What does John 3:26 mean?
ESV: And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”
NIV: They came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan--the one you testified about--look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.'
NASB: And they came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing and all the people are coming to Him.'
CSB: So they came to John and told him, "Rabbi, the one you testified about, and who was with you across the Jordan, is baptizing--and everyone is going to him."
NLT: So John’s disciples came to him and said, 'Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.'
KJV: And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
Verse Commentary:
Based on what we read in verse 25, this statement may have been coming from "the Jews," which is John's general term for the local religious leaders. The intent may have been to start a rivalry between the followers of Jesus, and those of John the Baptist. This was prior to the arrest and execution of the Baptist. During that time, the area around Jerusalem was filled with the preaching of both John the Baptist and Jesus. And, according to verse 23, there was a considerable response. This comment may have been an attempt to inspire competition between the two men. The local leaders may have assumed that the Baptist would become jealous. Then, he and Jesus would waste time and energy fighting each other.

The other possibility is that a single leader, probably Nicodemus, spoke to followers of the Baptist. They, in turn, went to the Baptist to complain about Jesus gaining more followers.

Either way, this is a common strategy used by the Devil. Instead of focusing on God's glory, we seek our own. John the Baptist doesn't fall for the trap. He's already content with what God has given him. In fact, he's happy to see that Jesus is gaining followers, according to the next few verses. That's what his mission was.
Verse Context:
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.
Chapter Summary:
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.
Chapter Context:
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.
Book Summary:
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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