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John 5:39-45

Context
5:39 You study the scriptures thoroughly 1  because you think in them you possess eternal life, 2  and it is these same scriptures 3  that testify about me, 5:40 but you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life.

5:41 “I do not accept 4  praise 5  from people, 6  5:42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God 7  within you. 5:43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept 8  me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept 9  him. 5:44 How can you believe, if you accept praise 10  from one another and don’t seek the praise 11  that comes from the only God? 12 

5:45 “Do not suppose that I will accuse you before the Father. The one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope. 13 

1 tn Or “Study the scriptures thoroughly” (an imperative). For the meaning of the verb see G. Delling, TDNT 2:655-57.

2 sn In them you possess eternal life. Note the following examples from the rabbinic tractate Pirqe Avot (“The Sayings of the Fathers”): Pirqe Avot 2:8, “He who has acquired the words of the law has acquired for himself the life of the world to come”; Pirqe Avot 6:7, “Great is the law for it gives to those who practice it life in this world and in the world to come.”

3 tn The words “same scriptures” are not in the Greek text, but are supplied to clarify the referent (“these”).

4 tn Or “I do not receive.”

5 tn Or “honor” (Grk “glory,” in the sense of respect or honor accorded to a person because of their status).

6 tn Grk “from men,” but in a generic sense; both men and women are implied here.

7 tn The genitive in the phrase τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ θεοῦ (thn agaphn tou qeou, “the love of God”) could be translated as either a subjective genitive (“God’s love”) or an objective genitive (“love for God”). Either is grammatically possible. This is possibly an instance of a plenary genitive (see ExSyn 119-21; M. Zerwick, Biblical Greek, §§36-39). If so, the emphasis would be on the love God gives which in turn produces love for him, but Jesus’ opponents are lacking any such love inside them.

8 tn Or “you do not receive.”

9 tn Or “you will receive.”

10 tn Or “honor” (Grk “glory,” in the sense of respect or honor accorded to a person because of their status).

11 tn Or “honor” (Grk “glory,” in the sense of respect or honor accorded to a person because of their status).

12 tc Several early and important witnesses (Ì66,75 B W a b sa) lack θεοῦ (qeou, “God”) here, thus reading “the only one,” while most of the rest of the tradition, including some important mss, has the name ({א A D L Θ Ψ 33 Ï}). Internally, it could be argued that the name of God was not used here, in keeping with the NT practice of suppressing the name of God at times for rhetorical effect, drawing the reader inexorably to the conclusion that the one being spoken of is God himself. On the other hand, never is ὁ μόνος (Jo mono") used absolutely in the NT (i.e., without a noun or substantive with it), and always the subject of the adjunct is God (cf. Matt 24:36; John 17:3; 1 Tim 6:16). What then is to explain the shorter reading? In uncial script, with θεοῦ written as a nomen sacrum, envisioning accidental omission of the name by way of homoioteleuton requires little imagination, largely because of the succession of words ending in -ου: toumonouqMuou. It is thus preferable to retain the word in the text.

13 sn The final condemnation will come from Moses himself – again ironic, since Moses is the very one the Jewish authorities have trusted in (placed your hope). This is again ironic if it is occurring at Pentecost, which at this time was being celebrated as the occasion of the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai. There is evidence that some Jews of the 1st century looked on Moses as their intercessor at the final judgment (see W. A. Meeks, The Prophet King [NovTSup], 161). This would mean the statement Moses, in whom you have placed your hope should be taken literally and relates directly to Jesus’ statements about the final judgment in John 5:28-29.



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