Re: John 1:43ab -- Who is the Subject?

From: Harold R. Holmyard III (
Date: Tue Mar 14 2000 - 18:10:18 EST

Dear Clayton,
     It was good to hear from you again, and I hope that you really believe
that Jesus is the subject of all three narrative verbs in John 1:43. The
move in 1:19-51 from John, as witness to Jesus, to Jesus, as witness to
God, corresponds to the pattern suggested in 1:5-9: John witnesses to the
true light, who enables us to become God's children. John 1:14-18 confirms
John's role: he witnesses to Christ (1:15) while Christ reveals God (1:18).
Later John will attest that he needs to decrease while Christ increases
(3:20-22). The narrative manifests this transition in 1:19-51. At first
John is center stage (1:19-25), and Jesus is on the periphery (1:29, 36).
Once John points to Jesus (vv. 26-36), then Jesus becomes center stage (vv.
37-49), and He points to God (vv. 50-51).
     The action of the disciples in following Jesus displays the success of
John's witness (1:37, 40). But Jesus' dynamic personhood is evident from
this point onward (vv. 38-39, 42, 47-48, 50-51). And it elicits the same
response as John did. Just as John turned men to Christ (vv. 36-37), so
Christ turned men to Himself (v. 43). Just as those reached by John brought
others to Jesus (vv. 40-41), so those reached by Jesus brought others to
Him (vv. 44-46).
     The grammar, as you mention, supports Jesus as subject in 1:43, since
he is the narrative subject in 1:42b. And the unspecified subject of the
first verbs of 1:43 corresponds to the unspecified subject of the verb in
2:1, where Jesus is clearly presupposed. The mention of Galilee in 2:1
corresponds to its mention in 1:43, and the circumstances in 2:1-3 certify
that it was Jesus in 1:43 who wanted to go to Galilee.

                                                        Harold Holmyard

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