Greek Study John 1:6-8, 19-28
v6 απεσταλμενος (αποστελλω) perf. pas. part. "who was sent" - the participle may be treated as adjectival, although with the verb εγενετο it is best treated as forming a periphrastic construction; "there a man sent from God." The perfect tense here, indicates a move into actual, historical time. The word often carries the sense to commission, so to undertake an important task from God. The Baptist is one crying in the wilderness the synoptics align John with Elijah, not so here.
Ιωαννης "John" - "his name was John" stands without a verb and as such is Semitic. Our writer simply calls him "John" rather than “the Baptist” or “John the Baptist” and this is because he doesn't have to distinguish him from the other John, the disciple, brother to James and friend to Peter. This author doesn't mention, by name, John the disciple which is what leads some to believe that he was the source (although not the editor) of this gospel.
v7 ουτος pro. "he" – the author uses a more emphatic "this one."
εις + acc. "as [a witness]" preposition expresses purpose; "in order /for the purpose of witness..." The word "witness carries legal overtones, but often it just carries the sense "speak/tell", so "the purpose of his coming was to tell the truth".
περι + gen. "about”, reference; "to testify concerning ....." John removes any ambiguity of the subject of his witness with the use of this preposition.
του φωτος (ως ωτος) "the light" - or image of God - in Hebrew “shekinah” an extremely important images in this gospel. The Law is a divine revelation hence it instructs and illumines. God's Word incarnate in Christ, is both life and light.
ινα + subj. "so that [.....might believe]" - a purpose clause, defining John's testimony, namely that all might believe. But "believe" what? John doesn't say, likely a belief/trust in the content of the testimony, i.e. the gospel.
παντες adj. "all men" - extending beyond the Baptist's generation, but limited to those who hear the witness.
v8 εκεινος pro. "he himself" - again, as in v7, an emphatic is used.
ουκ "[was] not" - negation is used to restate and emphasize John's role of testifying to the coming light, not being the light.
v19 εξ + gen. [Jews] from or of [Jerusalem]. the preposition serves to introduce a partitive genitive. More likely "out of, from", expressing origin. The author uses the word "Jew" in different ways, both positively and negatively. Here it is likely being used for the official leaders of Judaism; in conflict with the Baptist and Jesus, sticklers for the law and headquartered in Jerusalem.
Λευιτας (ης) "Levites" - assistants to the priestly class who held administrative and security positions in the temple. Both the priests and Levites are of a far lower social cast than the priestly aristocracy, the Levites were at the bottom of the ladder. (The Baptist apparently doesn't deserve an overly important delegation. He is seen more of a gadfly than a revolutionary))
συ τις ει "who are you?” - they are not asking for John's name, but his role and function, so "what are you all about?"
v20 ωμολογησεν (ομολογεω) aor. "confessed" – a word commonly used of confessing Christ.
ηρνησατο (αρνεομαι) aor. "[He did not] fail to [confess]" a phrase often used of denying Christ – but here an idiom “he did not mince words…”.
εγω pro. "I" – another emphatic use of the pronoun.
ο χριστος "the Christ" (messiah). Contrast to the many times Jesus says εγω εμιε in John It is interesting how the messianic nature of this title has diminished over time. Probably it is best to use "messiah", particularly where the context is clearly expressing function rather than title.
v21 ουν "then [who are you?]" - the neuter ti indicates function more than title.
Ηϕλιας "Elijah" - unlike the synoptics that identify the Baptist with Elijah, this gospel gives him a unique designation not clearly identified in Old Testament prophecy (Mal.3:1-4 which refers to the one who purifies the temple in preparation for the coming of the Lord). The tradition was that Elijah would precede the messiah, Mal.4:5. It is interesting this gospel ignores the strong synoptic tradition- of course he may just be true to his sources in that the Baptist may not have known that he was the Elijah, but it is more likely that our author is making a point. In Malachi the role of the second Elijah is significant, eg. he will avert the wrath of God from Israel. So John is possibly down-playing the significance of the Baptist in comparison to the greater one who comes after.
ο προφητης (ης ου) "the prophet" - tradition at this time held that a prophet like Moses would precede the messiah (Deut.18:15ff). In Christian tradition the prophet is identified with Christ. Jesus is prophet, priest and king. Here the Baptist testifies that not only is he not the messiah (and not Elijah) he is also NOT the prophet like Moses; his function is none of the above.
v22 τις ει "who are you?" - Again this question is about role and function, not name.
τοις pemyasin (pempw) aor. part. "to those who sent us" – a dative of indirect object with the participle functioning as a substantive.
v23 εφη (φημι) imperf. "John replied" - the imperfect used for speech.
καθως "in [the words of Isaiah the prophet]" – a comparative; these words are probably a note from the author indicating the source of the Baptist's words rather than part of the Baptist's answer. The point is the Baptist claims the authority of scripture for his mission.
βοωντος (βοαω) pres. part. "of one calling" - the participle is substantive.
ευθυνατε (ευθυνω) imp. "make straight". The image comes from the Persians who were road builders. The crying voice in the wilderness cuts a straight road through the wilderness for the messiah to travel as he journeys toward Jerusalem. Note that our author does not mention the Baptist's ethical teaching. The Baptist's ethical teaching is often stressed by commentators, but it is nothing more than practical advice on how to live while waiting for the coming messiah.
v24 Φαρισαιων (ος) "Pharisees" - the pietists of their day, strict in legalistic purity.
απεσταλμενοι (αποστελλω) perf. pas. part. "who had been sent" – a variant exists with an article οι, "the ones having been sent", i.e. the priests and Levites were from the Pharisees (party). Yet the Pharisees would have had no authority to set up a deputation of priests and Levites. The text without the article is better and so with the imperfect verb ησαν we have a periphrastic pluperfect; i.e. "some Pharisees were also sent…”, so what we have here is a second deputation of Pharisees.
v25 ουν "[why] "then" inferential. The fact that John has said he is not the messiah, Elijah nor the Prophet, they draw a logical conclusion in the form of a question, "then why βαπτιζεις (βαπτιζω) "do you baptize" -. Here, literally immerse in water, as was the custom of Israel, for a person converting to the Jewish faith. The point of the question is not clear. It is possible that the Pharisees' question concerns the Baptist's authority to perform a religious ritual; Possibly they accept that baptism can properly be used for messianic preparation, but if the Baptist is not a messianic figure, what’s the point?
v26 εγω βαπτιζω "I baptize" - durative present tense with the emphatic use of the pronoun.
εν "with" - possibly "in", " water only. Given that the word "baptize" actually means "to immerse", the sense may be "it is my custom to immerse people in water." Most commentators think an instrumental rather than a local sense, is intended here. i.e. "I immerse with water."
λεγων (λεγω) pres. part. "[John] replied" - attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "answered" – a Semitic construction used for emphasis. Although the Baptist answers, he doesn't actually answer. His answer consists of two statements side in the Greek., probably to be read as, "although I am baptizing in water - standing among you is someone you don't recognize" as if the Baptist is confirming he has a water baptism ministry but is not interested in explaining what it is about because what is important is the presence on the scene of one even greater.
εστηκεν (ιστημι) perf. "stands" - the perfect tense expresses action in the past which has ongoing consequences in the present, the messiah is present but no one knows it yet!
v27 ο...ερχομενος (ερχομαι) pres. part. "He is the one who comes" - numerous variants exist for this verse because early in transcription it was read as a separate sentence and repaired.
οπισω + gen. "after [me]"
αυτου gen. pro. "-" - of whom I am not (Semitic idiom) αξιος adj. "worthy" - In Israel a slave was not to undertake oppressive or degrading work, e.g. taking off the shoes of their master. So the Baptist is saying that comparison to the greater one he is less than a slave.
v28 αυτα ... εγενετο (γινομαι) aor. "this all happened" – εν + dat. "in" Βηθανια (α) dat. "Bethany" - the gospel writer adds " περαν + gen. "on the other side of" ην .... βαπτιζων (βαπτιζω) pres. part. "was baptizing" - a periphrastic imperfect, i.e. John was doing a lot of baptizing over there.