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Bible Commentaries

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels
John 5

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-13

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 3. In these day a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 4. For 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. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he said to him, Will you be made whole?7. The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steps down before me. 8. Jesus said to him, Rise, take up your bed, and walk. 9. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. 10. The Jews therefore said to him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for you to carry your bed. 11. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said to me, Take up your bed, and walk. 12. Then asked they him, What man is that which said to you, Take up your bed, and walk?13. And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

AUG. After the miracle in Galilee, He returns to Jerusalem: After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

CHRYS. The feast of Pentecost. Jesus always went up to Jerusalem at the time of the feasts, that it might be seen that He was not an enemy to, but an observer of, the Law. And it gave Him the opportunity of impressing the simple multitude by miracles and teaching: as great numbers used then to collect from the neighboring towns. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep-market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having Jive porches.

ALCUIN. The pool by the sheep-market, is the place where the priest washed the animals that were going to be sacrificed.

CHRYS. This pool was one among many types of that baptism, which was to purge away sin. First God enjoined water for the cleansing from the filth of the body, and from those defilements, which were not real, but legal, e.g. those from death, or leprosy, and the like. Afterwards infirmities were healed by water, as we read: In these (the porches) lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. This was a nearer approximation to the gift of baptism, when not only defilements are cleansed, but sicknesses healed. Types are of various ranks, just as in a court, some officers are nearer to the prince, others farther off. The water, however did not heal by virtue of its own natural properties, (for if so the effect would have followed uniformly,) but by the descent of an Angel: For all Angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water. In the same way, in Baptism, water does not act simply as water, but receives first the grace of the Holy Spirit, by means of which it cleanses us from all our sins. And the Angel troubled the water, and imparted a healing virtue to it, in order to prefigure to the Jews that far greater power of the Lord of the Angels, of healing the diseases of the soul. But then their infirmities prevented their applying the cure; for it follows, Whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in, was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. But now every one may attain this blessing, for it is not an Angel which troubles the water, but the Lord of Angels, which works every where. Though the whole world come, grace fails not, but remains as full as ever; like the sun"s rays which give light all day, and every day, and yet are not spent. The sun"s light is not diminished by this bountiful expenditure: no more is the influence of the Holy Spirit by the largeness of its outpourings. Not more than one could be cured at the pool; God"s design being to put before men"s minds, and oblige them to dwell upon, the healing power of water; that from the effect of water on the body, they might believe more readily its power on the soul.

AUG. It was a greater act in Christ, to heal the diseases of the soul, than the sicknesses of the perishable body. But as the soul itself did not know its Restorer, as it had eyes in the flesh to discern visible things, but not in the heart wherewith to know God; our Lord performed cures which could be seen, that He might afterwards work cures which could not be seen. He went to the place, where day a multitude of sick. out of whom He chose one to heal: And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

CHRYS. He did not, however, proceed immediately to heal him, but first tried by conversation to bring him into a believing state of mind. Not that He required faith in the first instance, as He did from the blind man, saying, Believe you that I am able to do this? for the lame man could not well know who He was. Persons who in different ways had had the means of knowing Him, were asked this question, and properly so. But there were some who did not and could not know Him yet, but would be made to know Him by His miracles afterwards. And in their case the demand for faith is reserved till after those miracles have taken place: When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been a long time in that case, He said to him, Will you be made whole? He does not ask this question for His own information, (this were unnecessary,) but to bring to light the great patience of the man, who for thirty and eight years had sat year after year by the place, in the hope of being cured; which sufficiently explains why Christ passed by the others, and went to him. And He does not say, Do you wish Me to heal you? for the man had not as yet any idea that He was so great a Person. Nor on the other hand did the lame man suspect any mockery in the question, to make him take offense, and say, Have you come to vex me, by asking me if I would be made whole; but he answered mildly, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool; but while I am coming, another steps down before me. He had no idea as yet that the Person who put this question to him would heal him, but thought that Christ might probably be of use in putting him into the water. But Christ"s word is sufficient, Jesus said to him, Rise, take up your bed, and walk.

AUG. Three distinct biddings. Rise, however, is not a command, but the conferring of the cure. Two commands were given upon his cure, take up your bed, and walk.

CHRYS. Behold the richness of the Divine Wisdom. He not only heals, but bids him carry his bed also. This was to show the cure was really miraculous, and not a mere effect of the imagination; for the man"s limbs must have become quite sound and compact, to allow him to take up his bed. The impotent man again did not deride and say, The Angel comes down, and troubles the water, and he only cures one each time; do You, who are a mere man, think that you can do more than an Angel? On the contrary, he heard, believed Him who bade him, and was made whole: And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked.

BEDE There is a wide difference between our Lord"s mode of healing, and a physician"s. He acts by His word, and acts immediately: the other"s requires a long time for its completion.

CHRYS. This was wonderful, but what follows more so. As yet he had no opposition to face. It is made more wonderful when we see him obeying Christ afterwards in spite of the rage and railing of the Jews: And on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him that was cured, It is the sabbath day, it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.

AUG. They did not charge our Lord with healing on the sabbath, for He would have replied that if an ox or an ass of theirs had fallen into a pit, would not they have taken it out on the sabbath day: but they addressed the man as he was carrying his bed, as if to say, Even if the healing could not be delayed, why enjoin the work? He shields himself under the authority of his Healer: He that made me whole, the Same said to me, Take up your bed, and walk: meaning, Why should not I receive a command, if I received a cure from Him?

CHRYS. Had he been inclined to deal treacherously, he might have said, If it is a crime, accuse Him Who commanded it, and I will lay down my bed. And he would have concealed his cure, knowing, as he did, that their real cause of offense was not the breaking of the Sabbath, but the miracle. But he neither concealed it, nor asked for pardon, but boldly confessed the cure. They then ask spitefully; What man is that who said to you, Take up your bed, and walk. They do not say, Who is it, who made you whole? but only mention the offense. It follows, And he that was healed wist not who it was, for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in that place. This He had done first, because the man who had been made whole, was the best witness of the cure, and could give his testimony with less suspicion in our Lord"s absence; and secondly, that the fury of men might not be excited more than was necessary. For the mere sight of the object of envy, is no small incentive to envy. For these reasons He departed, and left them to examine the fact for themselves. Some are of opinion, that this is the same with the one who had the palsy, whom Matthew mentions. But he is not. For the latter had many to wait upon, and carry him, whereas this man had none. And the place where the miracle was performed, is different.

AUG. Judging on low and human notions of this miracle, it is not at all a striking display of power, and only a moderate one of goodness. Of so many, who lay sick, only one was healed; though, had He chosen, He could have restored them all by a single word. How must we account for this? By supposing that His power and goodness were asserted more for imparting a knowledge of eternal salvation to the soul, than working a temporal cure on the body. That which received the temporal cure was certain to decay at last, when death arrived: whereas the soul which believed passed into life eternal. The pool and the water seem to me to signify the Jewish people: for John in the Apocalypse obviously uses water to express people.

BEDE. It is fitly described as a sheep pool. By sheep are meant people, according to the passage, We are your people, and the sheep of your pasture.

AUG. The water then, i.e. the people, was enclosed within five porches, i.e. the five books of Moses. But those books only betrayed the impotent, and did not recover them; that is to say, the Law convicted the sinner, but did not absolve him.BEDE. Lastly, many kinds of impotent folk lay near the pool: the blind, i.e. those who are without the light of knowledge; the lame, i.e. those who have not strength to do what they are commanded; the withered, i.e. those who have not the marrow of heavenly love.

AUG. So then Christ came to the Jewish people, and by means of mighty works, and profitable lessons, troubled the sinners, i.e. the water, and the stirring continued till He brought on His own passion. But He troubled the water, unknown to the world. For had they known Him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But the troubling of the water came on all at once, and it was not seen who troubled it. Again, to go down into the troubled water, is to believe humbly on our Lord"s passion. Only one was healed, to signify the unity of the Church: whoever came afterwards was not healed, to signify that whoever is out of this unity cannot be healed. Wo to them who hate unity, and raise sects. Again, he who was healed had had his infirmity thirty and eight years: this being a number which belongs to sickness, rather than to health. The number forty has a sacred character with us, and is significative of perfection. For the Law was given in Ten Commandments, and was to be preached throughout the whole world, which consists of four parts; and four multiplied into ten, make up the number forty. And the Law too is fulfilled by the Gospel, which is written in four books. So then if the number forty possesses the perfectness of the Law, and nothing fulfills the Law, except the twofold precept of love, why wonder at the impotence of him, who was two less than forty? Some man was necessary for his recovery; but it was a man who was God. He found the man falling short by the number two, and therefore gave two commandments, to fill up the deficiency. For the two precepts of our Lord signify love; the love of God being first in order of command, the love of our neighbor, in order of performance. Take up your bed, our Lord said, meaning, When you were impotent, your neighbor carried you; now you are made whole, carry your neighbor. And walk; but whither, except to the Lord your God.

BEDE. What mean the words, Arise, and walk; except that you should raise yourself from your torpor and indolence, and study to advance in good works. Take up your bed, i.e. your neighbor by which you are carried, and bear him patiently thyself.

AUG. Carry him then with whom you walk, that you may come to Him with Whom you desire to abide. As yet however he wist not who Jesus was; just as we too believe in Him though we see Him not. Jesus again does not wish to be seen, but conveys Himself out of the crowd. It is in a kind of solitude of the mind, that God is seen: the crowd is noisy; this vision requires stillness.


Verses 14-18

Afterward Jesus finds him in the temple, and said to him, Behold, you are made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come to you. 15. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. 16. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. 17. But Jesus answered them, My Father works hitherto, and I work. 18. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

CHRYS. The man, when healed, did not proceed to the market place, or give himself up to pleasure or vain glory, but, which was a great mark of religion, went to the temple: Afterward Jesus finds him in the temple.

AUG. The Lord Jesus saw him both in the crowd, and in the temple. The impotent man does not recognize Jesus in the crowd; but in the temple, being a sacred place, he does.

ALCUIN. For; if we would know our Maker"s grace, and attain to the sight of Him, we must avoid the crowd of evil thoughts and affections, convey ourselves out of the congregation of the wicked, and flee to the temple; in order that we may make ourselves the temple of God, souls whom God will visit, and in whom He will deign to dwell. And (He) said to him, Behold, you are made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.

CHRYS. Here we learn in the first place, that his disease was the consequence of his sins. We are apt to bear with great indifference the diseases of our souls; but, should the body suffer ever so little hurt, we have recourse to the most energetic remedies. Wherefore God punishes the body for the offenses of the soul. Secondly, we learn, that there is really a Hell. Thirdly, that it is a place of lasting and infinite punishment. Some say indeed, Because we have corrupted ourselves for a short time, shall we be tormented eternally? But see how long this man was tormented for his sins. Sin is not to be measured by length of time, but by the nature of the sin itself. And besides this we learn, that if, after undergoing a heavy punishment for our sins, we fall into them again, we shall incur another and a heavier punishment still: and justly; for one, who has undergone punishment, and has not been made better by it, proves himself to be a hardened person, and a despiser; and, as such, deserving of still greater torments. Nor let it embolden us, that we do not see all punished for their offenses here: for if men do not suffer for their offenses here, it is only a sign that their punishment will be the greater hereafter. Our diseases however do not always arise from sins; but only most commonly so. For some spring from other lax habits: some are sent for the sake of trial, as Job"s were. But why does Christ make mention of this palsied man"s sins? Some say, because he had been an accuser of Christ. And shall we say the same of the man afflicted with the palsy? For he too was told, Your sins are forgiven you? The truth is, Christ does not find fault with the man here for his past sins, but only warns him against future. In heeling others, however, He makes no mention of sins at all: so that it would seem to be the case that the diseases of these men had arisen from their sins; whereas those of the others had come from natural causes only. Or perhaps through these, He admonishes all the rest. Or he may have admonished this men, knowing his great patience of mind, and that he w would bear an admonition. It is a disclosure too of His divinity, for He implies in saying, Sin no more, that He knew what sins He had committed.

AUG. Now that the man had seen Jesus, and knew Him to be the author of his recovers, ho was not slow in preaching Him to others: The man departed, and told the, Jews that it was Jesus which had made him whole.

CHRYS. He was not so insensible to the benefit, and the advice he had received, as to have any malignant aim in speaking this news. Had it been done to disparage Christ, he could have concealed the cure, and put forward the offense. But he does not mention Jesus" saying, Take up your bed, which was an offense in the eyes of the Jews; but told the Jews that it was Jesus which had made him whole.

AUG. This announcement enraged them, And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, because He had done these things on the sabbath day. A plain bodily work had been done before their eyes, distinct from the healing of the man"s body, and which could not have been necessary, even if healing was; viz. the carrying of the bed. Wherefore our Lord openly says, that the sacrament of the Sabbath, the sign of observing one day out of seven, was only a temporary institution, which had attained its fulfillment in Him: But Jesus answered them, my Father works hitherto , and I work: as if He said, Do not suppose that My Father rested on the Sabbath in such a sense, as that from that time forth, He has ceased from working; for He works up to this time, though without labor, and so work I. God"s resting means only that He made no other creature, after the creation. The Scripture calls it rest, to remind us of the rest we shall enjoy after a life of good works here. And as God only when He had made man in His own image and similitude, and finished all His works, and seen that they were very good, rested on the seventh day: so do you expect no rest, except you return to the likeness in which you were made, but which you have lost by sin; i.e. unless you do good works.

AUG. It may be said then, that the observance of the sabbath was imposed on the Jews, as the shadow of something to come; viz. that spiritual rest, which God, by the figure of His own rest promised to all who should perform good works.

AUG. There will be a sabbath of the world, when the six ages, i.e. the six days, as it were, of the world, have passed: then will come that rest which is promised to the saints.

AUG. The mystery of which rest the Lord Jesus Himself sealed by His burial: fore He rested in His sepulcher on the sabbath, having on the sixth day finished all His work, inasmuch as He said, It is finished. What wonder then that God, to prefigure the day on which Christ was to rest in the grave, rested one day from His works, afterwards to carry on the work of governing the world. We may consider too that God, when He rested, rested from the work of creation simply, i.e. made no more new kinds of creatures: but that from that time till now, He has been carrying on the government of those creatures. For His power, as respects the government of heaven and earth, and all the things that He had made, did not cease on the seventh day: they would have perished immediately, without His government: because the power of the Creator is that on which the existence of every creature depends. If it ceased to govern, every species of creation would cease to exist: and all nature would go to nothing. For the world is not like a building, which stands after the architect has left it; it could not stand the twinkling of an eye, if God withdrew His governing hand. Therefore when our Lord says, My Father works hitherto, he means the continuation of the work; the holding together, and governing of the creation. It might have been different, had He said, Works even now. This would not have conveyed the sense of confirming. As it is we find it, Until now; i.e. from the time of the creation downwards.

AUG. He says then, as it were, to the Jews, Why think you that I should not work on the sabbath? The sabbath day was instituted as a type of Me. You observe the works of God: by Me all things were made. The Father made light, but He spoke, that it might be made. If He spoke, then He made it by the Word; and I am His Word. My Father worked when He made the world, and He works until now, governing the world: and as He made the world by Me, when He made it, so He governs it by Me, now He governs it.

CHRYS. Christ defended His disciples, by putting forward the example of their fellow-servant David: but He defends Himself by a reference to the Father. We may observe too that He does not defend Himself as man, nor yet purely as God, but sometimes as one, sometimes as the other; wishing both to be believed, both the dispensation of His humiliation, and the dignity of His Godhead; wherefore He shows His equality to the Father, both by calling Him His Father emphatically. (My Father), and by declaring that He does the same things, that the Father does, (And I work). Therefore, it follows, the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was His Father.AUG. i.e. not in the secondary sense in which it is true of all of us, but as implying equality. For we all of us say to God, Our Father, Which art in heaven. And the Jews say, You are our Father. They were not angry then because He called God His Father, but because He called Him so in a sense different from men.

AUG. The words, My Father works hitherto, and I work, suppose Him to be equal to the Father. This being understood, it followed from the Father"s working, that the Son worked: inasmuch as the Father does nothing without the Son.

CHRYS. Were He not the Son by nature, and of the same substance, this defense would be worse than the former accusation made. For no prefect could clear Himself from a transgression of the king"s law, by urging that the king broke it also. But, on the supposition of the Son"s equality to the Father, the defense is valid. It then follows, that as the Father worked on the Sabbath without doing wrong: the Son could do so likewise.

AUG. So, the Jews understood what the Arians do not. For the Arians say that the Son is not equal to the Father, and hence sprang up that heresy which afflicts the Church.

CHRYS. Those however who are not well-disposed to this doctrine, do not admit that Christ made Himself equal to the Father, but only that the Jews thought He did. But let us consider what has gone before. That the Jews persecuted Christ, and that He broke the sabbath, and said that God was His Father, is unquestionably true. That which immediately follows then from these premises, viz. His making Himself equal with God, is true also.

HILARY. The Evangelist here explains why the Jews wished to kill Him.

CHRYS. And again, had it been that our Lord Himself did not mean this, but that the Jews misunderstood Him, He would not have overlooked their mistake. Nor would the Evangelist have omitted to remark upon it, as he does upon our Lord"s speech, Destroy this temple.

AUG. The Jews however did not understand from our Lord that he was the Son of God, but only that He was equal with God; though Christ gave this as the result of His being the Son of God. It is from not seeing this, while they saw at the same time that equality was asserted, that they charged Him with making Himself equal with God: the truth being, that He did not make Himself equal, but the Father had begotten Him equal.


Verse 19-20

Then answered Jesus and said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do: for what things soever he does, these also does the Son likewise. 20. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all things that himself does: and he will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

HILARY. He refers to the charge of violating the sabbath, brought against Him. My Father works hitherto, and I work; meaning that He had a precedent for claiming the right He did; and that what He did was in reality His Father"s doing, who acted in the Son. And to quiet the jealousy which had been raised, because by the use of His Father"s name He had made Himself equal with God, and to assert the excellency of His birth and nature, He says, Verily, verily, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do.

AUG. Some who would be thought Christians, the Arian heretics, who say that the very Son of God who took our flesh upon Him, was inferior to the Father, take advantage of these words to throw discredit upon our doctrine, and say, You see that when our Lord perceived the Jews to be indignant, because He seemed to make Himself equal with God, He gave such an answer as showed that He was not equal. For they say, he who can do nothing but what he sees the Father do is not equal but inferior to the Father. But if there is a greater God, and a less God, (the Word being God,) we worship two Gods, and not one.

HILARY. Lest then that assertion of His equality, which must belong to Him, as by Name and Nature the Son, might throw doubt upon His Nativity , He says that the Son can do nothing of Himself.

AUG. As if He said: Why are you offended that I called God My Father, and that I make Myself equal with God? I am equal, but equal in such a sense as is consistent with His having begotten Me; with My being from Him, not Him from Me. With the Son, being and power are one and the same thing. The Substance of the Son then being of the Father, the power of the Son is of tile Father also: and as the Son is not of Himself, so He can not of Himself. The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do. His seeing and His being born of the Father are the same. His vision is not distinct from His Substance, but the whole together is of the Father.

HILARY. That the wholesome order of our confession, i.e. that we believe in the Father and the Son, might remain, He shows the nature of His birth; viz. that He derived the power of acting not from au accessible of strength supplied for each work, but by His own knowledge in the first instance. And this knowledge He derived not from any particular visible precedents, as if what the Father had done, the Son could do afterwards; but that the Son being born of the Father, and consequently conscious of the Father"s virtue and nature within Him, could do nothing but what He saw the Father do: as he here testifies; God does not see by bodily organs, but by the virtue of His nature.AUG. If we understand this subordination of the Son to arise from the human nature, it will follow that the Father walked first upon the water, and did all the other things which the Son did in the flesh, in order that the Son might do them. Who can be so insane as to think this?

AUG. Yet that walking of the flesh upon the sea was done by the Father through the Son. For when the flesh walked, and the Divinity of the Son guided, the Father was not absent, as the Son Himself said below, The Father that dwells in Me, He does the works. He guards however against the carnal. interpretation of the words, The Son can do nothing of Himself. As if the case were like that of two artificers, master and disciple, one of whom made a chest, and the other made another like it, by adding, For whatsoever things he does, these do the Son likewise. He does not say, Whatsoever the Father does, the Son does other things like them, but the very same things. The Father made the world, the Son made the world, the Holy Ghost made the world. If the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one, it follows that one and the same world was made by the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Ghost. Thus it is the very same thing that the Son does. He adds likewise, to prevent another error arising. For the body seems to do the same things with the mind, but it does not do them in a like way, inasmuch as the body is subject, the soul governing, the body visible, the soul invisible. When a slave does a thing at the command of his master, the same thing is done by both; but is it in a like way? Now in the Father and Son there is not this difference; they do the same things, and in a like way. Father and Son act with the same power; so that the Son is equal to the Father.

HILARY. Or thus; All things and the same, He says, to show the virtue of His nature, its being the same with God"s. That is the same nature, which can do all the same things. And as the Son does all the same things in a like way, the likeness of the works excludes the notion of the worker existing alone g. Thus we come to a true idea of the Nativity, as our faith receives it: the likeness of the works bearing witness to the Nativity, their sameness to the Nature.

CHRYS. Or thus; That the Son can do nothing of Himself, must be understood to mean, that He can do nothing contrary to, or displeasing to, the Father. And therefore He does not say that He does nothing contrary, but that He can do nothing; in order to show His perfect likeness, and absolute equality to the Father. Nor is this a sign of weakness in the Son, but rather of goodness. For as when we say that it is impossible for God to sin, we do not charge Him with weakness, but bear witness to a certain ineffable goodness; so when the Son says, I can do nothing of myself, it only means, that He can do nothing contrary to the Father.

AUG. This is not a sign of failing in Him, but of His abiding in His birth from the Father. And it is as high an attribute of the Almighty that He does not change, as it is that Ho does not die. The Son could do what He had not seen the Father doing, if He could do what the Father does not do through Him; i.e. if He could sin: a supposition inconsistent with the immutably good nature which was begotten from the Father. That He cannot do; this then is to be understood of Him, not in the sense of deficiency, but of power.

CHRYS. And this is confirmed by what follows: For whatsoever be does these also do the Son likewise. For it the Father does all things by Himself, so does the Son also, if this likewise is to stand good. You see how high a meaning these humble words bear. He gives His thoughts a humble dress purposely. For whenever He expressed Himself loftily, He was persecuted, as an enemy of God.AUG. Having said that He did the same A things that the Father did, and in a like way, He adds, For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that Himself does. And shows Him all things that Himself does: this has a reference to the words above; But what He sees the Father do. But again, our human ideas are perplexed, and one may say, So then the Father first does something, that the Son may see what He does; just as an artificer teaches his son his art, and shows him what he makes, that he may be able to make the same after him. On this supposition, when the Father does a thing, the Son does not do it; in that the Son is beholding what His Father does. But we hold it as a fixed and incontrovertible truth, that the Father makes all things through the Son, and therefore He must show them to the Son, before He makes them. And where does the Father show the Son what He makes, except in the Son I Himself, by whom He makes them? For if the Father makes a thing for a pattern, and the Son attends to the workmanship as it goes on, where is the indivisibility of the Trinity? The Father therefore does not show the Son what He does by doing it, but by showing does it, through the Son. The Son sees, and the Father shows, before a thing is made, and from the showing of the Father, and the seeing of the Son, that is made which is made; made by the Father, through the Son. But you will say, I show my Son what I wish him to make, and he makes it, and I make it through him. True; but before you do any thing, you show it to your son, that he may do it for your example, and you by him; but you speak to your son words which are not yourself; whereas the Son Himself is the Word of the Father; and could He speak by the Word to the Word? Or, because the Son was the great Word, were lesser words to pass between the Father and the Son, or a certain sound and temporary creation, as it were, to go out of the mouth of the Father, and strike the ear of the Son? Put away these bodily notions, and if you are simple, see the truth in simplicity. If you can not comprehend what God is, comprehend at least what He is not. You will have advanced no little way, if you think nothing that is untrue of God. See what I am saying exemplified in your own mind. You have memory, and thought, your memory shows to your thought Carthage: before you perceive what is in her, she shows it to thought, which is turned toward her: the memory then has shown, the thought has perceived, and no words have passed between them, no outward sign been used. But whatever is in your memory, you receive from without: that which the Father shows to the Son, He does not receive from without; the whole goes on within; there being no creature existing without, but what the Father has made by the Son. And the Father makes by showing, in that He makes by, the Son who sees. The Father"s showing begets the Son"s seeing, as the Father begets the Son? Showing begets seeing, not seeing showing. But it would be more correct, and more spiritual, not to view the Father as distinct from His showing, or the Son from His seeing.

HILARY. It must not be supposed that the Only Begotten God needed such showing on account of ignorance. For the showing here is only the doctrine of the nativity; the self-existing Son, from the self-existing Father.

AUG. For to see the Father is to see His Son. The Father so shows all His works to the Son, that the Son sees them from the Father. For the birth of the Son is in His seeing: He sees from the same source, from which He is, and is born, and remains.

HILARY. Nor did the heavenly discourse lack the caution, to guard against our inferring from these words any difference in the nature of the Son and the Father. For He says that the works of the Father were shown to Him, not that strength was supplied Him for the doing of them, in order to teach that this showing is substantially nothing else than His birth; for that simultaneously with the Son Himself is born the Son"s knowledge of the works the Father will do through Him.

AUG. But now from Him whom we called co-eternal with the Father, who saw the Father" and existed in that He saw, we return to the things of time, And He will show him greater works than these. But if He will show him, i.e. is about to show him, He has not yet shown him: and when He does show him, others also will see; for it follows, That you may believe. It is difficult to see what the eternal Father can show in time to the co-eternal Son, Who knows all that exists within the Father"s mind. For as the Father raises up the dead and quickens them even so the Son quickens whom He will. To raise the dead was a greater work than to heal the sick. But this is explained by considering that He Who a little before spoke as God, now begins to speak as man. As man, and therefore living in time, He will be strewn greater works in time. Bodies will rise again by the human dispensation by which the Son of God assumed manhood in time; but souls by virtue of the eternity of the Divine Substance. For which reason it was said before that the Father loved the Son, and showed Him what things soever He did. For the Father shows the Son that souls are raised up; for they are raised up by the Father and the Son, even as they cannot live, except God give them life. Or the Father is about to show this to us, not to Him; according to what follows, That you may believe. This being the reason why the Father would show Him greater things than these. But why did He not say, shall show you, instead of the Son? Because we are members of the Son, and He, as it were, learns in His members, even as He suffers in us. For as He says, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it to Me: so if we ask Him, how He, the Teacher of all things, learns, He replies, When one of the least of My brethren learns, I learn.


Verses 21-23

Ver 21. For as the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them; even so the Son quickens whom he will. 22. For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son:23. That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honors not the Son honors not the Father which has sent him.

AUG, Having said that the Father would show the Son greater works than these, He proceeds to describe these greater works: For as the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom He will. These are plainly greater works, for it is more of a miracle that a dead man should rise again, than that a sick mall should recover. We must not understand from the words, that some are raised by the Father, others by the Son; but that the Son raises to life the same whom the Father raises. And to guard against any one saying, The Father raises the dead by the Son, the former by His own power, the latter, like an instrument, by another power, He asserts distinctly the power of the Son: The Son quickens whom he will. Observe here not only the power of the Son, but also His will. Father and Son have the same power and will. The Father wills nothing distinct from the Son; but both have the same will, even as they have the same substance.

HILARY. For to will is the free power of a nature, which by the act of choice, rests in the blessedness of perfect excellence.

AUG. But who are these dead, whom the Father and Son raise to life? He alludes to the general resurrection which is to be; not to the resurrection of those few, who were raised to life, that the rest might believe; as Lazarus, who rose again, to die afterwards. Having said then, For as the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them, to prevent our taking the words to refer to the dead whom He raised up for the sake of the miracle, and not to the resurrection to life eternal, He adds, For the Father judges no man; thus showing that He spoke of that resurrection of the dead which would take place at the judgment. Or the words, As the Father raises up the dead, &c. refer to the resurrection of the soul; For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son, to the resurrection of the body. For the resurrection of the soul takes place by the substance of the Father and the Son, and therefore it is the work of the Father and the Son together: but the resurrection of the body takes place by a dispensation of the Son"s humanity, which is a temporal dispensation, and not co-eternal with the Father. But see how the Word of Christ leads the mind in different directions, not allowing it any carnal resting place; but by variety of motion exercising it, by exercise purifying it, by purifying enlarging its capacity, and after enlarging filling it. He said just before that the Father showed what things soever He did to the Son. So I saw, as it were, the Father working, and the Son waiting: now again I see the Son working, the Father resting.

AUG. For this, viz. that the Father has given all judgment to the Son, does not mean that He begat the Son with this attribute, as is meant in the: words, So has He given to the Son to have life in Himself. For if so, it would not be said, The Father judges no man, because, in that the Father begat the Son equal, He judges with the Son. What is meant is, that in the judgment, not the form of God but the form of the Son of man will appear; not because He will not judge Who has given all judgment to the Son; since the Son says of Him below, There is one that seeks and judges, but the Father judges no man; i.e. no one will see Him in the judgment, but all will see the Son, because He is the Son of man, even the ungodly who will look on Him Whom they pierced.

HILARY. Having said that the Son quickens whom He will, in order that we might not lose sight of the nativity, and think that He stood upon the ground of His own unborn power, He immediately adds, For the Father judges no man, but has given all judgment to the Son. In that all judgment is given to Him, both His nature, and His nativity are shown; because only a self-existent nature can possess all things, and nativity cannot have any thing, except what is given it.

CHRYS. As He gave Him life, i.e. begot Him living; so He gave Him judgment, i.e. begot Him a judge. Gave, it is said, that you may not think Him unbegotten, and imagine two Fathers: All judgment, because He has the awarding; both of punishment and reward.

HILARY. All judgment is given to Him, because He quickens whom He will. Nor can the judgment be looked on as taken away from the Father, inasmuch as the cause of His not judging is, that the judgment of the Son is His. For all judgment is given from the Father. And the reason for which He gives it, appears immediately after: That all men may honor the Son even as you honor the Father.

CHRYS. For, lest you should infer from hearing that the Author of His power was the Father, any difference of substance, or inequality of honor, He connects the honor of the Son with the honor of the Father, showing that both have the same. But shall men then call Him the Father? God forbid; he who calls Him the Father, does not honor the Son equally with the Father, but confounds both.

AUG. First indeed, the Son appeared as a servant, and the Father was honored as God. But the Son will be seen to be equal to the Father, that all men may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. But what if persons are found, who honor the Father, and do not honor the Son? It cannot be: He that honors not the Son, honors not the Father which has sent Him. It is one thing to acknowledge God, as God; and another to acknowledge Him as the Father. When you acknowledge God the Creator, you acknowledge an almighty, supreme, eternal, invisible, immutable Spirit. When you acknowledge the Father, you do in reality acknowledge the Son; for He could not be the Father, had He not the Son. But if you honor the Father as greater, the Son as less, so far as you gives less honor to the Son, you take away from the honor of the Father. For you in reality think that the Father could not or would not beget the Son equal to Himself; which if He would not do, He was envious, if He could not, He was weak. Or, That all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father; has a reference to the resurrection of souls, which is the work of the Son, as well as of the Father. But the resurrection of the body is meant in what comes after: He that honors not the Son honors not the Father that sent Him. Here is no as; the man Christ is honored, but not as the Father Who sent Him, since with respect to His manhood He Himself says, My Father is greater than I. But some one will say, if the Son is sent by the Father, He is inferior to the Father. Leave your fleshly actions, and understand a mission, not a separation. Human things deceive, divine things make clear; although even human things give testimony against you, e.g. if a man offers marriage to a woman, and cannot obtain her by himself, he sends a friend, greater than himself; to urge his suit for him. But see the difference in human things. A man does not go with him whom he sends; but the Father Who sent the Son, never ceased to be with the Son; as we read, I am not alone, but the Father its with Me.

AUG. It is not, however, as being born of the Father, that the Son is said to be sent, but from His appearing in this world, as the Word made flesh; as He says, I went forth from the Father, and am come into the world: or from His being received into our minds individually, as we read, Send her, that she may be with me, and may labor with me.

HILARY. The conclusion then stands good against all the fury of heretical minds. He is the Son because He does nothing of Himself: He is God, because, whatsoever things the Father does, He does the same; They are one, because They are equal in honor: He is not the Father, because He is sent.


Verse 24

Verily, verily, I say to you, He that hears my word, and believes in him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.

GLOSS. Having said that the Son quickens whom He will, He next shows that we attain to life through the Son: Verily, verily, I say to you, He that hears My word, and believes in Him that sent Me, has everlasting life.

AUG. If, in hearing and believing is eternal life, how much more in understanding? But the step to our piety is faith, the fruit of faith, understanding. It is not, Believes in Me, but in Him that sent Me. Why is one to hear His word, and believe another? Is it not that He means to say, His word is in Me? And what is, Hears My word, but hears Me? And it is, Believe in Him that sent Me; as to say, He that believes in Him, believes in His Word, i.e. in Me, because I am the Word of the Father.

CHRYS. Or, He did not say, He that hears My words, and believes in Me; as they would have thought this empty boasting and arrogance. To say, Believes in Him that sent Me, was a better way of making His discourse acceptable. To this end He says two things: one, that he who hears Him, believes on the Father; the other, that he who hears and believes shall not come into condemnation.

AUG. But who is this favored Person? Will there be any one better than the Apostle Paul, who says, We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ? Now judgment sometimes means punishment, sometimes trial. In the sense of trial, we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ: in the sense of condemnation we read, some shall not come into judgment; i.e. shall not be condemned. It follows, but is passed from death into life: not, is now passing, but has passed from the death of unbelief, into the life of faith, from the death of sin, to the life of righteousness. Or, it is so said perhaps, to prevent our supposing that faith would save us from bodily death, that penalty which we must pay for Adam"s transgression. He, in whom we all then were, heard the divine sentence, You shall surely die; nor can we evade it. But when we have suffered the death of the old man, we shall receive the life of the new, and by death make a passage to life. But to what life? To life everlasting: the dead shall rise again at the end of the world, and enter into everlasting life. For this life does not deserve the name of life; only that life is true which is eternal.

AUG. We see the lovers of this present transitory life so intent on its welfare, that when in danger of death, they will take any means to delay its approach, though they can not hope to drive it off altogether. If so much care and labor then is spent on gaining a little additional length of life, how ought we to strive after life eternal? And if they are thought wise, who endeavor in every way to put off death, though they can live but a few days longer; how foolish are they who so live, as to lose the eternal day.


Verse 25-26

Verily, verily, I say to 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. 26. For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself.

AUG. Some one might ask you, The Father quickens him who believes in Him; but what of you? do you not quicken? Observe you that the Son also quickens whom He will; Verily, verily, I say to 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.

CHRYS. After, The hour comes, He adds, and now is; to let us know that it will not be long before it comes. For as in the future resurrection we shall be roused by hearing His voice speaking to us, so is it now.

THEOPHYL. Here He speaks with a reference to those whom He was about to raise from the dead: viz. the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, the son of the widow, and Lazarus.

AUG. Or, He means to guard against our thinking, that the being passed from death to life, refers to the future resurrection; its meaning being, that he who believes is passed: and therefore He says, Verily, verily, I say to you, The hour comes, (what hour?) and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. He said not, because they live, they hear; but in consequence of hearing, they come to life again. But what is hearing, but obeying? For they who believe and do according to the true faith, live, and are not dead; whereas those who believe not, or, believing, live a bad life, and have not love, are rather to be accounted dead. And yet that hour is still going on, and will go on, the same hour, to the end of the world: as John says, It is the last hour.

AUG. When the dead, i.e. unbelievers, shall hear the voice of the Son of God, i.e. the Gospel: and they that hear, i.e. who obey, shall live, i.e. be justified, and no longer remain in unbelief.AUG. But some one will ask, Has the Son life, whence those who believe will fire? Hear His own words: As the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself. Life is original and absolute in Him, comes from no other source, depends on no other power. He is not as if He were partaker of a life, which is not Himself; but has life in Himself: so as that He Himself is His own life. Hear, O dead soul, the Father, speaking by the Son: arise, that you may receive that life which you have not in yourself, and enter into the first resurrection. For this life, which the Father and the Son are, pertains to the soul, and is not perceived by the body. The rational mind only discovers the life of wisdom.

HILARY. The heretics, driven hard by Scripture proofs, are obliged to attribute to the Son at any rate a likeness, in respect of virtue, to the Father. But they do not admit a likeness of nature, not being able to see that a likeness of virtue, could not arise but from a likeness of nature; as an inferior nature can never attain to the virtue of a higher and better one. And it cannot be denied that the Son of God has the same virtue with the Father, when He says, What things soever (the Father) does, the same does the Son likewise. But an express mention of the likeness of nature follows: As the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself. In life are comprehended nature and essence. And the Son, as He has it, so has He it given to Him. For the same which is life in both, is essence in both; and the life, i.e. essence, which is begotten from life, is born; though not born unlike the other. For, being life from life, it remains like in nature to its origin.

AUG. The Father must he understand not to have given life to the Son, who was existing without life, but so to have begotten Him, independently of time, that the life which He gave Him in begetting, was co-eternal with His own.

HILARY. Living born from living, has the perfection of nativity, without the newness of nature. For there is nothing new implied in generation from living to living, the life not coming at its birth from nothing. And the life which derives its birth from life, must by the unity of nature, and the sacrament of a perfect birth, both be in the living being, and have the being who lives it, in itself. Weak human nature indeed is made up of unequal elements, and brought to life out of inanimate matter; nor does the human offspring live for some time after it is begotten. Neither does it wholly live from life, since much grows up in it insensibly, and decays insensibly. But in the case of God, the whole of what He is, lives: for God is life, and from life, can nothing be but what is living.

AUG. Given to the Son, then, has the meaning of, begat the Son; for He gave Him tines life, by begetting. As He gave Him being, so He gave Him to have life in Himself; so that the Son did not stand in need of life to come to Him from without; but was in Himself the fullness of life, whence others, i.e. believers, received their life. What then is the difference between Them? This that one gave, the other received.

CHRYS The likeness is perfect in all but one respect, viz. that, in point of essence, one is the Father, the other the Son.

HILARY. For the person of the receiver, is distinct from that of the giver: it being inconceivable that one and the same person, should give to and receive from Himself. He who lives of Himself is one person: He who acknowledges an Author of His life is another.


Verses 27-29

Ver 27. And has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,29. And shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.

THEOPHYL. The Father granted the Son power not only to give life, but also to execute judgment. And has given Him authority to execute judgment.

CHRYS. But why does He dwell so constantly on these subjects; judgment, resurrection, and life? Because these are the most powerful arguments for bringing men over to the faith, and the most likely ones to prevail with obstinate hearers. For one who is persuaded that he shall rise again, and be called by the Son to account for his misdeeds, will, though he know nothing more than this, be anxious to propitiate his Judge. It follows, Because He is the Son of man, marvel not at this. Paul of Samosata reads it, Has given Him power to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man. But this connection has no meaning; for He does not receive the power to judge because He is man, (as, on this supposition, what would prevent all men from being judges:) but because He is the ineffable Son of God; therefore is He Judge. We must read it then, Because He is the Son of man, marvel not at this. As Christ"s hearers thought him a mere man, and as what He asserted of Himself was too high to be true of men, or even angels, or any being short of God Himself, there was a strong obstacle in the way of their believing, which our Lord notices in order to remove it: Marvel not, He says, that He is the Son of man: and then adds the reason why they should not marvel: For the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And why did He not say, Marvel not that He is the Son of man: because in truth He is the Son of God? Because, having given out that it was He who should raise men from the dead, the resurrection being a strictly divine work, He leaves His hearers to infer that He is God, and the Son of God. Persons in arguing often do this. When they have brought out grounds amply sufficient to prove the conclusion they want, they do not draw that conclusion themselves; but, to make the victory greater; leave the opponent to draw it. In referring above to the resurrection of Lazarus and the rest, he said nothing about judgment, for Lazarus did not rise again for judgment; whereas now, that He is speaking of the general resurrection, He brings in the mention of the judgment: And (they) shall come forth, He says, they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation. Having said above, He that hears My words, and believe in Him that sent Me, has everlasting life; that men might not suppose from this, that belief was sufficient for salvation, He proceeds to speak of works: And they that have done good, - and they that have done evil.

AUG. Or thus: Inasmuch as the Word was in the beginning with God, the Father gave Him to have life in Himself; but inasmuch as the Word w as made flesh of the Virgin Mary, being made man, He became the Son of man: and as the Son of man, He received power to execute judgment at the end of the world; at which time the bodies of the dead shall rise again. The souls then of the dead God raises by Christ the Son of God, their bodies by the same Christ, the Son of man. Wherefore He adds, Because He is the Son of man: for, as to the Son of God, He always had the power.

AUG. At the judgment will appear the form of man, that form will judge, which was judged; He will sit a Judge Who stood before the judge; He will condemn the guilty, Who was condemned innocent. For it is proper that the judged should see their Judge. Now the judged consist of both good and bad; so that the form of the servant will be strewn to good and bad alike; the form of God to the good only. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

AUG. None if the, founders of false religious sects have been able to deny the resurrection of the soul, but many have denied the resurrection of the body; and, unless You, Lord Jesus, had declared it, what answer could we give the gainsayer? To set forth this truth, He says, Marvel not at this; (i.e. that He has given power to the Son of man to execute judgment,) for the hour is coming, &c.AUG. He does not add, And now is, here; because this hour would be at the end of the world. Marvel not, i.e. marvel not, men will all be judged by a man. But what men? Not those only, whom He will find alive, For the hour comes, in which all that are in their graves shall hear His voice.

AUG. What can be plainer? Men"s bodies are in their graves, not their souls. Above when He said, The hour comes, and added, and now is; He proceeds, When the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God. He does not say, All the dead; for by the dead are meant the wicked, and the wicked have not all been brought to obey the Gospel But in the end of the world all that are in their graves shall hear His voice, and come forth. He does not say, Shall live, as He said above, when He spoke of the eternal and blessed life; which all will not have, who shall come forth from their graves. This judgment was committed to Him because He was the Son of man. But what takes place in this judgment? They that have done good shall go to the resurrection of life, i.e. to live with the Angels of God; they that have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. Judgment here meaning damnation.


Verse 30

I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own wild, but the will of the Father which has sent me.

AUG. We were about to ask Christ, you will judge, and the Father not judge: will not you then judge according to the Father? He anticipates us by saying, I can of Mine own Self do nothing.

CHRYS. That is, nothing that is a departure from, or that is unlike to, what the Father wishes, shall you see done by Me, but as I hear, I judge. He is only showing that it was impossible He should ever wish any thing bat what the Father wished. I judge, His meaning is, as if it were My Father that judged.

AUG. When He spoke of the resurrection of the soul, He did not say, Hear, but, See. Hear implies a command issuing from the Father. He speaks as man, who is inferior to the Father.

AUG. As I hear, I judge, is said with reference either to His human subordination, as the Son of man, or to that immutable and simple nature of the Sonship derived from the Father; in which nature hearing and seeing is identical with being. Wherefore as He hears, He judges. The Word is begotten one with the Father, and therefore judges according to truth. It follows, And My judgment is just, because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which has sent Me. This is intended to take us back to that man who, by seeking his own will, not the will of Him who made him, did not judge himself justly, but had a just judgment pronounced upon him. He did not believe that, by doing his own will, not God"s, he should die. So he did his own will, and died; because the judgment; of God is just, which judgment the Son of God executes, by not seeking His own will, i.e. His will as being the Son of man. Not that He has no will in judging, but His will is not His own in such sense, as to be different from the Father"s.

AUG. I seek not then Mine own will, i.e. the will of the Son of man, in opposition to God: for men do their own will, not God"s, when, to do what they wish, they violate God"s commands But when they so do what they wish, as at the same time to follow the will of God, they do not their own will. Or, I seek not Mine own will: i.e. because I am not of myself, but of the Father.

CHRYS. He shows that the Father"s will is not a different one from His own, but one and the same, as a ground of defense. Nor marvel if being hitherto thought no more than a mere man, He defends Himself in a somewhat human way, and shows his judgment to be just on the same ground which any other person would have taken; viz. that one who has his own ends in view, may incur suspicion of injustice, but that one who has not cannot.

AUG. The only Son says, I seek not Mine own will: and yet men wish to do their own will. Let us do the will of the Father, Christ, and Holy Ghost: for these have one will, power, and majesty.


Verses 31-40

If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. 32. There is another that bears witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesses of me is true. 33. You sent to John, and he bore witness to the truth. 34. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that you might be saved. 35. He was a burning and a shining light: and you were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. 36. But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father has given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father has sent me. 37. And the Father himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38. And you have not his word abiding in you: for whom he has sent, him you believe not. 39. Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40. And you will not come to me, that you might have life.

CHRYS. He now brings proof of those high declarations respecting Himself. He answers an objection: If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. These are Christ"s own words. But does not Christ in many places bear witness of Himself? And if all this is false, where is our hope of salvation? Whence shall we obtain truth, when the Truth Itself says, My witness is not true. We must believe then that true, here, is said, not with reference to the intrinsic value of His testimony, but to their suspicions; for the Jews might say, We do not believe You, because no one who bears witness to himself is to he depended on. In answer then, he puts forth three clear and irrefragable proofs, three witnesses as it were, to the truth of what He had said; the works which He had done, the testimony of the Father, and the preaching of John: putting the least of these foremost, i.e. the preaching of John: There is another that bears witness of Me: and I know that the witness which he witnesses of Me is true.

AUG. He knew Himself that His witness of Himself was true, but in compassion to the weak and unbelieving, the Sun sought for candles, that their weak sight might not be dazzled by His full blaze. And therefore John was brought forward to give his testimony to the truth. Not that there is such testimony really, for whatever witnesses bear witness to Him, it is really He who bears witness to Himself; as it is His dwelling in the witnesses, which moves them so to give their witness to the truth.

ALCUIN. Or thus; Christ, being both God and man, He shows the proper existence of both, by sometimes speaking according to the nature he took from man, sometimes according to the majesty of the Godhead. If I bear witness of Myself; My witness is not true: this is to be understood of His humanity; the sense being, If I, a man, bear witness of Myself, i.e. without God, My witness is not true: and then follows, There is another that bears witness of Me. The Father bore witness of Christ, by the voice which was heard at the baptism, and at the transfiguration on the mount. And I know that His witness is true; because He is the God of truth. How then can His witness be otherwise than true?

CHRYS. But ac cording to the former interpretation, they might say to Him, If your witness is not true, how say You, I know that the witness of John is true? But His answer meets the objection: You sent to John, and he bore witness of the truth: as if to say: You would not have sent to John, if you had not thought him worthy of credit. And what is more remarkable, they did send to him, not to ask Him about Christ, but about himself: For they who were sent out did not say, What say you of Christ? but, Who are you? what say you of yourself? In so great admiration did they hold him.

ALCUIN. But he bore witness not to himself, but to the truth: as the friend of the truth, he bore witness to the truth, i.e. Christ. Our Lord, on His part, does not reject the witness of John, as not being necessary, but shows only that men ought not to give such attention to John as to forget that Christ"s witness was all that was necessary to Himself. But I receive not, He says, testimony from men.

BEDE. Because I do not want it. John, though he bore witness, did it not that Christ might increase, but that men might be brought to the knowledge of Him.

CHRYS. Even the witness of John was the witness of God: for what he said, God taught him. But to anticipate their asking how it appeared that God taught John, as if the Jews had objected that John"s witness might not be true, our Lord anticipates them by saying, "you sought him yourselves to inquire of him; that is why I use his testimony, for I need it not." He adds, But these things I say that you might be saved. As if He said, I being God, needed not this human kind of testimony. But, since you attend more to him, and think him more worthy of credit than any one else, while you do not believe me, though I work miracles; for this cause I remind you of his testimony. But had they not received John"s testimony? Before they have time to ask this, He answers it: He was a burning and a shining light, and you were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. He says this to show, how lightly they had held by John, and how soon they had left him, thus preventing him from leading them to Christ. He calls him a candle, because John had not his light from himself; but from the grace of the Holy Spirit.

ALCUIN. John was a candle lighted by Christ, the Light, burning with faith and love, shining in word and deed. He was sent before, to confound the enemies of Christ, according to the Psalm, I have ordained a lantern for Mine Anointed; as for His enemies, I shall clothe them with shame.

CHRYS. I therefore direct you to John, not because I want this testimony, but that you may: for I have greater witness than that of John, i.e. that of my works; The works which the Father hash given Me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.

ALCUIN. That He enlightens the blind, that He opens the deaf ear, looses the mouth of the dumb, casts out devils, raises the dead; these works hear witness of Christ.

HILARY. The Only-begotten God shows Himself to be the Son, on the testimony not of man only, but of His own power. The works which He does, bear witness to His being sent from the Father. Therefore the obedience of the Son and the authority of the Father are set forth in Him who was sent. But the testimony of works not being sufficient evidence, it follows, And the Father Himself which has sent Me, has borne witness of Me. Open the Evangelic volumes, and examine their whole range: no testimony of the Father to the Son is given in any of the books, other than that He is the Son. So what a calumny is it in men now saying that this is only a name of adoption: thus making God a liar, and names unmeaning.

BEDE. By His mission we must understand His incarnation. Lastly, He shows that God is incorporeal, and cannot be seen by the bodily eye: You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape.

ALCUIN. The Jews might say, We heard the voice of the Lord at Sinai, and saw Him under the appearance of fire. If God then bears witness of You, we should know His voice. To which He replies, I have the witness of the Father, though you understand it not; because you never heard His voice, or saw His shape.

CHRYS. How then says Moses, Ask - whether there has been any such thing as this great thing is: did ever people hear the voice of God, speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard and seen? Isaiah too, and many others, are said to have seen Him. So what does Christ mean here? He means to impress upon them the philosophical doctrine, that God has neither voice, or appearance, or shape; but is superior to such modes of speaking of Him. For as in saying, You have never heard His voice, He does not mean to say that He has a voice, only not an audible one to them; so when He says, Nor have even His shape, no tangible, sensible, or visible shape is implied to belong to God: but all such mode of speaking is pronounced inapplicable to God.

ALCUIN. For it is not by the carnal ear, but by the spiritual understanding, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, that God is heard. And they did not hear the spiritual voice, because they did not love or obey Him, nor saw they His shape; inasmuch as that is not to be seen by the outward eye, but by faith and love.

CHRYS. But it was impossible for them to declare that they had received, and obeyed God"s commands: and therefore He adds, You have not His word abiding in you; i.e. the commandments, the law, and the prophets; though God instituted them, you have them not. For if the Scriptures every where tell you to believe in Me, and you believe not, it is manifest that His word is gone from you: For whom He has sent, Him you believe not.

ALCUIN. Or thus; they cannot have abiding in them the Word which was in the beginning, who came not to keep in mind, or fulfill in practice, that word of God which they hear. Having mentioned the testimonies of John, and the Father, and of His works, He adds now that of the Mosaic Law: Search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me: as if He said, you think you have eternal life in the Scriptures, and reject Me as being opposed to Moses: but you will find that Moses himself testifies to My being God, if you search the Scripture carefully. All Scripture indeed bears witness of Christ, whether by its types, or by prophets, or by the ministering of Angels. But the Jews did not believe these intimations of Christ, and therefore could not obtain eternal life: You will not come to Me, that you may have life; meaning, The Scriptures bear witness of Me, but you will not come to Me notwithstanding, i.e. you will not believe in Me, and seek for salvation at my hands.

CHRYS. Or the connection may be given thus. They might say to Him, How, if we have never heard God"s voice, has God borne witness to you? So He says, Search the Scriptures; meaning that God had borne witness of Him by the Scriptures. He had borne witness indeed at the Jordan, and on the mount. But they did not hear the voice on the mount, and did not attend to it at the Jordan. Wherefore He sends them to the Scriptures, when they would also find the Father"s testimony. He did not send them however to the Scriptures simply to read them, but to examine them attentively, because Scripture ever threw a shade over its own meaning, and did not display it on the surface. The treasure was, as it were, hidden from their eve. He does not say, For in them you have eternal life, but, For in them you think you have eternal life; meaning that they did not reap much fruit from the Scriptures, thinking, as they did, that they should be saved by the mere reading of them, without faith. For which reason He adds, You will not come to Me; i.e. you will not believe on Me.

BEDE. That coming is put for believing we know, Come to Him, and be lightened. He adds, That you might have life; For, if the soul which sin dies, they were dead in soul and mind. And therefore He promises the life of the soul, i.e. eternal happiness.


Verses 41-47

I receive not honor from men. 42. But I know you, that you have not the love of God in you. 43. I am come in my Father"s name, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive. 44. How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only?45. Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuses you, even Moses, in whom you trust. 46. For had you believed Moses, you would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47. But if you believe not his writings, how shall you believe my words?

CHRYS. Our Lord having made mention of John, and the witness of God, and His own works, many, who did not see H that His motive was to induce them to believe, might suspect Him of a desire for human glory, and therefore He says, I receive not honor from men: i.e. I do not want it. My nature is not such as to want that glory, which comes from men. For if the Son receives no addition from the light of a candle, much more am not I in want of human glory.

ALCUIN. Or, I receive not honor from men: i.e. I seek not human praise; for I came not to receive carnal honor from men, but to give spiritual honor to men. I do not bring forward this testimony then, because I seek my own glory; but because I compassionate your wandering, and wish to bring you back to the way of truth. Hence what follows, But I know you that you have not the love of God in you.

CHRYS. As if to say, I said this to prove that it is not from your love of God, that you persecute Me; for He bears witness to Me, by My own works, and by the Scriptures. So that, if you loved God, as you rejected Me, thinking Me against God, so now you would come to Me. But you do not love Him. And He proves this, not only from what they do now, but from what they will do in time to come: I am come in My Father"s name, and you received Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive. He says plainly, I am come in the Father"s name, that they might never be able to plead ignorance as an excuse

ALCUIN. As if He said, For this cause came I into the world, that through Me the name of the Father might be glorified; for I attribute all to Him. As then they would not receive Him, Who came to do His Father"s will; they had not the love of God. But Antichrist will come not in the Father"s name, but in his own, to seek, not the Father"s glory, but his own. And the Jews having rejected Christ, it was a fit punishment on them, that they should receive Antichrist, and believe a lie, as they would not believe the Truth.

AUG. Hear John, As you have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists. But what do you dread in Antichrist, except that he will exalt his own name, and despise the name of the Lord? And what else does he do, who says, "I justify;" or those who say, Unless we are good, you must perish?" Wherefore my life shall depend on You, and my salvation shall be fastened to You. Shall I so forget my foundation? Is not my rock Christ?

CHRYS. Here is the crowning proof of their impiety. He says, as it were, If it was the love of God that made you persecute me, you would persecute Antichrist much more: for he does not profess to be sent by the Father, or to come according to His will; but, on the contrary, usurping what does not belong to him, will proclaim himself to be God over all. It is manifest that your persecution of Me is from malice and hatred of God. Then He gives the reason of their unbelief: How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only? another proof this, that theirs was not a zeal for God, but a gratification of their own passions.

ALCUIN. How faulty then is the boasting temper, and that eagerness for human praise, which likes to be thought to have what it has not, and would fain be thought to have all that it has, by its own strength. Men of such temper cannot believe; for in their hearts, they are bent solely on gaining praise, and setting themselves up above others.

BEDE. The best way of guarding against this sin, is to bring to our consciences the remembrance, that we are dust, and should ascribe all the good that we have not to ourselves, but to God. And we should endeavor always to be such, as we wish to appear to others. Then, as they might ask, Will you accuse us then to the Father? He anticipates this question: Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father.

CHRYS. For I am not come to condemn, but to save. There is one that accuses you, even Moses, in whom you trust. As He had said of the Scriptures above: In them you think you have eternal life. So now of Moses He says, In whom you trust, always answering them out of their authorities. But they will say, How will he accuse us? What have you to do with Moses, you who have broken the sabbath? So He adds: For had you believed Moses, you would perhaps hare believed Me, for he wrote of me. This is connected with what was said before. For where evidence that He came from God had been forced upon them by His words, by the voice of John, and the testimony of the Father, it was certain that Moses would condemn them; for he had said, If any one shall come, doing miracles, leading men to God, and foretelling the future with certainty, you must obey him. Christ did all this, and they did not obey Him.

ALCUIN. Perhaps, He says, in accommodation to our way of speaking, not because there is really any doubting in God. Moses prophesied of Christ, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up from among your brethren like to me: Him shall you hear.

AUG. But, in fact, the whole that Moses wrote, was written of Christ, i.e. it has reference to Him principally; whether it point to Him by figurative actions, or expression; or set forth His grace and glory. But if you believe not his writings, how shall you believe My words.

THEOPHYL. As if I He said, He has even written, and has left his books among you, as a constant memento to you, lest you forget His words. And since you believe not his writings, how can you believe My unwritten words?

ALCUIN. From this we may infer too, that he who knows the commandments against stealing, and other crimes, and neglects them, will never fulfill the more perfect and refined precepts of the Gospel.

CHRYS. Indeed had they attended to His words, they ought and would have tried to learn from Him, what the things were which Moses had written of Him. But they are silent. For it is the nature of wickedness to defy persuasion. Do what you will, it retains its venom to the last.

 


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Bibliography Information
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on John 5:4". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/john-5.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, August 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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