Were in expectation (prosdokwnto). Genitive absolute of this striking verb already seen in Romans 1:21 . Reasoned (dialogizomenwn). Genitive absolute again. John's preaching about the Messiah and the kingdom of God stirred the people deeply and set them to wondering. Whether haply he were the Christ (mhpote auto eih o Cristo). Optative eih in indirect question changed from the indicative in the direct (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1031). John wrought no miracles and was not in David's line and yet he moved people so mightily that they began to suspect that he himself (auto) was the Messiah. The Sanhedrin will one day send a formal committee to ask him this direct question ( John 1:19 ).