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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

John 9

Verses 1-12

John 9. The Healing of the Man Born Blind. Jesus the Light of the World. Hostility to His Followers.

John 9:1-12 . The Miracle.— The expression “ passed by” ( cf. Mark 1:16) does not necessarily connect the incident with the preceding chapter. In subject-matter it is more closely connected with the first part of ch. 10. It belongs to the period between the Feasts of Tabernacles and the Dedication. The encounter with a man born blind suggests the question of sin and suffering, so often raised in the OT and especially in Job. The disciples see the difficulty of the orthodox Jewish explanation. Can this man’ s suffering be due either to his own or his parents’ sin? There is probably a reference, either to the Greek view of the soul’ s pre-existence ( cf. Wis_8:19 f., “ being good I came into a body undefiled” ), or to the possibility of prenatal sin in the womb, an idea certainly recognised in Rabbinic theology (see Lightfoot, Horœ Hebraicœ) . Jesus answers that they must think of individual suffering not as caused by sin but as the occasion for the showing forth of God’ s good will. His own work is to give to men the light of spiritual truth and life. The details of the miracle recall Mark 7:33; Mark 8:23. For Siloam cf. Isaiah 8:6 and Nehemiah 3:15. The form of the name agrees with the LXX. In Neh. the pool of Shelah is said to be near the King’ s garden. It contained the water brought from the Virgin’ s spring (Gihon) to the mouth of the Tyropœ an Valley. Probably the author has in view Isaiah 8:6, where Israel’ s rejection of the Waters of Shiloah, which flow gently, symbolises their rejection of the kindly guidance of Yahweh. He seems to have interpreted the name “ sending forth” as a passive, “ sent.” [84] The account of the neighbours’ surprise, and the man’ s description, confined to what he would have felt without seeing, are, like the whole chapter, a striking example of the author’ s vivid realism.

[84] [There may be some sacramental teaching here. See Moffatt, INT, p. 549: Scott, pp. 129f.— A. J. G.]

Verses 13-34

John 9:13-34 . The Incompetence and Anger of the Authorities.— In what follows the actors are described first as Pharisees, then as Jews, the larger party of whom the Pharisees are one section. In John 9:13-17 the attempt is made to get evidence out of the man to disprove the fact of the healing, which they refuse to believe, on the ground that a Sabbath-breaker could not do so great a work. They only elicit the man’ s view that Jesus is a prophet. Interest in the matter spreads. The “ Jews” now question the man’ s parents, in the hopes of being able to deny his identity. They assert that it is undoubtedly their son, and for the rest they are cautious, knowing the hostility of the authorities to the claims of Jesus. So the man himself is called again, in the hope that his admissions may be made to point to demoniac agency, as the fact of the healing can no longer be denied. He is solemnly adjured to confess the truth, in the words “ Give glory-to God,” used by Joshua to Achan ( Joshua 7:19; cf. also Ezra 10:11). Jesus is a “ sinner,” and if He has really cured the man’ s blindness, it must have been with the help of the Prince of the Devils ( cf. Mark 3:22). The man’ s answer is ironical. They are better authorities than he on the question of “ sinners,” but the facts about his own eyes cannot be disputed. Further inquiry fails to elicit adverse evidence, so Jesus is denounced. God spake to Moses, but who and whence is He? The man, with growing boldness, expresses his surprise that the religious leaders of the nation should be so ignorant about one to whom God has given such power. Even the unlearned know that God does not favour sinners, but only His true worshippers. At this retort they degenerate into mere abuse and drive the man out, an action which the author probably interprets as excommunication, in the light of later history.

John 9:35-41 . The True Significance of the Event.— Jesus, hearing what has happened, seeks out, or chances to meet ( cf. John 1:41, John 12:14), the man. To draw out his faith, He asks, “ Dost thou believe on the Son of man?” ( mg.) . Apparently the title is not familiar to the man. Jesus answers by claiming the name*, at which the man confesses himself His disciple. In what follows the author expresses, in his own language, the Lord’ s judgment on the incident. His coming. though not for the purpose of setting up the Messianic Judgment ( cf. John 3:17-21) has resulted in judgment, in separation. The man’ s recovery of sight is typical of what is going on in the sphere of spiritual enlightenment. The eyes of the unlearned are opened to see. Those who claim the light of education, by refusing to obey, have blinded themselves. The Pharisees, who claim to see, cannot escape responsibility for their failure to do what they claim to have the power of doing. Their guilt remains ( cf. Matthew 11:25).

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on John 9". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/john-9.html. 1919.