on John 1 :51
Verily, verily - Amen, amen. The doubling of this word probably came from this circumstance: that it was written both in Hebrew אמן and in Greek αμην, signifying, it is true.
Heaven open - This seems to be a figurative expression:
1. Christ may be understood by this saying to mean, that a clear and abundant revelation of God's will should be now made unto men; that heaven itself should be laid as it were open, and all the mysteries which had been shut up and hidden in it from eternity, relative to the salvation and glorification of man; should be now fully revealed.
2. That by the angels of God ascending and descending, is to be understood, that a perpetual intercourse should now be opened between heaven and earth, through the medium of Christ, who was God manifested in the flesh. Our blessed Lord is represented in his mediatorial capacity as the ambassador of God to men; and the angels ascending and descending upon the Son of man, is a metaphor taken from the custom of despatching couriers or messengers from the prince to his ambassador in a foreign court, and from the ambassador back to the prince.
This metaphor will receive considerable light when compared with 2 Corinthians 5:19, 2 Corinthians 5:20 : God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself: - We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. The whole concerns of human salvation shall be carried on, from henceforth, through the Son of man; and an incessant intercourse be established between heaven and earth. Some have illustrated this passage by the account of Jacob's vision, Genesis 28:12. But though that vision may intimate that God had established at that time a communication between heaven and earth, through the medium of angels, yet it does not appear that our Lord's saying here has any reference to it; but that it should be understood as stated above.
What a glorious view does this give us of the Gospel dispensation! It is heaven opened to earth; and heaven opened on earth. The Church militant and the Church triumphant become one, and the whole heavenly family, in both, see and adore their common Lord. Neither the world nor the Church is left to the caprices of time or chance. The Son of man governs as he upholds all. Wherever we are praying, studying, hearing, meditating, his gracious eye is upon us. He notes our wants, our weakness, and our petitions; and his eye affects his heart. Let us be without guile, deeply, habitually sincere, serious, and upright; and then we may rest assured, that not only the eye, but the hand, of our Lord shall be ever upon us for good.
Happy the man whose heart can rejoice in the reflection, Thou God seest me!
on John 1 :51
Verily, verily - In the Greek, "Amen, amen." The word "amen" means "truly, certainly, so be it" - from the Hebrew verb to confirm, to establish, to be true. It is often used in this gospel. When repeated it expresses the speaker's sense of the importance of what he is saying, and the "certainty" that it is as he affirms.
Ye shall see - Not, perhaps, with the bodily eyes, but you shall have "evidence" that it is so. The thing shall take place, and you shall be a witness of it.
Heaven open - This is a figurative expression, denoting "the conferring of favors." Psalm 78:23-24; "he opened the doors of heaven, and had rained down manna." It also denotes that God was about to work a miracle in attestation of a particular thing. See Matthew 3:16. In the language, here, there is an evident allusion to the ladder that Jacob saw in a dream, and to the angels ascending and descending on it, Genesis 28:12. It is not probable that Jesus referred to any particular instance in which Nathanael should literally see the heavens opened. The baptism of Jesus had taken place, and no other instance occurred in his life in which it is said that the "heavens were" opened.
Angels of God - Those pure and holy beings that dwell in heaven, and that are employed as ministering spirits to our world, Hebrews 1:14. Good men are represented in the Scriptures as being under their protection, Psalm 91:11-12; Genesis 28:12. They are the agents by which God often expressed his will to men, Hebrews 2:2; Galatians 3:19. They are represented as strengthening the Lord Jesus, and ministering unto him. Thus they aided him in the wilderness Mark 1:13, and in the garden Luke 22:43, and they were present when he rose from the dead, Matthew 28:2-4; John 20:12-13. By their ascending and descending upon him it is probable that he meant that Nathanael would have evidence that they came to his aid, and that he would have "the" kind of protection and assistance from God which would show "more fully that he was the Messiah." Thus his life, his many deliverances from dangers, his wisdom to confute his skilled and cunning adversaries, the scenes of his death, and the attendance of angels at his resurrection, may all be represented by the angels descending upon him, and all would show to Nathanael and the other disciples most clearly that he was the Son of God.
The Son of man - A term by which lie often describes himself. It shows his humility, his love for man, his willingness to be esteemed "as a man," Philippians 2:6-7.
From this interview with Nathanael we may learn:
1. that Jesus searches the heart.
2. that he was truly the Messiah.
3. that he was under the protection of God.
4. that if we have faith in Jesus, it will be continually strengthened the evidence will grow brighter and brighter.
5. that if we believe his word, we shall yet see full proof that his word is true.
6. Since Jesus was under the protection of God, so all his friends will be. God will defend and save us also if we put our trust in Him.
7. Jesus applied terms expressive of humility to himself. He was not solicitous even to be called by titles which he might claim.
So we should not be ambitious of titles and honors. Ministers of the gospel most resemble him when they seek for the fewest titles, and do not aim at distinctions from each other or their brethren. See the notes at Matthew 23:8.
on John 1 :51
1:51 Hereafter ye shall see - All of these, as well as thou, who believe on me now in my state of humiliation, shall hereafter see me come in my glory, and all the angels of God with me. This seems the most natural sense of the words, though they may also refer to his ascension.