John 5

The Healing at Bethesda

1 After these things there was 1a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by 2the sheep gate a pool, which is called 3in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes.
3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters;
4 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.]
5 A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight * years.
6 When 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?"
7 The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when 4the water is stirred up, but while * I am coming, another steps down before me."
8 Jesus said to him, "5Get up, pick up your pallet and walk."
9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. 6Now it was the Sabbath on that day.
10 So 7the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, "It is the Sabbath, and 8it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet."
11 But he answered them, "He who made me well was the one who said to me, 'Pick up your pallet and walk.'"
12 They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Pick up your pallet and walk '?"
13 But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place.
14 Afterward * Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "Behold, you have become well; do not 9sin anymore, 10so that nothing * worse happens to you."
15 The man went away, and told 11the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16 For this reason 12the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.
17 But He answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working."

Jesus' Equality with God

18 For this reason therefore 13the Jews 14were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, 15making Himself equal with God.
19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, 16the 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.
20 "17For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him 18greater works than these, so that you will marvel.
21 "For just as the Father raises the dead and 19gives them life, even so 20the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.
22 "For not even the Father judges anyone, but 21He has given all judgment to the Son,
23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. 22He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and 23believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and 24does not come into judgment, but has 25passed out of death into life.

Two Resurrections

25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, 26an hour is coming and now is, when 27the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who 28hear will live.
26 "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He 29gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;
27 and He gave Him authority to 30execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.
28 "Do not marvel at this; for 31an hour is coming, in which 32all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,
29 and will come forth; 33those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
30 "34I can do nothing * on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and 35My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but 36the will of Him who sent Me.
31 "37If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true.
32 "There is 38another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true.

Witness of John

33 "You have sent to John, and he 39has testified to the truth.
34 "But 40the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.
35 "He was 41the lamp that was burning and was shining and you 42were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

Witness of Works

36 "But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for 43the works which the Father has given Me 44to accomplish -the very works that I do -testify about Me, that the Father 45has sent Me.

Witness of the Father

37 "And the Father who sent Me, 46He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form.
38 "You do not have 47His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He 48sent.

Witness of the Scripture

39 "49You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is 50these that testify about Me;
40 and you are unwilling * to come to Me so that you may have life.
41 "51I do not receive glory from men;
42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.
43 "I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; 52if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.
44 "How can you believe, when you 53receive glory from one another and you do not seek 54the glory that is from 55the one and only God?
45 "Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is 56Moses, in whom you have set your hope.
46 "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for 57he wrote about Me.
47 "But 58if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"

John 5 Commentary

Chapter 5

The cure at the pool of Bethesda. (1-9) The Jews' displeasure. (10-16) Christ reproves the Jews. (17-23) Christ's discourse. (24-47)

Verses 1-9 We are all by nature impotent folk in spiritual things, blind, halt, and withered; but full provision is made for our cure, if we attend to it. An angel went down, and troubled the water; and what disease soever it was, this water cured it, but only he that first stepped in had benefit. This teaches us to be careful, that we let not a season slip which may never return. The man had lost the use of his limbs thirty-eight years. Shall we, who perhaps for many years have scarcely known what it has been to be a day sick, complain of one wearisome night, when many others, better than we, have scarcely known what it has been to be a day well? Christ singled this one out from the rest. Those long in affliction, may comfort themselves that God keeps account how long. Observe, this man speaks of the unkindness of those about him, without any peevish reflections. As we should be thankful, so we should be patient. Our Lord Jesus cures him, though he neither asked nor thought of it. Arise, and walk. God's command, Turn and live; Make ye a new heart; no more supposes power in us without the grace of God, his distinguishing grace, than this command supposed such power in the impotent man: it was by the power of Christ, and he must have all the glory. What a joyful surprise to the poor cripple, to find himself of a sudden so easy, so strong, so able to help himself! The proof of spiritual cure, is our rising and walking. Has Christ healed our spiritual diseases, let us go wherever he sends us, and take up whatever he lays upon us; and walk before him.

Verses 10-16 Those eased of the punishment of sin, are in danger of returning to sin, when the terror and restraint are over, unless Divine grace dries up the fountain. The misery believers are made whole from, warns us to sin no more, having felt the smart of sin. This is the voice of every providence, Go, and sin no more. Christ saw it necessary to give this caution; for it is common for people, when sick, to promise much; when newly recovered, to perform only something; but after awhile to forget all. Christ spoke of the wrath to come, which is beyond compare worse than the many hours, nay, weeks and years of pain, some wicked men have to suffer in consequence of their unlawful indulgences. And if such afflictions are severe, how dreadful will be the everlasting punishment of the wicked!

Verses 17-23 The Divine power of the miracle proved Jesus to be the Son of God, and he declared that he worked with, and like unto his Father, as he saw good. These ancient enemies of Christ understood him, and became more violent, charging him not only with sabbath-breaking, but blasphemy, in calling God his own Father, and making himself equal with God. But all things now, and at the final judgment, are committed to the Son, purposely that all men might honour the Son, as they honour the Father; and every one who does not thus honour the Son, whatever he may think or pretend, does not honour the Father who sent him.

Verses 24-29 Our Lord declared his authority and character, as the Messiah. The time was come when the dead should hear his voice, as the Son of God, and live. Our Lord first refers to his raising those who were dead in sin, to newness of life, by the power of the Spirit, and then to his raising the dead in their graves. The office of Judge of all men, can only be exercised by one who has all knowledge, and almighty power. May we believe His testimony; thus our faith and hope will be in God, and we shall not come into condemnation. And may His voice reach the hearts of those dead in sin; that they may do works meet for repentance, and prepare for the solemn day.

Verses 30-38 Our Lord returns to his declaration of the entire agreement between the Father and the Son, and declared himself the Son of God. He had higher testimony than that of John; his works bore witness to all he had said. But the Divine word had no abiding-place in their hearts, as they refused to believe in Him whom the Father had sent, according to his ancient promises. The voice of God, accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost, thus made effectual to the conversion of sinners, still proclaims that this is the beloved Son, in whom the Father is well pleased. But when the hearts of men are full of pride, ambition, and the love of the world, there is no room for the word of God to abide in them.

Verses 39-44 The Jews considered that eternal life was revealed to them in their Scriptures, and that they had it, because they had the word of God in their hands. Jesus urged them to search those Scriptures with more diligence and attention. "Ye do search the Scriptures," and ye do well to do so. They did indeed search the Scriptures, but it was with a view to their own glory. It is possible for men to be very studious in the letter of the Scriptures, yet to be strangers to its power. Or, "Search the Scriptures," and so it was spoken to them in the nature of an appeal. Ye profess to receive and believe the Scripture, let that be the judge. It is spoken to us as advising or commanding all Christians to search the Scriptures. Not only read them, and hear them, but search them; which denotes diligence in examining and studying them. We must search the Scriptures for heaven as our great end; For in them ye think ye have eternal life. We must search the Scriptures for Christ, as the new and living Way, that leads to this end. To this testimony Christ adds reproofs of their unbelief and wickedness; their neglect of him and his doctrine. Also he reproves their want of the love of God. But there is life with Jesus Christ for poor souls. Many who make a great profession of religion, yet show they want the love of God, by their neglect of Christ and contempt of his commandments. It is the love of God in us, the love that is a living, active principle in the heart, which God will accept. They slighted and undervalued Christ, because they admired and overvalued themselves. How can those believe, who make the praise and applause of men their idol! When Christ and his followers are men wondered at, how can those believe, the utmost of whose ambition is to make a fair show in the flesh!

Verses 45-47 Many trust in some form of doctrines or some parties, who no more enter into the real meaning of those doctrines, or the views of the persons whose names they bear, than the Jews did into those of Moses. Let us search and pray over the Scriptures, as intent on finding eternal life; let us observe how Christ is the great subject of them, and daily apply to him for the life he bestows.

Cross References 58

  • 1. Deuteronomy 16:1; John 2:13
  • 2. Nehemiah 3:1, 32; Nehemiah 12:39
  • 3. John 19:13, 17, 20; John 20:16; Acts 21:40; Revelation 9:11; Revelation 16:16
  • 4. John 5:4
  • 5. Matthew 9:6; Mark 2:11; Luke 5:24
  • 6. John 9:14
  • 7. John 1:19; John 5:15, 16, 18
  • 8. Nehemiah 13:19; Jeremiah 17:21; Matthew 12:2; Luke 6:2; John 7:23; John 9:16
  • 9. Mark 2:5; John 8:11
  • 10. Ezra 9:14
  • 11. John 1:19; John 5:16, 18
  • 12. John 1:19; John 5:10, 15, 18
  • 13. John 1:19; John 5:15, 16
  • 14. John 5:16; John 7:1
  • 15. John 10:33; John 19:7
  • 16. Matthew 26:39; John 5:30; John 6:38; John 8:28; John 12:49; John 14:10
  • 17. Matthew 3:17; John 3:35; 2 Peter 1:17
  • 18. John 14:12
  • 19. Romans 4:17; Romans 8:11
  • 20. John 11:25
  • 21. John 5:27; John 9:39; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31
  • 22. Luke 10:16; 1 John 2:23
  • 23. John 3:18; John 12:44; John 20:31; 1 John 5:13
  • 24. John 3:18
  • 25. 1 John 3:14
  • 26. John 4:21, 23; John 5:28
  • 27. Luke 15:24
  • 28. John 6:60; John 8:43, 47; John 9:27
  • 29. John 1:4; John 6:57
  • 30. John 9:39; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31
  • 31. John 4:21
  • 32. John 11:24; 1 Corinthians 15:52
  • 33. Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46; Acts 24:15
  • 34. John 5:19
  • 35. John 8:16
  • 36. John 4:34; John 6:38
  • 37. John 8:14
  • 38. John 5:37
  • 39. John 1:7, 15, 19, 32; John 3:26-30
  • 40. John 5:32; 1 John 5:9
  • 41. 2 Samuel 21:17; 2 Peter 1:19
  • 42. Mark 1:5
  • 43. Matthew 11:4; John 2:23; John 10:25, 38; John 14:11; John 15:24
  • 44. John 4:34
  • 45. John 3:17
  • 46. Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; Luke 24:27; John 8:18; 1 John 5:9
  • 47. 1 John 2:14
  • 48. John 3:17
  • 49. John 7:52; Romans 2:17f
  • 50. Luke 24:25, 27; Acts 13:27
  • 51. John 5:44; John 7:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:6
  • 52. Matthew 24:5
  • 53. John 5:41
  • 54. Romans 2:29
  • 55. John 17:3; 1 Timothy 1:17
  • 56. John 9:28; Romans 2:17f
  • 57. Luke 24:27
  • 58. Luke 16:29, 31

Footnotes 11

  • [a]. I.e. Jewish Aramaic
  • [b]. Some early mss read "Bethsaida" or "Bethzatha"
  • [c]. Early mss do not contain the remainder of v 3, nor v 4
  • [d]. Lit "in his sickness"
  • [e]. Lit "that One"
  • [f]. Or "a son of man"
  • [g]. I.e. admissible as legal evidence
  • [h]. Lit "an hour"
  • [i]. Or (a command) "Search the Scriptures!"
  • [j]. Or "honor" or "fame"
  • [k]. Or "honor" or "fame"

Chapter Summary


In this chapter the apostle treats of the nature of faith and love; of Christ the object of both, and of the witness that is bore to him; of the necessity of believing the testimony concerning him; of the confidence of prayer being heard, and concerning whom it should be made; of the happiness of regenerate persons, and of their duty to keep themselves from idols. Faith in Christ is the evidence of regeneration, and where that is, there will be love to the author of regeneration, and to them that are regenerated; and love to them is known by love to God, and keeping his commandments; and keeping the commandments of God, and which are not grievous, is a proof of love to God, 1Jo 5:1-3; and whereas every regenerate man overcomes the world, it is by his faith, the evidence of his regeneration, that this victory is obtained; nor can any other man be pointed out that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God, 1Jo 5:4,5; and Christ, the Son of God, the object of this victorious faith, is described by his coming by water and blood, of which the spirit is witness, who is a true one; and six witnesses of the truth of this and his divine sonship are produced, three in heaven, the Father, Word, and Spirit, who are the one God, and three on earth, the Spirit, water, and blood, who agree in their testimony, 1Jo 5:6-8; wherefore this testimony concerning the Son of God ought to be received, since it is the testimony of God, which is greater than that of men; besides, he that believes in Christ has a witness of this in himself, and honours God, whereas he that believes not makes God a liar, not giving credit to his record concerning his Son; the sum of which is, that God has made a grant of eternal life to some persons, which is in his Son, which those that believe in the Son of God have, but those that do not believe in him have it not: all which show the necessity of receiving the above testimony; and the ends proposed in writing these things were, to believe in Christ, and that it might be known they had eternal life in him, 1Jo 5:9-13, and from faith in Christ the apostle passes to confidence in prayer, as a particular effect and fruit of it: as, that whatever is asked according to the will of God is heard; and that such who are satisfied of this, that they are heard, may be assured that they have the petitions they desire to have, 1Jo 5:14,15, and whereas it is one branch of prayer to pray for others as well as for ourselves, the apostle directs who we should pray for; for the brethren in general, and in particular for such who have sinned, but not unto death, and life shall be given to such: but as for those who have sinned unto death, he does not say prayer should be made for them, for though all unrighteousness in general is sin, yet there is a particular sin which is unto death, and is not to be prayed for, 1Jo 5:16,17; but happy are those who are born of God, for they do not sin this sin; and through the use of the armour of God, and the power of divine grace, they keep themselves from the evil one, and he cannot come at them, to draw them into this sin; also they know that they are of God, and are distinguished from the world, which lies in wickedness; yea, they know that the Son of God is come in the flesh, and hath given them an understanding of the true God, by which they know that they are in him, and in his Son Jesus Christ, who is with him, and the divine Spirit, the one true God, and the author and giver of eternal life, 1Jo 5:18-20; and the chapter, and with it the epistle, is concluded with an exhortation to these regenerate ones, as they had kept themselves from Satan, that they would also keep themselves from idols of all sorts, 1Jo 5:21.

John 5 Commentaries

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