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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
John 9

 

 

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Verse 1

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

The connection between the close of the preceding chapter and the opening of this one appears so close, that one is apt to conclude that all happened on one day, and that a Sabbath (John 9:14). But the violence with which the former chapter closes, and the tranquillity with which this one opens, renders that somewhat doubtful. At all events, the transactions of both chapters could not have been far apart in time.

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth - and who "sat and begged" (John 9:8).


Verse 2

And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? [ hina (Greek #2443) tuflos (Greek #5185) genneethee (Greek #1080)] - or 'should be born blind.' Since the doctrine of the pre-existence of souls, and that of the 'metempsychosis' (the transmission of the soul of one person into the Body of another), though held by certain of the more philosophical Jews, was never a current belief of the people, we are not to understand the disciples here to refer to sin committed in a former state of existence; and probably it is but a loose way of concluding that sin somewhere had surely been the cause of this calamity.


Verse 3

Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him: - q.d., 'The cause was neither in himself nor his parents, but in order to the manifestation of "the works of God" in his sure.'


Verse 4

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work - a most interesting statement this, from the mouth of Christ; intimating, first, that He had a precise work to do upon earth, with every particular of it arranged and laid out to Him; next, that all He did upon earth was just "the works of God" - particularly "going about doing good," though not exclusively by miracles; further, that each work had its precise time and place in His programme of instructions, so to speak; hence, again, that as His period for work had a definite termination, so by letting any one service pass by its allotted time, the whole would be disarranged, marred, and driven beyond its destined period for completion; finally, that as man He acted ever under the impulse of these considerations - "the night cometh when no man (or no one) can work."


Verse 5

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Not as if he would cease, after that, to be so; but that He must make full proof of His fidelity, while His earthly career lasted, By displaying His glory. As before the resurrection of Lazarus, says Alford, He announces Himself as the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25), so now He holds Himself forth as the Source of that archetypal spiritual light, of which the natural, now about to be conferred, is only a derivation and symbol.


Verse 6

When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.


Verse 7

And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is, by interpretation, Sent.) These operations were not so incongruous in their nature as might appear, though it were absurd to imagine that they contributed in the least degree to the effect which followed. (See the note at Mark 6:13; Mark 7:33-34.) As the prescribed action was purely symbolical in its design, so in connection with it the Evangelist notices the symbolical name of the pool, as in this case bearing testimony to Him who was sent to do what it only symbolized. See Isaiah 8:6, where this same pool is used figuratively to denote "the streams that made glad the city of God," and which, humble though they be, betoken a present God of Israel.

He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. See 2 Kings 5:10; 2 Kings 5:14. But though he "came seeing," it does not appear that he came to Jesus. On the contrary, when no "came seeing," Jesus was not to be seen; nor did they meet at all, it would seem, until, after his expulsion from the synagogue, Jesus "found him" (John 9:35).


Verse 8

The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?

The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind , [ tuflos (Greek #5185)]. The true reading here appears plainly to be, 'that he was a beggar' [ hoti (Greek #3754) prosaitees (G4319a) een (Greek #2258)] - this being what would most immediately identify him, as the following words indeed show. So all recent critical editors, and nearly all critical expositors. Said, Is not this he that sat and begged?


Verse 9

Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.

Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. How graphically is the identity of the man thus ascertained; and his own testimony, coming only to settle the point after it had been raised and occasioned some discussion, acquires thus additional importance. It is a good remark of Webster and Wilkinson, that the diversity of opinion is readily accounted for by the great difference his appearance, which would be made by the removal of the most deforming of blemishes, and the bestowal of the most distinguishing of features. But another remark, of more consequence, might have been made here-that the difficulty which his neighbours had in believing that this was the same man whom they had known as the blind beggar, and the need of his own testimony to put the fact beyond all question, is the best evidence of the perfection of the cure. Well, this settled, the next questions naturally are, How was it done? and Who did it?


Verse 10

Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?

Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?


Verse 11

He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.

He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. This reply is so fresh and lively that, as Meyer says, our Evangelist probably received it from the man himself after he became a believer.


Verse 12

Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said [`saith' legei (G3004)], I know not. No doubt, after the attempt to stone Him, Jesus would not deem it prudent at once to appear in public.


Verse 13

They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.

They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.


Verse 14

And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.

And [or, 'Now' de (G1161)] it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.

The connection between these two verses, and especially what is mentioned in John 9:16, make it evident that it was our Lord's having performed this cure on the Sabbath day which induced these people to bring the beggar under the notice of the Pharisees; and so far, therefore, it was done in a spirit of at least suspicion of the glorious Healer. On the systematic performance of such miracles on the Sabbath day, see the note at John 5:9.

It is probable that the Pharisees were sitting in council when the following dialogue took place:


Verse 15

Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 16

Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others - as Nicodemus and Joseph, "said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was division among them."


Verse 17

They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet - rightly viewing the miracle as but a "sign" [ seemeion (Greek #4592)] of His prophetic commission.


Verse 18

But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.

But - `Then,' or 'therefore.' Seeing, if they admitted the truth of the cure, they would likely be shut up to the acknowledgment of His divine commission, therefore they took the course of discrediting the fact.

The Jews - that is, these ruling ecclesiastics (see the note at John 1:19),

Did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.


Verse 19

And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?

And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?

Foiled by the testimony of the young man himself, they hope to throw doubt on the fact by close questioning his parents, who, perceiving the snare laid for them, ingeniously escape it by testifying simply to the identity of their son, and his birth-blindness, leaving it to himself, as a competent witness, to speak to the cure.


Verse 20

His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:

His parents answered them, and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:


Verse 21

But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.

But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. Here, however, they prevaricate, in saying they "knew not who had opened his eyes;" for "they feared the Jews," who had come to an understanding-probably after what is recorded, John 7:50, etc., and by this time pretty well known-that whoever owned Him as the Christ should be put out of the synagogue - i:e., not simply excluded, but excommunicated.


Verse 22

These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, [ auton (G846) homologeesee (G3670) Christon (G5547), or 'own Him as Christ,'] he should be put out of the synagogue , [ aposunagoogos (Greek #656) geneetai (Greek #1096)] - not only expelled, but 'become' and be held 'unsynagogued,' or, as we say, 'unchurched.' See John 12:42; John 16:2.


Verse 23

Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.

Therefore [or 'for this cause' dia (G1223) touto (G5124)], said his parents, He is of age; ask him.


Verse 24

Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.

Then again [`the second time' ek (G1537) deuterou (G1208)] called they the man that was blind.

Baffled and perplexed, they seem to have put him forth until they should agree among themselves how next to proceed with him, so as to break down the testimony to Jesus which this marvelous cure so plainly furnished, and then to have summoned him back.

And said unto him, Give God the praise - or, 'Give glory to God' [ Dos (Greek #1325) doxan (Greek #1391) too (Greek #3588) Theoo (Greek #2316)]:

We know that this man is a sinner - not wishing him to own, even to the praise of God, that a miracle had been performed upon him, but to show more regard to the honour of God than ascribe any such act to one who was a sinner.


Verse 25

He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. Not that the man meant to insinuate any doubt in his own mind on the point of His being "a sinner;" but as his opinion on such a point would be of no consequence to others, he would speak only to what he knew as fact in his own case.


Verse 26

Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?

Then said they ('They said') to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? - hoping by repeated questions to ensnare him; but the youth is more than a match for them.


Verse 27

He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?

He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? In a vein of keen irony he treats their questions as those of anxious inquirers, almost ready for discipleship! Stung by this, they retort upon him as the disciple (and here they plainly were not wrong): for themselves, they fell back upon Moses-about him there could be no doubt-but who knew about this upstart?


Verse 28

Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.

[Then] they reviled him. [The oun (Greek #3767) of the received text has hardly any authority.]

And said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.


Verse 29

We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.

We know that God spake [or 'hath spoken' lelaleeken (G2980)] unto Moses: all for this [fellow] - or simply, 'this [man]:' it is the language of contempt, though probably more affected than real. We know not from whence he is. The youth had now no need to say another word; but waxing bolder in defense of his Benefactor, and his views brightening by the very courage which it demanded, he puts it to them how they could pretend inability to tell whether one who opened the eyes of a man born blind was "of God" or "a sinner" - from above or from beneath-and proceeds to argue the case with remarkable power.


Verses 30-32

The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 33

If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.

If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. So irresistible was this argument that their rage burst forth in a speech of the mast intense Pharisaism.


Verse 34

They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? - `Thou, a base-born, uneducated, impudent youth, teach us, the trained, constituted, recognized guides of the people in the things of God? Out upon thee!'

And they cast him out - judicially, no doubt, as we have said (on John 9:22), as well as in fact. (So DeWette, Olshausen, Tholuck, etc.) The allusion to his being "born in sins" seems a tacit admission of his being blind from birth-the very thing they had been so unwilling to own. But rage and enmity to truth are seldom consistent in their outbreaks. The friends of this excommunicated youth, crowding around him with their sympathy, would probably express surprise that one who could work such a cure should be unable to protect his patient from the persecution it had raised against him, or should possess the power without using it. Nor would it be wonderful if such thoughts should arise in the youth's own mind. But if they did, it is certain, from what follows, that they made no lodgment there, conscious as he was that "whereas he was blind, now he saw," and satisfied that if his Benefactor "were not of God, he could do nothing," (John 9:33). There was a word for him too, which, if whispered in his ear from the oracles of God, would seem expressly designed to describe his case, and prepare him for the coming interview with his gracious Friend. "Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at His word; Your brethren that hated you, that cost you out for My name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified; BUT HE SHALL APPEAR TO YOUR JOY, and they shall be ashamed" (Isaiah 66:5). But how was He engaged to whom such noble testimony had been given, and for whom such persecution had been borne? Uttering, perhaps, in secret, "with strong crying and tears," the words of the prophetic psalm "Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for My sake; let none that seek thee be confounded for My sake, O God of Israel; because for thy sake I have borne reproach ... and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon Me" (Psalms 69:6-7; Psalms 69:9).


Verse 35

Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

Jesus heard that they had cast him out (by intelligence brought to Him), and when he had found him - shall we say by accident? Not very likely. Sympathy in that breast could not long keep aloof from its object.

He said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? A question stretching purposely beyond his present attainments, in order the more quickly to lead him-in his present teachable frame-into the highest truth.


Verse 36

He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?

He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might (or rather, 'may') believe on him? This is evidently the language of one who did believe in Him who had performed such a marvelous work on him, and who now only yearned to behold and personally to recognize Him. The next two verses show this to be the real state of His mind.


Verse 37

And Jesus said unto him Thou hast both seen him and it is he that talketh with thee And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.

And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. The new sense of sight imparted to him had at that moment its highest exercise, in gazing upon "The Light of the world."


Verse 38

And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him - a faith and a worship, beyond doubt, meant to express far more than he would think proper to any human "prophet" (John 9:17); the unstudied, resistless expression, probably, of SUPREME faith and adoration, though without the full understanding of what that implied.


Verse 39

And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

And Jesus said - perhaps at the same time, but after a crowd, including some of the sceptical and scornful rulers, had, on seeing Jesus talking with the healed youth, hastened to the spot.

For judgment I am come [or 'came I' eelthon (G2064)] that they which see not might see - rising to that sight of which the natural vision communicated to the youth was but the symbol (see the note at John 9:5, and compare Luke 4:18).

And that they which see might be made blind - judicially incapable of apprehending and receiving the truth, to which they have willfully shut their eyes. See the note at Matthew 13:12.


Verse 40

And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?

And some (rather, 'those') of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him. Are we blind also? - we, the constituted, recognized guides of the people in spiritual things? pride and rage prompting the question.


Verse 41

Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind - If ye wanted light to discern My claims, and only waited to receive it,

$ Ye should have no sin - none of the guilt of shutting out the light.

But now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth - Your claim to possess light, while rejecting Me, is that which seals you up in the guilt of unbelief.

Remarks:

(1) Although the resurrection of Lazarus was beyond all doubt the greatest of our Lord's miracles, there is one particular in which the miracle of this chapter is even more marvelous. In all our Lord's miracles of healing, and even in the resurrection of the dead, He did but restore what had been already in use by the objects of His power and grace-seeing, hearing, walking, living. But here is one to whom vision is not restored, but for the first time imparted. And though we are not to suppose that the organ of sight was thou created-for such "works were finished from the creation of the world" - though the organ was doubtless there from his mother's womb, it had never been capable of action until now, that he was "of age;" and thus, by an act of marvelous power, this man for the first time beheld the light of heaven, and from that time forth saw as other men-insomuch that his neighbours would hardly believe that he was the same man whom they had known as the Blind Beggar, and, as already remarked, it needed his own testimony to put the fact beyond all question. And what is most worthy of notice, it is just in the record of these two greatest of all our Lord's miracles that the details are the fullest-so full, and embracing so many minute yet vivid particulars, that it is impossible to doubt that we have them from the very parties concerned; the beloved Evangelist himself being doubtless present wherever his Lord was in the action of this chapter, while for the rest-as already observed-he was indebted, we can hardly doubt, to the newly gained disciple himself, whose eyes the Lord had doubly opened.

(2) That all our Lord's beneficent miracles on the bodies of men were designed to illustrate analogous and higher operations on the souls of men, which it was Hie errand and is His office to perform, has been once and again observed, see the notes at Matthew 4:12-25, Remark 5, at the close of that section. But nowhere is this more grandly seen than at the beginning and end of this chapter. Before anything was done to this blind beggar-while the disciples were questioning our Lord as to the cause of the poor man's misfortune, and as soon as He had explained that the primary intention of it was to display in him the works of God which He had come to do, and must do while it was day-Jesus said, "As long as I am in the world, I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD" and then it was that, to illustrate that office of His, He miraculously opened this man's eyes. And at the close of the chapter, recurring, in presence of enemies, to the opening of the man's eyes, He testified, "For judgment came I into this world, that they which see not might see," on the one hand; or-as He afterward expressed it from His glory in the heavens to Saul of Tarsus, when sending him as a preacher to the Gentiles - "to open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God" (Acts 26:18): "and," on the other hand, "that they which see might be made blind." Thus, then, let us learn to read in every record of Christ's miracles on the body assurances and illustrations of His power and grace in the higher sphere of the soul.

(3) While in the parents of this youth we have a lively illustration of the terrors of ghostly authority-in inspiring which the priests of the Church of Rome have diabolically improved upon the Jewish ecclesiastics-we have in the youth himself a beautiful illustration of the courage which a conscious experience of divine power and grace inspires, of the strength which the exercise of that courage in trying circumstances imparts, and of the wisdom-above their own-which, in fulfillment of express promise, the Lord has so often from that time to this communicated to His disciples when standing before rulers for His name's sake. See the notes at Matthew 10:19-20.

(4) The accession of this healed man to the ranks of genuine discipleship is one, and not the least instructive, of the many cases of Christ found without seeking, referred to on Matthew 13:44; Matthew 13:46, Remark 1 at the close of that section. Not like blind Bartimeus did this man cry after Jesus; but, "as Jesus passed by (compare Ezekiel 16:6; Ezekiel 16:8), He saw "this beggar, who had been blind from his birth" - doubtless with that special look with which He saw Zaccheus (Luke 19:5), because His eye affected His heart, and He proceeded to heal him. Not like the other blind man did He first recognize in Jesus "the Son of David;" nor does it appear whether He had even heard of Him before. Certain it is that the first motion was not in the man, or any of his relatives or neighbours, toward Jesus, but in Jesus toward Him. And thus is there a large class, of whom it is said, "I am found of them that sought Me not; I am made manifest unto them that asked not after Me."

(5) Was ever virulent determination not to believe on any evidence, and willful resistance of ocular demonstration, more signally manifested than in those rulers of the Jews, who, after vainly endeavouring to browbeat this poor unbefriended youth, scornfully expelled him from the synagogue, because he refused to lie before God, and repudiate and malign his unknown Benefactor? But this spirit has not ceased; nor is it to be doubted that, whenever occasions arise for the display of it, the hatred of the world to Christ, in His truth and people, will be found as virulent as it has ever been (John 15:19; Galatians 4:29).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 9:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-9.html. 1871-8.

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Saturday, September 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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