corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.20.04.08
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
John 5

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 5

John 5:1. ἐορτή] C. E. F. H. L. M. δ. π. א. Cursives, Copt. Sahid. Cyr. Theophyl.: ἑορτή. So Tisch. But the witnesses against the article are still stronger (A. B. D. etc. Or.); and how easily might the insertion have occurred through the ancient explanation of the feast as that of Easter!

John 5:2. ἐπὶ τῇ προβατικῇ] ἐν τ. πρ. is more weakly attested (though sanctioned by A. D. G. L. א.**). Only א.* Cursives, some Verss. and Fathers have simply προβατική. A change following another construction (sheep-pool). Unnecessary, and unsupported on critical grounds, is the conjecture of Gersdorf: προβατικὴ κολυμβήθρα λεγομένη ἐβρ. βηθ. Tisch. following א.* has τὸ λεγόμενον instead of ἐπιλεγομένη.

John 5:3. τολύ] wanting in B. C. D. L. א. Cursives, and some verss. Bracketed by Lachmann, deleted by Tisch. A strengtheningaddition that might easily present itself.

The words ἐκδεχομ. τὴν τοῦ ὓδατος κίνησιν, together with the whole of John 5:4, are wanting in B. C.* D. א. 157, 314, Copt. Ms. Sahid. Syrcu. Those words are wanting only in A. L. 18; the fourth verse only in D. 33, Arm. Mss. Codd. It. Aug., Nonnus (who describes the stirring, but does not mention the angel), and is marked as doubtful in other witnesses by an obelus or asterisks. There is, moreover, great variation in particular words. For κατέβαινεν, A. K. Verss. have even ἐλούετο, which Grotius approves. The entire passage from ἐκδεχομ. to the end of John 5:4, though recognised by Tertullian (Origen is silent), is a legendary addition (so also Lücke, Olshausen, Baeumlein, and now even Brückner, reject it), though left in the text by Lachmann in conformity with his principles, but deleted by Tisch.; by de Wette not decidedly rejected; vindicated on various grounds by B. Crusius, Hahn, Theol. N. T. I. 303, Lange, Reuss, and Hengstenberg; left doubtful by Luthardt. Had the passage been genuine, its contents would have led more easily to its being retained than to its being omitted; moreover, the comparatively numerous ἅπαξ λεγόμενα in it make it suspicious, viz. κίνησιν, ταραχή, δήποτε (instead of δήποτε Lachmann has οἱῳδηποτοῦν), νόσημα. When it is judged (de Wette) that John would hardly have ended the sentence with ξηρῶν, and then have immediately proceeded with ἦν δέ τις, etc., this is really arbitrary, for we would miss nothing if nothing had been there; ὅταν ταραχθῇ τὸ ὕδωρ, John 5:7, by no means makes a preceding explanation “almost necessary,” but probably states the original form of the popular belief, out of which the legend soon developed itself and found its way into the text. This also against Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, I. 327 f., whose vindication of John 5:4 is approved by Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 268. Ewald (so also Tholuck and Godet) rejects John 5:4, but defends the words ἐχδεχομένωνκίνησιν in John 5:3 for the sake of John 5:7; Hofmann, in loc., follows an opposite course. But the critical witnesses do not sanction such a separation.

John 5:5. καὶ is wanting in the Elz., and is bracketed by Lachmann, but adopted by Tisch., and this upon preponderating evidence.

ἀσθεν.] B. C.* D. L. א. Cursives, Codd. It. Vulg. Copt. Sahid. Arm. Cyr. Chrys. append αὐτοῦ, which Lachmann puts in brackets, and Tisch. receives. Rightly; between ἀσθενει A and τουτον the superfluous αυτου might easily escape notice.

John 5:7. For βάλῃ Elz. has βάλλῃ, against decisive evidence.

John 5:8. ἔγειρε] Elz.: ἔγειραι, against the best Codd. See the critical notes on Mark 2:2.

John 5:12. τὸν κράββ. σου is wanting in B. C.* L. א. Sahid. An addition from John 5:8; John 5:11. Deleted by Tisch.

John 5:13. ἰαθείς] Tisch., following D. and Codd. of the It., reads ἀσθενῶν, apparently original, but inappropriate after τῷ τεθεραπευμμένῳ in John 5:10; to be regarded as a subject added to John 5:7, and besides this too weakly supported.

John 5:15. ἀνήγγειλε] C. L. א. Syr. Syrcu. Copt. Cyr. read εἶπεν; D. K U. D. Cursives, Chrys.: ἀπήγγ. The latter reading might easily arise by joining ἀνήγγ. with ἀπῆλθεν; but this makes the testimonies against εἶπεν, which Tisch. adopts, still stronger.

John 5:16. After ἰουδαῖοι, Elz., Scholz (bracketed by Lachmann), read καὶ ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν ἀποκτεῖναι, against decisive witnesses. A supplement borrowed from John 5:18.

John 5:20. Tisch.: θαυμάζετε, which is far too weakly supported by L. א.

John 5:25. ζήσονται] Lachmann and Tisch.: ζήσουσιν, following B. D. L. א. Cursives, Chrys. Rightly; the more usual form crept in.

John 5:30. After με Elz. has πατρὸς, an addition opposed by decisive witnesses.

John 5:32. οἶδα] Tisch. οἴδατε, following only D. א. Codd. It. Syrcu. Arm.

John 5:35. The form ἀγαλλιαθῆναι (Elz., following B.: ἀγαλλιασθῆναι) has preponderating evidence in its favour.


Verse 1

John 5:1. ΄ετὰ ταῦτα] after this stay of Jesus in Galilee; an approximate statement of time, within the range of which the harmonist has to bring much that is contained in the Synoptics. The distinction made by Lücke between this and μετὰ τοῦτο, according to which the former denotes indirect, and the latter immediate sequence, is quite incapable of proof: μετὰ ταῦτα is the more usual in John; comp. John 5:14; John 3:22; John 6:1; John 7:1.

ἑορτὴ τῶν ἰουδαίων] a feast of the Jews; John does not describe it more definitely. But what feast is meant appears with certainty from John 4:35; comp. John 6:4. For in John 4:35 Jesus spoke in December, and it is clear from John 4:4 that the Passover was still approaching; it must therefore(203) be a feast occurring in the interval between December and the Passover, and this is no other than the feast of Purim ( יְמֵי הַפּוּרִים, Esther 9:24 ff; Esther 3:7), the feast of lots, celebrated on the 14th and 15th of Adar (Esther 9:21), consequently in March, in commemoration of the nation’s deliverance from the bloody designs of Haman. So Keppler, d’Outrein, Hug, Olshausen, Wieseler, Krabbe, Anger, Lange, Maier, Baeumlein, Godet, and most others. So also Holtzmann (Judenth. u. Christenth. p. 374) and Märcker (Uebereinst. d. Matth. u. Joh. 1868, p. 11). In favour of this interpretation is the fact that, as this feast was by no means a great one, but of less importance and less known to Hellenistic readers, the indefinite mention of it on John’s part is thoroughly appropriate; while he names the greater and well-known feasts,—not only the Passover, but the σκηνοπηγία in John 7:2, and the ἐγκαίνια in John 10:22. To suppose, in explanation of the fact that he does not give the name, that he had forgotten what feast it was (Schweizer), is compatible neither with the accuracy of his recollection in other things, nor with the importance of the miracle wrought at this feast. It is arbitrary, however, to suppose that John did not wish to lay stress upon the name of the ἑορτή, but upon the fact that Jesus did not go up to Jerusalem save on occasion of a feast (Luthardt, Lichtenstein); indeed, the giving of the name after ἰουδαίων (comp. John 7:2) would in no way have interfered with that imaginary design. It is objected that the feast of Purim, which was not a temple feast, required no journey to Jerusalem (see especially Hengstenberg, Christol. III. p. 187 f., Lücke, de Wette, Brückner); and the high esteem in which it is held in Gem. Hier. Megill. i. 8 cannot be shown to refer to the time of Jesus. But might not Jesus, even without any legal obligation, have availed Himself of this feast as an occasion for His further labours in Jerusalem? And are we to suppose that the character of the feast—a feast for eating and drinking merely—should hinder Him from going to Jerusalem? The Sabbath (John 5:9), on which apparently (but see Wieseler, p. 219) the feast could never occur, may have been before or after it; and, lastly, what is related of Jesus (John 6:1 ff.) between this festival and the Passover, only a month afterwards, may easily have occurred within the space of that month. In fine, it can neither have been the Passover (Cod. λ., Irenaeus, Eusebius’ Chron., Rupertus, Luther, Calovius, Grotius, Jansen, Scaliger, Cornelius a Lapide, Lightfoot, Lampe, Paulus, Kuinoel, Süsskind, Klee, Neander, Ammon, Hengstenberg), nor Pentecost (Cyril, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Erasmus, Melancthon, Beza, Calvin, Maldonatus, Bengel), nor the feast of Tabernacles (Cod. 131, Cocceius, Ebrard, Ewald, Hilgenfeld, Lichtenstein, Krafft, Riggenbach), nor the feast of the Dedication (a possible surmise of Keppler and Petavius); nor can we acquiesce in leaving the feast undeterminable (Lücke, de Wette, Luthardt, Tholuck, Brückner. Baumgarten Crusius hesitates between Purim and the Passover, yet inclines rather to the latter).


Verse 2-3

John 5:2-3. ἔστι] is all the less opposed to the composition of the Gospel after the destruction of Jerusalem, as what is mentioned is a bath, whose surroundings might very naturally be represented as still existing. According to Ewald, the charitable uses for which the building served might have saved it from destruction. Comp. Tobler, Denkblätt. p. 53 ff., who says that the porches were still pointed out in the fifth century.

ἐπὶ τῇ προβατικῇ] is usually explained by πύλῃ supplied: hard by the sheep-gate; see on John 4:6. Concerning the שַׁעַר הַצֹּאן, Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 3:32; Nehemiah 12:39, so called perhaps because sheep for sacrifice were sold there, or brought in there at the Passover, nothing further is known. It lay north-east of the city, and near the temple. Still the word supplied, “gate,” cannot he shown to have been in use; nor could it have been self-evident, especially to Gentile Christian readers, not minutely acquainted with the localities. I prefer, therefore, following Theodore of Mopsuestia, Ammonius, Nonnus, to join κολυμβ. with προβατικῇ, and, with Elz. 1633 and Wetstein, to read κολυμβῆθρᾳ, as a dative (comp. already Castalio): “Now there is in Jerusalem, at the sheep-pool, [a place called] Bethesda, so called in the Hebrew tongue.” According to Ammonius, the sheep used for sacrifice were washed in the sheep-pool.

ἐπιλεγ.] “this additional name being given to it.” On ἐπιλέγειν, elsewhere usually in the sense of selecting, see Plat. Legg. iii. p. 700 B. The pool was called Bethesda, a characteristic surname which had supplanted some other original name.

βηθεσδά] בֵּית חֶסְדָּא, locus benignitatis, variously written in Codd. (Tisch., following א. 33, βεθζαθά), not occurring elsewhere, not even in Josephus; not “house of pillars,” as Delitzsch supposes. It is impossible to decide with certainty which of the present pools may have been that of Bethesda.(204) See Robinson, II 136 f., 158 f. To derive the healing virtue of the (according to Eusebius) red-coloured water, which perhaps was mineral, as Eusebius does, from the blood of the sacrifices flowing down from the temple, and the name from אַשָׁדָא, effusio (Calvin, Aretius, Bochart, Michaelis), is unwarranted, and contrary to John 5:7. The five porches served as a shelter for the sick, who are specially described as τυφλῶν, etc., and those afflicted with diseases of the nerves and muscles. On ξηρῶν, “persons with withered and emaciated limbs,” comp. Matthew 12:10; Mark 3:1; Luke 6:6; Luke 6:8. Whether the sick man of John 5:5 was one of them or of the χωλοῖς is not stated.


Verse 5

John 5:5. τριάκοντα, κ. τ. λ.] i.e. “having passed thirty-eight years in his sickness,” so that ἔχων belongs to τρ. κ. ὀκτὼ ἔτη (John 8:57, John 11:17; Josephus, Arch. vii. 11. 1; Krebs, p. 150), and ἐν τ. ἀσθ. αὐτ. denotes the state in which he spent the thirty-eight years. Against the connection of ἔχων with ἐν τ. ἀσθ. . (being in his sickness thirty-eight years; so Kuinoel and most others) John 5:6 is decisive, as also against the perversion of Paulus, who puts a comma after ἔχων (“thirty-eight years old”). The duration of the sickness makes the miracle all the more striking; comp. Luke 8:43. There is no intimation of any reference to the sentence of death pronounced upon Israel in the wilderness (Baumgarten, p. 139 f.; comp. Hengstenberg).


Verse 6-7

John 5:6-7. τοῦτονἔχει] two points which excited the compassion of Jesus, where γνούς, however (as in John 4:1), does not denote a supernatural knowledge of this external (otherwise in John 5:14) and easily known or ascertained fact (against Godet and the early expositors).

ἔχει] i.e. ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ, John 5:5.

θέλεις, κ. τ. λ.] Wilt thou become whole? The self-evident nature of this desire made the question an appropriate one to rouse the sufferer’s attention and expectation, and this was the object Jesus had in view in order to the commencement of His miraculous work. This question was inappropriate for the purpose (de Wette thinks) of merely beginning a conversation upon the subject. Paulus falsely supposes that the man might have been a dishonest beggar, feigning sickness, and that Jesus asks him with reproving emphasis, “Wilt thou be made whole? art thou in earnest?” So, too, Ammon; while Lange regards him as simply languid in will, and that Christ again roused his dormant will; but there is nothing of this in the text, and just as little of Luthardt’s notion, that the question was meant for all the people of whom the sick man is supposed to be the type. This miracle alone furnishes an example of an unsolicited interrogation upon Christ’s part (a feature which Weisse urges against it); but in the case of the man born blind, chap. 9, we have also an unsolicited healing.

ἄνθρωπον οὐκ ἔχω] ad morbum accedebat inopia, Grotius; ἄνθρ. emphatically takes the lead; the ἔρχομαι ἐγώ follows answers to it.

ὅταν ταραχθῇ τὸ ὕδωρ] The occasional and intermittent disturbance of the water is not to be understood as a regular occurrence, but as something sudden and quickly passing away. Hence the man’s waiting and complaint.

βάλῃ] throw, denoting a hasty conveyance before the momentary bubbling was over.

ἔρχομαι] he therefore was obliged to help himself along, but slowly.

ἄλλος πρὸ ἐμοῦ] so that the place where the bubbling appeared was occupied by another. Observe the sing.; the short bubbling is to be regarded as occurring only in one fixed springing-point in the pool, so that one person only could let it exert its influence upon him. The apocryphal John 5:4 has perverted this circumstance, in conformity with a popular superstition, which probably reaches as far back as the time of Christ.


Verse 8-9

John 5:8-9. Comp. Matthew 9:6; Mark 2:9; Mark 2:11.

περιπάτει] walk, go; hitherto he had lain down there, John 5:6. The command implies the man’s faith, which had been recognised by Christ.

καὶ ᾖρε] simply and emphatically told in the very words which Jesus had spoken.

Some (Strauss) quite arbitrarily regard this story as a legendary exaggeration of the healing of the paralytic in the Synoptics (Matthew 9; Mark 2); time, place, circumstances, and what ensues, especially its essential connection with the healing on the Sabbath-day, are all original and independent, as is also the whole account, so full of life and psychologically true, and very different from that in the Synoptics. Notwithstanding, Baur again (p. 243 ff.) would make the story in John a composition out of synoptical materials, appealing especially to Mark 2:9-10; and Hilgenfeld, Evang. 269 f., adopts the same course, finding the “inner peculiarity” of the narrative in the idea that the omnipotence of the Logos cannot be controlled by any earthly law or human custom; whilst Weisse (Evangelienfr. 268) sees in the man’s lameness the helplessness of one morally sick, and attributes the origin of the entire narrative to what was originally a parable. Thus they themselves complete the fiction, and then pass it on off the evangelist, while the simplest as well as the most distinctive and characteristic historical features are now interwoven into his supposed plans. See, on the contrary, Brückner, in loc.


Verses 10-13

John 5:10-13. οἱ ἰουδαῖοι] The Sanhedrim are here meant; see John 5:15; John 5:33. They never once mention the healing; with hostile coldness they only watch for their point of attack; “Quaerunt non quod mirentur, sed quod calumnientur,” Grotius.

ποιήσας, etc., and ἐκεῖνος are in the mouth of the man who was healed an appeal to the authority which, as a matter of fact, his Saviour must possess; there is something defiant in the words, so natural in the first realization of his wonderful cure.

ἄνθρωπος] contemptuous. Ast, Lex. Plat. I. p. 178.

ἐξένευσεν] He withdrew (see Dorvill. ad Char. p. 273; Schleusner, Thes. II. 293), i.e. when this encounter with the Jews began. As He wished to avoid the scene which would occur with the crowd who were in the place, He conveyed Himself away (not pluperfect).


Verse 14-15

John 5:14-15. ΄ετὰ ταῦτα] whether or not on the same day does not appear. But it is psychologically probable that the new feeling of restored health led the man at once into the sanctuary.

μηκέτι ἁμάρτ.] Jesus therefore knew (by direct intuition) that the sickness of this sufferer had been brought about (see on Matthew 9:2-3) by special sin (of what kind does not appear); and this particular form of sin is what He refers to, not generally to the universal connection between sin and physical evil (Neander, following the early expositors), or between sin and sickness (Hengstenberg), which would not be in keeping with the character of this private interview, the design of which was the good of the man’s soul. The man’s own conscience would necessarily give an individual application to the μηκέτι ἁμάρτ. Comp. John 8:11.

χεῖρον] to be left indefinite; for if the ἁμαρτάνειν recurred, it might bring with it a worse sickness (so Nonnus), and other divine punishment, even the loss of eternal salvation. See generally Matthew 12:45; 2 Peter 2:20.

John 5:15. ἀνήγγειλε, κ. τ. λ.] The motive was neither malice (Schleiermacher, Paulus, comp. Ammon), nor gratitude, to bring Jesus into notice and recognition among the Jews (Cyril, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Grotius, and many early writers; also Maier and Hengstenberg), nor obedience to the rulers (Bengel, Lücke, de Wette, Luthardt), under the influence of stupidity (Tholuck) or fear (Lange), but, in keeping with John 5:11, and the designation ποιήσας αὐτὸν ὑγιῆ (comp. John 5:11): the supplementary vindication of the authority in obedience to which he had acted, though it was the Sabbath (John 5:9-10), and which he was unable to name to the Jews. This authority is with him decidedly higher than that of the Sanhedrim; and he not only employs it for his own acquittal, but even defies them with it. Comp. the man born blind, John 9:17; John 9:31 ff. But for this purpose how easily could he ascertain the name of Jesus!


Verse 16-17

John 5:16-17. διὰ τοῦτο] on account of this notice referring to Jesus, and then ὅτι, because He that is. See on John 10:17.

ἐδίωκ.] not judicially, by means of the law (Lampe, Rosenmüller, Kuinoel), of which the sequel says nothing, but in a general way: they made Him the object of their persecutions.

ταῦτα] these things, such as the healing of the paralytic.

ἐποίει] he did, not ἐποίησεν.

ἀπεκρίνατο] The means by which He met the διώκειν of the Jews, whether that then showed itself in accusations, reproaches, machinations, or otherwise in overt acts of hostility. This Aorist occurs in John only here, John 5:19; John 12:23.

πατήρ μου, κ. τ. λ.] My Father is working even to this moment; I also work. This expression is not borrowed from Philo (Strauss); Jesus alludes to the unresting activity of God for human salvation(205) since the creation was finished, notwithstanding the divine rest of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3) observed after the six days’ work. This distinct reference (not generally “to the sustaining and government of the world”) is presented in the activity of Christ answering to that of God the Father. “As the Father,” that is, says Jesus, has not ceased from the beginning to work for the world’s salvation, but ever works on even to the present moment,(206) so of necessity and right, notwithstanding the law of the Sabbath, does He also, the Son, who as such (by virtue of His essentially divine relationship of equality with the Father) cannot in this His activity be subject to the sabbatical law, but is Lord of the Sabbath (comp. Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28). Olshausen and de Wette import this in the words: “As in God rest and action are united, so in Christ are contemplation and activity.” But there is no mention of rest and contemplation. According to Godet, Jesus says, “Jusqu’à chaque dernier moment où mon père agit, j’agis aussi;” the Son can only cease His work when He sees the Father cease. But in this case we should have simply ἕως (John 9:4), and not ἕως ἄρτι; ἕως ἄρτι means nothing more nor less than usque adhuc (John 2:10, John 16:24; 1 John 2:9), the now limiting it still more distinctly than ἕως τοῦ νῦν (Lobeck, ad Phryn. pp. 19, 20).

κἀγὼ ἐργάζομαι] is not to be again supplemented by ἕως ἄρτι. I also (do not rest, but) work. The relation of both sentences is not that of imitation (Grotius), nor of example (Ewald), but of necessary equality of will and procedure. The asyndeton (instead of “because my Father,” etc.) makes the statement all the more striking. See on 1 Corinthians 10:17.


Verse 18

John 5:18. διὰ τοῦτο] because He said this, and ὅτι as in John 5:16. “Apologiam ipsam in majus crimen vertunt,” Bengel.

μᾶλλον] neither potius nor amplius (Bengel: “modo persequebantur, nunc amplius quaerunt occidere”); but, as according to its position it necessarily belongs to ἐζήτ., magis, “they redoubled their endeavours.” It has a reference to ἐδίωκον in John 5:16, so far as this general expression includes the desire to kill. Comp. for the ζητεῖν ἀποκτεῖναι, John 7:1; John 7:19; John 7:25, John 8:37; John 8:40, John 11:53.

πατέρα ἴδιον, κ. τ. λ.] patrem proprium. Comp. Romans 8:32. They rightly interpreted πατήρ μου as signifying peculiar and personal fatherhood, and not what is true also with reference to others, “sed id misere pro blasphemia habuerunt,” Bengel. Comp. John 10:33.

ἴσον ἑαυτὸν, κ. τ. λ.] not an explanation, nor exactly (B. Crusius) a proof of what precedes, which the words themselves of Jesus, πατήρ μου, supply; but what Jesus says of God’s relation to Him ( πατέρα ἴδιον), declares at the same time, as to the other side of the relationship, what He makes Himself out to be in His relation to God. We must translate: “since He (at the same time) puts Himself on the same level with Godi.e. by that κἀγὼ ἐργάζομαι of John 5:17, wherein He, as the Son, claims for Himself equality of right and freedom with the Father. Comp. also Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, I. p. 133. The thought of claiming equality of essence (Philippians 2:6), however, lies in the background as an indistinct notion in the minds of His opponents.


Verse 19

John 5:19. οὐ δύναται] denies the possibility, on account of an inner necessity, involved in the relationship of the Son to the Father, by virtue of which it would be impossible for Him to act with an individual self-assertion independent of the Father, which He could then only do if He were not the Son. Comp. Bengel, in loc., and Fritzsche, nova opusc. p. 297 f. In ἀφʼ ἑαυτοῦ,, as the subject of the reflexive is the Son in His relation to the Father, there does not lie any opposition between the human and divine wills (Beyschlag), nor an indistinct and onesided reference to the human element in Christ (de Wette); but it is the whole subject, the God-man, the incarnate Logos, in whom the Aseietas agendi, the self-determination of action independently of the Father, cannot find place; because otherwise He must either be divine only, and therefore without the subordination involved in the economy of redemption (which is the case also with the πνεῦμα, John 16:13), or else simply human; therefore there is no contradiction between what is here said and the prologue (Reuss; comp. on the other side, Godet).

ἐὰν μή τι, κ. τ. λ.] refers simply to ποιεῖν οὐδέν, and not also to ἀφʼ ἑαυτοῦ. See on Matthew 12:4; Galatians 2:16.

βλέπῃ τ. πατ. ποιοῦντα] a familiar description, borrowed from the attention which children give to the conduct of their father—of the inner and immediate intuition which the Son perpetually has of the Father’s work, in the perfect consciousness of fellowship of life with Him. This relation, which is not only religious and moral, but founded on a transcendental basis, is the necessary and immediate standard of the Son’s working. See on John 5:20.

γὰρ ἂν ἐκεῖνος, κ. τ. λ.] Proof of the negative assertion by means of the positive relationship subsisting.

ὁμοίως] equally, proportionately, qualifying ποιεῖ, indicating again the reciprocity or sameness of action already expressed by ταῦτα, and thus more strongly confirming the perfect equality of the relationship. It is, logically speaking, the pariter (Mark 4:16; John 21:13; 1 Peter 3:1) of the category mentioned.


Verse 20

John 5:20. Moral necessity in God for the aforesaid γὰρ ἂν ἐκεῖνος, etc. Comp. John 3:35.

γὰρ refers to the whole of what follows down to ποιεῖ, of which καὶ μείζονα, etc., gives the result.

φιλεῖ] “qui amat, nil celat,” Bengel. The distinction between this and ἀγαπᾷ (which D., Origen, Chrysostom here read), diligit (see Tittmann, Synon. p. 50), is to be retained even in John, though he uses both to denote the same relationship, but with varying definiteness of representation. Comp. John 3:35, John 21:15. φιλεῖν is always the proper affection of love. Comp. John 11:3; John 11:36, John 16:27, John 20:2, et al. But this love has its basis in the metaphysical and eternal relation of the Father to the Son, as His μονογενὴς υἱός (John 1:14; John 1:18), and does not first begin in time. Comp. Luthardt.

πάντα δείκνυσιν] He shows Him all, permits Him to see in immediate self-revelation all that He Himself doeth, that the Son also may do these things after the pattern of the Father. Description of the inner and essential intimacy of the Father with the Son, according to which, and indeed by virtue of His love to the Son, He makes all His own working an object of intuition to the Son for His like working (comp. John 5:17),—the humanly conditioned continuation of what He had seen in His pre-human existence, John 3:11, John 6:46.(207)

καὶ μείζονα, κ. τ. λ.] a new sentence, and an advance in the discourse, the theme of all that follows down to John 5:30 : and greater works than these (the healings of the sick spoken of) will He show Him; He will give Him His example to do them also.

ἵνα] the divine purpose of this,—not in the sense of ὥστε (Baeumlein).

ὑμεῖς] ye unbelievers. Jesus does not say πιστεύητε; He means the surprise of shame, viz. at the sight(208) of His works.


Verse 21

John 5:21. He speaks of the operation of His power in judging and raising the dead, first in an ethical sense down to John 5:27, and then, John 5:28-29, subjoins the actual and universal awakening of the dead as the completion of His entire life-giving and judicial work as the Messiah. Augustine anticipated this view (though illogically apprehending John 5:21 in a moral sense, and John 5:22 in a physical), and it is adopted among the older writers, especially by Rupertius, Calvin, Jansen, Calovius, Lampe, and more recently by Liicke, Tholuck, Olshausen, Maier, de Wette, Lange, Hilgenfeld, Lechler, Apost. Zeitalt. p. 225 f., Weiss, Godet. Others have extended the ethical interpretation even as far as John 5:28-29 (so Deysing in the Bibl. Brem. i. 6, Eckermann, Ammon, and many others; recently, Schweizer, B. Crusius, Reuss), which, however, is forbidden by the language and contents of John 5:28-29; see on John 5:28-29. Further, when Luthardt (comp. Tholuck on John 5:21-23, and Hengstenberg on John 5:21-24, also Brückner on John 5:21) understands ζωοποιεῖν generally of the impartation of life, he must take both kinds of quickening as the two sides of the ζωή, which appears quite irreconcilable with the right understanding of οὓς θέλει, and with the distinct separation between the present and the future (the latter from John 5:28 onwards). The ζωοποιεῖν of the Messiah during His temporal working concerns the morally dead, of whom He morally quickens whom He will; but at a future day, at the end of all things, He will call forth the physically dead from their graves, etc., John 5:28-29. The carrying out of the double meaning of ζωοποιεῖν onwards to John 5:28 (for John 5:28-29 even Luthardt himself takes as referring only to the final future) leads to confusion and forced interpretation (see on οἱ ἀκούσαντες, John 5:25). Further, most of the Fathers (Tertullian, Chrysostom and his followers, Nonnus, and others), most of the older expositors (Erasmus, Beza, Grotius, Bengel, and many others), and recently Schott in particular (Opusc. i. p. 197), Kuinoel, Baumeister (in the Würtemb. Stud. II. 1), Weizel (in the Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 636), Kaeuffer, de ζωῆς αἰων not. p. 115 ff., also Baeumlein and Ewald, have taken the entire passage John 5:21-29 in a literal sense, as referring to the resurrection and the final judgment. Against this it is decisive: (a) that ἵνα ὑμεῖς θαυμάζητε in John 5:20 represents the hearers as continuous witnesses of the works referred to, and these works, therefore, as successive developments which they will see along with others; (b) that οὓς θέλει is in keeping only with the ethical reference; (c) that ἵνα πάντες τιμῶσι, etc., John 5:23, expresses a continuing result, taking place in the present (in the αἰὼν οὗτος), and as divinely intended; (d) that in John 5:24, ἐκ τοῦ θανάτου cannot be explained of physical death; (e) that in John 5:25, καὶ νῦν ἐστιν and οἱ ἀκούσαντες are compatible only with reference to spiritual awakening. To this may be added, (f) that Jesus, where He speaks (John 5:28-29) of the literally dead, very distinctly marks out the resurrection of these latter from that of the preceding as something greater and as still future, and designates the dead not merely with great definiteness as such ( πάντες οἱ ἐν τοῖς μνημείοις), but also makes their ἀνάστασις ζωῆς conditional, not, as in John 5:24, upon faith, but, probably seeing that they for the most part would never have heard the gospel, upon having done good,—thus characteristically distinguishing this quickening of the dead from that spoken of immediately before.

ὥσπερζωοποιεῖ] The awakening and reviving of the dead is represented as the essential and peculiar business of the Father (Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6; Tobit 13:2; Wisdom of Solomon 16:13); accordingly the Present tense is used, because the statement is general. Comp. Romans 4:17. Observe, however, that Jesus here speaks of the awakening of the dead, which is peculiar to the Father, without making any distinction between the spiritual and literal dead; this separation first appears in the following reference to the Son. The awakening of both springs from the same divine source and basis of life.

ἐγείρει and ζωοποιεῖ we might expect in reverse order (as in Ephesians 2:5-6); but the ζωοποιεῖν is the key-note, which resounds through all that follows, and accordingly the matter is regarded in accordance with the popular view, so that the making alive begins with the awakening, which therefore appears as the immediate antecedent of the ζωοποιεῖν, and is not again specially named in the apodosis.

οὓς θέλει] for He will not quicken others because they believe not (John 5:24); this, and not an absolute decree (Calvin, Reuss), is the moral condition of His self-determination, just as also His κρίσις (John 5:22) is in like manner morally determined. That this spiritual resurrection is independent of the descent fvom Abraham, is self-evident from the fact of its being spiritual; but this must not be taken as actually stated in the οὓς θέλει. Many, who take ζωοποιεῖ literally, resort to the historical accounts of the raising of individuals from the dead (Lazarus, etc.), for which few cases the οὓς θέλει is neither appropriate nor adequate. See, besides, John 5:25. Ewald takes God as the subject of θέλει, which is neither logical (on account of the καὶ, which places both subjects in the same line), nor possible according to the plain words, though it is self-evident that the Son acts only in the harmony of His will with that of the Father; comp. John 5:30; John 6:40.

ζωοποιεῖ] ethically, of the spiritual quickening to the higher moral ζωή, instead of that moral death in which they were held captive when in the unconverted state of darkness and sin. See on Luke 15:24; Matthew 4:16; Ephesians 5:14; Romans 6:13; Isaiah 26:19. Without this ζωοποίησις, their life would remain ethically a ζωὴ ἄβιος (Jacobs, ad Anthol. VII. p. 152), βίος ἀβίωτος (Xen. Mem. iv. 8. 8). The Present, for He does it now, and is occupied with this ζωοποιεῖν, that is, by means of His word, which is the life-giving call (John 5:24-25). The Future follows in John 5:28.


Verse 22

John 5:22 does not state the ground of the Son’s call to bestow life (Luthardt, comp. Tholuck and Hengstenberg), but is a justification of the οὓς θέλει,—because the κρίσις refers only to those whom He will not raise to life,—in so far as it is implied that the others, whom the Son will not make alive, will experience in themselves the judgment of rejection (the anticipatory analogon of the decisive judgment at the second advent, John 5:29). It is given to no other than the Son to execute this final judgment. The κρίνει οὐδένα should have prevented the substitution of the idea of separation for that of judgment (comp. John 3:17-18).

οὐδὲ γὰρ π.] for not even the Father, to whom, however, by universal acknowledgment, judgment belongs.(209) Consequently it depends only upon the Son, and the οὓς θέλει has its vindication. Concerning οὐδέ, which is for the most part neglected by commentators, comp. John 7:5, John 8:42, John 21:25. The antithesis ἀλλὰ, κ. τ. λ., tells how far, though God is the world’s Judge, the Father does not judge, etc.

κρίνει] the judgment of condemnation (John 3:17-18, John 5:24; John 5:27; John 5:29), whose sentence is the opposite of ζωοποιεῖν, the sentence of spiritual death.

τὴν κρίσιν πᾶσαν] judgment altogether (here also to be understood on its condemnatory side), therefore not only of the last act on the day of judgment (John 5:27), but of its entirety (see on John 16:13), and consequently in its progress in time, whereby the οὓς θέλει is decided.


Verse 23

John 5:23. The divine purpose which is to be attained in the relation of mankind to this judicial action of the Son. Observe the Present Subjunctive.

καθώς] for in the Son, who judges, we have the appointed representative of the Father, and thus far (therefore always relatively, John 14:23) He is to be honoured as the Father. Comp. what follows. How utterly opposed to this divine intention was the procedure of the Jews, John 5:18! It is incorrect, however, to take καθώς, as Baeumlein does, as causal (see on John 13:34, John 17:2), because the whole context turns upon the equality of the Father and the Son.

οὐ τιμᾷ τὸν πατέρα] i.e. in this very respect, that he does not honour the Son, who is the Sent of the Father.


Verse 24

John 5:24. The οὓς θέλει ζωοποιεῖ now receives—and that, too, with increasing solemnity of discourse—its more minute explanation, both as to the subjects whom it specifies ( τὸν λόγον μου ἀκούων, κ. τ. λ.), and as to the ζωοποίησις itself ( ἔχει ζωὴν).

ἀκούων is simply heareth, but is closely connected with the following καὶ πιστεύων (comp. Matthew 13:19 ff.), and thereby receives its definite reference. For the opposite, see John 12:47.

ἔχει ζ. αἰ.] The ζωοποιεῖν is accomplished in him; he has eternal life (John 3:15), i.e. the higher spiritual ζωή, which, upon his entrance into the Messiah’s kingdom, reaches its consummation in glorious Messianic ζωή. He has, in that he is become a believer, passed from the spiritual death (see on John 5:21) into the eternal life (the ζωὴ κατʼ ἐξοχήν), and cometh not into (condemnatory, comp. John 3:18) judgment, because he has already attained unto that life.(210) The result of this is: θάνατον οὐ μὴ θεωρήσῃ, John 8:51. On the Perfect μεταβέβ., see John 3:18; 1 John 3:14.


Verse 25

John 5:25. Jesus re-affirms what He had already asserted in John 5:24, but in the more concrete form of allegorical expression.

καὶ νῦν ἐστιν] i.e. in its beginning, since Christ’s entrance upon His life-giving ministry. Comp. John 4:23. The duration of this ὥρα, however, continues till the second advent; already had it begun to be present, but, viewed in its completeness, it still belonged to the future. The expositors who take the words to denote the literal resurrection (see John 5:25, even Hengstenberg), refer καὶ νῦν ἐστιν to the individual instances of raising from the dead which Jesus wrought (John 11; Mark 5:41; Luke 7:14; Matthew 11:5); but this is as inappropriate in general as it is out of keeping with John’s Gospel, for those individuals were not at all awaked to ζωή in the sense of the context, but only to the earthly life, which was still liable to death. Olshausen, who illogically explains John 5:25 as referring to the resurrection of the body, appeals to Matthew 27:52-53.

οἱ νεκροί] the spiritually dead; Matthew 8:22; Revelation 3:1; and see on John 5:21.

τῆς φωνῆς] according to the context, the resurrection summons (John 5:28), which is here really, in the connection of the allegory, the morally life-giving preaching of Christ. The spiritually dead, generally, according to the category οἱ νεκροί, will hear this voice, but all will not awake to its call; only οἱ ἀκούσαντες, which therefore cannot be taken in the same sense as ἀκούσονται, but must signify: those who will have given ear thereto. Comp. John 8:43; John 8:47. In Latin: “Mortui audientet qui audientes fuerint,” etc. It is the ἀκούειν καλοῦντος, Plut. Sert. 11, al., ἀκούειν παραγγέλλοντος, and the like, ἀκούειν τοῦ προστάγματος (Polyb. xi. 19. 5). If we understand the words of bodily awakening, οἱ ἀκούσαντες with the article is quite inexplicable. Chrysostom: φωνῆς ἀκούσαντες ἐπιταττούσης; Grotius: “simul atque audierint.” All such renderings, as also the vague explanation of Hengstenberg,(211) would require ἀκούσαντες merely without the article;(212) and ζήσουσιν would, in opposition to the entire context, signify “to live” generally, in an indifferent sense. Olshausen, indeed, supplements ἀκούσαντες—which, nevertheless, must of necessity refer to τῆς φωνῆς—by τὸν λόγον from John 5:24 : “they who in this life hear the word of God.” It is just as impossible to hold, with Luthardt (so far as he would include the literal resurrection), that οἱ ἀκούσαντες refers to those “who hear the last call of Jesus differently from others, i.e. joyfully receiving it, and therefore attain to life.” This is an imported meaning, for there is no such modal limitation in the text; but οἱ ἀκούσαντες alone, which, so far as it must differ from the general ἀκούσονται, can only designate those who give ear, and by this the literal resurrection is excluded. For this double meaning of ἀκούειν in one sentence, see Plat. Legg. p. 712 B: θεὸνἐπικαλώμεθα· δὲ ἀκούσειέ τε καὶ ἀκούσας (cum exaudiverit) … ἔλθοι, and also the proverbial expression ἀκούοντα ΄ὴ ἀκούειν.


Verse 26-27

John 5:26-27. The life denoted by the aforesaid ζήσουσιν, seeing the subjects of it were dead, must be something which is in process of being imparted to them,—a life which comes from the Son, the quickener. But He could not impart it if He had not in Himself a divine and independent fountain of life, like the Father, which the Father, the absolutely living One (John 6:57), gave Him when He sent Him into the world to accomplish His Messianic work; comp. John 10:36. The following ἔδωκεν (John 5:27) should itself have prevented the reference to the eternal generation (Augustine and many others, even Gess). Besides (therefore John 5:27), if only the ἀκούσαντες (comp. οὓς θέλει, John 5:21) are to live, and the other νεκροί not, the Son must have received from the Father the warrant and power of judging and of deciding who are to live and who not. This power is given Him by the Father because He is the Son of man; for in His incarnation, i.e. in the fact that the Son of God (incarnate) is a child of man (comp. Philippians 2:7; Galatians 4:4; Romans 1:3; Romans 8:3), the essence of His nature as Redeemer consists, and this consequently is the reason in the history of redemption why the Father has equipped Him for the Messianic function of judgment. Had the Son of God not become a child of man, He could not have been the fulfiller of the Father’s decree of redemption, nor have been entrusted with judicial power. Luthardt (comp. Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 78) says incorrectly: “for God desired to judge the world by means of a man,” which is a thought much too vague for this passage, and is borrowed from Acts 17:31. De Wette, with whom Brückner concurs (comp. also Reuss), more correctly says: “It denotes the Logos as a human manifestation,(213) and in this lies the reason why He judges, for the hidden God could not be judge.” But this negative and refined definition of the reason given, “because He is the Son of man,” can all the less appropriately be read between the lines, the more it savours of Philonic speculation, and the more current the view of the Deity as a Judge was among the Jews. So, following Augustine, Luther, Castalio, Jansen, and most others, B. Crusius (comp. also Wetstein, who adduces Hebrews 4:15): “because executing judgment requires direct operation upon mankind.”(214) Others (Grotius, Lampe, Kuinoel, Lücke, Olshausen, Maier, Bäumlein, Ewald, and most others, now also Tholuck): “ υἱὸς ἀνθρ. is He who is announced in Daniel 7 and in the book of Enoch as the Messiah” (see on Matthew 8:20), where the thought has been set forth successively in various ways; Lücke (so also Baeumlein): “because He is the Messiah, and judgment essentially belongs to the work of the Messiah” (comp. Ewald). Tholuck comes nearest to the right sense: “because He is become man, i.e. is the Redeemer, but with this redemption itself the κρίσις also is given.” Hengstenberg: “as a reward for taking humanity upon Him.” Against the whole explanation from Daniel 7:13, however, to which Beyschlag, Christol. p. 29, with his explanation of the ideal man (the personal standard of divine judgment), adheres, it is decisive that in the N. T. throughout, wherever “Son of man” is used to designate the Messiah, both words have the article: υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπον (in John 1:51; John 3:13-14; John 6:27; John 6:52; John 6:62; John 8:28; John 12:23; John 12:34; John 13:31): υἱὸς ἀνθρώπον without the article(215) occurs in Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14, but it does not express the idea of the Messiah. Thus the prophecy in Daniel does not enter into consideration here; but “son of a human being” is correlative to “son of God” (of the Father, John 5:25-26), although it must frankly be acknowledged that the expression does not necessarily presuppose birth from a virgin.(216) The Peshito, Armenian version, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Paulus, connect the words—rightly taking υἱὸς ἀνθρ. to mean man—with what follows: “Marvel not that He is a man.” This is not in keeping with the context, while τοῦτο witnesses for the ordinary connection.

ζωὴν ἔχειν ἐν ἑαυτῷ] in Himself. “Est emphasis in hoc dicto: vitam habere in sese, i. e. alio modo quam creaturae, angeli et homines,” Melancthon. Comp. John 1:4, John 14:6.(217) The words καὶ νῦν ἐστιν are certainly decisive against Gess (Pers. Chr. p. 301), who ascribes the gift of life by the Father to the Son as referring only to His pre-existent glory and His state of exaltation, which he considers to have been “suspended” during the period of His earthly life. The prayer at the grave of Lazarus only proves that Christ exercised the power of life, which was bestowed upon Him as His own, in accordance with the Father’s will. See on John 5:21.


Verses 28-30

John 5:28-30. Marvel not at this (comp. John 3:7), viz. at what I have asserted concerning my life-giving and judicial power; for(218) the last and greatest stage of this my Messianic quickening work (not the work of the λόγος as the absolute ζωή, to whom Baur refers the whole passage, John 5:20 ff.; see, on the contrary, Brückner) is yet to come, namely, the raising of the actually dead out of their graves, and the final judgment.(219) Against the interpretation of this verse (see on John 5:21) in a figurative sense (comp. Isaiah 26:19; Exodus 37:12; Daniel 12:2), it is decisive that οἱ ἐν τοῖς μνημείοις would have to mean merely the spiritually dead, which would be quite out of keeping with οἱ τὰ ἀγαθὰ ποιήσαντες. Jesus Himself intimates by the words οἱ ἐν τοῖς μνημείοις that He here is passing from the spiritually dead, who thus far have been spoken of, to the actual dead.

ὅτι] argumentum a majori; the wonder at the less disappears before the greater, which is declared to be that which is one day to be accomplished. We are not to supply, as Luthardt does, the condition of faithful meditation on the latter, for the auditors were unbelieving and hostile; but the far more wonderful fact that is told does away with the wonder which the lesser had aroused, goes beyond it, and, as it were, causes it to disappear.

ἔρχεται ὥρα] Observe that no καὶ νῦν ἐστιν, as in John 5:25, could be added here.

πάντες] Here it is as little said that all shall be raised at the same time, as in John 5:25 that all the spiritually dead shall be quickened simultaneously. The τάγματα, which Paul distinguishes at the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:23-24, and which are in harmony with the teaching of Judaism and of Christ Himself regarding a twofold resurrection (Bertholdt, Christol. pp. 176 ff., 203 ff.; and see on Luke 14:14), find room likewise in the ὥρα, which is capable of prophetic extension.

οἱ τὰ ἀγαθὰ ποιήσαντες, κ. τ. λ.] that is, the first resurrection, that of the just, who are regarded by Jesus in a purely ethical aspect, and apart from all national particularism. See on Luke 14:14, and comp. John 6:39. It was far from His object here to dwell upon the necessity of His redemption being appropriated by faith on the part of the dead here spoken of; He gives expression simply to the abstract moral normal condition (comp. Romans 2:7; Romans 2:13; Matthew 7:21). This necessity, however, whereby they must belong to the οἱ τοῦ χριστοῦ (1 Corinthians 15:23; comp. Matthew 25:31 sqq.), implies the descensus Christi ad inferos.

εἰς ἀνάστ. ζωῆς] they will come forth (from their graves) into a resurrection of life (represented as local), i.e. to a resurrection, the necessary result of which (comp. Winer, p. 177 [E. T. p. 235]) is life, life in the Messiah’s kingdom. Comp. 2 Maccabees 7:14 : ἀνάστασις εἰς ζωήν; Daniel 12:2; Romans 5:18 : δικαίωσις ζωὴς.

κρίσεως] to which judgment pertains, and judgment, according to the context, in a condemnatory sense (to eternal death in Gehenna); and accordingly ἀνάστασις ζωῆς does not exclude an act of judgment, which awards the ζωή.

As to the distinction between ποιεῖν and πράττειν, see on John 3:20-21. John 5:30 further adds the guarantee of the rectitude of this κρίσις, and this expressed in a general way, so that Jesus describes His judgment generally; hence the Present, denoting continuous action, and the general introductory statement of John 5:19, οὐ δύναμαι, etc.

καθὼς ἀκούω] i.e. from God, who, by virtue of the continual communion and confidence subsisting between Him and Christ, always makes His judgment directly and consciously known to Him, in accordance with which Christ gives His verdict. Christ’s sentence is simply the declaration of God’s judgment consequent upon the continuous self-revelation of God in His consciousness, whereby the ἀκούειν from the Father, which He possessed in His pre-existent state, is continued in time.

ὅτι οὐ ζητῶ, κ. τ. λ.] “I cannot therefore deviate from the κρίνειν καθὼς ἀκούω; and my judgment, seeing it is not that of an individual, but divine, must be just.”

τοῦ πέμψ. με, κ. τ. λ.] as it consequently accords with this my dependence upon God.


Verse 31

John 5:31. Justification of His witness to Himself from John 5:19 ff., intermingled with denunciation of Jewish unbelief (John 5:31-40), which Jesus continues down to John 5:47.

The connection is not that Jesus now passes on to the τιμή which is due to Him (John 5:23), and demands faith as its true form (Luthardt), for the conception of τιμή does not again become prominent; but ἐπειδὴ τοιαῦτα περὶ ἑαυτοῦ μαρτυρήσας ἔγνω τοὺς ἰουδαίους ἐνθυμουμένους ἀντιθεῖναι καὶ εἰπεῖν· ὅτι ἐὰν σὺ μαρτυρεῖς περὶ σεαυτοῦ, μαρτυρία σου οὐκ ἔστιν ἀληθής· οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἑαυτῷ μαρτυρῶν ἀξιόπιστος ἐν ἀνθρώποις διʼ ὑποψίαν φιλαυτίας· προέλαβε καὶ εἶπεν ἔμελλον εἰπεῖν ἐκεῖνοι, Euthymius Zigabenus. Comp. Chrysostom. Thus at the same time is solved the seeming contradiction with John 8:14.

ἐγώ] emphatic: if a personal witness concerning myself only, and therefore not an attestation from another quarter. Comp. ἄλλος, John 5:32.

οὐκ ἔστιν ἀληθ.] i.e. formally speaking, according to the ordinary rule of law (Chetub. f. 23. 2 : “testibus de se ipsis non credunt,” and see Wetstein). In reality, the relation is different in Christ’s case, see John 8:13-16; but He does not insist upon this here, and we must not therefore understand His words, with Baeumlein, as if He said: εἰ ἐγὼ ἐμαρτύρουνοὐκ ἂν ἦν ἀληθὴς μαρτυρία μου. Chap. John 8:54-55 also, and 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 13:1, Galatians 1:8, are not conceived of in this way.


Verse 32

John 5:32. Another is He who bears witness of me. This is understood either of John the Baptist (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Nonnus, Euthymius Zigabenus, Erasmus, Grotius, Paulus, Baumgarten Crusius, de Wette, Ewald) or of God (Cyril, Augustine, Bede, Rupertius, Beza, Aretius, Cornelius a Lapide, Calovius, Bengel, Kuinoel, Lücke, Tholuck, Olshausen, Maier, Luthardt, Lange, Hengstenberg, Brückner, Baeumlein, Godet). The latter is the right reference; for Jesus Himself, John 5:34, does not attach importance to John’s witness, but rather lays claim, John 5:36-37, only to the higher, the divine witness.

καὶ οἶδα, ὅτι, κ. τ. λ.] not a feeble assurance concerning God (de Wette’s objection), but all the weightier from its simplicity, to which the very form of the expression is adapted ( μαρτυρία, ἣν μαρτυρεῖ περὶ ἐμοῦ), and, moreover, far too solemn for the Baptist’s testimony. On μαρτυρίαν μαρτυρεῖν, comp. Isaiah 3:11-12; Isaiah 3:25; Plato, Eryx. p. 399 B Dem. 1131. 4.


Verse 33-34

John 5:33-34. “That witness, whose testimony you have yourselves elicited, John the Baptist, I do not accept, because it is a human testimony; I mention him for your salvation (not for my advantage), because ye have not appreciated him according to his high calling (John 5:35); the witness which I have is greater,” etc. John 5:36.

ὑμεῖς] you, on your part.

μεμαρτ. τῇ ἀληθ.] John 1:19 ff. “All that he said was testimony in favour of the truth; for the state of the case (with reference particularly to what he said of the Messiah) was as he testified.”

ἐγὼ δὲ] but I on my part.

τὴν μαρτυρίαν] the witness in question, which is to tell for me. This I cannot receive from any man. Jesus will not avail Himself of any human witness in this matter; He puts it away from Him. Accordingly, λαμβ. τ. μαρτυρίαν, just as in John 3:11; John 3:32, is to be taken of the acceptance, not indeed believing acceptance, but acceptance as proof, conformably with the context. Others, unnecessarily deviating from John’s usage, “I borrow” (Lücke), “I strive after, or lay hold of” (B. Crusius, comp. Beza, Grotius), “I snatch” (de Wette).

ἵνα ὑμεῖς σωθῆτε] for your advantage, that you on your part (in opposition to any personal interest) may attain to salvation. They should take to heart the remembrance of the Baptist’s testimony ( ταῦτα λέγω), and thus be roused to faith, and become partakers of the Messiah’s redemption; “vestra res agitur,” Bengel.


Verse 35

John 5:35. What a manifestation he was, yet how lightly ye esteemed him!

ἦν and ἠθελ. point to a manifestation already past.

λύχνος] not τὸ φῶς, John 1:8, but less; hence φῶς in the second clause is used only predicatively. The article denotes the appointed lamp which, according to O. T. promise, was to appear, and had appeared in John as the forerunner of the Messiah, whose vocation it was to inform the people of the Messianic salvation (Luke 1:76-77). The figure of the man who lights the way for the approaching bridegroom (Luthardt) is very remote. Comp. rather the similar image, though not referred to here, of the mission of Elias, Sirach 48:1. The comparison with a lamp in similar references was very common (2 Samuel 21:17; Revelation 21:23; 2 Peter 1:19). Comp. also Strabo, xiv. p. 642, where Alexander the rhetorician bears the surname λύχνος.

καιόμενος καὶ φαίνων] is not to be interpreted of two different properties (burning zeal and light-giving); in the nature of things they go together. A lamp burns and shines; this it does of necessity, and thus it is represented. Comp. Luke 12:35; Revelation 4:5.

ὑμεῖς δὲ, κ. τ. λ.] striking description of the frivolous worldliness which would gratify its own short-lived excitement and pleasure in this new and grand manifestation, instead of making use of it to obtain saving knowledge, and allowing its full solemnity to operate upon them. The Jews flocked in great crowds to the Baptist (Matthew 3:5; Matthew 11:7 ff.), as to the messenger of the approaching glorious kingdom of the Messiah; but instead of finding what they desired ( ἠθελήσ.), they found all the severity of the spirit of Elias calling to repentance, and how soon was the concourse over! In like manner, the Athenians hoped to find a new and passing divertissement when the Apostle Paul came among them. “Johanne utendum erat, non fruendum,” Bengel.

πρὸς ὥραν] τοῦ εὐκολίαν αὐτῶν δεικνύντος ἐστὶ καὶ ὅτι ταχέως αὐτοῦ ἀπεπήδησαν, Chrysostom. Comp. Galatians 2:5; Philemon 1:15. The main feature of the perverted desire does not lie in πρὸς ὥραν, which more accurately describes the ἀγαλλ. according to its frivolity, so soon changing into satiety and disgust, but in ἀγαλλ. itself, instead of which μετάνοια should have been the object of their pursuit.

ἐν τῷ φωτὶ αὐτοῦ] in, i.e. encompassed by his light, the radiance which shone forth from him. Comp. 1 Peter 1:6; and for χαίρειν ἐν, see on Philippians 1:18.


Verse 36

John 5:36. ἐγὼ δὲ] Formal antithesis to ὑμεῖς in John 5:35, and referring back to the ἐγὼ δὲ of John 5:34.

I have the witness which is greater (not “the greater witness;” see kühner, II. § 493. 1) than John, τοῦ ἰωάννου in the sense of τῆς τοῦ ἰωάν., according to a well-known comparatio compendiaria.(220) See on Matthew 5:20. On μείζω, i.e. “of weightier evidence,” comp. Isoc. Archid. § John 32: μαρτυρίαν μείζω καὶ σαφεστέραν.

τὰ ἔργα] not simply the miracles strictly so called, but the Messianic works generally, the several acts of the Messiah’s entire work, the ἔργον of Jesus (John 4:34, John 17:4). ἔργα are always deeds, not word and teachings (word and work are distinct conceptions, not only in Scripture, but elsewhere likewise; see Lobeck, Paralip. pp. 64, 65; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 672; Pflugk, adEur. Hec. 373); but what the word of Jesus effected, spiritual quickening (John 5:20), separation, enlightenment, and so on, and in like manner the resurrection of the dead and judgment (John 5:28-29), are included in the ἔργα, and constitute His ἔργον as a whole. When miracles properly so called are designated by the more general term ἔργα, it is indicated in the context, as in John 3:2, John 7:3; John 7:21, and often.

ἔδωκε] hath given, expressing the divine appointment, and bestowment of power. Comp. Homer, Il. ε. 428: οὔ τοι, τέκνον ἐμόν, δέδοται πολεμήϊα ἔργα. Comp. v. 727.

ἵνα τελ. αὐτὰ] Intention of the Father in committing to Him the works: He was to accomplish them (comp. John 4:34, John 17:4), not to leave them undone or only partially accomplished, but fully to carry out the entire task which the works divinely entrusted to Him involved for the attainment of the goal of Messianic salvation.

αὐτὰ τὰ ἔργα] those very works, emphatic repetition (Kühner, II. § 632), where, moreover, the homoeoteleuton (the recurrence of the five times running) must not be regarded as a dissonance (Lobeck, Paralip. p. 53).

ἐγὼ ποιῶ] ἐγώ with august self-consciousness. As to how they witness, see John 14:11.


Verse 37

John 5:37. From the works which testified that He was the Sent of God, He now passes to the witness of the Sender Himself; therefore from the indirect divine testimony, presented in the works, to the direct testimony in the Scriptures. And the Father Himself, who hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. The subject, which is placed at the beginning of the sentence, the independence (immediateness) expressed by αὐτός, together with the Perfect μεμαρτ., unite to prove that there is no longer any reference here to the previous testimony, that of the works, by which God had borne testimony (against Augustine, Grotius, Maldonatus, Olshausen, Baur, and most others). Quite arbitrary, and in opposition to the account of the baptism given by John, is the view which others take, that the divine witness given in the voice at the baptism, Matthew 3:17 (but see rather John 1:33), is here meant (Chrysostom, Rupertius, Jansen, Bengel, Lampe, Paulus, Godet). While Ewald (Johann. Schr. I. 216) includes together both the baptism and the works, Hengstenberg adds to these two the witness of Scripture likewise; others, again, “the immediate divine witness in the believer’s heart, by means of which the indirect testimony of the works is first apprehended” (De Wette, B. Crusius, Tholuck), the “drawing” of the Father, John 6:14, comp. John 6:45, John 8:47. But there is not the slightest indication in the text that an outward, perceptible, concrete, and objective witness is meant; nay more, in the face of the following connection ( φωνήνεἶδος). The only true interpretation in harmony with the context is that which takes it to mean the witness which God Himself has given in His word, in the Scriptures of the O. T. (Cyril, Nonnus, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Beda, Calvin, Kuinoel, Lücke, Lange, Maier, Luthardt). In the O. T. prophecies, God Himself has lifted up His voice and revealed His form.

οὔτε φωνήν, κ. τ. λ.] Reproach of want of susceptibility for this testimony, all the more emphatic through the absence of any antithetic particle. Neither a voice of His have ye ever heard, nor a form of His have ye ever seen. With respect to what God had spoken in the O. T. as a testimony to Christ ( μεμαρτύρ. περὶ ἐμοῦ), or as to the manner in which, with a like purpose, He had therein given His self-manifestation to the spiritual contemplation (He had made known his δόξα; comp. μορφὴ θεοῦ, Philippians 2:6),—to the one ye were spiritually deaf, to the other ye were spiritually blind. As the first cannot, conformably with the context, be taken to mean the revealing voice of God within, vouchsafed to the prophets (De Wette), so neither can the second refer merely to the Theophanies (in particular, to the appearances of the Angel of the Lord, Hengstenberg) and prophetic visions,(221) but to the entire self-revelation of God in the O. T. generally, by virtue of which He lets Himself be seen by him who has eyes to see;—a general and broad interpretation, which corresponds with the general nature of the expression, and with its logical relation to μεμαρτ. π. ἐμοῦ. The Jews could not have heard the voice at the baptism, nor could they have seen the form of God as the Logos had seen it, John 1:18, John 3:13; and for this reason neither the one meaning nor the other can be found in the words (Ewald). Every interpretation, moreover, is incorrect which finds in them anything but a reproach, because Jesus speaks in the second person, and continues to do so in John 5:38, where the tone of censure is still obvious. We must therefore reject the explanation of B. Crusius: “never hitherto has this immediate revelation of God taken place;” and that of Tholuck: “ye have not received a more direct revelation than did Moses and his cotemporaries (Numbers 12:8; Deuteronomy 4:15; Deuteronomy 5:24), but ye have not received within you the witness of the revelation in the word,”—an artificial connecting of John 5:37 with John 5:38, which the words forbid. Paulus and Kuinoel (comp. Euthymius Zigabenus) likewise erroneously say that “Jesus here concedes, in some degree, to the Jews what they had themselves wished to urge in objection, viz. that they had heard no divine voice, etc. Comp. Ebrard (in Olshausen), who imports the idea of irony into the passage.


Verse 38

John 5:38. At the end of John 5:37 we must place only a comma. John might have continued: οὔτε τὸν λόγον, κ. τ. λ.; instead of which he attaches the negation not to the particle, but to the verb ( οὔτεκαὶ, see on John 4:11), and thus the new thought comes in more independently: And ye have not His word abiding in you; ye lack an inner and permanent appropriation of it; comp. 1 John 2:14. The λόγος θεοῦ is not “the inner revelation of God in the conscience” (Olshausen, Frommann), but, conformably with the context (John 5:37; John 5:39), what God has spoken in the O. T., and this according to its purport. Had they given ear to this as, what it is in truth, the word of God (but they had no ear for God’s voice, John 5:37), had they discerned therein God’s manifestation of Himself (but they had no eye for God’s form, John 5:37), what God had spoken would have penetrated through the spiritual ear and eye into the heart, and would have become the abiding power of their inner life.

ὅτι ὃν ἀπέστειλεν, κ. τ. λ.] demonstration of the fact. He who rejects the sent of God cannot have that word abiding in him, which witnesses to Him who is sent (John 5:37). “Quomodo mandata regis discet qui legatum excludit?” Grotius.

τούτῳ ὑμεῖς] observe the emphasis in the position of the words here.


Verse 39-40

John 5:39-40 bring out to view the complete perversity of this unbelief. “The Scriptures testify of me, as the Mediator of eternal life; he, therefore, who searches the Scriptures, because in them he thinks he has eternal life, will by that witness be referred to me; ye search the Scriptures, because, etc., and yet refuse to follow me according to their guidance.” How inconsistent and self-contradictory is this! That ἐρευνᾶτε is Indicative (Cyril, Erasmus, Casaubon, Beza, Bengel, and many moderns, also Kuinoel, Lücke, Olshausen, Klee, De Wette, Maier, Hilgenfeld, Brückner, Godet), and not Imperative (Chrysostom, Augustine, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Luther, Calvin, Aretius, Maldonatus, Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Calovius, Wolf, Wetstein, Paulus, B. Crusius, Tholuck, Hofmann, Luthardt, Baeumlein, Ewald, Hengstenberg, arguing from Isaiah 34:16), is thus clear from the context, in which the Imperative would introduce a foreign element, especially out of keeping with the correlative καὶ οὐ θέλετε. Comp. also Lechler in the Stud. u. Krit. 1854, p. 795. The searching of the Scriptures might certainly be attributed to the Jews, comp. John 7:52 (against B. Crusius and Tholuck); but a special significance is wrongly attached to ἐρευνᾶτε (a study which penetrates into the subject itself, and attains a truly inward possession of the word, Luthardt); and the contradiction of John 5:40, which forms such a difficulty, is really nothing but the inconsistency which Jesus wishes to bring out to view.

ὑμεῖς] emphatic, for you, ye on your part, are the people who think this. Still there lies in δοκεῖτε neither blame,(222) nor (as Ewald maintains, though John 5:45 is different) a delicate sarcastic reference to their exaggerated and scholastic reverence for the letter of Scripture, but certainly a contrast to the actual ἔχειν, which Jesus could not affirm concerning them, because they did not believe in Him who was testified of in the Scriptures as the Mediator of eternal life. Comp. Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, I. 671. Theoretically considered, they were right in their δοκεῖν, but practically they were wrong, because Christ remained hidden from them in the Scriptures. Comp. as to the thing itself, 2 Corinthians 3:15-16; and on ἔχειν ζωὴν αἰ., John 3:15.

ἐν αὐταῖς] The possession of Messianic life is regarded as contained in the Scriptures, in so far as they contain that by which this possession is brought about, that which is not given outside the Scriptures, but only in them.

καὶ ἐκεῖναι, κ. τ. λ.] Prominence assigned to the identity of the subject, in order to bring out the contrast more fully: and they, those very Scriptures which ye search, are they which, etc.

καὶ οὐ θέλετε] καὶ does not mean and yet, but simply and. This simplicity is all the more striking, more striking and tragic even than the interrogative interpretation (Ewald). On ἐλθεῖν πρός με, denoting a believing adherence to Christ, comp. John 6:35. They stood aloof from Him, and this depended on their will, Matthew 23:37.

ἵνα ζωήν ἔχ.] “in order that that δοκεῖν of yours might become a reality.”

Vers. 41–44. “I do not utter these reproaches against you from (disappointed) ambition, but because I have perceived what a want of all right feeling towards God lies at the root of your unbelief.”

δόξαν παρὰ ἀνθρ.] These words go together, and stand emphatically at the beginning of the sentence, because there is presupposed the possibility of an accusation on this very point. Comp. Plato, Phaedr. p. 232 A see also 1 Thessalonians 2:6.

οὐ λαμβ.] i.e. “I reject it,” as in John 5:34.

ἔγνωκα ὑμᾶς] “cognitos vos habeo; hoc radio penetrat corda auditorum,” Bengel.

τ. ἀγάπ. τ. θεοῦ] If they had love to God in their hearts (this being the summary of their law!), they would have felt sympathy towards the Son, whom the Father (John 5:43) sent, and would have received and recognised Him. The article is generic; what they lacked was love to God.

ἐν ἑαυτοῖς] in your own hearts; it was an excellence foreign to them, of which they themselves were destitute—a mere theory, existing outside the range of their inner life.

John 5:43. Actual result of this deficiency with reference to their relation towards Jesus, who had come in His Father’s name, i.e. as His appointed representative, and consequently as the true Christ (comp. John 7:28, John 8:42), but who was unbelievingly despised by them, whereas, on the other hand, they would receive a false Messiah.

ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τῷ ἰδίῳ] in his own name, i.e. in his own authority and self-representations, not as one commissioned of God (which He of course is alleged to be), consequently a false Messiah;(223) ψευδώνυμος ἀνὴρ ἀντίθεος, Nonnus. He will be received, because he satisfies the opposite of the love of God, viz. self-love (by promising earthly glory, indulgence towards sin, etc.). For a definite prophecy of false Messiahs, see Matthew 24:24. To suppose a special reference to Barkochba (Hilgenfeld), is arbitrarily to take for granted the uncritical assumption of the post-apostolic origin of this Gospel. According to Schudt, Jüdische Merkwurdigkeit. vi. 27–30 (in Bengel), sixty-four such deceivers have been counted since the time of Christ.

John 5:44. The reproach of unbelief now rises to its highest point, for Jesus in a wrathful question denies to the Jews even the ability to believe.

ὑμεῖς] has a deeply emotional emphasis: How is it possible for you people to believe? And the ground of this impossibility is: because ye receive honour one of another ( δόξαν παρὰ ἀλλ. are taken together), because ye reciprocally give and take honour of yourselves. This ungodly desire of honour (comp. John 12:43; Matthew 23:5 sqq.), and the indifference, necessarily concomitant therewith, towards the true honour, which comes from God, must so utterly blight and estrange the heart from the divine element of life, that it is not even capable of faith. That divine δόξα is indeed the true glory of Israel (Luthardt), comp. Romans 2:29, but it is not here designated as such, as also the δόξαν παρὰ ἀλλ. λαμβ. does not appear as a designation of the “spurious-Judaism,” which latter is in general a wider conception (Romans 2:17 ff.).

τὴν παρὰ, κ. τ. λ.] for it consists in this, that one knows himself to be recognised and esteemed of God. Comp. as to the thing itself, John 12:43; Romans 2:29; Romans 3:23.

παρὰ τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ] not “from God alone” (Grotius, De Wette, Godet, and most others, from an erroneous reference to Matthew 4:4; Matthew 4:10), but from, the alone (only) God. Cf. John 17:3; Romans 16:26; 1 Timothy 6:15. The adj. shows the exclusive value of this honour.

οὐ ζητεῖτε] The transition from the participle to the finite tense gives greater independence and impressiveness to the second clause.


Verses 45-47

John 5:45-47. In concluding, Jesus sweeps away from under their feet the entire ground and foundation upon which they based their hope, by representing Moses, their supposed saviour, as really their accuser, seeing that their unbelief implied unbelief in Moses, and this latter unbelief made it impossible for them to believe in Jesus. This last completely annihilating stroke at the unbelievers is not only in itself, but also in its implied reference to the cause of the hostility of the Jews (John 5:15), “maxime aptus ad conclusionem,” Bengel.

μὴ δοκεῖτε] as you might perhaps believe from my previous denunciation.

κατηγορήσω] not of the final judgment (Ewald and early writers), where certainly Christ is Judge; but in general, Jesus, by virtue of His permanent intercourse with the Father, might at any time have accused them before Him.

ἔστιν κατηγ. ὑμ.] The emphatic ἔστιν: there exists your accuser Moses—he as the representative of the law (not of the whole of the O. T., as Ewald thinks); therefore not again the future, but the present participle used as a substantive, expressing continuous accusation.

ὑμεῖς] has tragic emphasis.

ἠλπίκατε] ye have set your hope, and do hope; comp. John 3:18, and see on 2 Corinthians 1:10. As a reward for their zeal for the law, and their obedience (Romans 2:17 ff; Romans 9:31 f.), the Jews hoped for the salvation of the Messianic kingdom, towards the attainment of which Moses was accordingly their patron and mediator.


Verse 46

John 5:46. Proof that Moses was their accuser. Moses wrote of Christ, referring to Deuteronomy 18:15, and generally to all the Messianic types (comp. John 3:14) and promises of the Pentateuch, and to its general Messianic import (Luke 24:44; Romans 10:5); in this, that they did not believe Christ (i.e. that He spoke the truth), is implied that they rejected the truth of what Moses had written concerning Him. This unbelief is the subject-matter of Moses’ accusation. Well says Bengel: “Non juvit Judaeos illud: Credimus vera esse omnia, quae Moses scripsit. Fide explicita opus erat.”

John 5:47. δέ] Further conclusion from the unbelief with regard to Moses, pointed out in John 5:46. Thus the discourse ends with a question implying hopelessness.

The antithesis is not between γράμμασιν and ῥήμασι (as if the writings were easier of belief than the words), but between ἐκείνου and ἐμοῖς (faith in him being the necessary condition of faith in Christ); while the distinction of Moses having written (comp. John 5:46), and Christ spoken, simply presents the historical relation. Were the antithesis between γράμμ. and ῥήμ., these words would have taken the lead; were it between both, in γράμ. and ῥήμ., and at the same time in ἐκείνου and ἐμοῖς likewise, this twofold relationship must have been shown, thus perhaps: τοῖς γράμμασιν τοῖς ἐκείνουτοῖς ῥήμασι τοῖς ἐμοῖς.

Note.

The discourse, John 5:19-47, so fully embodies in its entire progress and contents, allowing for the necessary Johannine colouring in the mode of representation, those essential doctrines which Jesus had to advocate in the face of the unbelieving Jews, and exhibits, in expression and practical application, so much that is characteristic, great, thoughtful, and striking, that even Strauss himself does not venture to deny that it came substantially from the Lord, though as to its form he attaches suspicious importance to certain resemblances with the first Epistle; but such a suspicion is all the less weighty, the more we are warranted to regard the Johannine idiosyncrasy as developed and moulded by the vivid recollection of the Lord’s words, and as under the guidance of His Spirit, which preserved and transfigured that recollection. The reasons which lead Weisse to see nothing in the discourse but synoptical matter, and B. Bauer to regard the whole as a reflection of the later consciousness of the Church, while Gfrörer supposes a real discourse, artificially shaped by additions and formal alterations, consist so much of arbitrary judgments and erroneous explanations and presuppositions, that sober criticism gains nothing by them, nor can the discourse which is attacked lose anything. Certainly we have in it “a genuine exposition of Johannine theology” (Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 273), but in such a manner, that this is the theology of Christ Himself, the miracle of healing at Bethesda being historically the occasion of the utterance in this manner of its main elements. This miracle itself is indeed by Baur regarded as a fictitious pretext, invented for the delivery of the discourse, so much so that “every feature in it seems to have been intended for this purpose” (p. 159); and this in the face of the fact that no reference whatever is made (in John 5:19 ff.) to the point in connection with the miracle at which the Jews took offence, viz. the breaking of the Sabbath (John 5:16). Nothing whatever is specially said concerning miracles (for ἔργα denotes a far wider conception), but the whole discourse turns upon that Messianic faith in the person of Jesus which the Jews refused to entertain. The fundamental truths, on this occasion so triumphantly expressed, “were never taught by Him so distinctly and definitely as now, when the right opportunity presented itself, at the very time when, after the Baptist’s removal, He came fully forth as the Messiah, and was called upon, quietly and comprehensively, to explain those highest of all relations, the explanation of which was previously demanded.” Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 298 f.; comp. his Johann. Schr. I. 206 ff. At this crisis of His great mission and work, the references in the discourse to the Baptist, and the apologetic statements concerning His life-giving work and the divine witness of Scripture, connect themselves so necessarily with His historical position, that it cannot even remotely suffice to suppose, with Weizsäcker, p. 282, that the discourse was composed simply with an eye to the synoptical statements of Matthew 11.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 5:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/john-5.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, April 8th, 2020
Wednesday in Easter Week
There are 4 days til Easter!
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology