John 9:2

2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Read John 9:2 Using Other Translations

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, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

What does John 9:2 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
John 9:2

And his disciples asked him
It may be that some of the twelve apostles, or others of his disciples, might put the following question to him on sight of this blind man, who by some means or another knew was born blind:

saying, master, who did man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
the first of these questions, whether the man himself had sinned before he was born, which might be the occasion of his blindness, proceeds not upon the doctrine of original sin, though the Jews then believed that; (See Gill on Romans 5:12); since that was common to all men, and therefore could not admit of such a question; but either upon the notion of transmigration of souls into other bodies; and so the disciples might ask whether this man had sinned in a pre-existent state when in another body, which was the reason of this blindness, or of his being put into a blind body. This notion, Josephus says {a}, was embraced by the Pharisees; though, according to him, it seems, that they only understood it of the souls of good men; and if so, this could lay no foundation for such a question, unless these disciples had given into the Pythagorean notion of a transmigration of all souls, which was to be known by defects, as blindness {b}; or else this question proceeded upon a principle received by the Jews, that an infant might do that which was faulty and criminal, and actually sin in the womb; of which Dr. Lightfoot has given instances: the second question proceeds upon the methods which sometimes God has taken with men, by visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children; or, as the above learned writer observes, upon a notion the Jews had, that a child might suffer for what the mother did whilst it was in the womb; or on another, which prevailed among them, that there should be neither merit nor demerit in the days of the Messiah; that is, that neither the good deeds, nor bad deeds of their parents, should be imputed to their children, neither the one to their advantage, nor the other to their disadvantage: and therefore since he the Messiah was come, they ask, how this blindness should come to pass? what should be the reason of it?


F1 De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 8. sect. 14.
F2 Sallust. de Diis, c. 20.
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