For John had not yet been sent (Vulg. missus, Greek cast) into prison. This implies, says S. Chrysostom, that John baptized up to the time of his being cast into prison. For until his death he persevered in the office for which God hath sent him, namely, that by baptizing and preaching he might prepare the way for Christ. And when he had done this superabundantly, God allowed him to be cast into prison, that he might give way to Christ, and send all his disciples to Christ as in fact he did.
The Evangelist adds this verse to show that he was supplying the history of all the preceding events, and adding them to the narratives of the other Evangelists, who began from the imprisonment of John.
Now there arose, &c The Greek for now is Î¿ÏÎ½, therefore. Because indeed John baptized with Jesus, since John preceded, there arose a question, that Isaiah , a strife and controversy, from John"s disciples. This they raised out of zeal for the honour and authority of their master John , lest Hebrews , through the baptism given by Jesus, should be little thought of. For many were flocking to Jesus, John himself sending them, preferring Jesus to himself.
With the Jews, i.e, those following Jesus. The Complutensian Version has the word in the singular, Î¼ÎµÏ„Î¬ Î™Î¿Ï…Î´Î±Î¯Î¿Ï…, with a Jew. The Syriac has, between a disciple of John and a Jew, a reading which is followed and commented on by S. Chrysostom, Nonnus, Theophylact, and Euthymius. But the Latins, and of the Greeks S. Cyril, read with the Jews, in the plural. It may be that one raised the strife, and that, as usual, many took part in it. About purifying, i.e, about the baptism of John and Jesus, whether of the twain were the better, and had greater purifying and sanctifying efficacy. "For the Jew," says Theophylact, "preferred the baptism of the disciples of Christ, but the disciples of John the baptism of their master," in that he had first baptized many, and even Jesus Himself, as it were a disciple. But the disciples of Jesus replied that He did many miracles, but that John did none. They added that John himself preferred Jesus to himself, and said that He was the Christ. So S. Augustine and others.