International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The sentence beginning with ( ἐραυνᾶτε , eraunáte ), in John 5:39 the King James Version has been almost universally regarded as meaning "Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life." But one cannot read as far as δοκεῖτε , dokeı́te , "ye think," without feeling that there is something wrong with the ordinary version. This verb is at least a disturbing element in the current of thought (if not superfluous), and only when the first verb is taken as an indicative does the meaning of the writer become clear. The utterance is not a command, but a declaration: "Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them," etc. Robert Barclay as early as 1675, in his Apology for the True Christian Divinity (91 ff), refers to two scholars before him who had handed down the correct tradition: "Moreover, that place may be taken in the indicative mood, Ye search the Scriptures; which interpretation the Greek word will bear, and so Pasor translated it: which by the reproof following seemeth also to be the more genuine interpretation, as Cyrillus long ago hath observed." So Dr. Edwin A. Abbott, in his Johannine Grammar (London, 1906, section 2439 (i)). See also Transactions American Philological Association , 1901, 64 f.
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Search the Scriptures'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/s/search-the-scriptures.html. 1915.