Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 29 June 2015; Revised 1 January 2017
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of John used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Testimony of John" because that is how John describes his book (John 21:24). See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on this book.
Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy.
Primary Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Unless otherwise indicated the following primary sources are used:
• Different Bible versions may be cited for Scripture quotations. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
• The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
• Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75-99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
• The meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), given as "BDB." The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
• Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
Sixth Sign: Healing of a Man Born Blind, 9:1-12
Interview of the Former Blind Man, 9:13-17
Interview of the Parents, 9:18-23
Second Interview of the Former Blind Man, 9:24-34
Yeshua Gains a Disciple, 9:35-38
Yeshua Rebukes the Pharisees, 9:39-41
Winter A.D. 29
Santala places the narrative of this chapter in the Winter of A.D. 29 at the time of Hanukkah (25 Kislev to 1 Tevet) mentioned in 10:22 (120). In A.D. 29 (Heb. Cal. 3790) the first day of the festival, 25 Kislev, fell on a Monday, 19 December on the Roman calendar. In Santala's chronology Yeshua left Jerusalem after departing the temple in 8:59 and returned to Galilee. (John 8 occurs over the course of a few days following the end of Sukkot.) There are nine weeks between the end of Sukkot and Hanukkah and Santala places the ministry of Yeshua recorded in Luke 9:51—13:35 within this time frame and prior to John 9:1. Some scholars place the events of Luke 10—13 between John 10:21 and John 10:22 and other authorities place Luke 10—13 after John 10:44.
Santala's chronology seems reasonable because Yeshua would surely not have remained in Jerusalem when the authorities had just tried to stone him. In addition, there is no mention of the Twelve being with Yeshua in Jerusalem in John chapter seven and eight, but verse 2 of this chapter indicates their presence. According to the account of Luke 9:51—13:35 Yeshua's disciples were with him. Lastly, it seems unlikely that Yeshua would send out the seventy on their mission (Luke 10) in the midst of winter.
Luke introduces this phase of Yeshua's ministry by saying, "When the days were approaching for Him to be taken up, Yeshua was determined to go up to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51 TLV). The verb "taken up" (Grk. analēmpsis) refers to the experience of being taken up and away, which Christian scholars interpret as the double sense of death and ascension to heaven. In intertestamental Jewish literature the verb analēmpsis can also mean death and removal from life (DNTT 3:749; e.g., Psalms of Solomon 4:18) and in some cases immediately followed by being taken to heaven (BAG 56; e.g., Testament of Levi 18:3).
This statement of Luke can be connected with the Hanukkah narrative of John because of Yeshua's statement in John 10:17 and 18 that he has authority to lay down his life and authority to "take it up" again, referring to resurrection. With the mention of "a Sabbath day" in verse 14 below John's narrative of this chapter likely occurred after completion of Yeshua's ministry in Galilee, Samaria and Perea and at the commencement of Hanukkah.
Healing of a Blind Man, 9:1-12
1 And passing by, he saw a man blind from birth.
And: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). Beginning verses with a conjunction, as well as the excessive use of conjunctions, is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. In contrast to most Bible versions I translate all the instances of kai (and all the other conjunctions) as a reminder of John's Hebraic writing style.
passing by: Grk. paragō, to pass in the act of going; pass by. The verb occurs in two other stories of Yeshua encountering blind men (Matt 9:27; 20:30). No indication is given of the location of the encounter. Some interpreters assume Yeshua and his disciples were inside Jerusalem, but the opening phrase "and passing by" implies traveling down a road. Jeremias suggests a gate on the south side of the city near the Pool of Siloam for this encounter (118), but there is no mention of a gate. In the apostolic narratives a gate of Jerusalem is mentioned only two times (John 5:2; Acts 3:2). There is no statement of Yeshua entering the city as occurs in other narratives (Matt 21:10; Mark 11:11, 15; Luke 19:45; John 2:13-14; 5:1; 7:10).
Santala depicts Yeshua's route of travel as returning from a period of ministry in Perea (Fig. XI), so he would likely have crossed the Jordan River near Jericho and proceeded on the principal road approaching Jerusalem from the north. On the north side of the city outside the wall residences had been built up (think "suburb"). Eventually this area would be enclosed by a wall constructed in the reign of King Agrippa, c. 42 A.D. The story is much more dramatic if the encounter occurred outside the northern wall on the main road to Jerusalem.
he saw: Grk. horaō, aor., to perceive with the physical eyes or to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. For Yeshua this occasion was an ordained appointment so he did not just happen the notice the man. a man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man, or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5; 1Sam 15:29); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24; Job 1:1) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564).
blind: Grk. tuphlos, adj., inability to see; blind. from: Grk. ek, prep. indicating separation or derivation; from within, out of, from, away. birth: Grk. genetē, birth. In other words, this man was either blind before he came out of the womb or blinded very shortly after birth. This story has several unique features not found in similar stories of healings. John tells the reader how long the man had been blind, suggesting either that the unnamed man was well known, the information was gained in the course of conversing with him or Yeshua exercised divine foresight.
2 And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?"
And his: Grk. autos, pers. pron. The pronoun has a nuance of possessiveness and close relationship. disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527, scholar or pupil). See the note on John 1:35. The apostolic narratives do not record when all of Yeshua's disciples began following him, and the first occurrence of their names is their inclusion in the list of twelve named as apostles (Matt 10:1-4; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-15). The creation of the apostolate did not occur until after the calling of Matthew (Mark 2:14) at which time Matthew invites Yeshua and his disciples to a meal. John does not mention "the twelve" until the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:67).
Being a disciple of Yeshua required four particular qualities. First, to be a disciple required sacrifice. Traveling the country meant leaving behind family, security and living under austere conditions. This was not a life of luxury. Simon Peter alluded to his sacrifice when he spoke of leaving everything to follow Yeshua (Matt 19:27). The rich young ruler was not willing to pay this price to be a disciple (Matt 19:21-22). Second, to be a disciple required commitment. Devotion to the rabbi came before all other obligations (Luke 9:57-61; 14:26). Once the commitment was made turning back would have been equivalent to rebellion against God (Luke 9:62). The disciple left behind his ordinary life and embraced an extraordinary life with his rabbi.
Third, to be a disciple required humility. A disciple came to the rabbi with an inquiring mind, a desire to know. He did not have answers, but he sought answers about God and spiritual things. He knew the rabbi had the answers (John 6:68). This humility is illustrated by the rabbinic saying "Let your home be a meeting-house for the sages, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily" (Avot 1:4; translation by Bivin 12). Miriam, sister of Martha, demonstrated this humility when she sat at the feet of Yeshua (Luke 10:39). Fourth, to be a disciple required obedience (Matt 28:19). The rabbi's will became the disciple’s will. The rabbi directed, the disciple obeyed. The only authority greater in the disciple's life would be God.
asked him: The verb is Grk. erōtaō, aor., to ask with the focus on querying for information. The disciples sincerely wanted to know. Rabbi: Grk. Rhabbi, voc. case, which transliterates the Hebrew rabbi ("rah-bee", lit. "my lord, my master”), derived from Heb. rab (SH-7227, "great, lord, master") (BAG). Rhabbi or the Hebrew Rabbi does not occur in the Tanakh, LXX, or DSS. Rhabbi is found 15 times in the Besekh, all in the apostolic narratives (eight of which are in John). A derivative form rhabbouni occurs twice (Mark 10:51; John 20:16). On most occasions the title is used to address Yeshua by a present or future disciple. In the first century Rhabbi was a title of respect used for Torah scholars by everyone, even those of the same or higher rank (Stern 68).
The title did not become associated with the congregational leader of a local synagogue until Medieval times ("Rabbi," JVL). Notable rabbis had pupils or disciples who studied their expositions and were duty bound to obey their instructions. For more background information on Rhabbi see the note on John 1:38. Yeshua, of course, never sought such formal recognition, but like other rabbis of his time Yeshua gathered and taught disciples, expecting them to change and conform to his will. Unlike other rabbis Yeshua taught as one possessing independent authority (Matt 7:29; Mark 1:22). He did not need to speak in the name of one of the Sages or one of the two prominent authorities of the day, Hillel and Shammai. Yeshua never appealed to any other authority other than his Father or the Scriptures.
who sinned: Grk. hamartanō, aor., cause to be alongside instead of on target, to miss and in a moral sense to do wrong. The verb is used of offenses against the moral law of God as defined in the Torah. BAG defines as to transgress or sin against divinity, custom or law. Considering the flow of the narrative the blind man could surely hear the question being asked. He might have wondered if the disciples also thought him deaf. From the viewpoint of the disciples the question may have been purely academic. For the blind man the question would likely come across as insensitive. this man: Grk. houtos, masc. personal pronoun, lit. "this one." or his parents: pl. of Grk. goneus, begetter, father, ancestor and in the plural, 'parents,' implying father and mother. However, the plural term could include in a more extended sense a living grandfather.
that he should be born: Grk. gennaō, aor. subj. pass., cause to come into being; to father, beget children or bear children (BAG). When the verb is in the active voice it emphasizes the role of the father in procreation, and when it is in the passive voice, as here, it normally emphasizes the role of a woman in bearing and/or giving birth to children. (See Matthew 1:16 where the verb occurs twice, once of Joseph and once of Miriam.) blind: Grk. tuphlos. See the previous verse. The Talmud does affirm that some rabbis believed the sins of the parents can bring punishments upon their children, such as premature death for unfulfilled vows (Shabbat 32b). One rabbi, Johanan b. Dahabai, made a shocking deduction about blindness,
"People are born lame because they [their parents] overturned their table [i.e., practiced unnatural sex]; dumb, because they kiss 'that place' [the genitals]; deaf, because they converse during cohabitation [sex]; blind, because they look at 'that place.' (Nedarim 20a)
However, an eminent Sage, R. Johanan, said: The above is the view of R. Johanan b. Dahabai; but our Sages said: The halachah is not as R. Johanan b. Dahabai, but a man may do whatever he pleases with his wife [at intercourse]" (Nedarim 20b).
3 Yeshua answered, "Neither this man sinned, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him.
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. By virtue of His incarnation and Jewish mother, Yeshua must still be a Jew. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah, to answer or respond to something said in conversation; to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances or to testify or respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (BDB 772).
Neither: Grk. oute, conj. functioning as a negative particle, dismissing an activity or thing that follows the particle and often coupled formulaically with another oute, "neither…nor." this man: Grk. houtos, lit. "this one." sinned: Grk. hamartanō, aor. See the previous verse. nor his parents: pl. of Grk. goneus. See the previous verse. but: Grk. alla, conj. with a strong and emphatic adversative meaning, but. that: Grk. hina, prep. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that. the works: pl. of Grk. ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed. In John's narrative "works" is a major theme with the word occurring 25 times, often on the lips of Yeshua, and referring either to evil actions of men, good actions of men or the missional actions of God and Yeshua in the form of revelation, miracles, signs, and sacrifice, the ultimate good works.
of God: Grk. theos with the definite article, the only omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe and the God of Israel. In the LXX theos renders names of God: El (which occurs over 200 times, including combinations such as El Bethel, El Elyon, and El Shaddai) and Elohim (which occurs over 2300 times), as well as the tetragrammaton YHVH, over 300 times (DNTT 2:67-70). As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos. The only God in existence is the God who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6, 14, 18, 21; 46:9), making Him the "God of Israel" an expression that occurs frequently in Scripture.
The God of the Bible is not a philosophical belief in monotheism, a generic term for the deities worshipped by all people, or a "Christian" god who rejected Israel and hates Jews. All the other deities worshipped by religions in the world and false concepts people have of God are the product of Satan-inspired imagination. The true God revealed His name, His character, His covenants and His commandments to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and then Moses for the benefit of His people. This God chose Israel and the Jewish people out of all the nations on the earth to communicate the knowledge of Himself and to provide the means of salvation to the human race (Jer 16:19-20; Isa 49:6; John 4:22).
might be revealed: Grk. phaneroō, aor. pass. subj., cause to be in a state or condition that makes observation possible; make known, show, disclose, manifest, reveal. in him: Another unique element in this story is Yeshua's explanation of how the man came to be blind. God revealed to Moses that He causes blindness (Ex 4:11), so the inescapable conclusion of Yeshua's statement is that God made this man blind in order to validate His Son as the Messiah of Israel. One might easily imagine the man and his parents repeatedly asking themselves "why" and perhaps having to put up with accusations like Job's friends.
4 "It behooves us to do the works of the One having sent me while it is day. Night comes when no one can work.
It behooves: Grk. dei, impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of something that's necessary, something that must or needs to happen. us: pl. of Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Yeshua might have intended the pronoun in the sense of the "royal we" but he could also have meant it literally to include his disciples. to do: Grk. ergazomai, pres. mid. inf., to work, be at work, do, carry out, either with the focus on effort itself in the course of activity or the result of effort. the works: pl. of Grk. ergon. See the note on the previous verse. of the One: Grk. ho, definite article used as a demonstrative pron. Among Israelites "The One" was a circumlocution for God (cf. Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 44:24; 45:7; 49:7; Hos 11:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; 6:46; 7:18; 11:27; 12:45; Acts 10:42; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6; Jas 5:20) and echoed the Shema, "Hear O Israel YHVH Eloheinu YHVH one" (Deut 6:4).
having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part., to dispatch someone as an agent, usually to convey a message or accomplish a task; send. The verb occurs 31 times in John and of those 25 depict God as the sending agent. "Sending" is a key activity of the Father, and in the past His emissaries included angels (Gen 19:13; 2Chr 32:21), Joseph (Gen 45:5), Moses and Aaron (Ex 3:15; 1Sam 12:8), and all the prophets (1Sam 15:1; 2Sam 12:1; 2Kgs 2:2; Isa 6:8; 48:6; Jer 26:5, 12; 35:15; Ezek 2:3). me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. Yeshua had an acute sense of the divine call on his life. In fact, the words of Yeshua, "sent me," occur frequently in the Book of John. while: Grk. heōs, prep., a temporal marker of limitation, here of time. it is: Grk. eimi, to be.
day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The fourth meaning would have application here. Night: Grk. nux, night as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise. The time reference could have both a literal and figurative meaning here. comes: Grk. erchomai, pres. pass., to come or arrive with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place or to go with the focus on the goal for movement. when no one: Grk. oudeis, a noun marker used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, nobody.
can: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving; be able. work: Grk. ergazomai, pres. mid. inf. There were few jobs in the ancient world performed at night, so Yeshua draws on the common experience to offer a spiritual lesson. The "night" in view might well allude to the night he will be arrested. The parabolic saying could also be a portent of the very last days when the antimessiah makes war on God's people (Dan 7:21; Rev 11:7; 13:7).
5 "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
As long as: Grk. hotan, conj., a temporal marker indicating 'when' or 'whenever,' here specifically of an interval of time indicating throughout that time; as long as, while. I am: Grk. eimi, pres. subj., to be. The subjunctive is the mood of mild contingency and the opening phrase stresses that Yeshua will not remain indefinitely. in the world: Grk. kosmos originally denoted the order of building and construction. In Greek philosophy the term came to mean the world-order, the world-system, the sum total of things preserved by this ordering, the world in the spatial sense, the cosmos, the universe, the earth, and also (in Koine Greek) the inhabitants of the earth, humanity (DNTT 1:522).
The Jewish translators of the LXX used kosmos to render a variety of words. Kosmos occurs some ten times for words meaning ornaments, jewelry or decorations and five times for Heb. tsaba, the "hosts of heaven and earth," i.e., the stars (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19). In Jewish writings the meaning of kosmos as "the world of mankind" is only found in Apocryphal writings (Wis., 2nd Macc., 4th Macc.). Kosmos has a variety of uses in the Besekh and other Jewish literature, including (1) the orderly universe; (2) the sum total of all beings above the animal level; (3) the earth as the place of habitation of mankind; (4) the world as mankind; (5) the world as the scene of earthly joys, possessions, and cares; and (6) everything of mankind that opposes God and is depraved of character (BAG).
It's fair to say that this last meaning of kosmos was introduced by Jewish literature. A number of passages in the Besekh use "world" to refer to the nations outside the land of Israel (Matt 24:14; Luke 12:30; John 14:22). However, the term is used in some passages of the Jewish world (John 3:17; 6:14, 33; 12:19, 47; 14:19; 16:28; 17:6). Since Yeshua's mission was to bring redemption to Israel (Matt 15:24; Luke 1:68), then the "world" in this passage has the immediate meaning of the land of Israel in which Yeshua lived and ministered. Yeshua introduces the second "I am" saying.
I am: Grk. eimi. Yeshua uses just the verb minus the pronoun egō to form the sentence. the Light: Grk. phōs (Heb. or), that which serves as a revealing or disclosing medium; light. Light was the first thing God created (Gen 1:3) and that verse contains the first recorded words of God, "Let there be light." In God's creation sequence light was created on the first day, whereas the interstellar lights (stars, sun, etc.) were not created until the fourth day. Light is the most basic of all forms of energy and includes not only visible light but all forms of radiant energy. All the forms of light move in waves at a tremendous rate of speed known as the velocity of light. The comparison to the sun is apt because from 93,000,000 miles away the sun can provide complete light over the surface of the earth and God imposes no utility bill on man for the service.
of the world: Grk. kosmos. The concept of Yeshua as the "light of the world" was introduced in John 1:4-5. Yeshua's declaration may allude to a self-description and a prophetic promise:
"I am ADONAI—there is no other. Besides Me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not known Me, 6 so they may know, from the rising to the setting of the sun, that there is no one besides Me. I am ADONAI—there is no other. 7 I form light and create darkness. I make shalom and create calamity. I, ADONAI, do all these things." (Isa 45:5-7 TLV)
"No more will the sun be your light by day, nor the glow of the moon be your light, but ADONAI will be your everlasting light, and your God for your glory" (Isa 60:19 TLV)
Introducing this "I am" saying here is appropriate to the context of the feast of Hanukkah (10:22). The winter feast is known as the Festival of Lights due to the 8-branched menorah that is lit each night for eight nights. Lighting each candle with the center candle, known as the Shamash or servant candle, the celebration is an acted out parable of Yeshua as the light of the world.
6 Having said these things, he spat on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and applied the mud on his eyes.
Having said these things: an allusion to Yeshua's comments in the preceding three verses. he spat: Grk. ptuō, aor., to spit, spit out of the mouth. on the ground: Grk. chamai, the earth or ground as the objective of movement. made: Grk. poieō, aor., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The first meaning applies here. mud: Grk. pēlos, earth in a moistened state; moistened earth, mud, slime (Mounce). Some versions have "clay," which can be misleading since "clay" commonly refers to the material used for making bricks and pottery. with the saliva: Grk. ptusma, spittle, saliva. and applied: Grk. epchriō, aor., to smear upon, to anoint.
the mud on his eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos, the physical organ of sight; eyes. In ancient times there was a tradition among Jews that the spittle of a firstborn son had healing powers (Baba Bathra 126b). According to Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist, saliva was considered to have medicinal value among other ancient people (Natural History, 28.4; Reinhartz 177). Yeshua may have been aware of this folk remedy and saw no harm in resorting to it, as he did on an earlier occasion (Mark 7:33). Tenney points out that the use of earth parallels the creative act of God in Genesis 2:7. Since the blindness was congenital, the healing would be creative rather than remedial. The weight of the mud would serve as an indicator to the blind man that something had been done to him, and it would be an inducement to obey Yeshua's command.
This is one of those uncommon occasions that Yeshua acted unilaterally to heal without a request from the person or others. Previous incidents of unrequested healing include such cases as a demon-possessed man in Capernaum (Mark 1:23-26), a man with a withered hand (Luke 6:6-10), the deceased son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-15), the woman bent double (Luke 13:11-13), the man with dropsy (Luke 14:1-4), and the disabled man by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:8). In the not too distant future Yeshua will add Lazarus to this list (John 11:38-44). The purpose of these special healings can be deduced from the outcome. They all were done to bring glory to God and demonstrate that Yeshua was the Messiah. Most of these healings occurred on a Sabbath day, as in this case (verse 14), with the intention of challenging the legalistic prohibition of medical care on the Sabbath.
7 and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam," which is translated 'sent.' So he went and washed, and came seeing.
Go: Grk. hupagō, pres. imp., to proceed from a position, here with the focus on an objective destination; go, go away, leave. The command would have the sense of "go now." wash: Grk. niptō, pres. imp., to cleanse with water; wash, wash oneself. in the pool: Grk. kolumbēthra, a relatively small area of water suitable for bathing; pool. of Siloam: Grk. Silōam, for the Heb. Shiloach. The pool of Siloam was located in the southeastern corner of Jerusalem. The pool was a place much sought after as a place of miracles or perhaps became so as a result of this miracle. It remained a place of healing after A.D. 70, as is proved by votive offerings found there (Jeremias 118).
Stern says that pool marks the end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, constructed by the Judean king around 700 BC to bring water from the Gihon spring in the Kidron Valley to the City of David (2 Kgs 20:20; 2 Chron 32:30). If Yeshua met the man at the north wall the pool would be a considerable walk and a test of his faith. Of course, there is no suggestion that the man lacked help in guiding him to the pool. Perhaps a couple of Yeshua's disciples served as guides. Yeshua had not actually promised he would be healed. Perhaps overhearing the conversation between Yeshua and the disciples and Yeshua's announcement that this was for the glory of God served as an inducement.
which is translated: Grk. hermēneuō, pres. pass., to explain, interpret, translate. sent: Grk. apostellō, perf. pass. part., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative. In the LXX apostellō translated Heb. shalach ("to stretch out or to send"), often in contexts of commissioning and empowering a messenger (DNTT 1:128). John explains the meaning of the Hebrew word for the sake of Gentile readers, as if it was named as a prophecy of this healing. So he went: Grk. aperchomai, aor., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination, to go away, depart or leave.
To speak of the man's walk to the pool consideration needs to be given of the distance. According to Josephus the circumference of the city was 33 furlongs or 4.125 miles (Wars, V, 4:3), making the "footprint" of the city 1.35 square miles. As Psalm 122:3 depicts the city was "compact," densely populated with narrow lanes and a few broad streets that traversed the city from north to south. Assuming the man walked from outside the northern gate to the pool at the south end of the city the distance would be just over a mile. This trip serves as an acted out parable of walking by faith. The man had to trust Yeshua's instructions and that he was not being sent on a fool's errand. He likely knew something of Yeshua's character and so he could assume that something good would come of his obedience. As an emotional experience every step might have been a mixture of fear and anticipation.
and washed: Grk. niptō, aor. mid. and came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 4 above. The man apparently returned to the place where had been before. seeing: Grk. blepō, pres. part., may mean (1) possess the physical ability to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; (3) be looking in a certain direction; or (4) to have inward or mental sight. The first meaning applies here, but the verb also hints at the fourth meaning, as indicated in verse 37-38 below. The phrase "came seeing" captures the imagination of what he must experienced as soon as he eyes gained sight at Siloam. For the first time in his life the former blind man saw people and he probably couldn't resist staring at faces. He probably was also awestruck by the grandeur of the public buildings that Herod the Great had built as well as the Temple Mount that dominated the city.
Healing the blind was an important ministry of Yeshua. He said as much in his inaugural teaching at Nazareth. Conflating Isaiah 61:1 and Isaiah 42:7 Yeshua announced his mission as proclaiming Good News to the poor, releasing captives, recovering sight to the blind, setting free the oppressed, and proclaiming the year of Adonai’s favor (Luke 4:18-19 TLV). Each of these mission tasks had both literal and figurative meaning and we may say that the man born blind benefited from all these actions. The number of physically blind persons that Yeshua healed is unknown. When Yochanan the Immerser sent representatives to ask Yeshua to confirm whether he was the Messiah, one of the list of proofs was "recovery of sight to the blind" (Matt 11:5).
Seven individuals whom Yeshua healed are identified as blind and all were men. Matthew includes healing the blind in a general list of healings that could have included women (Matt 15:30). Besides the blind man healed in this chapter the individual cases are as follows:
· A man who was blind and dumb in the vicinity of Capernaum (Luke 11:14).
· Two blind men in the vicinity of Capernaum (Matt 9:27-31).
· A blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26).
· Blind Bartimaeus at Jericho (Mark 10:46-52).
· A second blind man at Jericho (Matt 20:30-34).
It is curious that when Yeshua healed the disabled man at the pool of Bethesda John notes that there were also blind persons present (John 5:3), yet no mention is made of Yeshua offering healing to them. After the triumphal entry Yeshua will heal blind persons in the temple (Matt 21:14), but no number or gender is given. The story of the man born blind is the only account of Yeshua healing blindness in John.
8 Then the neighbors, and the ones having seen him formerly, that he was a beggar, said, "Is not this one the one sitting and begging?"
The narrative proceeds to describe three different groups of people. Then the neighbors: pl. Grk. geitōn, one who lives close by, neighbor. In the LXX geitōn translates Heb. shaken (SH-7934), which means neighbor as one who lives nearby, and by extension inhabitant, as in resident or fellow-citizen of Israel. The "neighbors" were probably people who lived in the residential area outside the northern wall and bordering the main road where Yeshua found the man. and the ones having seen: Grk. theōreō, pres. part., may mean (1) pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; or (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; infer, see. As used here the verb emphasizes personal experience of witnessing this particular man in his daily life.
formerly: Grk. proteros, an adj. indicating that something occurred prior to the current time; earlier, former. The second group were not "neighbors" in the strict sense but likely lived in the residential area and passed by the man on regular trips into the city. that he was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be. The verb emphasizes an indefinite duration. a beggar: Grk. prosaitēs, one who begged financial support from the public. The term only occurs here and Mark 10:46, which also concerns a blind man. the one sitting: Grk. kathēmai, pres. part., be at rest on the haunches, to sit down or to take a seat. It is typical of Jewish writing to provide vivid word pictures. The verb emphasizes that beggars did not stand to solicit help.
and begging: Grk. prosaiteō, pres. part., to ask for in addition, to ask earnestly, to beg or to beg alms (Mounce). The Torah contains no enactment concerning beggars or begging, since it makes ample provision for the relief and care of "the poor in the land." Begging, however, came to be known to the Jews in the course of time with the development of the larger cities. Begging was particularly concentrated around the holy places, and the routes frequented by pilgrims coming to Jerusalem (Jeremias 118). Although almsgiving for the poor is strongly advocated in the Tanakh, as well as other Jewish literature, begging for money was not approved.
The first clear criticism of begging in Jewish literature is found in Sirach 40:28, "My son, do not lead the life of a beggar; it is better to die than to beg." This attitude is reflected in the remark of the unjust steward, "I am ashamed to beg" (Luke 16:3). Professional beggars were a despised class among Israelites; and the Jewish communities were forbidden to support them from the general charity fund (Baba Bathra 9a). However, it was likewise forbidden to drive a beggar away without any alms (B.B. 10a). This prevalence of begging may be attributed to an inadequate system of ministering relief, the lack of remedies for serious diseases or maladies, and the impoverishment of the land under the excessive taxation of the Roman government (ISBE).
9 Some were saying, "It is he." Others were saying, "No, but he is like him." He kept saying that "I am."
The healed blind man apparently came back to the place where he had been begging, because naturally he wanted to let people know of the miracle. Some were saying: Grk. legō, impf., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. Following the same listing of persons as the previous verse "Some" may allude to the neighbors, since they would have seen him the more frequently than others.
Others were saying: Grk. legō, impf. The "Others" were probably of those had seen him before but were not neighbors. The healed man must have been puzzled by the reaction of those who expressed uncertainty that he was the same man. Being "born blind" does not actually describe the physical appearance of the eyes, although the next verse offers a hint. Apparently there was some definable change in the appearance of his eyes and certainly of his countenance also. In addition, it's likely that the "others" did not pay close attention to the beggar by the road. People often see what they expect to see and dramatic change can bring uncertainty and doubt. Strangely missing in the reaction of "neighbors" and "others" is praise to God for the healing.
He kept saying: Grk. legō, impf. The three mentions of the verb "saying" in the imperfect tense suggests that everyone was talking at the same time. that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The third usage applies here. I: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. am: Grk. eimi., pres. The healed man was quick to insist he was the one who formerly sat begging. The man's use of "I am" could denote a new sense of self-awareness and self-esteem due to being singled out for God mercy.
10 Then they said to him, "How were your eyes opened?"
Then they said: Grk. legō, aor. See the previous verse. Since the verb is third person plural at least two people may be assumed to be posing the question or possibly a spokesman representing a group. The verb implies a third group distinct from the "neighbors" and "others" in verse 8 above and it is this group that appears again in verses 12 and 13. How: Grk. pōs, adv. introducing a query concerning manner, way, or reason in respect to a matter; how? in what manner/way?
were your eyes: Grk. ophthalmos. See the note on verse 6 above. opened: Grk. anoigō, aor. pass., to open, used of doors and objects. The verb could be intended to be taken in a figurative sense of restoring sight as indicated by the next verse, but it may also imply that formerly the man's eyelids were closed. It's a natural human response to try to understand a miracle by reducing it to mechanics. Also, they may have questioned the reality of the miracle and sought proof. Perhaps magic might have been involved. If the steps of healing could be repeated then others could benefit.
11 He answered, "The man named Yeshua made mud and anointed my eyes, and told me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and having washed I was able to see."
The question of verse 10 is answered in a simple factual manner. The answer is almost verbatim of Yeshua's instruction in verses 6-7 above. The man: Grk. anthrōpos with the definite article. See verse 1 above. named: Grk. legō, pres. pass. part. See the previous verse. Here the verb is used in the sense ascribing a name to a person; call, name. Yeshua: See verse 3 above. The narrative does not indicate how the man knew Yeshua's name, because people rarely addressed him by name (four times, Mark 10:47; Luke 17:13; 18:38; 23:42). Yeshua must have introduced himself or one of the disciples used his name. made: Grk. poieō. See verse 6 above.
mud: Grk. pēlos. See verse 6 above. The man omits the part about Yeshua using his own spittle. and anointed: Grk. epichriō, aor. See verse 6 above. my eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos. See verse 6 above. and told me: The verb is Grk. legō. Go: Grk. hupagō, pres. imp. See verse 7 above. to Siloam: Grk. Silōam. See verse 7 above. The man omits mention of the word "pool" but it is assumed in the name. and wash: Grk. niptō, aor. mid. imp. See verse 7 above. So I went: Grk. aperchomai, aor. part. See verse 7 above. and having washed: Grk. niptō, aor. mid. part. I was able to see: Grk. anablepō, aor., to be able to see after a period without sight; receive sight, be able to see.
12 And they said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I don’t know."
The ones questioning in verse 10 above now want to know where Yeshua is located, since he is not in their presence. The healed man honestly admits that he doesn't know where Yeshua is. The striking thing about the question is that it is absent any joy over the healing. One would think these people would propose a celebration. Instead the ones questioning appear to ask the whereabouts of Yeshua as a prelude to the next part of the narrative.
Interview of the Former Blind Man
13 They brought him who had been blind to the Pharisees.
They brought him: The verb is Grk. agō, to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take. The reason for bringing the healed man is explained in the next verse. who had been: Grk. pote, a generalizing temporal particle, in time past, once or formerly. blind: Grk. tuphlos. See verse 1 above. to the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios, a transliteration of the Heb. P'rushim, meaning "separatists." The title was born of the fact that they separated themselves from the common people of the land for religious devotion. The Pharisees traced their roots to the Hasidim ("pious ones") organized in the time of Ezra, but are known as an organized group from the 2nd c. BC (Jeremias 247).
The first mention of the group is in the books of Maccabees where they are described as "a company of Hasideans, mighty warriors of Israel, every one who offered himself willingly for the law" (1Macc 2:42; cf. 1Macc 7:13; 2Macc 14:6). Josephus estimated that there were at least six thousand Pharisees in the Land (Ant. XVII, 2:4). There were several Pharisaic communities in Jerusalem (Jeremias 252). The book of John uses the term (occurring 20 times and only in the plural) generally to substitute for the term "elders" found in the Synoptic Narratives, a faction of the Sanhedrin (cf. John 1:24; 3:1; 12:42). Membership in the Sanhedrin consisted of chief priests, elders and scribes (Matt 16:21; 26:57; 27:41).
The fact that the healed man was summarily brought to the Pharisees implies that this group had religious authority and so must have been part of the Sanhedrin. On Sabbaths and during festivals members of the Sanhedrin would meet within the "Chel" to conduct discussions on application of Torah (Sanh. 88b). The Chel was a level promenade or terrace running along the north and south sides of the temple (Middoth 1:5, 2:3). See the illustrations here and here. The Sanhedrin changed their meeting place so they would not appear to be conducting a trial, which is forbidden on these days (Sanh. 4:1). If this occurred on the Sabbath then the scene is of these Pharisee members of the Sanhedrin gathered on the Chel discussing Torah, when the "accusers" brought the man.
14 Now it was a Sabbath day in which Yeshua made the mud and opened his eyes.
Now: Grk. de, conj., used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also, so" (BAG). The conjunction serves as a contrast. it was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be. a Sabbath: Grk. sabbaton, a transliteration of Heb. shabbath (DNTT 3:405), which is derived from the verb shabath ("cease, desist, rest" BDB 991). Sabbaton occurs 68 times in the Besekh, generally of the seventh day Sabbath. We should remember that all the appointed times on the Hebrew calendar, including the first and last days of week-long festivals, were considered sabbaths (Lev 23), because ordinary work was prohibited on those days.
The principal Torah instruction for the Sabbath may be found in the following passages: Gen 2:2-3; Ex 20:8-11; 31:13-16; Lev 19:3; 23:3; Num 15:32; Deut 5:12-15. (See my web article Remember the Sabbath.) In the commandments given at Sinai and Moab the instruction to rest is set in contrast to the work that provides one's livelihood. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 4 above. The noun here likely alludes to the daylight hours. The lack of the definite article with sabbaton and hēmera could mean the seventh day Sabbath in contradistinction to the other days of the week, but it may also indicate a festival Sabbath, such as the first day of Hanukkah (John 10:22).
There is no mention of Hanukkah in the Tanakh and thus no Torah instruction to treat it as a Sabbath. The story of Hanukkah, along with its laws and customs, is entirely missing in the Mishnah apart from several passing references: Bikkurim 1:6, Rosh Hashanah 1:3, Ta'anit 2:10, Sukkah 46a; Megillah 4:5, 4:6; 3b, 29b, 30b, and 31a, Moed Katan 3:7, 27b; and Bava Kama 6:8. The requirement to keep the festival of Hanukkah came by priestly declaration after the restoration of the temple by the Maccabees (Shab. 21b; 2 Macc. 10:1-9; Josephus, Ant. XII, 7:7). The celebration of Hanukkah was patterned after Sukkot which had not been observed after the desecration of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes. So, the sabbath observance required in the Torah for Sukkot was also applied to Hanukkah.
in which Yeshua: the Messiah of Israel and the Light of the world. made: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 6 above. the mud: Grk. pēlos. See verse 6 above. and opened: Grk. anoigō, aor. pass. See verse 10 above. his eyes: The word could also mean his eyelids. This phrase conflates the information already provided in verses 6-7, and 11 above. The Synoptic Narratives tell of a few occasions when Yeshua healed on a Sabbath, some in a synagogue (Matt 12:9-10; Mark 3:1-2; Luke 6:6-7; 13:10-12) and on one occasion in a Pharisee's house (Luke 14:1-4).
15 So again the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and I see."
So: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which may (1) indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding; so, therefore, consequently, then; (2) indicate that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding, then; or (3) simply indicate a stage in the narrative -so, then. The first application fits here. John omits any background information of introductions and what the pietistic "accusers" had to say, and moves immediately to the important dialog of the meeting. again: Grk. palin, adv., focuses on a repetitive occurrence and means once more, again. The word refers to the fact that the man was questioned again in the same vein as before, this time in a formal setting.
the Pharisees: See verse 13 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. Here the conjunction continues the narrative but emphasizes the repetitive nature of the action. asked: Grk. erōtaō, impf. See verse 2 above. The imperfect tense which indicates continuous action in past time makes the scene more dramatic. him how: Grk. pōs, adv. See verse 10 above. Notable is the fact that the Pharisees do not rejoice that someone was healed, but they immediately focus on the mechanics of the healing on a Sabbath, very likely this very day they were meeting. he received his sight: Grk. anablepō, aor. See verse 11 above. The Pharisees ask the man the same question he had been asked concerning how he was able to see.
He said to them: The healed man spoke directly to the group of Pharisees. Such interaction between the Pharisees and members of the public on matters of Torah was commonplace. The healed man recounted his experience, presumably as he had given it in verse 11, but using the three important action verbs. He put: Grk. epitithēmi, aor., to put, place or lay upon. The healed man was sharp enough to understand what was at stake and he changed the first verb from poieō ("made") that is used in verse 6 and 10. mud: Grk. pēlos. See verse 6 above. on my eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos. See verse 6 above. I washed: Grk. niptō, aor. See verse 7 above. In other words, he washed the mud off his eyes. There is no implication of washing his entire body. and I see: Grk. blepō. See verse 7 above. The present tense contrasts with the past tense verbs of "put" and "washed." The man followed the instructions and he was healed.
16 Therefore some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath." But others said, "How can a sinful man do such signs?" And there was a division among them.
Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj. See the previous verse. some: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; someone, anyone. of the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios. See verse 13 above. said: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 10 above. This man: Grk. anthrōpos. This is an indirect reference to Yeshua. The former blind man had given to the initial questioners the name of the one who applied mud to his eyes, but from this point in the narrative those asking questions will not speak his name. is not: Grk. ou, a particle used in denial or negation; not. This particle differs from the other standard negative particle, mē, in that mē is subjective and conditional for a supposition, whereas ou is objective and unqualified, a denial of an alleged fact (DM 264f).
from God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 3 above. Being "from God" is an idiomatic expression of someone authorized to represent or speak for God, such as an angel or a prophet (Jdg 3:20; 2Chron 10:15; 29:25; Jer 7:1; Luke 1:26; John 1:6). because he does not keep: Grk. tēreō may mean (1) to maintain in a secure state with a focus on personal interest or obligation; keep; or (2) to be in compliance in regard to instruction; keep, observe. The second meaning applies here. the Sabbath: Grk. Sabbaton with the definite article. See verse 14 above. This is a rush to judgment, because anyone accused of violating Torah commandments must be interviewed first and allow to present witnesses on his behalf. The issue being considered by the Pharisees was not over whether it was permitted to heal someone, but whether it could be done on a Sabbath day.
According to the Mishnah thirty-nine categories of work are prohibited on the Sabbath.
"The primary labors are forty less one, [viz.:] sowing, plowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, selecting, grinding, sifting, kneading, baking, shearing wool, bleaching, hackling, dyeing, spinning, stretching the threads, the making of two meshes, weaving two threads, dividing two threads, tying [knotting] and untying, sewing two stitches, tearing in order to sew two stitches, capturing a deer, slaughtering, or flaying, or salting it, curing its hide, scraping it [of its hair], cutting it up, writing two letters, erasing in order to write two letters [over the erasure], building, pulling down, extinguishing, kindling, striking with a hammer, [and] carrying out from one domain to another: these are the forty primary labors less one." (Shab. 7:2)
The general practice of medicine was prohibited on the Sabbath (except in life-and-death situations), the reason being that most treatments require grinding to prepare medicine, and grinding is a prohibited form of work. The 39 categories of work forbidden on the Sabbath have something in common —they prohibit any activity that is creative or that exercises control or dominion over one’s environment. When based on the principle that when God rested on the seventh day He ceased his creating. However, some of these rules go far beyond what God must have intended. God himself works on the Sabbath to preserve all our lives. According to Pharisaic understanding, there are two possible violations of Shabbat, kneading and building, because it requires kneading to make clay and clay is a building material (Stern 184).
But others: pl. of Grk. allos, adj. used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other. said: Grk. legō, impf. How: Grk. pōs. See verse 10 above. can: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. See verse 4 above. a sinful: Grk. hamartōlos, adj., one who fails to meet religious or legal standards; sinful, sinner; also an outsider relative to the "in-group." In the LXX hamartōlos usually renders Heb. rasha, wicked, criminal (BDB 957; 2Chron 19:2; Ps 3:7; 7:9; 9:16; 10:3; 11:2; 28:3; 32:10; 34:21; 36:11; 37:10), but also Heb. chatta, sinful, sinners (BDB 308; Gen 13:13; Num 16:38; 32:14; Ps 1:1; Isa 1:28; Amos 9:10) (DNTT 3:577). Generally in the Tanakh a "sinner" was someone who willfully violated Torah commandments, and which tended toward habitual practice. man: Grk. anthrōpos.
Among the Pharisees, the ultimate "in-group," the category of "sinner" included persons of low reputation, Sabbath violators and tax collectors because they worked for the Roman government. Indeed, habitual violation of traditions they considered important was enough to label a person as a "sinner." The controversy in this story has a universal message: man-made rules should not determine whether someone is a "sinner." Churches down through history have committed the same error by creating legalistic rules to define "Christian" behavior. The standard of a "sinner" should be based on what will prevent someone from inheriting eternal life as defined in the various catalogues of sins in the Besekh (Rom 1:18-32; 1Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5; Rev 22:15).
do: Grk. poieō, pres. inf. See verse 6 above. The present tense likely has the force of "keep on doing." such: Grk. toioutos, pronoun, such, such as. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion, may mean (1) a sign (signal); (2) a token; (3) a proof; (4) an extraordinary phenomenon; (5) a portent; or (6) a miracle (Mounce). Yeshua's adversaries often demanded a "sign" that would attest his authority (Matt 12:38; John 2:18). In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth (SH-226) and like it means (a) sign, mark, token; (b) miraculous sign or miracle (DNTT 2:626). Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit (Ex 4:17; 7:3; Num 17:25; Deut 4:34; 7:19; 11:3; 26:8; Josh 4:6).
The question recognizes that there are categories of miracles. The creation scientist, Dr. Henry Morris, offers the helpful distinction between creation miracles, which he calls Grade A miracles, that require setting aside natural processes or the laws of science, and providential miracles, or Grade B, that intervene in and manipulate existing natural processes (BBMS 81-83). By definition only God can perform creation miracles. Dr. Morris classifies most of the healing miracles of Yeshua as Grade B, because the normal process of healing was greatly accelerated. Only a small number of his healing miracles could be considered Grade A.
With the use of the word "sign" the question of these Pharisees clearly puts the healing of the man born blind in the category of a creation miracle. John identifies seven specific signs, all creation miracles, which require setting aside the laws of science, and by definition can only be performed by God. John refers to these miracles as "signs" because they attested that Yeshua is the Son of God (John 21:30-31). The question of the Pharisees, of course, does not indicate a readiness to declare Yeshua as the Son of God (as they defined the title), but by the same token they were not ready to condemn Yeshua as a sinner as the Sadducees.
And there was a division: Grk. schisma, something that is in parts through force, such as tearing fabric, but used here figuratively of differing viewpoints. among them: An indication of this division occurred when Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin who came to Yeshua by night, admitted that "we know you are from God" (John 3:2). Nicodemus may have meant "some of us know," but he may have implied that those who don't believe do "know" but are unwilling to admit it. This statement of disagreement is not surprising and probably reflects the two schools of Pharisees, Beth Hillel and Beth Shammai. Beth Hillel represented those who followed the teachings of Hillel the Elder, president of the Sanhedrin when Yeshua was a child. Beth Shammai represented those who followed the rulings of Shammai, president of the Sanhedrin at this time.
The two schools disagreed on many issues with Beit Shammai being the more strict of the two in interpreting Jewish law. A debate between these two schools concerned the propriety of distinguishing between regular weekdays and "holy" days (i.e., Sabbath and feast days). A saying attributed to them is "Beth Shammai say: 'From the first day of the week prepare for the Sabbath; but Beth Hillel say: 'Blessed by the Lord, day by day'" (Beitza 16a). Hillel's philosophy was to treat every day as being lived "for the sake of heaven." Weekdays should have the same sanctity as the Sabbath. Shammai regarded granting sanctity to regular days as a degradation of God's sovereignty and glory. Hillel did not believe that God would allow the Sabbath to be profaned, but Shammai could not take people's intentions on faith. Instead, the Sabbath must be observed according to the "letter of the law."
17 Then they said to the blind man again, "What do you say about him, because he opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet."
Then they said: Given that the Pharisees were divided in the previous verse, the third person plural verb here may imply that the original "accusers" the question that follows rather than the Pharisees. to the blind man: Striking is that the narrative does not say "formerly blind man" as in verse 13 above. The omission of "formerly" emphasizes what the man had been from the time of his birth. The use of the word again (Grk. palin. See verse 15 above) may mean the question posed by the Pharisees had already been asked of the man. It may simply mean they questioned him again. Lastly, the word may also shift the narrative to another occasion, whether the same day or another day. The questioners change tactics and asked the healed man what he thought of Yeshua as a result of receiving his sight.
The healed man rightly concluded he is a prophet: Grk. prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet. In Scripture the term "prophet" refers to one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling future events or forth-telling the message of God (DNTT 3:76). The record of the Tanakh indicates considerable variance in the activity and ministry of Hebrew prophets, but they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 11). This healed man was not the only one to regard Yeshua as a prophet (Matt 16:14; 21:11; Luke 7:16; 9:8, 19; John 4:19).
The record of the Tanakh indicates considerable variance in the activity and ministry of Hebrew prophets. Some prophets left literary works that later became Scripture. Others left no writings. Some gave advice to kings. Some prophesied in worship settings. Some saw visions. Some proclaimed a message in startling symbolic actions. Some were gentle, some were fiery, some were confrontational, some worshipful, some full of joy, others full of sadness. But, they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 11).
In addition, some of those identified as prophets in the Tanakh were also instrumental in miraculous healings: Abraham (Gen 20:18), Moses (Num 21:6-9), Elijah (1Kgs 17:17-22), Elisha (2Kgs 4:11-17, 33-36; 5:14), Isaiah (2Kgs 20:1-6) and Daniel (Dan 4:24-26, 34-36). The healed man puts Yeshua in rather significant company since not all prophets in former times performed healings.
Interview of the Parents
18 The Judean authorities therefore did not believe about him that he was blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who received his sight,
The Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios, Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG). The noun, translated in most versions as "Jews," is used in the book of John as a shorthand term to identify a particular group within the biological descendants of Jacob and adherents to the Judean religion. In this verse John uses the term as he does frequently in the Book for those in positions of power in Judea who enforced legalistic traditions and opposed Yeshua, often Sadducean chief priests or other leading members of the Sanhedrin, thus my translation of "Judean authorities." For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios and John's usage of it see my comment on John 1:19. The transition from "Pharisees" in verses 13, 15 and 16 to "Judean authorities" indicates that some of the Sadducean chief priests had joined the discussion, perhaps even including the high priest, and they proceed to take charge of the meeting.
therefore did not believe: Grk. pisteuō, aor., in general Greek usage means to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. The verb describes an active behavior and the aorist tense stresses a completed act. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman, which means to confirm or support, as well as to be true, reliable or faithful, and to stand firm or trust (BDB 52). In the Hebrew concept believing, trusting and being faithful are inseparable (cf. Matt 7:21; Heb 11:6). The verb includes the idea of knowing or being convinced of truth (cf. Heb 11:6), so the fact of unbelief indicates that these leaders did not personally know the man standing before them. about him, that he was blind: Grk. tuphlos. See verse 1 above.
and received his sight: Grk. anablepō, aor. See verse 11 above. until they called: Grk. phōneō, aor., may mean (1) to utter a sound designed to attracted attention, cry out or proclaim with emphasis; (2) call to oneself; summon, call for, or invite; or (3) to identify in personal address. The second meaning applies here. the parents: pl. of Grk. goneus. See verse 2 above. The plural form of the noun indicates that both father and mother were living and present. The blind man may have resided with his parents. His physical condition since birth would make him dependent on relatives. of him who received his sight: Grk. anablepō, aor. Calling for witnesses with knowledge of a matter before them was a responsibility of the courts (Sanh. 2b, 6b). At least two witnesses were required to establish a fact (Deut 19:15; Sanh. 6a; Shebu. 30a). So with father and mother they had two witnesses.
19 and asked them saying, "Is this your son, whom you say was born blind? How then does he now see?"
The authorities begin to act like prosecutors. and asked: Grk. erōtaō, aor. See verse 2 above. them saying: Grk. legō. See verse 10 above. The combination of "asked … saying" is a typical Hebraic manner of reporting a conversation. The authorities then seek to establish three facts, the man's paternity, the preexistence of blindness and the manner of healing. Is this your son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of. The term is used in its literal biological sense here. The question is lit. "is this the son of you?"
whom you say: Grk. legō. was born: Grk. gennaō, aor. pass. See verse 2 above. blind: Grk. tuphlos. See verse 1 above. How then does he see: Grk. blepō. See verse 7 above. now: Grk. arti, adv. expressing concurrence of event with time viewed as present, (just) now.
20 His parents answered them, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;
His parents: pl. of Grk. goneus. See verse 2 above. The plural form of the noun indicates that both father and mother were present. answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah, to answer or respond to something said in conversation; to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances or to testify or respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (BDB 772). them and said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. The use of "answered and said" is typical Hebraic way of advancing the narrative of dialog (e.g., Gen 27:39; 40:18; Josh 24:16; Jdg 20:4; 1Sam 1:17). The verb "answered" emphasizes that a verbal response was made and "said" introduces the quotation.
The parents respond to the question in a straight forward factual manner. We know: Grk. oida, perf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The perfect tense refers to action completed in the past with continuing results in the present. The verb is used for various kinds of knowledge: (1) to know someone or about someone; (2) to be intimately acquainted with or stand in a close relation to someone; (3) to know or understand how to do something, be able; (4) understand, recognize, or come to know by experience; and (5) to remember (BAG).
In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045; e.g., Num 11:16; Deut 1:39; Josh 2:4; 2Sam 19:6), which has a wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395). The parents assert two principal points of their first-hand knowledge. They confirm paternity and that their son had been blind since birth. This is what they know.
21 but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him. He is of age. He will speak for himself."
we do not know: Grk. oida, perf. See the previous verse. The parents after declaring what they know affirm that which they do not have first-hand knowledge. They did not witness any of the encounter between Yeshua and their son or what happened at the pool of Siloam. They state "we do not know" a second time to emphasize their point. Ask him: The verb is erotao, aor. imp. See verse 2 above. The imperative mood is intended as an entreaty, since they couldn't order the authorities to do anything. The parents essentially turn the matter back to them to resolve.
He is: Grk. echō, to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application; lit. "has." of age: Grk. hēlikia, height or stature, a term of physical growth, but also of maturity in the sense of the developmental stages of life. A Jewish male came of age at 13 and a day (Ab. 5:21; Kidd. 63b). The parents are merely pointing out that their son is an adult. He will speak: Grk. laleō, fut., is used in the Besekh primarily to mean making an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. for himself: The parents could mean that as their son is an adult, they no longer have responsibility for him. He is competent to answer the questions of those in authority. The next verse provides more information on why they answered as they did.
22 His parents said these things because they feared the Judean authorities; for already the Judean authorities had decided that if anyone should confess him as Messiah, he should be put out of the assembly.
John provides the reason for why the parents of the former blind man deferred to their son to explain how he came to be healed. they feared: Grk. phobeō, impf. mid., to fear. The verb has two basic meanings that are opposite: (1) to be in a state of apprehension, fearful and (2) to have special respect or reverence for, i.e., deep respect. The first meaning probably has greater weight here, but it is based on respect for authority. Because of their fear they determined to only speak of facts they personally knew and not provide any hearsay evidence. They were not going to say what the Sadducees wanted them to say.
the Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 18 above. In this context the Judean authorities could be a combined panel of Sadducean chief priests and Pharisee leaders. for: Grk. gar (generally accepted as a contraction of ge and ara = certainly it follows that), conj., a flexible term used here as a connector in an explanatory sense; for. already: Grk. ēdē, adv., with focus on temporal culmination, now, already. the Judean authorities had decided: Grk. suntithēmi, plpf. mid., to reach a meeting of minds about something, whether to agree on a transaction or decide as a matter of policy as here. The authorities had taken this action prior to the present circumstances. The decision very likely resulted as a consequence of the failed stoning in 8:59.
that if anyone should confess: Grk. homologeō, aor. subj., to speak in accordance with, to express oneself opening and firmly about a matter; inform, declare, affirm, profess, confess. Mounce adds "from the Hebrew 'to accord praise' (Heb 13:15). In the LXX the verb is used once each to translate Heb. yadah, praise, (Job 40:14), nadar, make a vow (Jer 44:25) and shaba, swear (Ezek 16:8) (DNTT 1:344). The verb homologeō occurs 26 times in the Besekh with a wide range of usage. Stated as a legal policy the "confession" would likely be a statement under oath or a public announcement, not merely something said in a private conversation.
him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, a circumlocution for Yeshua. as Messiah: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos comes from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334). Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word.
The title Mashiach means 'anointed one' or 'poured on.' Mashiach was used in the Tanakh for (1) the patriarchs (1Chron 16:16-22; Ps 105:15); (2) the High Priest, Lev 4:5; (3) the King, 1Sam 12:3; 2Sam 22:51; Isa 45:1; and (4) the Messiah, Ps 2:2 and Dan 9:25-26. This last usage defined the term among Jews in the first century A.D. The title of "Anointed One" alludes to a ceremony of pouring olive oil on the head to invest one with the authority of an office (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; Ps 133:2). There was no comparable concept in Greek culture. For an expanded discussion on the Jewish title and Jewish expectations of the Messiah see my commentary on Mark 1:1. The supposed offense treats Yeshua as a false prophet (Deut 13:1-5).
he should be: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. In the LXX ginomai renders Heb. hayah (SH-1961), to fall out, to come into being, become, come to pass, to be (DNTT 1:181). We should note that the subjunctive mood indicates mild contingency or probability; it looks toward what is conceivable or potential.
put out of the assembly: Grk. aposunagōgos (derived from apo, 'from' and sunagōgē, 'place of assembly' or 'assembly'), which Danker defines as "expelled from the synagogue." Mounce has "expelled or excluded from the synagogue, excommunicated, cut off from the rights and privileges of a Jew, excluded from society." BAG has "expelled from the synagogue, excommunicated, put under the curse or ban." The word is unknown in Greek literature and the LXX or other Jewish writings. The noun is formed from apo, "from," and sunagōgē, "a gathering-place or place of assembly." The word occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in John (also in 12:42 and 16:2), and seems invented for this special policy.
Stern interprets the word as meaning "banned from the synagogue," literally, "de-synagogued." He points out that Judaism had three degrees of discipline, though none is common today. The lightest, n'zifah ("rebuke"), could be declared by one person and normally lasted seven days. The next, niddui ("casting out, rejection"), usually required three people to declare and lasted thirty days, and people were required to stay four cubits (six feet) from him. The most severe, cherem, was a ban of indefinite duration; and a person under cherem was treated like one dead. (In the Talmud see Mo‛ed Katan 16a–17a, Nedarim 7b, Pesachim 52a.)
However, to ban someone from attending synagogue services would not be a simple matter. There were hundreds of synagogues in the land of Israel alone. The chief priests did not control the synagogues, so enforcement would be problematic. While most versions translate the word with "put out of the synagogue" (or words to that effect), that is not likely the intention considering the formation of the word.
Thayer probably captures the correct sense of the Greek word with his definition of "excluded from the sacred assemblies of the Israelites." Gruber (MW) follows this meaning with his translation "put out of the assembly." That is, the one place where the Judean authorities knew they could control access was the temple. Preventing an Israelite from attending any public assembly at the temple, especially the pilgrim festivals, would exclude the individual from the favor of God.
The authorities hoped that the threat would be enough to prevent the people declaring Yeshua to be the Messiah, because prosecution of someone deemed in violation of this policy would be very complicated and likely backfire. In addition, public declaration of someone as Messiah might provoke the Romans who would treat such a declaration as incitement to revolt. Jews had followed Simon of Perea in 4 B.C. in a failed attempt to overthrow the Romans.
23 Therefore his parents said, "He is of age. Ask him."
He is of age: Grk. hēlikia, height or stature, a term of physical growth, but also of maturity in the sense of a stage of life. Given the context the parents mean that their son has passed the age of bar mitzvah, "son of the commandment," in which he assumed adult responsibilities. A boy was considered accountable as an adult when he became thirteen years and a day old (Abot 5:21; Kidd. 63b). Given that he is described as a "man" in verse 1 above and on his own without his parents' company then he is past adolescence and probably a young man. The parents had only been called to verify that he had been born blind.
Second Interview of the Former Blind Man
24 So they called the man who was blind a second time, and said to him, "Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner."
Give: Grk. didōmi, aor. imp., to give, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). glory: Grk. doxa originally meant opinion, conjecture, praise or repute in secular Greek in regard to what one thought about a person or thing. In the LXX doxa renders Heb. kabod (pronounced "kah-vohd"), "abundance, honor, glory" (SH-3519; BDB 458). Kabod does include the meanings of dignity of position, reputation of character and the reverence due to or ascribed to someone, and is frequently used for the honor brought or given to God (e.g., Ps 29:1; Isa 42:12). In the Besekh doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45).
The Hebrew idiom "give glory" means that someone deserves respect, attention and obedience and as an act of praise to acknowledge sovereignty (TWOT 1:427). to God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. Giving glory to God may acclaim the might of His creative power (Ps 19:1), laud His covenant faithfulness (Ps 115:1), or extol the greatness of His kingdom (Ps 145:11-12). In legal settings giving God glory meant to openly tell the truth before the Judge of the universe (cf. Josh 7:19; 1Sam 6:5). There is a certain irony in their demand since they do not give glory to God in their following statement.
We: Grk. hēmeis, plural pronoun of the first person, indicating a united opinion. know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 20 above. that this man: Grk. anthrōpos, referring to Yeshua. is a sinner: Grk. hamartōlos. See verse 16 above. This slander was uttered by the Judean leaders opposed to Yeshua. The chief priests, in particular, were the driving force behind the persecution and eventual trial of Yeshua. The basis for judgment against Yeshua is his healing on a sabbath day, both in this instance and the healing in chapter five. The verdict is actually illegal since they arrived at it without offering Yeshua due process.
25 Then he answered, "Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I know: that being blind, now I see."
Whether: lit. "if." he is a sinner: Grk. hamartōlos. See verse 16 above. The man might mean "as you define sinner." I do not know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 20 above. The man did not have to say anything concerning the slanderous verdict, but by this conditional response he actually calls their judgment into question. The testimony that follows is powerful. One thing: Grk. heis, adj., lit. "one." I know: Grk. oida, perf. We should not interpret the man's declaration in a literalistic sense. We all know many things, whether learned formally or informally. He may mean "You say you know about him, well I know one thing about him," which would contrast with their judgment about Yeshua. He also may mean, "Of all the knowledge I possess there is one thing I know that is more important than all the rest."
that being: Grk. eimi, pres. part., to be. The present tense is meant in an aoristic sense of what he used to be. blind: Grk. tuphlos. See verse 1 above. now: Grk. arti. See verse 19 above. I see: Grk. blepō. See verse 7 above. Perhaps the man casts his eyes at the men sitting in judgment and sees them for what they are. He can see they are too small-minded to congratulate him on being healed and give glory to God who is our healer (Ex 15:26). They are legalistic and petty, perhaps even jealous.
26 So they said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"
The Sadducean-Pharisee authorities repeat the question asked of him in verse 10 and 15, although here the question is more to the point. Since they want to accuse Yeshua of working on a Sabbath, they seek information on the details of that work. By focusing on "how" they may also seek to accuse Yeshua of using occultic means as they had slandered him on a previous occasion when he healed a blind and mute man who was also demon-possessed (Matt 12:22-24).
27 He answered them, "I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? You do not also want to become his disciples, do you?"
I told you already: The man had described what Yeshua did to the original questioners in verse 11, and to the Pharisees in verse 15, although in neither case did he mention the spittle. and you did not listen: Grk. akouō, aor., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The first two meanings have application here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). The authorities did not heed the man's testimony because he did not say what they wanted him to say.
Why do you want to hear it again: The healed man purposes not to remain passive and rightly challenges the questions of his interrogators. The man may have even been trying to goad these pompous hypocrites, since he does not exhibit the fear of his parents. And, you do not want: Grk. thelō, to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. to become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. inf. See verse 22 above. his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. do you: The insertion of "do you," not found in the Greek text, is necessary to complete the mocking nature of the rhetorical question (so also HCSB, HNV, LEB, MRINT, MW, NASB, NET, and TLV). The Greek text is lit. "not [mē] and [kai] you wish [thelō] of him [autou] disciples [mathētai] to become [genesthai]?"
Other versions obscure the rhetorical nature of the question by making it a straightforward question "Do you also want to become his disciples?" (CEB, CEV, ERV, ESV, NCV, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV). Translating kai with "also" implies the man is admitting to being a disciple, which has not occurred yet. The healed man essentially taunts the authorities, perhaps with a look of mock seriousness. The CJB captures the taunt with "Maybe you too want to become his talmidim?" The MSG has "Are you so eager to become his disciples?"
28 And they reviled him and said, "You are a disciple of that man, but we are disciples of Moses.
And they reviled: Grk. loidoreō, aor., to verbally abuse in a contemptuous or scornful manner; insult, revile. This is an uncommon verb, occurring only four times in the Besekh (also Acts 23:4; 1Cor 4:12; 1Pet 2:23). This action is conduct unbecoming a judge, since a judge is to be impartial. him and said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 10 above. You are a disciple: Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. of that man: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun, lit. "that one." The chief priests obviously make this judgment about the healed man because he refused to agree with their verdict about Yeshua. The man had made no such profession. but: Grk. de, conj. See verse 14 above. The conjunction intends a strong contrast, in the sense of "we are better than you."
we are disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. The Pharisee leaders considered themselves ardent students and devoted followers. of Moses: Grk. Mōusēs, transliterates Heb. Mosheh, the great Hebrew leader, prophet and lawgiver of Israel born about 1525 BC. His life can be easily divided into three 40-year periods, the first being his birth and early life in Egypt, the second his years in Midian, and the third the wilderness period after the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. Moses was the leader of the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness. At Mount Sinai Moses served as God's spokesman to facilitate the beginning of the covenant relationship between God and Israel. Forty years later on the plains of Moab Moses renewed the covenant with Israel and made preparations for their entry into the promised land.
Moses was a heroic leader of the people and a devout man of God. Yet, due to an act of disobedience to God's instructions Moses was not permitted to enter the land of Canaan with the nation (Num 20:8-12). At the end God allowed Moses to view the land from the top of Mt. Pisgah before his death and there he died at the age of 120. God buried him in the land of Moab (Deut 34:1-7). However, Moses' death was not the end of his importance or influence, because Scripture asserts that Moses compiled, wrote and/or edited the five books attributed to his name (Matt 22:24; Mark 12:19; Luke 16:29; 24:27, 44). Moses left Israel and the Body of Messiah with the rich legacy of God's Word. Moses was a giant of a man. (See also my web article Moses and Yeshua.)
Gill comments that the reference "we are disciples of Moses" was a phrase uses among the Jews, as it appears in the first-century Targum on Numbers 3:2,
"These are the generations of Aharon and Mosheb, who were genealogized in the day that the Lord spake with Mosheh in the mountain of Sinai. And these are the names of the Beni Aharon the priests, the disciples of Moses, the Rabbi of Israel; and they were called by his name in the day that they were anointed to minister in offering their oblations." (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Numbers)
Gill also quotes from the Talmud, to demonstrate that these disciples of Moses were of the sect of the Pharisees, who assumed this character as peculiar to themselves:
"Also for the future the high priest is to be removed for seven days and to officiate for one day, and two scholars of the disciples of Moses [this excludes Sadducees] transmitted to him throughout the seven days to train him in the service." (Yoma 4a) NOTE: the instruction has to do with preparation for the Day of Atonement.
The exclusion of the Sadducees was because they "held divergent views as to the service and changed its order from the prescribed form" (fn 14, Yoma 4a). In fact, Josephus says that Temple ceremonies were grudgingly done according to the wishes of the Pharisees due to their popularity with the people (Ant. XVIII, 1:3-4). Lightfoot provides the same viewpoint as Gill, citing Yoma, and then adds this quotation from the midrash on Leviticus to illustrate the way these disciples of Moses treated him with such reverence.
"Moses was angry about three things, and the tradition was accordingly hid from him: I. About the sabbath, Exodus 16:20: while he was angry he forgot to recite to them the traditions about the sabbath. II. About the vessels of metal, Numbers 31:14: while he was angry, he forgot to recite to them the traditions about the vessels of metal. III. About the mourner, Leviticus 10:16: while he was wrath, the tradition was hid from him, which forbade the mourner to eat of the holy things.
"Did Moses think it unlawful for the mourner to have eaten of the holy things, when he spoke to Eleazar and Ithamar, while they were in the very act of bewailing the death of their two brethren, "Wherefore have you not eaten the sin offering in the holy place?" Yes, but in his passion he forgot both the tradition and himself too. Excellent disciples indeed! that can thus chastise your great master at pleasure, as a man very hasty, apt to be angry, and of a slender memory! Let him henceforward learn from you to temperate his passions and quicken his memory. You have a memory indeed that have recovered the tradition which he himself had forgot." (Leviticus Rabba 179a, quoted in Lightfoot 3:345).
In one respect their claim was false. If they had truly understood and followed Moses they would also have become disciples of Yeshua (cf. John 5:46). They could not properly hear Moses because they had made him into a caricature of their own legalism. They made Moses into the man they wanted him to be and ascribed traditions to him that would preserve their brand of Judaism.
29 We know that God has spoken to Moses. But this man, we know not from where he is."
We know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 20 above. The first person plural pronoun and verb reveal an elitist viewpoint. that God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 3 above. has spoken: Grk. laleō, perf. See verse 21 above. to Moses: See the previous verse. Dan Gruber says the phrase "ADONAI spoke to Moses" is the most common phrase in the Bible (MW-Notes 160). The phrase occurs some 98 times in the Bible. A slightly different form "ADONAI said to Moses" occurs 55 times. This constant refrain emphasizes the verbal inspiration of much of the Torah. Moses did not invent the commandments; they were revealed to him by God. That being said, how did they know that God spoke to Moses? Ultimately accepting the declarations of Scripture is an act of trust and faith.
But: Grk. de, conj., used to contrast Moses with Yeshua. this man: Grk. houtos, masc. demonstrative pronoun, lit. "this one." we know: Grk. oida, perf. not: Grk. ou, negative particle used for objective denial of something. This is an illustration of Jewish block logic in which their lack of knowledge about something is of equal measure to their knowledge about something. from where: Grk. pothen, interrogative adv. of direction; from where, from which, whence, used in direct and indirect questions (BAG). Two forms of usage may be noted: (1) locally in the sense of "from what place? or fig. "from what state" (Rev 2:5); and (2) of origin, from what source? brought about or given by whom? born of whom?
he is: Grk. eimi, to be, to exist. Most versions translate the last clause of the verse as "we don't know where he comes from." However, I believe this translation misses the point. They knew that Yeshua was from Galilee and they knew something of his lineage (John 6:42). They are comparing Yeshua to Moses in light of the concept presented in verse 16 of being "from God." So, these Judean leaders are not speaking of Yeshua's birthplace or his residence, but the source of his authority. After all, he had not graduated from a recognized rabbinical school (John 7:15). He had violated a value they held dearly, later transcribed in the Mishnah, "Appoint for yourself a teacher" (Avot 1:6). He had not been officially ordained as typical for rabbis (cf. Matt 7:29; 21:23). In reality they mean, "Yeshua does not qualify for the office he claims."
30 The man answered and said to them, "In this then is a marvelous thing! You do not know from where he is, and he opened my eyes.
The man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 1 above. answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse x above. and said: Grk. legō, aor. For this Hebraic manner of writing see the note on verse 20 above. to them: The man directed his response to the assembled Judean authorities. In this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun: this, this person or thing. then: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 22 above. Gar is a flexible term used here in an inferential sense to express exclamation or astonishment; certainly, by all means, so, then (BAG). is a marvelous thing: Grk. thaumastos, wonderful, marvelous, remarkable.
You do not know from where he is: The man repeats verbatim the statement of the authorities in the previous verse. It's easy to imagine a mocking tone. "You know nothing about him?" and he opened my eyes: The man summarizes his testimony of verse 11 and 15. "Yet this person you belittle has the power to heal."
31 "We know that God does not hear sinners," but if anyone is devout, and does His will, this one He hears.
We know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 20 above. With the first person plural verb the healed man means "both you and I know," making himself equal to them. that God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. does not hear: Grk. akouō. See verse 27 above. The verb is intended in a fig. sense of granting an audience and responding with favor. sinners: pl. of Grk. hamartōlos. See verse 16 above. This statement by the healed man may be a straightforward declaration with a slight vocal emphasis on "sinners" (implying "properly defined"), or he may be conflating and interpreting the words of the Sadducees in verses 24 and 29. Of course, no one could obtain forgiveness from God if He did not hear sinners (cf. Ps 86:5; Luke 15:7; 18:13-14).
The idiom "hear sinners" implies answering prayer. One might ask "if an unbeliever prayed to God for healing of a loved one, would God answer that prayer?" It's important to remember that God does good for all the inhabitants of the earth, regardless of their belief in Him and whether they pray to Him (Matt 5:43-45). God continuously heals, otherwise none would get over the common cold. However, answering special prayers, whatever the nature, of sinners as biblically defined (verse 16 above), presumes God should set aside His standards for those who have no respect for His standards (cf. Matt 7:6). In reality it was the legalists who did not "hear" sinners or those who did not conform to their oppressive rules.
The healed man in rebuking the Sadducees could have had several passages in mind which speak of those whom God does not hear:
"Had I cherished evil thoughts, ADONAI would not have listened" (Ps 66:18 CJB).
"ADONAI is far from the wicked, but hears the prayer of the righteous" (Prov 15:29 TLV).
"So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood." (Isa 1:15 NASB)
"But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear" (Isa 59:2 NASB).
but if: The conjunction and conditional particle set up the contrasting proposition. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, i.e., any human being. is devout: Grk. theosebēs, adj., reverencing God, pious, godly, devout, a sincere worshipper of God (Mounce). In the LXX theosebēs translates the Heb. yare ("yaw-ray"), to fear, reverence or honor, and used in Exodus 18:21 as a character quality for selection of leaders and judges. God also uses the adjective to describe Job (Job 2:3) (DNTT 2:93). The devout person accepts God's standards of right and wrong as revealed in the Bible and worships only the God of Israel.
The term could be comparable to Grk. phobeomai ho theos ("God-fearer," Acts 10:2, 22, 35; 13:16, 26; Col 3:22). (Similar descriptive terms are sebō ho theos, "God-worshipper," Acts 16:14; 18:7; sebō prosēlutos, "worshipping proselyte," Acts 13:43; and sebō Hellēn, "worshipping Hellenist," Acts 17:4). The "God-fearers" were Gentiles who attached themselves to synagogues and the Jewish religion. The first use of the term is of Cornelius the Roman centurion (Acts 10:2) to whom Peter proclaimed the Good News. Based on the example of Cornelius a God-fearer was committed to the worship of the God of Israel as the only God, devout in moral and ethical practice as guided by the Ten Commandments, a generous donor to the Jewish poor and faithful in prayer.
and does: Grk. poieō. See verse 6 above. His will: Grk. thelēma may mean (1) that which is to be carried out according to wish or purpose, will; or (2) the act of willing, will or desire. The expression "His will" in this context refers to God's lifestyle will, His moral and ethical standards. See my web article The Will of God. this one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. He hears: Grk. akouō. The man reminds the authorities of a well-known axiom found in the Tanakh that God hears the prayers of the afflicted (Ex 22:23; Deut 10:18; Ps 69:33), as long as they approach Him in humility and honesty (Ps 145:18).
David said, "Understand that ADONAI sets apart the godly person for himself; ADONAI will hear when I call to him" (Ps 4:3 CJB); and also "The eyes of ADONAI watch over the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry" (Ps 34:15 CJB). John, the author, will later repeat this principle:
"Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight." (1John 3:21-22 NASB)
32 From the first age it has never been heard of that anyone opened the eyes of one born blind.
From: Grk. ek, prep. indicating separation or derivation; from within, out of, from, away. In this context the preposition indicates a starting point in time for analysis. the first age: Grk. aiōn (with the definite article) may mean (1) a long period of time and in reference to the future a period with no apparent end; eternity; or (2) a segment of extended time determined by qualifiers as past, present or future; age. Since the statement that follows concerns time since humans have existed some versions translate the opening phrase as "since the world began" or similar words (DRA, ESV, GNC, KJV, MW, NKJV, NLT, NRSV, OJB, RSV, TEV, TLV), or "since time began" or similar words (AMP, ASV, CEV, CJB, GW, HCSB, MRINT, NASB). Only the LITV and YLT translate the word lit. as "age."
In the LXX aiōn (over 450 times, including 150 times in the Apocrypha and over 100 in the Psalms) became the equivalent for Heb. olam, "a long time or duration, antiquity or indefinite futurity" (BDB 761), which is also used as an adverb meaning "for ever, for all time" (DNTT 3:827). The use of aiōn reflects the Jewish manner of describing time in great segments, whether ages of the past (Luke 1:70; Acts 15:18; Col 1:26), the present age (Matt 12:32; 13:22; 28:20; Rom 12:2; 1Cor 1:20; Gal 1:4) or the age to come (Luke 18:30; John 6:51; Eph 1:21).
it has never: Grk. ou, particle used for strong negation of fact. been heard: Grk. akouō, aor. pass. See verse 27 above. No one has told a story or left a written account. of that anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. This is a sweeping generalization. opened the eyes: See verse 10 above. In this context "opened the eyes" is an idiom of healing. of one born: Grk. gennaō, perf. pass. part. See verse 2 above. blind: Grk. tuphlos. See verse 1 above. In contrast there is a record of God causing blindness (Gen 19:11; 2Kgs 6:18). The man's statement clarifies why this healing was for the glory of God. The implication is that if someone born blind had ever been healed before of his blindness there would be a record of it. So, this man belongs in the Guinness Book of World Records. Perhaps this insight came as a sudden stunning revelation. "I am the first." Then, perhaps he might think "Why me?"
33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."
The man proceeds to answer the question posed by some of the Pharisees in verse 16 above. If this man were not from God: The healed man offers a conditional, but knowledgeable observation. He repeats the idiom stated in verse 16 of being "from God" as indicative of having divine approval and authority. The "if" clause sets up a logical and powerful argument. he could do nothing: In other words Yeshua could not do this sort of miracle or do the sort of miracle that would bring glory to God. These kind of signs and wonders are from God (cf. Ex 10:1-2; Deut 4:34; Josh 24:17; Isa 8:18; 38:7; Dan 6:27; Heb 2:4). Satan cannot perform creation miracles. Of course, false prophets and other "sinners" can perform extraordinary feats that surpass normal human powers and imitate divine miracles.
The Torah acknowledges that a false prophet might perform what appears to be a "sign or wonder" (Deut 13:1-2). Bible history records supposed miracles by those opposed to God, beginning with the magicians of Egypt (Ex 7:11, 22). Yeshua warns in his Olivet Discourse that false messiahs and false prophets will perform "great signs and wonders" to mislead. Paul says that the coming of the Antichrist will be "in accord with the activity of Satan with all power and signs and false wonders" (2Thess 2:9 NASB). In Revelation the false prophet causes fire to come out of the sky and makes an image of the beast come alive and speak (Rev 13:13-15). Yeshua prophesied this claim of people who will be condemned,
"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me you who practice lawlessness.'" (Matt 7:22-23 NASB)
Notice that Yeshua does not respond the claim of miracle-working, but flatly denies that he ever knew them. In fact, the biblical examples cited above suggest that the so-called miracles of false prophets are actually deceptions. The ability of the Egyptian magicians to turn their rods into snakes was accomplished by their "secret arts" or "enchantments" (Ex 7:11). In other words, as Henry Morris suggests, their "miracle" was actually a hypnotic illusion (BBMS 83). Paul describes the "miracle" of the Antichrist as a "false wonder." Most people operate on the principle of "seeing is believing" and skilled magicians can make people believe in an illusion. Unfortunately, too many modern believers follow after popular preachers because of supposed miracles and fail to examine their theology, their lifestyle and the substance of the miraculous claims.
34 They answered and said to him, "You were born whole in sins, and you instruct us?" And they threw him outside.
They answered and said to him: For this manner of Hebraic writing see the note on verse 20 above. You: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. were born: Grk. gennaō, aor. pass. See verse 2 above. The passive voice indicates the mother giving birth. whole: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a person or thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. The adjective modifies "you," but many versions translate the word adverbially to modify the verb with "entirely" or "completely." The Amplified Version inserts an explanatory note of "from head to foot." In other words, all parts of his body, soul and spirit were impacted.
in sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In Greek culture hamartia meant to fail and could mean anything from stupidity to law-breaking, anything that did not conform to the community ethic (DNTT 3:577). In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (miss, go wrong, lapse, sin; Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity; Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture a sin is a violation of God's written commandments.
The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether the express requirements or prohibitions of Torah commandments have been violated. Intentional sins and capital crimes, such as adultery, blasphemy, idolatry and murder, were tantamount to rejecting God’s covenant and therefore could not be atoned. However, under the New Covenant, Yeshua's blood atones even intentional sin. Religious people may erect their own codes, rules or traditions for determining prohibited behavior, but God's judgment is based strictly on His commandments recorded in Scripture. NOTE: hamartia does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23).
The insult may allude to David's statement in Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was born in iniquity [Heb. avon] and in sin [Heb. chet] when my mother conceived me" (TLV). The LXX translates the Heb. avon, with the plural of Grk. anomia, lawlessness, and Heb. chet with the plural of hamartia. David's strong word picture is not meant to cast aspersions on his mother, since he identifies her elsewhere as a godly woman (Ps 86:16). Instead David's words reflect typical block logic of Hebraic writing. On the one hand he was created in and brought forth from the womb, an amazing work of God that he praises in Psalm 139:13-14. On the other hand every birth is a reminder of the sin of our first parents and the punishment of death that was passed on from them. Indeed, this is likely the point of using Heb. avon, which not only means iniquity, but also punishment for iniquity.
Some versions translate the plural hamartia in this verse with the singular "sin" (AMP, CEB, ERV, ESV, GW, NIV, NLV, TEV). A few versions miss the point by assuming that "born in sins" means illegitimate birth. The CJB has "you mamzer!" The TLB has "You illegitimate bastard!" The MSG has "You're nothing but dirt!" Contrary to these translations the insult by the authorities likely intended the common belief that being born blind was a result of sins of the parents, not that the birth was of an illegitimate nature. See verse 2 above. The TEV may capture the sense best with "You were born and brought up in sin."
and you: Grk. su. The second use of the pronoun is purposeful and no doubt intended in a derogatory sense. teach: Grk. didaskō, to teach or instruct. Thayer defines the verb as "to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses." Mounce adds "to speak in a public assembly; to direct or admonish." In the LXX didaskō occurs about 100 times and is used to translate nine different verbs (DNTT 3:760). In contrast with Greek education Jewish teaching since the time of Moses has been more concerned with communicating God's ethical demands than imparting information (DNTT 3:766). us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person, no doubt spoken with a slight inflection of superiority.
And: Grk. kai, conj., not translated in most versions. See verse 1 above. they threw: Grk. ekballō, aor., to cause to move out from a position, state or condition. The verb can have strong nuances of meaning, such as to put out, to drive out, or to reject. him outside: Grk. exō, adv. of place, outside, used of a position that beyond a limit or boundary (e.g., Matt 12:46). The word is also used of relationships in the sense of not being included in a group or community (e.g., Mark 4:11). To be "cast outside" represents an act of judgment (cf. Matt 5:13; 13:48; 21:39; John 6:37; 1Cor 5:12-13; Rev 22:15). In this context the action may imply a forceful bodily removal from the presence of the authorities and perhaps from the temple precincts.
Yeshua Gains a Disciple
35 Yeshua heard that they had thrown him outside, and finding him said, "Are you trusting in the Son of Man?"
The story of the healed man's appearance before the ruling authorities and their treatment of him apparently spread through the city. and finding him: The verb is Grk. heuriskō, aor. part., to come upon by seeking, to find or locate that which has eluded the one seeking. Where Yeshua found him is not given, but the point is that Yeshua looked for him. Are you trusting: Grk. pisteuō. See verse 18 above. The present tense emphasizes a current condition. Almost all versions have "believe," but the CJB and NLV have "trust." The verb means more than being convinced of something. Yeshua is not asking the man whether he assents to a creedal doctrine, but whether he possesses personal confidence and a readiness to exert that confidence.
The verb speaks of a behavioral action. The action begins with the conviction of God's existence, generosity and faithfulness to His promises (Heb 11:6). If one is truly convinced, then one trusts; if one believes and trusts, then one is faithful and produces works of faithfulness (cf. Matt 7:21). In the book of John the noun pistis (faith, belief, faithfulness, truthfulness) occurs not at all, whereas the verb appears over 80 times and in every chapter except 18. in the Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify immediate paternity (Gen 5); (2) to mean a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32; Matt 1:1); or (3) to mean having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. 2Thess 2:3), and this too applies here.
of Man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 1 above. The title "Son of Man" translates the Heb. ben adam. "Son of man," or "son of the first man, namely Adam." The idiom "Son of Man" is thoroughly Hebraic and has no counterpart in Greek culture. Christian interpreters typically treat "Son of Man" in the context of Yeshua's ministry as representative of his identification with humanity, whereas "Son of God" pertains to his deity. In Hebraic thought these expressions mean just the opposite. "Son of Man" is a Messianic title that refers primarily to the eschatological supra-natural figure from heaven who establishes a kingdom on the earth (Dan 7:13-14, 27). However, Yeshua added the unexpected element of suffering in order to bring salvation from sin. For a full discussion on this important title see the note on John 1:51.
Yeshua's use of Son of Man in this verse may be a simple circumlocution, meaning, "do you believe in me?" Considering the man's response in the next verse Yeshua may also have intended to determine whether the healed man believed that he was the Messiah, however he defined the term.
36 He answered and said, "And who is he, sir, that I may trust in him?"
He: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun, lit. "that one." answered and said: See verse 20 above for this expression. And who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. is he, sir: Grk. kurios, voc. case, may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority to translate Heb. words for God, principally the sacred name YHVH. In contrast to its use for deity kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank or authority to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511). For more information on the use of kurios see the note on John 1:23.
Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry, over twice as many times as any other title (e.g., Rabbi, Teacher, Master). This use of kurios would not have implied deity, but the equivalent of the Heb. adōn ("lord, master"). The healed man uses the title as a greeting of respect as was customary in Jewish culture, just as the woman of Samaria in 4:11, the royal official in 4:49, and the invalid by the pool of Bethesda in 5:7. that: Grk. hina, prep. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that. I may trust: Grk. pisteuō, aor. subj. See verse 18 above and the previous verse. Almost all versions have "believe," but the CJB has "trust." Two versions have "put my faith" (CEV, NEB). in: Grk. eis, prep., within, in, into. him: The verbal phrase "trust in him" expresses the Hebraic idea of putting total confidence in the Messiah and committing to be a faithful follower. It's about establishing a relationship.
37 Yeshua said to him, "You have both seen him, and he is the one speaking with you."
You have both: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. See verse 1 above. Normally the conjunction is translated as "and" but in this instance the repetition of the conjunction focuses on inclusiveness of two propositions. seen: Grk. horaō, perf. See verse 1 above. The perfect tense describes action in the past with continuing results into the present. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used here to allude to the mention of Son of Man in verse 35 above. The man had obviously not seen Yeshua before this point in time in a bodily sense, but as Gill says, "he had seen him, that is, he had perceived and felt the power of him in restoring him to sight."
Of course, seeing Yeshua now in the physical sense would not of itself be enough to distinguish the Lord from other persons he was now seeing, so Yeshua adds the important clarification. and he: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun, 'that person.' is: Grk. eimi, to be. the one speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part. See verse 21 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. of association or accompaniment, sometimes suggesting a close relationship; with, in the company of. you: This indirect manner of referring to himself as the Son of Man is typical of Yeshua. The manner of Yeshua introducing himself and inquiring about the man's belief and trust in the Messiah has such an ordinary feel to it. It's just a simple conversation. There is no choir of angels and no bat qol (voice from heaven); there is just two men facing each other.
38 He said, 'Lord, I believe' and he bowed before him.
The man then makes the great confession. Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 36 above. A few versions render the title as "sir" (WE, YLT), but there seems to be a recognition of and commitment to Yeshua's authority, as the two verbs following indicate. "Lord" would have the practical meaning of "Master." I believe: Grk. pisteuō. See verse 18 above. The man's affirmation is not just an expression of head knowledge but of heart commitment. The verb could be translated as "trustingly believe," or "I am faithing," that is, "I am believing and trusting in you and desiring to walk in a faithful manner as befitting a disciple."
and he bowed before him: The verb Grk. proskuneō, aor., means to bow down, to worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to or welcome respectfully. BAG notes that the Greek word was often used in secular literature to designate the ancient custom of prostrating oneself before a person, such as a king, and kissing his feet, the hem of his garment, the ground, etc. Over half of the 60 occurrences of proskuneō in the Besekh are in John’s writings, 24 times in Revelation alone. In the LXX proskuneō principally translates Heb. shachah (SH-7812), to bend down, to pay homage to another one by bowing low or getting on the knees with the face to the ground (Benner 94). It occurs without Heb. equivalent in the apocryphal books and occasionally in canonical writings (DNTT 2:876).
The first usage of shachah is in Genesis 18:2 in which Abraham bowed down before three visitors as an act of honor. The visitors turn out to be two angels and ADONAI. Lot also accords the same respect to the angels who came to Sodom (Gen 19:1). The next time the word occurs is on the lips of Abraham who obeyed God to sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22:5), and in that usage gives the essence of biblical worship as sacrifice. As an expression of worship the "bending" or "bowing" means an attitude of submission to the sovereign will of God and a willingness to sacrifice personal desires as dictated by the Holy Majesty (cf. Ex 12:27-28). In the apostolic writings proskuneō directed to God continues the Hebrew meaning with a greater emphasis on obeisance linked with prayers for divine help.
Most versions translate proskuneō here with "worshipped," but a few have "bowed" or "bowed down" (GW, MW, MRINT, NEB, NOG, YLT). The CJB has "kneeled down in front of;" the OJB has "fell down prostrate before," and an early English version, Mace (1729), has "prostrated himself before." Weymouth offers the dramatic translation, "And he threw himself at His feet." The intent of the verb is likely the same as the action of Abraham in Genesis 18:2. The "bowing down" then led to Abraham sacrificing an animal for the sake of guests. True worship is not conducting a religious service complete with hymns, offering and sermon once a week, but a heart willingness to elevate the interests of God above my own desires even to the point of sacrifice. The healed man was ready to serve his healer.
39 And Yeshua said, "For judgment I came into this world, that the ones not seeing may see, and the ones seeing may become blind."
For: Grk. eis, prep. lit. "into," but used here to envision a state or condition. judgment: Grk. krima may refer to a judicial decision, decree or verdict, or a sentence of condemnation and the subsequent punishment itself. The term is used here of the judgment of God. In one respect Yeshua repeats his statement in John 5:22 that the Father has given judgment to the Son, and yet appears to contradict his words in John 8:15 that the did not come to judge. Stern observes that the "judging" that Yeshua did at his first coming consisted in making clear to people where they really stood in respect to God, as the rest of the verse explains. Only at his second coming does he judge the world.
I came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 4 above. into this world: Grk. kosmos. See verse 5 above. Yeshua refers not so much about his nativity but of the divine purpose for the incarnation. The mention of "this world" distinguishes it from the world of the heavens, the place of God's throne. In a sense Yeshua came to an alien planet. We should remember that the purpose of judgment is to reveal the truth and Yeshua's coming revealed the truth of the Kingdom first to Israel and then to the rest of the world. that the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, demonstrative pronoun, lit. "those." not: Grk. mē, a particle of qualified negation, not. seeing: Grk. blepō, pres. part. See verse 7 above. The expression "not seeing" equals blindness. may see: Grk. blepō, pres. subj. The healing of sight is both physical and spiritual.
and the ones seeing: Grk. blepō, pres. part., with the definite article and demonstrative pronoun ho. may become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj. See verse 22 above. The verb emphasizes a change or development as a result of the judgment. We should note that the subjunctive mood is the mood of mild contingency or probability and looks toward what is conceivable or potential. The verb does not denote absolute certainty. blind: Grk. tuphlos. See verse 1 above. Yeshua engages in a play on words of both the verb "seeing" and the noun "blind." The second use of "seeing" is strictly in a spiritual sense, as is the word "blind." The saying of Yeshua is probably meant to allude to the instruction God gave the prophet Isaiah.
"Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed." (Isa 6:10 NASB)
Yeshua quoted this verse from Isaiah in his explanation of why he taught in parables (Matt 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10) and in John 12:40 as an explanation of why some people were not believing in him. Paul also quoted this passage to unbelieving Jews in Rome after he shared the Good News there (Acts 28:26-27). Yeshua is not speaking of making spiritually blind people incapable of seeing. The commentator Leon Morris suggests on the first proposition that the result of Yeshua's coming is that blind men see and then interprets the second proposition as meaning that those who claim to have spiritual sight (apart from him) may be shown up for the blind men that they really are. On the other hand the second proposition simply points out reality. When truth is revealed some people embrace it and others reject it. This is the mystery of human nature. The second proposition means that some of the spiritually blind will become even more blind, the equivalent of hardening their hearts.
40 Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things, and they said to him, "Surely we are not also blind?"
Some of: The Greek text is lit. "out of" implying certain members and not the whole. the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios. See verse 13 above. who were with him: The pronoun refers to the healed man and some Pharisees from the tribunal had followed him when he was ejected from the temple, perhaps thinking the healed man would lead them to Yeshua. They were probably of the School of Shammai and hoped to interview Yeshua about the healing. heard: Grk. akouō, aor. See verse 27 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, a reference to the narrative of verses 35-39. In other words, the Pharisees observed the meeting of the man and Yeshua and eavesdropped on their conversation.
And they said to him: One of the Pharisees interrupted Yeshua and spoke as a representative for the group. "Surely we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The plural pronoun in the immediate sense refers to the Pharisees now standing near Yeshua and the healed man. are: Grk. eimi, to be. not: Grk. mē, negative particle. also blind: Grk. tuphlos. See verse 1 above. The term is clearly used in a figurative sense, alluding to what Yeshua said in verse 39. These Pharisees might have only meant themselves, but they could have implied the entire group that had questioned the healed man.
41 Yeshua said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin; but now you say, 'We see," your sin remains."
If: Grk. ei, a contingency marker used here to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. you were: Grk. eimi, impf., to be. blind: pl. of Grk. tuphlos. See verse 1 above. you would: Grk. an, a particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might. not: Grk. ou, particle of strong negation or denial. have: Grk. echō, to possess. See verse 21 above. sin: Grk. hamartia. See verse 34 above. but: Grk. de, conj., used here to express a contrast to the preceding statement. See verse 14. now: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present; now or just now. you say: Grk. legō. See verse 10 above. We see: Grk. blepō. See verse 7 above. your sin remains: Grk. menō, to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. In the LXX menō translates 15 different Hebrew words, the most common being amad ('stand, remain') and qum (stand, arise). The verb stresses constancy (DNTT 3:224).
Yeshua offers another paradoxical statement in two propositions. The intention is to persuade, so the pronouncement is invested with tact and truth. He does not say, "You're a bunch of sinners bound for hell." By the first proposition Yeshua is not implying they might be sinless. It is as Gill suggests that if they were willing to admit their spiritual shortcoming and desired knowledge, God would not charge them with the sin of rebellion. Their failure could be pardoned and removed. The apostle Paul could relate to these Pharisees when he wrote Timothy, "I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief" (1Tim 1:13 NASB).
The second proposition amounts to an accusation, an indictment before the court of Heaven, similar to the proclamation God made to Israel through Jeremiah:
"Yet you said, 'I am innocent; Surely His anger is turned away from me.' Behold, I will enter into judgment with you because you say, 'I have not sinned.'" (Jer 2:35 NASB)
Gill says, "they thought themselves to be wise and knowing, and stood in no need of any illumination from him, but were obstinate and hardened in their infidelity, and willfully opposed and shut their eyes against all the light and evidence of truth." Therefore in Heaven's court they were charged guilty of sin and the charge would continue to exist until they day they repented. The implied warning is "you don't want to meet God to answer for this sin."
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37-100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews. Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
Benner: Jeff A. Benner, New Testament Greek to Hebrew Dictionary. Virtualbookworm.com Publishing, 2011.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation into biblical Hebrew.)
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
ISBE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Edited by James Orr. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939. Online, 2011.
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
MW-Notes: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. Annotations by the author.
Metzger: Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. German Bible Society, 1994.
Morris: Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1971. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
Reinhartz: Adele Reinhartz, Annotations on "John," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
TWOT: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 Vols. ed. R. Laird Harris. Moody Bible Institute, 1980.
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