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John 5:14-47

Context

5:14 After this Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “Look, you have become well. Don’t sin any more, 1  lest anything worse happen to you.” 5:15 The man went away and informed the Jewish leaders 2  that Jesus was the one who had made him well.

Responding to Jewish Leaders

5:16 Now because Jesus was doing these things 3  on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders 4  began persecuting 5  him. 5:17 So he 6  told 7  them, “My Father is working until now, and I too am working.” 8  5:18 For this reason the Jewish leaders 9  were trying even harder to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was also calling God his own Father, thus making himself equal with God.

5:19 So Jesus answered them, 10  “I tell you the solemn truth, 11  the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, 12  but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father 13  does, the Son does likewise. 14  5:20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and will show him greater deeds than these, so that you will be amazed. 5:21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, 15  so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. 16  5:22 Furthermore, the Father does not judge 17  anyone, but has assigned 18  all judgment to the Son, 5:23 so that all people 19  will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

5:24 “I tell you the solemn truth, 20  the one who hears 21  my message 22  and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, 23  but has crossed over from death to life. 5:25 I tell you the solemn truth, 24  a time 25  is coming – and is now here – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 5:26 For just as the Father has life in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life in himself, 5:27 and he has granted the Son 26  authority to execute judgment, 27  because he is the Son of Man.

5:28 “Do not be amazed at this, because a time 28  is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 5:29 and will come out – the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation. 29  5:30 I can do nothing on my own initiative. 30  Just as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, 31  because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the one who sent me. 32 

More Testimony About Jesus

5:31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 5:32 There is another 33  who testifies about me, and I know the testimony he testifies about me is true. 5:33 You have sent to John, 34  and he has testified to the truth. 5:34 (I do not accept 35  human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved.) 5:35 He was a lamp that was burning and shining, 36  and you wanted to rejoice greatly for a short time 37  in his light.

5:36 “But I have a testimony greater than that from John. For the deeds 38  that the Father has assigned me to complete – the deeds 39  I am now doing – testify about me that the Father has sent me. 5:37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified about me. You people 40  have never heard his voice nor seen his form at any time, 41  5:38 nor do you have his word residing in you, because you do not believe the one whom he sent. 5:39 You study the scriptures thoroughly 42  because you think in them you possess eternal life, 43  and it is these same scriptures 44  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 45  praise 46  from people, 47  5:42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God 48  within you. 5:43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept 49  me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept 50  him. 5:44 How can you believe, if you accept praise 51  from one another and don’t seek the praise 52  that comes from the only God? 53 

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. 54  5:46 If 55  you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 5:47 But if you do not believe what Moses 56  wrote, how will you believe my words?”

1 tn Since this is a prohibition with a present imperative, the translation “stop sinning” is sometimes suggested. This is not likely, however, since the present tense is normally used in prohibitions involving a general condition (as here) while the aorist tense is normally used in specific instances. Only when used opposite the normal usage (the present tense in a specific instance, for example) would the meaning “stop doing what you are doing” be appropriate.

2 tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” See the note on the phrase “Jewish leaders” in v. 10.

3 sn Note the plural phrase these things which seems to indicate that Jesus healed on the Sabbath more than once (cf. John 20:30). The synoptic gospels show this to be true; the incident in 5:1-15 has thus been chosen by the author as representative.

4 tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” See the note on the phrase “Jewish leaders” in v. 10.

5 tn Or “harassing.”

6 tc ‡ Most witnesses (Ì66 A D L Θ Ψ Ë1,13 33 Ï latt co) have ᾿Ιησοῦς (Ihsou", “Jesus”) here, while generally better witnesses (Ì75 א B W {0141} 892 1241 pbo) lack the name. Although it is possible that Alexandrian scribes deleted the name due to proclivities to prune, this is not as likely as other witnesses adding it for clarification, especially since multiple strands of the Alexandrian text are represented in the shorter reading. NA27 places the word in brackets, indicating some doubts as to authenticity.

7 tn Grk “answered.”

8 snMy Father is working until now, and I too am working.” What is the significance of Jesus’ claim? A preliminary understanding can be obtained from John 5:18, noting the Jewish authorities’ response and the author’s comment. They sought to kill Jesus, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was also calling God his own Father, thus making himself equal with God. This must be seen in the context of the relation of God to the Sabbath rest. In the commandment (Exod 20:11) it is explained that “In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth…and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Philo, based on the LXX translation of Exod 20:11, denied outright that God had ever ceased his creative activity. And when Rabban Gamaliel II, R. Joshua, R. Eleazar ben Azariah, and R. Akiba were in Rome, ca. a.d. 95, they gave as a rebuttal to sectarian arguments evidence that God might do as he willed in the world without breaking the Sabbath because the entire world was his private residence. So even the rabbis realized that God did not really cease to work on the Sabbath: Divine providence remained active on the Sabbath, otherwise, all nature and life would cease to exist. As regards men, divine activity was visible in two ways: Men were born and men died on the Sabbath. Since only God could give life and only God could deal with the fate of the dead in judgment, this meant God was active on the Sabbath. This seems to be the background for Jesus’ words in 5:17. He justified his work of healing on the Sabbath by reminding the Jewish authorities that they admitted God worked on the Sabbath. This explains the violence of the reaction. The Sabbath privilege was peculiar to God, and no one was equal to God. In claiming the right to work even as his Father worked, Jesus was claiming a divine prerogative. He was literally making himself equal to God, as 5:18 goes on to state explicitly for the benefit of the reader who might not have made the connection.

9 tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” See the note on the phrase “Jewish leaders” in v. 10.

10 tn Grk “answered and said to them.”

11 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”

12 tn Grk “nothing from himself.”

13 tn Grk “that one”; the referent (the Father) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

14 sn What works does the Son do likewise? The same that the Father does – and the same that the rabbis recognized as legitimate works of God on the Sabbath (see note on working in v. 17). (1) Jesus grants life (just as the Father grants life) on the Sabbath. But as the Father gives physical life on the Sabbath, so the Son grants spiritual life (John 5:21; note the “greater things” mentioned in v. 20). (2) Jesus judges (determines the destiny of people) on the Sabbath, just as the Father judges those who die on the Sabbath, because the Father has granted authority to the Son to judge (John 5:22-23). But this is not all. Not only has this power been granted to Jesus in the present; it will be his in the future as well. In v. 28 there is a reference not to spiritually dead (only) but also physically dead. At their resurrection they respond to the Son as well.

15 tn Grk “and makes them live.”

16 tn Grk “the Son makes whomever he wants to live.”

17 tn Or “condemn.”

18 tn Or “given,” or “handed over.”

19 tn Grk “all.” The word “people” is not in the Greek text but is supplied for stylistic reasons and for clarity (cf. KJV “all men”).

20 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”

21 tn Or “obeys.”

22 tn Or “word.”

23 tn Grk “and does not come into judgment.”

24 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”

25 tn Grk “an hour.”

26 tn Grk “him.”

27 tn Grk “authority to judge.”

28 tn Grk “an hour.”

29 tn Or “a resurrection resulting in judgment.”

30 tn Grk “nothing from myself.”

31 tn Or “righteous,” or “proper.”

32 tn That is, “the will of the Father who sent me.”

33 sn To whom does another refer? To John the Baptist or to the Father? In the nearer context, v. 33, it would seem to be John the Baptist. But v. 34 seems to indicate that Jesus does not receive testimony from men. Probably it is better to view v. 32 as identical to v. 37, with the comments about the Baptist as a parenthetical digression.

34 sn John refers to John the Baptist.

35 tn Or “I do not receive.”

36 sn He was a lamp that was burning and shining. Sir 48:1 states that the word of Elijah was “a flame like a torch.” Because of the connection of John the Baptist with Elijah (see John 1:21 and the note on John’s reply, “I am not”), it was natural for Jesus to apply this description to John.

37 tn Grk “for an hour.”

38 tn Or “works.”

39 tn Grk “complete, which I am now doing”; the referent of the relative pronoun has been specified by repeating “deeds” from the previous clause.

40 tn The word “people” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied to clarify that the following verbs (“heard,” “seen,” “have residing,” “do not believe”) are second person plural.

41 sn You people have never heard his voice nor seen his form at any time. Compare Deut 4:12. Also see Deut 5:24 ff., where the Israelites begged to hear the voice no longer – their request (ironically) has by this time been granted. How ironic this would be if the feast is Pentecost, where by the 1st century a.d. the giving of the law at Sinai was being celebrated.

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

43 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.”

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

45 tn Or “I do not receive.”

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

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

48 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.

49 tn Or “you do not receive.”

50 tn Or “you will receive.”

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

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

53 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.

54 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.

55 tn Grk “For if.”

56 tn Grk “that one” (“he”); the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.



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