To give knowledge of salvation
This is still said of John, and belongs to his work and office; though the Syriac and Arabic versions read, "that he may give"; as if it was spoken of the Lord, before whose face John was to go, and whose ways he was to prepare: by "salvation" is meant, not a temporal salvation, or a deliverance from the Roman yoke, the Jews were expecting, for John gave no intimation of any such salvation; but of a spiritual and eternal salvation, and of Christ himself, the author of it; who is often called Salvation, because he was appointed to this business, was fitted for it, and has effected it; and there is salvation in him, and in no other, the "knowledge" of this is not merely, notional and speculative, but experimental, approbative, fiducial, appropriating, sure, and certain; and is more excellent, than any other kind of knowledge whatever: and this is a "gift"; it is not what is attained unto, and acquired by application, diligence, and industry, as other sort of knowledge; but is a gift of God, though in the use of means, and through the ministry of the word: and so John is said to give it ministerially, he being an instrument in the hand of God, whereby souls came to the knowledge of salvation by Christ, and believed in him: it was communicated by God through his ministry,
unto his people:
meaning not the people of John the Baptist, the Jews, though it was true of God's elect among them; but the people of Christ, and that not all mankind, who are his by creation; but a special people, whom the Father has given him, and he has purchased by his blood; whom he conquers by his grace, and makes a willing people, in the day of his power: to these, and only these, is the knowledge of salvation by Christ given; for none else are appointed to it, and for no other is it wrought out. It follows,
by the remission of their sins;
the sense of which is, either that salvation is by the forgiveness of sin, and lies in it, that being a principal part of it; see ( Ephesians 1:7 ) . Sins are debts; forgiving them is a remitting these debts, a loosing them, or the obligation to payment, which is done freely and fully, for Christ's sake, and through his blood; and herein lies the blessedness and salvation of men; see ( Romans 4:6 Romans 4:7 ) . Or else that the knowledge of salvation was conveyed through the ministry of John, not by preaching the works of the law, but the doctrine of remission of sins, by Christ; ( Mark 1:4 ) ( John 1:29 ) and which is the sum and substance of the Gospel, as it was ordered to be preached by Christ, and was preached by his apostles. The Alexandrian copy reads, "our sins".