What seek ye? - This was not asked to obtain "information." Compare John 1:48. It was not a harsh reproof, forbidding them to follow him. Compare Matthew 11:28-30. It was a kind inquiry respecting their desires; an invitation to lay open their minds, to state their wishes, and to express all their feelings respecting the Messiah and their own salvation. We may learn:
1.That Jesus regards the first inclinations of the soul to follow him. He "turned" toward these disciples, and he will incline his ear to all who begin to approach him for salvation.
2.Jesus is ready to hear their requests and to answer them.
3.Ministers of the gospel, and all other Christians, should be accessible, kind, and tender toward all who are inquiring the way to life. In conformity with their Master, they should be willing to aid all those who look to them for guidance and help in the great work of their salvation.
Rabbi - This was a Jewish title conferred somewhat as literary degrees now are, and meaning literally "a great one," and was applied to a teacher or master in the Jewish schools. It corresponded with the title "Doctor." Our Saviour solemnly forbade his disciples to wear that title. See the notes at Matthew 23:8. The fact that John "interpreted" this word shows that he wrote his gospel not for the Jews only, but for those who did not understand the Hebrew language. It is supposed to have been written at Ephesus.
Where dwellest thou? - This question they probably asked him in order to signify their wish to be with him and to be instructed by him. They desired more fully to listen to him than they could now by the wayside. They were unwilling to interrupt him in his traveling. Religion teaches people true politeness, or a disposition to consult the convenience of others, and not improperly to molest them, or to break in upon them when engaged. It also teaches us to "desire to be with Christ;" to seek every opportunity of communion with him, and chiefly to desire "to be with him where he is" when we leave this world. Compare Philippians 1:23.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing John 1:38:
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