Resources » Matthew Henry's Commentary » John » Chapter 5 » Verses 31–47

Verses 31–47

In these verses our Lord Jesus proves and confirms the commission he had produced, and makes it out that he was sent of God to be the Messiah.

I. He sets aside his own testimony of himself (John 5:31): “If I bear witness of myself, though it is infallibly true (John 8:14), yet, according to the common rule of judgment among men, you will not admit it as legal proof, nor allow it to be given in evidence.” Now, 1. This reflects reproach upon the sons of men, and their veracity and integrity. Surely we may say deliberately, what David said in haste, All men are liars, else it would never have been such a received maxim that a man’s testimony of himself is suspicious, and not to be relied on; it is a sign that self-love is stronger than the love of truth. And yet, 2. It reflects honour on the Son of God, and bespeaks his wonderful condescension, that, though he is the faithful witness, the truth itself, who may challenge to be credited upon his honour, and his own single testimony, yet he is pleased to waive his privilege, and, for the confirmation of our faith, refers himself to his vouchers, that we may have full satisfaction.

II. He produces other witnesses that bear testimony to him that he was sent of God.

1. The Father himself bore testimony to him (John 5:32): There is another that beareth witness. I take this to be meant of God the Father, for Christ mentions his testimony with his own (John 8:18): I bear witness of myself, and the Father beareth witness of me. Observe,

(1.) The seal which the Father put to his commission: He beareth witness of me, not only has done so by a voice from heaven, but still does so by the tokens of his presence with me. See who they are to whom God will bear witness. [1.] Those whom he sends and employs; where he gives commissions he give credentials. [2.] Those who bear witness to him; so Christ did. God will own and honour those that own and honour him. [3.] Those who decline bearing witness of themselves; so Christ did. God will take care that those who humble and abase themselves, and seek not their own glory, shall not lose by it.

(2.) The satisfaction Christ had in this testimony: “I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. I am very well assured that I have a divine mission, and do not in the least hesitate concerning it; thus he had the witness in himself.” The devil tempted him to question his being the Son of God, but he never yielded.

2. John Baptist witnessed to Christ, John 5:33 John came to bear witness of the light (John 1:7); his business was to prepare his way, and direct people to him: Behold the Lamb of God.

(1.) Now the testimony of John was, [1.] A solemn and public testimony: “You sent an embassy of priests and Levites to John, which gave him an opportunity of publishing what he had to say; it was not a popular, but a judicial testimony.” [2.] It was a true testimony: He bore witness to the truth, as a witness ought to do, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Christ does not say, He bore witness to me (though every one knew he did), but, like an honest man, He bore witness to the truth. Now John was confessedly such a holy, good man, so mortified to the world, and so conversant with divine things, that it could not be imagined he should be guilty of such a forgery and imposture as to say what he did concerning Christ if it had not been so, and if he had not been sure of it.

(2.) Two things are added concerning John’s testimony:—

[1.] That it was a testimony ex abundantimore than he needed to vouch (John 5:34): I receive not testimony from man. Though Christ saw fit to quote John’s testimony, it was with a protestation that it shall not be deemed or construed so as to prejudice the prerogative of his self-sufficiency. Christ needs no letters or commendation, no testimonials or certificates, but what his own worth and excellency bring with him; why then did Christ here urge the testimony of John? Why, these things I say, that you may be saved. This he aimed at in all this discourse, to save not his own life, but the souls of others; he produced John’s testimony because, being one of themselves, it was to be hoped that they would hearken to it. Note, First, Christ desires and designs the salvation even of his enemies and persecutors. Secondly, The word of Christ is the ordinary means of salvation. Thirdly, Christ in his word considers our infirmities and condescends to our capacities, consulting not so much what it befits so great a prince to say as what we can bear, and what will be most likely to do us good.

[2.] That it was a testimony ad hominemto the man, because John Baptist was one whom they had a respect for (John 5:35): He was a light among you.

First, The character of John Baptist: He was a burning and a shining light. Christ often spoke honourably of John; he was now in prison under a cloud, yet Christ gives him his due praise, which we must be ready to do to all that faithfully serve God. 1. He was a light, not phoslux, light (so Christ was the light), but lyknoslucerna, a luminary, a derived subordinate light. His office was to enlighten a dark world with notices of the Messiah’s approach, to whom he was as the morning star. 2. He was a burning light, which denotes sincerity; painted fire may be made to shine, but that which burns is true fire. It denotes also his activity, zeal, and fervency, burning in love to God and the souls of men; fire is always working on itself or something else, so is a good minister. 3. He was a shining light, which denotes either his exemplary conversation, in which our light should shine (Matt. 5:16), or an eminent diffusive influence. He was illustrious in the sight of others; though he affected obscurity and retirement, and was in the deserts, yet such were his doctrine, his baptism, his life, that he became very remarkable, and attracted the eyes of the nation.

Secondly, The affections of the people to him: you were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. 1. It was a transport that they were in, upon the appearing of John: “You were willingethelesate, you delighted to rejoice in his light; you were very proud that you had such a man among you, who was the honour of your country; you were willing agalliasthenai—willing to dance, and make a noise about this light, as boys about a bonfire.” 2. It was but transient, and soon over: “You were fond of him, pros horanfor an hour, for a season, as little children are fond of a new thing, you were pleased with John awhile, but soon grew weary of him and his ministry, and said that he had a devil, and now you have him in prison.” Note, Many, that seem to be affected and pleased with the gospel at first, afterwards despise and reject it; it is common for forward and noisy professors to cool and fall off. These here rejoiced in John’s light, but never walked in it, and therefore did not keep to it; they were like the stony ground. While Herod was a friend to John Baptist, the people caressed him; but when he fell under Herod’s frowns he lost their favours: “You were willing to countenance John, pros horan that is, for temporal ends” (so some take it); “you were glad of him, in hopes to make a tool of him, by his interest and under the shelter of his name to have shaken off the Roman yoke, and recovered the civil liberty and honour of your country.” Now, (1.) Christ mentions their respect to John, to condemn them for their present opposition to himself, to whom John bore witness. If they had continued their veneration for John, as they ought to have done, they would have embraced Christ. (2.) He mentions the passing away of their respect, to justify God in depriving them, as he had now done, of John’s ministry, and putting that light under a bushel.

3. Christ’s own works witnessed to him (John 5:36): I have a testimony greater than that of John; for if we believe the witness of men sent of God, as John was, the witness of God immediately, and not by the ministry of men, is greater, 1 John 5:9. Observe, Though the witness of John was a less cogent and less considerable witness, yet our Lord was pleased to make use of it. We must be glad of all the supports that offer themselves for the confirmation of our faith, though they may not amount to a demonstration, and we must not invalidate any, under pretence that there are others more conclusive; we have occasion for them all. Now this greater testimony was that of the works which his Father had given him to finish. That is, (1.) In general the whole course of his life and ministry—his revealing God and his will to us, setting up his kingdom among men, reforming the world, destroying Satan’s kingdom, restoring fallen man to his primitive purity and felicity, and shedding abroad in men’s hearts the love of God and of one another—all that work of which he said when he died, It is finished, it was all, from first to last, opus Deo dignum—a work worthy of God; all he said and did was holy and heavenly, and a divine purity, power, and grace shone in it, proving abundantly that he was sent of God. (2.) In particular. The miracles he wrought for the proof of his divine mission witnessed of him. Now it is here said, [1.] That these works were given him by the Father, that is, he was both appointed and empowered to work them; for, as Mediator, he derived both commission and strength from his Father. [2.] They were given to him to finish; he must do all those works of wonder which the counsel and foreknowledge of God had before determined to be done; and his finishing them proves a divine power; for as for God his work is perfect. [3.] These works did bear witness of him, did prove that he was sent of God, and that what he said concerning himself was true; see Heb. 2:4; Acts 2:22. That the Father had sent him as a Father, not as a master sends his servant on an errand, but as a father sends his son to take possession for himself; if God had not sent him, he would not have seconded him, would not have sealed him, as he did by the works he gave him to do; for the world’s Creator will never be its deceiver.

4. He produces, more fully than before, his Father’s testimony concerning him (John 5:37): The Father that sent me hath borne witness of me. The prince is not accustomed to follow his ambassador himself, to confirm his commission viva voce—by speaking; but God was pleased to bear witness of his Son himself by a voice from heaven at his baptism (Matt. 3:17): This is my ambassador, This is my beloved Son. The Jews reckoned Bath-kol;--the daughter of a voice, a voice from heaven, one of the ways by which God made known his mind; and in that way he had owned Christ publicly and solemnly, and repeated it, Matt. 17:5. Note, (1.) Those whom God sends he will bear witness of; where he gives a commission, he will not fail to seal it; he that never left himself without witness (Acts 14:17) will never leave any of his servants so, who go upon his errand. (2.) Where God demands belief, he will not fail to give sufficient evidence, as he has done concerning Christ. That which was to be witnessed concerning Christ was chiefly this, that the God we had offended was willing to accept of him as a Mediator. Now concerning this he has himself given us full satisfaction (and he was fittest to do it), declaring himself well-pleased in him; if we be so, the work is done. Now, it might be suggested, if God himself thus bore witness of Christ, how came it to pass that he was not universally received by the Jewish nation and their rulers? To this Christ here answers that it was not to be thought strange, nor could their infidelity weaken his credibility, for two reasons:—[1.] Because they were not acquainted with such extraordinary revelations of God and his will: You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape, or appearance. They showed themselves to be as ignorant of God, though they professed relation to him, as we are of a man we never either saw or heard. “But why do I talk to you of God’s bearing witness of me? He is one you know nothing of, nor have any acquaintance or communion with.” Note, Ignorance of God is the true reason of men’s rejecting the record he has given concerning his Son. A right understanding of natural religion would discover to us such admirable congruities in the Christian religion as would greatly dispose our minds to the entertainment of it. Some give this sense of it: “The Father bore witness of me by a voice, and the descent of a dove, which is such an extraordinary thing that you never saw or heard the like; and yet for my sake there was such a voice and appearance; yea, and you might have heard that voice, you might have seen that appearance, as others did, if you had closely attended the ministry of John, but by slighting it you missed of that testimony.” [2.] Because they were not affected, no, not with the ordinary ways by which God had revealed himself to them: You have not his word abiding in you, John 5:38. They had the scriptures of the Old Testament; might they not by them be disposed to receive Christ? Yes, if they had had their due influence upon them. But, First, The word of God was not in them; it was among them, in their country, in their hands, but not in them, in their hearts; not ruling in their souls, but only shining in their eyes and sounding in their ears. What did it avail them that they had the oracles of God committed to them (Rom. 3:2), when they had not these oracles commanding in them? If they had, they would readily have embraced Christ. Secondly, It did not abide. Many have the word of God coming into them, and making some impressions for awhile, but it does not abide with them; it is not constantly in them, as a man at home, but only now and then, as a wayfaring man. If the word abide in us, if we converse with it by frequent meditation, consult with it upon every occasion, and conform to it in our conversation, we shall then readily receive the witness of the Father concerning Christ; see John 7:17. But how did it appear that they had not the word of God abiding in them? It appeared by this, Whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. There was so much said in the Old Testament concerning Christ, to direct people when and where to look for him, and so to facilitate the discovery of him, that, if they had duly considered these things, they could not have avoided the conviction of Christ’s being sent of God; so that their not believing in Christ was a certain sign that the word of God did not abide in them. Note, The in-dwelling of the word, and Spirit, and grace of God in us, is best tried by its effects, particularly by our receiving what he sends, the commands, the messengers, the providences he sends, especially Christ whom he hath sent.

5. The last witness he calls is the Old Testament, which witnessed of him, and to it he appeals (John 5:39): Search the scriptures, ereunate.

(1.) This may be read, either, [1.] “You search the scriptures, and you do well to do so; you read them daily in your synagogues, you have rabbies, and doctors, and scribes, that make it their business to study them, and criticize upon them.” The Jews boasted of the flourishing of scripture-learning in the days of Hillel, who died about twelve years after Christ’s birth, and reckoned some of those who were then members of the sanhedrim the beauties of their wisdom and the glories of their law; and Christ owns that they did indeed search the scriptures, but it was in search of their own glory: “You search the scriptures, and therefore, if you were not wilfully blind, you would believe in me.” Note, It is possible for men to be very studious in the letter of the scripture, and yet to be strangers to the power and influence of it. Or, [2.] As we read it: Search the scriptures; and so, First, It was spoken to them in the nature of an appeal: “You profess to receive and believe the scripture; here I will join issue with you, let this be the judge, provided you will not rest in the letter” (haerere in cortice), “but will search into it.” Note, when appeals are made to the scriptures, they must be searched. Search the whole book of scripture throughout, compare one passage with another, and explain one by another. We must likewise search particular passages to the bottom, and see not what they seem to say prima facie—at the first appearance, but what they say indeed. Secondly, It is spoken to us in the nature of an advice, or a command to all Christians to search the scriptures. Note, All those who would find Christ must search the scriptures; not only read them, and hear them, but search them, which denotes, 1. Diligence in seeking, labour, and study, and close application of mind. 2. Desire and design of finding. We must aim at some spiritual benefit and advantage in reading and studying the scripture, and often ask, “What am I now searching for?” We must search as for hidden treasures (Prov. 2:4), as those that sink for gold or silver, or that dive for pearl, Job 28:1-11. This ennobled the Bereans, Acts 17:11.

(2.) Now there are two things which we are here directed to have in our eye, in our searching the scripture: heaven our end, and Christ our way. [1.] We must search the scriptures for heaven as our great end: For in them you think you have eternal life. The scripture assures us of an eternal state set before us, and offers to us an eternal life in that state: it contains the chart that describes it, the charter that conveys it, the direction in the way that leads to it, and the foundation upon which the hope of it is built; and this is worth searching for where we are sure to find it. But to the Jews Christ saith only, You think you have eternal life in the scriptures, because, though they did retain the belief and hope of eternal life, and grounded their expectations of it upon the scriptures, yet herein they missed it, that they looked for it by the bare reading and studying of the scripture. It was a common but corrupt saying among them, He that has the words of the law has eternal life; they thought they were sure of heaven if they could say by heart, or rather by rote, such and such passages of scripture as they were directed to by the tradition of the elders; as they thought all the vulgar cursed because they did not thus know the law (John 7:49), so they concluded all the learned undoubtedly blessed. [2.] We must search the scriptures for Christ, as the new and living way that leads to this end. These are they, the great and principal witnesses, that testify of me. Note, First, The scriptures, even those of the Old Testament, testify of Christ, and by them God bears witness to him. The Spirit of Christ in the prophets testified beforehand of him (1 Pet. 1:11), the purposes and promises of God concerning him, and the previous notices of him. The Jews knew very well that the Old Testament testified of the Messiah, and were critical in their remarks upon the passages that looked that way; and yet were careless, and wretchedly overseen, in the application of them. Secondly, Therefore we must search the scriptures, and may hope to find eternal life in that search, because they testify of Christ; for this is life eternal, to know him; see 1 John 5:11. Christ is the treasure hid in the field of the scriptures, the water in those wells, the milk in those breasts.

(3.) To this testimony he annexes a reproof of their infidelity and wickedness in four instances; particularly,

[1.] Their neglect of him and his doctrine: “You will not come tome, that you might have life, John 5:40. You search the scriptures, you believe the prophets, who you cannot but see testify of me; and yet you will not come to me, to whom they direct you.” Their estrangement from Christ was the fault not so much of their understandings as of their wills. This is expressed as a complaint; Christ offered life, and it was not accepted. Note, First, There is life to be had with Jesus Christ for poor souls; we may have life, the life of pardon and grace, and comfort and glory: life is the perfection of our being, and inclusive of all happiness; and Christ is our life. Secondly, Those that would have this life must come to Jesus Christ for it; we may have it for the coming for. It supposes an assent of the understanding to the doctrine of Christ and the record given concerning him; it lies in the consent of the will to his government and grace, and it produces an answerable compliance in the affections and actions. Thirdly, The only reason why sinners die is because they will not come to Christ for life and happiness; it is not because they cannot, but because they will not. They will neither accept the life offered, because spiritual and divine, nor will they agree to the terms on which it is offered, nor apply themselves to the use of the appointed means: they will not be cured, for they will not observe the methods of cure. Fourthly, The wilfulness and obstinacy of sinners in rejecting the tenders of grace are a great grief to the Lord Jesus, and what he complains of. Those words (John 5:41), I receive not honour from men, come in a parenthesis, to obviate an objection against him, as if he sought his own glory, and made himself the head of a party, in obliging all to come to him, and applaud him. Note, 1. He did not covet nor court the applause of men, did not in the least affect that worldly pomp and splendour in which the carnal Jews expected their Messiah to appear. He charged those whom he cured not to make him known, and withdrew from those that would have made him king. 2. He had not the applause of men. Instead of receiving honour from men, he received a great deal of dishonour and disgrace from men, for he made himself of no reputation. 3. He needed not the applause of men; it was no addition to his glory whom all the angels of God worship, nor was he any otherwise pleased with it than as it was according to his Father’s will, and for the happiness of those who, in giving honour to him, received much greater honour from him.

[2.] Their want of the love of God (John 5:42): “I know you very well, that you have not the love of God in you. Why should I wonder that you do not come to me, when you want even the first principle of natural religion, which is the love of God?” Note, The reason why people slight Christ is because they do not love God; for, if we did indeed love God, we should love him who is his express image, and hasten to him by whom only we may be restored to the favour of God. He charged them (John 5:37) with ignorance of God, and here with want of love to him; therefore men have not the love of God because they desire not the knowledge of him. Observe, First, The crime charged upon them: You have not the love of God in you. They pretended a great love to God, and thought they proved it by their zeal for the law, the temple, and the sabbath; and yet they were really without the love of God. Note, There are many who make a great profession of religion who yet show they want the love of God by their neglect of Christ and their contempt of his commandments; they hate his holiness and undervalue his goodness. Observe, It is the love of God in us, that love seated in the heart, a living active principle there, that God will accept; the love shed abroad there, Rom. 5:5. Secondly, The proof of this charge, by the personal knowledge of Christ, who searches the heart (Rev. 2:23) and knows what is in man: I know you. Christ sees through all our disguises, and can say to each of us, I know thee. 1. Christ knows men better than their neighbours know them. The people thought that the scribes and Pharisees were very devout and good men, but Christ knew that they had not the love of God in them. 2. Christ knows men better than they know themselves. These Jews had a very good opinion of themselves, but Christ knew how corrupt their inside was, notwithstanding the speciousness of their outside; we may deceive ourselves, but we cannot deceive him. 3. Christ knows men who do not, and will not, know him; he looks on those who industriously look off from him, and calls by their own name, their true name, those who have not known him.

[3.] Another crime charged upon them is their readiness to entertain false Christs and false prophets, while they obstinately opposed him who was the true Messias (John 5:43): I am come in my Father’s name, and you receive me not. If another shall come in his own name, him you will receive. Be astonished, O heavens, at this (Jer. 2:12, 13); for my people have committed two evils, great evils indeed. First, They have forsaken the fountain of living waters, for they would not receive Christ, who came in his Father’s name, had his commission from his Father, and did all for his glory. Secondly, They have hewn out broken cisterns, they hearken to every one that will set up in his own name. They forsake their own mercies, which is bad enough; and it is for lying vanities, which is worse. Observe here, 1. Those are false prophets who come in their own name, who run without being sent, and set up for themselves only. 2. It is just with God to suffer those to be deceived with false prophets who receive not the truth in the love of it. 2 Thess. 2:10, 11. The errors of antichrist are the just punishment of those who obey not the doctrine of Christ. They that shut their eyes against the true light are by the judgment of God given up to wander endlessly after false lights, and to be led aside after every ignis fatuus. 3. It is the gross folly of many that, while they nauseate ancient truths, they are fond of upstart errors; they loathe manna, and at the same time feed upon ashes. After the Jews had rejected Christ and his gospel, they were continually haunted with spectres, with false Christs and false prophets (Matt. 24:24), and their proneness to follow such occasioned those distractions and seditions that hastened their ruin.

[4.] They are here charged with pride and vain-glory, and unbelief, the effect of them, John 5:44. Having sharply reproved their unbelief, like a wise physician, he here searches into the cause, lays the axe to the root. They therefore slighted and undervalued Christ because they admired and overvalued themselves. Here is,

First, Their ambition of worldly honour. Christ despised it, John 5:41. They set their hearts upon it: You receive honour one of another; that is, “You look for a Messiah in outward pomp, and promise yourselves worldly honour by him.” You receive honour:-- 1. “You desire to receive it, and aim at this in all you do.” 2. “You give honour to others, and applaud them, only that they may return it, and may applaud you.” Petimus dabimusque vicissim—We ask and we bestow. It is the proud man’s art to throw honour upon others only that it may rebound upon himself. 3. “You are very careful to keep all the honours to yourselves, and confine them to your own party, as if you had the monopoly of that which is honourable.” 4. “What respect is shown to you you receive yourselves, and do not transmit to God, as Herod.” Idolizing men and their sentiments, and affecting to be idolized by them and their applauses, are pieces of idolatry as directly contrary to Christianity as any other.

Secondly, Their neglect of spiritual honour, called here the honour that comes from God only; this they sought not, nor minded. Note, 1. True honour is that which comes from God only, that is real and lasting honour; those are honourable indeed whom he takes into covenant and communion with himself. 2. This honour have all the saints. All that believe in Christ, through him receive the honour that comes from God. He is not partial, but will give glory wherever he gives grace. 3. This honour that comes from God we must seek, must aim at it, and act for it, and take up with nothing short of it (Rom. 2:29); we must account it our reward, as the Pharisees accounted the praise of men. 4. Those that will not come to Christ, and those that are ambitious of worldly honour, make it appear that they seek not the honour that comes from God, and it is their folly and ruin.

Thirdly, The influence this had upon their infidelity. How can you believe who are thus affected? Observe here, 1. The difficulty of believing arises from ourselves and our own corruption; we make our work hard to ourselves, and then complain it is impracticable. 2. The ambition and affectation of worldly honour are a great hindrance to faith in Christ. How can they believe who make the praise and applause of men their idol? When the profession and practice of serious godliness are unfashionable, are every where spoken against,—when Christ and his followers are men wondered at, and to be a Christian is to be like a speckled bird (and this is the common case),—how can they believe the summit of whose ambition is to make a fair show in the flesh?

6. The last witness here called is Moses, John 5:45 The Jews had a great veneration for Moses, and valued themselves upon their being the disciples of Moses, and pretended to adhere to Moses, in their opposition to Christ; but Christ here shows them,

(1.) That Moses was a witness against the unbelieving Jews, and accused them to the Father: There is one that accuses you, even Moses. This may be understood either, [1.] As showing the difference between the law and the gospel. Moses, that is, the law, accuses you, for by the law is the knowledge of sin; it condemns you, it is to those that trust to it a ministration of death and condemnation. But it is not the design of Christ’s gospel to accuse us: Think not that I will accuse you. Christ did not come into the world as a Momus, to find fault and pick quarrels with every body, or as a spy upon the actions of men, or a promoter, to fish for crimes; no, he came to be an advocate, not an accuser; to reconcile God and man, and not to set them more at variance. What fools were they then that adhered to Moses against Christ, and desired to be under the law! Gal. 4:21. Or, [2.] As showing the manifest unreasonableness of their infidelity: “Think not that I will appeal from your bar to God’s and challenge you to answer there for what you do against me, as injured innocency usually does; no, I do not need; you are already accused, and cast, in the court of heaven; Moses himself says enough to convict you of, and condemn you for, your unbelief.” Let them not mistake concerning Christ; though he was a prophet, he did not improve his interest in heaven against those that persecuted him, did not, as Elias, make intercession against Israel (Rom. 6:2), nor as Jeremiah desire to see God’s vengeance on them. Nor let them mistake concerning Moses, as if he would stand by them in rejecting Christ; no, There is one that accuses you, even Moses in whom you trust. Note, First, External privileges and advantages are commonly the vain confidence of those who reject Christ and his grace. The Jews trusted in Moses, and thought their having his laws and ordinances would save them. Secondly, Those that confide in their privileges, and do not improve them, will find not only that their confidence is disappointed, but that those very privileges will be witnesses against them.

(2.) That Moses was a witness for Christ and to his doctrine (John 5:46, 47): He wrote of me. Moses did particularly prophesy of Christ, as the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, the Shiloh, the great Prophet; the ceremonies of the law of Moses were figures of him that was to come. The Jews made Moses the patron of their opposition to Christ; but Christ here shows them their error, that Moses was so far from writing against Christ that he wrote for him, and of him. But, [1.] Christ here charges it on the Jews that they did not believe Moses. He had said (John 5:45) that they trusted in Moses, and yet here he undertakes to make out that they did not believe Moses; they trusted to his name, but they did not receive his doctrine in its true sense and meaning; they did not rightly understand, nor give credit to, what there was in the writings of Moses concerning the Messiah. [2.] He proves this charge from their disbelief of him: Had you believed Moses, you would have believed me. Note, First, The surest trial of faith is by the effects it produces. Many say that they believe whose actions give their words the lie; for had they believed the scriptures they would have done otherwise than they did. Secondly, Those who rightly believe one part of scripture will receive every part. The prophecies of the old Testament were so fully accomplished in Christ that those who rejected Christ did in effect deny those prophecies, and set them aside. [3.] From their disbelief of Moses he infers that it was not strange that they rejected him: If you believe not his writings, how shall you believe my words? How can it be thought that you should? First, “If you do not believe sacred writings, those oracles which are in black and white, which is the most certain way of conveyance, how shall you believe my words, words being usually less regarded?” Secondly, “If you do not believe Moses, for whom you have such a profound veneration, how is it likely that you should believe me, whom you look upon with so much contempt?” See Exod. 6:12. Thirdly, “If you believe not what Moses spoke and wrote of me, which is a strong and cogent testimony for me, how shall you believe me and my mission?” If we admit not the premises, how shall we admit the conclusion? The truth of the Christian religion, it being a matter purely of divine revelation, depends upon the divine authority of the scripture; if therefore we believe not the divine inspiration of those writings, how shall be receive the doctrine of Christ?