John 5:19

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

Read John 5:19 Using Other Translations

Then answered Jesus and said unto them,Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.

What does John 5:19 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
John 5:19

Then answered Jesus, and said unto them
They charged him with blasphemy for calling God his Father, and making himself equal to him: and his answer is so far from denying the thing, or observing any mistake, or misrepresentation of his words, that he allows the whole, and vindicates himself in so saying:

verily verily, I say unto you;
nothing is more certain; it may be depended on as truth; I who am truth itself, the "Amen", and faithful witness, aver it with the greatest assurance:

the Son can do nothing of himself;
or he does do nothing of himself, nor will he do anything of himself; that is, he neither does, nor will, nor can do anything alone or separate from his Father, or in which he is not concerned; not anything without his knowledge and consent, or contrary to his will: he does everything in conjunction with him; with the same power, having the same will, being of the same nature, and equal to each other: for these words do not design any weakness in the Son, or want of power in him to do anything of himself; that is, by his own power: for he has by his word of power spoke all things out of nothing, and by the same upholds all things; he has himself bore the sins of his people, and by himself purged them away, and has raised himself from the dead; but they express his perfection; that he does nothing, and can do nothing of himself, in opposition to his Father, and in contradiction to his will: as Satan speaks of his own, and evil men alienated from God, act of themselves, and do that which is contrary to the nature and will of God; but the Son cannot do so, being of the same nature with God, and therefore never acts separate from him, or contrary to him, but always co-operates and acts with him, and therefore never to be blamed for what he does. The Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions render it, "the Son cannot do anything of his own will"; so Nonnus; as separate from, or contrary to his Father's will, but always in agreement with it, they being one in nature, and so in will and work. He does nothing therefore

but what he seeth the Father do;
not that he sees the Father actually do a work, and then he does one after him, as the creation of the world, the assumption of human nature, and redemption of man, or any particular miracle, as if upon observing one done, he did the like; but that he being brought up with him, and lying in his bosom, was privy to the whole plan of his works, and saw in his nature and infinite mind, and in his vast counsels, purposes, and designs, all that he was doing, or would do, and so did the same, or acted agreeably to them; and which still shows and proves their unity of nature, and perfect equality, since there was nothing in the Father's mind but was known to the Son, seen, and observed, and acted up to by him: so Philo the Jew F5 says of the

``Father's most ancient Son, whom he otherwise calls the firstborn; that being begotten, he imitates the Father, and seeing, or looking to his exemplars and archetypes, forms species;''

that is, being conversant with the original and eternal ideas of things in the divine mind, acts according to them, which he could not do if he was not of the same nature with, and equal to his Father. Moreover, the Son sees what the Father does by co-operating with him, and so does no other than what he sees the Father do, in conjunction with him: to which may be added, that the phrase shows, that the Son does nothing but in wisdom, and with knowledge; and that as the Father, so he does all things after the counsel of his will:

for whatsoever things he doth, these also doth the Son likewise;
the Son does the selfsame works as the Father does, such as the works of creation and providence, the government both of the church, and of the world; and he does these things in like manner, with the same power, and by the same authority, his Father does, and which proves him to be equal with him; the very thing the Jews understood him to have asserted, and which they charged him with: and this he strongly maintained. The Syriac version reads, "for the things which the Father does, the same also does the Son"; and the Persic version, "whatsoever God has done, the Son also does like unto it".


FOOTNOTES:

F5 De Confus. Ling. p. 329.
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