, and Ac 3:22&N, which quotes this passage. Yeshua fulfills Moshe's prophecy. Also the Prophets wrote about Yeshua. See Section VII of the Introduction to the Jewish New Testament. Mt 26:24N and Lk 24:25-27N.

Yeshua Ben-Yosef, Yeshua the son of Yosef. This would have been his official Hebrew name, by which he would have been known. Yosef the carpenter was not physically his father, as we know from Mt 1:18-25 and Lk 1:26-38,2:1-7; but he was legally his father and functioned as a father, raising him so that he "grew both in wisdom and in stature" (Lk 2:52). To call him Yeshua Ben-Elohim ("Yeshua, the Son of God") would be correct, and he is called that in v. 34 above and at other places in the New Testament. But this theological truth would obviously not have been a practical means of identifying Yeshua in the society of his time.

46. Natan’el answered him, “Natzeret? Can anything good come from there?” “Come and see,” Philip said to him.
47. Yeshua saw Natan’el coming toward him and remarked about him, “Here’s a true son of Isra’el — nothing false in him!”
48. Natan’el said to him, “How do you know me?” Yeshua answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
49. Natan’el said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Isra’el!”
50. Yeshua answered him, “you believe all this just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than that!”
51. Then he said to him, “Yes indeed! I tell you that you will see heaven opened and the angels of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man!” (Genesis 28:12)
Yes indeed! Greek Amen, amen, which reproduces the Hebrew words. See Mt 5:18N on this important word and Yeshua's characteristic use of it.
The ladder imagery recalls Jacob's dream (Genesis 28:12-15).
The Son of Man. An important title for the Messiah, used by Yeshua in reference to himself. See Mt 8:20N.

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