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the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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John 9

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verses 1-41


Christ The Light Of The World Over Against The Blind. The Healing On The Sabbath Of The Man Who Was Born Blind, With The Symbolical Co-Operation Of The Temple-Spring Of Siloam. The Day Of Christ, And Christ The Light Of That Day. The Light Of The Blind A Judgment Of Blindness On Those Who Imagine They See. Symbolism Of Light, Of Day, Of Day‘S Works. (All Light Of The Sun Should Be Used, After The Example And Spirit Of Christ, To Produce Light; Hence Too All Efforts Of Culture A Symbolical Creation Of Light, Pointing To Him Who Creates Light In The Real Sense Of The Term.) The Excommunication, Of The Germinant Separation

John 9:0

1And as Jesus [he] passed [was passing] by, he saw a man which was [omit which was] blind from his birth. 2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master [Rabbi], who did sin [who sinned], this man, or his parents, that he was born [should be born] blind?

3Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned [Neither did this man sin] nor his 4parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I [We]1 must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

6When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.2 7And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent). He went his way 8[away], therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The neighbours, therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind [who had before observed him because he was a beggar]3 said, Is not this he that sat and begged [sitteth and beggeth]? 9Some said, This is he: others said, [said, Nay, but,]4 He is like him: but 10[omit but] he said, I am he. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? 11He answered and said [omit and said], A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of [omit the pool of]5 Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight [I went therefore (οὖν) and washed and received sight]. 12Then said they [They said] unto him, 13Where is he [that man, ἐκεῖνος]? He said [saith, λέγει], I know not. They brought 14[bring] to the Pharisees him that aforetime [before, once] was blind. And it was the sabbath day [it was sabbath on the day]6 when Jesus made the clay, and opened 15his eyes. Then again [Again therefore] the Pharisees also asked him how he had received [he received] his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. 16Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of [from]7 God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day [omit day]. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles [signs]? And there was a division 17among them. They say [therefore]8 unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that [because, or, seeing that, or, for having opened] he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

18But the Jews [The Jews therefore] did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. 19And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? 20His parents answered9 them [omit them] and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: 21But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened [who opened] his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him [ask him: he is of age]: he shall [will] speak 22for himself. These words spake his parents [These things his parents said] because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already that if any man did confess that he was Christ [should acknowledge him as Christ], he should be put out of the synagogue [excommunicated]. 23Therefore said his parents [For this reason his parents said], He is of age; ask him.

24Then again called they [So they called the second time] the man that was [had been] blind and said unto him, Give God the praise [Give glory to God]; we 25know that this man is a sinner. He [therefore] answered and said [omit and said],10 Whether he be a sinner or no [whether he is a sinner], I know not: one thing I 26know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see [that I, a blind man, now see]. Then11 said they to him again12 [They therefore said to him], What did he do to thee? how opened he thine eyes? 27He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore [why] would ye hear it again? will [would] ye also be 28[become] his disciples? Then [omit Then] they reviled him and said,13 Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. 29We know that God spake [hath spoken] unto Moses: as for this fellow [but as for this man], we know not from [omit from] whence he Isaiah 30:0 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from [omit from] whence he is, and yet he hath opened [Hebrews 3:0; Hebrews 3:01opened] mine eyes. Now [omit Now] we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth [do] his will, him he heareth. 32Since the world began was it not heard [it was never heard] that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. 33If this man were not of [from] God he could do nothing. 34They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether [wholly, ὅλος] born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out [not simply from the place where they were, but from the synagogue=excommunicated him].

35Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had [omit had] found him he said unto him, Dost thou believe on [in] the Son of God [the Son of Man]?14 36He answered and said, Who [And who] is lie, Lord, that I might [may] believe on 37[in] him? And [omit And] Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38And he said, Lord, I believe [I believe, Lord]. And he worshipped him. 39And Jesus said, For judgment I am come [I came] into this world, that they which [who] see not might see; and that they which [who] see might be made [might become] blind.

40And some of the Pharisees which [who] were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we [also] blind also? 41Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin [ye should not have sin]; but now ye say, We see; [.] therefore [omit therefore]15 your sin remaineth.


[The account of the blind man and the miracle wrought on him, with its consequences, is uncommonly life-like, full of circumstantiality and characteristic details which could not have been invented, and clearly show that the writer was an eye-witness of the scene. All attempts of modern skeptics to turn the miracle into a medical cure of inflammation of the eyes (Ammon), or to explain it from a misunderstanding of John 9:39 (Weisse), or from a mythical imitation of the healing of Naaman, 2 Kings 5:10 (Strauss), or from dogmatic design (Baur), are baseless and exploded conjectures. Comp. Meyer, p. 391, 5th ed.—P. S.]

John 9:1. And in passing by (καὶπαράγων). This history is evidently connected [by καί] in respect to time and place with the preceding chapter [with ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τοῦ ἷεροῦ, John 8:59]. As regards time, it was the day after the close of the Feast of Tabernacles, and that a Sabbath. John 9:14. See Leviticus 23:39. As for the place, Jesus had just quitted the temple, and we are most probably to imagine the blind beggar as seated at the entrance to the temple (comp. Acts 3:2). De Wette cannot reconcile this peaceful occurrence with the scene of violence, John 8:59; John 16:0 but it is precisely in this secure deportment of Jesus, and in His halt after the moment of the most imminent peril of death, and while He was still in the vicinity of danger, that, we should recognize the Lord and Master. Hence we refer the παράγων (comp. Mark 2:14), not to the beggar, but to Jesus Himself. It is obviously the participle of the preceding, even though doubtful παρῆγεν οὕτως. While lie is in the act of passing by the last frequenters of the temple, the blind beggar meets His eye at the door, and the fact of His pausing to look at Him is revealed by the question of His disciples.

[A man blind from his birth, ἐκγενετῆ ς=ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός, Acts 3:2. Possibly the beggar himself proclaimed the fact of his native blindness as giving additional force to his appeal for alms. It makes the miracle all the greater, and places it beyond the reach of an extraordinary medical cure (Ammon and other rationalists), but does not warrant the extravagant notion of some fathers (Irenæus, Theodorus Mopsu., Nonnus) that Jesus created the eyes out of the πηλός, as God made the blind man out of clay. According to Luthardt, the blind man represents the “world,” to which Christ turned after being rejected by the Jews; but this does not follow from John 9:5, “lam the Light of the world,” for the emphasis lies on light, and the world embraces the whole of humanity, Jews and Gentiles—P. S.]

John 9:2. Rabbi, who sinned? The motive for this question on the part of the disciples could, in their present situation, scarcely be dogmatical interest, being, its they were, just reunited to the Master after His escape from stoning. We suppose that they wish to induce the Lord to pass by the man as unworthy of His self-sacrificing interest, in order that He may hasten on; and that hence their question, uttered on the spur of the moment, derives a decided Pharisaical coloring from the popular notion. According to Euth. Zigabenus they suppose neither to be the case. Admitting this, the question itself would fall to the ground. The disciples take for granted that, this blindness was caused only by sin;17 the question is merely as to the dilemma: this man or his parents?18 The latter supposition was the proximate one, in accordance with the Pharisaical explication of Exodus 20:5 (Lightfoot, p. 1048). Nevertheless, the disciples give the first place to the more remote question: whether this man himself sinned. Beza, Grotius and others have accounted for the expression by the belief in the transmigration of souls. This belief, however, could not have been, entertained by orthodox Jews, even though it may subsequently appear among the Cabalists (see Comm. on Matth., John 14:2, p. 272, Am. ed.). Cyril, De Wette and others mention, in explanation of the question, the belief in the pre-existence of souls (in accordance with Wisdom of Solomon John 8:20); but neither was this a national tenet of orthodox Jews, although it had forced an entrance from Platonism into Alexandrian Jewish theology.19 The view that most naturally suggests itself is, that the man may already have sinned in the womb, as an embryo, by evil affections. The distinction between nobler and baser vital motions in the embryonic state is also intimated by Scripture, Luke 1:41; Luke 1:44. Rabbinism has with reference to Genesis 25:22 [the struggle between Jacob and Esau in the mother’s womb] further matured this idea (Lightfoot, Sanhedrin, fol. 91, 2, etc.). An obscure idea of pre-existence may have occurred to the disciples, who were here fashioning a question from reminiscences, together with this notion of embryonic guilt. The conception of Lampe, Luthardt, etc.: has he sinned, or, as this is inconceivable, etc., is not in accordance with the text. Tholuck’s supposition after Camero: they thought that he might in anticipation have been branded as a sinner [for predestinated sin to be committed here-after], is certainly not altogether clear (Meyer), [and without analogy in the Scriptures]. Von Gerlach speaks doubtfully in this connection of a punishment that precedes sin; and just as one-sidedly of how the work of divine grace has swallowed up avenging justice; while according to Heubner it is simply a question of the recognition of the fact that there are also unmerited sufferings (i.e., of sinful men, who yet have not directly brought the suffering upon themselves).

John 9:3. Neither did this man sin nor his parents. There is no question of their sinfulness in other respects, but Christ knows that no sin, either of this blind man or of his parents, was the cause of his being born blind.—But that (ἀλλ’ ἵνα); namely, to this end was he born blind [τυφλὸςἐγεννήθη]. The ultimate object of evil, as of things in general, is the glorification of God in the salvation of men; the glorification of God is however more definitely a glorification through the works of Christ, which are God’s own works. Here, too, God should be glorified in the salvation of the man who was born blind. It is incorrect to suppose that the question of the disciples first directed the attention of Jesus to the unfortunate man. This view is contradicted by the preceding εἷδεν.

[Trench’s remarks on this verse [Miracles, p. 238 f.) are appropriate: “The Lord neither denies their [the parents’] sin, nor his: all that He does is to turn away His disciples from that most harmful practice of diving down with cruel surmises into the secrets of other men’s lives, and, like the friends of Job, guessing for them hidden sins in explanation of their unusual sufferings. This blindness, He would say, is the chastening of no particular sin on his own part, or on his parents’. Seek, therefore, neither here nor there the cause of his calamity; but see what nobler explanation the evil in the world, and this evil in particular, is capable of receiving. The purpose of the life-long blindness of this man is that the works of God should be made manifest in him, and that through it and its removal the grace and glory of God might be magnified. We must not, indeed, understand our Lord’s declaration as though this man was used merely as a means, visited with this blindness to the end that the power of God might be manifested to others in its removal. The manifestation of the works of God has here a wider reach, and embraces the lasting weal of the man himself … it includes their manifestation to him and in him” [as well as on him]. Comp. John 11:4; Rom. 5:30; Romans 9:17; Romans 11:25; Romans 11:32-33.—P. S.]

John 9:4. We [not I] must work. See the Textual Notes. According to Kuinoel, Jesus designed to meet the scruples entertained by the disciples as to the propriety of the healing on the Sabbath, which He was about to undertake. It is more probable that with this saying He encounters their urgent entreaties to hasten away from the dangerous position. Hence, with the “we,” He holds them fast also to the place where it is their duty to remain, and reveals to them that in the future they, as the prosecutors of His work, must stand firm in similar situations; with a view to which destiny they are now being exercised.—Who sent me. Not: Who sent us. The works of God are comprehended in His work, for which He alone is sent; in the carrying out of His work in individual works His disciples are to be participators with Him.

As long as it is day; the night is coming. The antithesis of day and night is the antithesis of the time of His life and activity in opposition to the period of His passion and death; uttered in anticipation of His approaching death, yet in the assurance that at present no mortal peril threatens Him. Similarly the contrast of day and night is significant of the contrast of life and death in the classics, especially in Homer (see Meyer). In the Rabbins: “Pirke Aboth, II. 19; ‘R. Tarphon spake: The day is short; the work is great; the Master presseth.’ ” Tholuck. Hence the interpretation of Chrysostom and others with reference to the αἰὼν οὖτος and μέλλων is incorrect. Paulus quite tritely explains; Broad-daylight was requisite for cures effected upon the eyes! The day-time of the day’s work of Christ was at the same time a day-time of redemption, of visitation for Israel, which terminated with His night, viz: His death (see John 9:5). Only we must not convert this relative antithesis into an absolute one by the declaration: now is the time of grace, afterwards the time of darkness; thus Olshausen, after earlier exegetes (Grotius and others), too strongly defined the contrast. Luthardt:20 The presence of Christ in the world is the time of the event of redemption; His subsequent separation from the world the time solely of the appropriation of redemption;21 this interpretation comes nearer the mark, and yet Meyer, not without foundation, quotes against it John 16:7; John 16:15; John 16:26; John 14:26 and other passages, according to which the death of Jesus was the condition of greater enlightenment. The figure of the day’s work is here the decisive one. Every man has for his day’s work his one day by which he must profit; when his night comes he can work no more. So too must Christ perform His great, single, and yet universal, official historical day’s work, conditional upon His earthly pilgrimage.

John 9:5. While I am in the world.—We suppose that Christ here compares Himself to the sun, the light of day, as chap. 8 to the pillar of fire, the light of the night. This assumption is founded on the preceding antithesis; day, night. Accordingly the ὅταν will mean quamdiu (Vulgate and many others), but not quandoquidem (Zwingle, Lampe, Lücke), or: [quando] at the time when (Meyer). The sun, throughout the day, as long as it is in the world, is the light of the world. The sun, however, opens and enlightens only the eyes of the seeing; Christ, as the real Sun, opens and enlightens the eyes of the blind likewise. And along with this is expressed the fact that He is the Sun of the world in a spiritual sense. The ὅταν, however, in its figurative sense, denotes the antithesis between the personal presence of Christ in the world and His departure from the world, after which He does not indeed cease to be the light of the world (for the operations of the Paraclete are His), but He no longer works corporeo-spiritually as light, but spiritually, until at the last day the great solstice returns with the day of resurrection. The figure of the sun, which in its day illuminates everything, is the strong expression of His assurance that He will enlighten the eyes of the blind man.

John 9:6. He spat.—The whole conduct of Jesus is manifestly expressive of strong intentionality, and this must first receive our consideration. As the pursuers are close behind Him, and the disciples in a state of anxious tension, it seems to Him that His primary concern must be to give proof of His tranquillity by calmly remaining on the ground. Moreover, as His adversaries accounted Him guilty of antagonism to the law of Jehovah in His previous healing on the Sabbath, chap. 5, they should now see that the God of their temple is His co-agent on the Sabbath, since the temple-waters of Siloam are brought into co-operation: a fundamental motive, this, which exegesis has omitted to notice (see Leben Jesu, III., p. 635). Furthermore, as the blind man does not yet know Him, and at first is en rapport with Him only through the tone of His voice, the life of faith must of course be developed within him by a gradual process, as in the case of the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:23; comp. Mark 7:33).

With reference to the use of external means, the three factors: the saliva, the clay, the spring of Siloam, and also the unity of the entire act must be distinguished. Respecting the employment of saliva comp. the analogous cases Mark 7:0 and chap. 8 (See Com. in loc.).22On the sanativeness of clay in diseases of the eyes see Tholuck’s quotation from Serenus Samonicus:† “Si tumor insolitus typho se tollat inani, Turgentes oculos vili circumline cœno;” and Lightfoot. On the virtue of the waters of Siloam see above the Exegetical Notes on the pool of Bethesda (chap. 5) and Robinson II., p. 155.

In discussing the destination of the elements here employed in Christ’s one act of healing, we have to distinguish the idea of their material or medicinal, their organic or instrumental, their ethical and their allegorical destination. That the external elements in their combination had, as ancient remedies, no medicinal power to give sight to the man who was born blind, is evident. But that they were the better fitted to be organical bearers of the miraculous power of Christ, i.e., conductors of it (Nonnus: πηλὸς φαεσφόρος; Olshausen and others), because they were moreover accounted medicinal, is all the more obvious since the question is here of the saliva of Christ and of a salve that He made with His own hand. But since the receptive faith in the miracle must correspond with the positive miraculous power, the alternative is misapprehended when Tholuck and Meyer will set aside the psychologico-ethical consideration (Chrysostom, Calvin and others) of the awakening of faith by the use of these in the case of the man who was born blind. In the instances given in the Old Testament also (2 Kings 4:41; John 5:12; Isaiah 38:21) the organic operation of the miracle-worker is to he grasped conjunctively with the awakening of the psychologico-ethical receptivity. The allegorical interpretation (Luthardt on the anointing with clay: he who will see must become blind; after some Church fathers) is the most remote; on the mythical interpretation of Strauss, Baur, etc., see Meyer [p. 378.]

John 9:7. Go, wash.—It is a question here whether the asyndeton would not be better composed of three members than of two. The latter (go, wash thyself into the pool) is of course explained by the custom of the language. Tholuck: νιψαι εἰς pregnant, either including the entering into the water or expressive only of the dipping into it. Winer, p. 369 [387].—In the pool of Siloam.—The spring, Isaiah 8:6; the pool, Nehemiah 3:15. Its situation see above, chap. 5 Meyer: “Re-discovered by Robinson (II., p. 142 ff. [Am. ed. of 1856, vol. I., pp. 338 ff.]), after Josephus, at the mouth of the Valley of Tyropœum on the south-east side of Zion. See Tobler, The Fountain of Siloam and the Mount of Olives, 1852, p. 1 ff.; Rödiger in Gesen. Thes. III. p. 1416; Ritter, Erdkunde, XVI. p. 446 ff. [Comp. my annotations with regard to the latest researches, on pp. 181 ff. Alford, at the close of his vol. on the Gospels, p. 923 f., gives a communication of a correspondent on the supposed identity of Siloam with the pool of Bethesda. Robinson has discovered, and Tobler and Warren have confirmed the connection of the intermittent Fountain of the Virgin (probably the pool of Bethesda) with the Fountain of Siloam, and both were probably connected with a fountain beneath the temple, which remains to be proven by further exploration.—P. S.]—The pool of Siloam.—The chief reference of this is not to the district of Siloam (as Tholuck has it, referring to Luke 13:4; Joseph. De bello Jud. II. 16, 2; VI. 7, 2); but it is especially the Siloah-pool of Siloah-spring which is again mentioned in the following. Tholuck’s explanation of the sending to this pool—for the purpose of purification—is too bald, as is also the design ascribed by Meyer: in order that the healing power of the clay ointment might have the necessary time for operation. Concerning the more direct purpose see the note to the preceding verse. As regards the sanative element of the water we can as little reject it (Meyer: the rabbinical traces of a healing power resident in the water point to the organs of digestion, see Schöttgen) as attach any particular credit to it; at all events it assisted in forming a foothold for the faith of the blind man.23

Which is, when translated, One Sent.—The designation שִׁילוֹחַ (Greek in the Sept. and in Josephus Σιλωάμ) signifies: the sending [missio sc. aquarum], probably with reference to the fact that the temple-mount sends forth its spring-water. The question is, how far this word may become synonymous with שָׁלוּחַ sent, [missus], or the sent. According to Hitzig the form is derived from שָׁלוּחַ as ילּוֹד from יָלוּד and John has correctly translated: ἀπεσταλμένος (Com. on Isaiah 8:6, p. 97. For particulars see Tholuck, p. 327). According to Bengel, Meyer and others the evangelist referred the name to the blind man who was sent to the spring. An unfounded typology, unsupported by the context. This fountain, in that it is called the Sent, is the type of Him who in John continually designates Himself as the real Sent One, the type of Christ (Theophylact, Erasmus, Calvin [Ebrard, Luthardt, Hengstenb., Brückner, Godet, Trench, Alford, Wordsworth] and others). It is remarkable how this pregnant symbolism has perplexed the commentators. Wassenbergh and others are inclined to consider the parenthesis (after the Syrian and the Persian translation) a gloss; Lücke also (p. 381) will not be “persuaded” that the parenthesis is Johannean; Meyer pleads in extenuation the “far more striking example” of a “typical etymologizing,” Galatians 4:25.

He went away therefore.—As there is no mention of any leader it seems certainly to be indicated that a faint dawning of sight had already begun.24 Of course we are not to imagine that the anointing of the eyes glued them together; the release of the visive faculty may also have been preceded by a clairvoyant disposition. Compare the fine description of the restoration to sight of blind Œdipus in Sophocles. But as this trait is at all events not brought forward, it cannot be insisted upon as a certainty (comp. Tholuck with reference to Neander: “although we may also think that there was a guide”).—And returned.—Not in particular to Jesus, but from the spring and to his family (John 9:8).

John 9:8. The neighbors therefore.—Now follows an account of what further befell the blind man; so minute, distinct and true to life is this narration that we are at liberty to suppose the Evangelist had it from the very lips of him who was blind and healed (see Tholuck, Meyer).

John 9:11. A man that is called Jesus.—He is therefore not acquainted with the Messianic character of Jesus; he, however, emphasizes the name of Jesus. He has immediately noticed the significant name, which was not the case with the impotent man of Bethesda (chap. 5). The form of his already budding faith in the prophetic dignity and divine mission of Jesus declares itself in John 9:17; John 9:33; he as yet does not know Him as the Messiah, John 9:35.

I received sight.—Ἀναβλέπειν means to look up, to see again. Meyer maintains against Lücke’s explanation: I looked up (Mark 16:4, etc.), the: I received sight again; for this there is no ground in John 9:15; John 9:18, although the explanation of Grotius: nec male recipere quis dicitur, quod communiter tributum humanæ naturæ ipsi abfuit, is ingenious.

John 9:13. They bring to the Pharisees the whilom blind man.—Doubtless the Pharisees in a peculiar sense are meant; hence in their magisterial capacity and as enemies of Jesus; this is proved also by what follows. For to regard it as signifying the Pharisees in general “as a corporation” (Meyer) is historically inaccurate. Neither is there any ground for the assumption that they had led him before the Pharisees on account of the healing on the Sabbath, because they believed the transgression of the law should be reported. On the contrary, the clause: him that once was blind, indicates that they considered it their duty to bring the miracle to the cognizance of the theocratic court (see Tholuck). It is only after the introductory clause: it was the Sabbath, that the stumbling-block appears among the Pharisees. If these Pharisees did at all events form a judicial court (comp. the Pharisees John 7:47; John 11:46), since, as subsequently appears, they call a judicial inquiry and execute an act of excommunication, the question arises, whether it was the great Sanhedrin itself (Tholuck), or a minor Sanhedrin (Lücke); of the latter there were two in Jerusalem; these small Sanhedrins, as synagogue-courts consisting of 23 assessors, settled minor lawsuits in the Jewish cities. The latter supposition is the more probable, in accordance with hierarchical discipline; yet doubtless the small Sanhedrins in Jerusalem were closely connected with the great Sanhedrin, especially in matters that concerned the Person of Jesus. Tholuck alleges in support of his position, that the great Sanhedrin alone wielded the power of excommunication from the congregation of Israel. But the grade of the ban incurred by the healed blind man is not mentioned, and in minor degrees the right of excommunicating was possessed by the small Sanhedrins as well. Lücke assumes that the leading before the Pharisees took place after the Sabbath, as, according to the Talmud, on the Sabbath and on feast-days no causes were tried; Tholuck thinks it probable that sessions were held on the Sabbath also; he supposes only “that no writing was done.” At all events, such Sabbath sessions were extraordinary, and members of the Sanhedrin themselves took the initiative in them; therefore in this case we are safe in supposing that the presentation occurred after the Sabbath.

John 9:14. And it was Sabbath on the day when Jesus.—“A rabbinical statute specially prohibits the spreading of saliva on the eyes on the Sabbath. Maimonides, Schabb. 21. If this ordinance was not yet extant or sanctioned, still the general law was in force which forbade all healing on the Sabbath except in cases where life was imperiled (Schöttgen and Wetstein ad Matthew 12:9).” Meyer. Hence stress is laid upon the fact that Jesus made clay on that day.

John 9:15. Again therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight.—It is characteristic of them that they pass over the miracle itself, that he has received sight, and inquire at once as to the manner how, because the latter is the point to which the accusation of heresy against Jesus must attach itself.

He put clay (a paste), etc.—Meyer justly draws attention to the circumstance that the man relates only what he has himself felt, and hence does not mention the saliva; so before John 9:11.

John 9:16. This man is not from God because he keepeth not the Sabbath.—Characteristic hyperbaton, by which the name of God is brought forward first with hypocritical reverence, and then a contemptuous emphasis is laid upon: this man. Because he keepeth not the Sabbath, see note on John 9:14. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such signs? The disparaging inference was drawn only by a portion of the tribunal; by the majority, it is true. From the mention of a greater division in this forum it seems to result that it was an association other than the great Sanhedrin.25 Be it observed, that these more conscientious judges express themselves timidly through fear of the others, but yet go so far as to declare that the miracle performed by Jesus proves that He is not a sinner.

John 9:17. What sayest thou [σύ is emphatic] of him, because, etc.—John introduces this statement with the characteristic οὖν again. It was to be expected that they would resort to artifices. For the evangelist is again speaking of the dominant party in this court. So explain Apollinaris and others: it is the hostile party which is here spoken of; Chrysostom on the contrary, erroneously: it is the friendly party; Meyer and others: all are included. It is patent, however, that the conduct of the suit is in the hands of the predominant hostile party. But of course the examination takes place in the name of the whole body. As regarded the fact itself, they had no further hold on the clear-headed and firm man. Hence they inquire what conclusion he has reached with respect to the miracle-worker,—what opinion he has formed of Him—in order from this dogmatical point to unsettle him and betray him into some other statement. From the question of faith they design to unsettle him in the question of fact, as the hierarchy once did with the Jansenists in France.

He is a prophet.—The straight-forward, decided and intelligent character of the man appears still more distinctly here. May we call him “uncouth” also (Tholuck)? Instead of that he manifests good humor, acuteness and ready wit. [These attributes, especially a cheerful temper, I have frequently found in blind persons. Kindly nature often compensates for so great a calamity as the loss of an organ.—P. S.]

John 9:18. The Jews therefore did not believe.—That the hostile party is here designated by the name of Jews, by no means proves that in this place it first re-appears in active operation (Meyer). It characterizes them, however, as Jews, or unbelievers, that they now, having heard the confession of the man, issuing from the fact, do not believe, i.e. will not believe the fact itself. This does not mean that they consider the whole account, for example, of the making of clay by the Lord, a lie; but they pretend that some fraud may exist. John again intimates by the expressive οὖν that their unbelief and mistrust originate in their fanaticism. In the first place, they evidently desired to reproach Jesus with a violation of the Sabbath. But in this they were thwarted by the great miracle which weighed heavily in the balance. Therefore they now hope to accuse Him of a spiritual deception and, at the same time, of violating the Sabbath.—Until they called the parents. Meyer explains; Then they believed. Tholuck on the contrary: This does not result from the ἕως ὅτου. Of course it follows only, that they must now let pass the judicially protested statement of the man, whether they believed it or not.

John 9:19. Is this your son?—The one question progessively subdivides itself into three questions [put in strict legal formality: 1. Is this your ?Song of Song of Solomon 2:0. Was he born blind? 3. How did he recover his sight?—P. S.]. They, however, hasten on to the third query, because in it is concentrated the weight of their fanatical passion, or because by intimidating the parents, they hope to be able to weaken the testimony of the son.

John 9:21. But by what means he now seeth, we know not.—The first and second questions are successively answered by the parents simply in the affirmative. The third question they evade. Yet they hint that they have heard of One who has opened his eyes. On this point the son must speak for himself. The whole reply is characteristic of parents who are honest and sensible, but at the same time timidly and selfishly cautious. Something of their son’s intellectual humor is perceptible in their answer, which however especially testifies to their pride that their son has wit enough to give them correct information with regard to the last question. The thrice repeated αὐτός [αὐτοῦ ἡμεῖς—αὐτόν—αὐτός] is in the highest degree significant. On the one hand, it tells of their confidence in their son, but on the other hand also of their fear. That they thereby jeopardize him, or leave him in the lurch, is truly a selfish trait. They lack strength to prove their gratitude for the healing of their son by uniting their testimony to his, although they clearly indicate by the tartness and touchiness of their reply that they are thoroughly observant of the bad intentions of the inquisitors.

John 9:22. For the Jews had already agreed, etc.—A public and formal decree or act (Tholuck) can not as yet be intended, else they must now have brought the cause of Jesus to an immediate termination; a mere agreement of private individuals (Meyer) would, however, be saying too little. Doubtless the subject in question is a regulation, made by the Jews in Jerusalem, concerning excommunication from the synagogue. Such a regulation directly became known to the people and served to intimidate the spirits of the undecided. The ἵνα gives the interest of excommunication as a motive for the regulation. This determination probably coincided with the resolution to have the Lord taken, chap. 7.

He should be put out of the synagogue [be excommunicated.]—Tholuck: “The word άποσυνάγωγος has led to researches into the nature of the Jewish law; of these the latest (for example, Rüetschi in Herzog’s Encykl.) still refer to the old authorities, to Drusius, Lightfoot; the subject has been more thoroughly investigated in Gildemeister’s Blendwerk des Rationalismus, 1841.26According to this the Mischna does not recognize several grades of excommunication;27 it knows of but one. the נִדּוּי, in pursuance of which the excommunicated person was not permitted to shave or wash or to enter other than an outer hall of the temple. The duration of this was dependent upon the contrition of the person. Excommunication was inflicted by the President of the great Sanhedrin. Opinions differ with regard to the biblical expression ἀποσυνάγωγος as to whether it means simply exclusion from divine worship in the synagogue of a single congregation (Vitringa, De Synagog. vet., p. 741; Witsius, Miscellanea, ii. p. 49), or exclusion from the ‎‎קָהָל‎ the united congregation (Selden, De Synedr. i. 7). But the former appeared merely as a substitute, when the temple was no longer in existence. Moreover the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah was such an offence that nothing can be intended save exclusion from the great congregation.”

The matter, however, is scarcely decided so simply. Evangelical history demonstrates that this man suffered a species of excommunication which did not prevent him from going about with impunity, while Jesus came under a ban with which a trial resulting in death was connected. The idea of the ἀνάθεμα (Romans 9:3) or ἀνάθεμα, μαρὰν� (1 Corinthians 16:22) is manifestly derived from circumstances connected with the synagogue and denotes an excommunication symbolically expressive of reprobation, the Cherem of the Old Testament. On the other hand, we know that unclean persons and lepers (these from levitical reasons, as also from ethical reasons “publicans and sinners”) were excluded from the full right of communion in a way which could scarcely have amounted to Cherem. Thus from two to three degrees of excommunication are faintly traced in the Holy Scriptures themselves, and three grades of excommunication are certainly intimated by the words of Christ also: in danger of (the synagogue’s) judgment, in danger of the council (Sanhedrin), in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:22). The first degree, as it appears in rabbinical tradition (Niddu), may be designated a congregational course of discipline. The second degree is ecclesiastical or rather theocratico-political (Cherem); the third hierarchico-criminal (Schamatha). The fact that the Mischna treats of excommunication in its more limited sense only, might be thus explained: the Jews had in its time lost all right of conducting religious criminal proceedings or executing the Cherem, whilst on the other hand, in the absence of a religious centre, the disciplinary congregational proceeding might coincide with the ecclesiastical in the limited sense of the latter term. The subsequent distinct, rabbinical development of several grades of excommunication (see Winer, s. v. Bann) must at all events be grounded on ancient tradition. In this connection be it observed that a purely disciplinary course of proceeding is no longer spoken of, while the Cherem in Elias Levita is in its turn intensified by the idea of Schamatha. Analogous to the latter is the solemn form of the great excommunication accompanied by curses in the Church of the middle ages.28

John 9:24. Then they called the second time the man, etc.—The rigor of the judicial procedure appears from the fact that they caused the man who had been healed to go away or step out during the examination of his parents. As they do not attain their purpose with them, they summon him again.—Give glory to God. As regards the expression, this is a solemn charge to tell the truth, which he might possibly have concealed hitherto (Joshua 7:19); as regards the intention, it is an insinuation that he should make a statement such as they desired; hence in reality it is blasphemous hypocrisy, meaning as much as this: give the hierarchy the glory, and lie or play the hypocrite. So they seek to influence his evidence by the previous statement of their opinion.

John 9:25. Whether he is a sinner I know not. One thing I know.—The dogma of the hierarchical dignitaries he is content respectfully to leave undecided. But he will not be dissuaded from his actual experience. He knows full well too, what light his experience throws upon the dogma whereby they support their accusation of heresy.

John 9:26. To him again: What did he to thee?—They at first endeavored to make the healed man the accuser of Jesus on the score of a violation of the Sabbath, then on the ground of spiritual deception. They now despair, in view of the firmness of the man, of making away with the miracle itself, that Jesus had wrought. They return therefore to the how, to the accusation of breaking the Sabbath, in order to make that a means of working upon the man. Their evidently malicious examination, however, fills the man with scorn, and he mingles irony with the expression of his displeasure.

John 9:27. Are ye also desirous to become his disciples?—Chrysostom: He thus presents himself (with the καί) as the disciple of Jesus. But he utters the words principally with reference to all the disciples of Jesus, of whom he has heard. Plainly perceiving their intention to stamp him also as the disciple of Jesus if his testimony does not accord with their wishes, he makes use of the ironical and withal defensive expression not without a presentiment of his own destiny.

John 9:28. They reviled him.—At first gravely, craftily, calmly, now passionately, meanly they press upon him. To call him the disciple of Jesus delights them as if it were some vile aspersion; and the accusation seems to them true, because he has allowed himself to be healed by Him on the Sabbath, bears witness to this fact and believes Him to be a prophet,—or, because he will not turn liar to please them. The antithesis: Jesus’ disciple, Moses’ disciples, relates here to the pretended violation of the Sabbath, in the guilt, of which he seems to have participated, and to their zeal for the sanctity of the Sabbath. Qualification of the antithesis by the antithesis: Moses, Jesus. Moses characterized as a prophet, Jesus as an antithesis to Moses, a suspected person, concerning whom they reserve their final opinion. Yet a sting lies in the expression: we know not whence. From some quarter He had extraordinary power; this his dealings with the blind man demonstrated; now if this power was not from above, the man on whom the cure had been performed would be distressed by the thought that he had been healed by demoniacal agency.

John 9:30-31. With respect to him, this is marvellous, to wit, etc.—We do not translate ἐν τούτῳ: in this matter, herein, but: in respect to this one, namely Jesus, previously the subject; and we render the γάρ not by: truly, but by: namely. They have ambiguously declared: we know not how it is with that fellow; he is a mystery to us. He rejoins ironically: certainly that is wonderful as far as He is concerned. And now comes the strange thing: they, fathers in Israel, know not whence He is, and yet He is a man of God and a prophet, who has opened his eyes. The expression doubtless boars the twofold signification that now his spiritual eyes are beginning to be opened. And he then appeals to their common creed: Now we know that God heareth not sinners, (John 9:31). Job 27:9; Job 35:13; Psalms 109:7; Proverbs 15:19. But a miracle is a hearing of prayer (John 11:41; Mark 7:34), consequently Jesus must be free from their reproach; He is of necessity no sinner, but in favor with God.—But if any be a God-fearing man, etc.—First, therefore, comes the testimony to the innocence and piety of Jesus, and then the enthusiastic testimony to His unique prophetic glory bursts forth.

John 9:32-33. Since the world began it was never heard, etc.—Hereby, in accordance with his subjective sense of the greatness of the miracle experienced by himself, he not indistinctly elevates Jesus above all the prophets, and even above Abraham and Moses, whom they had exalted as judges over Him. Finally, reverting to what had gone before, he says appeasingly: If this man were not from God (as a prophet), he could do nothing.—He would likewise be unable to disquiet you.

John 9:34. Thou wast born wholly in sins.—These Pharisees assume from the beginning that his being born blind is a punishment for sin; now however they cast upon him the additional reproach of being ὅλος (not simply ὅλως) born in sins,—intimating, namely, that as a heretic he was not only physically blind and maimed, but that his soul shared the defects of his body. With haughty emphasis: thou, born thus, thou wilt, teach us?

Cast him out.—The external turning of the man out (of the hall of judgment) was doubtless here symbolical, a corroboration of the excommunication, the casting out נִדַּח ,נָדָח=ἐκβάλλειν ἔξω, John 6:37; John 12:31, which preceded. The excommunication is indeed with malicious wit prefaced by the words: thou wast on every side born in sins (comp. also John 9:35), and is denied by Meyer without valid reason.

John 9:35. Dost thou believe on the Son of God [Son of Man?—See Text. Notes.—P. S.] After Jesus has heard that by his steadfast testimony he has earned the disgrace of excommunication, He can reveal to him by His question the faith that he ignorantly possesses. According to Meyer, Jesus makes the assumption that he has confessed the Messiah before the tribunal; and Meyer also states that this conclusion is “virtually” correct. Jesus only assumes that the man has believingly recognized the living God in His miraculous deed, and has maintained this belief in temptation without being aware of what faith nominally comprehends. It is precisely the question of Jesus that gives him this fulfilment and sealing. Meyer asserts that not the metaphysical but solely the theocratical signification of the Son of God is to be understood in this place. The theocratical signification was, however, not exclusive; its background was formed by the “metaphysical” acceptation of the title.

John 9:36. And who is it, Lord, that I may believe in him? etc., (ἵνα).—He is ready to take Jesus’ word for it. That is: he credits Jesus in an unlimited sense, and in this trust of his lies the presentiment that Jesus Himself is the Son of God;—the germ of his faith in Him.

John 9:37. Thou hast both seen him, etc.—The animated question is followed by an animated answer from Jesus, hence beginning with καί (see John 14:22; Mark 10:26). Thou hast seen Him. Tholuck construes the word ὁρᾷν in a general sense, with reference to experience, namely, even to their first meeting; Meyer as having reference to the present seeing: thou hast a view of Him. But with this the rendering of the καί—καί as well—as also—does not correspond. The seeing really seems to contain also an allusion to his spiritual receiving of sight, (Lücke). Indeed thou hast already seen Him, and—He it is that speaketh with thee. Manifestly, a turn is given to the expression. The true antithesis would be: thou hast perceived Him, and He hath given thee sight, or: thou hast seen Him and dost see Him now.

John 9:38. I believe, Lord.Lord in a loftier sense here than in John 9:36 (Bengel). The προσκυνεῖν denotes adoring worship.

John 9:39. For judgment I came, etc.—The kneeling man has sealed his excommunication by his act of adoring homage and, knowing as yet little of fellow-disciples, finds himself in a unique and isolated position, confronting, with Jesus only, the mighty hierarchy. Jesus appreciates the state of the case. He reveals to him that he is entering into a congregation of the seeing, that the hierarchs who condemn him stand ever against him as blind men, and that He Himself, Jesus, is the destined cause of this separation. The oxymoron at the same time utters the decree that he has become possessed of spiritual sight, that he is illuminated inwardly as well as physically. The motive is the contrast between the Pharisees, learned in the Scriptures, hardening themselves in spiritual blindness in presence of His light, and the ignorant blind beggar who receives sight through His light; this contrast is presented in the light of divine appointment (see Matthew 11:25). The judgment is not a judgment of damnation (Euthym., Olshausen), for it refers also to the blind who obtain sight. It is the judgment of active sentencing and retributive separation between those who are in need of light and those who shun it; of course for the latter this severance is the beginning of the judgment of damnation, while to the former it is the commencement of bliss. The contrast between those that see not, who receive sight, and the converse, is ingeniously apprehended by Bucer and Neander in an intellectual and a physical sense, i.e., typically, not simply allegorically. The spiritually blind do not see well physically until with spiritual sight they receive also true bodily sight. Those possessed of spiritual sight, being primarily discerners of Old Testament truth, but who subsequently delude themselves in their self-conceit, become through their obduracy intellectually and physically blind in presence of the Messiah. Christ particularly addresses this saying to the blind man; but it is also loudly and solemnly uttered for the disciples and all that are about Him.

John 9:40. Some of the Pharisees who were with him.—Faithless former disciples (Chrysostom), more favorably disposed ones (Calvin), spies from Jerusalem (Tholuck, Meyer). According to Matthew 12:30 and other passages, the εἶναι μετ’ αὐτοῦ seems to denote a relation of discipleship. Probably a remnant of pharisaically-minded followers is meant, who stand to Him in such wise as the people, Luke 18:9; comp. John 10:19-20. Judas, as the last Pharisee, did not desert Him until after this.

Are we also blind?—They cannot mean this in the physical sense (as Chrysostom and others explain); neither can they understand it with reference to those who have become blind (Hunnius, Stier), but with reference to the intellectually blind who must receive sight. They deny, therefore, that they, as blind men, have received sight, or are yet to receive it, i.e., they assail the principle laid down by the Lord, and establish a third class consisting of men originally possessing sight and ever becoming more clear-sighted. This attack upon His antithesis calls forth the piercing words of Jesus.

John 9:41. If ye were blind ye would not have sin.—It is questionable whether blindness is to be taken in the same sense here as John 9:38, οἱ μὴ βλέποντες i.e., whether it denotes those who need light. Or: if ye considered yourselves blind. Thus interpret with reference to the: ye say: we see, Augustine, Calvin, Meyer, Stier. Tholuck is undecided. Augustine: “Quia dicendo: ‘videmus,’ medicum non quæritis, in cecitate vestra remanetis.” On the other hand Chrysostom, Zwingli, etc., Lücke, Neander [Alford] discover in the expression the recognition of a certain superiority. Tholuck: It cannot be denied that the position of the scribes towards the fountain of the saving knowledge of the Redeemer is regarded as an advantage (Luke 11:52; John 3:10); and thus Matthew 11:25 they are called συνετοί not merely inasmuch as they thus look upon themselves, but as men who really were so in comparison with the ὅχλος�. So too in the practical field, where the δίκαιοι are confronted with the ἁμαρτωλοί the δίκαιοι are in very truth relatively righteous and the ἁμαρτωλοί gross sinners, publicans, Matthew , 9, comp. the elder brother, Luke 15:0; certainly, however, the former are also such as think themselves endowed with a sufficiency in possessing this δικαιοσύνη and σύνεσις. The recollection of this parallel has induced many commentators to see in the words εἶ τυφλοὶ ἦτε the recognition of a certain pre-eminence. “If ye were indeed utterly incapable of perceiving what is divine,” or better: “if a certain insight into the truth of salvation were not granted you;” De Wette: “if ye were ignorant, erring,—with the accessory idea of susceptibility,—the imputation of sin would be on a smaller scale.”—We also assume that Christ here attributes to them a certain degree of sight. It is the gleam of a better, objective, Old Testament knowledge which they are consciously converting into a false, unbelieving knowledge, i.e. into the blindness of self-infatuation. Hence the advantage of Old Testament knowledge itself (as of legal righteousness itself) can not be meant. Certainly, however, self-conceit in the possession of this knowledge is meant; the vain-gloriousness that turns the Old Testament dawn into a dazzling brightness, legal righteousness into self-righteousness (=impenitence), and represses the consciousness within them that in the presence of the broad day they are still blind, i.e. in need of New Testament illumination.

Between Chrysostom and Augustine there is then no real antithesis. If a man is to acknowledge himself to be blind (Augustine), there must needs be a relative gleam of light (Chrysostom); if he prematurely deem that he possesses sight, he abuses this very glimmering of light with evil consciousness, making himself then totally blind. But forasmuch as the emphasis lies upon this evil consciousness, both interpretations are onesided. If ye knew not that ye falsify yourselves, ye would through sincerity arrive at self-knowledge, and your sin (with the guilt the sin also) would be taken from you. But as, on the contrary, ye pretend against your better consciousness that ye see and that ye have always possessed sight, ye, with your need of light as with the light that has arisen upon you, fall into blindness and your sin remaineth (because the guilt remains). Thus in the saying, there is a dissembling, whereby they contradict their own deepest consciousness. Self-blinding results in self-hardening on the part of the intellect. Hence: if ye did not in reality know better how it is with you, etc.; but now ye haughtily dissemble, etc. This undoubtedly: your eyes are in some faint degree illuminated, but just sufficiently to render you entirely blind.


1. “That of which Dr. Paulus regretted the absence in the tales of the miracles, a thorough investigation, is in this instance present in the form of a judicial examination on the part of the most embittered antagonists.” Tholuck.

2. The fact that in all cases evil is in a general sense connected with sin, had at an early period been individualized by natural Phariseeism; this is to be found among Gentiles as well as among Jews. Gentiles and Jews agreed in the disposition to see in the misfortune of an individual the punishment of his sin, in the wretch a man hateful to God (comp. Acts 28:4), or at least to regard his affliction as a curse entailed upon him by the sin of his parents. It is indeed in many instances impossible to mistake the immediate connection between sin and punishment in the life of an individual; neither can we shut our eyes to the fact that parents are frequently to blame for the misery of their offspring. That Jesus did not unconditionally reject this reference, the following passages demonstrate: Matthew 9:2; John 5:14; Luke 23:28. Nevertheless He does here reject the Pharisaical rule that in all cases extraordinary sufferings may be immediately traced to extraordinary sins,—a rule already contradicted by the book of Job. Luke 13:1, He likewise repudiates the judicial condemnation of afflicted sinners by sinners as yet unvisited by God, whether the guilt of the former be more or less apparent. The thing, however, most abhorrent to Him is the perverted view men take of misfortune and suffering in themselves, as though they were as bad as sin, nay, as if they were in the strictest sense of the word, evil itself, conducing to the perdition of souls, Matthew 5:10-11; Luke 15:16-17; Matthew 16:24; the present passage. Consistent Phariseeism saw in the lowliness of Jesus His unworthiness, in His defencelessness His guilt, and, after having crucified Him, in His cross His curse, whilst Jesus recognized therein His own glorification and the salvation of the world.

3. The declaration of Jesus: “Neither this man hath sinned, nor his parents,” opens to us a glimpse of the profoundest depths of life. There might still be a genealogical cause for the malady,—a cause, however, far remote and contained in the guilt of generations long since dead. But at the same time He teaches us to meditate upon the clear teleology, the removal of evil to the glory of God, rather than ponder over the particular causality of individual evil.
4. That the works of God might be made manifest in him (John 9:3). A clear and Christological teleology of evil, as also of the permission of sin. The old world of evil, debased by sin, is destined to be destroyed29 by the new wonder-world of Christ; similarly, the centre of evils, sin itself, is to be destroyed by the wonder of His life as the centre of His miracles.

5. The works of Christ the very works of God (John 9:4).

6. Christ’s day is the day of the world, from which proceeds all the day-light of the world until the last day (John 9:4-5). The day’s work of Christ is the day’s work of the world, the source of all New Testament days’ works until the last day. The night of His death-time is the termination of His work; it contains for unbelievers the principle and germ of the Last Judgment and the night of eternity.

7. The history of the man who was born blind is the portrait or type of the great and sudden conversion of an upright man; the portrait of a simple, wise, cheerful, vigorous and valiant manner of belief; the portrait of a leading from belief in the living God of miracles to the Personal Christ; the portrait of a Jewish inquisition, as of the impotence of hierarchic excommunication.

8. Christ is the real Sun-light of the world (John 9:5), as His work is the real day’s work in this Sun-light. Christ, in co-operation with the sacred temple-water of Siloam, appears as the real Shiloah and temple-fount itself. Christ has come into the intellectual world for judgment, to transform the seeing into blind men and to endow with sight those who are blind. The distinction in this fact between human guilt and divine dispensation in judgment is to be observed; similarly the distinction between the Christological purpose (the operation of Christ) and the final design (the glory of God).

9. The brook of Siloam was the true temple-spring at the foot of the temple-mount, outside of the sanctuary; hence at an early period it was a symbol of prophetic spiritual blessing, the fulfilment of which symbol has appeared in the Messiah, See Isaiah 8:6.

10. The discouraged disciples of Jesus, who had at this time in Jerusalem hoped for His glorification within the precincts of the temple—see John 8:0—and were now obliged to accompany Him in His flight from the temple to escape the stoning, stood in need of special encouragement. This was afforded them in the healing of the blind man, whose confession might even put them to shame. Here too we see how in every situation Jesus above all things restores to His dejected people first courage, confidence, and therewith presence of mind and true composure.

11. It is remarkable that the Pharisees do not directly prosecute Jesus Himself on account of this Sabbath-day healing. Probably because He called the temple-spring of Siloam into co-operation.


The history of the man who was horn blind; 1. The miracle or the power of the love of Christ; 2. the trial or the power of upright simplicity and gratitude; 3. the issue or the victory of faith over the strongest temptation; 4. the profound interpretation and lofty signification of the event.—The question of the disciples, 1. with regard to its purport, 2. with regard to the motives which prompted it.—The answer of Jesus to the question of the disciples—in the most general sense all sufferings are to this end: God will glorify Himself in the sufferers.—The obscure causes of human sufferings often evade our glance, but the divine purpose is ever clear.—Above all things we should keep in sight the divine purpose and our duty in view of it.—Christ the real Light of the world: 1. hence a creative Light, not only luminous but illumining (the Light of the blind); 2. hence likewise the Day of the world, Light and Life; 3. hence, too, the Accomplisher of the great day’s work of the world.—The exhortations of God to the day’s work of Christ: 1. The day’s work (as type, archetype, copy); 2. the warnings (of day, of night).—Christ the Light of our day’s work.—The irrecoverable day of our life.—The Lord, the Giver of light and life when Himself in peril of death.—The beggars at the temple-gates (comp. Acts 3:0).—The night cometh, etc.—Christ, the Healer, in His employment of natural remedies: 1. He does not need them; 2. He uses them for the sake of the one who is to be healed; 8. He consecrates them as the foretokens of Christian therapeutics.—Christ the Light of heaven, and earth’s Fountain of salvation.—He the real Siloam, or all good is of God’s sending: 1. The typical embassador, the spring; 2. the real Embassador; 3. the embassadors sent in His likeness and after His example (His disciples).—How the Pharisees do not consider the what in the miracle of Jesus, but the how. A characteristic of the Pharisaic spirit.

Parallels and antitheses: The man who was born blind and the impotent man (John 5:0).—The blind man and the Pharisees.—The blind man and those who were favorably disposed in that tribunal.—The blind man and his parents.—The blind man and his neighbors.—Good intentions and their evil consequences.—Character of the laity and spirit of Protestantism in our history.—The power of moral indignation.—The blind beggar transformed into a clear-sighted preacher before the Jewish tribunal.—The prudence as well as heroic courage in the confession of the man who was born blind.—The power of facts.—The victory of personal, spiritual experience over traditional ordinances.—One thing I know.

Characteristics of the hierarchical spirit of persecution: 1. Malevolent examination; 2. hypocritical exhortation; 3. anathematization. How impotent when opposed to the bravery of a faithful soul!
The development of the blind man’s faith instructs us as to the nature of true faith: 1. The heart before the head; 2. trust before knowledge; 3. the thing before the name; 4. acting and confessing before worshipping.—Darkness a result of misused light.—Obduracy a result of perverted awakening.—Falsehood turns light into blindness, as sincerity changes blindness into the beginning of sight.—The conversion of the faint, gleam of light into a blinding glare the cause of fatal darkness.—When the morning comes, the birds of day that could not see during the night, obtain sight; on the other hand, the night birds, which can see in the absence of daylight, become blind.—These have light enough to see and hate the darkness, to long for and love the light and to be enabled to see in it; the others have light enough to see the light, to hate it and to be blinded by it.

Starke: Zeisius: As Christ omitted not to do good, even in the heat of persecution; so too should we after His example, etc.—The benignity of Christ always anticipates men and affords them more effectual help than they in their penury can desire.—Happy is he who, seeing a wretch, takes pity on him.—A blind man a poor man.—Zeisius: Brother, be not over hasty in pronouncing judgment on the misfortune of thy neighbor!—How fortunate it is for many a one that he is lame, etc.; he is thus saved from hell.—God knows how to make use of our infirmities for the glory of His name.—With Christ we must be attentive to the signal and purpose of God in His service, that we may neglect nothing.—Hedinger: Time and opportunity to do good. Grasp them and lay up none for the morrow.—Zeisius: To every man God has appointed the limit of his activity and labor; this goal is soon attained.—Bibl. Wirt.: Now or never!—The same: The works of God often seem strange to our eyes, nay, utterly foolish and preposterous;—but how gloriously is His purpose accomplished!—Canstein: The more speedily a man grasps and executes the word of Christ, the more quickly and powerfully he experiences His help.—The same: The manifold speeches and opinions of men concerning the actions of God serve to make these the better and the more widely known.—Osiander: The ordinance of God, to care for the poor.—Canstein: When a man is enlightened by the Holy Ghost, he becomes so changed that even his acquaintances and friends do not know him.—The same: It is a good thing to tell of the misery from which we have been delivered and of the loving-kindness that God has shown us.

John 9:15. In this answer: Simplicity, truth, frank avowal.—Zeisius: True miracles, the move they are investigated, the more they are recognized and shine forth, whilst, on the contrary, in false miracles the more apparent does the deceit become.

John 9:22. Hedinger: It is a sin and a shame to fear men more than God.

John 9:26. O how sorely the wicked often strive to fell a child of God! but their attempts are fruitless.—If enemies of the truth are unable to gain their point, they grow bitter and wrathful and begin to curse and revile.—Zeisius: Despised simplicity baffles the superiors (rulers) in Israel.—He rightly confesses Christ, who, for His name’s sake, gladly suffers himself to be cast out by the wicked.—Zeisius: They who for confession of the truth are rejected and accursed by the world, are graciously looked upon by Christ and blessed by Him with a larger measure of divine light, etc.—Hedinger: How speedy is the operation of grace in a willing soul!—Bibl. Wirt.: Faith has its steps.—Zeisius: Faith in Christ, the Son of God, is no frigid approbation, but such a fervent affection and stirring of the soul, that the whole heart together with all the remaining powers of the man are forcibly impressed into the service of Him on whom he believes.—Cramer: No punishment more fearful than privation of sight.—The same: The first step towards help is the acknowledgment of sin.—Zeisius: Hypocrites are always the wisest and most sharp-sighted in their own eyes, even though they are in very deed blinder than bats.

Braune: Do not ponder over the origin of evil; work with helpful, divine love! How repulsive is the appearance of a blind eye, unavailable for sight; how glorious the clear lustre of the friendly eye in the upright man! Equally repulsive is the blinded man whose inner eye is destroyed by evil lusts, and equally glorious is the recognition of a clear enlightened spirit.—Gossner: When a man is delivered from his spiritual blindness, people say: Is not this he who formerly did thus and so? In this way they testify to his reformation. But for them it is a shame.—A man whose heart has been enlightened by Jesus and changed by His grace can not be recognized any more.—Thus it is to this day: Pharisees cling to the form and reject Him for whose sake the form is, and to whom the form is to lead. They hold to the letter which kills them and with the form and the letter strike dead the life of the spirit, although the letter should be a receptacle, a vessel of the spirit.—“They cast him out.” But he is not at all offended at this; on the contrary, it was a happy thing for him, for they did but cast him out of their hypocrisy.—Blessed proscription, that separates us from connexion with blind and malicious men and brings us nearer to Christ.—He who proscribes believers, proscribes not them, but himself.

Schleiermacher: But what are the works of God in this connection? None other than the manifestation of love in all human misery. For love is the strength of God and whatsoever proceeds from it is the work of God.—Yes, God has given man eyes to know Him; the intellectual ability is there, but it is opened and awakened only by Him who has come to change darkness into light.—It is in order that the works of God should be made manifest that God has permitted the human race to sit in darkness.—The parents of the blind man. Here we see one of the sad instances of the consequences of handling anything that appertains to faith, to the innermost sanctuary of man’s conviction, with outward violence, for the purpose either of disseminating or crushing it.

Heubner: See examples of remarkable blind men, Didymus,30 Milton,31 etc, [Add: Homer, Prescott, the American historian.—P. S.]—The want of the external sense is said to sharpen the inner one.—It is the duty of gratitude to bear witness to our Saviour even before His enemies.—The parents of the blind man a type of all who, in order to escape the enmity of the world, draw back from the fellowship of the children of God.—False zeal for the old (here Moses) blinds men.—Simple-minded laymen have a sounder eye, a more correct judgment than false proud scholars and theologians.—Besser: Christ hastens with rapid and ever more rapid steps in the career of blessing in which He with His servants is at work.—Their cursing is before God nought but blessing.—It was the misfortune of Israel that he was wise in his own eyes (Isaiah 5:21) and thought himself clean and whole (Proverbs 30:12).


John 9:4; John 9:4.—Instead of the first ἐμέ, B. D. L., the Coptic and other translations read: ἡμᾶς. The idea presented by the passage furnishes us with the motive for the dissimilarity between ἡμᾶς δέ and πέμψαντός; this dissimilarity, however, was doubtless the cause of the two words’ being made the same—several Codd. wrote ἐμέ at the beginning also, whilst Cod. L., the Coptic and other translations placed ἡμᾶς in the second place likewise. [The first ἡμᾶς is probably genuine, the second a correction occasioned by it. Cod. Sin.* sustains ἡμᾶς in both clauses. Alford reads ἐμέ and μέ, Tischend. (ed. viii.) ἡμᾶς twice—P. S.]

John 9:6; John 9:6.—According to Codd. [Sin.] A. B. C.,** etc.: α ὐ τ ο ῦ τὸν πηλόν. His clay (paste), the earth-ointment prepared by Him. Tischendorf omits τοῦ τυφλοῦ, in accordance with the not decisive testimony of [Sin.] B. L. [Tischend. roads in ed. viii. ὲπέχρισεν αὐτοῦ τὸν πηλὸν ἐπὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς. So also Alford (ed. vi.), and Westcott and Hort, except that the latter, with B. C.1 adopt ἐπέθηκεν (put, spread), instead of ἐπέχρισεν. Lange, Meyer and Ewald retain τοῦ τυφλοῦ. He spread His clay upon the eyes (of the blind man). Noyes translates: He anointed his eyes with the clay; Alford in his N. T.: He spread (but in the text of his Com. he reads ἐπέχρισεν, anointed) the clay upon his eyes; Lange: Er schmierte seinen (den von ihm gemachten) Teig auf die Augen des Blinden; Ewald: Er strich diesen Brei auf die Augen des Blinden.—P. S.]

John 9:8; John 9:8.—[The true reading is προσκαίτης, beggar, instead of the τυφλός, blind, of the text. rec., and is sustained by א. A. B. C.1 D., etc.—P. S.]

John 9:9; John 9:9.—[ ἕλεγον, οὐχί, ἀλλ’ (א. B. C., etc.), for the text. rec. which omits these words.—P. S.]

John 9:11; John 9:11.—Εἰς τὸν Σιλωάμ B. D. L. X. [Also Iren. and Cod. Sin. The text. rec. τὴν κολυμβήθραν τοῦ, after Cod. A. and Vulgate is explanatory.—P. S.]

John 9:14; John 9:14.—Instead of ὅτε we should read, according to B. L. X. [Sin.] and several translations: ἐν ᾖ ἡμέρᾳ.

John 9:17; John 9:17.—B. D., etc., Lachmann, Tischendorf: οὐκ ἔστιν οῦτος παρὰ θεοῦ ὁ ἄνθρωπος.

John 9:16; John 9:16.—Lachmann supplies οῦν, in accordance with A. B. D. [Cod. Sin., Tischend., Alf.—P. S.]

John 9:20; John 9:20.—According to Lachmann, the οῦν after ἀπεκρ. is not to be expected here, upon consideration of the subject-matter, and is supported by B. only. Similarly the δέ in Cod. A., etc., and the αὐτοῖς seem to be additions, against which are B. L. X., etc.

John 9:25; John 9:25.—The καὶ εῖπεν [text. rec.] is omitted according to Lachmann and Tischendorf by reason of [Sin.] A. B. D., etc.

John 9:26; John 9:26.—According to Codd. B. D. K., etc., ου̇͂ν. [Text. rec. δέ.—P. S.]

John 9:26; John 9:26.—Πάλιν [text. rec.] omitted by many Codd. [Sin.1 B. D.] in opposition to Cod. A. [Sin.3a], etc., was perhaps left out on account of a misapprehensive assumption of a collision with the πάλιν of John 9:15. That πάλιν, however, has reference to the preceding question of the people.

John 9:28; John 9:28.—The construction has the power of making the following words which they uttered, to be looked upon as the substance of their revilings. This seemed inadequate and probably occasioned the reading: οἱ δὲ έ̓λεγον in D. L., etc.

John 9:35; John 9:35.—Codd. B. D. and the Ethiopian translation read: τοῦ�, because Jesus was wont thus to designate Himself. [This reading is sustained by Cod. Sin. and adopted by Tischend., ed. viii. and Westcott and Hort.—P. S.]

John 9:41; John 9:41.—The οὖν before ἁμαρτία is wanting in [Sin.] B. D. K. L., etc.

[16][So also Lücke and Alford; while Olshausen, Meyer, Stier and Trench (on the Miracles, p. 233) side with Lange as to the date.—P. S.]

[17][This is the meaning of ί̓να, which is τελικῶς (not merely ἐκβατικῶς) and expresses the merited consequence according to the divine intention.—P. S.]

[18][So also Meyer, while Euthymius Zig., Ebrard and Hengstenberg put into the question the meaning: Neither one nor the other can be possible in this case; Stier: this man, or—this being out of the question—his parents; Alford and others: the question was vaguely asked without any strict application to the case in hand, merely taking it for granted that some sin must have led to the blindness. The disciples held the popular Jewish opinion that every evil must be the punishment for a particular sin. This is decidedly denied by Christ here, and Luke 13:9 ff. The general connection of sin as the cause, and evil as the result, is undoubtedly taught in the Bible from the first introduction of sin, Genesis 3:0. But since sin is in the world, evil in particular cases may be a school of discipline of God’s love, as the misfortunes of Job, the blindness of Tobit, Paul’s thorn in the flesh, and the many trials and troubles to which the children of God are often more subject in this life than the ungodly; for “whom the Lord loveth, He chastiseth” (Hebrews 12:6; Proverbs 3:12; Revelation 3:19).—P. S.]

[19][Pre-existence was taught by Philo, the Essenes and Cabalists. See Grimm, Comm. on Sap., p. 177 f., and Bruch, Doctrine of the Pre-existence of Soul (Strassburg, 1859), p. 22, (translated in Bibliotheca Sacra for 1863, pp. 681 ff). See Meyer in loc. Stier, however, doubts the applicability of the passage, Wis 8:19-20.—P. S.]

[20][Or, as Luthardt also expresses the antithesis, Heilsgeschichte and Heilsaneignung, or the day is the time of Christ’s Wettgegenwart (presence in the world), the night the time of His Weltgeschiedenheit (absence from the world).—P. S.]

[21][A physician in the time of Caracalla who wrote a poem on medicine in hexameter.—P. S.]

[22][In the two accounts of Tacitus (Hist. iv. 8) and Sueton. (Vesp. John 7:0) of the restoring of a blind man to sight by the emperor Vespasian, the use of saliva jejuna is recorded. Pliny (Hist. Nat., xxviii.7) mentions it as a usual remedy in cases of disorders of the eyes. See Wetstein’s note, p. 902.—P. S.]

[23][The typical reference of the waters of Siloam to the cleansing and healing water of baptism (Ambrose, Jerome, Calovius, and even Trench), is unsuitable.—P. S.]

[24][This conjecture is unnecessary; blind beggars generally have a guide, and I have known three blind men (one a music teacher, another a preacher), who without aid could find any familiar locality within a considerable distance.—P. S.]

[25][Yet even in the great Sanhedrin there were men like Nicodemus (John 8:50) Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:50), and possibly Gamaliel (Acts 5:34 ff.), who might have asked this question concerning Jesus.—P. S.]

[26][The last work was occasioned by a controversy between the celebrated Dr. F. W. Krummacher and the rationalistic preacher Paniel, in consequence of a sermon of the former preached in Bremen, on the Anathema of Paul, Galatians 1:8.—P. S.]

[27][Three according to the older view; 1. to be shut out from the synagogue for thirty days; 2, the repetition of this exclusion accompanied by an anathema or curse; 3, final exclusion.—P. S.]

[28][Comp. the Excursus on Anathema in my ed. of Romans pp. 302 ff.—P. S.]

[29][The verb aufheben is here used (as often in the Hegelian philosophy) in the double or triple sense of tollere, conservare, elevare; e.g. childhood is aufgehoben—abolished, preserved and elevated—in manhood.—P. S.]

[30][Didymus, the last distinguished teacher of the Alexandrian School of theology, a follower of Origen. He wrote several commentaries and an able work on the Holy Ghost, and died at a great age in 395. St. Anthony, the father of monks, once told him: Do not mourn over the loss of those eyes with which even flies can see, but rejoice in the possession of those spiritual eyes with which angels in heaven see the mysteries of God.—P. S.]

[31] [Milton repeatedly alludes to his blindness, e.g., in Sonnet XIX. commencing:

“When I consider how my life is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker,” etc.

In the third Canto of Paradise Lost he hails in the sublimest strains the holy light, and mourns its loss to him:

……“Thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sov’reign vital lamp; but thou
Revisit’st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn.”
I add the following most touching and eloquent allusions of the great poet to his terrible affliction:
… .“Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev’n or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer’s rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the Book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of Nature’s works to me expunged and razed,
And Wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.”
“O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon;
Irrevocably dark! total eclipse,
Without all hope of day!”
. … . “These eyes,
Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot;
Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
Of sun, or moon, or star, throughout the year,
Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
Against Heaven’s hand and will, nor bate a jot
Of heart or hope; but still bear up, and steer
Right onward.”
There is also a beautiful poem on Milton’s blindness by Miss E. Lloyd, in which this passage occurs:
“On my bended knee
I recognize Thy purpose clearly shown;
My vision Thou hast dimmed, that I may see
Thyself, Thyself alone.”—P. S.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on John 9". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/john-9.html. 1857-84.
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