27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.
JOHN 3:27 ESV
27 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰωάννης καὶ εἶπεν· Οὐ δύναται ἄνθρωπος λαμβάνειν οὐδὲ ἓν ἐὰν μὴ ᾖ δεδομένον αὐτῷ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.
JOHN 3;27 SBLGNT
In response John replied, ‘A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.’ ‘Given from heaven’, of course, means ‘given by God’. That all things derive ultimately from God is a principle found in the Old Testament –
Dan 4:17 – 17 The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’
Dan 4:25 – 25 that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.
Dan 4:32 – 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”
and reiterated in the New Testament –
1 Cor 4:7 – 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
Later in the Fourth Gospel Jesus says to Pilate, in John 19:11 –
’11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
John, recognizing that ultimately it is God who determines the role a person has, was content with the ministry God had given him and felt no need to promote himself or compete with Jesus.
The reply of the Baptist, which now follows in extenso and is our evangelist’s chief concern, is so thoroughly true, so illuminating and at the same time so demonstrative of the perfect humility that it stands as a monument to him forever. He begins with a general truth, one to which every child of God must assent at once, which applies equally to himself and to Jesus.
John answered and said (ἀπεκρίθη Ἰωάννης καὶ εἶπεν2), “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.” The doubling indicates the great importance of the Baptist’s statement: he “answered and said,” compare:
John 1:48 – Nathanael said to him, “How ado you know me?” Jesus answered him and said (ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ·), “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
When men arrogate something to themselves, rob others, or snatch what does not properly belong to them, they do not have what they have, for it shall be taken from them, and God’s judgment condemns them. What is our portion, including our position, work, and success, especially in the kingdom of God, is a gift allotted to us, which we thus receive and truly have. “Given” and “receive” correspond.
The clarity of John the Baptist’s words brings the reality of our faith in our presumptuos way we live our lives today. We call ourselves Christians, but our hearts are not fully committed to Christ. We display righteousness, but our hearts burn with deceit, and we conspire our actions hidden behind masks that obscure the true nature of our conscience. We allow ourselves to walk a life devoid of divine presence but our own.
Forever striving for our goals in this world and never seeking to place our souls within God’s moral boundaries. We live according to what we feel is correct and allow reasoning through our own lens to dictate our actions. We seek to gain the world at the cost of our souls, and we never confront the absolute reality of its condemnation.
It is time to see as The Baptists did and put our faith in God and walk along his moral boundaries, looking to Jesus Christ as our only hope for eternal salvation.