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The present chapter contains the first of those wonderful discourses of our Lord recorded by John, in which he sets forth his divine nature and office in his twofold relation to God and man. For the clearer understanding of his words, the reader should notice the following things: First, God is his Father and he is the Son of God in such a high and incommunicable sense, that he is equal with the Father in nature, verse John 5:18 ; enjoys his perfect love and knows all his counsels, verse John 5:20 ; performs all the works that his Father performs, verse John 5:19-21 ; has life in himself as the Father has it, and gives it to whom he will, verses John 5:21 ; John 5:26 ; claims equal honor with the Father, verse John 5:23 ; raises the dead and judges them, verses John 5:21-22 ; John 5:24-29 . Secondly, as the Son of God on earth, he always acts in subordination to the will of the Father. He has not come of himself, but the Father has sent him, verse John 5:23 , etc.; the Father has appointed to him the works that he shall do, verses John 5:20 ; John 5:22 ; John 5:26 , etc.; he can do nothing of himself, but must always act in accordance with the Father’s will, verses John 5:19 ; John 5:30 ; the Father who sent him bears witness to him by the works that he has given him to do, verse John 5:36 ; and by the scriptures of the Old Testament, verses John 5:39 ; John 5:45-47 . Thirdly, it is as the Son of man-the Word made flesh-that he not only redeems, but judges men, verse John 5:27 . Equality with the Father in nature, subordination to the Father in office, union with human nature in the work of redeeming and judging men, and in all these perfect union with the Father in counsel and will: these are the great doctrines that run through the present and similar following discourses.
Marked ; this word, as shown by the italics, is not in the original. It probably should have been, as in the margin, gate. Nehemiah 3:1 ; Nehemiah 3:32 ; Nehemiah 12:39 .
Bethesda ; "house of mercy." Many at that pool had been mercifully healed of their diseases.
Thy bed ; which was a simple mat.
To carry thy bed ; which they reckoned among the servile labor forbidden by the law. See Jeremiah 17:21-22 ; Nehemiah 13:15-20 ; where, however, the burdens borne were in the way of traffic and ordinary labor.
A worse thing ; a worse evil than that from which Jesus had delivered him. All diseases are consequences of sin. Both the sufferings resulting from them, and the experience of relief, should therefore lead us to abhor and forsake it, that we may thus, through faith in the Redeemer, escape its endless consequences.
Worketh hitherto ; worketh without intermission in upholding and quickening creation, ever since the day when he finished it.
I work ; he claimed to be the Son of God in such a sense that he had the power and right of working as God works. This they thought was blasphemy; and had he been only a man, it would have been. But as he was God as well as man, chap John 1:1 , it was speaking and acting according to truth. The question was not whether Jesus possessed power to do those things, but it was whether he exercised his power agreeable to the will of the Father, or in opposition to it; and he answered them accordingly.
Of himself ; in opposition to, or without the concurrence of the Father, which was the crime with which they charged him. He denied the charge, and asserted, that instead of opposition, as they contended, there was between him and the Father the most perfect agreement in plan, will, and operation.
These also doeth the Son ; there is oneness of operation.
Showeth him all things ; makes him partaker of all his counsels, as well as acts with him in all his works.
Greater works than these ; the works referred to in the following verses.
The Son quickeneth ; giveth life, natural and spiritual, to whom he will-thus doing the work of God, and showing that he is God. This is one of the greater things referred to. The other was the judging of all men at the last day, and awarding to them the retributions of eternity.
The Father judgeth no man ; in the scheme of redemption, the Son was to be the final judge of men, the author of their resurrection from the dead, and of their eternal life in heaven. This was, "that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." He that thus honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father. The Pharisees, therefore, while they were pleading ostensibly for the honor of God, were in reality treating him as they treated Jesus Christ; and so it is with all men now.
As Jesus Christ the Son of God was appointed of the Father to be the dispenser of life to men-not only to heal the sick, but to raise the dead, and judge the world, "that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father," those who do not thus honor him, but continue to neglect the object of his coming, will lose the benefits of his redemption.
Heareth my word ; receiveth my instructions, and treateth them as true.
Hath everlasting life ; the beginning of that spiritual life which shall continue and increase for ever.
From death unto life ; from a state of sin and guilt to a state of holiness and bliss.
The dead shall hear-shall live ; the dead here include both the spiritually and the naturally dead. Christ gave life to the souls of men, and also to their bodies, when he chose to do so. Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s son, and Lazarus were all by Jesus raised to life, and many who were dead in sin were quickened and made alive to God.
Given to the Son to have life in himself ; here the Saviour brings to view both his oneness with the Father in nature, and his subordination to him in office. To have life in himself, with the power of giving life at will, is to be proper God. But the office of quickening whom he will he has received, as Mediator, from the Father, and exercises it in accordance with the Father’s appointment.
Because he is the Son of man ; it is the appointment of the Father that he who redeems and judges men should himself be the Son of man; that is, the Word made flesh. In this character God has appointed him to be Mediator, to open the way for, and give eternal life to all who should believe in him, and in pursuance of his work, to perform miracles, die, rise again, raise the dead, judge the world, and fix the condition of all for eternity.
The hour is coming-all that are in the graves shall hear his voice ; he passes to the greatest and most astonishing manifestation which he is to make of the truth that he has life in himself; namely, the final resurrection by his word of the just and the unjust, and the decision of their destiny for eternity.
Of mine own self ; in opposition to, and without the concurrence of the Father.
I hear ; from my Father. The idea is, that he dwells in the Father’s bosom, and hears and knows all his counsels.
Not mine own will ; not to exalt myself, or build up a separate interest, but to honor the Father by doing his will.
Of myself ; concerning myself, without any accompanying testimony from God.
Not true ; not to be received as valid.
Another ; God, who testified of him by John the Baptist, by the descent upon him of the Holy Ghost, by miracles, and by a voice from heaven.
Not testimony from man ; not from man only; yet Christ appealed to the testimony of John, as what ought to convince them.
The works which the Father hath given me ; the whole course of his teachings and miracles.
The Father himself-hath borne witness of me ; in addition to the testimony furnished by my works. He seems to refer to the testimony of the Father through the Scriptures, which he immediately afterwards urges. Some think that he also includes the voice from heaven upon his baptism.
Neither heard his voice-seen his shape ; the allusion is to the way in which holy men of old received revelations from God by voices and visions. The import of the Saviour’s words is, The state of your hearts makes you unable to receive any testimony of the Father concerning me, outward or inward.
Ye have not his word ; they did not receive the testimony of God, and they showed this by rejecting that of his Son.
The scriptures ; the Old Testament, by following which they hoped for heaven; and yet those scriptures showed that he was the Messiah, and that they must believe in him, or perish.
Ye will not come to me ; notwithstanding this evidence that he was the Messiah, they would not receive him.
I receive not honor ; it was not his object to obtain human applause, but to honor God and save men.
Have not the love of God ; this was the reason why they would not embrace him as the Messiah. Compare chap John 8:42 . The reason why men do not receive the words of Christ and treat them as true, is, that they do not love God. As God manifest in the flesh, they do not love him, and choose not to have him to reign over them.
In my Father’s name ; by his appointment, and with conclusive evidence of being sent of him.
In his own name ; without being sent of God; actuated by a worldly spirit, and promising them temporal dominion and honor. Such were the false Christs who afterwards appeared, and whom the Jews followed to their destruction.
Receive honor ; seek supremely human applause. Men cannot seek supremely human applause, and at the same time seek that honor which comes from God by believing on his Son. They should therefore, without hesitation and without delay, renounce the one, that they may secure the other.
Do not think that I ; he did not come to condemn them, nor was there any occasion that he should do so.
Moses ; he had foretold, Deuteronomy 18:15-19 , the coming of the Messiah, and the condemnation of those who should reject him. His writings therefore, which they professed to follow, condemned them.
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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 5". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany