John 3:29

29 "He who has the bride is 1the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. So this 2joy of mine has been made full.

John 3:29 Meaning and Commentary

John 3:29

He that hath the bride
By whom particular persons seem here to be meant, who were called, converted, and brought to Christ, and were made his disciples, and baptized, and so were openly espoused unto him; though sometimes it designs a particular church of Christ, and even the whole general assembly, and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven; all the elect of. God, whether among Jews, or Gentiles; see ( 2 Corinthians 11:2 ) ( Revelation 21:2 Revelation 21:9 ) . These Christ has in a conjugal relation; and he came, and comes to have them after this manner: he saw them in his Father's purposes, and decrees, in all the glory he meant to bring them to; and loved them, and desired them of his Father, as his spouse, who gave them to him, as such; and he betrothed them to himself for ever; and in time he sends his ministering servants with his Gospel, to engage and betroth them to him; and by the power of his grace, he makes them willing to give up themselves to him; which is the open espousal of them; and at the last day, when the number of the elect are completed, the marriage of the Lamb will be publicly solemnized, and a marriage supper will be made; and all that are called, and ready, will enter into the marriage chamber, and share in the joys, and pleasures of that day: thus by virtue of the Father's gift, Christ has them now as his own property, as his portion, his jewels, his bride, and wife; and by, and through his great love to them, he has them not only in his arms, from whence they can never be plucked; but in his heart, where they are set as a seal; and by virtue of this love, they are united to him, become one with him, are members of his body, flesh, and bones; and are one spirit with him, and nothing can be able to separate them; and he will have them all with, him to all eternity, to be where he is, and behold his glory: and now, he that has the bride in this sense, is the bridegroom;
and such is Christ; see ( Matthew 9:15 ) ( 25:1 ) ; and he acts, and behaves, as such; he loves the saints, as a bridegroom loves his bride, with a love prior to theirs; with a love of complacency and delight, which is single, chaste, and inviolable; free, and sovereign, wonderful, unchangeable, and from everlasting to everlasting: he sympathises with them in all their adversities, and afflictions; he nourishes, and cherishes them, and provides everything for them, for food, and clothing, for refreshment and protection; and interests them in all he has: and an amazing instance of grace this is, that such who are no better than others, children of wrath by nature; exceeding great sinners, guilty, and filthy; bankrupts, and beggars on the dunghill; and yet are taken into so near a relation to him; who is in the form of God, and equal to him, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, the Son of God, in whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwells; the King of kings, and Lord of lords. And this being the case, John suggests, that by these persons following Christ, and giving up themselves to him, it appeared that he was the bridegroom; and to whom should they betake themselves but to him? Nor did it become him, or any other, to seek to draw them from him; nor should any envy his enjoyment of them, since they were his in so peculiar a sense, and in so near a relation: but the friend of the bridegroom;
meaning himself: and such is every true minister of the Gospel; he is a lover of Christ, a friend to his interest, and seeks by all means to promote it, and to bring souls unto him. The allusion is to a custom among the Jews, who, at their marriages, used to have persons both on the side of the bride, and of the bridegroom, as companions that attended each, and were called their friends; see ( Judges 14:20 ) . Such an one is called by the Rabbins, (Nybvwv) ; and this word is interpreted by (bhwa) , "a lover", or "friend", the same as here; and by (wher) , "his" (the bridegroom's) "friend" in the time of his marriage F19. There were two of these, one for the bride, and another for the bridegroom; for so it is said F20, formerly they appointed two (Nynybvwv) ,

``"friends", one for him (the bridegroom), and one for her (the bride), that they might minister to the bridegroom, and do all things at their entrance into the marriage chamber. --And formerly, these friends slept where the bridegroom and bride slept.''
And so as John is here represented as the friend of Christ, the bridegroom of the church; the Jews speak of Moses as the friend of God, the bridegroom of the people of Israel. So one of their writers {u}, having delivered a parable concerning a certain king going into a far country, and leaving his espoused wife with his maid-servants, who raising an evil report on her, his friend tore in pieces the matrimonial contract, thus applies it:
``the king, this is the holy, blessed God; the maidens, these are the mixed multitude; and (Nybvwvh) , "the friend", this is Moses; and the spouse of the holy, blessed God is Israel.''
The Jews say F23, that Michael and Gabriel were the (Nynbvwv) , "bridal friends" to the first Adam. Which standeth;
the phrase may be seen in the above parable of the Jewish writer F24 referred to, (hnybvwv dme) , "his friend standeth": this was the posture of servants, and is fitly applied to John, who was the harbinger of Christ, and judged himself unworthy to bear his shoes; and well agrees with the ministers of the Gospel, who stand before Christ, wait upon him, and minister in his name, and are the servants of the churches for his sake: and heareth him;
hearkens to his words; observes, and obeys them; hears his voice, so as to understand it, and distinguish it from another's; and hears it with delight and pleasure, as every true friend of Christ does his Gospel, which is his voice, and is a joyful sound; and so rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice:
such an one rejoices at the sight of his person, and in communion with him; he rejoices at the sound of his voice; and is delighted to hear him in the ministry of the word, calling to one, and to another, to come unto him, and causing them to believe in him, and give up themselves to him. This my joy therefore is fulfilled;
in Christ, he being come in person, and his voice heard in the land of Judea, and multitudes of souls flocking to him, who believing in him, were baptized; than which nothing could be a greater pleasure to John, or to any Gospel minister. This was the accomplishment and perfection of his joy, which carried it to its utmost height: this was what he wished for; and now he had the desire of his heart. It was usual for the friend of the bridegroom to carry provisions with him, and eat and drink with the bridegroom, and rejoice with him; and this rejoicing was mutual. Hence those words,
``give me (ynybvwv) , "my friend", that I may rejoice with him:''
the gloss upon it is, ``and eat at his marriage, even as he also rejoiced, and ate at my marriage F25.'' To this rejoicing the allusion is here.

F19 Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 3. sect. 5. & Bartenora in ib.
F20 T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 12. 1.
F21 Jarchi in Exod. xxxiv. 1. Vid. Shemot Rabba, sect. 46. fol. 142. 2.
F23 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 8. fol. 8. 2.
F24 Jarchi in ib.
F25 T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 144. 2. & 145. 1.

John 3:29 In-Context

27 John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.
28 "You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent ahead of Him.'
29 "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made full.
30 "He must increase, but I must decrease.
31 "He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

Cross References 2

  • 1. Matthew 9:15; Matthew 25:1
  • 2. John 15:11; John 16:24; John 17:13; Philippians 2:2; 1 John 1:4; 2 John 12
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