What does John 3:22 mean?
ESV: After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing.
NIV: After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.
NASB: After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea; and there He was spending time with them and baptizing.
CSB: After this, Jesus and his disciples went to the Judean countryside, where he spent time with them and baptized.
NLT: Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people.
KJV: After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.
According to this verse, Jesus spent time with the disciples. This is one of the more important aspects of being a Christian: time with God. The Bible gives believers many promises of knowledge, wisdom, and strength. Yet, these are in the context of a person who has spent considerable time communicating with Christ. Simply becoming a Christian doesn't automatically make a person spiritually strong. The disciples were able to transform the world because they were deeply, intimately connected to Jesus.
John 4:2 clarifies that Jesus was not personally baptizing, but He was overseeing baptisms by His disciples. According to verse 22, He was "baptizing" in the sense that He was the one in charge of the operation. This is similar to how a general is said to "win" a battle, even if he never fired a shot himself.
Eventually, John the Baptist will be arrested and executed. Until then, the region around Jerusalem is home to the ministries of both Jesus and John the Baptist! The fact that these men are preaching in the "countryside" is interesting. Jesus went looking for workers, not priests, when He called the disciples (John 1:43). Here, rather than preaching in the urban areas, He and the Baptist are calling out to the common, everyday people.
John 3:22–30 describes an argument between followers of John the Baptist and a Jewish religious leader, over purification. Though the passage does not name him, it’s possible this man was Nicodemus, who had just been discussing that topic with Jesus. The Baptist isn’t upset that his followers are dwindling, while Jesus attracts crowds. Instead, he makes it clear that Christ’s glory was his mission, and seeing it succeed makes him happy. Rather than being selfish about our own applause, we should be happy when our efforts cause people to praise God.
John chapter 3 is one of the most important in the entire gospel. Many crucial ideas are explained in this passage, including the role of Jesus as Savior. After the loud, public commotion at the temple, John transitions to a quiet, nighttime discussion. These verses make it clear that Christ—and Christ alone—is the means of salvation for the entire world. This text also states that those who reject Jesus are rejecting God.
The gospel of John is meant to prove that Jesus is God. Chapter 3 contains some of the most direct, most important concepts in Christianity. The ideas of spiritual rebirth, and the need to believe in Christ, are reinforced by the rest of the information in this gospel. John continues to use contrast, moving from the loud and public temple cleansing to the quiet of this conversation. After Jesus injects humility into a powerful leader, chapter 4 will transition again, as Jesus gives dignity to an outcast stranger.
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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