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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

John 5

 

 

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Verse 1

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Ver. 1. A feast of the Jews] This was the feast of Pentecost. Others say the Passover, which came but once a year. The true Christians (for whom the true Passover was sacrificed, 1 Corinthians 5:7) keep a continual feast or holy day, εορταζωμεν, with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, 1 Corinthians 5:8. Diogenes could say, that a good man keeps holy days and hath gaudies delights all the year about. {a} "Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me," Exodus 5:1. In other messages it is, "that they may serve me."

{a} πασαν ημεραν εορτην ηγειται. Laert.


Verse 2

2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

Ver. 2. Having five porches] Built, belike, by some well-affected persons, at the motion of God’s ministers, for the use of such impotent folk as here lay looking and languishing at Hope’s Hospital. Like as King Edward VI was moved by a sermon of Bishop Riding’s, touching works of charity, to grant his two houses in London, Bridewell and the Savoy, for such like good uses; together with lands and monies for their maintenance.


Verse 3

3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

Ver. 3. Of impotent folk] That had tried all other ways, and could not otherwise be cured, Omnipotenti medico, nullus insanabilis occurrit morbus. (Isidore.)


Verse 4

4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

Ver. 4. For an angel went down] The miracle of this pool was granted to the Jews, partly to strengthen them in the true worship of God under the persecution of Antiochus, in the cessation of prophecy; partly to retain them in their religious course of sacrificing to the true God, against the scoffs of the Romans (that were now their lords). Such a virtue being given to that water, wherein their sacrifices were wont to be washed. See a more sovereign bath than this, Zechariah 13:1; an ever-flowing and over-flowing fountain, not for one at once, as here, but for all that come, they may wash and be clean, wash and be whole.

At a certain season] Once a year only, Semel quotannis, saith Tertullian. Others (more probably) at all their great feasts, when the people met out of all parts at Jerusalem, taking κατα distributively, as Matthew 27:15.

Troubled the water] Not in a visible shape, likely; but as it appeared by a visible troubling of the waters and a miraculous healing of the diseased. But that troubled waters should do cures was the greater wonder: since holy wells (as they call them) and waters that heal are commonly most calm and clear. It was a witty allusion hereunto of him that said, Angels trouble the clear stream of justice at certain times.


Verse 5

5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

Ver. 5. Thirty and eight years] A long while to be in misery: but what is this to eternity of extremity! We need have something to mind us of God, to bring us to Christ. King Alured prayed God always to send him some sickness, whereby his body might be tamed, and he the better disposed and affectioned to Godward.


Verse 6

6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

Ver. 6. And knew that he had been, &c.] Christ’s eye affected his heart, Lamentations 3:51, he could not but sympathize, and succour this poor cripple, out of his mere philanthropy, which moveth him still, μετριοπαθειν, to show mercy according to the measure of our misery, whereof he bears a part, Hebrews 5:2.


Verse 7

7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

Ver. 7. I have no man, &c.] He looked that Christ should have done him that good office; and could not think of any other way of cure. How easy is it with us to measure God by our model, to cast him into our mould, to think he must needs go our way to work!


Verse 8

8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

Ver. 8. Rise, take up thy bed, &c.] A servile work upon the sabbath day. This our Saviour here commends not as a servile work, but for confirmation of the truth of a miracle greatly tending to God’s glory; like as, another time, he bade them give meat to the damsel he had raised, not for any necessity, but to insure the cure.


Verse 9

9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

Ver. 9. And immediately the man] Christ’s words are operative (together with his commands there goes forth a power, as Luke 5:17). So they were in the creation, Genesis 1:3. So they are still in regeneration, Isaiah 59:21. Dei dicere, est efficere. For God to say is to do.


Verse 10

10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

Ver. 10. It is the sabbath, it is not lawful, &c.] Vere, sed non sincere. Truly but not sincerely. It more troubled them that Christ had healed him than that the sabbath had been broken by him. The poorer Swedes always break the sabbath, saying that it is only for gentlemen to keep that day.


Verse 11

11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

Ver. 11. He that made me whole, &c.] So, it seems, Christ had healed him, in part, on the inside also; and given him a ready heart to obey, though it were contra gentes, against nature, as they say.


Verse 12

12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?

Ver. 12. What man is he] Not that made thee whole, but that bade thee take up thy bed, &c. They dissembled the former, and insisted only upon the latter, which shows the naughtiness of their hearts.


Verse 13

13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

Ver. 13. Had conveyed himself away] Lest by his presence that work should be hindered. True goodness is public spirited, though to private disadvantage, and works for most part unobserved, as the engine that doth all in great businesses is often inward, hidden, not taken notice of.


Verse 14

14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

Ver. 14. Findeth him in the temple] Praising God, likely, for his unexpected recovery. So Hezekiah, the first work he did when off his sick bed, Isaiah 38:22.

Behold, thou art made whole, &c.] Here Isaiah 1:1-31. Commemoratio beneficii. Remember kndnesses. 2. Commonitio officii. Admonish duties. 3. Comminatio supplicii. Ingentia beneficia, ingentia flagitia, ingentia supplicia. {a} Threaten punishment. Unnatural kindnesses, unnatural shame, unnatural punishment.

{a} Magdeburgens praef, ad cent. 5.


Verse 15

15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

Ver. 15. Told the Jews] Of a good intent, surely, to honour Christ, however it were taken by the spiteful Jews, Probi ex sua natura caeteros fingunt. The disciples could not imagine so ill of Judas as it proved. Mary Magdalene thought the gardener (whoever he were) should have known as much and loved Jesus as well as she did.


Verse 16

16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

Ver. 16. Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus] This he foreknew would follow, and yet he forbore not. In the discharge of our consciences (tightly informed and regulated) we must not stand to cast perils; but do our duties zealously, whatever come of it. This courage in Christians, heathens counted obstinacy, but they knew not the power of the Spirit, nor the privy armour of proof that saints have about their hearts.


Verse 17

17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

Ver. 17. My Father worketh] Yet without labour or lassitude, in conserving the whole creature. This he doth every day, and yet breaketh not the sabbath; Ergo nec ego, Therefore, neith do I.


Verse 18

18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Ver. 18. The Jews sought the more] Persecution is (as Calvin wrote to the French king) Evangelii genus, the birth of the gospel, the bad genius, the devil that dogs the gospel. Ecclesia haeres crucis The church clings to the cross, (saith Luther). Truth breeds hatred, saith the heathen, as the fair nymphs did the ill-favoured fauns and satyrs. Veritas odium parit. Ter.


Verse 19

19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

Ver. 19. The Son can do nothing, &c.] He denies not himself to be the Son though they quarrelled him: but sweetly sets forth the doctrine of his Deity, which they so much stomached and stumbled at.


Verse 20

20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

Ver. 20. For the Father loveth the Son] This noteth that eternal power of doing miracles that is in Christ. As that which follows, "He will show him greater works," &c., is to be referred to the declaration of that his power.

That ye may wonder] Though ye believe not; for such was the hardness of their hearts grown; as neither ministry, misery, miracle, nor mercy could possibly mollify. "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish," Acts 13:41.


Verse 21

21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

Ver. 21. Raiseth up the dead] Bringing them from the jaws of death to the joys of life; which none can do but God alone.


Verse 22

22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

Ver. 22. The Father judgeth no man] viz. The Father alone, but by the Son, to whom all judicatory power is committed.


Verse 23

23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

Ver. 23. He that honoureth not the Son] As Jews and Turks do not. Nor Papists, that (upon the matter) despoil him of his threefold office, and so deny the Lord that bought them.


Verse 24

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Ver. 24. He that heareth my word] As death came into the world by the door of the ear, so doth life eternal, Isaiah 55:3. God was in the still voice, and the oracle bade, "Hear ye him," Matthew 17:5.


Verse 25

25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

Ver. 25. The dead shall hear the voice] The dead in sins shall believe the promises, and shall live the life of grace here and of glory in heaven.


Verse 26

26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

Ver. 26. So hath he given to the Son] What wonder, then, if faith, apprehending the infinite fountain of life, derive thence some rivulet of life, and apply the same to us for spiritual quickening?


Verse 27

27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

Ver. 27. Because he is the Son of man] Or, as he is the Son of man. {a} By virtue of the hypostatical union, his manhood came as near to God as could be. He had the best natural parts both of mind, Isaiah 11:2-3, and body, Psalms 45:2; and the best supernatural, whereby he found favour also with God, Luke 2:52, for he had more near familiarity with the Godhead than ever had any creature, together with a partner-agency with his Godhead, in the works of mediation, 1 Timothy 2:5. In the state of exaltation, the manhood hath, 1. Excess of glory. 2. The grace of adoration together with the Godhead. 3. Judiciary power, as here and Acts 17:31.

{a} οτε, id est καθοτι. Beza.


Verse 28

28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

Ver. 28. Marvel not at this] And yet who can but marvel at this great mystery of godliness, whereat angels stand amazed? yea, whereat he himself wonders; and therefore calls, his own name Wonderful, Isaiah 9:6. It is truly affirmed of Christ, that he is created and uncreated, without beginning, and yet began in time, a Jew according to the flesh, and yet God blessed for ever, &c. The manner hereof is to be believed, not discussed; admired, not pried into, &c. Mirari decet non rimari.

His voice] Put forth by the ministry of mighty angels, and called by the apostle κελευσμα, 1 Thessalonians 4:16; a metaphor from watermen, who call upon one another, and strike oars together, as it were with one consent.


Verse 29

29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Ver. 29. They that have done good] In die iudicii plus valebit conscientia pura quam marsupia plena. Bern., Daniel 12:1-2. Though other things be darkly delivered, yet when the Jews were to lose land and life, the resurrection is plainly described. So Hebrews 11:35.

Unto the resurrection of damnation] As Pharaoh’s baker came forth to be hanged when the butler was exalted. Good therefore is the counsel given us by the heathen orator, Ita vivamus ut rationem nobis reddendem arbitremur. The wicked shall come forth of their graves like filthy toads, against that terrible storm, Psalms 9:17. The elements shall melt like scalding lead upon them, &c., 2 Peter 3:10;


Verse 30

30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Ver. 30. I can of mine own self do nothing] But by the power communicated unto me, in that eternal generation.

As I hear] So John 5:19; "as I see," which Beza understandeth to be spoken in respect of his human nature, as it is hypostatically united to the Divine.


Verse 31

31 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

Ver. 31. My witness is not true] That is, fit, firm, valid, foro humano, Concessio rhetorica. Beza.


Verse 32

32 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.

Ver. 32. There is another that beareth witness] God the Father, by this miracle wrought upon the impotent man. Give we real testimony to our profession by our practice. Mallem obedire quam miracula facere, I prefer to obey than to do miracles, said Luther. Profligate professors put religion to an open shame. {a}

{a} Virtutis stragulam pudefacis, You make ashamed the covering of character, said Diogenes to Antipater; who, being vicious, wore a white cloak.


Verse 33

33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.

Ver. 33. Ye sent unto John] As unto an oracle: but when his answer pleased you not, you rejected it, of mere obstinace and malice to my person and office. There is an odious unthankfulness in unbelief: for it rebelleth against the light, rejecteth the medicine, refuseth to be reformed, hateth to be healed. Wine is a strong remedy against hemlock; yet mingled with it, doubleth the force of the poison. So it is with the Word of life when mingled with unbelief.


Verse 34

34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.

Ver. 34. That ye might be saved] This was that which he sought in all his oracles and miracles. Salvation properly notes the privative part of our happiness; because it is easier to tell from what we are saved than to what.


Verse 35

35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

Ver. 35. He was a burning, &c.] Burning in himself, and shining to others; or as it was said of Basil, thundering in his doctrine and lightning in his life. (Nazianzen.) And of Rogers and Bradford, that it was hard to say whether there were more force of eloquence and utterance in preaching, or more holiness of life and conversation, to be found in them. Like Aaron, they bad pomegranates for savour, as well as bells for sound.

For a season to rejoice] {a} But he soon grew stale to them; so that they made no more reckoning of him than of "a reed shaken with the wind," Matthew 11:7. Principes favebant Luthero, sed iam iterum videtis ingratitudinem mundi erga ministros, &c., said good Melancthon, in the year of grace 1559.

{a} αγαλλιασθηναι’ to dance a galliard. It was a formal joy, or jollity rather. John Manl.


Verse 36

36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

Ver. 36. The works which the Father hath given me] Lo, Christ accounts his work a gift. So John 17:4.

The works that I do, bear witness] Let our works likewise speak for us, Matthew 5:16, as they did for the primitive Christians; of whom Athenagoras (their ambassador to the emperor) boldly saith, ουδεις χριστιανος πονηρος ει μη υποκρινηται τον λογον. No Christian is evil mannered unless it be such as dissemble themselves to be Christians. And Justin Martyr confesseth of himself, that beholding the piety of Christians’ life and constancy in death, he gathered that it was the true religion that they professed. Non aliunde noscibiles quam de emendatione vitiorum, saith Tertullian of the Christians of his time. And Chrysostom speaketh of some in his days, whose lives were angelic, they so walked up to their principles.


Verse 37

37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.

Ver. 37. Hath borne witness of me] By the voice from heaven, and the descending of the Holy Ghost in the shape of a dove, Matthew 3:16; yet ye have neither heard his voice, nor seen his shape. Who so blind as he that will not see? Isaiah 42:19.


Verse 38

38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

Ver. 38. And you have not his word abiding in you] As an "engrafted word," James 1:21 : ye have heard it, but with your bodily ears only, with those gristles that grow upon your heads: ye have not drawn up the ears of your minds to the ears of your bodies, that one sound piercing both, ye might believe; ye have not mixed the word with faith in your hearts, as in a vessel, &c.


Verse 39

39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Ver. 39. Search the Scriptures] Audite saeculares, comparate vobis Biblia, animae pharmaca, Listen to the world, compare with your Bibles, the medicine of our souls, saith Chrysostom. But Bibles lie (like old almanacs) moulding in corners, while play books (the devil’s catechisms) are even worn out with overly diligent perusal. It is a sad complaint which Reverend Moulin makes of his countrymen, the French Protestants; While they burned us, saith he, for reading the Scriptures, we burnt with zeal to be reading from them. Now with our liberty is bred also negligence and disesteem of God’s word. Is it not so also with us?

They are they which testify of me] The babe of Bethlehem is bound up in these swathing bands. He is both author and matter of the Scriptures, and is therefore called the Word. The dignity of the Scriptures (saith one) and the majesty of Christ mutually look on one another: as the sun doth on the stars, and the stars on the sun. For as the excellency of the sun appears by the glory of the stars, to whom it giveth light; so the majesty of Christ is manifest by the Scriptures, to whom he giveth credit. On the other side, as the glory of the star is magnified, because it is the light of the sun; so the credit of the Scriptures is exalted, because they concern the Son of God.


Verse 40

40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

Ver. 40. Ye will not come to me] Though clearly convinced by the Scriptures. See their obstinace and malice. Amos, Amos 6:12, compareth such untamable, untractable, masterless monsters, to horses running upon a rock, where first they break their hoofs and then their necks.


Verse 41

41 I receive not honour from men.

Ver. 41. I receive not honour from men] q.d. I need you not, though I complain you come not to me. It is for your sakes that I seek to you. Christ could be happy, though all men should miscarry: as the sun would shine, though all the world were blind. He seeks not ours, but us.


Verse 42

42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.

Ver. 42. Ye have not the love of God] Though ye pretend zeal for his glory, to your opposing of me, yet there is aliud in titulo, aliud in pyxide. Hypocrites are like Egyptian temples, beautiful without but within, some cat or such like thing to be worshipped.


Verse 43

43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

Ver. 43. Him will ye receive] As they did Barchochab; and that Pseudo-Moses (the devil he was) that deceived so many of them in Crete, A.D. 434, persuading them to cast themselves after him into the sea, which should part, and make them way into their own country again, whereby many of them perished.


Verse 44

44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

Ver. 44. Which receive honour one of another] Faith empties a man of himself, purgeth upon ambition, and is an act of the will; else the seeking of praise with men could be no impediment to the act of believing. Surely, as Pharaoh said of the Israelites, "they are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in;" so may we say of many, they are entangled in the creature, the world hath shut them in, they cannot come to Christ. They are shut up in the cave of the world, as those five kings in a cave, Joshua 10:18; have hardness of heart, as a great stone rolled to the mouth, and honours, riches, and pleasures, are so many keepers, &c.


Verse 45

45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.

Ver. 45. Do not think that I] That is, that I only.

Even Moses] So your faithful ministers (whom men pretend to love and reverence, but obey not their doctrine), these shall judge you.


Verse 46

46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.

Ver. 46. For he wrote of me] Both clearly and mystically, in the many sacrifices and ceremonies of the law. Whence Theodoret calleth Moses, τον της θεολογιας ωκεανον, εξ ουπερ παντες ποταμοι και πασα θαλαττα, ocean of divinity, out of whom all the prophets and apostles have watered their several gardens. And Pareus closeth up his commentary upon Genesis, with these words, Quicquid Scripturarum sacrarum dehinc sequitur, huius est Commentarius. Whatever was written next to the scripures, of this it is commentary.


Verse 47

47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Ver. 47. But if ye believe not his writings] He that will not take God’s word in one place will take it in no place.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 5:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-5.html. 1865-1868.


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the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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