Archive for the ‘John 1:29’ Category


Leon Morris (1914-2006) on John 1:29

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The verb "takes away" conveys the notion of bearing off.62 It is perhaps not specific enough to point to anyone particular means of atonement, but it does signify atonement, and that by substitution. "Jesus bears the consequence of human sin in order that its guilt may be removed" (Hoskyns). It is removed completely, carried right off. John speaks of sin,63 not sins (if. I John 1: 9). He is referring to the totality of the world’s sin, rather than to a number of individual acts. The expression "the sin of the world" does not appear to be used prior to this passage. The reference to "the world" is another glance at the comprehensiveness of Christ’s atonement. It is completely adequate for the needs of all men. Right at the beginning of his Gospel John points us forward to the cross and to the significance of the cross.

Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1971), 148. [Some minor reformatting; some spelling modernized; footnote values and content original; and underlining mine.]

[Credit to Derrick Merkel for the find]



62The verb is αἴρϖ, which John uses more than any other New Testament writer (26 times). It is found with the object ἁμαρτημα in I Sam. IS : 25, and ἀνοημα in I Sam. 25: 28, both times in the sense "forgive." The idea of bearing sin in Heb. 9 : 28; I Pet. 2 : 24 is conveyed by αναϕερϖ, but there is not likely to be a great difference in meaning. MacGregor, agreeing that the verb αἴρϖ means not "take upon oneself", but "take out of the way," yet says, "But the latter thought, while enriching the former, also includes it, for a lamb can only ‘remove’ sin by vicariously ‘bearing’ it, and this Christ did." J. Jeremias sees two possible meanings of the verb in this passage: "to take up and carry" and "to carry off". He says, "In both cases it is a matter of setting aside the guilt of others. In the former, however, the means of doing this is by a substitutionary bearing of penalty ; in the latter sin is removed by a means of expiation" (TDNT, I, pp. 185f.). In the Johannine manner probably both meanings are in . mind. For the concept of sinbearing see my The Cross in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, 1965), pp. 322ff.

63John’s interest in the sins of men should not be missed. He uses the noun ἁμαρτια 17 times, the same total as in i John. The only New Testament books which use the term more are Romans (48 times) and Hebrews (25 times).


Charles Simeon (1759-1836) on John 1:29

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John i. 29. Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.

IN the general estimation of the world, they are reputed great who bear sway over their fellow-creatures, and are surrounded with pomp and splendor. But, with God, men are accounted great according as they possess a knowledge of his ways, and advance the ends of his government. Hence we are told by our Lord himself that John the Baptist, a plain rustic man, clothed with coarse raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle, and subsisting on the spontaneous produce of the wilderness, was the greatest of all men that had ever been born. And what was it that so exalted him, not only above all the monarchs of the mightiest empires, but above Abraham, or Moses, or David, or any other of the prophets? It was this:

they had seen Christ only at a distance, and spoken of him only in dark prophecies; but he beheld him personally; and, having discovered him by an infallible sign from heaven, pointed him out to others as that very Lamb of God, who should take away the sin of the world. Through the goodness of God, we may be as much exalted above him, as he was above others, if we behold Jesus in the character which is here assigned him; because the completion of his sacrificial work, together with the more perfect revelation of it, which we have in the New Testament, enables us to enter far more deeply into the mystery of redemption, and more fully to comply with the ends and designs of God in it.1 To forward therefore your truest advancement, we shall,

I. Illustrate the character of our Lord as it is here described–

[Under the law there were lambs offered every morning and evening in sacrifice to God; and it is to these, and not to the Paschal Lamb, that St. John refers. They were to be of the first year, and without blemish:2 and by the continual offering up of them God was pacified, as it were, so that his wrath did not break forth to destroy his people on account of their daily transgressions. Such a lamb was Christ: he was the Lamb, whom all the others typified. He was truly without spot or blemish;3 and was offered on the altar of his cross, not merely for the good, but in the stead, of sinners.4 He was really a propitiatory sacrifice, inasmuch as he bore in his own body the curse due to sin,5 and expiated all its guilt. As there was no variation of the daily sacrifices, but only a repetition of the same, so his one offering of himself is the sole cause of our acceptance with God: nor need that to be repeated, because the virtue of it extends from the beginning to the end of time;”he is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”6 Nor is it the sin of one nation only that he takes away, but the sin of the whole world.7 He was eminently the Lamb of God, having been chosen to that office by God, and being accepted by him on our behalf in the discharge of it: He was “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.”8]

II. Call more particularly your attention to him–

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John Newton (1725-1807) on John 1:29

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John, i. 29.

Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world?

‘Great and marvelous are the works of the Lord God Almighty.’ We live in the midst of them; and the little impression they make upon us, sufficiently proves our depravity. He is great in the very smallest; and there is not a plant, flower, or insect, but bears the signature of infinite wisdom and power. How sensibly, then, should we be affected by the consideration of the whole, if sin had not blinded our understandings, and hardened our hearts! In the beginning, when all was dark, uninformed, and waste, his powerful word produced light, life, beauty, and order. He commanded the sun to shine, and the planets to roll. The immensity of creation is far beyond the reach of our conceptions. The innumerable stars, the worlds, which however large in themselves, are, from their remoteness, barely visible to us, are of little more immediate and known use, than to enlarge our idea of the greatness of their Author. Small, indeed, is the knowledge we have of our own system; but we know enough to render our indifference inexcusable. The glory of the sun must strike every eye; and in this enlightened age, there are few persons but have some ideas of the magnitude of the planets, and the rapidity and regularity of their motions. Further, the rich variety which adorns this lower creation, the dependence and relation of the several parts, and their general subserviency to the accommodation of man, the principal inhabitant, together with the preservation of individuals, and the continuance of every species of animals, are subjects not above the reach of common capacities, and which afford almost endless and infinite scope for rejection and admiration. But the bulk of mankind regard them not. The vicissitudes of day and night, and of the revolving seasons, are to them matters of course, as if they followed each other without either cause or design. And though the philosophers, who professedly attach themselves to the study of the works of nature, are overwhelmed by the traces of a wisdom and arrangement which they are unable to comprehend; yet few of them are led to reverential thoughts of God, by their boasted knowledge of his creatures. Thus men ‘live without God in the world,’ though they ‘live, and move, and have their being in him,’ and are incessantly surrounded by the most striking proofs of his presence and energy. Perhaps an earthquake, or a hurricane, by awakening their fears, may force upon their minds a conviction of his powder over them, and excite an occasional momentary application to him; but when they think the danger over, they relapse into their former stupidity. What an engage the attention, or soften the obduracy of such creatures? Behold, one wonder more, greater than all the former; the last, the highest effect of divine goodness! God has so loved rebellious, ungrateful sinners, as to appoint them a Saviour in the person of his only Son. The prophets foresaw his manifestation in the flesh, and foretold the happy consequences–that his presence would change the wilderness into a fruitful field, that he was coming to give sight to the blind, and life to the dead; to set the captive at liberty; to unloose the heavy burden; and to bless the weary with rest. But this change was not to be wrought merely by a word of power, as when he said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’1 It was great, to speak the world from nothing; but far greater, to redeem sinners from misery. The salvation, of which he is the Author, though free to us, must cost him dear. Before the mercy of God can be actually dispensed to such offenders, the rights of his justice, the demands of his law, and the honor of his government must be provided for. The early institution and long-continued use of sacrifices, had clearly pointed out the necessity of an atonement; but the real and proper atonement could be made only by Messiah. The blood of slaughtered animals could not take away sin, nor display the righteousness of God in pardoning it. This was the appointed, covenanted work of Messiah, and he alone could perform it. With this view he had said, ‘Lo, I come.’2 And it was in this view, when John saw him, that he pointed him out to his disciples, saying, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’

Three points offer to our consideration:

I. The title here given to Messiah, ‘The Lamb of God.’

II. The efficacy of his sacrifice, ‘He taketh away sin.’

III. The extent of it, ‘The sin of the world.’

I. He is ‘ The Lamb of God.’ The paschal lamb, and the lambs which were daily offered, morning and evening, according to the law of Moses, were of God’s appointment; but this Iamb was likewise of his providing The others were but types. Though many, they were all insufficient3 to cleanse the consciences of the offerers from guilt: and they were all superseded, when Messiah, ‘by the one offering of himself, once for all, made an end of sin, and brought in an everlasting righteousness,’ in favour of all who believe in his name.

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Chrysostom (347-407) on John 1:29-31

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These things were done in Bethany beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

[1.] A GREAT virtue is boldness and freedom of speech, and the making all things second in importance to the confessing of Christ; so great and admirable, that the Only-begotten Son of God proclaims such an one in the presence of the Father. ( Luke xii. 8.) Yet the recompense is more than just, for thou confessest upon earth, He in heaven, thou in the presence of men, He before the Father and all the angels. Such an one was John, who regarded not the multitude, nor opinion, nor anything else belonging to men, but trod all this beneath his feet, and proclaimed to all with becoming freedom the things respecting Christ. And therefore the Evangelist marks the very place, to show the boldness of the loud-voiced herald. For it was not in a house, not in a corner, not in the wilderness, but in the midst of the multitude, after that he had occupied Jordan, when all that were baptized by him were present, (for the Jews came upon him as he was baptizing,) there it was that he proclaimed aloud that wonderful confession concerning Christ, full of those sublime and great and mysterious doctrines, and that he was not worthy to unloose the latchet of His shoe. Wherefore he saith, “These things were done in Bethany,” or, as all the more correct copies have it, “in Bethabara.” For Bethany was not “beyond Jordan,” nor bordering on the wilderness, but somewhere nigh to Jerusalem. He marks the places also for another reason. Since he was not about to relate matters of old date, but such as had come to pass but a little time before, he makes those who were present and had beheld, witnesses of his words, and supplies proof from the places themselves. For confident that nothing was added by himself to what was said, but that he simply and with truth described things as they were, he draws a testimony from the places, which, as I said, would be no common demonstration of his veracity. “The next day he seeth Jesus coming to him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” The Evangelists distributed the periods amongst them; and Matthew having cut short his notice of the time before John the Baptist was bound, hastens to that which follows, while the Evangelist John not only does not cut short this period, but dwells most on it. Matthew, after the return of Jesus from the wilderness, saying nothing of the intermediate circumstances, as what John spake, and what the Jews sent and said, and having cut short all the rest, passes immediately to the prison. “For,” saith he, “Jesus having heard” that John was betrayed, “departed thence.” {Matt. xiv. 13.) But John does not so. He is silent as to the journey into the wilderness, as having been described by Matthew; but he relates what followed the descent from the mountain, and after having gone through many circumstances, adds, “For John was not yet cast into prison.” (c. iii. 24 .) And wherefore, says one, does Jesus now come to him? why does he come not merely once, but this second time also? For Matthew says that His coming was necessary on account of Baptism: since Jesus adds, that “thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matt. iii. 15.) But John says that He came again after Baptism, and declares it in this place, for, “I saw,” saith he, “the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and It abode upon Him.” Wherefore then did He come to John? for He came not casually, but went expressly to him. “John,” saith the Evangelist, “seeth Jesus coming unto him.” Then wherefore cometh He? In order that since John had baptized Him with many (others), no one might suppose that He had hastened to John for the same reason as the rest to confess sins, and to wash in the river unto repentance. For this He comes, to give John an opportunity of setting this opinion right again, for by saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world,” he removes the whole suspicion. For very plain it is that One so pure as to be able to wash away the sins of others, does not come to confess sins, but to give opportunity to that marvelous herald to impress what he had said more definitely on those who had heard his former words, and to add others besides. The word “Behold” is used, because many had been seeking Him by reason of what had been said, and for a long time. For this cause, pointing Him out when present, he said, “Behold,” this is He so long sought, this is “the Lamb.” He calls Him “Lamb,” to remind the Jews of the prophecy of Isaiah, and of the shadow under the law of Moses, that he may the better lead them from the type to the reality. That Lamb of Moses took not at once away the sin of any one; but this took away the sin of all the world; for when it was in danger of perishing, He quickly delivered it from the wrath of God.

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John Wycliffe (1320s?-1384) on John 1:29

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Vidit Johannes Jesum venientem ad se.—JOH. i. [29.]

This gospel tellith a witnesse, how Baptist witnesside of Crist, both of his godhede and eke of his manhede. The storye seith thus, that Joon say Jesus comynge to him and saide thus of oure Lord, Lo the loomb of God; lo him that takith awey the synnes of this world, for he is bothe God and man. Crist is clepid Goddis lombe, for many resouns of the lawe. In the olde lawe weren thei wont to offre a lombe withouten wem, the whiche shulde be of o gere, for the synne of the puple. Thus Crist, that was with outen wem, and of o geer in mannis elde was offrid in the cros for the synne of al this worlde, and where siche lambren that weren offrid felden sum tyme to the preestis, this lombe that made ende of other felde1 fulli to Goddis hond. And other lambren in a maner fordide the synne of o cuntre, but this lombe proprely fordide the synne of alle this worlde. And thus he was ende and figure of lambren of the olde lawe, and thus shewith Baptist by his double spekynge the manhede of Crist and his godhede; for oonly God mygte thus fordo synne, sith alle other lambren hadden wemmes, tha thei mygten not hem silfe fordo. And so, al if preestis have power to relese synne as Cristis vikeris, netheles thei have this power in as myche as thei acorden with Crist; so tha yif ther keies and Cristis wille be discording atwynne, thei feynen hem falsely to assoile, and than thei neither loosen ne bynden; so that in ech siche worchynge the godhede of Crist mut first wirche.

John Wyclif, Select English Works, ed. by Thomas Arnold (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1869), 1:77.

[Notes: 1), I have retained all the original font/type characters except for 2 characters. The original typeset character “Þ,” I have converted to “th” for the ease of reading. One other symbol I have replaced  either with “g” or “y” where appropriate. This symbol has no corresponding font or symbol that I can find on my font and symbol maps. 2), This is an extract from his sermon on John 1:29, and the only place he makes this remark. There is no attempt to delimit the meaning of world throughout the entire sermon. 3), No spelling modernized; footnote values original; underlining mine.]


1fel, C.