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��JOHN 5

JOHN 5

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Healing at the Pool A Man Healed at the Pool of Bethesda Healing of the Lame Man on the Sabbath The Healing at the Pool The Cure of a Sick Man at the Pool of Bethesda
5:1-9a 5:1-15 5:1 5:1-6 5:1-9a
    5:2-9a    
      5:7  
      5:8-9a  
5:9b-18   5:9b-18 5:9b-10 5:9b-18
      5:11  
      5:12  
      5:14  
      5:16  
      5:15-17  
  Honor the Father and the Son   5:18  
The Authority of the Son 5:16-23 Jesus' Relation to God The Authority of the Son  
5:19-29   5:19-24 5:19-23 5:19-47
  Life and Judgment are Through the Son      
  5:24-30   5:24-29  
    5:25-29    
    Evidence of Jesus' Relation to God Witnesses to Jesus  
5:30   5:30 5:30  
The Witness to Jesus The Fourfold Witness      
5:31-40 5:31-47 5:31-38 5:31-40  
    Jesus Rebukes Those Who Refuse His Offer    
    5:39-47    
5:41-47     5:41-47  

READING CYCLE THREE

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

�JOHN 5:1-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: JOHN 5:1-9a
  1After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. 3In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, 4[waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] 5A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" 7The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." 8Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." 9Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.

5:1 "a feast" Some ancient Greek uncial manuscripts, א and C, have "the feast," but the majority of manuscripts have "a feast" (P66, P75, A, B, and D). There were three annual feast days which were mandatory for Jewish males to attend if at all possible (cf. Leviticus 23): (1) Passover; (2) Pentecost; and (3) the Feast of the Tabernacle. If this refers to a Passover, then Jesus had a four-year public ministry instead of three (cf. John 2:13, 23; 6:4: 12:1). It is traditionally held that Jesus had a three-year public ministry after John's baptism. This is ascertained only by the number of Passover feasts mentioned in John's Gospel.

▣ "Jesus went up to Jerusalem" Jesus is said to have gone to feasts in Jerusalem several times in John (cf. John 2:13; 5:1; 7:10; 12:12).

Jerusalem was built on seven hills and was higher than the surrounding land. So the phrase "went up" could be physically true. However, it seems to have been a metaphor idiom of preeminence. Jerusalem, because of the Temple, was the high place of the earth and center (navel) of the earth.

5:2 "by the sheep gate" This "gate of the flock" was on the northeast part of the wall of Jerusalem. It is mentioned in Nehemiah's rededication and reconstruction of the walls of the city (cf. Neh. 3:1, 32; 12:39).

NASB, NKJV"a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda"
NRSV"called in Hebrew Beth-zatha"
TEV"in Hebrew it is called Bethzatha"
NJB"called Bethesda in Hebrew"

There are several alternative spellings of this name. Josephus also called it by the Hebrew name "Bethzatha," which was the name for this section of Jerusalem. It is also called "Bethsaida" in the Greek manuscripts. The Qumram copper scrolls called it "Bethesda," which means "house of mercy" or "house of double spring." Today it is known as St. Anne's pool(s).

In Jesus' day the Jews of Palestine spoke Aramaic, not Hebrew. In John when it says "Hebrew" it means Aramaic (cf. John 5:2; 19:13,17,20; 20:16; Rev. 9:11; 16:16). All of Jesus' statements, such as

1. Talitha kum, Mark 5:41

2. Ephphatha, Mark 7:34

3. Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, Mark 15:34

are in Aramaic.

 

5:4 This verse (John 5:3b-4) is a later scribal commentary which tries to explain

1. the presence of all the sick people by the pool

2. why this man had been there so long

3. why he wanted someone to put him in the water, John 5:7

It is obviously a Jewish folk tale. It was not part of John's original Gospel. The evidence for this verse not being included is:

1. it is not in manuscripts P66, P75, א, B, C*, D

2. it is marked by an asterisk in over 20 additional later Greek manuscripts, showing that this text was thought not to be original

3. there are several non-Johannine terms used in this short verse.

It is included in several early Greek uncial manuscripts, A, C3, K, and L. It is also included in the Diatessaron (about a.d. 180), and the writings of Tertullian (a.d. 200), Ambrose, Chrysostom, and Cyril. This shows its antiquity but not its inclusion in the original inspired Gospel. It is included in KJV, NASB (1995 Update, with brackets), and NKJV, but omitted in NASB (1970), NRSV, NJB, REB, NET Bible, and NIV.

For a good discussion of the manuscript variant by an evangelical textual critic, see Gordon Fee, To What End Exegesis?, pp. 17-28.

5:5-6 Exactly why Jesus chose this particular man is unknown to us. Possibly he had been there the longest. There is little faith required on this man's part. Apparently Jesus was trying to initiate a confrontation with the Jewish leaders. This gave Him the opportunity to assert His Messianic claim. The eschatological passage of Isa. 35:6 may be related to this Messianic healing.

Many of Jesus' miracles were not done primarily for the individual, but for those watching.

1. disciples

2. Jewish authorities

3. a crowd

The Gospels select certain miracles to clearly reveal who Jesus was. These events are representative of His daily actions. They are selected to show

1. His person

2. His compassion

3. His power

4. His authority

5. His clear revelation of the Father

6. His clear revelation of the Messianic age

 

5:8 "'Get up, pick up your pallet, and walk'" This is a series of commands.

1. a present active imperative

2. followed by an aorist active imperative

3. then another present active imperative

The pallet was a cloth cushion that the poor used for sleeping. For these sick, lame, and paralyzed people it served as a sitting pad during the day (cf. Mark 2:4,9,11,12; 6:55; Acts 9:33).

�JOHN 5:9-18

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: JOHN 5:9b-18
 9bNow it was the Sabbath on that day. 10So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, "It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet." 11But he answered them, "He who made me well was the one who said to me, 'Pick up your pallet and walk.'" 12They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Pick up your pallet and walk'?" 13But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. 14Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you." 15The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17But He answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." 18For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

5:9b "Now it was the Sabbath" The Jewish leaders did not even rejoice over the man being healed, but they were offended at Jesus breaking the Oral Tradition (later codified in the Talmud) connected with the Sabbath (cf. John 5:16, 18; Matt. 7: 1-23).

Jesus' healings on the Sabbath can be explained in two ways.

1. He healed every day, but controversies developed over the Sabbath healings

2. He chose this issue to cause a controversy as an opportunity to engage the religious leaders in theological dialog

Jesus often healed on the Sabbath (cf. Matt. 12:9-14; Mark 1:29-31; 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11; 14:1-6; John 5:9-18; 9:14). Jesus cast out demons on the Sabbath (cf Mark 1:21-28); Luke 13:10-17). Jesus defended the disciples' eating on the Sabbath (cf. Matt. 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28). Jesus initiated controversial subjects in the synagogue on the Sabbath (cf. Luke 4:16-30; John 7:14-24).

5:13 "Jesus had slipped away" Literally this is "to bend the head to one side." Jesus looked like a normal Jew of his day. He just melted into the crowd.

5:14

NASB, NRSV,
NJB"do not sin anymore,"
NKJV"Sin no more"
TEV"so stop sinning"

This is a present active imperative with the negative particle, which often meant stop an act already in process, but in this context this seems unlikely (cf. NET Bible, p. 1907 #8). Jewish theologians of the first century viewed sickness as related to sin (cf. James 5:14-15). This does not explain all sickness, as can be seen from Jesus' dealing with the man who was born blind (cf. John 9) and Jesus' words in Luke 13:1-4.

Jesus was still dealing with this man's spiritual life. Our actions do reflect our heart and faith. Biblical faith is both objective and subjective, both belief and action.

Today there is such an emphasis in the church on physical healing. God surely still heals. But divine healing should result in a spiritual change of lifestyle and priorities. A good question might be "why do you want to be healed?"

SPECIAL TOPIC: IS HEALING GOD'S PLAN FOR EVERY AGE?

5:15 "The man went away, and told the Jews" The exact motivation behind his informing the Jewish authorities is uncertain.

1. it seems to be a thoughtless, petty act which shows that healing did not always begin with faith or end with faith

2. Jesus told him to do so (cf. Matt. 8:4; Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14; 17:14)

 

5:16 "because He was doing these things on the Sabbath" The verb is an imperfect active indicative which denotes continual action in past time. This was not Jesus' first (or last) Sabbath healing!

5:17

NASB"But He answered them"
NKJV, REB,
NRSV, NIV"But Jesus answered them"
NJB"His answer to them was"

The scribes who copied the early Greek manuscripts had a tendency to

1. simplify the grammar

2. make specific the pronominal referents

3. standardize phrases

It is hard to know which form of John 5:17 was original.

1. "but He. . ." - P75, א, B, W

2. "but Jesus. . ." - P66, A, D, L

3. "but the lord. . ." or "the Lord Jesus" - Syriac translations

The UBS4 gives option #2 a "C" rating (difficulty in deciding).

▣ "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working" These are both present middle (deponent) indicatives. Jesus was stating that the Father does not stop doing good on the Sabbath and neither does the Son (for a good discussion of this verse see Manfred Brauch, Abusing Scripture, p. 219). This, in a real sense, was an affirmation of Jesus' understanding of His unique relationship with the Father (cf. John 5:19-29).

The Jewish concept of monotheism (cf. Deut. 6:4) was practically expressed in a "one cause" explanation of events in this world (cf. Jdgs. 9:23; Job 2:10; Eccl. 7:14; Is. 45:7; 59:16; Lam. 3:33-38; Amos 3:6). All actions were ultimately the action of the one true God. When Jesus asserted dual agency in God's actions in the world, He asserted a dualism of divine causality. This is the difficult problem of the Trinity. One God, but three personal manifestations (cf. Matt. 3:16-17; 28:19; John 14:26; Acts 2:33-34; Rom. 8:9-10; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 13:14; Gal. 4:4; Eph. 1:3-14; 2:18; 4:4-6; Titus 3:4-6; 1 Pet. 1:2). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE TRINITY.

5:18 "For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him" There are two reasons the Jews wanted to kill Jesus.

1. He publically broke (lit. "loosed," imperfect active indicative, cf. Matt. 5:19) the Oral Tradition (Talmud) concerning the Sabbath

2. His statements showed that they understood Him to be claiming equality with God (cf. John 8:58-59; 10:33; 19:7)

 

�JOHN 5:19-23

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: JOHN 5:19-23
 19Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. 20For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. 21For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. 22For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

5:19,24,25 "Truly, truly" This literally is "Amen, amen." The term "amen" is a transliteration from Hebrew. It originally meant trustworthiness. It came to be used to affirm a truth. Jesus is the only one known to use this word at the beginning of a statement. He used it to preface significant statements. John is the only one to record the doubling of this initial term. See SPECIAL TOPIC: AMEN.

5:19 "the Son" There is a theologically significant repetition of the term "Son" in the next few verses. It is used eight times in this brief context. It shows Jesus' unique understanding of His relationship with the Father and reflects the titles "Son of Man" and "Son of God."

▣ "the Son can do nothing of Himself" As is often true, the NT presents Jesus in paradoxical expressions. In some texts

1. He is one with the Father (cf. John 1:1; 5:18; 10:30,34-38; 14:9-10; 20:28)

2. He is separate from the Father (cf. John 1:2,14,18; 5:19-23; 8:28; 10:25,29; 14:10,11,12,13,16; 17:1-2)

3. He is even subservient to Him (cf. John 5:20,30; 8:28; 12:49; 14:28; 15:10,19-24; 17:8)

This is probably to show that Jesus is fully divine, but a separate, distinct personal and eternal manifestation of deity.

In the commentary edited by John Raymond E. Brown, The Jerome Biblical Commentary, a good point is made:

"The implication of subordination here should not be removed by undertaking Jesus' words to refer only to his human nature. . .It would also miss a fine point of Johannine Christology. Rather, Jesus is insisting on an absolute harmony of activity between Father and Son, which, of course, radically demands an identity of nature; the same process is used in John 16:12ff. to relate the Holy Spirit to the Son. But throughout this Gospel we never find the Trinity treated as a thesis of abstract theology; it is always approached from the standpoint of its relevance to soteriology" (p. 434).

▣ "unless it is something He sees the Father doing" Mankind has never seen the Father (cf. John 5:37 and 1:18), but the Son is claiming intimate, personal, present knowledge of Him (cf. John 1:1-3).

▣ "for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner" In the actions and teachings of Jesus, humans clearly see the invisible God (cf. Col. 1:15 Heb. 1:3).

5:20 "the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing" These are both Present active indicatives which speak of an ongoing action. This is the Greek term for love, phileō. One would have expected agapeō as in John 3:35. These two words for love had a wide semantic overlap in Koine Greek (see D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, 2nd ed., pp. 32-33 and F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, p. 73).

"greater works" In context this refers to raising the dead (John 5:21,25-26) and executing judgment (John 5:22,27).

▣ "that you will marvel" This purpose clause clearly shows that the purpose of the miracles is that Jews (plural you) believe in the unique Son (cf. John 5:23; Acts 13:41 [Hab. 1:5]).

5:21 "the Father raises the dead. . .even so, the Son" In the Old Testament YHWH is the only one who can give life (cf. Deut. 32:39). The fact that Jesus can raise the dead is equivalent to a statement of equality with YHWH (cf. John 5:26).

Jesus gives eternal life now (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; Col. 1:13) which is linked to a physical manifestation of life in the new age in John 5:26 (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18). It seems that John's extended encounter with Jesus is on an individual basis, while there still remains a future collective event (both judgment and salvation).

▣ "so the Son gives life to whom He wishes" To whom does the Son choose to give life? In context this is not a proof-text for Calvinism, but an assertion that belief in Jesus brings life (cf. John 1:12; 3:16). The tension comes from John 6:44,65. Does the Spirit choose "all" or "some"? I think it is obvious that fallen humans do not initiate in the spiritual realm, but I am biblically committed to the fact that they must respond (and continue to respond) to the Spirit's wooing by repentance, faith, obedience, and perseverance! The real mystery is why some who hear the gospel say "No"! I call it the "mystery of unbelief." In reality it is both "the Unpardonable Sin" of the Gospels and "the Sin Unto Death" of 1 John. See Special Topic: What Is Sin Unto Death?

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE UNPARDONABLE SIN

5:22 The strong double negative and the perfect tense verb emphasize the fact that judgment has been committed to the Son (cf. John 5:27; 9:39. Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:1; 1 Pet. 4:5). The apparent paradox between this verse and John 13:17 is explained by the fact that Jesus, during these "last days," judges no one, but humans judge themselves by their reaction to Jesus Christ. Jesus' eschatological judgment (of unbelievers) is based on their reception or rejection of Him.

The giving of eternal life vs. judgment was the theme of John 3:17-21,36. God's love in Christ, when rejected, becomes God's wrath! There are only two options! There is only one way to receive eternal life-faith in Christ (cf. John 10:1-18; 14:6; 1 John 5:9-12)!

5:23 "so that all may honor the Son" The inclusive term "all" may refer to an eschatological judgment scene (cf. Phil. 2:9-11).

▣ "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him" This statement is very similar to 1 John 5:12. No one can know God who does not know His Son, and conversely, no one can honor or praise the Father who does not honor and praise the Son!

�JOHN 5:24-29

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: JOHN 5:24-29
 24"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 25Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

5:24 "Truly, truly" John's unique doubling (cf. John 5:25) of Jesus' words is a characteristic introduction to significant statements. See Special Topic Amen.

▣ "he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life" These are three present active verbals. This is an emphasis on belief (see Special Topic: John's Use of Believe with prepositions) in the Father that is exercised by belief in the Son (cf. 1 John 5:9-12). In the Synoptics, eternal life is often a future event to be hoped for in faith, but in John it is characteristically a present reality (i.e., John 8:51; 11:25). It is possible the term "hears" reflects the Hebrew term shema, which meant "to hear so as to obey" (cf. Deut. 6:4).

▣ "who sent Me" The verb apostellō (aorist active participle) is the root form of the word "apostle" (cf. John 5:36). It was used by the rabbis as "one sent as an official representative on an assigned mission." This term is used often in John for the Father sending the Son as His representative. See note at John 4:34.

SPECIAL TOPIC: SEND (APOSTELLŌ)

▣ "but has passed out of death into life" This is Perfect active indicative; that which has happened in the past and has now become a state of being. The Kingdom of God is present, yet future, so too, eternal life (cf. John 5:25-26; 1 John 3:14). John 5:25 is a strong statement of the presence of the Kingdom now!

5:25 "an hour is coming and now is" This is the kind of language that characterizes John's writings. Words and phrases often have two senses. In this case, "hour" means

1. hour of salvation

2. hour of judgment

The time frame is both present and future (cf. John 5:29; 6:39,44,54). What one does with Jesus now will determine what happens to him/her in the future. Salvation and judgment are both a present reality and a future consummation (cf. John 5:28).

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HOUR

▣ "when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God" John 5:25 speaks of the spiritually dead; John 5:29 speaks about the resurrection of all of the physically dead. The Bible speaks of three kinds of death.

1. spiritual death (cf. Genesis 3)

2. physical death (cf. Genesis 5)

3. eternal death (cf. Eph. 2:2; Rev. 2:11; 20:6,14) or the lake of fire, hell (Gehenna).

This is a rare use of the phrase "Son of God." See Special Topic: Son of God. One reason this phrase was not used more often is because of the Greek religious view of the gods (Mt. Olympus) taking human women as wives or consorts. Jesus' status as God's Son does not reflect sexual generation or time sequence, but the intimate relationship. It is a Jewish familial metaphor. Jesus was affirming His Deity to these Jewish leaders in a very clear and specific way using OT categories (cf. John 5:21,26).

5:26 "for just as the Father has life in Himself" This is basically the meaning of the term YHWH from Exod. 3:14. This form of the Covenant name for God comes from the Hebrew verb "to be." It means the ever-living, only-living One. See Special Topic: Names for Deity.

In the OT only YHWH had "life" (cf. 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16) and only He could give it to others (i.e., Job 10:12; 33:4; Ps. 36:9). Jesus claims that YHWH gives this same unique power to Him!

▣ "even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself" This is a strong affirmation of Jesus' Deity (cf. John 1:4; 1 John 5:11).

5:27 The reason that Jesus is able (exousia, has authority, cf. John 10:18; 17:2; 19:11) to judge rightly is because He is fully God but also fully man. There is no definite article with the phrase "Son of Man" (cf. Ezek. 2:1 and Ps. 8:4). He fully knows us (cf. Heb. 4:15); He fully knows God (cf. John 1:18; 5:30).

It is surprising that in a context where Jesus calls Himself "the son" (cf. John 5:19 [twice],20,21,22,23 [twice],25,26) that in John 5:27 the title "son of man" (but without the usual definite article) is used. However, the same switch is in (1) John 3:13,14 vs. John 3:16,17,18,35,36; (2) John 6:27,53 vs. John 6:40; and (3) John 8:28 vs. John 8:35,36. Jesus used both titles for Himself interchangeably.

5:28 "Do not marvel at this" This is a present active imperative with a negative particle which usually meant to stop an act which was already in process. As shocking as Jesus' previous words to these Jewish leaders were, His next statement would also totally shock them.

▣ "all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice" This seems to reflect the shout of the Messiah at the Second Coming (cf. 1 Thess. 4:16). Lazarus (cf. John 11:43) is a paradigm of this event. This does not negate the truth of 2 Cor. 5:6,8. It does assert the universal judgment and authority of the Son.

Much of this context relates to the reality of the spiritual life here and now (realized eschatology). But this phrase also asserts an end-time future eschatological event. This tension between the already and not yet of the Kingdom of God characterizes Jesus' teachings in the Synoptics, but especially in John.

5:29 The Bible speaks of resurrection of both the wicked and the righteous (cf. Dan 12:2; Matt. 25:46; Act 24:15). Most passages emphasize the resurrection of the righteous only (cf. Job 19:23-29; Isa. 26:19; Jn 6:39-40,44,54; 11:24-25; 1 Cor. 15:50-58).

 This does not refer to judgment based on works, but rather to judgement based on believers' lifestyles (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; Gal. 5:16-21). There is a general principle in God's Word and world, humans reap what they sow (cf. Pro. 11:24-25; Gal. 6:6). Or to put it in an OT quote, "God will recompense humans according to their deeds" (cf. Ps. 62:12; 28:4; Job 34:11; Pro. 24:12; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6-8; 1 Cor. 3:8; 2 Cor. 5:10; Eph. 6:8 and Col. 3:25).

�JOHN 5:30

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: JOHN 5:30
 30I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

5:30 Jesus, the incarnated Logos of God was subject to and submissive to the Father. This strong emphasis on submission also appears in John 5:19 ("the Son can do nothing"). This does not imply the Son is inferior, but that the Trinity has delegated the redemptive tasks among the three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Spirit.

�JOHN 5:31-47

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: JOHN 5:31-47
 31If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. 32There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. 33You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish-the very works that I do-testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. 38You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. 39You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. 41I do not receive glory from men; 42but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 43I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? 45Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?

5:31 In the Old Testament there was a need for two witnesses to confirm a matter (cf. Num 35:30; Deut. 19:15). In this context Jesus gives five witnesses to Himself.

1. the Father (John 5:32,37)

2. John the Baptist (John 5:33, cf. John 1:19-51)

3. Jesus' own works (cf. John 5:36)

4. Scripture (cf. John 5:39)

5. Moses (cf. John 5:46) which reflects Deut. 18:15-22

See Special Topic: Witnesses to Jesus.

▣ "If" This is a third class conditional sentence which speaks of potential action.

▣ "My testimony is not true" This seems to contradict John 8:14. Context shows that these statements are made in different settings. Here Jesus shows how many other witnesses there are, but in John 8:14 He asserts that only His is necessary!

For "true" see Special Topic: Truth (the concept) in John's Writings.

5:32 "There is another who testifies of Me" This refers to God the Father (cf. 1 John 5:9) because of the use of the term allos, which means "another of the same kind" in contradistinction to heteros, which means "one of a different kind," although this distinction was fading in Koine Greek. See SPECIAL TOPIC: WITNESSES TO JESUS.

5:33 "You have sent to John" This refers to John the Baptist (cf. John 1:19).

5:34 "I say these things so that you may be saved" This is an aorist passive subjunctive. The passive voice implies the agency of God or the Spirit (cf. John 6:44,65). Remember the Gospels are evangelistic proclamations (i.e., tracts), not historical biographies. There is an evangelistic purpose in all that was recorded (cf. John 20:30-31).

5:35 "he was the lamp" This is another emphasis on light, here John's preparatory message(cf. John 1:6-8).

5:36 "the very works that I do-testify about Me" Jesus' actions were fulfillments of OT prophecies about the Messiah. The Jews of His day should have recognized these miraculous signs--healing the blind, feeding the poor, restoring the lame (cf. Isa. 29:18; 32:3-4; 35:5-6; 42:7). The power of Jesus' teachings, lifestyle righteousness, compassion, and mighty miracles (cf. John 2:23; 10:25,38; 14:11; 15:24) bore a clear witness to who He was, where He came from, and Who sent Him.

5:37 "He has borne witness of Me" The "He" refers to the Father. In context this phrase seems to refer to OT Scripture (cf. Heb. 1:1-3). This would involve all the Messianic references in the OT (cf. John 5:39).

▣ "You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form" Jesus was asserting that although the Jews should have known God through the Scriptures and personal experiences in worship, they did not really know Him at all (cf. John 8:43; Isa. 1:1-15; 6:9-10; 29:13; Jer. 5:21).

In the OT, seeing Deity was thought to bring death. The only person who spoke to YHWH face to face was Moses and even then the encounter was through the veil of the Cloud. Many have thought that Exod.33:23 contradicts John 1:18. However, the Hebrew terms in Exodus means "after glory," not physical form.

5:38 "His word abiding in you" These are two powerful metaphors in John's writings. God's word (logos) must be received, once received (cf. John 1:12) it must remain (abide, cf. John 8:31; 15:4,5,6,7,10; 1 John 2:6,10,14,17,24,27,28; 3:6,14,15,24). Jesus is God's full revelation (cf. John 1:1-18; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:1-3). Salvation is confirmed by a continuing relationship (Hebrew sense of "know" cf. Gen. 4:1; Jer. 1:5) and the affirmation of gospel truths (Greek sense of "know" cf. 2 John 9).

This term "abiding" is used in the sense of intimate, personal relationship with perseverance. Abiding is a condition of true salvation (cf. John 15) It is used in several senses in John.

1. the Son in the Father (cf. John 10:38; 14:10,11,20,21; 17:21)

2. the Father in the Son (cf. John 10:38; 14:10,11,21; 17:21,23)

3. believers in the Son (cf. John 14:20,21; 15:5; 17:21)

4. believers in the Son and the Father (cf. John 14:23)

5. believers in the word (cf. John 5:38; 8:31; 15:7; 1 John 2:14).

See Special Topic: "Abiding" in John's Writings.

5:39 "You search the Scriptures" This can be a present active indicative or a present active imperative. Since it is in a list of witnesses that the Jews had rejected it is probably an indicative.

Here is the tragedy of the Jewish leaders: they had the Scriptures, read them, studied them, memorized them, and yet missed the person to whom they point! Without the Spirit, even the Scriptures are ineffective! True life comes only through a personal, obedient faith relationship (i.e., Deut. 4:1; 8:13; 30:15-20; 32:46-47).

▣ "these that testify about Me" This refers to the OT Scriptures, which Jesus fulfills (i.e., John 1:45; 2:22; 5:46; 12:16,41; 19:28; 20:9). Most of the early sermons of Peter (cf. Acts 3:18; 10:43) and Paul (cf. Acts 13:27; 17:2-3; 26:22-23,27) in Acts use fulfilled prophecy as an evidence of Jesus' Messiahship. All but one passage (1 Pet. 3:15-16), which affirms the authority of Scripture found in the NT (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9-13; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:23-25; 2 Pet. 1:20-21), refer to the OT. Jesus clearly saw Himself as the fulfillment and goal (and proper interpreter, cf. Matt. 5:17-48) of the OT.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE KERYGMA OF THE EARLY CHURCH

5:41-44 These verses seem to reflect the fact that the Jewish religious leaders enjoyed the applause from their peers. They gloried in quoting rabbis from the past, but because of spiritual blindness they missed the greatest of all teachers, who was in their midst. This is one of Jesus' strong denunciations of first-century rabbinical Judaism (also note the parable in Matt. 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19).

5:41

NASB, NRSV"I do not receive glory from men"
NKJV"I do not receive honor from men"
TEV"I am not looking for human praise"
NJB"Human glory means nothing to me"

The term "glory," doxa, is difficult to translate consistently (see Special Topic: Glory [doxa]). It reflects the Hebrew, "glory," kabodh, which was used as a way to express God's radiant, brilliant presence (cf. Exod. 16:10; 24:17; 40:34; Acts 7:2) and to praise and honor God for His character and acts. A good verse that combines these connotations is 2 Pet. 1:17.

This brilliant aspect of God's very presence and character is related to

1. angels (cf. Luke 2:9; 2 Pet. 2:10)

2. supremacy to Jesus (cf. John 1:14; 8:54; 12:28; 13:31; 17:1-5,22,24; 1 Cor. 2:8; Phil. 4:21)

3. derivatively to believers (cf. Rom. 8:18,21; 1 Cor. 2:7; 15:43; 2 Cor. 4:17; Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Thess. 2:14; Heb. 2:10; 1 Pet. 5:1,4)

It is also interesting to note that John refers to Jesus' crucifixion as His being glorified (cf. John 7:39; 12:16,23; 13:31). However, it can also be translated as "honor" or "thanksgiving" (cf. Luke 17:18; Acts 12:23; Rom. 4:20; 1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Cor. 4:15; Phil. 1:11; 2:11; Rev. 11:13; 14:7; 16:9; 19:7). This is how it is used in this context.

5:43 "you do not receive Me" Throughout the Gospel of John, the focus of believing in Jesus is not a prescribed theological creed but a personal encounter with Him (i.e., John 5:39-40). Belief begins with a decision to trust Him. This starts a growing personal relationship of discipleship that culminates in doctrinal maturity and Christlike living.

▣ "if another shall come in his own name" This is a third class conditional sentence.

▣ "you shall receive him" This is a play on the rabbis' study methods of comparing teachers from differing rabbinical schools from the Talmud.

Michael Magill, New Testament TransLine, has a good quote:

"The Jewish leaders will receive a human teacher or rabbi who does not claim to be sent by God. With a human teacher, they are in a reciprocal relationship of peers, exchanging glory on an equal basis. With a prophet sent from God, they must be in a subordinate position, hearing and obeying. This has always been at the root of why God's prophets were rejected" (p. 318).

5:44 See note at John 17:3.

5:45-47 Jesus is asserting that the writings of Moses revealed Him. This is probably a reference to Deut. 18:15-22. In John 5:45 Scripture is personified as an accuser. It was meant to be a guide (cf. Luke 16:31). The guide rejected, becomes an adversary (cf. Gal 3:8-14, 23-29).

5:46,47 "if. . .if" John 5:46 is a second class conditional sentence called "contrary to fact," which asserts that Jewish leaders did not truly believe even in Moses' writings and that Jesus (the eschatological Moses [i.e., the Prophet of Deut. 18:15-19]) would be their judge on the last day. The "if" of John 5:47 introduces a first class conditional sentence which is assumed to be true (NIV has "since").

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why is John 5:4 omitted in our modern translations?

2. Why did Jesus heal this particular man?

3. Was faith involved on the part of this man in his healing? Does physical healing imply spiritual healing?

4. Was his illness related to his personal sin? Is all illness related to personal sin?

5. Why did the Jews want to kill Jesus?

6. List the functions of God in the Old Testament which are applied to Jesus.

7. Is eternal life a present reality or a future hope?

8. Is the last judgment based on works or faith? Why?

 

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