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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
John 9

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1. καὶ παράγων. Possibly on His way from the Temple (John 8:59), or (if ἐγένετο τότε be the right reading in John 10:22) more probably on a later occasion near the F. of the Dedication. Comp. καὶ παράγων εἶδε Λευΐν (Mark 2:14). We know that this man was a beggar (John 9:8), and that beggars frequented the gates of the Temple (Acts 3:2), as they frequent the doors of foreign churches now; but we are not told where this man was begging.

ἐκ γενετῆς. The phrase occurs nowhere else in N.T. Justin Martyr uses it twice of those healed by Christ; Trypho LXIX.; Apol. I. xxii. No source is so probable as this verse, for nowhere else is Christ said to have healed a congenital disease. see on John 1:23 and John 3:3. There is an indubitable reference to this passage in the Clementine Homilies (XIX. xxii.), the date of which is c. A.D. 150. see on John 10:9; John 10:27. For other instances of Christ giving sight to the blind see Matthew 9:27; Matthew 20:29; Mark 8:22.


Verses 1-5

1–5. THE PRELUDE TO THE SIGN


Verse 2

2. Rabbi. see on John 1:39, John 4:31.

ἵνα τ. γεννηθῇ. That he should be born blind, in accordance with the Divine decree; comp. John 4:34, John 6:29; John 6:40, and see on John 8:56. They probably knew the fact from the man himself, who would often state it to the passers-by. This question has given rise to much discussion. It implies a belief that some one must have sinned, or there would have been no such suffering: who then was it that sinned? Possibly the question means no more than this; the persons most closely connected with the suffering being specially mentioned, without much thought as to possibilities or probabilities. But this is not quite satisfactory. The disciples name two very definite alternatives; we must not assume that one of them was meaningless. That the sins of the fathers are visited on the children is the teaching of the Second Commandment and of every one’s experience. But how could a man be born blind for his own sin?

Four answers have been suggested. [1] The predestinarian notion that the man was punished for sins which God knew he would commit in his life. This is utterly unscriptural and scarcely fits the context.

[2] The doctrine of the transmigration of souls, which was held by some Jews: he might have sinned in another body. But it is doubtful whether this philosophic tenet would be familiar to the disciples.

[3] The doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul, which appears Wisdom of Solomon 8:20 : the man’s soul sinned before it was united to the body. This again can hardly have been familiar to illiterate men.

[4] The current Jewish interpretation of Genesis 25:22, Psalms 51:5, and similar passages; that it was possible for a babe yet unborn to have emotions (comp. Luke 1:41-44) and that these might be and often were sinful. On the whole, this seems to be the simplest and most natural interpretation, and John 9:34 seems to confirm it.


Verse 3

3. Christ shews that there is a third alternative, which their question assumes that there is not. Moreover He by implication warns them against assuming, like Job’s friends, a connexion between suffering and sin in individuals (see on John 9:14). Neither did this man sin (not ‘hath sinned’), nor his parents. The answer, like the question, points to a definite act of sin causing this retribution.

ἀλλ' ἵνα. But he was born blind in order that: Jesus affirms the Divine purpose. This elliptical use of ‘but (in order) that’ is common in S. John, and illustrates his fondness for the construction expressing a purpose: see on John 1:8. Winer, p. 398.

φανερωθῇ. First for emphasis: see on John 1:31.

τὰ ἔργα τ. θ. Including not only the miracle but its effects.


Verse 4

4. ἡμᾶς δεῖμε. The readings are doubtful as to whether ἡμᾶς or ἐμέ, με or ἡμᾶς is right in each place. The more difficult reading is the best supported: We must work the works of Him that sent Me. Some copyists changed ἡμᾶς to ἐμέ to agree with με; others changed με to ἡμᾶς to agree with ἡμᾶς. ‘We must work:’ Christ identifies Himself with His disciples in the work of converting the world. ‘Him that sent Me:’ Christ does not identify His mission with that of the disciples. They were both sent, but not in the same sense: the Son is sent by the Father, the disciples by the Son. So also He says ‘My Father’ and ‘your Father,’ ‘My God’ and ‘your God;’ but not ‘our Father,’ or ‘our God’ (John 20:17). Τὰ ἔργα refers to John 9:3.

ἔως ἡμέρα ἐστίν. So long as it is day, i.e. so long as we have life. Day and night here mean, as so often in literature of all kinds, life and death. Other explanations, e.g. opportune and inopportune moment, the presence of Christ in the world and His withdrawal from it,—are less simple and less suitable to the context. If all that is recorded from John 7:37 takes place on one day, these words would probably be spoken in the evening, when the failing light would add force to the warning, night cometh (no article), when no one can work; not even Christ Himself as man upon earth: comp. John 1:7-10; Psalms 14:2-3.


Verse 5

5. ὅταν ἐν τ. κ. . Whensoever I am in the world: distinguish between ἔως ἐστί and ὅταν ὦ. Ὅταν is important; it shews the comprehensiveness of the statement. The Light shines at various times and in various degrees, whether the world chooses to be illuminated or not. Comp. John 1:5, John 8:12. Here there is special reference to His giving light both to the man’s eyes and to his soul. The Pharisees prove the truth of the saying that ‘the darkness comprehended it not.’

φῶς εἰμὶ τ. κ. I am light to the world; not quite the same as τὸ φ. τ. κ. (John 8:2), the Light of the world. Note also the absence of ἐγώ in both clauses: it is not Christ’s Person, but the effect of His presence that is prominent here.


Verse 6

6. ἐπέχρισεν αὐτοῦ τ. π. Either spread the clay thereof (made with the spittle), or spread His clay (made by Him) upon his eyes. Jewish tradition expressly forbade putting spittle to the eyes on the Sabbath: of course it would forbid making clay on the Sabbath: comp. John 5:10. Regard for Christ’s truthfulness compels us to regard the clay as the means of healing; not that He could not heal without it, but that He willed this to be the channel of His power. Elsewhere He uses spittle; to heal a blind man (Mark 8:23); to heal a deaf and dumb man (Mark 7:33). Spittle was believed to be a remedy for diseased eyes (comp. Vespasian’s reputed miracle, Tac. Hist. IV. 8, and other instances); clay also, though less commonly. So that Christ selects an ordinary remedy and gives it success in a case confessedly beyond its supposed powers (John 9:32). This helps us to conclude why He willed to use means, instead of healing without even a word; viz. to help the faith of the sufferer. It is easier to believe, when means can be perceived; it is still easier, when the means seem to be appropriate.

Perhaps the whole act was symbolical. To the man’s natural blindness Jesus added an artificial blindness, and pointed out a cure for the latter, which, being accepted by the man’s faith, cured the former also. To the natural blindness of the Jews Jesus added an artificial blindness by teaching in parables (Mark 4:11-12). The interpretation of the teaching would have cured both forms of blindness. But the Jews rejected it.


Verses 6-12

6–12. THE SIGN


Verse 7

7. νίψαι εἰς τ. κ. Either, Wash the clay off into the pool, or, Go to the pool and wash. Νίπτω, Attic νίζω, besides John 9:11; John 9:15 and John 13:5-14 occurs only Matthew 6:17; Matthew 15:2; Mark 7:3; 1 Timothy 5:10, and is always used of washing part of the body. For bathing the whole either λούειν (John 13:10; Acts 9:37; Hebrews 10:22; 2 Peter 2:22; Revelation 1:5) or βαπτίζειν is used; the latter in N.T. always of ceremonial immersion (John 1:25-33, &c.). Πλύνειν (Revelation 7:14; Revelation 22:14; Luke 5:2) is to wash inanimate objects, as clothes and nets. Comp. LXX. in Leviticus 15:11, τὰς χεῖρας οὐ νένιπται ὕδατι, πλυνεῖ τὰ ἱμάτια, καὶ λούσεται τὸ σῶμα. see on John 13:10. The washing was probably part of the means of healing (comp. Naaman) and was a strong test of the man’s faith.

Σιλωάμ. Satisfactorily identified with Birket Silwân in the lower Tyropoean valley, S.E. of the hill of Zion. This is probably the Siloah of Nehemiah 3:15 and the Shiloah of Isaiah 8:6. ‘The tower in Siloam’ (Luke 13:4) was very possibly a building connected with the water; perhaps part of an aqueduct.

ὁ ἑρμ. ἀπεσταλμένος. Which is interpreted, Sent. The interpretation is admissible; but the original meaning is rather Sending, Missio or Emissio aquarum, ‘outlet of waters.’ Comp. ‘the waters of Shiloah that go softly’ (Isaiah 8:6). S. John sees in the word ‘nomen et omen’ of the man’s cure: and he also appears to see that this water from the rock is again (see on John 7:37) an image of Him who was sent (John 3:17, John 8:42, John 18:3, &c.) by the Father, τὸν ἀπόστολον (Hebrews 3:1).

ἀπῆλθενἦλθεν. He went away to Siloam and came home, as what follows seems to shew. Jesus had gone away (John 9:12); the man did not return to Him. Has any poet attempted to describe this man’s emotions on first seeing the world in which he had lived so long?


Verse 8

8. οἱ θεωροῦντες. They who used to behold him aforetime, that (John 4:19, John 12:19) he was a beggar, or because he was a beggar, and was therefore often to be seen in public places.


Verse 9

9. ἄλλοι ἐλ. οὐχί. A third group said, No, but he is like him. The opening of his eyes would greatly change him: this added to the improbability of a cure made them doubt his identity.


Verse 10

10. ἠνεῴχθησαν (אBCD) for ἀνεωχθησαν (AKUS). For this triple augment comp. Matthew 9:30, Acts 16:26, Revelation 19:11.


Verse 11

11. ἐκεῖνος. S. John’s fondness for this pronoun has been remarked. Here and in John 9:25; John 9:36 it marks the man’s prominence in the scene. Comp. John 1:8, John 2:21, John 13:25, John 18:17; John 18:25, John 20:15-16.

ὁ ἄνθρ. ὁ λεγ. The man that is called; implying that Jesus was well known. Was he thinking of the meaning of the name ‘Jesus’?

πηλὸν ἐπ. He had not seen how: the rest he tells in order.

ἀνέβλεψα. This may mean either ‘I looked up’ (Mark 6:41; Mark 7:34; Mark 16:4, &c.); or ‘I recovered sight’ (Matthew 11:5; Mark 10:51-52, &c.). ‘I looked up’ does not suit John 9:15; John 9:18, where the word occurs again: and though ‘I recovered sight’ is not strictly accurate of a man born blind, yet it is admissible, as sight is natural to man.

Note the gradual development of faith in the man’s soul, and compare it with that of the Samaritan woman (see on John 4:19) and of Martha (see on John 11:21). Here he merely knows Jesus’ name and the miracle; in John 9:17 he thinks Him ‘a Prophet;’ in John 9:33 He is ‘of God;’ in John 9:39 He is ‘the Son of God.’ What writer of fiction in the second century could have executed such a study in psychology?


Verse 12

12. ἐκεῖνος. That strange Rabbi who perplexes us so much: comp. John 9:28, John 7:12, John 19:21.

οὐκ οἶδα rather implies that He did not return to Jesus (John 9:7).


Verse 13

13. ἄγουσιν. These friends and neighbours are perhaps well-meaning people, not intending to make mischief. But they are uncomfortable because work has been done on the Sabbath, and they think it best to refer the matter to the Pharisees, the great authorities in matters of legal observance and orthodoxy (comp. John 7:47-48). This is not a meeting of the Sanhedrin. S. John’s formula for the Sanhedrin is οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς κ. (οἱ) Φαρ. (John 7:32; John 7:45, John 11:47; John 11:57, John 18:3). Possibly one of the smaller Synagogue Councils is here meant. Apparently this is the day after the miracle.


Verses 13-41

13–41. OPPOSITE RESULTS OF THE SIGN


Verse 14

14. ἦν δὲ σ. ἐν ᾗ ἡμ. Now it was a Sabbath on the day on which: τ. πηλὸν ἐποίησεν is specially stated as being an aggravation of the offence of healing on the Sabbath: see on John 5:9. There were seven miracles of mercy wrought on the Sabbath: 1. Withered hand (Matthew 12:9); 2. Demoniac at Capernaum (Mark 1:21); 3. Simon’s wife’s mother (Mark 1:29); 4. Woman bowed down 18 years (Luke 13:14); 5. Dropsical man (Luke 14:1); 6. Paralytic at Bethesda (John 5:10); 7. Man born blind. In all cases, excepting 2 and 3, the Jews charged the Lord with breaking the Sabbath by healing on it.


Verse 15

15. πηλὸν ἐπ. The man is becoming impatient of this cross-questioning and answers more briefly than at first. He omits the aggravating circumstance of making the clay as well as the sending to Siloam.


Verse 16

16. οὖτος. Contemptuous: comp. John 3:26, John 6:42; John 6:52, John 7:15; John 7:35; John 7:49, John 12:34. The fact of the miracle is as yet not denied; but it cannot have been done with God’s help. Comp. ‘He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils’ (Matthew 9:34); like this, an argument of the Pharisees.

πῶς δύναται. The less bigoted, men like Nicodemus (John 3:2) and Joseph of Arimathea, shew that the argument cuts both ways. They also start from the ‘sign,’ but arrive at an opposite conclusion. Their timidity in contrast with the man’s positiveness is very characteristic. Comp. Nicodemus’ question, v. 51. Perhaps Christ’s teaching about the Sabbath (John 5:17-23) has had some effect.

σχίσμα ἦν. see on John 7:43 and comp. John 10:19.


Verse 17

17. There being a division among them they appeal to the man himself, each side wishing to gain him. ‘They’ includes both sides, the whole body of Pharisees present. Their question is not twofold, but single; not ‘What sayest thou of Him? that He hath opened thine eyes?’ but What sayest thou of Him, because He opened thine eyes? Comp. John 2:18. ‘Thou’ is emphatic: ‘thou shouldest know something of Him.’ They do not raise the question of fact; the miracle is still undisputed. His answer shews that only one question is asked, and that it is not the question of fact.

προφήτης. i.e. one sent by God to declare His will; a man with a special and Divine mission; not necessarily predicting the future. Comp. John 4:19, John 3:2. His answer is short and decided.


Verse 18

18. οὐκ ἐπ. οὖν οἱ Ἰ. The Jews therefore did not believe. The man having pronounced for the moderates, the bigoted and hostile party begin to question the fact of the miracle. Note that here and in John 9:22 S. John no longer speaks of the Pharisees, some of whom were not unfriendly to Christ, but ‘the Jews,’ His enemies, the official representatives of the nation that rejected the Messiah (see on John 1:19).

αὐτοῦ τ. ἀναβλ. Of the man himself that had received his sight.


Verse 19

19. Three questions in legal form. Is this your son? Was he born blind? How does he now see?

δν ὑμεῖς λ. Of whom ye say that he was born blind (see on John 6:71). The emphatic ὑμεῖς implies ‘we do not believe it.’


Verse 20

20. In their timidity they keep close to the questions asked.


Verse 21

21. τὶς ἤνοιξεν. This is the dangerous point, and they become more eager and passionate. Hitherto there has been nothing emphatic in their reply; but now there is a marked stress on all the pronouns, the parents contrasting their ignorance with their son’s responsibility. ‘Who opened his eyes, we know not: ask himself; he [himself] is of full age; he himself will speak concerning himself.’ See on John 9:23.


Verse 22

22. συνετέθειντο. It does not appear when; but the tense and ἤδη indicate some previous arrangement, and probably an informal agreement among themselves. A formal decree of the Sanhedrin would be easily obtained afterwards. Συντίθεσθαι occurs in Luke 22:5 of the compact with Judas, and in Acts 23:20 of the Jews’ compact to kill S. Paul, and nowhere else.

ἀποσυνάγωηος. Put away from the synagogue, or excommunicated. The word is peculiar to S. John, occurring here, John 12:42, and John 16:2, only. The Jews had three kinds of anathema. [1] Excommunication for thirty days, during which the excommunicated might not come within four cubits of any one. [2] Absolute exclusion from all intercourse and worship for an indefinite period. [3] Absolute exclusion for ever; an irrevocable sentence. This third form was very rarely if ever used. It is doubtful whether the second was in use at this time for Jews; but it would be the ban under which all Samaritans were placed. This passage and ‘separate’ in Luke 6:22 probably refer to the first and mildest kind of anathema. The principle of all anathema was found in the Divine sentence on Meroz (Judges 5:23): Comp. Ezra 10:8.


Verse 23

23. διὰ τοῦτο. For this cause: John 1:31, John 5:16; John 5:18, John 6:65, John 8:47, &c.

ἡλικ. ἔχ. αὐ. . This is the right order here: in T.R. the clauses have been transposed in John 9:21 to match this verse.


Verse 24

24. ἐφών. οὖν. They called, therefore, a second time. Having questioned the parents apart from the son, they now try to browbeat the son, before he learns that his parents have not discredited his story.

δὸς δ. τ. θ. Give glory to God. ‘Glory,’ not ‘praise’ (John 12:43), which would be αἶνος or ἔπαινος (Matthew 21:16; Luke 18:43; Romans 2:29), nor ‘honour’ (John 5:41; John 5:44, John 8:54), which would be τιμί (John 4:44; Revelation 4:9; Revelation 4:11; Revelation 5:12-13). Even thus the meaning remains obscure: but ‘Give God the praise’ is absolutely misleading. The meaning is not ‘Give God the praise for the cure;’ they were trying to deny that there had been any cure: but, ‘Give glory to God by speaking the truth. The words are an adjuration to confess. Comp. Joshua 7:19; 1 Samuel 6:5; Ezra 10:11; 1 Esdras 9:8; 2 Corinthians 11:31. Wiclif, with the Genevan and Rhemish Versions, is right here. Tyndale and Cranmer have misled our translators. See on Jeremiah 13:16.

ἡμεῖς οἴδαμεν. Ἡμεῖς is emphatic. ‘We, the people in authority, who have a right to decide, know that this person (contemptuous, as in John 9:16) is a Sabbath-breaker. It is useless, therefore, for you to maintain that He is a Prophet.’


Verse 25

25. ἐκεῖνος. See on John 9:11. He will not argue or commit himself, but keeps to the incontrovertible facts of the case.

τυφλὸς ὤν. As in John 3:13 and John 19:38, we are in doubt whether the participle is present or imperfect; either ‘being by nature a blind man,’ or ‘being formerly blind:’ so also in John 9:8. Winer, p. 429.

ἄρτι. Now, in contrast to the past; see on John 2:10.


Verse 26

26. Being baffled, they return to the details, either to try once more to shake the evidence, or for want of something better to say.


Verse 27

27. καὶ οὐκ ἠκούσατε. Possibly interrogative, Did ye not hear? This avoids taking ἀκούειν in two senses; [1] ‘hearken,’ [2] ‘hear.’ The man loses all patience, and will not go through it again.

μὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς. Surely ye also do not wish to become: comp. John 4:29, John 6:67, John 7:35; John 7:52. For θέλειν comp. John 5:40, John 6:67, John 7:17, John 8:44. For γένεσθαι comp. John 1:6, John 8:58, John 10:19. The meaning of ‘also’ has been misunderstood. It can scarcely mean ‘as well as I:’ the man has not advanced so far in faith as to count himself a disciple of Jesus; and if he had, he would not avow the fact to the Jews. ‘Also’ means ‘as well as His well-known disciples.’ That Christ had a band of followers was notorious.


Verse 28

28. ἐλοιδόρησαν. The word occurs here only in the Gospels: comp. 1 Peter 2:23. Argument fails, so they resort to abuse.

ἐκείνου. That man’s disciple: the pronoun expresses that they have nothing to do with Him: comp. John 9:12, John 7:12, John 19:21.

The pronouns are emphatic in both John 9:28 and John 9:29 : ‘Thou art His disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God hath spoken to Moses; but as for this fellow, &c.’ See on John 9:16 and John 1:17.


Verse 29

29. λελάληκεν. Hath spoken, i.e. that Moses received a revelation which still remains. This is a frequent meaning of the perfect tense—to express the permanent result of a past action. Thus the frequent formula γέγραπται is strictly ‘it has been written,’ or ‘it stands written:’ i.e. it once was written, and the writing still remains. But as there are cases where the Greek aorist is best represented by the English perfect (John 8:10; John 8:29), so there are cases where the Greek perfect is best represented by the English aorist; and this perhaps is one. The meaning is, Moses had a mission plainly declared by God.

οὐκ οἴδ. πόθεν. We know neither His mission, nor who sent Him. In a different sense they declared the very opposite, John 7:27. Comp. Pilate’s question (John 19:9), and Christ’s declaration (John 8:14). As at Capernaum (John 6:31-32), He is compared unfavourably with Moses.


Verse 30

30. τὸ θαυμαστόν. The marvellous thing, or the marvel. ‘You, the very people who ought to know such things (John 3:10), know not whether He is from God or not, and yet He opened my eyes.’ ‘You’ is emphatic, and perhaps is a taunting rejoinder to their ‘we know that this man is a sinner’ (John 9:24) and ‘we know that God hath spoken to Moses’ (John 9:29). The man gains courage at their evident discomfiture: moreover, his controversy with them developes and confirms his own faith. For γάρ see Winer, p. 559.


Verse 31

31. οὐκ ἀκούει. Heareth not wilful, impenitent sinners. Of course it cannot mean ‘God heareth no one who hath sinned,’ which would imply that God never answers the prayers of men. But the man’s dictum, reasonably understood, is the plain teaching of the O.T., whence he no doubt derived it. ‘The Lord is far from the wicked; but He heareth the prayer of the righteous’ (Proverbs 15:29). Comp. Psalms 66:18-19; Job 27:8-9; Isaiah 1:11-15. Note οἴδαμεν, which reproduces their own word (John 9:24; John 9:29), but without the arrogant ἡμεῖς.

θεοσεβής. God-fearing, devout, religious: here only in N.T. The man thinks that miracles are answers to prayer: only good men can gain such answers: and only a very good man could gain such an unprecedented answer as this.


Verse 32

32. ἐκ τ. αἰῶνος. Here only: Colossians 1:26 we have ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων. There is no healing of the blind in O.T.


Verse 33

33. οὗτος. He uses their pronoun without their contemptuous meaning (John 9:24; John 9:29). On παρὰ Θεοῦ see on John 1:6.

οὐδέν. Nothing like this, no miracle. For the construction see Winer, p. 382.


Verse 34

34. ἐν ἁμαρτ. σύ. Emphatic: ‘In sins wast thou born altogether; thou art a born reprobate; and thou, dost thou teach us?’

ὅλος. ‘Every part of thy nature (comp. John 13:10) has been steeped in sins from thy birth.’ They hold the same belief as the disciples, that sin before birth is possible, and maliciously exclude not only the alternative stated by Christ (John 9:3) but even the one stated by the disciples (John 9:2), that his parents might have sinned. Their passion blinds them to their inconsistency. They had contended that no miracle had been wrought; now they throw his calamity in his face as proof of his sin.

Godet points out the analogy between these Jews and modern impugners of miracles. The Jews argued: God cannot help a Sabbath-breaker; therefore the miracle attributed to Jesus is a fiction. The opponents of the miraculous argue: The supernatural cannot exist; therefore the miracles attributed to Jesus and others are fictions. In both cases the logic of reason has to yield to the logic of facts.

ἐξέβαλον. They put him forth: see on John 10:4. This probably does not mean excommunication. [1] The expression is too vague. [2] There could not well have been time to get a sentence of excommunication passed. [3] The man had not incurred the threatened penalty; he had not ‘confessed that He was Christ’ (John 9:22). Provoked by his sturdy adherence to his own view they ignominiously dismiss him—turn him out of doors, if (as the ‘out’ seems to imply) they were meeting within walls. What follows illustrates Luke 6:22.


Verse 35

35. σὺ πιστ. Comp. John 11:26. ‘Dost thou, though others blaspheme and deny, believe?’ see on John 1:12, John 8:30-31. Εὑρών, as in John 1:44, John 5:14, John 11:17, John 12:14, probably implies previous seeking.

τ. υἱὸν τ. θ. Again there is much doubt about the reading. The balance of MSS. authority (including both the Sinaitic and the Vatican MSS.) is in favour of τ. υἱ. τ. ἀνθρώπου, which moreover is the expression that our Lord commonly uses respecting Himself in all four Gospels (see on John 1:51). But the reading τ. υἱ. τ. Θεοῦ is very strongly supported, and is at least as old as the second century; for Tertullian, who in his work Against Praxeas quotes largely from this Gospel, in chap. 22. quotes this question thus, Tu credis in Filium Dei? In John 10:36 and John 11:4 there is no doubt about the reading, and there Christ calls himself ‘the Son of God.’ Moreover, this appellation seems to suit the context better, for the man had been contending that Jesus came ‘from God’ (John 9:33), and the term ‘Son of man’ would scarcely have been intelligible to him. Lastly, a copyist, knowing that the ‘Son of man’ was Christ’s usual mode of designating Himself, would be very likely to alter ‘the Son of God’ into ‘the Son of man.’ Neither title, however, is very frequent in St John’s Gospel. For all these reasons, therefore, it is allowable to retain the common reading. But in any case we once more have evidence of the antiquity of this Gospel. If both these readings were established by the end of the second century, the original text must have been in existence long before. Corruptions take time to spring up and spread. see on John 1:13; John 1:18, John 3:6; John 3:13.


Verse 36

36. ἐκεῖνος. See on John 9:11.

καὶ τίς ἐστιν. And who is he? or, Who is he then? The καὶ intensifies the question. Winer, p. 545. Comp. καὶ τίς ἐστί μου πλησίον; (Luke 10:29); καὶ τὶς δύναται σωθήναι; (John 18:26); καὶ τὶς ὁ εὑφραίνων με; (2 Corinthians 2:2). Κύριε should perhaps be rendered ‘Sir,’ as in John 4:11; John 4:15; John 4:19; John 4:49, John 5:7 : see on John 4:11 and John 6:34. But the man’s reverence increases, like that of the woman at the well.

ἵνα πιστ. He asks, not from curiosity, but in order to find the object of faith mentioned. He has faith, and more is given to him; he seeks and finds. Winer, p. 774.


Verse 37

37. καὶ ἑώρακας. Winer, p. 342. We are uncertain whether the first καὶ anticipates the second, ‘Thou hast both seen Him,’ or emphasizes the verb, ‘Thou hast even seen Him:’ the latter seems better.

ἐκεῖνος. S. John’s characteristic use of ἐκεῖνος to reproduce a previous subject with emphasis (see on John 1:18): He that speaketh with thee is He. Comp. John 4:26. “This spontaneous revelation to the outcast from the synagogue finds its only parallel in the similar revelation to the outcast from the nation” (Westcott). Not even Apostles are told so speedily.


Verse 38

38. πιστ. κύριε. I believe, Lord: the order is worth keeping. Comp. the centurion’s confession (Matthew 27:54). There is no need to suppose that in either case the man making the confession knew anything like the full meaning of belief in the Son of God: even Apostles were slow at learning that. The blind man had had his own uninformed idea of the Messiah, and he believed that the realisation of that idea stood before him. His faith was necessarily imperfect, a poor ‘two mites;’ but it was ‘all that he had,’ and he gave it readily, while the learned Rabbis of their abundance gave nothing. It is quite gratuitous to suppose that a special revelation was granted to him. There is no hint of this, nor can one see why so great an exception to God’s usual dealings with man should have been made.

προσεκύνησεν. This shews that his idea of the Son of God includes attributes of Divinity. Προσκυνεῖν occurs elsewhere in this Gospel only in John 4:20-24 and John 12:20, always of the worship of God.


Verse 39

39. καὶ εἶπ. ὁ Ἰ. There is no need to make a break in the narrative and refer these words to a subsequent occasion. This is not natural. Rather it is the sight of the man prostrate at His feet, endowed now with sight both in body and soul, that moves Christ to say what follows. His words convey His own authority for finding a symbolical meaning in His miracles. They are addressed to the bystanders generally, among whom are some of the Pharisees.

εἰς κρίμα. Κρίμα occurs nowhere else in this Gospel. As distinct from κρίσις, the act of judging (John 5:22; John 5:24; John 5:27; John 5:30), it signifies the result, a sentence or decision (Matthew 7:2; Mark 12:40; Romans 2:2-3, &c.). Christ came not to judge, but to save (John 3:17, John 8:15); but judgment was the inevitable result of His coming, for those who rejected Him passed sentence on themselves (John 3:19). see on John 1:9 and John 18:37. The ἐγώ is emphatic; I, the Light of the world (John 9:5), I, the Son of God (John 9:35). see on John 11:27.

οἱ μὴ βλέπ. They who are conscious of their own blindness, who know their deficiencies; like ‘they that are sick’ and ‘sinners’ in Matthew 9:12-13, and ‘babes’ in Matthew 11:25. This man was aware of his spiritual blindness when he asked, ‘Who is He then, that I may believe on Him?’ Βλέπωσιν means may see, may pass from the darkness of which they are conscious, to light and truth.

οἱ βλέπ. They who fancy they see, who pride themselves on their superior insight and knowledge, and wish to dictate to others; like ‘they that be whole,’ and ‘righteous’ in Matthew 9:12-13, and ‘the wise and prudent’ in Matthew 11:25. These Pharisees shewed this proud self-confidence when they declared, ‘we know that this man is a sinner,’ and asked ‘Dost thou teach us?’

τυφλοὶ γένωνται. May become blind: much stronger than μὴ βλέπωσιν. Οἱ μὴ βλ. can see, but do not; οἱ τυφλοί cannot see. These self-satisfied Pharisees must pass from fancied light into real darkness (Isaiah 6:10).


Verse 40

40. ἐκ τ. Φὄντες. Those of the P. who were with Him, who still considered themselves in some degree His disciples.

μὴ καὶ ἡμ. Surely we also are not blind: comp. John 9:27, John 6:67. Of course they understand Him to be speaking figuratively. It is strange that any should have understood their question as referring to bodily sight. They mean that they, the most enlightened among the most enlightened nation, must be among ‘those who see.’ ‘Have we not recognised Thee as a teacher come from God (John 3:2) and listened to Thee until now? Are we also blind?’


Verse 41

41. εἰ τ. ἧτε. ‘If ye were blind, i.e. if ye were conscious of your spiritual darkness and yearned for the light, ye would not have sin (John 15:22); for either ye would find the light, or, if ye failed, the failure would not lie at your door.’ Others interpret, ‘If ye were really blind, and had never known the light, ye would not be responsible for rejecting it. But by your own confession ye see, and the sin of rejection abideth.’ For the construction comp. John 5:46, John 8:19; John 8:42, John 15:19, John 18:36; for ἔχειν ἁμαρτίαν see on John 15:22. Perhaps there is a pause after βλέπομεν.

ἡ ἁμαρτία ὑμ. μ. Your sin abideth (see on John 1:33). ‘Ye profess to see: your sin in this false profession and in your consequent rejection of Me abideth.’ It was a hopeless case. They rejected Him because they did not know the truth about Him; and they would never learn the truth because they were fully persuaded that they were in possession of it. Those who confess their ignorance and contend against it [1] cease to be responsible for it, [2] have a good prospect of being freed from it. Those who deny their ignorance and contend against instruction, [1] remain responsible for their ignorance, [2] have no prospect of ever being freed from it. Comp. John 3:36.

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on John 9:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/john-9.html. 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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