And John answered him, saying
Taking notice of what Christ just now said, and observing how well pleasing it was to him, to receive in a meek and humble manner, the least believer in his name; and reflecting upon an action, in which he and some of his fellow disciples were concerned, and which he perceived was not so agreeable to this rule of Christ, thought proper to relate it to him; that he might have his sense of it, and give him an opportunity of enlarging on a subject, so suitable to the temper and disposition of this beloved disciple.
Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name:
very likely he called him Rabbi, as the Syriac version renders it, or Rabboni, as in ( John 20:16 ) , a title commonly given to Christ, both by his disciples and others: the case related, very probably happened, when the disciples being sent forth by Christ to preach the Gospel and cast out devils, took a tour through Judea and Galilee, where they saw this man. John was not alone; there were others with him, at least another, who was an eyewitness with him; for the apostles were sent out, by two and two: who this man was, is not said, his name is not mentioned, perhaps was unknown to the apostles; though Beza says, in one ancient exemplar it is read, "we knew one". This person not only attempted to cast out devils, but really did; and that more than one; but in which of Christ's names he did it, is not expressed; if in the name of the Messiah, Dr. Lightfoot's conjecture may be right, that he was one of John's disciples; who had been baptized in the name of the Messiah, that was just expected to come; to whom, as to others of his disciples, was given a power of casting out devils, to make the way of the Messiah more plain; wherefore the reason why he did not cast out devils in the name of Jesus, but in the name of the Messiah, and did not follow him, nor his disciples, was not out of contempt, but ignorance, not knowing that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah: or if he cast out devils in the name of Jesus, which seems most likely, he might be, as others think, a disciple of John's, who really did believe in Jesus, though he did not associate with, his disciples, but continued with the disciples of John: wherefore it is said,
and he followeth not us;
was neither one of the twelve apostles; nor one of the seventy disciples; nor even one of the lower class of the professed disciples of Jesus. This clause is omitted in the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions:
and we forbad him;
going on in this way, casting out any more devils:
because he followeth, not us;
was not one of their company, nor any of Christ's disciples; who had received no authority and commission from Christ, to do what he did: wherefore they feared, that by such an irregular way of proceeding, the dignity of Christ would be lessened, and some dishonour and reproach reflected on him: and besides the honour of Christ, they might consult their own; and their case be too much like that of Joshua, when Eldad and Medad prophesied in the camp. This clause is left out in the Vulgate Latin, but stands in all the eastern versions.