Edited with annotations, by E. E. Whitfield.
(The reference figures, relate to the notes respectively so numbered in the Appendix — john_app.doc.)
The work now before the Christian did not consist of discourses taken down in shorthand and corrected, as many books of mine have been. It was written with care from first to last, with the deep conviction how little my plummet, perhaps anyone’s, can sound its revealed depths. Still, its communications are freely given by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, that we might know them through the Spirit in our measure. May the truth, and nothing but the truth, commend itself to the conscience and heart of all God’s children. It is a day when many, listening to the tempter, have found a hard saying in the matchless words of life eternal, and even gone back, so as to walk no more with the Lord. May they so learn, as it were from His own lips, that the words He has spoken are spirit and are life. Of these sayings none is more eminent a witness among the inspired than the apostle, and of his inspired writings none so rich in these sayings as his Gospel. May grace use whatever help may be in this exposition to better appreciate the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. No reader is likely to feel its shortcomings so much as the writer, but he also feels that the Father delights in honour truly paid to the Son. This throughout he has sought humbly and heartily, counting on the Spirit’s presence and power, Who is here to glorify Him.
London, April, 1898.
Preface To The Second Edition.
The Exposition of the Fourth Gospel issued, within the last ten years, by Mr. William Kelly happily contained his own translation of the Greek text preferred by him, with critical apparatus. Each of these is reproduced in the new edition, whilst the footnotes now record also the voice of the Syriac codex of Sinai among the ancient versions, besides the respective readings adopted for their texts by Professor B. Weiss (1901) and Professor Blass (1902). Such additions are enclosed in crotchets, which are used also for the few alternative renderings here added in harmony with the Exposition. Quotations from the Old Testament have been treated as in the recently published volume of the same writer’s “Exposition of Mark.” The few marginal references to parallel passages of the Synoptics, the Appendix and Indexes are likewise new features.
The expositor had before him the English works in chief repute relating to this Gospel that had appeared down to the time of the publication of his book. The outlook has been extended to the latest-in particular German and American-literature noticed in the Appendix. Although, as a learned dignitary has just been saying from his pulpit, “the Gospel of St. John is the one book in the Bible which stands in least need of the apologist,” there has been a keen attack upon it in recent years, so that the Notes at the end are largely devoted to an examination of the criticism in fashion, by many regarded with deep concern.
Mr. Kelly had the happiness of being outside the ranks of those who have “to do the best they can for the side on which they are retained.” Neither adhesion to ecclesiastical tradition nor academical influences hampered his independence, which was therefore no more governed by antecedent theories of the conventional “apologetic” than by those of the rigidly “critical” type. His robust religious belief was as far from being synonymous with “dogma” on the one hand as with “mysticism” on the other. In conflict with current unbelief, he did not understand any process of buttering bread on both sides: he seriously and consistently did battle for the Faith of the Gospel, as he understood that, “once for all delivered to the saints.” A melancholy feature at the present day is the readiness of some without pain to write in derogation of the faith in which they were reared; with such Mr. Kelly had nothing in common.
The editor associates himself closely with the standpoint of the Exposition; his notes, as a Scottish review of the volume on Mark has stated of the Appendix there, are “in logical development of Mr. Kelly’s views.” He has endeavoured to speak plainly, yet with becoming respect towards scholars whose statements are combated. One may value the better aspects of a method, whilst questioning the application of it in the light of actual results obtained.
How a singularly precious book of Holy Scripture served William Kelly’s ministry may be learned from this Exposition, which is reissued in the hope that it will continue to afford help to those at least who care for neither sentimental tradition nor traditional sentiment, but do love the Christ of God.
E. E. W. January, 1908.