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Open Antagonism between Christ, as the Light of the World, and the Elements of Darkness in the World, especially in their proper Representatives, Unbelievers, but also in the Better Men, so far as They still belong to the World.
John 5:1 to John 7:9
THE FEAST OF THE JEWS AND THE SABBATH OF THE JEWS, AND THEIR OBSERVANCE OF IT: KILLING CHRIST. THE FEAST OF CHRIST AND THE SABBATH OF CHRIST, AND HIS OBSERVANCE OF IT: RAISING THE DEAD. OFFENCE OF THE JUDAISTS IN JERUSALEM AT THE SABBATH-HEALING OF JESUS, AND AT HIS TESTIMONY CONCERNING HIS FREEDOM AND HIS DIVINE ORIGIN (AND BESIDES, DOUBTLESS, AT HIS OUTDOING THE POOL OF BETHESDA). FIRST ASSAULT UPON THE LIFE OF JESUS. CHRIST THE TRUE FOUNT OF HEALING (POOL OF BETHESDA), THE GLORIFIER OF THE SABBATH BY HIS SAVING WORK, THE KAISER OF THE DEAD, THE LIFE AS THE VITAL ENERGY AND HEALING OF THE WORLD, ACCREDITED BY JOHN, BY THE SCRIPTURES, BY MOSES. THE TRUE MESSIAH IN THE FATHER’S NAME, AND FALSE MESSIAHS
1. The Healing.
1After this [these things, μετὰ ταῦτα, not τοῦτα] there was a feast1 of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market [sheep gate]2 a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue [in Hebrew, Ἐβραἵστι] Bethesda,3 having five porches. 3In these lay a great [omit great]4 multitude of impotent folk [of the sick, or diseased persons], of [omit of] blind, halt [lame], withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 4For 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. 5[Omit all from waiting to had.]5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity 6[who had been in his infirmity]6 thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now [already] a long time in that case,7 he saith unto 7him, Wilt [Desirest] thou [to] be made whole? The impotent [sick] man answered him, Sirach , 8 I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me [carry me quickly, cast me] into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth [goeth] 8down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. 9And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked.
2. The offence at the healing on the sabbath
And on the same [on that] day was the sabbath.9 10The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day [omit day]; it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed [to take up the bed]. 11He answered them, He that made me whole, 12the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then10 asked they [They asked] him, What man is that which [Who is the man that] said unto thee, Take 13up thy bed, [omit thy bed]11 and walk? And [But] he that was healed12 wist [knew] not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away [withdrawn him self], a multitude [or crowd] being in that [the] place. 14Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a [some, τι] worse thing come unto thee [befall thee]. 15The man departed, and told13 the Jews that it was Jesus, which [who] had made him whole.
3. The accusation, a twofold accusation, and the vindication of jesus concerning his working on the sabbath, and concerning his claim to be the son of god
16And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus [And for this cause the Jews persecuted (judicially arraigned) Jesus], and sought to slay him [omit and sought to slay him],14 because he had done these things on the sabbath day [omit day].
17But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto [is working unceasingly even until now, or, up to this time] and I work [am working]. 18Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken [broke, ἔλυεν] the sabbath [according to their opinion], but said also that God was his Father [but also called God his own Father, πατέρα ἴδιον], making himself equal with God.
19Then answered Jesus [to this second accusation] and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do [doing, ποιοῦντα]: for what things soever he doeth, these things also doeth the Son likewise [in like manner]. 20For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that [which he] himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, [and greater works than these will he show him],15 that ye may marvel.
4. The saving operation of the son, his quickening in general
21For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. 22For the Father judgeth no man [Neither doth the Father judge any one], but hath committed all [the entire] judgment unto the Son: 23That all men should [may] honour the Son, even [omit even] as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent 24[who sent] him.
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 [cometh not, οὐχ ἔρχεται] into condemnation [judgment, χρίσιν]; but is passed from [hath passed out of]16 death unto [into, εὶς] life.—
5. The spiritual raising of the dead now immediately beginning
25Verily, 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. 26For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given [gave he] to the Son [also] to have life in himself; 27And hath given [he gave] him authority to execute judgment also [omit also]17 because he is the [a] Son of man.18
6. The future raising of the dead
28Marvel not at this: for the [an] hour is coming, in the [omit the] which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the [a] resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the [a] resurrection of damnation [judgment, χρίσεως].
30I can of mine own self [of myself] do nothing; as I hear [the actual sentence of God], I judge; and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father [him]19 which hath sent [who sent] me.
7. Testimony of jesus
31If I [myself] bear witness of [concerning] myself, my witness is [according to law of testimony] not true. 32There is another that beareth witness of [concerning] me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of [concerning] me is true.
8. Testimony of john the baptist
33Ye [have] sent [ὰπεστάλκατε] unto John, and he bare [hath borne] witness [μεμαρτύρηχεν ] unto the truth. 34But I receive not testimony [authentication] from [a] man:20 But these things I say [I speak openly of this matter], that ye [who know of the circumstances] might [may] be saved. 35He was a [the] burning and a shining light [lamp]21: and ye were willing for a season [a little while, an hour, πρὸς ὥραν] to rejoice in his light.22
9. Testimony of the father in the works of jesus and in the scriptures
36But I have greater witness than that of John23 for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do [the very works or, the works themselves which I am doing], bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. 37And the Father himself,24 which hath sent [who sent] me, hath borne witness of me.25 Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen [spiritually] his shape. 38And ye have not his word [Old Testament word] abiding [with living power] in you; 39for whom he [himself] hath [omit hath] sent, him ye believe not. Search [Ye do search]26 the Scriptures; for [because] in them [in the several books and letters] ye 40think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And [yet] ye will not come to me; that ye might [may] have life [the life of those Scriptures themselves].
10. Incapacity of the jews to know the true messiah, and their disposition to receive false messiahs in spite of the testimony of moses, whose accusation they incur
41I receive not [do not appropriate to myself] honour [glory, δόξαν] from men.27 42But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you [are not inwardly directed 43towards God]. I am [have] come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 44How can ye believe, which [who] receive honour [glory] one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only [the glory that is from the only God, or, from him who alone is God]?28 45Do not think that I will [shall] accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust [ye hope, or, have placed your hope, ὴλπίχατε]. 46For had ye believed [if ye believed] Moses, ye would have be lieved [ye would believe] me; for he wrote of me. 47But if ye believe not his [not even his] writings, how shall [will] ye believe29 my words?
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
[Preliminary Remarks.—The healing of a helpless and hopeless cripple at the House of Mercy is the first miracle of Jesus in Judea related by John, although He had performed signs there before, which are only alluded to, 2:23; 3:2. It forms the basis of a lengthy and most important Christological discourse, which opens the conflict of Jesus with the unbelieving Jewish hierarchy, and reveals the contrast between His positive fulfilment of the spirit of the law and their negative observance of its letter, as also between His living theism and their abstract monotheism. His doing good on the Sabbath was made the ground of a charge of Sabbath-breaking, and His claim to be in a peculiar sense the Son of God was construed as blasphemy deserving of death. Christ here proclaims all those grand truths, which John had announced in the Prologue. He reveals Himself as one with the Father, who never ceases doing good, as the Lord of the Sabbath, as the Giver of life, as the Raiser of the dead, and the Judge of the world, and claims divine honor. He supports these astounding claims, which no mere man could make without being guilty of blasphemy or madness, by the united testimony of John the Baptist, of God the Father through His works, and of the O. T. Scriptures, and drives this threefold testimony with terrible earnestness into the conscience of the Jews. He then traces their unbelief to the secret chambers of their self-seeking hearts, and completely turns the tables by presenting their own Moses, in whom they boastfully put their hope, as their accuser for not following his lead to Christ, to whom he pointed in all his writings. Thus the mouths of these hypocritical worshippers of the letter and enemies of the spirit and aim of the law were stopped, but their hearts continued in opposition and longed for an opportunity to carry out their bloody design. The significance of this discourse is well brought out by Dr. Lange in his analysis (see the headings) and in the Doctrinal remarks. Comp. also my concluding note on John 5:47.—P. S.]
John 5:1. After these things.—On the distinction between μετὰ ταῦτα and μετὰ τοῦτο, see Lücke on this passage.30 Here closes the first great ministry of Jesus in Galilee (see Leben Jesu, II., 2, pp. 556–745).
A [The] feast of the Jews.—[Which feast? This point is still under dispute, but the controversy is now narrowed down to a choice between the Passover and the Purim. The decision has a bearing on the chronology of the gospel history. If the feast here spoken of be the Passover, then our Lord’s public labors continued during three and a half years, since John notes three other passovers as falling within His ministry, 2:13; 6:4; 12:1 and 13:1. If not, then the time must in all probability be reduced to two and a half years. On the bearing of the definite article on the question, and the various readings, see Text. Notes.—P. S.] Meyer: “Which feast is meant, appears with certainty from John 4:35; comp. 6:4. For John 4:35 was spoken in the month of December; and from John 6:4 it appears that the passover was nigh at hand; hence the feast here intended must be one falling between December and the passover, and this is no other than the feast of Purim, which was celebrated on the 14th and 15th of Adar (Esther 9:21 ff.), that is, in March [one month before the passover], in memory of the deliverance of the nation from the massacre projected by Haman. So Keppler, [who first suggested this view], d’Outrein, Hug, Olshausen, Wieseler, Neander,31 Krabbe, Anger, Lange, Maier and many others.”32 Meyer justly adds: The feast is not designated, because it was a minor festival, whereas the greater feasts are named by John: not only the passover, but also the σκηνοπηγία, 7:2, and the ἐγκαίνια 10:22.
[The chief objections to this view are: 1. The feast of Purim was no temple feast, and required no journey to Jerusalem. But Christ may have attended this feast as He attended other festivals (7:2; 10:22) without legal obligation, merely for the purpose of doing good. 2. The Purim was never celebrated as a Sabbath. But the Sabbath spoken of, John 5:9, may have preceded or succeeded the feast.—P. S.]
Other views of the feast: (1) The passover: Irenæus,33 Luther, and many more;34 (2) Pentecost: Cyril [Chrysostom, Calvin], Bengel, etc.; (3) the feast of tabernacles: Cocceius, Ebrard [Ewald]; (4) the feast of dedication: Petavius; (5) a feast which cannot be determined: Lücke, De Wette, [Brückner], Luthardt, Tholuck (7th ed.)35
The feast of Purim [יְמֵי הַפוּרִים , or simply פּוּרים lot, from the Persian], Esther 9:24; Esther 9:26; ἡ Μαρδοχαἴκή ἡμέρα, 2Ma 15:36; Joseph. Antiq. xi. 6, 13. On the 13th of Adar a fast preceded the feast; in the festival itself the book of Esther (called מְּגִלָה by eminence) was read in the synagogues. As a popular festival it was distinguished, like the feasts of tabernacles, and dedication, by universal rejoicings. Fanaticism in the people naturally sought to make it a festival of triumph over the Gentiles (subsequently over the Christians also). And on this account was this particular feast of Purim so pre-eminently the feast of the Jews (with the article), and the article in the Cod. Sinait. in this place cannot be made to speak exclusively, as Hengstenberg proposes, for the passover.36 We must no doubt mark a difference between the simple expression, feast, and the expression: feast of the Jews.
John 5:2. Now there is at Jerusalem.—The ἔστι has been interpreted with reference to the porches, as indicating that, at the time of the composition of this passage, Jerusalem had not been destroyed. On this see the Introduction. Eusebius writes in his Onomast. s. v. Βηζαθά: καὶ νῦν δείνυται [but he does not mention the locality]. Yet the ἔστι may also be attributed to rhetorical vivacity.
By the sheep gate.—Ἐπὶ τῇ προβατικῇ sc. πύλῃ.37| According to Nehemiah’s topography of the restored city it was what is now Stephen’s gate in the north-east quarter of the city, leading out over Kidron to Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives (Bâb Sitty Merijam, ‘Gate of My Lady Mary;’ also ‘Gate of the Tribes,’ or ‘Porta vallis Josaphat.’ Comp. Winer, Art. Jerusalem, I. p. 548; Krafft, Die Topographie Jerusalems, p. 148; Robinson, I. p. 386; 2:74, 136, 148; Von Raumer, Paläst. p. 255. [If the Pool of Bethesda is identical with the Fountain of the Virgin (see below), the Sheep Gate cannot well have been St. Stephen’s Gate, which is too far off.—P. S.]
A pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda.—בֵּית חֶסְדָא, house of kindness, grace, gentleness, house of mercy. Tholuck: Institution of charity, Charité. Five porches.—Tobler (Denkblätter von Jerusalem, 1853, p. 62): So late as the fifth century five porches were still shown. According to his (medical) hypothesis there were five arched compartments for the separation of the patients. Tholuck: Colonnades, porticoes, to shelter the patients from wind and rain; probably the rear one having a wall. Theodore of Mopsuestia imagined one central hall (probably inclosing the pool), and four halls on the circumference of it (perhaps crosswise); this would have been, at all events, the most convenient arrangement for the sick. The outer portions must doubtless have been protected on more than one side.
As to the location of the pool, there is on the outer side of the gate of Stephen a small fishpond or reservoir, and inside the gate the very large, deep reservoir, to which the name of Bethesda is usually given; probably without foundation.38 It is perfectly dry, and on the bed of it grow large trees, the tops of which do not even reach to the level of the street. In this pool Robinson sees the remains of an old trench which belonged to the fortress of Antonia. He supposes, on the other hand, that the Fountain of the Virgin39 may have been the pool of Bethesda. Robinson says [Am. ed. of 1856, vol. I. p. 337]:
“On the west side of the valley of Jehoshaphat about twelve hundred feet northward from the rocky point at the mouth of the Tyropœon, [or the valley of the Cheesmongers] is situated the fountain of the Virgin Mary; called by the natives’, ‘Ain um ed-Deraj, Mother of Steps. In speaking of Siloam I have already brought into view the singular fact, that there is no historical notice later than Josephus, which can be applied to this fountain, before near the close of the fifteenth century, and have also mentioned the more modern hypothesis, which regards it as the fountain of Siloam, in distinction from the pool of that name. Others have held it to be the Gihon, the Rogel, and the Dragon-well of Scripture; so that in fact it has been taken alternately for every one of the fountains, which anciently existed at Jerusalem. It is unquestionably an ancient work; indeed there is nothing in or around the Holy City, which bears more distinctly the traces of high antiquity. I have already alluded to the reasons which make it not improbable, that this was the ‘King’s Pool’ of Nehemiah, and the ‘Pool of Solomon’ mentioned by Josephus, near which the wall of the city passed, as it ran northwards from Siloam along the Valley of Jehoshaphat to the eastern side of the temple.” This spring is connected with the well of Siloam by a passage [of about 2 feet wide, 1750 feet long, and cut through the solid rock], through which Robinson and his companions [for the first time] laboriously passed.40 “The water in both these fountains, he relates [I. p. 340], is the same; notwithstanding travellers have pronounced that of Siloam to be bad, and that of the upper fountain to be good. We drank of it often in both places. It has a peculiar taste, sweetish and very slightly brackish, but not at all disagreeable. Later in the season, when the water is low, it is said to become more brackish and unpleasant. It is the common water used by the people of Kefr Selwân. We did not learn that it is regarded as medicinal, or particularly good for the eyes, as is reported by travellers; though it is not improbable that such a popular belief may exist.” At the upper fountain (the Fountain of the Virgin) Robinson observed a sudden bubbling up of the water from under the lower step. “In less than five minutes it had risen to the basin nearly or quite a foot; and we could hear it gurgling off through the interior passage. In ten minutes more it had ceased to flow, and the water in the basin was again reduced to its former level….Meanwhile a woman of Kefr Selwân came to wash at the fountain. She was accustomed to frequent the place every day; and from her we learned, that the flowing of the water occurs at irregular intervals; sometimes two or three times a day, and sometimes in summer once in two or three days. She said, she had seen the fountain dry, and men and flocks, dependent upon it, gathered around and suffering from thirst; when all at once the water would begin to boil up from under the steps, and (as she said) from the bottom in the interior part, and flow off in a copious stream.” [I. p. 342].
[For these reasons Dr. Robinson merely suggests, without expressing a definite conviction himself (I. p. 343), that this Fountain of the Virgin may have been Bethesda, the same with the “King’s Pool” of Nehemiah and the “Solomon’s Pool” of Josephus. T. Tobler, during frequent visits to the Fountain of the Virgin in the winter of 1845, early in the morning and late in the evening, confirms the observations of Robinson as to its intermittent character which bring it into striking resemblance with the Pool of Bethesda. Neander (Leben Jesu, p. 282), and Tholuck (in loc.) are inclined to Robinson’s view Tholuck, who frequently visited the springs of Kissingen in Bavaria, speaks of a gaseous spring of this kind in Kissingen, which after a rushing sound about the same time every day commences to bubble and is most efficacious at the very time the gas is making its escape. Comp. also an article on the miracle of Bethesda by Macdonald, in the Andover Bibliotheca Sacra, for Jan. 1870, pp. 108 ff. According to Wolcot and Tobler, the water of the Fountain of the Virgin and the Pool of Siloam, as well as that of the many fountains of the Mosque of Omar, proceeds from a living spring beneath the altar of the temple.41 This spring was, as Dean Stanley says, (Sinai and Palestine, new ed., Lond. 1866, p. 181), the treasure of Jerusalem,’ its support through its numerous sieges—the ‘fans perennis aquæ’ of Tacitus (Tac. Hist. v. 12)—the source of Milton’s
‘Brook that flowed
Hard by the oracle of God.’
But more than this, it was the image which entered into the very heart of the prophetical idea of Jerusalem. ‘There is a river (a perennial river), the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High’ (Psalms 46:4). ‘All my fresh springs shall be in thee’ (Psalms 87:7). ‘Draw water out of the wells of salvation’ (Isaiah 12:3). In Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 47:1-5) the thought is expanded into a vast cataract flowing out through the Temple-rock eastward and west ward into the ravines of Hinnom. and Kedron, till they swell into a mighty river, fertilizing the desert of the Dead Sea. And with still greater distinctness the thought appears again, and for the last time, in the discourse, when in the courts of the Temple, ‘in the last day, that great day of the feast (of Tabernacles), Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me,…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living I water’ (John 7:37-38).”—P. S.]
Other hypotheses see in Meyer [who, however, thinks that the exact situation of Bethesda, cannot be fixed with certainty; see p. 219]. What leaves the theory of Robinson in need of further investigation is the assumption that here, contrary to the usual order, the bathing pool or fish pool must have been placed above, and the B spring below on the same fountain stream or flume. This difficulty may be obviated by distinguishing between the point of the spring itself and a bathing pool situated somewhat aside. But the distance of the Fountain of the Virgin from the Sheep Gate invalidates Robinson’s theory. [Or rather it may invalidate the identity of the Sheep Gate with St. Stephen’s Gate, which is of more modern origin.42—P. S.]
It is more probable that, according to Krafft (Topographie Jerus. p. 176), the now dry Struthion pool in the church of St. Anna was the pool of Bethesda, “To attribute the healing virtue of the water, which, according to Eusebius, was of a red tinge, and was perhaps impregnated with mineral substance, to the sacrificial blood from the temple, and to derive the name from אַשְׁדָא,43 effusio (Calvin, Arret., and others, after Eusebius), is unfounded, and contrary to John 5:7. The usual interpretation of the name is found even in the Peshito.” (Meyer). “Struthion is an alkali. This alkali, together with particles of iron, mixed with the water, may have given it its red color and medicinal effect.” (Krafft).
John 5:3. Blind, lame, withered.—Three kinds of sick folks [τῶν ] are specified: The blind first; comp. John 9:0; the lame, those disabled in their limbs; the withered, those who were fallen away, emaciated, consumptive, (comp. Matthew 12:10; Luke 6:6; Luke 6:8). [Also paralytics, as this man was, to judge from his lameness and the κράββατος paralylicorum, Mark 2:4; Acts 9:33.—P. S.]
Waiting for the moving of the water.—See the textual note above. On this passage together with the next verse, criticism has four theories:
1. All is spurious; a later interpolation of the popular belief for the explanation of John 5:7. This is favored by (a) the omission of the whole locus in B. C.,* 157, 314, and in the Coptic and Sahidic V.;44 (b) the many variations in the several expressions, see Tischendorf; (c) the many ἅπαξ λεγόμενα as κίνησις, ταραχή etc.; (d) the stamp of popular tradition upon the statement; (e) “If the passage were genuine, it would not have been omitted.” Lücke, Olshausen, Tischendorf, Meyer. [Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort.—P. S.]
2. The whole doubtful passage is genuine, (a) In favor of the close of John 5:3, Cod. D., etc.; in favor John 5:4, Cod. A., etc. Tertullian,45 the Peshito (b) The insertion could not well be accounted for, Baumgarten-Crusius, Brückner,46 Lachmann, [Reuss, Lange, Hengstenberg].
3. The close, of John 5:3, ἑκδεχ.—κίνησιν, is genuine, John 5:4, a later addition. This is favored by (a) the omission in D., where the close of John 5:3 remains; (b) the consideration that without this passage John 5:7 would be unintelligible. Ewald, Tholuck, [Godet].
4. The close of John 5:3 is spurious, John 5:4 is genuine; being more strongly supported by A. C.* So Hofmann.
It is of great weight, (1) that Tertullian stands so early a witness for the whole text. He ought not to be estimated here according to his realistic view elsewhere, but as reporting a document which was sacred to him.47 (2) that John 5:7 would be in fact unintelligible without John 5:4. (3) that John 5:4 is more strongly attested than the close of John 5:3, particularly by Code A. (4) that the close of John 5:3 might have been carried away with John 5:4, when the latter was omitted. (5) that the silence of Origen leaves us to suppose that the Alexandrian school found the passage offensive for its realism.
On the other hand John 5:4 cannot be sustained (a) by Hofmann’s doctrine of angels, which makes angels the agents in all second causes, or natural phenomena; (b) by Tholuck’s observation that John himself would no doubt have explained that natural phenomenon, as the Christian and the general religious popular opinion explained it in the second century, especially after what the Apocalypse says of the angel of the waters and of fire (John 16:5; John 14:18). The Revelation, like the book of Daniel, is a symbolical book.
The matter is no doubt to be thus explained: According to the Jewish popular conception there was a personal angel who produced the moving of the water. John found the conception and admitted it in his narrative, translating in his own mind the personal angel into a symbolical angel, or a distinct divine operation, i. e., in reference to such facts, for in a higher sphere he well knew the personal angels. He could leave the reader to adjust the passage according to Joh 1:51.48
John 5:4. Troubled the water.—According to Wolcott on Arabian substituted for the angel in the fountain of the Virgin “the convolutions of a dragon at the bottom.” Tholuck, p. 161. [The common legend is that a great dragon lies within the intermittent Fountain of the Virgin; when he is awake, he stops the water; but when he sleeps, it flows. See Robinson, I. p. 342; Porter, I., 140.—P. S.]
First after the troubling.—The popular religious idea of the periodical moments of healing efficacy in the spring.
John 5:5. Thirty-eight years [τριάκοντα καὶ ὀκτὼ ἔτη ἔχων ἐν τῇ ].—It is a question whether ἕχων is to be referred to the thirty-eight years, or to ἐν τῇ [that is, whether the exact expression is, he had so many years in his infirmity,=ἔχων τριάμκοντα κ. ὁ. ἐ., or had his infirmity for so many years=ἀσθενῶς ἕχων], The usage of John is in favor of the former (John 5:6; John 8:57; John 11:17; comp. Lücke, II. p. 25). He had lived thirty-eight years in his impotency. [He had been sick thirty-eight years—not at Bethesda all that time. The long disease makes the cure appear all the greater. Hengstenberg allegorizes here again, and discovers in the sick man of Bethesda a symbol of the Jewish nation, and in the thirty-eight years of his sickness a symbol of the thirty-eight years which Israel spent under the bane in the wilderness (I. 300 f.). So also Wordsworth in loc.—P. S.]
John 5:6. And knew.—Γνούς when He perceived. We cannot venture to assert, with Meyer, that this does not intend supernatural knowledge. A natural medium there might have been; the insight into the whole situation partook of the supernatural. The indefinite πολὺν χρόνον also indicates this. [So also Hengstenberg, Godet and Alford.—P. S.]
Desirest thou to be made whole?—Meyer: “The question is asked to excite the attention and expectation of the suffering man. Paulus falsely: The man had been a malicious beggar, who represented himself as sick; wherefore Jesus asked him with reproving emphasis, Desirest thou to be made whole? Art thou in earnest? Similarly Ammon; whereas Lange takes him only for a man of faint will, whose slumbering energy of will Christ here aroused again (?); of which the text gives as little sign, as that the question was intended for the whole people of whom this invalid was a type (Luthardt).”But the following points are clearly implied in the narrative, as Meyer himself must admit: (1) that in this miracle of healing alone an unasked offer occurs, though in John 9:0. there is an unasked healing (yet every honest beggar virtually asks the greatest possible alms); (2) that, besides, the man always allows himself to be anticipated by all others, though he is still able feebly to walk; (3) that he complains in a feeble manner without point; (4) that he lets his benefactor slip away, without learning his name, or even eagerly asking it, and then, against the Jews, appeals only to the command of Jesus; (5) that he receives from Jesus in the temple a warning, which implied a fickle character; (6) that immediately after his recognition of Jesus he goes to the Jews and gives the name of his miraculous healer, though he must have observed their evil designs. All this is in the test. Yet malevolence properly so called cannot be asserted. His continuance at the pool of Bethesda leads us to recognize in his indolence a spark of spiritual patience; in his helpless and forlorn condition he appears a very peculiar object of sympathy; his visiting the temple seems to bespeak a sense of gratitude; even in his giving of the name of Jesus a mistaken obedience may have had a share; but exegesis cannot make him a valiant confessor. [The question of Jesus, addressed to the cripple’s desire for health, was a proof of sympathy with his sufferings, and kindled a spark of hope when on the brink of despair, and thus naturally prepared the way for his cure.—P. S.]
John 5:7. Another goeth flown before me.—Meyer: “The brief motion must be conceived as limited to a particular point of the pool, so that only one at a time can receive the benefit.” But there is nothing of this in the text; and motion in a pool cannot possibly be confined to a particular point, Rather might the stairs have been constructed on the presumption that only one bather would receive healing. In John 5:4 Meyer, without warrant, sees the apocryphal expression of a superstitious popular opinion. [Alford: “The man’s answer implies the popular belief, which the spurious but useful insertion in John 5:3-4 expresses.”—P. S.]
John 5:8. Rise, take up thy bed,49 and walk.—Three words of power in one wonderful work, or even three thunder strokes of the might of the divine healing will, which awaken at once the faint will and the worn-out energy of the deceased man. The words of healing addressed to the paralytic in Matthew 9:0, are similar indeed, in Mark (John 2:0) the very same, yet they have here a different import; they are intended to give threefold vividness to the outward visibility of the power of Jesus in proof of His invisible work of grace on the heart of the sufferer. The criticism of Strauss and Weisse, which can make of this story a legendary exaggeration of the healing of that paralytic, shows more than mere indifference to place, time, and circumstances, and all connected with them; it confounds a true heroic faith with the most weak-minded inclination to faith, and a man who causes his friends to break through the roof with a man, who can find no one even to put him into the water. Critical opinions of this sort themselves lie like blind, lame, and withered about the pool of Bethesda. [Against Baur and Hilgenfeld see Meyer, p. 221 f.]
John 5:9. And on that day was the Sabbath.—A twofold scruple might arise, one against the healing, another against the carrying. In reference to the healing, the principle universally prevailed: “All danger or preservation of life removes the Sabbath restrictions” (Omne dubium vitæ pellit Sabbatum); though this principle was so encumbered with casuistic distinctions and exceptions that in most cases it was not possible for the laity duly to distinguish the lawful and the unlawful, the forbidden and the allowed (Lücke, II., p. 29). So too the carrying of articles on the Sabbath is, according to the Talmud, not indeed absolutely forbidden, but was at most allowed only under many restrictions; for one thing it could not be done on the open street (see Tholuck).
John 5:10. The Jews.—[Not the people, but those in authority who misrepresented the people in their rejection of Christ]. In such cases the matter goes quickly through fanatics, informers, and subordinates to the chiefs. Here the hierarchical chiefs already seem to speak; according to Meyer and Tholuck, the Sanhedrists. Yet it is possible that the matter only gradually reached them. At first they attack only the man himself for his carrying, which was the most palpable.
John 5:11. He that made me whole.—Beyond the word ἐκεῖνος, no trace again of individual energy appears in the answer, nothing but historical statement. Unquestionably the words seem to say: One who made me whole, a wonder-worker, must certainly have had the right to heal me. Hence Meyer: They savor of defiance; Tholuck: The man puts the authority of the Wonder-worker as in John 9:30 against theirs. But the character of the blind man in John 9:0. is at least an entirely different one from this. That man makes bold to draw inferences, this one does not, and the sentence before us, according to the connection, may be taken as well for an excusing of himself by the strange injunction of the strange man, as for anything else. At all events this man seems not to make head against the Jews. It must be remembered, too, that he could not otherwise designate Jesus, since he did not know His name.
John 5:12. Who is the man that?—Not only is the contemptuous expression the Man50 characteristic, but also the fact that they seem entirely to ignore the miraculous healing itself. [They do not ask: ‘Who is he that healed thee?’ but they carefully bring out the unfavorable side of what had taken place, as malicious persons always do.—Alford.]
John 5:13 f. And he that was healed knew not.—Bengel’s apology: “Grabbato ferendo intentus et judaica interpellations districtus,” says less than the rest of the verse itself, for Jesus had withdrawn himself,51 Meyer incorrectly: He withdrew “when this collision with the Jews arose.” This would be at least a very equivocal course, to forsake one who was attacked on His account; this Jesus never did. He turned aside because a multitude was there, whose demonstrations He wished to avoid; perhaps the treatment of this invalid also required it.
John 5:14. Jesus findeth him in the temple.—Chrysostom, Tholuck, Meyer: The healing made a religious impression upon him, Yet the evangelist seems intentionally to imply that this meeting did not immediately follow; he writes μετὰ ταῦτα, not μετὰ τιῦτο.52 And the address of Christ to him does not indicate a man thoroughly possessed with gratitude. Sin no more, lest, etc.—An unusually earnest injunction upon one whom He had healed, notwithstanding He finds him in the temple. Hence, too, it cannot be supposed that no more is intended here than merely the general connection of sin with evil (Iren. Adv. hær., v. 15; Bucer, Calov, Neander). This interpretation on the contrary, is no doubt a false application of John 9:3. Here a special connection between a particular kind of sin and the particular disease must have existed, according to Chrysostom, Bullinger, Meyer, and others. Neither the special sin nor the special disease is known; which magnifies the penetrating knowledge of the Lord.53 But a sin which produced disease thirty-eight years before, may be designated in general even in an old man as a sin of youth. Lest something worse befall thee.—Bengel: “Gravius quiddam quam infirmitas 38 annorum.” [Trench: The χεῖρον τι “gives us an awful glimpse of the severity of God’s judgments.” Comp. Matthew 12:45.]
John 5:15. The man departed.—Strictly: Then departed the man; ὁ ἄνθρωπος. Chrysostom concludes that it was not ingratitude which moved him to this; that he had spoken before the Jews not of carrying his bed, but of that which they cared least to hear: that Jesus had healed him. This apology falls, when we consider his former declaration. There he described the unknown man by the words, He that made me whole. For this reason he now says in giving his information: He that made me whole is Jesus. Meyer explains: the motive is neither malice (Schleiermacher, Lange [incorrect citation; Comp. Leben Jesu, II. p. 769], Paulus, etc.), nor gratitude wishing to get Jesus acknowledged among the Jews (Cyril, Chrysostom), nor obedience to the rulers (Bengel, Lücke, De Wette, Luthardt), but his authority (Jesus) is to him forthwith higher than that of the Sanhedrists, and he braves them with it. (Thus this man would be a hero, while Nicodemus is supposed to be hampered.) According to Tholuck the man is somewhat stupid and without suspicion of the rulers. Probably he added to weakness of heart and ignorance a fear of the Jews, in which he sought to shield himself from their reproach without perceiving that he might be prejudicing. It is worthy of notice, that they probably let his case drop, while the blind man in chap. 9. they in the end excommunicate; that here in fact they even base upon the statement of this man a process against Jesus.
John 5:16. For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus.—What follows evidently refers to a trial (Lampe, Rosenmüller, Kuiuoel; against Meyer [and Alford]; comp. Luke 21:12, διώκειν used of judicial process), though the terms are so chosen as at the same time to express the continuance of the persecutions after the failure of the process. Probably Jesus was arraigned before the little Sanhedrin. Winer: “There were smaller colleges of this name (Sanhedrin, the little Sanhedrin), consisting of twenty-three counsellors (according to Sanhedrin, 1, 6) in every Palestinean city which numbered more than one hundred and twenty inhabitants; in Jerusalem even two (Sanhedr. 11, 2).” But of these, as also of the courts of three, to which the cognizance and punishment of lighter offences pertained, Josephus knows nothing; whereas he mentions a court of seven (Antiq. iv. 8, 14) in the provincial cities, which always had among its members two from the tribe of Levi (Matthew 5:21; Matthew 10:17). The variations in the form of the little Sanhedrin amount, however, to nothing; enough that it existed.
Because he did54 these things; ταῦτα.—They craftily combine the two charges: (1) the healing of the invalid on the Sabbath, and (2) the commanding him to carry his bed, in the single indictment for breaking the Sabbath in various ways: thus covering the main fact that He had wrought a miracle. Concerning the restriction of healing by the Sabbath regulations of the Pharisees, see above on John 5:9.
[On the Sabbath, ἐν σαββάτῳ.—This was the cause of offence and brings out, in connection with John 5:17, the difference between the then prevailing Jewish and the Christian idea of Sabbath observance. The former is negative and slavish, the latter positive and free. The Pharisees scrupulously adhered to the letter of the fourth commandment as far as it forbid any (common) work, and hedged it around with all sorts of hair-splitting distinctions and rabbinical restrictions, but they violated its spirit which demands the positive sanctification of the Sabbath by doing good. The rest of the Sabbath is not the rest of idleness or mere cessation from labor, else God Himself who is always at work (John 5:17), would be a Sabbath-breaker as well as Christ. It is rather rest in God, a rest from ordinary work in order to a higher and holier activity for the glory of God and the good of man. We must cease from our earthly work, that God may do His heavenly work in and through us. The Sabbath law, like the whole law, is truly fulfilled by love to God and love to man. Christ refutes the false conception of Sabbath rest, as a mere cessation from labor, in various ways, now by the example of David eating the show-bread, now by the example of the priests working in the temple, now by the readiness of the Jews to deliver an ox out of a pit on the Sabbath. Here He takes higher ground and claims equality with the Father who never ceases doing good. God’s rest after creation was not a rest of sleep or inaction, but a rest of joy in the completion of His work and of benediction of His creatures. “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.” (Genesis 2:3). His strictly creative activity ceased with the Hexaëmeron, but his world-preserving and governing, as well as His redeeming activity continues without interruption, and this is properly His Sabbath, combining the highest action with the deepest repose. In the case of man while on earth abstinence from the distracting multiplicity of secular labor and toil is only the necessary condition for attending to his spiritual interests. Acts of worship and acts of charity are proper works for the Christian Sabbath, and are refreshing rest to body and soul, carrying in themselves their own exceeding great reward. The eternal Sabbath of God’s people will be unbroken rest in worship and love, as Augustine says, at the close of his Civitas Dei: “There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise.” Christ never violated the fourth or any other commandment of God, in its true divine meaning and intent, but fulfilled it by doctrine and example (Matthew 5:17). He emancipated us from the slavery of the negative, superstitious and hypocritical sabbatarianism of the Pharisees, and set us an example of the true positive observance of the Sabbath by doing good; the Sabbath being made for man (Mark 2:27), i. e., for his temporal and eternal benefit. This was its purpose when God instituted it, together with the marriage relation, in the state of man’s innocence, and this Christ has restored, as He restored the marriage relation to its original purity. The commentators pass too slightly over this point, and some of them misconstrue Christ’s and Paul’s opposition to the Jewish sabbatarianism of that age into a violation or abrogation of the fourth commandment.55 Trench, in his work on Miracles, p. 206 (Am. ed.), has some good remarks on John 5:16, which I shall transfer here:
“ ‘The Jews,’ not here the multitude, but some among the spiritual heads of the nation, whom it is very noticeable that St. John continually characterizes by this name, (1:19; 7:1; 9:22; 18:12, 14) find fault with the man for carrying his bed in obedience to Christ’s command, their reason being because ‘the same day’ on which the miracle was accomplished ‘was the Sabbath;’ and the carrying of any burden was one of the expressly prohibited works of that by Hero, indeed, they had apparently an Old Testament ground to go upon, and an interpretation of the Mosaic law from the lips of a prophet, to justify their interference, and the offence which they took. But the man’s bearing of his bed was not a work by itself; it was merely the corollary, or indeed the concluding act of his healing, that by which he should make proof himself, and give testimony to others of its reality. It was lawful to heal on the Sabbath day; it was lawful then to do that which was immediately involved in and directly followed on the healing. And here lay ultimately the true controversy between Christ and His adversaries, namely, whether it was most lawful to do good on that day, or to leave it undone (Luke 6:9). Starting from the unlawfulness of leaving good undone, He asserted that He was its true keeper, keeping it as God kept it, with the highest beneficent activity, which in His Father’s case, as in His own, was identical with deepest rest,—and not, as they accused Him of being, its breaker. It was because He Himself had ‘done those things’ (see John 5:16), that the Jews persecuted Him, and not for bidding the man to bear his bed, which was a mere accident and consequence involved in what He himself had wrought.”—P. S.]
John 5:17. My Father worketh until now [ἔως ἄρτι “inde a creatione sine intervallo sabbati” Bengel], and I work also.—A difficult answer. It undoubtedly asserts (1) Christ’s exaltation above the Sabbath law, like Mark 2:28; (2) the conformity of His working to the law of the Sabbath, in other words His fulfilling of the Sabbath law, Matthew 12:12; (3) the relation of the working of God to His own working as its pattern, John 5:20; (4) His working out from God and with God, which makes their charge a charge against God Himself, John 5:19. The last idea has special emphasis. According to Strauss the sentence is Alexandrian. [Philo of Alexandria, in his Treatise on the Allegories of the Sacred Laws, chap. vii. says with regard to the institution of the Sabbath after creation: “God never ceases to work (ποιῶν ὁ θεὸς οὐθέποτε παύεται), but when He appears to do so, He is only beginning the creation of something else; as being not only the Creator, but also the Father of everything which exists.”—P. S.] But Alexandrianism explained only the law of the Sabbath by the eternal working of God. There is a distinction between the creative work of God at the beginning which originates the world, and looks like human effort, and His subsequent festive working in the created world. This way of God, working on the Sabbath the works of the Spirit, works of relief, and love, in incessant divine agility, as it manifests itself in the objective world, must manifest itself also in the Son. According to Tholuck, modern expositors (Grotius, Lücke) stop with the idea that human activity is allowed on the Sabbath. We substitute: Divine activity.
According to Luthardt the words are uttered with reference to the future Sabbath: First the working of the Father, then that, of the Son, then that of the Holy Spirit. A correct idea, but not here in place, for according to our text the Father and the Son work simultaneously and together. Meyer: “The subject is not the preserving and governing of the world in general, but the continued activity of God for the salvation of mankind in spite of His Sabbath resting after the creation” (Genesis 2:1-3). But this is in fact the work of preserving and governing, providentia. Olshausen and De Wette explain: the working of God is rest and activity together, and so it is in Christ. Meyer on the contrary: of rest and contemplation there is not a word. The subject, however, is a divine working which as such is also repose, combining at once activity and festive contemplation. Grotius: It is a relation of imitation. Meyer denies this, contrary to John 5:19; it is only the necessary correlation of volition and execution. The Father’s having the initiative brings in the element of imitation which by no means exhausts the idea of co-operation (so as to reduce it to a mere working side by side after the same manner, as of one God with another). On Hilgenfeld’s discovery of the demiurge, see Meyer [p. 223 f., 5th ed.].
[Godet compares with this ver. Luke 2:49, and justly remarks that it virtually contains the whole following discourse. It asserts the mysterious union of Christ with God, which Christ had already expressed in His twelfth year to His parents. It is rightly understood by the Jews (John 5:18), though wrongly construed by them into blasphemy, since they saw in Him a mere man. It is at the same time the most triumphant refutation of the charge of Sabbath-breaking. What a sublime apology this! In charging Me, He says to His adversaries, with breaking the law of God, you charge the Law-giver, my Father, with breaking His own law: for my activity continually and in each moment corresponds to His. Owen remarks on this verse: “There is not the shadow of a doubt, that Jesus did here claim, and intended to claim, absolute equality with the Father. What is here most logically inferred, is distinctly stated, John 1:1; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2-3.”—P. S.]
John 5:18. The Jews sought the more to kill him, etc.—The one complex charge (of Sabbath-breaking) now becomes two, and the second is the greater. He has ascribed to Himself a singular relation to God. By this He is supposed to have blasphemed God and incurred the death of the blasphemer, Leviticus 24:16 (Bengel: “Id misere pro blasphemed habuerunt”). They had already hated Him unto death on the could not easily under the circumstance make out of the Sabbath-breaking, and in their second charge their real intention becomes also the formula one of finding Him guiltu of death. Hence nunc amplius,to interpret for the μὰλλον [Bengel], is more suitable than the magis of Meyer. Amplius means not only insuper, but also appertius. Tholuck incorrectly: the murderous wish still remains informatta. The matter still depended on the inquisition only in so far as the pretended blasphemy seemed to be not sufficiently established by Christ’s expression: My Father. “The name of father, except in the much disputed passage, Job 34:36, and in Psalms 89:26 where it is descriptive, is not used in the Old Testament as a personal name. In the Apocrypha the individual use of the word first begins to develop itself, Wis 14:3; Sir 23:1; Sir 23:4. Otherwise God is only in the national (theocratic) sense Father of the people, and even in the use of the term in this sense there still appears in the century after Christ a certain reserve, etc. Thus this specific calling of God his Father (comp. ἴδιος, Romans 8:32) must have been very striking in his mouth.” Tholuck.
[The Jews correctly understood ὁ πατήρ μου (instead of ἡμῶν) to assert a peculiar and exclusive fatherhood (πατέραἵδιον, patrem proprium) in relation to Jesus such as no mere man could claim, and a peculiar sonship of Jesus such as raised Him above all the children of God and made Him equal in essence with God. (Comp. the μονογενἠς υἱός of John and the ἵδοις υἱός of Paul, Romans 8:32). But regarding Jesus as a mere man, and evidently a man in His sound senses, the Jews charged Him with blasphemy. This is inevitable from their premises. The only logical alternative is: Christ was either a blasphemer, or equal with God. Comp. 10:33. Alford remarks: “The Jews understood His words to mean nothing short of peculiar personal Sonship, and thus equality of nature with God. And that this their understanding was the right one, the discourse testifies. All might in one sense, and the Jews did in a closer sense, call God their, or our, Father; but they at once said that the individual use of ‘My Father’ by Jesus had a totally distinct, and in their view a blasphemous meaning: this latter especially, because He thus made God a participator in His crime of breaking the Sabbath. Thus we obtain from the adversaries of the faith a most important statement of one of its highest and holiest doctrines.” Augustine says (Tract. 17): “Ecce intelligunt Judæi, quod non intelligunt Ariani.”—P. S.]
John 5:19. The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father doing,56 etc.—introduced with Verily, verily; thus opening a new truth. He retracts nothing that He has said, but now, that the question of the Messiah comes up, plants Himself on general ground, and speaks alternately now objectively of the Son and the Father, John 5:19-23; John 5:25-29, now subjectively of Himself and the Father, John 5:24; John 5:30-47. By this changing of the grammatical person, with the perfect identity of the real person, so that the objective sentences assert universal Christological relations, and the subjective His relation to the Jewish rulers,—by this master stroke of self-vindication, not noticed by expositors, He sustains His wisdom, without prejudicing in the least the steadfastness of His confession, and He puts their inquisition in the issue utterly to shame (or makes it a mandatum de supersedendo). Luther: “A beautiful excusatio, making the matter worse.” Tholuck: “Jesus strengthens that which gave offence.” But the turn, with which He does this ought not to be overlooked. The time of His unveiled revelation of Himself as the Messiah was the time of His death: this was not yet come. On the different views of the fathers as to the ensuing discussion, whether it presents the revelation of the Father to the Son in the internal trinitarian aspect, or in the economic, see Tholuck, p. 165. Tholuck remarο (p. 97): “In the Gospels, as in Paul, the predicate υἱός is not to be understood of the λὸγος α1σαρλος, but of the ἕναρλος (Nitzsch, System, § 83; Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, I., p. 173): yet like the Pauline, the Johannean view also regards the Incarnate Word in continuity with the λόγος ἅσαρλος, and hence applies to Him what is said of the former.” It is to be observed that the opposition between eternity and time is not so ,abstractly carried out in the Scriptures, as in scholastic theology.
Can do nothing,57 nothing at all, denotes not only the dependence of the Son on the Father in His working, the negative side of obedience, nor only His imitation of the Father, the formal side of obedience, but also His working at the motion of the Father. The Father is the limit or the law, the Father is the example, and the Father is also the motive, the impulse of His action. The action of the Son is at every point begotten by the action of the Father. The negative side of the obedience of Christ consists in His being unable to do anything of Himself; the positive side consists in His seeing, His intuitive perception of the initiative of the Father (βλέπειν, comp. John 8:38, and ἁφ̓ἑαυτοῦ John 16:13). [Meyer: “In ἀφ’ ἐαυτοῦ we must not find a distinction between the human and the divine will (Beyschlag), nor an indistinct and one-sided reference to the human element in Christ (De Wette), but the whole divine-human subject, the incarnate Logos, with whom there can be no ascitas agendi, no self-determination independent of the Father; otherwise He would be exclusively divine or exclusively human. Hence there is here no contradiction with the Prologue.”—P. S.]
[In like manner, ὁμοίως, excludes the idea of imitation and the analogy of master and servant, or teacher and pupil; it points to the equality of the Son with the Father. The Son does the same things with the same power and in the same manner. He is as the Nicene Creed has it, “God of God,” “very God of very God.”—P. S.] The human analogy of the child doing like the father, is here only distantly alluded to; the main thing is the original priority of the Father even in the Trinity, a point which the Greek church rightly asserts, but falsely exaggerates. [A priority of office and dignity, but not of substance, for this is the same in the three Persons of the Trinity.—P.S.]
John 5:20. For the Father loveth the Son.—Not merely the ethical foundation of what precedes (Meyer), but more than all the substantial.58 The term φιλεῖν [which always expresses the affection of love] is more personal or individual [and tender] than the more general ethical term ἀγαπᾶν. This φιλεῖν with respect to the Son not merely proceeds from the eternal relation of the Father to the Son, it is the foundation of this relation itself.
And it manifests itself in the Father’s showing the Son all things.59 The showing of the Father answers to the seeing of the Son. It is the absolute self-revelation of God in His acting, in its teleological working. The Son sees the Father in all His works, and sees what He intends by the works. And the Father shows Him in all things Himself and His works, and therein impels the Son to carry out and finish those works in redemption and judgment. The seer has momentary visions, shown him by the Lord (Revelation 1:1; Revelation 4:1); in Christ the whole view of the world is an insight of the working of God, in which spiritual intuition and sensible vision are one. Christ moves in this living symbolism of the infinite, which in its essential elements the fourth Gospel opens to us; He hears and understands all the words of God, He sees and knows all the signs of God, and His total view of things concentrates itself in the guiding ἐντολή of the interior aim and spirit of His life.
And greater works than these will he show him.—[The theme of all that follows to John 5:30. Comp. here the striking parallel, 14:12: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these [μείζονα τούτων] shall he do; because I go unto the Father.”—P. S.] Tholuck: “Here appears for the first time that use of ἕργα which is peculiar to John’s reports of the discourses of Christ. In John Christ designates as ἕργον, for the fulfilment of which He came, the communication of life to the world (John 4:34; John 17:4); all actual operations for this object he calls ἕργα, such as the miracles (John 10:32; John 10:38; John 15:24; John 9:4), and His ordinary labors for salvation, as here. It is further to be considered that just these ἕργα here named were proofs of the Messiah, for the doctrine of the Messiah and raiser of the dead, in its external positive shell, the people possessed.” The greater works of which Christ here speaks, lie in the same line with the work which Christ has just performed. The fundamental thought is the restoration of a life mortally damaged. The Father restores impotent life by healing springs, miraculous remedies, angels of health: Thus He is the example to the Son. But Ho also shows Him to what purpose He has now appointed Him Saviour. And with the first, the further greater works, the quickenings of the dead, are announced, for He must finish His work, John 5:36.
That ye may marvel.—Faith they might withhold, astonishment He will compel. [ἵνα expresses not only the result, but the (divine) intention.—P. S.] They suppressed and dissembled the impression which the miracles at the pool of Bethesda had made, and ignored the miracle itself. To this His expression refers, Ye shall at last break out in astonishment [of shame]. Calvin: “Oblique ingratitudinem per-stringit, quod illud tam splendidum virtutis Dei specimen contemserant.” Ye. Meyer: “The [unbelieving] hearers;” Tholuck: “The present unbelieving generation, viewed in identity with the future, as in John 6:62; Matthew 23:39.” Yet the present hearers form the foreground (see Matthew 26:64).
[Godet, II., p. 35, regards John 5:19-20 as the most remarkable Christological passages in the N. T., and ably defends against Reuss their agreement with the ideas of the prologue.—P. S.]
John 5:21-29. As the Father raiseth up the dead, etc.
John 5:21-23 collect in a unity the total quickening working of the Son of God, spiritual and bodily, including the spiritual and bodily judgment, yet with special reference to his historical evangelic working at that time. (So also Luthardt and Tholuck). John 5:24 is the first personal address and practical application. Then John 5:25-27 treat of the spiritual quickening and judging of men by the Son. John 5:28-29 refer to the quickening and judging as completed in the body. Finally John 5:31-47 are again personal address and application. [This view of the passage as progressing from the general to the particular, and from the moral or spiritual resurrection in this life to the general resurrection of the body in the life to come, was indicated by Augustin (though not consistently), and is held (though with various modifications) by Calvin, Lampe, Lücke, Tholuck, Olsh., De Wette, Meyer, Hengstenb., Godet, Alford, Wordsworth.—P. S.]
1. Most suppose that in John 5:21-27 the subject is only the moral operation of Christ in general; in John 5:28-29 the real universal raising of the dead is added as the consummation. This division is the prevailing one (Calvin, Jansen, Lampe, Lücke, [Meyer], etc.)
2. Even in John 5:28-29 the moral resurrection alone is to be understood (the Gnostics, Eckermann, Ammon, Schweizer, Baumgarten-Crusius [Reuss].
3. The whole passage, John 5:21-29 is to be understood (especially in opposition to the Gnostics) of the bodily resurrection, and the judgment in the strict sense (Tertullian, Chrysostom), etc., (Erasmus, etc. Schott, Kuinoel, etc.60)
Against this go (1) the manifold features of an operation already beginning and pre-eminently spiritual (“ye may marvel,” John 5:20, etc.); (2) the distinctly different characterizing of the resurrection proper in John 5:27-28.
It is a question whether the distinction between the first and second resurrection, Revelation 20:5-6 (the disputing of which in Hengstenberg’s exposition of the Revelation has great weight, it seems, with Tholuck), is also to be found intimated here. Olshausen thought he found the intimation of it in John 5:25; but the expression and now is, contradicts this. The first resurrection, however, though it may not be literally expressed here, is nevertheless here fully implied in the gradualness of the resurrection. In other words, a resurrection which proceeds by organic unfolding from within outward, and from the centre of humanity to the circumference, must give us to expect a distinction between the first fruits of the resurrection and the universal final manifestation of the resurrection power, (see 1 Corinthians 15:22-24).
John 5:21. As the Father raiseth up the dead.—It is a question how this is to be understood: whether improperly of quickenings and restorations in the general sense (Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6) according to the earlier books of the Old Testament; or of the future work of resurrection according to the later books, especially the Apocrypha (2 Maccabees 7) [Job 13:2; Sap. 16:13], or of an omnipresent motion of reviving in the whole province of the working of the Father in general. Undoubtedly the last is meant. Raising up, quickening, bodily and spiritual, spiritual and bodily, is a fundamental tendency of the government of the Father in nature, history, and theocracy. Hence the tokens of His quickening agency in His healing agency, of outward quickening through inward and the reverse, and the constant development of strong and stronger facts, like the teaching by facts in the Old Testament, Romans 4:17. Meyer: “Ἐγείρει καὶ ζωοποιεῖ might be expected in the reverse order (as in Ephesians 2:5-6).” The bodily healing itself, however, serves to awaken spiritual life, and in general the first raising up must precede the quickening, in order to lead to the last, most proper raising. Tholuck: “Ἐγείρειν gives the negative idea of the abolition of death, ζωοποιεῖν, the positive.”
Even so the Son quickeneth [ζωοποιεῖ].—As the redeeming and judging consummator, the finisher of the work of the Father.Ζωοποιεῖν here involves ἐγείρειν; yet the idea of the spiritual quickening, as the decisive one, predominates. Meyer would have only spiritual awakening asserted in the οῦς θέλει, Tholuck justly finds bodily also; by which again are meant not simply the particular raisings of dead persons by Jesus. The present tense denotes at the same time the particular case (that present) and the law (all present). Whom he will.—Calvin: Referring to His purpose. Meyer: Referring to faith, John 5:24. We refer οὕςθέλει to the tribunal of the Jews which would restrain Him in that work. He asks not for your judgment for that is no judgment of God; it is not ye that administer the judgment of the Father, but the Son. This explains the connection with what follows. [Alford refers whom He will, not to any selection out of mankind, nor to the Jewish prejudice that their nation alone should rise from the dead, but rightly makes it to mean, that in every instance where His will is to vivify, the result invariably follows. So also Bengel: “Nunquam ejus voluntatem destituit effectus.” Ewald refers θέλει to God, which is unnatural.—P. S.].
John 5:22. For neither61 doth the Father judge any one.—Explanations of the connection: 1. In the full power of the Son to quicken whom He will, His power to judge is already manifest (Lücke, De Wette, Meyer). 2. Not the θέλειν, but the ζωοποιεῖν is corroborated, and this by the fact that the Son is Judge. He who is the Judge, must also be the quickener (Luthardt, Tholuck). 3. Assuredly, however, the θέλει is confirmed, as the unlimited freedom of the Son to spread life in the region of death; though the connection of the ideas of quickening and judging remains to be considered. Those who, according to their hierarchical statutes, would hinder the Son in His raising and quickening, thereby set themselves up to judge the world already, so far as in them lies, and condemn it to death. And further their judgment against the Son is a sentence of condemnation, against the world. But only as an unauthorized encroachment upon the judgment which the Father has committed to the Son. That is to say, the judgment and the last day are not now immediately to follow upon the sin and death of the old world, but the universal ministration of grace, quickening, and salvation intervenes, and unbelief towards the Son alone forms the inner judgment, and brings on the last day. Κρίνειν here is condemnation [pronouncing sentence of spiritual death] (John 3:17; John 5:24; John 5:27; John 5:29) in distinction from ζωοποιεῖν.—The whole judgment, not “the whole condemning” (Meyer), but the total work of judging, in which acquitting is included. Committed to the Son.—The new, the gospel economy of salvation; the representation of the Father by the Son—for the glorifying of the Father in the Son.
John 5:23. That all men may honor the Son.62—Teleology of the divine administration. The Father manifests Himself in the acts of the Son, because He manifests Himself in the being of the Son. And the acts of the Son unfold themselves in the total works of salvation and judgment, to the end that the Son maybe honored and glorified as the Father, in order that the Father may be glorified in Him. He that honoreth not the Son, etc.—Spoken most especially against the Sanhedrists.
[John 5:23 is another argument for the divinity of Christ from His own mouth. Τιμᾷν does not necessarily imply acts of worship (προσκυνεῖν), but it expresses the sentiment of religious reverence from which worship flows. And as Christ claims precisely the same honor (καθώς) as is due to the Father, He puts Himself on such a footing of equality with Him as implies unity of essence; since monotheism is very jealous of the honor of Jehovah, as the only being entitled to the worship of the creature. There can be no two rival Gods. The worship of the Son is so far from interfering with the worship of the Father, that there can be no true worship of the Father without the worship of the Son. The Fatherhood of God is an unreal abstraction without the co-eternal Sonship of Christ. Comp. with this passage John 20:28; Philippians 2:10.—P. S.]
John 5:24. He that heareth my word.—Here is the first of the pregnant turns from the third person to the first, which we have pointed out above. Still more emphatic is the introduction of Christ’s reference to Himself by the Verily, verily. Expositors so entirely overlook this turning point of Christ’s description of Himself in His discourse that Tholuck here remarks: “The view is now directed to the commencement of the quickening process of time, John 5:24 in abstracto, John 5:25 in the historical development.” Rather is John 5:24 the practical application of what precedes, and John 5:25 the beginning of the distinction between the period of the spiritual resurrection and the epoch of the bodily. The hearing of the word of Jesus is put in the closest relation to the believing on the God that sent Him; the two are distinct, the two are one. A man cannot truly hear Him, without believing in God; believing in God depends upon a man’s hearing Christ. This gives the counter statement, John 12:47. Such an one has eternal life. Thus the operation of the word of Christ in believers is the act of imparting life, of quickening (see 1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18). The result of this quickening to eternal life is: He comes not into condemnation, and that because conversely he has passed from the state of a condemned one into life, i.e., from internal, essential death into internal, essential life.63 The death internally accomplished must pass through the judgment into death externally accomplished, the pains of damnation; the internally accomplished life transforms the judgment itself to an entrance into life, John 8:51. But not without effort, not without a transition does this great change take place. This most prodigious effort, bringing to pass the greatest work of God, is performed in the most silent passive way: Hearing the word of Jesus, believing the God in Him and above Him.
John 5:25. Verily, verily—an hour is coming (see John 4:23)—Second change of the grammatical person. Objective talk again concerning the Son. At first only concerning the spiritual resurrection, John 5:25-26. The hour which is one day to come, already is [νῦν ἐστιν]. In other words, these hours are in one another, coherent, because the things in hand are eternal. The whole resurrection exists in germ in the life of Jesus and His quickening work. The antithesis is, the hour as coming, the apostolic and New Testament period till the second advent, and the hour as already present, the time of the earthly ministry of Jesus. The awakening of mankind to new life virtually began with His earthly work; it developed itself on the day of Pentecost. Reference to the particular instances of His bodily raising of the dead, as well as to Matthew 27:52 (Olshausen), is not by this cut off (against Meyer); for in those signs the spiritual awakening power of Christ is manifest; but the primary subject is the spiritual awakening of men, for which the physical not only morally, but even dynamically and organically, prepares.—The dead [οἱνεκροί], therefore, are the spiritually dead (Matthew 8:22.)
His voice [τῆςφωνῆςτοὖυἱοῦτοῦθεοῦ].—The word of Christ figuratively represented, or rather designated as an awakening call in its total effect upon spirit and body together. And also φωνή for the sake of the succeeding antithesis. Precise antithesis: οἱνεκροὶἁκούσονταιτῆςφωνῆς, and οἱνεκροϊἀκούσονταιτῆςφωνῆς. All the dead must hear the word of the Son, but unbelievers stop with the hearing of the φωνή (see John 12:28; Acts 9:17; comp. Acts 22:9; Acts 26:14). The others, on the contrary, are persons who have simply heard, actually heard. He, therefore, who has heard, shall live; for the call of Christ is a call of creative life and a summons to life eternal. Meyer: If the passage be referred to bodily resurrection, the οἱ is, on account of the article, utterly inexplicable. On the attempts to adjust this to that interpretation, see Meyer (p. 232). [Alford also regards οἱ, “they who have heard it” or “hear it”, (not ἀκούσαντες merely, “having heard it”), as conclusive in favor of spiritual awakening in this verse. Godet says that the article divides the dead into two classes, those who hear, and those who having ears, yet hear not (12:40). He sees in John 5:25 a reproduction of the thought of John 5:24 under a more dramatic and solemn form, the images being borrowed from the future physical resurrection to paint the spiritual resurrection. Christ appears here as the only living one in a world of spiritual death and desolation. Comp. the magnificent vision of the dry bones made alive by the breath of Jehovah, Ezekiel 38:0—P. S.]
John 5:26. As the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself.—The Son in his incarnation, (comp. John 10:18), or the λόγος ἕνσαρκος; but on the ground of His essential nature as λόγος ἅσαρκος. Tholuck: “If the emphasis lay on ἑν ἑαυτῷ, to give prominence to the self-subsistence of the life, this assertion would be in contradiction to ἕδωκε; it must therefore be assumed that ἕχειν ἐν ἑαυτῷ only serves to express more emphatically in the Johannean idiom the idea of possession, as in John 5:42; John 6:53, etc. Comp. the formula μένοντα ἕχειν” But after all the emphasis does evidently lie on the repeated ἐν ἑαυτῷ, and the thing spoken of is not a thing which Christ has in common with Christians, but a thing which He has in common with the Father. Between the primal originalness which pertains to the Father (to be carefully distinguished from the aseity or self-subsistence of the triune God, which pertains to all three persons), and the permanent possession of life, which is communicated to believers, lies yet the great mystery, that Christ is in Himself the second personal principle of all life. Euthym. Zigabenus: πηγάζει. He has an essential, absolute power of regeneration, not only for Himself, but also for the life of the world.
[“Εδωκε refers to a historical fact, the incarnation, and τῷ υἱῷ to the God-Man, the Saviour of the world. But this communication of life to the incarnate Son is itself only the temporal manifestation of an eternal self-communication of life by the Father to the pre-existent Son; and οὕτως implies an underlying equality of essence. To have life in Himself just as the Father has it in Himself, and to be an independent source of life to others, cannot be said of any creature or mere man. We all live and move and have our being in God, and are absolutely depending on Him. The Nicene doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son by the Father is not a mere idea, but a fact, as the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father is a fact. Both are acts of divine love, the one of the Father to the Son, the other of the Son to the Father. By the generation the Father gives eternally His own self-existing independent life, i.e., His all to the Son, by His subordination, the Son gives Himself to the Father. “To give all, to return all, this is love. God is love. He loves divinely, and is beloved divinely.”—P. S.]
John 5:27. And gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is Son of man [Καὶἐξουσίανἔδωκεναὐτῷκρίσινποιεῖ ν, ὅτιυἱὸςἀνθρώπουἐστίν].—Besides the power of life which the Father gave Him as Son of God, and from which proceeds the activity before mentioned, the Father gave Him the power of judgment also, because He is Son of man. We must note the distinction. And since assuredly the ideal judgment has been presented as a corollary of the saving and quickening work of Christ, the full power of judging in general, and of the solemn final judgment in particular, is here intended. This last is grounded especially in the fact that Christ is Son of man, as in particular the vicarious position and work of Christ in justification are grounded in the same.
Account must be made of the fact that in this passage alone υἱὸς stands without the article.64 Different explanations:
1. The omission is unimportant, and the expression means here as elsewhere: the Messiah (Lightfoot, Lücke, etc.) Against this is the fact that the Son of Man with the article denotes the Messiah, and therefore the Son of God, and that as such He has been already here introduced. Of course the Son of Man is the Son of God in an undivided human identity; but here His being man is emphasized by itself as a new point.
2. Because He is man (Luther, Jansen, etc., Meyer). And how is He made Judge on this account?
(a) Luther, etc., De Wette [Reuss]: “The judgment is to take place with human publicity, therefore the Judge must be visible as man.”
(b) Bucer, etc.: “He humbled Himself to be made man, therefore as man He is glorified.”
(c) Wetstein, Stier: “Man is to be judged by the lowliest, most loving man,” Hebrews 2:17-18.
(d) Este, Meyer: “Because He is man, and would not have had the authority to judge, if it had not been given to Him” (merely, therefore, to make room for the “given”).
(e) Tholuck: “Because He is incarnate Redeemer, the judging also is given to Him in this redemption itself.
(f) The idea is no doubt a juridical principle: because He is to judge men, therefore He must have not only knowledge of man, but also a human experience. As Son of man, thus embodying the ideal of human life, He is the standard of the judgment, and virtually the judgment itself; as Son of man, He has the whole experience of humanity, sin excepted (which is no pure experience), and as He, in that He has been tempted, is able to succor them that are tempted, He is able also to judge them that are tempted.65
[By His incarnation Christ has so identified Himself with all the interests of humanity, as its Head and Saviour, that humanity belongs to Him: it is for Him to redeem, to save, to make alive, to judge, to condemn. The final resurrection and judgment are only the completion of the process commenced in His becoming man for us, and for our salvation. Alford explains: Man is to be judged by Man,—by that Man whom God has appointed, who is the inclusive Head of humanity, and to whom mankind, and man’s world, pertain by right of covenant-purchase. Jacobus (Notes on John): This is the kindest arrangement, 1) because as mediator He must have the most tender regard for man; 2) because as man He would sympathize with us, as to all our temptations; 3) as God-Man He would have a fellow-feeling with us as well as with God.—P. S.]
John 5:28. [Marvel not at this. Bengel: “They are great things which He spake all along from John 5:21, and worthy of marvel; but greater and more marvellous are the things which follow: τοῦτο, this, is to be referred to what goes before. Jesus knew the feeling of wonder which had been jusst now raised in the mind of the Jews.”—P. S.] In which all that are in the graves.—[John 5:28-29 evidently refer to the future general resurrection; hence πάντες οἱ ἐν τοὶς μνημεί ις, and hence also the omission of the words, και νῦν ἐστιν, Christ rises now to the last and highest mediatoral act of His ἐξουσία.—P. S.]—The expression, in the graves, is to be taken strictly, i.e., of those who are bodily dead, yet not literally: of those only that are buried. It is not, however, the dust of the dead that is intended any more than it is the risen themselves (Tholuck), when it is said they shall hear His voice, but the souls of the dead on the way to resurrection. Their being in the graves signifies their need of entire reclothing or new embodiment in the day of the appearance of Christ. The subject here is evidently the general resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:0), which excludes neither the first resurrection (Revelation 20:0), nor the gradual, organic reclothing (2 Corinthians 5:0). The distinguishing of those who have done good and those who have done evil, proves that the subject here cannot be the spiritually dead; and to the same effect is the expression: that are in the graves. Comp. Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37:12; Daniel 12:2.
[Shall hear his voice.—1 Thessalonians 4:16 : “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God.” Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:52. The same voice, which ye hear this very moment for your spiritual resurrection, shall summon your dead bodies from the tomb for the final resurrection, and I shall award them, according to their deeds, eternal life, or eternal woe. Comp. the third stanza of the terrific Dies Iræ:
Tuba mirum spargens sonum,
Per sepulchra regionum,
Coget omnes ante thronum.
“Wondrous sound the Trumpet flingeth,
Through earth’s sepulchre it ringeth,
All before the Throne it bringeth.”—P. S.
John 5:29. They that have done good [lit. the good ταἀγαθά and the evil, τὰφαῦλα. The article gives the terms an absolute meaning.—Comp. Romans 2:7; Matthew 7:21; Matthew 25:31, sqq. also John 3:20, on the difference between ποιεῖν applied to good, and πράσσειν to evil]. At the last day righteousness of faith must have ripened into righteousness of life, and all will have had opportunity to make it their own, 1Pe 3:19; 1 Peter 4:6. Unto a resurrection of life [εἰς ].—1. Meyer: “A resurrection to life locally conceived, i.e., a resurrection, the essential result of which is life, that is, the life in the kingdom of Messiah.” 2Ma 7:14 ἀνάστασις εἰς ζωήν; Daniel 12:2]. 2. Tholuck (after Luthardt): “After the pregnant sense in which the promise of the ἀνάστασις occurs in John 6:40; John 6:44; John 6:54, it seems more correct to translate: life-resurrection, and damnation-resurrection, indicating that in this act the ζωή and the κρίσις respectively reach their summit.” No doubt correct. The one class come forth into the resurrection of life, into the final perfect manifestation of life; the other, into the final perfect manifestation of condemnation. This includes the first interpretation in the strongest form of expression. That Christ is here standing before a Jewish tribunal, is indicated by His bringing out in ever mightier prominence the thought of the divine judgment committed to Him. [Unto the resurrection of judgment, εἰςἀνάστασινκρίσεως.—A resurrection from death temporal to death eternal. Who can realize the awful idea! The resurrection of the wicked is expressly taught Daniel 12:2; Acts 24:15 (ἀνάστασις νεκρων, δικαίων τε καὶ ἄδίκων), and implied Matthew 10:28, (ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα ); 25:34 ff.; Revelation 20:5.—P. S.]
John 5:30. I can of mine own self do nothing.—Having asserted so great things concerning the Son, Jesus again speaks of Himself in the first person. Thus we have not here (and in John 5:31) a new train of thought according to John’s mode of connecting ideas (Tholuck), but the second turn of the discourse into self-assertion and personal application (other misapprehensions of the connection, see in Meyer, p. 237.) The portion John 5:30-39 treats of the true Messianism, the witnesses to it, and the unbelief which receives not the testimony. The portion John 5:41-47 treats of the false Messianism, which runs finally into anti-Messianism. I can do nothing, etc. See John 5:19.
As I hear.—Denoting in the form of sensible perception absolute, sensible, spiritual knowledge. A hearing, in the sense of perfect moral, teleological perception of the divine will, as previously a seeing in the sense of perfect intellectual perception of things in principle. The words at the same time assert the Saviour’s knowledge of the men’s condemnation of themselves. Because I seek not mine own will.—Because He perpetually sacrifies Himself, He can judge the world in execution of the will of His Father, who sent Him. The paternity points to His origin, the sending, to His object.
John 5:31. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.—A man’s testimony in his own cause is not received; it must be supported by the attestation of another: the oath. A human tribunal requires at least two witnesses, Numbers 35:30; Joh 8:16-17.66 Yet not the number of witnesses, but the nature and quality of the witness, is the thing here emphasized by the Lord. The attester must be distinct from the one attested. This is the human rule. In theocratic terms: A prophet without divine attestation, or even the Messiah without the same, would be a contradiction. “The precise principle is, that the individual does not testify to himself, and thus separate himself from the universal, but that one testifies for another, and then on the highest scale he who is other to the Son, the Father, testifies to the Son. John 8:14 seems to contradict this. But: (1) In the law of judicial testimony a person’s testimony respecting himself has its place; (2) particularly in regard to a fact of personal consciousness; (3) in case of a testimony which has the testimony of the Father associated with it.
John 5:32. There is another.—The sequel shows that this ἄλλος is the Father. [So Cyr., Aug., Beza, Beng., Lücke, Thol., Olsh., Luthardt, Hengstenb., Brückner, Meyer, Godet, Alford. It cannot be John the Baptist (Chrys., Erasm., Grot., De Wette, Ewald), on account of John 5:31; John 5:36, where Christ presents His testimony as unnecessary, and assigns it a subordinate value as compared with that of the Father. “The reason why our Lord mentions John is not ‘as ascending from the lesser witness to the greater’, but purposely to remove the idea that He meant him only or principally by these words, and to set his testimony in its proper place: then at John 5:36 He returns again to the ἅλλος μαρτ. περὶ ἐμοῦ.” (Alford.) I know that, etc. This, as Meyer observes, is too strong and solemn for the testimony of the Baptist. “It is the Son’s testimony to the Father’s truth,” comp. 7:28, 29; 8:26, 55.—P. S.]
John 5:33-34. Ye sent unto John.—Reminding them of the fact which the evangelist relates in John 1:19. Towards the end of His pilgrimage also, Matthew 21:25, He again reverts to this. At the same time hinting what follows farther on. This leads to the more precise explanation of the words: I receive not testimony from man (John 5:34). That is, not: I reject it (Tholuck), or, do not make use of it (Beza), or, do not catch at it (De Wette), but: I do not need it for Myself, and do not make account of it, as necessary to support my public appearance as Messiah.67 I expect my attestation in a higher testimony, in the testimony of the Father. John was a witness with whom, as the completer of the Old Testament, they must from their point of view be satisfied; but Jesus cannot satisfy Himself with this testimony; as founder of the New Testament, He must have a new and higher. But these things I say, that ye may be saved.—[Not for My benefit, for I do not need this human testimony, having a divine one, which is all sufficient, but for your salvation. Bengel: Vestra res agitur.—P. S.] He reminds them of that testimony, because for them it was valid, and contempt of it would be an undoing of the old covenant, and would bring perdition upon them.
John 5:35. He was the lamp burning (or, lighted) and shining. [Ἐκεῖνοςἦνὁλύχνοςὁκαιόμενοςκαὶφαίνων. “What a glorious phenomenon was he, and how little have you appreciated him!” Meyer.] He was John has retired. He was in prison at the time of the Lord’s return to Galilee (John 4:44; Matthew 4:12), and was soon after beheaded (John 6:1; comp. Matthew 14:13). [So also Stier and Alford.—P. S.] Jesus therefore considered his imprisonment as the end of his course.
The lamp. With the article.68 The appointed lamp of the advent of the Messiah, burning and shining. Interpretations: 1. Bengel: Elijah, with reference to Sir 48:1 : “Then stood up Elijah the prophet like a fire, and his word burned like a lamp.”69 2. Luthardt: The figure of the one who carries a light before the coming bridegroom. The rejoicing just afterwards mentioned, which might be probably the performance of a wedding dance in the torch-light, might be decisive for this view. But the one who holds the torch is not the torch itself. The general figure in Luke 1:76 (Meyer) is not quite satisfactory.70 It must be observed, that the manifestation of Jehovah is always preceeded by a token of light and fire. The indication of this appears even in Genesis, John 3:24; John 15:17. Then the burning bush becomes the token of the manifestation of Jehovah, Exodus 3:2; afterwards the pillar of fire, Exodus 13:0. The permanent typical symbol of the manifestation of God in Israel was the candle-stick in the temple; its complement being the fire upon the altar. In the prophetic vision the manifestation of Jehovah is announced and marked by a token of light and fire combined (Ezekiel 1:13); by light and fire the advent of the Messiah is heralded and proclaimed, Zechariah 14:7; Malachi 3:2. All those tokens of light and fire meet in the Baptist. He is the flame-signal of the Messiah, the last Old Testament form of the pillar of fire and of the candle-stick in the temple; therefore the lamp, at once flaming and shining. The figure of the lamp (λύχνος) was current (2 Samuel 21:17; 2 Peter 1:19; Revelation 21:23).
Burning and shining. Meyer disputes the opinion that these words denote two peculiarities of John: fiery zeal and illumination; since the two belong together.71 And yet the two are also to be distinguised. It was the sin of the Jews, that they were not warned by the burning of John and so made his shining a mere transitory appearance.
And ye were willing.—Ἠθελήσατε. Bringing out the sinful caprice in which they made the earnest light a passing festival torch for a joyous throng or dance. Respecting the enthusiastic concourse on the appearance of the Baptist, see Matthew 3:5. Out of this came, instead of the μετάνοια which John preached, an ἀγαλλιασθῆναι. We might think here of the dancing of gnats in the twilight, or a swarm of flies around a lamp; but more natural is the thought of a joyous dance approaching with a festive torch. For a while.—Πρὸςὥραν belongs according to Bengel, ἠθελήσατε, according to Meyer, to ἀγαλλιασθῆναι; but the two things are not to be separated. To their fickle ἐθέλειν it belonged to make to themselves out of the earnest preacher of repentance, an entertaining event of the day. In his light.—They made the λύχνος itself for awhile the light, φῶς, of which it was to be only the harbinger. Comp. Matthew 11:16. Furthermore they endeavored to find a bright entertaining side to the earnestness of his preaching of repentance, and hence at last forsook him, because he was too earnest for them.
John 5:36. Greater witness.—Μείζωτοῦ ’Ι ωάννου, instead of τῆς μαρτυρίας τοῦ Ἰωάννου. Constructio compendiaria. For the works which the Father hath, etc.—The testimony of His miracles is the testimony of His Father Himself, because the Father hath given Him the works. To finish.—The idea of consummation again; description of Christianity. That the Father hath sent me.—The end (τὸ τέλος) points back to the beginning, the ἀρχή, the sending, which, in its eternity, becomes a perfect: ἀπέσταλκε, John 3:34.
John 5:37. And the Father himself.… hath borne witness of me.—It is a question whether a new and different testimony from that of the works (John 5:36) is here introduced. 1. This is the testimony of the works (Augustine, Grotius, Bauer, Neander, Stier, etc.). 2. The testimony of God at the baptism of Christ (Chrysostom, Bengel, Paulus).72 3. The witness in the spirit of the believer, the drawing of the Father (De Wette [Alford], Baumgarten-Crusius, Tholuck; but wavering). 4. The testimony which God has given in His word, in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, to His Son (Cyril, Nonnus, etc., Bede, Calvin, Lücke, Meyer). Unquestionably this last interpretation is established by the perfect μεμαρτύρηκε, as well as by the ensuing discussion on the Holy Scriptures. Evidently, however, Christ combines the outward word with the inward word in the spirit; and He means not the abstract letter of the Scripture, but the concrete, living Old Testament revelation as a unity of word and spirit (see John 5:37-38). The third and fourth interpretations, therefore, must be combined. This is the direct, strongly pronounced testimony of the Father.
Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.—Christ denotes the soul, the inner life, the truth of the Old Testament revelation. This consisted in the hearing of the voices of God, the word of revelation given in vision, and seeing the emblems of God, His δόζα (the Angel of the Lord), by the true believers of the ancient covenant, particularly by the prophets. From this life of revelation, i.e., from the spirit and truth of the Old Testament, these persons were so alienated that Jesus could say to them: Ye have never heard even one of His voices (one living tone of His voice), never seen a single form of His manifestation (a glimmer of His living revelation). And this He could say to them with perfect assurance, because they did not perceive the voice of God even in the word of Christ (comp. Hebrews 1:1), because they did not see even the angel of the Lord in His incarnation, as He stood before their eyes, John 14:9. In this reproof it is implied that the process of revelations by visions, out of which the Holy Scripture as a document proceded, must in some sense repeat itself in the inward awakening (hearing) and illumination (seeing) of the true reader (Leben Jesu, III., p. 598). Hence also the conjunctive οὔτε, οὔτε, is followed by καὶ οὐ. The result of such an awakened hearing and enlightened seeing is the abiding of the word, as a new life and vision, in the believing heart (λόγος μένων ἐν ὑμῖν). That is, the φωνή and the εἶδος go together in the one effect and efficient power of the λόγος μένων.
Different interpretations: 1. The voice at the baptism (Chrysostom, Lampe, Bengel; Lücke on the contrary: We should then expect τὴν φωνήν). 2. Jesus concedes in His words some objection which the Jews would have made (Euthymius Zigab., Kuinoel, Pauls; a characteristically rabbinical interpretation). Similarly Baumgarten-Crusius: “Never before has this direct exhibition of God been made, as it now is.” 3. Cyril, Theophylact: Jesus denies to them all direct apprehension of the Old Testament revelations (Lücke: “then Jesus must have spoken of their fathers”). 4. A reproof that they had no eye nor ear for the direct testimonies of God in His—the Messiah’s—appearance and work (Lücke). But this comes in the succeeding demonstrative words: For whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not. 5. A metaphorical interpretation (still more definite than in Lücke): “Metaphoricæ sunt locutiones, quibus in summa docere vult, alienos esse prorsus a Dei notitia. Nam sicuti vultu et sermone homines se patefaciunt, ita Deus vocem ad nos suam Prophetarum voce emittit, et in sacramentis quasi visibilem formam induit, unde cognosci pro modulo nostro queat. Verum qui eum in viva sua effigie non agnoscit, satis hoc ipso prodit, nullum se numen colere, nisi quod ipse fabricarit (2 Corinthians 3:14).” Calvin. Similarly Luthardt: “φωνή and εἶδος are not to be referred to particular symbolical revelations in the Old Testament, such as Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s hearing the φωνή of God, and Ezekiel’s and Daniel’s seeing his εἶδος in the Spirit; but to the total revelation recorded in the Old Testament, as God’s exhibition Himself.” So Meyer also, except that he includes theophanies and visions. And to just these, in their symbolical import, the whole matter comes.
John 5:38. And ye have not his word abiding in you—[καὶτὸνλόγοναὐτοοὐκἔχετεμένονταἐνὑμῖν.] A Johan nean phrase, 1 John 2:14. Meyer: “You lack a permanent inward appropriation of His word.”73 Not the revelation of God in the conscience (Olshausen,74 Frommann), but the living, especially the Messianic word of God as the seed of the knowledge of Christ. For whom he sent him ye believe not.—The fact that they did not recognize and accept in Christ the perfect revelation, the φωνή and εἶδος, of God, proves that they had not understood the intimations of this revelation in the Old Testament; that they had not the Old Testament living in them; that they were deaf and blind to the word of God in the Holy Scriptures as a direct testimony to the Son (see Isaiah 6:6; Matthew 13:14; John 12:40; Acts 28:26; Romans 11:8; 2 Corinthians 3:14). The ὅν . is emphasized by being placed first, and made yet more prominent by τούτω ὑμεῖς. [Grotius: Quomodo mandata regis discet, qui legatum excludit. With the messenger of God they necessarily also rejected His message.—P. S.]
John 5:39. Ye search the Scriptures.—Meyer: “That ἐρευνᾶτε is indicative (Cyril, Erasmus, Casaubon, Beza, Bengel, and many moderns, including Kuinoel, Lücke, Olshausen, Klee, De Wette, Maier,75 etc.), not imperative (Chrysostom, Augustine, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigab., Luther, Calvin, etc., Paulus, Baumgarten-Crusius, Hofmann, Luthardt,76 etc.), is shown by the context, to which an imperative would be foreign matter, particularly out of harmony with the correlative καὶ οὐ θέλετε. Comp. also Lechler in the Studien und Kritiken, 1854, p. 795.” Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:0. As the Jews, in their way, searched the Scriptures very diligently (see Tholuck, p. 175), the sentence, if imperative, must have specified and strongly emphasized the right mode of search.
[Grammatically, ἐρευνᾶτε may be imperative: search, or indicative: ye search. It is not easy to decide between the two interpretations. The former has, by Luther’s German V. and by the A. E. V., become the current interpretation in the Protestant, as it was in the old Greek Church, and is often (by an a fortiori application to the New Testament) popularly used as an argument against Romanists. It is favored by the following considerations: 1) The position of ἐρευνᾶτε before τὰς γραφάς, which, however, is by no means conclusive. 2) The omission of ὑμεῖς before ἐρευνᾶτε, comp. ὑμεῖς before the indicative δοκεῖτε. 3) The consent of the Greek fathers, with the important exception, however, of Cyril of Alexandria. 4) The intrinsic improbability that Christ should have spoken in anyway reproachfully of the study of the Scriptures. (Hengstenberg discovers a far fetched allusion to Isaiah 34:16 : “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord,” a passage which is omitted in the Sept.)—Yet these arguments are in themselves insufficient, and must give way, in my judgment, to the one consideration that the connection and natural sense of the passage as a whole requires the indicative. The Saviour exposes the inconsistency, blindness and perverseness of the Jews in searching the letter of the Scriptures, and imagining to have eternal life in them, and yet refusing to believe in Him to whom these very Scriptures bear witness, and who alone can give to them that life which they vainly sought in the killing letter instead of the vivifying spirit. Thus by their unbelief the very book of God which they professed to honor, became their accuser, and a savor of death to them. Had He intended to exhort the Jews to search the Scriptures, He would not have continued: “for in them ye think, or, imagine to have (ὑμεῖς δοκεῖτε ἔχειν) eternal life,” but: “through them ye have (ἔχετε) or rather, shall have, shall find, eternal life;” nor would He have added: “And they are they which testify of Me,” but “for;” this being the reason why they should study the Scriptures. He would also probably have defined the verb as to the spirit and manner of searching the Scriptures; for the Jews did search them nicely and diligently, although by no means in the best way. The more natural interpretation, therefore, is this: “Ye do (indeed) search the Scriptures (not τὸν λόγον θεοῦ, but τὰς γραφάς, the letter of the several written books of the Old Testament), for in them (not through them, as a mere means to get at the living word of God) ye imagine to have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me. And (yet—how inconsistent, how preposterous!) ye are not willing to come to Me that ye might have (that eternal) life. Ἐρευνάω is the very word which the Sanhedrists used of the study of the Scriptures, 7:52, when they told Nicodemus: “Search (ἐρεύνησον), and see that no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.”77 The Pharisees studied the Old Testament as they kept the Sabbath, and Christ rectified their study by pointing out the Christ in the Bible, as He rebuked their Sabbath keeping by doing works of mercy on the Sabbath day. They knew the shell of the Bible and ignored the kernel within. They searched minutely, pedantically and superstitiously the letter, but had no sympathy with the indwelling soul. They idolized the written book, while they resisted the living word contained therein (comp. John 5:38). Such bibliolatry led them away from Christ, while the true study of Moses and the prophets leads to Christ, as the fulfiller of the law and the promise. The O. T. promises life, not to the mere reader and searcher, but to the doer, of the law: “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them” (Leviticus 18:5). The Rabbis said: “He who acquires the words of the law, acquires for himself eternal life (Qui acquirit sibi verba legis, is acquirit sibi vitam eternam).” The unbelieving Jews search the Old Testament to this day in the same spirit and with the same result; their minds are blinded, and the vail is upon their heart (2 Corinthians 3:14-15). In like manner the New Testament is a sealed book to thousands of its readers and students within the Christian church, who either superstitiously, like the Jews, or skeptically, like the rationalists, stick to the mere outside of the Bible, and ignore or oppose the Christ within. Christ is the life and light of the whole Bible, its Alpha and Omega, and the only key that unlocks its mysteries to the believing mind. Comp. the remarks on John 5:46.—P. S.]
For in them ye think ye have.—Thinking, or imagining (δοκεῖτε) in opposition to believing or knowing [and thinking to have in opposition to actual having; comp. John 5:45, and John 8:54 ὑμεῖς λέγετε], imply in the first instance ignorance, but hero error also; therefore a censure (contrary to Meyer); for the sense is not: Ye think that eternal life is communicated to you through the Scriptures, but: Ye think to have eternal life in the Scriptures themselves (the plural is significant), in their mere outward letter, and to have it as an external possession outside of yourselves in their objective existence; thus clearly designating that Rabbinism, which for the Word of God made man substitutes the Word of God made book (see Sir 24:23 [ταῦταπάντα βίβλος διαθήκης θειῦ ὑψίστου]; comp. H. Richter: Die evang. und röm. Kirchenlehre, Barmen, 1844, p. 47.)78
And they are they [καὶἐκεἶναίεἰσιν].—Καί emphatic. [Just they, these very Scriptures which ye search. The copula brings out the absurdity of coupling contradictory things. Ye search the Scriptures which testify of Me, and ye reject Me; ye seek life, and ye will not come to Me who alone can give you life.—P. S.] “Which testify of me.—The participle εὐσιν αἱμαρτυροῦσαί means strictly: they are the testifiers of me, i.e, their proper nature and office is to bear witness of me. [The Old Testament was to Christ a mirror which reflected His own image.]
John 5:40. And ye will not.79—The Scriptures point to Christ; but they will not come from the Scriptures to Him, that they might have life. The αἰώνιος seems designedly omitted. They think they already have the ζωὴ αἰώνιος in the letter of their Scriptures; but they must come to Christ before they can have any life at all. Of course the life meant is the ζωή αἰώνιος, but here great stress falls on its very conditions and incipiency. Bengel: Propius in Christo, quam in Scripturis vita habetur. [Οὐθέλετε implies the voluntary character, and hence the moral guilt of unbelief, comp. Mat 23:37.80 The end of the discourse uncovers the secret motive of this unbelief, namely the self-seeking ambition of the heart. Reason may be more easily convinced of the truth of Christianity than the will may be subdued to the obedience of Christ. The springs of belief and unbelief are in the heart rather than the head. “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life,” Proverbs 4:23.—P. S.]
John 5:41. Glory from men.—Glory. Mere honor, especially in John, cannot be intended by the word δόξα. It is the δόξα of the Messiah. This Christ declares He will not receive, or appropriate, from human sources. The connection is: The Father testifies of Me in the Scripture; I must leave all to Him, as He glorifies Me; I cannot be glorified by the testimony of John in his ministry among you. That Jesus intended to prevent the charge of injured ambition (Luthardt, Meyer), is hardly to be supposed.
John 5:42. But I know you.—[“Εγνωκα, perfect. Bengel: Cognitos vos habeo; hoc radio penetrat corda auditorum. He knew them from their past history and from their conduct towards Him.—P. S.] With His sure discernment, that their heart is not directed towards God, He cannot and will not expect that His δόξα will be prepared for Him by the Sanhedrin, or by Judaism in general. The reason why they did not know, and honor Him, was that they did not love God. Ye have not the love of God in you.—They had none of that spirituality which is earnestly directed towards God and eternal things, ̓́Ι γ́νἀγάπην the love which is required by the law, as its sum and substance, or even that which is awakened by the promise. In you.—Ἐνἑαυτο ῖς [in your own hearts]. They have this love in their holy Scriptures, outside of themselves, in the holy medium of revelation, as they have eternal life outside of themselves;—they themselves are full of worldliness.
John 5:43. In my Father’s name.—The very fact that He is come in the name of His Father, that He has predicated nothing of Himself, that He has executed the mission of the Father, done the works of the Father, answered to the testimony of the Father in the Old Testament, that He has even avoided the oft falsified name of Messiah, is the reason why they do not receive Him.
If another shall come in his own name.—We might doubt whether the Lord does not intend to say: under the assumed name of Messiah in some specifically shaped form. But the man coming in his own name is, in any case, a false Messiah (Meyer, against Luthardt); for he comes, (1) with no commission from the Father, but of his own ambitious impulse; (2) not with the works of the Father, but with self-chosen deceptions; (3) not for the glory of the Father, but for his own; (4) not in agreement with the holy Scriptures, but with a false Messianic idea. Meyer: “He will find acceptance, because he satisfies the opposite of the love of God, self-love (by promise of earthly glory, etc.). A distinct prediction of false Messiahs. See Matthew 24:24. According to Schudt: Jüdische Merkwürdigkeiten, 6, 27, 30 (in Bengel), sixty-four such deceivers have been counted since the time of Christ.” Since then many new ones have doubtless been added. (See the periodical: Dibre Emeth, Breslau, 1853 and 1854, and the note in Heubner, p. 304.) Tholuck, without sufficient reason, disputes the reference of the passage to false Messiahs, and refers it only to the false prophets, who came in their own name, and always found more followers than the true. Yet all appealed to a divine commission. Those who came in their own name, did so in opposition to the true Messiah; and this method is always pseudo-Christian and anti-Christian at the same time. Meanwhile the false prophets of the ancient time were but fore-runners of the pseudo Messianic manifestations of the New Testament age; and such future manifestations the Lord evidently has in view.81 Him ye will receive. Affinity of the ungodly mind, more explicitly declared in John 12:43.
John 5:44. Who receive glory one from another.—Not merely honor, but here again δόξα, with reference to the specific honor of Messiah: Messianic honors. Messianic dignities are both accorded and accepted in a hierarchical system from human, sinful motives, ambition, favor and the like. And seek not the glory that cometh from the only God.—Here evidently the δόξα is the divine pleasure, as conferring honor and glory on the believer; the δόξα θεοῦ of Paul in Romans 3:23. From the only God, παρὰτοῦμόνουθεοῦ. Grotius, De Wette [E. V., Godet]: From God only; making the adjective rather adverbial. Meyer and Tholuck [Alford], on the contrary, take μόνος after the analogy of John 17:3 : Ὀ μόνος ; 1 Timothy 6:15 : Ο μόνος δυνάστης. It was the deepest reproach to Jews, who gloried in the worship of the one God, that they recognized so various, and even human, sources of the δόξα, as really to be polytheistic in their conduct. These creature lights, in which the lustre is not recognized as radiance from the centre of light and honor in the only God, but which are made by men of men,—these form a disguised and subtle polytheism, a heathenism within a Judaistic hierarchical system.
John 5:45. Do not think that I shall accuse you.—[Christ’s office is not to accuse, but to judge.] Referring, no doubt, to the accusations which they brought against Him and the human trial upon which they put Him. Before their court He has assumed more and more the mien of a majestic judge. He has finally represented them as contradicting the testimony of God, as anti-Christs, pagans. They are disarmed by the authority and power of His words, and discharge Him. Now, so far as He is concerned, He proposes to discharge them. He will not accuse them to the Father, but another, says He, will accuse you, even Moses, in whom ye hope [ἠλπίκατε, have set your hope, comp. 2 Corinthians 1:10]. This is the last, the mightest stroke.82 That very Moses on whom they set their hope, will accuse them, and put their hope to shame. Not exactly the Holy Scriptures (Tholuck), but Moses himself, in his spirit, as the representative of the legal basis of the Holy Scriptures. If they rightly searched the Scriptures, they would find Christ and only Christ in the Old Testament, even in the books of Moses alone; but they find Moses in them, and only Moses, only law even in the prophets, and on this omnipresent Moses, whose all the Scriptures are in their view (see John 5:47), that is, on the legal element of the Holy Scriptures, they placed their self-righteous confidence. Through Moses they sought to be heirs of the Messianic kingdom; Christ Himself was to appear as a second Moses (nova lex). But Moses, says He, is the very one who will accuse you. Not so much that the law pronounces the curse on those who deal in the works of the law, as that Moses, both in single passages (Deuteronomy 18:15), and in his whole law, especially in the types, wrote of Christ. Bengel: Scripsit nusquam non. [Comp. further remarks sub. John 5:46.—P. S.] Where and how accuse? In all judgments of conscience as well as in all the historical judgments of Israel the real Moses, the spirit of the law, accuses them for their unbelief even unto the end of the world. Not, therefore, for unbelief of particular prophecies, “as even De Wette thinks, but because the religious spirit of his law deposes so strong a testimony in favor of Him who, by His whole appearance, proves that He is the fulfilment of it.” Tholuck.
John 5:46. For if ye believed Moses, ye would believe me.—True law-Jews are true faith-Jews. The same applies to Christianity. [Every true Jew who follows the teachings of the Old Testament revelation, becomes naturally a Christian, as was the case with the apostles and primitive disciples, but every bad Jew instinctively rejects the gospel, because the Old and New Testaments are the revelation of one and the same God, the Old being a preparation for the New, the New the fulfilment of the Old. “Novum Testamentum in Vetere latet, Vetus Test. in Novo patet.” The agreement of Moses and Christ is also the underlying thought of the whole sermon on the Mount; Matthew and John are the disciples of one Master.—P. S.]
[For of me he wrote, περὶγὰρἐμοῦ—emphatically placed first—ἐκεῖνοςἔγραψεν.—Moses wrote of Christ, as the seed of the woman that shall bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:0), as the seed of Abraham by which all the nations of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 12. ff.), as the Shiloh unto whom shall be the gathering of the people (Genesis 49:0), as the Star out of Jacob, and the Sceptre that shall rise out of Israel (Numbers 24:17), as the great Prophet whom God will raise up, and unto whom the Jews should hearken (Deuteronomy 18:0). Moreover, the moral law of Moses, by revealing the holy will of God and setting up a standard of human righteousness in conformity with that will, awakens a knowledge of sin and guilt (Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7), and thus serves as a school-master to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). Finally, the ritual law and all the ceremonies of Mosaic worship were typical of the Christian dispensation (Colossians 2:17), as the healing serpent in the wilderness pointed to Christ on the cross (Numbers 21:9; John 3:14). This is a most important testimony, from the unerring mouth of Christ, to the Messianic character and aim of the whole Mosaic dispensation, and to the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch. Comp. Luke 24:44; Romans 10:5.—P. S.]
John 5:47. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall you believe my words?—Twofold antithesis [Moses and Christ—Moses’ writings and Christ’s words]. First, as the stronger, ἐκείνου—ἐμοῖς. Not as if Moses were more credible than Christ. But he is easier for beginners, and only through him do men get to Christ. This antithesis does not, as Meyer thinks, exclude the second. The Sanhedrists, like the Rabbins in general, officially concerned themselves simply with the writings; the words of Christ they heard only by the way.83 They had sought to prosecute Him according to the Sabbath law of Moses; He declares that they are apostates from Moses. But as they postpone their judgment, He postpones His.
[The discourse ends, as Meyer says, with a question “of hopelessness,” I prefer to say, holy sadness. Yet after all there is implied in this question a tender appeal of that infinite love which would again and again gather the children of Jerusalem together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, though they would not (Matthew 23:37).—This whole discourse is one of the most remarkable in the New Testament. Nowhere else does Christ so fully explain His relation to His Father. It is not metaphysical, but the simple expression of His filial consciousness. With the utmost naturalness and almost childlike simplicity He utters the sublimest truths concerning His official dependence on, and essential oneness with, the Father. This relation the Nicene Creed has briefly and clearly expressed by calling Christ “Light of Light, God of God, very God of very God.” What can we mortals do but reverently listen to these astounding disclosures of the mysterious union of the Saviour of the world with the infinite God! And how terrific is the force of the argument against the blind and dead leaders of the Jews, especially when, at the close, He pursues them to their own territory and takes away the very foundation from under their feet by calling the grand figure of their liberator and lawgiver in whom they placed their hope, from the grave, and changing their pretended advocate into their accuser! The whole discourse is so characteristic, grand, pointed and telling, that the idea of an invention is utterly preposterous. Even Strauss and Renan dare not deny its essential genuineness, though they insist upon its Johannean coloring. “Le thème,” says Renan of the Johannean discourses in general (Vie de Jêsus), “peut n’être pas sans quelque authenticitê; mais dans l’exécution, la fantaisie de l’artiste se donne pleine carrière.” But John first became conformed in his mind to Christ before he conformed Christ to his mode of thought and speech, so that his theology is a faithful reflection of the theology of Christ. It would take no less than another superhuman Jesus to invent such a Jesus as the one exhibited by this plain fisherman of Galilee. The historical reality is the only sensible solution of the problem.—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The advancing opposition of the darkness to the light of the world, in its most diverse forms.
2. Christ, the quickening life, is the central thought of chapters 4–7 In the fourth chapter He presents Himself as the refreshment of life, the fountain of peace; in the fifth, as the fountain of healing, the healing quickener of the sick and the dead, even to resurrection; in the sixth, as the sustaining and nourishing bread of life; in the seventh, as the hidden, mysterious spirit-life, whence the fresh fountain-life of the spirit flows. After this the idea of light comes forward. In the eighth chapter Christ is the preserving, enlightening light, the day of the word; in the ninth, the awakening, quickening light, the light-star of the world, by which the blind receive sight, and those who profess to see, become blind; in the tenth, the shepherd through life to death; in the eleventh, the resurrection from death to eternal life; in the twelfth, the transfigurer of death into the seed of full and glorious life.
3. As the fourth chapter presents Christianity in contrast with sacred antiquities (Jacob’s well), and with the places and services of the temple in the ancient time, so this fifth chapter unfolds it in contrast with ancient miraculous localities and curative resorts.
4. The very first public attendance of Christ at a feast had been followed by a hostile demonstration of the Jews; and this second one brings them already to the commencement of capital process against Him. This contrast of the feasts of the Jews and the feasts of Christ runs through the whole fourth Gospel; the former preparing death for Christ, the latter quickening the world with miracles of life. A contrast which reminds us of autos-da fe,84 Maundy Thursday=bulls, and Saint Bartholomew nights on the one hand, and the true evangelical festivals of the faith on the other.
5. The man healed at the pool of Bethesda is not only parallel, but also in some respects a contrast, to the man healed at the pool of Siloam. The most important point of contrast is the indolence and sleepiness of the one and the brightness and energy of the other. But just this makes the former case the more suitable type of the general resurrection. The re-animating principle in Christ raises up not only living believers, but also in the last day the most lifeless unbelievers; though a whole age intervene between the first and the general resurrection.
6. The fountain of Bethesda an example of earthly sources of healing, a symbol of the divine source; the pool and hall of Bethesda an example of watering-places, hospitals, etc., a symbol of the theocracy; the hall of Bethesda, visited by Christ, a representative of the church, the dispensary of divine grace in the sinful world.
7. The Sabbath of the Jews and the Sabbath of Christ. Christ here gives the deepest warrant for the higher Sabbath work, in opposition to a dead Sabbath rest. God’s creating, and God’s working in His creation, are different things. And the most important works of God in His Sabbath are His festal works of love for the restoration of man. So with this festal Sabbath work of Christ. The Sabbath of the Christian should follow the example. [Comp. Exeg. Notes on John 5:16.—P. S.]
8. The two accusations brought against Jesus before the Jewish court mark the two positive fundamental motives of the persecution of Him, which come out stronger and stronger in the progress of the Gospel history. The first is His offending against their statutes, particularly their Sabbath laws; the second is His manifestation of Himself (as Son of God), offending against their deistic theology. But we must not overlook two corresponding negative motives: (1) Their anger at His refusal to embrace and yield Himself to their chiliasm; (2) their envy at His greatness and consideration with the people. These different motives may be reduced to the single motive of the offence He gave their hierarchical malignity. This offence was (1) objective; a statutory offence, both (a) ecclesiastical, with reference to the Sabbath, and (b) theological, with reference to the doctrine of the unity of God. The offence was (2) subjective; an official offence, in that (a) He does not fall in with their ideas, is not a Messiah to suit their worldly ambition, and (b) He eclipses them before the people, rousing their envy. The opposition may also be expressed in Johannean terms, as the hostility of darkness to light (of lie to truth), of hatred to love, of death to life.
9. The self-offence of Christ before the judgment-seat, in respect to its wisdom, which is especially striking in the interchange of the third and first persons, is a master-stroke, eclipsing all human rhetoric. In respect to its matter, it is the divine depth of the doctrine of the organic nature and process of the resurrection, from its origin in Christ, through the awakening and quickening wrought by Him, to the full regeneration of the world; the organic difference and contrast also between the first resurrection and the second being indicated thereby. In respect of its issue or effect, the discourse marks a victory, after which the Jewish court drops the action, but does not abandon it.
10. The discourse of Christ speaks of the Father in His deepest nature and work: as being life in and of Himself and giving life; of the nature of the Son as corresponding to the essence and operation of the Father; and of this in particular, as bringing with it a corresponding moral administration. The discourse then exalts the economy of the Son as an administration of saving quickening (a time of grace), which suspends the old judgment, and presents the new judgment of the Son purely as a condemnation to be left unquickened by the Son. It presents the healing work of Christ as a basis and presage of the awakening of the dead, the spiritual awaking as the introduction and beginning of the bodily; and it exhibits this last in its double aspect of the consummation of life and the consummation of damnation. It declares the final purpose of the judgment: The glorifying of the Son for the glory of the Father. Next it treats of the great testimonies which accredit this mission of Christ: The testimony of a historical office (John); the testimony of the Father in miracles, and in the holy Scriptures; and in particular the testimony of Moses. Finally it holds up the contempt of these witnesses as punishing itself by preventing the man, misled and obstructed by the false witnesses of human ambition, from perceiving the witness of the Holy Ghost, and so deprives him of all witnesses of power and blessing, and plunges him through unbelief into condemnation. “The re-awakening of the dead of Israel in the time of the Messiah had been predicted by Isaiah (26:19) and Ezekiel (37); and the general resurrection of the righteous and the wicked, by Daniel (12:2), pointing, in immediate connection, to the Messiah intrusted with the judgment of the world; comp. Psalms 2:8; Psalms 110:6; Isaiah 45:23-24; Isaiah 46:13, 21; Joel 3:1; Malachi 3:2. But as the kingdom of God among Israel had to begin inwardly, before it could appear in outward glory, so the resurrection of the dead and the judgment; he alone who is spiritually quickened has the pledge, and the beginning, of the bodily resurrection to life; by faith or by unbelief each one already pronounces his own sentence, John 3:18. In token of the spiritual and the future bodily resurrection, and of the unity of the two, Jesus at that time raised dead persons to life,” etc. Gerlach.
11. The quickening work of Christ. He who would hinder Him in it, passes judgment, because he closes the day and the work of grace. But Christ does not suffer Himself to be hindered, because the Father, with His quickening power, gives Him commission to perfect His quickening. This judging is the reverse side (the medium) of His quickening. In proportion as He cannot and does not quicken, condemnation exists; either still exists, or exists anew.
12. The different witnesses of Christ. If the testimony of the Baptist here seems subordinate to the testimony of the Scriptures, it is not his testimony as such, but only his testimony by itself, in distinction from the entire testimony of the Old Testament, of which his is the completion.
13. Christ, in picturing the Jews thinking they have eternal life in their sacred books, characterizes every false estimate of ecclesiasticism or the objective church. The general perversion of this spirit is objectivism, a person’s alienating his religion from himself, and thinking he has his life as an external treasure in ecclesiastical objects and means; whether the mere outside, the letter, of the holy Scriptures, or the mere elements of the sacraments, or the mere official processes of church discipline. The essence of this objectivistic churchliness is lifelessness, unspiritual ness, residing first in the spiritually dead persons, and thence making the objects dead likewise. The objectivism of the Jews had a double form. They thought they had their life in the Scriptures, and in their traditional theology, or the traditions of the elders. Christ intimates the second point, but gives the prominence to the first, because the Scriptures have, besides the letter that kills, a spirit that quickens; and because this spirit is their true life, in which they testify of Christ. The same sort of exaltation of the legal canonical authority of the Bible over the living revelation of God in voices and visions, and especially in Christ, shows itself in various ways even in the Protestant theology. The true ground, however, is not the opposite extreme of a subjectivism which loosens off from the Scriptures, but a subjective spirit of faith which inwardly unites itself with the testimony of holy Writ.
14. The crown of the address of Jesus in this judicial hearing is the gradually developed idea of the essential judgment, in which Moses himself, to whom Christ’s accusers appeal against Him, will appear against them as their accuser.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
In proportion as Christ, the Light and the Life, attracts kindred, susceptible souls, He repels the haters of light.—The awaking and the working of the powers of darkness in Israel against the Lord.—Christ’s act of healing in the little Bethesda (house of grace), and His discourse of the great Bethesda of the Father and the Son.—The reflection of the legalistic spirit of the Jews in the capital action which they brought against Christ: 1. They are scandalized by His entrance into the emblematical “house of mercy” with a substantial work of mercy (eclipsing the medicinal bubbling and the angel). 2. They charge against Him His festal work of charity on the Sabbath as a labor deserving of death, and as a bad example. 3. On the feast of Purim, the feast of the reversed lot (which gave safety to the Jews and destruction to the heathen, reversing what seemed to be decreed), they made a sinner’s lot of new life the lot of death for him. 4. His vindication, appealing to the example of his Father, they turn into a second and a heavier accusation. 5. When they cannot condemn Him, and are speechless, they turn their nonsuit into a reservation to persecute Him the more steadily.—On the feast-day, which the people are keeping with merry-making, Christ visits the hospital.—The most helpless of all attracts most Christ’s attention.—As the hand of justice touches the highest haughtiness, the hand of mercy touches the lowest misery.—The sufferer says: “I have no man;” and the Saviour stands by him.—The pool of Bethesda a type of favored localities in a religious community in which the highest miraculous aid has not yet appeared. The miraculous aid is (1) enigmatical (an angel troubling the water); (2) occasional (at a certain season); (3) extremely limited (to the one who steps in first;) (4) to many unavailable (the impotent).—Irresolution and impotence, the worst part of any malady (in melancholy, hypochondria, etc.): 1. It is itself disease. 2. It aggravates the other disease. 3. It hinders the cure. 4. It can make the cure uncertain again (“lest a worse thing come unto thee”).—Christ takes even the honest wish of a man of faint faith, for faith.—As here Christ’s word of power puts an impotent man upon his feet, so in the general resurrection it sets the universe upon its feet.—The cripple at the pool of Bethesda, compared with the blind man sent to the fountain of Siloam, John 9:0.—“He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.” The feeblest confesssion, still a confession.—If it is lawful to be made whole, it must be lawful to go home with the bed.—The first word of Christ to the impotent man in Bethesda, and His second word to the healed man in the temple.—Christ’s self-defence (see Doctrinal Thoughts, No. 9).—“My Father worketh.” The difference between a festal, divine working and an unlawful, human laboring.—The working of God in the medicinal spring (or well of health) an emblem of the saving operation of God in general. 1. In its forms: a. The saving operation of the Father in the kingdom of nature. b. The saving operation of Christ in the kingdom of grace. 2. In its stages: a. Christ’s miraculous healing and raising of dead in general. b. The spiritual awakening and the organic unfolding of salvation in the New Testament dispensation. c. The finished work of salvation in the general resurrection.—The Lord’s highest justification made a capital charge against Him.
John 5:19 : Christianity the second, the spiritualized and glorified creation. 1. Christ the image of the Father; 2. His word the spirit of the creation; 3. His work the copy of the works of the Father.—The Son’s inability to do any thing of Himself, a paraphrase of His omnipotence to do whatever the Father does.—The Father’s speaking and showing to the Son, an out-flowing of His love.—The Son’s hearing and doing, a proving of His reciprocal love.—The perfect harmony of Christ’s moral conduct with His essential nature.—“And He will show Him greater works than these.” The works of healing a fore-shadowing of the miracle of the resurrection.—The Son unrestricted in His quickening work (“quickeneth whom He will”); or, Christ’s ministration of grace amenable to no limitations: 1. To no abridgment of its day. 2. To no contraction of its field. 3. To no diminution of its wonders.—Every opposition to the saving work of Christ a condemnatory judgment, which would make (call in, administer) the judgment day itself.—The Father has committed judgment to the Son; implying: a. Every condemnation of the old dispensation, before the Son judged, is removed (it is a day of grace), b. The Son’s judging is but the consequence
and the reverse of His quickening (the manifestation of the self-condemnation of unbelievers).—The design of the merciful judgeship of Christ: 1. To glorify the Son above all (Philippians 2:6-11). 2. To glorify the Father through the Son.—Only as men honor Christ as Son, do they honor God as Father.—Only in personal homage to Christ does the brightness of the personal divine Being disclose itself to man (the personal essence is known through the essentially personal manifestation).
John 5:24 : “Verily, verily, etc. The sure way to the highest salvation for all. 1. The way: a. Hearing Christ’s word. b. Believing God in His sending of Christ. 2. The salvation: a. Having everlasting life. b. Coming not into condemnation. c. Being passed from death unto life.—The utmost passiveness of submission to God through Christ, the highest action.—All in the foundation of the Christian life has been already done, when any decisive beginning is made in the manifestation.—“The hour is coming, and now is.” All the future is included in the present of Christianity. This is true (1) in the history of Christ, (2) in the history of the church, (3) in the individual Christian.—In one hour of the eternal life all hours of the eternal future lie in germ.—The spiritual resurrection as the ground-work and the genesis of the universal resurrection.—All must hear the voice of Christ; but only those who hear aright, shall live.—The resurrection of all bodies must follow as by natural necessity from the operations of Christ, but the resurrection of hearts depends on voluntary faith, which Christ does not force.—Christ the dispenser of life, in the special sense, as Son of God.—Christ the judge, in the special sense, as Son of Man. And yet at once life giver and judge in both relations.—Christ’s power to have life in Himself (see above).—“Marvel not” (comp. John 5:20); or, the most extraordinary manifestations of Christianity yet impend.—“The hour is coming in which all.” It is coming, (1) as the hour of the great trumpet which all must hear; (2) as the judgment-day of pure light, in which all must appear; (3) as the millennial summer, which brings everything to maturity.—Those who come forth on the day of the resurrection: 1. What all have in common (all come forth under the operation of Christ’s power; all must hear the voice of His power, follow its call). 2. How they differ and separate (in their relations to the operation of the grace and Spirit of Christ). a. The result of the manifestation: Some have done good according to the principles of the kingdom of God, have sealed their faith by works of love; the others have done evil, have sealed their unbelief in obduracy. b. The reward: The two classes come severally to the resurrection, the complete development, of the sentence which is in them.
John 5:30 : The judgment of Christ, a judgment of the Father also.—The witnesses who accredit the Lord: 1. He does not begin with His own testimony (but leaves this to follow other testimonies, without which it could not have its full weight). 2. He does not rest upon the official testimony of John, which ought to have satisfied the Jews, but could not satisfy Him (and so to this day He rests not on the official testimony of the church, though to men this must suffice for the beginning). 3. But He appeals to the testimony of the Father in His works (miracles of power) and in the Holy Scriptures (miracles of prophetic knowledge).
John 5:32 : Christ sure of His divine credentials.—The misconduct of the Jews towards John the Baptist a presage of their misconduct towards the Lord: 1. Of John’s solemn mission (preaching repentance) they made a pleasant entertainment; and, conversely, of the glad tidings of Christ they made a tragic offence. 2. They separated John’s light from his fire, that they might dance with the visionary hope of an outwardly glorious Messianic kingdom; and in Christ they despised the light, that they might harden themselves in the fire of His love. 3. In the fickleness of their enthusiasm they soon gave John over to the caprice of Herod; and with the same fickleness they delivered the Lord to Pilate.—The misconduct of the spirit of the world and the spirit of the age towards the messengers of God.—Christ still attested, and more and more attested, by the words of Scripture and tokens of the life.—Marks of dead and false faith: 1. It adheres to the means of revelation (Scriptures, tradition, church, sacraments, ministry), and has no sense for their living origin, the personal God. 2. It adheres to the forms of those means, and has no heart to receive the personal centre of them, Jesus Christ, with His word. 3. It adheres to the particulars of the forms (the letters of the Scripture), and imagines it has eternal life in them, while it is full of antipathy to Christ and the life itself. Or: 1. It has a Scripture and tradition of revelation, and no quickening power of it in the Spirit of the living God. 2. It has holy Scriptures, but no holy Scripture, the centre of which is the living Christ. 3. It thinks it has eternal life outside of itself in the means of grace, while it bears enmity to the life of the spirit in Christ, the very life itself.—This dead faith alienates itself more and more (1) from the Father, the source of revelation, (2) from the living Christ, the word of revelation, (3) from the life of the Spirit, the life of revelation.—Men cannot have eternal life merely outside of themselves, in external church privileges.—Even the Holy Scripture should not be exalted, in a legal spirit, above the living Christ.—A man’s study of Scripture must be vivified by the study of his own heart.—Faith, when merely external, may turn itself upon any means of revelation: (1) Turn from personal life to things, (2) from the inner life, the spirit, to the outer form, (3) from the centre of the life to the details of its exhibition.—The moral causes of dead faith: 1. Want of sense for the divine spiritual glory of Christ, for the purity of His life and the revelation of the Father in Him. 2. Morbid sensitiveness to the false spiritual glory (honor) of men. 3. Ambitious desire to take part in the mutual glorification of men; or, the want of that simplicity which constitute the true responsiveness to God through Christ, arising from the ambition of the heart, which is a false responsiveness to the honor of men.—Aversion to God and propensity to deify the world and self, the fundamental characteristic of sin and of heathenism, and the root of the perversion of the (theocratic and ecclesiastical) disposition to believe.—The condemnation of the false, legalistic faith: 1. It misses salvation in Christ, and falls over to false prophets and false Messiahs, and to anti-Christ at last. 2. It loses the honor which is from God, and comes to shame before the world itself. 3. It finds its heaviest condemnation in the law of the Lord itself, which it hypocritically professes to honor.—Unbelief, the soul of a dead and empty legalistic faith.—The spirit of legalism is much more completely condemned and overthrown by its own illegality (its lawlessness) than by Christianity.—Before the eyes of the world this, spirit is put to confu sion by the law, especially by the fundamental laws of humanity as laid down by Moses, far in advance of the judgment-day.—Christ in His first judicial appearance, and in His last.
Starke: Nova Bibl. Tub. The example of Christ in attending public worship at every opportunity, even though He had no need of it.—Ibid.: What is the world but a hospital, the abode of the bodily and spiritually sick—Zeisius: The world a very Bethesda.—Majus: Hospitals, asylums for poor and sick are most justly established and maintained.—Ibid.: From the wells of charity flow many healing waters.—The movings of the heavenly water of healing are not under our control, yet that we may expect and wait for them is itself a mercy.—Zeisius: Look into the mirror of this most wretched and patient sufferer, thou who art so discontented and impatient under sufferings hardly as many days, or even hours, protracted, as this man’s infirmity was years!—Hedinger: Patience, the best thing.—Tedious infirmities, veritable trials of patience.—Quesnel: The more we are deprived of human help, the better right we have to hope for the help of God.—Majus: Jesus looks graciously upon those at whom the proud world casts not a glance. Follow His example.—To visit and help the sick, a large part of love.—By questions God encourages our faith.—Though men cannot or will not help, yet God stands by with sure mercy.—Nova Bibl. Tub.: When Jesus speaks, it is done, etc. Psalms 33:9.—Zeisius: Help comes at last.—Hedinger: Hypocrites strain out gnats.—Quesnel: A servant of Christ, upon a noble achievement, must not wait for the applause of the people, but withdraw himself.—Canstein: All temporal benefits should promote our conversion.—Hedinger: If God take one cross off thee, be not sure another and greater may not be laid upon thee.—We must never take holiday from good works.—Canstein: The honor which the children of God have from God their Father, and from their sonship, is always an eye-sore to the ungodly.—If Jesus, our Head, is all life, we His faithful members are perfectly certain also to live forever.—Majus: God testifies in us and of us by the divine works which He performs in and through us.—On John 5:35. Zeisius: As a burning light, while lighting others, consumes itself, so Christian teachers should sacrifice themselves in the service of God and their fellow men.—How rarely are light and heat found together!—Quesnel: When a light arises in the church, it immediately gives forth a brightness in which people are glad but this lasts not long.
John 5:38 : And His word ye have, indeed, in books, in schools, and on lips, and outwardly hold it high, but have it not abiding in you.
John 5:39 : Even from the Old Testament Christ may be known.—He who departs from Christ, flies before life.—Teachers must seek not their own honor, but the salvation of men.—He who does not obediently receive the word of God, has no love for God.—Majus: It is by no means a mark of true doctrine, that it and its teachers are eagerly received by the multitude.—Ambition not only corrupts the desires, but also as it were, bewitches the judgment and sensibilities, so that in religion the man never yields to, but always resists, the light and truth,—Ambition is with many the cause of their hardening themselves against the preaching of the gospel.—A Christian, after the example of Christ, must not accuse the enemies of the truth to God, but pray for them.—Quesnel: Christ the key of the Old Testament.—The cavillers are mightily refuted on their own ground.—The appeal of the Son of God Himself to the written word should quicken in us the deepest reverence for the Holy Scriptures.
Braune: If God rested as the Jews would have men rest on the Sabbath, no sun would rise, no flower would bloom.
Heubner: Jesus never (as a rule) let, a feast go by without visiting Jerusalem: (1) To fulfil the duty of an Israelite; (2) to use the opportunity of preaching the word not only before the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but before all Israel, and before strangers; (3) to testify the truth there to the leaders at a time when He might appear before them without their venturing to lay hands on Him.—Evangelical clergymen also should use the high Christian festivals with conscientious fidelity, (1) because it may be expected that the Spirit of God will then be specially active; (2) because souls are then in more solemn mood than at other times; (3) because at least many will be present then, who at other times are not. At such festivals it is disclosed, of what manner of spirit a preacher is.85—Bethesda, i.e., asylum, hospital, an emblem of the Christian church (primarily an emblem of the theocratic church of the law).—Jesus did not avoid such sad sights, the retreats of the diseased. In fact He was the physician.—There is a true waiting for divine help: waiting for that which God alone can do; but there is also a false waiting: waiting for that which we ourselves should do, or for the removal of that which should not hinder us at all.
John 5:4 : This and the whole passage would be a grand text for sermons at watering places, where it is rarely heard.—The angel. Even nature has invisible spiritual forces for her own secret spring. All proceeds from the spiritual world.—The judgment of a great physician, that a man cannot be a thorough theologian unless he also understand nature, nor a thorough naturalist unless he be also a theologian.—The healing powers in the kingdom of nature, emblems of the healing powers in the kingdom of grace.—Troubled the water. The first operation of the Spirit of God upon the soul seems even to be a troubling, disquieting; all is stirred up in the soul, the bottom of the heart is shaken up; but by that very means new energies are excited, life is quickened, and clearness comes.—Whosoever then first, etc. Watch the time!—Wilt thou? Jesus would have our earnest will.—Rise! The word of Jesus has power; what He commands, He gives.—True and false observance of the Sabbath.—God’s working is eternal: He is the living God, He is the absolute life, and this life is love. This flows forth without interruption forever.—The thought of the living God, the highest stimulus to work.—Unbelievers will marvel with terror and to condemnations, believers with joy and triumph in their glory.—Unwillingness in spite of the most pressing invitations is the cause of the misery of men.—(Luther:) In more secular callings, positions, and talents, it is less pernicious to be proud and ambitious, but in theology to be arrogant, haughty, and ambitious, does the utmost mischief.
Besser: (Brenz:) Wilt thou be made whole? So the Lord asks us in all our troubles, whether we would be delivered.—(Chemnitz:) The Lord speaks to the Jews exactly as if I should say to the Papists: It is not I, but the very fathers whose authority you allege in support of your superstition, that will accuse you of ungodliness. Or as if we should say to the pope: It is not we that accuse or condemn thee, but Christ Himself whose vicar thou callest thyself, Peter whose successor thou claimest to be, Paul whose sword thou pretendest to carry; these are they that accuse thee. (And Mary as surely impeaches mariolatry, as every true saint the distribution of the honor of Christ among the saints.)
Schleiermacher: How could it have been that so many refused to accept the Redeemer? There is unbelief on the one hand, irresolution on the other, and the two, in their innermost and deepest root, are one and the same. If man can come to a firm resolution to forsake the earthly and strive for the heavenly, the eye of the Spirit will soon open in him, enabling him to seek and to find the true fountain of healing whence eternal life proceeds.—We have life not in ourselves, but from Him and through Him.
[Schaff: John 5:1. Christ went up to Jerusalem at a feast: 1. Because it was a divine ordinance, and to teach us to attend religious assemblies (Hebrews 10:25); 2. Because it was an opportunity for doing good. (From Henry.)—When Christ came to Jerusalem, He visited not the palaces, but the hospitals, for He came to save the sick and wounded. (The same.)
John 5:2-4. Nature has provided remedies, men must provide hospitals.—How many are the afflictions in this world, how full of complaints, and what a multitude of impotent folks! (The same.)—The earth is a great Bethesda. (Scott.)—The fathers, and the high Anglican, Wordsworth, regard the healing pool of Bethesda stirred by an angel, as a figure of baptismal water to which all mankind is invited, and whose virtue is never exhausted. But Christ healed the cripple simply by His word, John 5:8.—Matthew Henry calls Bethesda a type of Christ, who is the fountain opened.—Albert Barnes indulges in remarks against the frivolous amusements of modern watering places, where more than anywhere else men should be grateful for the goodness of God.
John 5:8. Rise, lake up thy bed and walk. Christ first gives, and then commands, He imparts the strength to do His will. Augustine: “Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt.” (Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis. Conf. x. 29. This sentence was especially offensive to Pelagius, as it was directly opposed to his view of the inherent moral ability of man.)
John 5:9. The day of rest was chosen by Christ as the fittest season for Divine acts of mercy. Thus He fulfilled the law and showed His oneness with the Father. God rested on that day from all His works of creation; but on that Day of rest He specially works in doing acts of mercy to the souls of His creatures in public worship. (Wordsworth.)
Ver 14. Jesus escapes from the crowd; but finds us and is found by us in the temple. God is seen in solitude. (Wordsworth.)—They who are healed from sickness should seek the sanctuary of God, and give Him thanks for His mercy. (Albert Barnes.)—Sin no more, lest a worse thing, etc. The doom of apostates is a worse thing than thirty-eight years’ lameness. (Henry.)—From the healing of the sick at Bethesda we learn 1. What misery sin has brought into the world; 2. How great is the mercy and compassion of Christ; 3. That recovery from sickness should impress us with the determination to sin no more, lest a worse thing happen to us. (Ryle.)
John 5:17. What would become of the Sabbath unless God worked on the Sabbath? (Bengel.)—Christ speaks here as God who makes His sun to rise and His rain to fall, and clothes the grass of the field on the seventh day as well as on the other six. (Chrysostom.)—The law of the Sabbath is a law of a Being who never rests from doing good. (Theophylact.)—The Jews, understanding the law of the Sabbath in a carnal sense, imagined that God was wearied by the labor of the creation, and was resting from fatigue. As He works always without labor, so Christ. (Wordsworth.)—Jesus did not deny the obligation of the Sabbath law, but explained its constitution. The solemnities of the Sabbath were and are necessary to restore the human spirit, distracted by the diversity of earthly affairs, to the oneness of the Divine Being, but Christ, who ever reposed in this unity, observed a perpetual Sabbath, like the Father, and no activity could distract Him. (Olshausen.)—Christ nowhere sets aside the obligation of the fourth commandment, but places it on the right foundation, and shows us that works of necessity and mercy are no breach of the commandment. The error and danger of the present age is the opposite of the Jews. The experience of eighteen centuries proves that vital religion cannot flourish without the Sabbath. (Ryle.)
John 5:19. If the Son does the same things as the Father, and in the same manner, then let the Jew be silenced, the Christian believe, the heretic be convinced; the Son is equal with the Father. (Augustine.)—This is the strongest possible assertion of equality. If the Son does all that the Father does, then like Him, He must be almighty, omniscient, all-present and infinite in every perfection; in other words, He must be God. (Barnes.)
John 5:21-29. That form of Man which was once judged will judge all men. He who once stood before the judge will sit as Judge of all. He who was once falsely condemned as guilty, will justly condemn the guilty. Christ will be seen by the good and the wicked; God by the good alone. (Augustine.) All that are in the graves (John 5:28), whether in costly sepulchres or with monuments of marble, or in lonely deserts, whether in the catacombs, or in the depths of the sea, whether their bodies have been embalmed, or burned to ashes and scattered to the winds of heaven, all must appear before the Judge “of tremendous majesty” for a final settlement of the accounts of this earthly life.—The immortality of the soul without faith in Christ, is only an immortality of misery.—Live always in view of the judgment to come, prepare for it in time.
“ Quid sum miser tunc dicturus,
Quem patronum rogaturus,
Qaum vix justus sit securus.
Recordare, Jesu pie,
Quod sum caasa taæ viæ;
Ne me perdas illa die!” (From the Dies Iræ.)
Wretched man, what shall I plead,
Who for me will intercede,
When the righteous mercy need?
Recollect good Lord, I pray,
I have caused Thy bitter way;
Don’t forget me on that Day!
[John 5:38-40. Different modes of searching the Scriptures, the one purely critical and heartless, mechanical, dwelling on the outside, confined to the letter, excluding the spirit, leading away from Christ; the other spiritual, experimental, penetrating to the marrow, leading to Christ. The former mode may he either hyperorthodox and superstitious, as with the Pharisees and Rabbinical Jews, or rationalistic and skeptical, as with the Sadducees and many nominally christian commentators.—The old Testament an unbroken testimony to Christ. So He read it, so we ought to read it.—Henry: “Christ is the treasure hid in the field of the scriptures, the treasure hid in the field of the scriptures, the water in their wells.”—Alford: “The Command[?] to the Jews to search the Scriptures, applies even more strongly to christians; who are yet, like them, in danger of idolizing a mere written book, believing that in the Bible they have eternal life, and missing the personal knowledge of Him of whom the scriptures testify.”—42. I know you. Christ knows men better than they know them.
John 5:44. worldly ambition a great hindrance to faith. (Henry.)
John 5:46. Moses leads to christ, the law is a school for the gospel (Galatians 3:24).—]
John 5:1; John 5:1.—The reading ἡ ἑορτή is after Codd. C. E. F. L. (also Cod. Sin.). It probably arose from an effort to make the feast the chief feast of the Jews, the passover. [Tischendorf, ed. viii., influenced mainly by א., reads ἡ ἑορτή but Lachm., Alf., Treg., Westcott and Hort omit the definite art. with A. B. D. G. K. Orig. The article has some bearing on the question whether the great feast of the passover, or a subordinate feast is meant; yet it is not absolutely conclusive; for in Hebrew a noun before the genitive is made definitive by prefixing the article, not to the noun itself, but to the genitive, and the same is the case in the Sept. (Deuteronomy 16:13; 2 Kings 18:15) and in some passages of the N. T., as Matthew 12:24; Luke 2:4; Acts 8:5. Comp. Winer, who quotes also examples from the classics, p. 119 f. (Thayer’s transl., p. 126). Tholuck remarks: “Were the article genuine, we would be compelled to regard the chief festival, that is the Passover, as the one meant. If it is not genuine, the Passover may be meant, but so also may some other feast.”—P. S.]
John 5:2; John 5:2.—[Sheep gate is the marginal reading of the E. V. πύλῃ is usually supplied to ἐπὶ τῇ πρωβατικῇ—P. S.]
John 5:2; John 5:2.—[Different spellings of this name—Βηθεσδά, Βηθεσαιδά, Βηθζαθά, There are also different readings for ἐπιλεγομένη, sc. λεγομένη and τὸ λεγόμενον. Tischendorf prefers the last, which is supported by Cod. Sin. The lect. rec. ἐπιλεγομένη, zubenamt, surnamed, would imply that the pool had another proper name, perhaps the Sheep’s Pool. The Vulgate connects κολυμβήθρα (dative) with προβατικῇ and translates: “Est autem Jerosolymis probatica piscina quæ cognominatur hebraice Bethsaida.” ̔Εβραἵστί refers to the prevailing Aramaic which was spoken by the Jews after their return from the exile. It proves incidentally the Greek composition of the Gospel.—P. S.]
John 5:3; John 5:3.—[Πολύ is wanting in B. C. D. L., etc. [and Cod. Sin.]; put in brackets by Lachmann; rejected by Tischendorf.
John 5:3-4; John 5:3-4.—Omissions: (1) The words: “Waiting for the moving of the water,” and John 5:4, are wanting in B. C.*, etc. [also in the Cod. Sin.—Y.]; (2) the words: “waiting for the moving of the water,” in A. L.; (3) the 4th verse alone, in D. See further below. [Tischendorf (ad. viii.), Alford (ed. vi.), Tregelles, Westcott and Hort omit the last clause of John 5:3 (ἐκδε χομένων τὴν τοῦ ὕδατος κίνησιν), and the whole of John 5:4 (̓́Αγγελος νοσήματι). Lachmann retains here the text. rec., which is backed by the authority of Tertullian (De Bapt., John 5:0), an authority much older than the oldest MSS. But it is not easy to account for the omission of the clause (its legendary character was certainly not objectionable to the fathers, translators and transcribers). The large number of ἅπαξ λεγόμενα—κὶνησιν, ταραχή, δήποτε, νόσημα—also speak against it. It was probably a very ancient marginal gloss suggested by the popular belief in order to explain the assemblage of the sick, John 5:4, and the answer in John 5:7, which implies that belief. Its omission saves some trouble to the commentator by relieving John from the superstition of the Jews in regard to the healing water. Comp., however, the Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]
John 5:5; John 5:5.—[The best authorities read αὐτοῦ, after ἐν τῇ . The meaning is: he had been sick for 38 years. ἔχων belongs to τριάκοντα καὶ ὀκτὼ ἔτη, (as the accusative of the time, comp. John 8:57; John 11:17), not to ἐν τῇ . αὐτοῦ ἀσθενῶς ἔχων.—P. S.]
John 5:6; John 5:6.—[Or, in that condition, or, sick; ὅτι πολὺν ἥδη χρόνον ἔχει sc. ἐν , John 5:5. Alford, in his revision, retains the rendering of the A. V. Noyes: “that he had been for a long time diseased.” Version of the Am. Bible Union: “that he had been already a long time thus.”—P. S.]
John 5:7; John 5:7.—[Κύριε is here, as in 4:11, simply a title of courtesy to a stranger, and hence correctly translated, Sir, instead of Lord.—P. S.]
John 5:10; John 5:10.—[ῆ̓ν δὲ σάββατον ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρα. Alford: “Now on that day was the sabbath.” Noyes: “And that day was the sabbath.” Young: “It was a sabbath on that day.”—P. S.]
John 5:12; John 5:12.—[The οῦ̓ν of the text. rec. after ἠρώτησαν is sustained by A. C., bracketed by Tregelles, omitted by א. B. D. Alf., Tischend.—P. S.]
John 5:12; John 5:12.—Τὸν κράββατόν σου is wanting in א. B. C.* L., omitted by Tischendorf. With the omission the expression is more significant, as the addition contains something palliative.
John 5:13; John 5:13.—[Tischend. reads ὁ δὲ , the diseased man, (from John 5:7), but ἰαθείς, the healed man is supported by א. A. B. C., et al., Vulg. (curatus), Lachm., Treg., Alf.—P. S.]
John 5:15; John 5:15,—Waverings between ἀνήγγειλε, A. B., Recepta, Lachmann; ἀπήγγειλε, D. K., etc.; εῖ̓πεν C. L., etc. [Cod. Sin.—Y.]. The first reading is at once the most exact and the most suitable. [Tischend. reads εῖ̓πεν, Treg., Alf., Westcott and Hort.: ἀνήγγειλεν.—P. S.]
John 5:16; John 5:16.—The words [of the text. rec.]: καὶ ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν , are wanting in א. B. C. D. L., etc., the Vulgate, etc. Probably occasioned by the μᾶλλον, etc., John 5:18.
John 5:20; John 5:20.—[Μείζονα is emphatically put first.—P. S.]
John 5:24; John 5:24.—[So μεταβέβηκε ἐκ is translated by Alford, Noyes, and Conant. Luther: hindurchgedrungen; Lange: hinübergegangen.—P. S.]
John 5:27; John 5:27.—[The καὶ before κρίσιν is omitted by Tischend., Alf., etc.—P. S.]
John 5:27; John 5:27.—[Here υὶὸς , without the article, as also Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14 (with reference to Daniel 7:13); but in other passages where it is applied to Christ in the full, ideal sense, we have ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ . See the Exeg. Notes, and Excursus on 1:52, p. 93.—P. S.]
John 5:30; John 5:30.—The addition of πατρός is feebly supported. John 5:34.—[Or, Yet the witness which I receive is not from man, ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ παρα .—P. S.]
John 5:34; John 5:34.—[Or, Yet the witness which I receive is not from man, ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ παρὰ .—P. S.]
John 5:35; John 5:35.—[ὁ λύχνος (not φῶς, comp. 1:8) ὁ καιόμενος καὶ φαίνων. Alford: He was the lamp that burneth and shineth. Lange inserts the gloss: “the signal-light of the Messiah, illuminating also the Messiah and the way to Him.”—P. S.]
John 5:35; John 5:35.—[Lange inserts these comments; Ye were willing (ye liked) for a little while to rejoice (exult, revel) in his (own) light (as summer flies).—P. S.]
John 5:36; John 5:36.—[Alford: But the testimony I have is greater than John.—P. S.]
John 5:37; John 5:37.—Tischendorf, after B. L., ἐκεῖνος. [So also the Cod. Sin.—Y.]
Ibid.—Cod. D,, μαρτυρεῖ.
John 5:39; John 5:39.—Ἐρευνᾶτε is taken as the indicative mood by Cyril, Erasmus, Beza, Bengel, Olsh., De Wette, Meyer, Godet, Lange; as the imperative by Chrysostom, Augustin, Grotius, Tholuck, Ewald, Hengstenberg, Alford. See Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]
John 5:41; John 5:41.—A. K., et al., ἀνθρώπου, a man; B. D. [Cod. Sin.—Y.], and many others, ἀνθρώπων.
John 5:44; John 5:44.—[τὴν δόξαν τὴν παρα τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ the only God, in exclusion of all the idols of the natural heart; comp. John 17:3 : ὁ μόνος . The rendering of the A. V. would require μόυον, or μόυον after θεοῦ, Matthew 4:4; Matthew 12:4; Matthew 17:8. Alford: “The words from the only God, are very important because they form the point of passage to the next verses, in which the Jews are accused of not believing the writings of Moses, the very pith and kernel of which was the unity of God and the having no other gods but Him.”—P. S.]
John 5:47; John 5:47.—D. G. S. Δ., Origen [Lange]: πιστεύσητε [credatis, א. A. L., etc., Vulg., Treg., Tischend., Alf.: πιστεύσητε credetis. B. V. Iren. etc., Westcott and Hort. πιστεύστηετε creditis.—P. S.]
[Lücke makes μ. τοῦτο (2:12; 11:7, 11; 19:28) to signify the immediate, μ. ταῦτα (3:22; 6:1; 7:1) the mediate succession. Tholuck and Alford assent, Meyer and Hengstenberg object. The latter occurs uniformly in the Apocalypse, usually in the Gospel of John, comp. John 5:14, which speaks rather against the distinction. But in this case at all events some interval must have elapsed since the last verse of John 4:0, and much matter must be inserted from the Synoptists between John 4:5.—P. S.]
[Neander (Leben Jesu, 6 ed., 1862, p. 280), upon the whole, decides rather in favor of the passover, and should be transferred.—P. S.]
[So also Stier, Bäumlein, Godet.—P. S.]
[Who makes it the second passover of our Lord’s ministry, Adv. hær. ii. 22, 3 (I. 357 ed. Stieren): “Et post hæc iterum secunda vice ascendit in diem festum paschæ in Hierusalem, quando paralyticum curavit.” But Irenæus had an interest to lengthen Christ’s ministry, for two reasons which he brings out in this very connection. 1. Because he believed that Christ passed through all stages of human life to save them all, consequently He became also “senior in senioribus, ut sit perfectus magister in omnibus, non solum secundum expositionem veritatis, sed et secundum ætatem, sanctificans simul et seniores” (II. John 22, § 4, p. 358); 2. Because he inferred from the question of the Jews, John 8:57, that Jesus was not yet, but nearly fifty years of age at the time (II. 22, 6, p. 360). This somewhat weakens this testimony, which is pressed too much by Robinson and others.—P. S.]
[So also Grotius, Lightfoot, Hengstenberg, Neander, and Robinson.—P. S.]
[Alford also, after giving, from Lücke, a brief statement of the different views on this much controverted point, expresses his opinion that “we cannot with any probability gather what feast it was.” In this case, of course, the elaborate chronological argument based upon a definite view of the feast here spoken of, falls to the ground. On the chronological bearing of the interpretation see Robinson, Gr. Harmony of the Gospels, p. 190 ff.—P. S.]
[Comp. on the force of the article may addition to the first Text. Note.—P. S.]
[שַׁעַר הַצֹּאן, porta gregis, mentioned Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 3:32; Nehemiah 12:39. Meyer, however, with the Vulgate, Theodore of Mopsu. and Nonnus, connect προβατικῇ with κολυμβήθρᾳ (reading this as dative): “There was at the sheep pool the so called Bethesda.” Eusebius and Jerome speak of a προβατικὴ κολυμβήτρα, probatica piscina. Comp. the Text, Notes.—P. S.]
[Robinson, I. 330, says that there is not the slightest evidence that can identify the present Bethesda, or Sheep Pool, or, as the natives call it, Birket Israîl, with the Bethesda of the N. T. Eusebius and Jerome indeed speak of a Piscina Probatica shown in their day as Bethesda, but give no hint as to its situation. Robinson derives the tradition from the fact that St. Stephen’s gate, owing to its proximity, was erroneously held to be the ancient Sheep gate.—P. S.]
[So called because the Virgin Mary is said to have frequented this fountain before her purification in order to wash the linen of the infant Saviour. See Robinson, I. 337. According to another explanation, mentioned by Porter (Handbook of Syria and Pal. I., p. 139), the water of this fountain was a grand test for women accused of adultery; the innocent drank harmlessly; hut the guilty no sooner tasted than they died. When the Virgin Mary was accused, she submitted to the ordeal, and thus established her innocence. Hence a name it was long known by—the fountain of accused women.—P. S.]
[Since that time Lieutenant Charles Warren, of the Palestine Exploration Society, in Dec. 1867, likewise made his way with great difficulty through that winding rock-cut passage, entering from the Siloam end. His measurements differ 42 ft. from those of Dr. Robinson, but, considering the length of the Virgin’s Fount, they nearly agree.—P. S.]
[The recent excavations of the Palestine Exploration Society have not yet established such a connection, but make it very probable. In Oct. 1867 they discovered a sloping rock-cut passage above the Fountain of the Virgin leading N. E. by E. 8 ft. wide and from 10 to 12 ft. deep. See the account of Lieut. Warren at a meeting of the Society held at London, June 11,1868, in the Reports of the Society, and the maps published with them.—P. S.]
[Porter, Handbook of Syria and Palestine, I. p. 140, likewise doubts Robinson’s theory, and supposes that the Fountain of the Virgin is identical with the King’s Pool mentioned by Nehemiah 2:14-15, and called by Josephus Solomon’s Reservoir, situated between the Fountain of Siloam and the Southern side of the Temple. Robinson suggests the identity of the Fountain of the Virgin with the King’s Pool (I. p. 343). Grove (Art. Bethesda in Smith’s Bible Dictionary), urges against Robinson’s view the confined size of the Fountain of the Virgin, and the difficulty of finding room for the five porches. But there might have been some artificially constructed basin in connection with this spring which has perished. Grove defends the traditional view of the identity of Bethesda with the large reservoir called the Birket Israil, within the walls of the city, close by the St. Stephen’s gate, and under the North-East wall of the Haram area. But there is not the slightest indication that this dry fosse, full of weeds and rubbish, ever could have been an intermittent spring. So far the greater probability is in favor of Robinson’s conjecture. It is to be hoped that the labors of the Exploration Society will before long settle this disputed point.—P. S.]
[Meyer (p. 220) writes אַשָׁדָא. The word does not occur in the O. T., but אשׁד does, Numbers 21:15, “at the effusion of the brooks.”—P. S.]
[To these must be added the testimony of Cod. Sinaiticus, which reads thus:
(John 5:3) τωνασθενουντων
(John 5:5) ηνδετισανθρωπος.
The chasm here does not indicate an omission, but probably the co-ordination of τυφλῶν, χωλῶν and ξηρῶν, as specifications of the various classes of disease implied in the general term τῶν —P. S.]
[De baptismo, John 5:0, ed. Œhler, vol. I., p. 615: “Piscinam Bethsaidam angelus interveniens commovebat: observabant qui valetudinem querebantur. Nam si quis prævenerat de illuc, queri post lavacrum desinebat.” But Tertullian does not give this as a quotation from John. He may have found it as a gloss on the margin of a copy of the Text.—P. S.]
[Formerly, but in the last edition of De Wette, Brückner rejects the whole passage.—P. S.]
[But comp. the preceding footnote, p. 182 f.—P. S.]
[Hengstenberg, I. 293 ff. defends John 5:4, as being in entire harmony with the Scripture idea of the living God, who clothes the lilies, who feeds the birds, who rides in the storm, and uses winds and flames as messengers (Psalms 104:4; Hebrews 1:7), He refers especially also to the angel of the Waters, Revelation 16:5, as a parallel to the angel moving the water of Bethesda. Bengel says: Circa balnea frequens θεῖον, aliquid divinæ opis est. Very true, but the Divine power and goodness in the healing waters makes itself felt not supernaturally by angels, but through the laws and agencies of nature, and not exceptionally, but uniformly. I prefer, with Tischendorf, Meyer and the best English critics, to omit the whole passage.—P. S.]
[Κράββατος, Lat. grabbatus, used only by late writers, is a small couch, a mat or rug, or a cloak, which might easily be carried about.—P. S.]
[Meyer quotes Ast, Lex. Plat. I., p. 178 for this contemptuous use of ὁ ἄνθρωπος—P. S.]
[ἐξένεσεν, not from ἐκνέω, enatavit, emersit, “He emerged from the waves of the crowd and reappeared in the quiet harbor of the Temple,” as Wordsworth fancifully explains, but from ἐκνεύω, turned aside; He spoke the healing words and passed on unobserved.—P. S.]
[But the distinction between μετὰ ταῦτα and μετα τοῦτο is made doubtful by this very passage and the uniform use of μετα τοῦτα in the Apocalypse. Comp. note on John 5:1.—P, S.]
[This is as striking an instance of the penetrating look of our Lord into the inner recesses of man’s heart, as His knowledge of the history of the Samaritan woman.—P. S.]
[Not had done (E. V.). The imperfect ἐποίει seems to imply the malignant charge of repeated or habitual Sabbath-breaking. Comp. Godet in loc,—P. S]
[So also Reuss, against whom Godet, ΙΙ., p. 26, justly remarks that Christ’s condition as a Jew, and His mission as the Jewish Messiah, forbid that He should ever, during His earthly life, have violated any of the Divine commandments, in their proper sense, which it was His sacred duty strictly to fulfil. Ewald, the great oriental scholar, is perfectly correct in saying (on John, p. 205), that Christ in John 5:17, mortally hit the Sabbath laws as they were then understood and carried out, but not the true sense of the primitive Sabbath and the fourth commandment, which forbid not higher work, but only the ordinary work of week days.—P. S.]
[Bengal’s remarks on this verse are worth quoting: “ἀφ’ ἑαυτοῦ οὐδέν; Hoc gloriæ est, non imperfectionis.… Hæc ex intimo sensu unitatis naturalis el amorosæ cum Patre profecta sunt. Defendit Dominus, quod fecerat opus in sabbato, Patris sui exemplo, a quo non discedut. Sic de Spiritu Sancto, 16:13, ubi etiam simillimum huic loco sequitur antitheton. At diabolus ex propriis loquitur, 8:44, et falsi doctoris est in suo nomine, venire et ex suo corde loqui aut facere, 5:43.” Godet directs attention to the naivete of the form of this sentence as contrasted with its sublimity. Jesus speaks of His intimate relation with the infinite Jehovah as of the simplest thing in the world. It is the saying of the child of twelve years: “I must be about my Father’s business,” elevated to the highest key.—P. S.]
[Οὐ δύναται is here a moral, not metaphysical, inability, and such an inability which is absolute unwillingness, and hence identical with the highest moral ability. So perfect freedom is the highest ability to do good, or negatively expressed, the absolute inability or unwillingness to do wrong, hence identical with moral necessity. Christ’s assertion, therefore, that He can do nothing independently of the Father, far from indicating imperfection, implies the highest moral perfection. Godet: “Tout est moral dans cette relation. Le non-pouvoir dont il s’agit ici n’est que le côté négatif de íamor filial,”—P. S.]
[In the note on the preceding verse, however. Meyer (p. 226) distinctly asserts that the union of the Son to the Father is metaphysical as well as moral.—P. S.]
[Bengel: Qui amat, nil celat.—P. S.]
[So most of the older expositors, also Beza, Grotius, Bengel, Bäumlein, Ewald, Owen. Against this view Meyer (p. 223) raises six objections, viz. 1) ἵνα ὑμεῖς θαυμάζητε John 5:20, which represents the hearers as continuous witnesses; 2) οὕς θέλει which must be understood ethically; 3) ἵνα πάντες τιμῶσι, 23, which implies the divine purpose of a continuous effect commencing in this world; 4) ἐκ τοῦ θανάτου which cannot be understood of physical death; 5) νῦν ἐστιν and οἱ clearly refer to the present spiritual quickening; 6) the literal resurrection John 5:28 f., is distinguished as something greater and future from the former.—P.S.]
[The οὐδέ is generally overlooked by commentators, and entirely omitted by the E. V. Meyer explains: For not even the Father judges any man, to whom by universal consent judgment belongs; consequently it depends entirely upon the Son, and the οὓς θέλει is all right. Comp. on οὐδέ 7:5; 8:42; 21:25. Alford explains; As the Father does not Himself, by His own proper act, vivify any, but commits all quickening power to the Son; so it is with judgment also.—P.S.]
[Bengel observes to τιμῶσι: “vel libenter, judicium effugientes per fidem, vel inviti, judicis iram sentientes.” But a voluntary homage in meant here, as the following ὁ μὴ τιμῶν τὸν υἱόν shows. But those who refuse this honor to the Son, will, by their damnation, negatively and reluctantly glorify the Son. Comp. Philippians 2:10-11.—P. S.]
[Note the present tense ἔχει, already, not shall have, spiritual life, and the corresponding perfect μεταβέβηκεν, has passed from the death of unbelief and sin to the life of faith and righteousness. Of the unbelievers it is said likewise in the perfect ἤδη κέκριται, he is already judged. Partly from Bengel.—P. S.]
[ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ in the Synoptists and John 1:51; John 3:13 f.; John 6:27, John 6:53, John 6:62; John 7:28, etc.; υἱὸς only here, and with ὅμοιον, Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14, in allusion to Daniel 7:13. Comp. the Excursus on this designation of Christ, p. 98 f.—P. S.]
The false construction, which connects the words with what follows: Because he is man, marvel not, etc. (Peshito, Chrysostom, Paulus, and others), need only be mentioned.
[According to the usual rule of law. Chetub. f. xxiii. 2: Testibus de se ipsis non credunt. Christ argues here hypothetically: If My testimony concerning Myself could be independent and separated from that of the Father, it would be false according to the law of testimony. In John 8:13-16 the other side of the same argument is presented: Christ does in fact bear witness of Himself, hut as He is the Logos of God, the organ of the Father, His testimony is the testimony of the Father in and through Him, and therefore true. “Though I bear witness of Myself, yet My witness is true, for I know whence I came…. Yet if I judge, My judgment is true, for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.”—P. S.]
[λαμβάνειν τ. μαρτυρίαν, as in 3:11, 32, to receive, to accept, but here as testimony (not in the sense of believing). See Meyer, p. 238.—P. S.]
[Omitted, as often, in the E. V., which also translates λύχνος light (γῶς), instead of lamp, and thus brings this passage needlessly in conflict with 1:8: οὑκ ἦν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς, ἀλλ’ ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός. John was, indeed, a light, but only in a subordinate sense, a derived light, a light lighted, not lighting, and hence ἐν τᾦ φωτι αὐτοῦ is spoken of in the next clause in the sense of the predicate, not the noun.—P. S.]
[Καὶ , καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ ὡς λαμπὰς εκαίετο. Stier and Alford think that this passage may be referred to here, and gave rise to a common way of speaking of Elijah, as certain Rabbis were called “the candle of the law,”—P. S.]
[Meyer: The article signifies the particular lamp which was to appear in John as the forerunner of the Messiah whose mission was to teach the people the knowledge of the Messianic salvation, δοῦναι γνῶσιν σωτηρίας τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ, Luke 1:76 f. Lange goes deeper, as usual, where he differs from Meyer. De Wette takes the article as meaning “the lamp which was to lead you.”—P. S.]
[Meyer quotes in support, Luke 12:35 : οἱ λύχνοι καιόμενοι; Revelation 4:5; λαμπάδες πυρὸς καιόμεναι, but in both cases φαινόμενοι is omitted. According to Alford φαίνων sets forth the derived and transitory nature of John’s light.—P. S.]
[This interpretation is excluded by the addition, at any time.—P. S.]
[Meyer puts only a comma after John 5:37. John might have continued: οὔτε τὸν λόγον, etc., but by using καί, and connecting the negation with the verb (οὐκ ἔχετε) instead of the particle (οὔτε), he lays greater stress on the new charge against the Jews.—P. S.]
[Olshausen: According to John the word of the eternal God speaks or sounds in the mind of every man. Sin has diminished, but not destroyed his susceptibility to truth. Without something analogous in the mind, man cannot perceive the things of God. It is the same as the “light in thee,” Matthew 6:13. But Lange’s interpretation (the same as Meyer’s) is preferable.—P. S.]
[Also Henry, Doddridge, Barnes, Brückner, and Godet.—P.S.]
[The imperative is also preferred by Maldonatus (R. C.), Cornelius a Lap. (R. C.), Grotius, and, among recent commentators, by Stier, Tholuck, Ewald (p. 218), Hengstenberg (who refers to Isaiah 34:16), Bäumlein, Alford, Wordsworth (wavering), Owen, Jacobus.—P. S.]
[Hence Luthardt is all wrong in ascribing to ἐρευνᾶτε here a profounder meaning.—P. S.]
[Rothe (Studien und Kritkem,1860, p.67), and Weiss (Johan. Lehrbegriff, p.106), likewise maintain that δοκεῖτε implies a censure of the excessive Rabbinical over-estimate of the letter of the Bible. This view is strengthened by the emphatic ὑμεις, ye on your part, and the obvious sense of δοκεῖτε in John 5:45. I suggest also that ἐν αὐταϊς is significantly chosen instead of δι’ αὐτῶν, as if the written Scriptures were the eternal life itself, while they are only the record of life and the witness of Christ. Meyer rejects this interpretation, as being inconsistent with the high veneration of Christ for the Scriptures; but he is simply protesting (and that in the wisest and most guarded manner) against the abuse and perversion of the Scriptures, just as He protests against the Jewish perversion of the Sabbath. Meyer admits, however, that there is an opposition here to real ἔχειν ζωήν which Christ could not say of the Jews, as they rejected the Christ of the Scriptures.—P. S.]
[Ewald reads this as a question. But it is stronger as an assertion.—P. S.]
[Alford: “The words ye are not willing to come, here set forth strikingly the freedom of the will, on which the unbeliever’s condemnation rests: see John 3:19.”—P. S.]
[Some of the fathers, and recently also Alford, refer the passage to the anti-Christ who shall appear in the latter days, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12.—P. S.]
[Bengel: “Maxime aptus ad condusionem.” Godet: “Sa parole prend une forme dramatique et saisissante.… Il se trouvera que celui dont vous me reproche de transgresser la loi, témoignera pour moi, tandis qu’ il s’élevera contre vous, seszélateurs. Quel renversement de toutes leurs notions.”—P. S.]
[Alford insists on the antithesis of γράμματα and ῥήματα. “Men give greater weight to what is written and published than to mere words of mouth;—and ye in particular give greater honor to Moses than Me: if then ye believe not what he has written, which comes down to you hallowed by the reverence of ages,—how can you believe the words uttered by Me, to whom you are hostile? But this is not all: Moses loads to Christ; if then ye reject the means, how shall ye roach the end?”—P.S.]
[The inquisitorial “acts of the faith,” it will be remembered, were usually celebrated on some church festival.—E.D.Y.]
[This observation is truly German, and scarcely applicable to America where church festivals are little esteemed, while the weekly Lord’s Day is the more strictly observed. Of late, however, the observance of Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter has made much progress.—P. S.]
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on John 5". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
Eve of Ascension