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    1. a feast of the Jews--What feast? No question has more divided the Harmonists of the Gospels, and the duration of our Lord's ministry may be said to hinge on it. For if, as the majority have thought (until of late years) it was a Passover, His ministry lasted three and a half years; if not, probably a year less. Those who are dissatisfied with the Passover-view all differ among themselves what other feast it was, and some of the most acute think there are no grounds for deciding. In our judgment the evidence is in favor of its being a Passover, but the reasons cannot be stated here.

    2, 3. sheep market--The supplement should be (as in Margin) "sheep [gate]," mentioned in Ne 3:1, 32.
    - Bethesda--that is, "house (place) of mercy," from the cures wrought there.
    - five porches--for shelter to the patients.

    3. impotent--infirm.

    4. an angel, &c.--This miracle differed in two points from all other miracles recorded in Scripture: (1) It was not one, but a succession of miracles periodically wrought: (2) As it was only wrought "when the waters were troubled," so only upon one patient at a time, and that the patient "who first stepped in after the troubling of the waters." But this only the more undeniably fixed its miraculous character. We have heard of many waters having a medicinal virtue; but what water was ever known to cure instantaneously a single disease? And who ever heard of any water curing all, even the most diverse diseases--"blind, halt, withered"--alike? Above all, who ever heard of such a thing being done "only at a certain season," and most singularly of all, doing it only to the first person who stepped in after the moving of the waters? Any of these peculiarities--much more all taken together--must have proclaimed the supernatural character of the cures wrought. (If the text here be genuine, there can be no doubt of the miracle, as there were multitudes living when this Gospel was published who, from their own knowledge of Jerusalem, could have exposed the falsehood of the Evangelist, if no such cure had been known there. The want of Joh 5:4 and part of Joh 5:3 in some good manuscripts, and the use of some unusual words in the passage, are more easily accounted for than the evidence in their favor if they were not originally in the text. Indeed Joh 5:7 is unintelligible without Joh 5:4. The internal evidence brought against it is merely the unlikelihood of such a miracle--a principle which will carry us a great deal farther if we allow it to weigh against positive evidence).

    5-9. thirty and eight years--but not all that time at the pool. This was probably the most pitiable of all the cases, and therefore selected.

    6. saw him lie, and knew, &c.--As He doubtless visited the spot just to perform this cure, so He knows where to find His patient, and the whole previous history of his case (Joh 2:25).
    - Wilt thou be made whole?--Could anyone doubt that a sick man would like to be made whole, or that the patients came thither, and this man had returned again and again, just in hope of a cure? But our Lord asked the question. (1) To fasten attention upon Himself; (2) By making him detail his case to deepen in him the feeling of entire helplessness; (3) By so singular a question to beget in his desponding heart the hope of a cure. (Compare Mr 10:51).

    7. Sir, I have no man, &c.--Instead of saying he wished to be cured, he just tells with piteous simplicity how fruitless had been all his efforts to obtain it, and how helpless and all but hopeless he was. Yet not quite. For here he is at the pool, waiting on. It seemed of no use; nay, only tantalizing,
    - while I am coming, another steppeth down before me--the fruit was snatched from his lips. Yet he will not go away. He may get nothing by staying, he may drop into his grave ere he get into the pool; but by going from the appointed, divine way of healing, he can get nothing. Wait therefore he will, wait he does, and when Christ comes to heal him, lo! he is waiting his turn. What an attitude for a sinner at Mercy's gate! The man's hopes seemed low enough ere Christ came to him. He might have said, just before "Jesus passed by that way," "This is no use; I shall never get in; let me die at home." Then all had been lost. But he held on, and his perseverance was rewarded with a glorious cure. Probably some rays of hope darted into his heart as he told his tale before those Eyes whose glance measured his whole case. But the word of command consummates his preparation to receive the cure, and instantaneously works it.

    8. Rise, take up thy bed, &c.--"Immediately" he did so. "He spake and it was done." The slinging of his portable couch over his shoulders was designed to show the perfection of the cure.

    9. the same day was the sabbath--Beyond all doubt this was intentional, as in so many other healings, in order that when opposition arose on this account men might be compelled to listen to His claims and His teaching.

    10-16. The Jews--that is, those in authority. (See on Joh 1:19.)
    - it is not lawful to carry thy bed--a glorious testimony to the cure, as instantaneous and complete, from the lips of the most prejudiced! (And what a contrast does it, as all our Lord's miracles, present to the bungling miracles of the Church of Rome!) In ordinary circumstances, the rulers had the law on their side (Ne 13:15; Jer 17:21). But when the man referred them to "Him that had made him whole" (Joh 5:11) as his authority, the argument was resistless. Yet they ingeniously parried the thrust, asking him, not who had "made him whole"--that would have condemned themselves and defeated their purpose--but who had bidden him "take up his bed and walk," in other words, who had dared to order a breach of the sabbath? It is time we were looking after Him--thus hoping to shake the man's faith in his Healer.

    13. he that was healed wist not, &c.--That some one, with unparalleled generosity, tenderness and power, had done it, the man knew well enough: but as he had never heard of Him before, so he disappeared too quickly for any inquiries.
    - conveyed himself away--slipped out of the crowd that had gathered, to avoid both hasty popularity and precipitate hatred (Mt 12:14-19).

    14. findeth him in the temple--saying, perhaps, "I will go into Thy house with burnt offerings, I will pay my vows which my lips have uttered and my mouth hath spoken when I was in trouble" (Ps 66:13, 14). Jesus, there Himself for His own ends, "findeth him there"--not all accidentally, be assured.
    - sin no more, &c.--a glimpse this of the reckless life he had probably led before his thirty-eight years' infirmity had come upon him, and which not improbably had brought on, in the just judgment of God, his chronic complaint. Fearful illustration this of "the severity of God," but glorious manifestation of our Lord's insight into "what was in man."

    15. The man departed, and told, &c.--little thinking how unwelcome his grateful and eager testimony would be. "The darkness received not the light which was pouring its rays upon it" (Joh 1:5, 11) [OLSHAUSEN].

    16. because he had done these things on the sabbath day--What to these hypocritical religionists was the doing of the most glorious and beneficent miracles, compared with the atrocity of doing them on the sabbath day! Having given them this handle, on purpose to raise the first public controversy with them, and thus open a fitting opportunity of laying His claims before them, He rises at once to the whole height of them, in a statement which for grandeur and terseness exceeds almost anything that ever afterwards fell from Him, at least to His enemies.

    17, 18. My Father worketh hitherto and I work--The "I" is emphatic; "The creative and conservative activity of My Father has known no sabbath-cessation from the beginning until now, and that is the law of My working."

    18. God was his Father--literally, "His own [or peculiar] Father," (as in Ro 8:32). The addition is their own, but a very proper one.
    - making himself equal with God--rightly gathering this to be His meaning, not from the mere words "My Father," but from His claim of right to act as His Father did in the like high sphere, and by the same law of ceaseless activity in that sphere. And as, instead of instantly disclaiming any such meaning--as He must have done if it was false--He positively sets His seal to it in the following verses, merely explaining how consistent such claim was with the prerogatives of His Father, it is beyond all doubt that we have here an assumption of peculiar personal Sonship, or participation in the Father's essential nature.

    19, 20. the Son can do nothing of himself--that is, apart from and in rivalry of the Father, as they supposed. The meaning is, "The Son can have no separate interest or action from the Father."
    - for what things, &c.--On the contrary, "whatever the Father doeth that same doeth the Son,"
    - likewise--"in the like manner." What claim to absolute equality with the Father could exceed this: not only to do "the same things," but to do them as the Father does them?

    20. Father loveth . . . and showeth him all, &c.--As love has no concealments, so it results from the perfect fellowship and mutual endearment of the Father and the Son (see on Joh 1:1; Joh 1:18), whose interests are one, even as their nature, that the Father communicates to the Son all His counsels, and what has been thus shown to the Son is by Him executed in His mediatorial character. "With the Father, doing is willing; it is only the Son who acts in Time" [ALFORD]. Three things here are clear: (1) The personal distinctions in the Godhead. (2) Unity of action among the Persons results from unity of nature. (3) Their oneness of interest is no unconscious or involuntary thing, but a thing of glorious consciousness, will, and love, of which the Persons themselves are the proper Objects.
    - show him greater things, &c.--referring to what He goes on to mention (Joh 5:21-31), comprised in two great words, LIFE and JUDGMENT, which STIER beautifully calls God's Regalia. Yet these, Christ says, the Father and He do in common.

    21-23. raiseth the dead and quickeneth them--one act in two stages. This is His absolute prerogative as God.
    - so the Son quickeneth them--that is, raiseth up and quickeneth.
    - whom he will--not only doing the same divine act, but doing it as the result of His own will, even as the Father does it. This statement is of immense importance in relation to the miracles of Christ, distinguishing them from similar miracles of prophets and apostles, who as human instruments were employed to perform super-natural actions, while Christ did all as the Father's commissioned Servant indeed, but in the exercise of His own absolute right of action.

    22. For the Father judgeth no man, &c.--rather, "For neither doth the Father judge any man," implying that the same "thing was meant in the former verse of the quickening of the dead"--both acts being done, not by the Father and the Son, as though twice done, but by the Father through the Son as His voluntary Agent.
    - all judgment--judgment in its most comprehensive sense, or as we should say, all administration.

    23. honour the Son as . . . the Father--As he who believes that Christ in the foregoing verses has given a true account of His relation to the Father must of necessity hold Him entitled to the same honor as the Father, so He here adds that it was the Father's express intention in making over all judgment to the Son, that men should thus honor Him.
    - honoureth not the Father--does not do it in fact, whatever he may imagine, and will be held as not doing it by the Father Himself, who will accept no homage which is not accorded to His own Son.

    24. believeth on him that sent me--that is, believeth in Him as having sent Me. I have spoken of the Son's right not only to heal the sick but to raise from the dead, and quicken whom He will: And now I say unto you, That life-giving operation has already passed upon all who receive My words as the Sent of the Father on the great errand of mercy.
    - hath everlasting life--immediately on his believing (compare Joh 3:18; 1Jo 5:12, 13).
    - is passed--"hath passed over"
    - from death unto life--What a transition! (Compare 1Jo 3:14).

    25-29. The hour cometh--in its whole fulness, at Pentecost.
    - and now is--in its beginnings.
    - the dead--the spiritually dead, as is clear from Joh 5:28. Here He rises from the calmer phrase "hearing his word" (Joh 5:24), to the grander expression, "hearing the voice of the Son of God," to signify that as it finds men in a dead condition, so it carries with it a resurrection-power.
    - shall live--in the sense of Joh 5:24.

    26. given to the Son, &c.--Does this refer to the essential life of the Son before all time (Joh 1:4) (as most of the Fathers, and OLSHAUSEN, STIER, ALFORD, &c., among the moderns), or to the purpose of God that this essential life should reside in the Person of the Incarnate Son, and be manifested thus to the world? [CALVIN, LUCKE, LUTHARDT, &c.] The question is as difficult as the subject is high. But as all that Christ says of His essential relation to the Father is intended to explain and exalt His mediatorial functions, so the one seems in our Lord's own mind and language mainly the starting-point of the other.%%%%


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