John 5

1 After this there was a Festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, called in Hebrew `Bethesda.' It has five arcades.
3 In these there used to lie a great number of sick persons, and of people who were blind or lame or paralyzed.
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5 And there was one man there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
6 Jesus saw him lying there, and knowing that he had been a long time in that condition, He asked him, "Do you wish to have health and strength?"
7 "Sir," replied the sufferer, "I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is moved; but while I am coming some one else steps down before me."
8 "Rise," said Jesus, "take up your mat and walk."
9 Instantly the man was restored to perfect health, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
10 That day was a Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, "It is the Sabbath: you must not carry your mat."
11 "He who cured me," he replied, "said to me, `Take up your mat and walk.'"
12 "Who is it," they asked, "that said to you, `Take up your mat and walk'?"
13 But the man who had been cured did not know who it was; for Jesus had passed out unnoticed, there being a crowd in the place.
14 Afterwards Jesus found him in the Temple and said to him, "You are now restored to health. Do not sin any more, or a worse thing may befall you."
15 The man went and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had restored him to health;
16 and on this account the Jews began to persecute Jesus--because He did these things on the Sabbath.
17 His reply to their accusation was, "My Father works unceasingly, and so do I."
18 On this account then the Jews were all the more eager to put Him to death--because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also spoke of God as being in a special sense His Father, thus putting Himself on a level with God.
19 "In most solemn truth I tell you," replied Jesus, "that the Son can do nothing of Himself--He can only do what He sees the Father doing; for whatever He does, that the Son does in like manner.
20 For the Father loves the Son and reveals to Him all that He Himself is doing. And greater deeds than these will He reveal to Him, in order that you may wonder.
21 For just as the Father awakens the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to whom He wills.
22 The Father indeed does not judge any one, but He has entrusted all judgement to the Son,
23 that all may honour the Son even as they honour the Father. The man who withholds honour from the Son withholds honour from the Father who sent Him.
24 "In most solemn truth I tell you that he who listens to my teaching and believes Him who sent me, has the Life of the Ages, and does not come under judgement, but has passed over out of death into Life.
25 "In most solemn truth I tell you that a time is coming--nay, has already come--when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear it will live.
26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, so He has also given to the Son to have life in Himself.
27 And He has conferred on Him authority to act as Judge, because He is the Son of Man.
28 Wonder not at this. For a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and will come forth--
29 they who have done what is right to the resurrection of Life, and they whose actions have been evil to the resurrection of judgement.
30 "I can of my own self do nothing. As I am bidden, so I judge; and mine is a just judgement, because it is not my own will that guides me, but the will of Him who sent me.
31 "If I give testimony concerning myself, my testimony cannot be accepted.
32 There is Another who gives testimony concerning me, and I know that the testimony is true which He offers concerning me.
33 "You sent to John, and he both was and still is a witness to the truth.
34 But the testimony on my behalf which I accept is not from man; though I say all this in order that you may be saved.
35 He was the lamp that burned and shone, and for a time you were willing to be gladdened by his light.
36 "But the testimony which I have is weightier than that of John; for the work the Father has assigned to me for me to bring it to completion--the very work which I am doing--affords testimony concerning me that the Father has sent me.
37 And the Father who sent me, *He* has given testimony concerning me. None of you have ever either heard His voice or seen what He is like.
38 Nor have you His word dwelling within you, for you refuse to believe Him whom *He* has sent.
39 "You search the Scriptures, because you suppose that in them you will find the Life of the Ages; and it is those Scriptures that yield testimony concerning me;
40 and yet you are unwilling to come to me that you may have Life.
41 "I do not accept glory from man,
42 but I know you well, and I know that in your hearts you do not really love God.
43 I have come as my Father's representative, and you do not receive me. If some one else comes representing only himself, him you will receive.
44 How is it possible for you to believe, while you receive glory from one another and have no desire for the glory that comes from the only God?
45 "Do not suppose that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you, namely Moses, on whom your hope rests.
46 For if you believe Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote about me.
47 But if you disbelieve his writings, how are you to 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.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 JOHN 5

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