Is the Baptizer still speaking John 1.16-18?

James Tissot's John and the Pharisees
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John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.'”

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” (John 1:15-19 NLT)

I’ve been thinking about this passage of Scripture for a while now. My first exploration was into the significance of the past tense found in verse 17, especially since I thought that the Baptizer was still speaking. Many assume that verse 15 is parenthetical, but – and feel free to correct me – I tend to think that verse 15 through 19 chronologically belongs after verse 27. Notice that in verse 15, John is said to testify while in verse 19, action takes place in the form of a testimony given to the Pharisees. John again testifies in verse 32. I take the αὕτη in verse 19 to refer to the previous verses, setting up the action in verse 19-27. That this testimony (v15-18) was given as well to the Pharisees after the dialogue in v19-27.

If so, then why does John have the Baptizer speaking in the past tense about what has already come through Christ? Surely, the author and the author’s community didn’t believe that just because Christ was born that Grace burst onto the scene?

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