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Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is at Jerusalem
by the sheep [market] a pool, which is called in the Neh. ii. 1: Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, better, [gate]. Not expressed in the original.
thing in this chapter to determine the nature of this feast, I cannot attach any weight to most of the elaborate chronological arguments which have been raised on the subject. It can hardly have been a Passover, both because it is called a feast, not the feast, as in ch. vi. 4, and because if so, we should have an interval of a whole year between this chapter and the next, which is not probable. Nor can it have been the Dedication, in the winter; for then the multitude of sick would have hardly been waiting in the porches of Bethesda. The feast of Purim would nearest agree with the subsequent events; and it seems as if our Lord did not go up to Jerusalem at the Passover next following (ch. vi. 4; vii. 1), so that no difficulty would be created by the proximity of the two feasts, unless, with De Wette, we believe that the interval was too little for what is related ch. vi. 1-3 to have happened. But it may be doubted, (1) whether it was a general practice to go up to Jerusalem at the Purim (2) whether our Lord would be likely to observe it, even if it was. No reason need be given why St. John does not name the feast; it is quite in accordance with his practice of mentioning nothing that does not concern his subject-matter. Thus the Passover is mentioned ch. ii. 13, because of the buying and selling in the temple; again, ch. vi. 4, to account for the great multitude, and as eminently suiting (see notes) the subject of His discourse there; the feast of Tabernacles, ch. vii. 2, because of the practice alluded to by our Lord in ver. 37; that of the Dedication, ch. x. 22, to account for His being in Solomon's porch, because it was winter; but in this chapter, where there is nothing alluding to the time or nature of the feast, it is not specified. Jesus] and probably His disciples: for the same expression is used ch. ii. 13, whereas we find, ch. iii. 22, that His disciples were with Him; compare also ch. vii. 10 and ch. ix. 2. 2.] The expression there is has been thought to import that St. John wrote his Gospel before the destruction of Jerusalem. But this must not be pressed. He might have spoken in the present without meaning to be literally accurate with regard to the moment when he was writing. The locality given means, probably, near the sheep
gate,-mentioned by Nehemiah, see reff. The situation of this gate is unknown;it is traditionally supposed to be the same with that now called St. Stephen's gate; but inaccurately, for no wall existed in that quarter till the time of Agrippa. Eusebius, Jerome, and the Jerusalem Itinerary speak of a sheep-pool, as indeed the Vulgate renders here. Bethesda,-in Syriac, the house (place) of mercy, or of grace. Its present situation is very uncertain. Robinson established by personal inspection the fact of the subterranean connexion of the pool of Siloam (see ch. ix. 7 note) and that called the Fountain of the Virgin; and has made it probable that the Fountain under the grand Mosk is also connected with them; in fact that all these are but one and the same spring. Now this spring, as he himself witnessed, is an intermittent one, as indeed had been reported before by Jerome, Prudentius, William of Tyre, and others. There might have been then, it is obvious, some artificially constructed basin in connexion with this spring, the site and memory of which have perished, which would present the phænomenon here described.
I have received an interesting communication from a traveller who believes that he has identified Bethesda in the present pool of Siloam. It appears from his account that there are still visible four bases of pillars in the middle of the water, and four corresponding ones in the wall, shewing that at one time the pool has been arched over by five equal porches. This pool is, as above noticed, intermittent, and is even now believed to possess a certain medicinal power. See the account of my informant at length at the end of vol. i., edn. 5, of my Greek Testament. The spot now traditionally known as Bethesda is a part of the fosse round the fort or tower Antonia, an immense reservoir or trench, seventy-five feet deep. But, as Robinson observes, there is not the slightest evidence that can identify it with the Bethesda of the N. T. This pool is not mentioned by Josephus. having five porches] Probably these were for the shelter of the sick persons, and were arches or porticos, opening upon and surrounding the reservoir: see above. 3. withered] Those who were afflicted with the loss of vital power in any
b Matt. ix. 6. Mark ii. 11. Luke v. 24.
o eh. ix. 14.
4 For an
withered [ɛ, waiting for the moving of the water.
Bomit: see note.
of their limbs by stiffness or paralysis.
purposes. Possibly it may have conveyed
Neh xiii. 19.
Mark ii. 24:
cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to Exod. xx. 10. carry thy bed. 11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. 12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? 13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. 14 i Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest k thing come unto thee. 15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. 16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus [kk, and sought to slay him], because he had done these things on the sabbath day. 17 But Jesus answered them, 'My Father fch. x.: i render, After these things. kk omit.
render, passed away from him.
in their rejection of the Lord.
e Matt. xli. 45. [ch. viii. 11.]
that some should not have told him, seeing that Jesus was by this time well known in Jerusalem. But this is wholly unnecessary. His fame had not been so spread yet, but that He might during the crowd of strangers at the feast pass un. noticed. Jesus passed on unobserved by him just spoke the healing words, and then went on among the crowd; so that no particular attention was attracted to Himself, either by the sick man or others. The context requires this interpretation: being violated by the ordinary one, that Jesus conveyed himself away, because a multitude was in the place:' for that would imply that attention had been attracted towards Him which He wished to avoid; and in that case He could hardly fail to have been known to the man and to others. 14.] The knowledge of our Lord extended even to the sin committed thirty-eight years ago, from which this long sickness had resulted, for so it is implied here. The some worse thing, as Trench observes, 'gives us an awful glimpse of the severity of God's judgments;'-see Matt. xii. 45. 15.] The man appears to have done this partly in obedience to the authorities; partly perhaps to complete his apology for himself. We can hardly imagine ingratitude in him to have been the cause; especially as the words "which had made him whole" speak so plainly of the benefit received; compare ver. 11 and note. 17.] The true keeping of the rest of the Sabbath was not that idle and unprofitable cessation from even good deeds, which they would en
18 Therefore the Jews
worketh hitherto, and I work.
Phil. ii. 6.
h ch. x. 30, 33. Father, h making himself equal with God. 19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what
ch. viii. 28:
ix. 4: xii. 49: he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth,
g ch. vii. 19.
i ver. 30.
k Matt. iii. 17. these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father
ch. iii. 35.
2 Pet. i. 17. loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself
render, broke. n render, doing.
force the Sabbath was made for man ;and, in its Jewish form, for man in a mere state of legal discipline (which truth could not yet be brought out to them, but is implied in this verse, because His people are even as He is in the liberty wherewith He hath made them free); whereas He, the only-begotten of the Father, doing the works of God in the world, stands on higher ground, and hallows, instead of breaking the Sabbath, by thus working on it. 66 He is no more a breaker of the Sabbath than God is, when He upholds with an energy that knows no pause the work of His creation from hour to hour, and from moment to moment; 'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work;' My work is but the reflex of His work. Abstinence from outward work belongs not to the idea of a Sabbath, it is only more or less the necessary condition of it for beings so framed as ever to be in danger of losing the true collection and rest of the spirit in the multiplicity of earthly toil and business. Man indeed must cease from his work, if a higher work is to find place in him. He scatters himself in his work, and therefore he must collect himself anew, and have seasons for so doing. But with Him who is one with the Father, it is otherwise. In Him the deepest rest is not excluded by the highest activity." (Trench on the Miracles.) 18. The ground of the charge is now shifted; and by these last words (ver. 17), occasion is given for one of our Lord's most weighty discourses. The Jews understood His words to mean nothing short of peculiar personal Sonship, and thus equality of nature with God. And that this their understanding was the right one, the discourse testifies. All might in one sense, and the Jews did in a closer sense, call God their, or our, Father; but they at once said that the individual use of MY FATHER' by Jesus had a totally distinct, and in their view a
m render, his own.
• render, in like manner.
blasphemous, meaning: this latter especially, because He thus made God a participator in His crime of breaking the sabbath. Thus we obtain from the adversaries of the faith a most important statement of one of its highest and holiest doctrines. 19.] The discourse is a wonderful setting forth of the Person and Office of the Son of God in His Ministrations as the Word of the Father. It still has reference to the charge of working on the Sabbath, and the context takes in our Lord's answer both to this, ver. 17, and to the Jews' accusation, ver. 18. In this verse, He states that He cannot work any but the works of God: cannot, by his very relationship to the Father, by the very nature and necessity of the case ;the working of himself being an impossible supposition, and purposely set here to express one-the Son cannot work of Himself, because He is the Son: His very Person presupposes the Father's will and counsel as His will and counsel,-and His perfect knowledge of that will and counsel. And this, because every creature may abuse its freedom, and will contrary to God: but THE SON, standing in essential unity with God, cannot, even when become Man, commit sin,-break the Sabbath; for His whole Being and Working is in and of God. for what things soever... ] This clause converts the former proposition, and asserts its truth when thus converted.
For it is the very nature of the Son to do whatever the Father doeth.' Also, to do these works in like manner; after the same plan and proceeding, so that there can be no discord, but unity. 20.] For (this last is ensured by the fact, that) the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him (in this the Lord sets forth to us the unfolding of the will and purposes of the Father to [Mark xiii. 32: Acts i. 7] and by Him, in His Mediatorial office) all things that himself doeth (all the purposes of His
doeth and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. 21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; 1even so P the Son quickeneth whom he will. 22 For the Father judgeth no man, but mhath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 r that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. " He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which [hath] sent him. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth
P render, the Son also.
¶ render, neither doth the Father judge any man.
secret counsel;- for with the Father, doing is willing; it is only the Son who acts in time); and this manifestation will go on increasing in majesty, that the wonder which now is excited in you by these works may be brought out to its full measure (in the acceptation or rejection of the Son of God-wonder leading naturally to the "honour" of ver. 23). 21.] It is very important to observe the distinction here between the working of the Eternal Son (in creation, e. g.) as He is "in heaven" with God, and His working in the state of His humiliation, in which the Father should by degrees advance Him to exaltation and put His enemies under His feet. Of the latter of these mention is made (ver. 20) in the future, of the former in the present. The former belong to the Son as His proper and essential work: the latter are opened out before Him in the process of His passing onward in the humanity which He has taken. And the unfolding of these latter shall all be in the direction of, and in accordance with, the eternal attributes of the Son see ch. xvii. 5; resulting in His being exalted to the right hand of the Father. So here,-as it is the Father's essential work to vivify the dead (see Rom. viii. 11; 1 Sam. ii. 6 al.), so the Son vivifies whom He will: this last whom He will not implying any selection out of mankind, nor said merely to remove the Jewish prejudice that their own nation alone should rise from the dead,-but meaning, that in every instance where His will is to vivify, the result invariably follows. Observe, this quickeneth (maketh alive) lays hold of life in its innermost and deepest sense, and thus finds its illustration in the waking both of the outwardly and the spiritually dead. 22.] In the words neither doth is implied, that as the Father does not Himself, by His own proper act, vivify
1Luke vil. 14:
ch. xi. 25, 43.
m Matt. xi. 27: xxviii. 18. ver. 27.
ch. iii. 35:
Acts xvii. 81.
1 Pet. iv. 5.
n 1 John ii. 23.
och. iii. 16, 18:
vi. 40, 47:
any, but commits all quickening power to the Son:- -so is it with judgment also. And judgment contains eminently in itself the "whom He will,"-when the act of quickening is understood-as it must be now-of bestowing everlasting life. Again, the raising of the outwardly dead is to be understood as a sign that He who works it is appointed Judge of quick and dead, for it is a part of the office of that Judge:-in the vivifying, the judgment is made: see below, ver. 29, and Ps. lxxii. 1-4. 23.] This being so, the end of all is, the honour of the Father in and by the Son. He (the Son) is the Lord of life, and the Judge of the world; -all must honour Him with equal honour to that which they pay to the Father:and whosoever does not, however he may imagine that he honours or approaches God, does not honour Him at all;-because He can only be known or honoured by us as 'THE FATHER WHO SENT HIS SON.' 24.] What follows, to ver. 30 inclusive, is an expansion of the two assertions in vv. 21, 22,-the quickening and the judging,-intimately bound up as they are together. There is a parallelism in verses 24 and 25 which should be noticed for the right understanding of the words. "He that heareth my word," in the one, answers to "the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God" in the other. It is a kind of hearing which awakens to life,one accompanied by "believing Him that sent Me." And this last is not barely
Him who sent Me,' but Him, the very essence of belief in Whom is in this, THAT HE SENT ME (see ch. xii. 44). And the expression believeth Him (not "on Him," which is quite unauthorized by the original) expresses that belief in the testimony of God that He hath sent His Son, which is dwelt on so much 1 John v. 9-12, where,