Something curious

Take a moment and peruse John 3 taking note of who is speaking. The exchange between Nicodemus and Jesus is clear (vv. 1-21). The testimony of John the Baptist is clear (vv .22-30). And then you come today’s gospel (vv. 31-36). It is hard to know who is speaking. If it is John the Baptist, then it is amazing God-inspired insight and no less powerful than Peter’s confession in the Gospel of Matthew. It is more likely that it is the Gospel writer offering a commentary.Packed within the reading is this: “Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.” (v.33). This translates an aorist participle which points, not to a continuous, day-by-day witness, but to the decisive act whereby one decides to accept Jesus and Jesus’ witness. (Note: both witnesses are important) In this verse, the writer is offering that the person sets a seal on the proposition that God is true.

The seal was used a good deal in antiquity, when there were many who could not read. A design affixed by a seal conveyed a clear message even to the illiterate. Great men used distinctive seals that stamped articles as belonging to them. The seal came to be used not only to denote ownership but also to authenticate, to give its owner’s personal guarantee. It is something of the sort that is meant here. Those who accept Christ are not merely entering into a relationship with a fellow human being (as they would be doing, for example, if they attached themselves to John the Baptist). And with the sealing

  • They are accepting what God has said.
  • They are recognizing the heavenly origin of Jesus.
  • They are acknowledging the truth of God’s revelation in Christ.
  • They are proclaiming to all their deep conviction that God is true – with an emphasis on Jesus who bears the decisive witness to God.
  • The God who is true will not mislead them in the witness borne to Jesus.

It is a powerful verse.


Leon Morris. The Gospel according to John (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995) part of theThe New International Commentary on the New Testament.

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