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John 9

Healing a Man Born Blind

9:1 Now as Jesus was passing by, 1  he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 9:2 His disciples asked him, 2  “Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man 3  or his parents?” 4  9:3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man 5  nor his parents sinned, but he was born blind so that 6  the acts 7  of God may be revealed 8  through what happens to him. 9  9:4 We must perform the deeds 10  of the one who sent me 11  as long as 12  it is daytime. Night is coming when no one can work. 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 13  9:6 Having said this, 14  he spat on the ground and made some mud 15  with the saliva. He 16  smeared the mud on the blind man’s 17  eyes 9:7 and said to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” 18  (which is translated “sent”). 19  So the blind man 20  went away and washed, and came back seeing.

9:8 Then the neighbors and the people who had seen him previously 21  as a beggar began saying, 22  “Is this not the man 23  who used to sit and beg?” 9:9 Some people said, 24  “This is the man!” 25  while others said, “No, but he looks like him.” 26  The man himself 27  kept insisting, “I am the one!” 28  9:10 So they asked him, 29  “How then were you made to see?” 30  9:11 He replied, 31  “The man called Jesus made mud, 32  smeared it 33  on my eyes and told me, 34  ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and was able to see.” 35  9:12 They said 36  to him, “Where is that man?” 37  He replied, 38  “I don’t know.”

The Pharisees’ Reaction to the Healing

9:13 They brought the man who used to be blind 39  to the Pharisees. 40  9:14 (Now the day on which Jesus made the mud 41  and caused him to see 42  was a Sabbath.) 43  9:15 So the Pharisees asked him again how he had gained his sight. 44  He replied, 45  “He put mud 46  on my eyes and I washed, and now 47  I am able to see.”

9:16 Then some of the Pharisees began to say, 48  “This man is not from God, because he does not observe 49  the Sabbath.” 50  But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform 51  such miraculous signs?” Thus there was a division 52  among them. 9:17 So again they asked the man who used to be blind, 53  “What do you say about him, since he caused you to see?” 54  “He is a prophet,” the man replied. 55 

9:18 Now the Jewish religious leaders 56  refused to believe 57  that he had really been blind and had gained his sight until at last they summoned 58  the parents of the man who had become able to see. 59  9:19 They asked the parents, 60  “Is this your son, whom you say 61  was born blind? Then how does he now see?” 9:20 So his parents replied, 62  “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 9:21 But we do not know how he is now able to see, nor do we know who caused him to see. 63  Ask him, he is a mature adult. 64  He will speak for himself.” 9:22 (His parents said these things because they were afraid of the Jewish religious leaders. 65  For the Jewish leaders had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus 66  to be the Christ 67  would be put out 68  of the synagogue. 69  9:23 For this reason his parents said, “He is a mature adult, 70  ask him.”) 71 

9:24 Then they summoned 72  the man who used to be blind 73  a second time and said to him, “Promise before God to tell the truth. 74  We know that this man 75  is a sinner.” 9:25 He replied, 76  “I do not know whether he is a sinner. I do know one thing – that although I was blind, now I can see.” 9:26 Then they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he cause you to see?” 77  9:27 He answered, 78  “I told you already and you didn’t listen. 79  Why do you want to hear it 80  again? You people 81  don’t want to become his disciples too, do you?”

9:28 They 82  heaped insults 83  on him, saying, 84  “You are his disciple! 85  We are disciples of Moses! 9:29 We know that God has spoken to Moses! We do not know where this man 86  comes from!” 9:30 The man replied, 87  “This is a remarkable thing, 88  that you don’t know where he comes from, and yet he caused me to see! 89  9:31 We know that God doesn’t listen to 90  sinners, but if anyone is devout 91  and does his will, God 92  listens to 93  him. 94  9:32 Never before 95  has anyone heard of someone causing a man born blind to see. 96  9:33 If this man 97  were not from God, he could do nothing.” 9:34 They replied, 98  “You were born completely in sinfulness, 99  and yet you presume to teach us?” 100  So they threw him out.

The Man’s Response to Jesus

9:35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, so he found the man 101  and said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 102  9:36 The man 103  replied, 104  “And who is he, sir, that 105  I may believe in him?” 9:37 Jesus told him, “You have seen him; he 106  is the one speaking with you.” 107  9:38 [He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 108  9:39 Jesus 109  said,] 110  “For judgment I have come into this world, so that those who do not see may gain their sight, 111  and the ones who see may become blind.”

9:40 Some of the Pharisees 112  who were with him heard this 113  and asked him, 114  “We are not blind too, are we?” 115  9:41 Jesus replied, 116  “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin, 117  but now because you claim that you can see, 118  your guilt 119  remains.” 120 

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1 tn Or “going along.” The opening words of chap. 9, καὶ παράγων (kai paragwn), convey only the vaguest indication of the circumstances.

sn Since there is no break with chap. 8, Jesus is presumably still in Jerusalem, and presumably not still in the temple area. The events of chap. 9 fall somewhere between the feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2) and the feast of the Dedication (John 10:22). But in the author’s narrative the connection exists – the incident recorded in chap. 9 (along with the ensuing debates with the Pharisees) serves as a real-life illustration of the claim Jesus made in 8:12, I am the light of the world. This is in fact the probable theological motivation behind the juxtaposition of these two incidents in the narrative. The second serves as an illustration of the first, and as a concrete example of the victory of light over darkness. One other thing which should be pointed out about the miracle recorded in chap. 9 is its messianic significance. In the OT it is God himself who is associated with the giving of sight to the blind (Exod 4:11, Ps 146:8). In a number of passages in Isa (29:18, 35:5, 42:7) it is considered to be a messianic activity.

2 tn Grk “asked him, saying.”

3 tn Grk “this one.”

4 tn Grk “in order that he should be born blind.”

sn The disciples assumed that sin (regardless of who committed it) was the cause of the man’s blindness. This was a common belief in Judaism; the rabbis used Ezek 18:20 to prove there was no death without sin, and Ps 89:33 to prove there was no punishment without guilt (the Babylonian Talmud, b. Shabbat 55a, although later than the NT, illustrates this). Thus in this case the sin must have been on the part of the man’s parents, or during his own prenatal existence. Song Rabbah 1:41 (another later rabbinic work) stated that when a pregnant woman worshiped in a heathen temple the unborn child also committed idolatry. This is only one example of how, in rabbinic Jewish thought, an unborn child was capable of sinning.

5 tn Grk “this one.”

6 tn Grk “but so that.” There is an ellipsis that must be supplied: “but [he was born blind] so that” or “but [it happened to him] so that.”

7 tn Or “deeds”; Grk “works.”

8 tn Or “manifested,” “brought to light.”

9 tn Grk “in him.”

10 tn Grk “We must work the works.”

11 tn Or “of him who sent me” (God).

12 tn Or “while.”

13 sn Jesus’ statement I am the light of the world connects the present account with 8:12. Here (seen more clearly than at 8:12) it is obvious what the author sees as the significance of Jesus’ statement. “Light” is not a metaphysical definition of the person of Jesus but a description of his effect on the world, forcing everyone in the world to ‘choose up sides’ for or against him (cf. 3:19-21).

14 tn Grk “said these things.”

15 tn Or “clay” (moistened earth of a clay-like consistency). The textual variant preserved in the Syriac text of Ephraem’s commentary on the Diatessaron (“he made eyes from his clay”) probably arose from the interpretation given by Irenaeus in Against Heresies: “that which the Artificer, the Word, had omitted to form in the womb, he then supplied in public.” This involves taking the clay as an allusion to Gen 2:7, which is very unlikely.

16 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, the conjunction καί (kai) was replaced by a third person pronoun and a new sentence started here in the translation.

17 tn Grk “on his.”

18 tn The pool’s name in Hebrew is shiloah from the Hebrew verb “to send.” In Gen 49:10 the somewhat obscure shiloh was interpreted messianically by later Jewish tradition, and some have seen a lexical connection between the two names (although this is somewhat dubious). It is known, however, that it was from the pool of Siloam that the water which was poured out at the altar during the feast of Tabernacles was drawn.

19 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author. Why does he comment on the meaning of the name of the pool? Here, the significance is that the Father sent the Son, and the Son sent the man born blind. The name of the pool is applicable to the man, but also to Jesus himself, who was sent from heaven.

20 tn Grk “So he”; the referent (the blind man) is specified in the translation for clarity.

21 tn Or “formerly.”

22 tn An ingressive force (“began saying”) is present here because the change in status of the blind person provokes this new response from those who knew him.

23 tn Grk “the one.”

24 tn Grk “Others were saying.”

25 tn Grk “This is the one.”

26 tn Grk “No, but he is like him.”

27 tn Grk “That one”; the referent (the man himself) is specified in the translation for clarity.

28 tn Grk “I am he.”

29 tn Grk “So they were saying to him.”

30 tn Grk “How then were your eyes opened” (an idiom referring to restoration of sight).

31 tn Grk “That one answered.”

32 tn Or “clay” (moistened earth of a clay-like consistency).

33 tn Grk “and smeared.” Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when obvious from the context.

34 tn Grk “said to me.”

35 tn Or “and I gained my sight.”

36 tn Grk “And they said.”

37 tn Grk “that one.” “Man” is more normal English style for the referent.

38 tn Grk “He said.”

39 tn Grk “who was formerly blind.”

40 sn See the note on Pharisees in 1:24.

41 tn Or “clay” (moistened earth of a clay-like consistency).

42 tn Grk “and opened his eyes” (an idiom referring to restoration of sight).

43 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

44 tn Or “how he had become able to see.”

sn So the Pharisees asked him. Note the subtlety here: On the surface, the man is being judged. But through him, Jesus is being judged. Yet in reality (as the discerning reader will realize) it is ironically the Pharisees themselves who are being judged by their response to Jesus who is the light of the world (cf. 3:17-21).

45 tn Grk “And he said to them.”

46 tn Or “clay” (moistened earth of a clay-like consistency).

47 tn The word “now” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied to indicate the contrast between the man’s former state (blind) and his present state (able to see).

48 tn As a response to the answers of the man who used to be blind, the use of the imperfect tense in the reply of the Pharisees is best translated as an ingressive imperfect (“began to say” or “started saying”).

49 tn Grk “he does not keep.”

50 sn The Jewish religious leaders considered the work involved in making the mud to be a violation of the Sabbath.

51 tn Grk “do.”

52 tn Or “So there was discord.”

53 tn Grk “the blind man.”

54 tn Grk “since he opened your eyes” (an idiom referring to restoration of sight).

55 tn Grk “And he said, ‘He is a prophet.’”

sn At this point the man, pressed by the Pharisees, admitted there was something special about Jesus. But here, since prophet is anarthrous (is not accompanied by the Greek article) and since in his initial reply in 9:11-12 the man showed no particular insight into the true identity of Jesus, this probably does not refer to the prophet of Deut 18:15, but merely to an unusual person who is capable of working miracles. The Pharisees had put this man on the spot, and he felt compelled to say something about Jesus, but he still didn’t have a clear conception of who Jesus was, so he labeled him a “prophet.”

56 tn Or “the Jewish religious authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” In NT usage the term ᾿Ιουδαῖοι (Ioudaioi) may refer to the entire Jewish people, the residents of Jerusalem and surrounding territory, the authorities in Jerusalem, or merely those who were hostile to Jesus. (For further information see R. G. Bratcher, “‘The Jews’ in the Gospel of John,” BT 26 [1975]: 401-9.) Here the phrase refers mainly to the Pharisees, mentioned by name in John 9:13, 15, 16. References in this context to Pharisees and to the synagogue (v. 22) suggest an emphasis on the religious nature of the debate which is brought out by the translation “the Jewish religious leaders.”

57 tn The Greek text contains the words “about him” at this point: “the Jewish authorities did not believe about him…”

58 tn Grk “they called.”

59 tn Or “the man who had gained his sight.”

60 tn Grk “and they asked them, saying”; the referent (the parents) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

61 tn The Greek pronoun and verb are both plural (both parents are addressed).

62 tn Grk “So his parents answered and said.”

63 tn Grk “who opened his eyes” (an idiom referring to restoration of sight).

64 tn Or “he is of age.”

65 tn Or “the Jewish religious authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” Twice in this verse the phrase refers to the Pharisees, mentioned by name in John 9:13, 15, 16. The second occurrence is shortened to “the Jewish leaders” for stylistic reasons. See the note on the phrase “the Jewish religious leaders” in v. 18.

66 tn Grk “confessed him.”

67 tn Or “the Messiah” (Both Greek “Christ” and Hebrew and Aramaic “Messiah” mean “one who has been anointed”).

sn See the note on Christ in 1:20.

68 tn Or “would be expelled from.”

69 sn This reference to excommunication from the Jewish synagogue for those who had made some sort of confession about Jesus being the Messiah is dismissed as anachronistic by some (e.g., Barrett) and nonhistorical by others. In later Jewish practice there were at least two forms of excommunication: a temporary ban for thirty days, and a permanent ban. But whether these applied in NT times is far from certain. There is no substantial evidence for a formal ban on Christians until later than this Gospel could possibly have been written. This may be a reference to some form of excommunication adopted as a contingency to deal with those who were proclaiming Jesus to be the Messiah. If so, there is no other record of the procedure than here. It was probably local, limited to the area around Jerusalem. See also the note on synagogue in 6:59.

70 tn Or “he is of age.”

71 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author explaining the parents’ response.

72 tn Grk “they called.”

73 tn Grk “who was blind.”

74 tn Grk “Give glory to God” (an idiomatic formula used in placing someone under oath to tell the truth).

75 tn The phrase “this man” is a reference to Jesus.

76 tn Grk “Then that one answered.”

77 tn Grk “open your eyes” (an idiom referring to restoration of sight).

78 tn Grk “He answered them.” The indirect object αὐτοῖς (autois) has not been translated for stylistic reasons.

79 tn Grk “you did not hear.”

80 tn “It” is not in the Greek text but has been supplied. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when they were clearly implied in the context.

81 tn The word “people” is supplied in the translation to clarify the plural Greek pronoun and verb.

82 tn Grk “And they.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

83 tn The Greek word means “to insult strongly” or “slander.”

84 tn Grk “and said.”

85 tn Grk “You are that one’s disciple.”

86 tn Grk “where this one.”

87 tn Grk “The man answered and said to them.” This has been simplified in the translation to “The man replied.”

88 tn Grk “For in this is a remarkable thing.”

89 tn Grk “and he opened my eyes” (an idiom referring to restoration of sight).

90 tn Grk “God does not hear.”

91 tn Or “godly.”

92 tn Grk “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

93 tn Or “hears.”

94 tn Grk “this one.”

95 tn Or “Never from the beginning of time,” Grk “From eternity.”

96 tn Grk “someone opening the eyes of a man born blind” (“opening the eyes” is an idiom referring to restoration of sight).

97 tn Grk “this one.”

98 tn Grk “They answered and said to him.” This has been simplified in the translation to “They replied.”

99 tn Or “From birth you have been evil.” The implication of this insult, in the context of John 9, is that the man whom Jesus caused to see had not previously adhered rigorously to all the conventional requirements of the OT law as interpreted by the Pharisees. Thus he had no right to instruct them about who Jesus was.

100 tn Grk “and are you teaching us?”

101 tn Grk “found him”; the referent (the man) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

102 tc Although most witnesses (A L Θ Ψ 070 0250 Ë1,13 33 Ï lat) have θεοῦ (qeou, “of God”) instead of ἀνθρώπου (anqrwpou, “of man”) here, the better witnesses (Ì66,75 א B D W sys) have ἀνθρώπου. Not only is the external evidence decidedly on the side of ἀνθρώπου, but it is difficult to see such early and diverse witnesses changing θεοῦ to ἀνθρώπου. The wording “Son of Man” is thus virtually certain.

103 tn Grk “That one.”

104 tn Grk answered and said.” This has been simplified in the translation to “replied.”

105 tn Or “And who is he, sir? Tell me so that…” Some translations supply elliptical words like “Tell me” (NIV, NRSV) following the man’s initial question, but the shorter form given in the translation is clear enough.

106 tn Grk “that one.”

107 tn The καίκαί (kaikai) construction would normally be translated “both – and”: “You have both seen him, and he is the one speaking with you.” In this instance the English semicolon was used instead because it produces a smoother and more emphatic effect in English.

108 sn Assuming the authenticity of John 9:38-39a (see the tc note following the bracket in v. 39), the man’s response after Jesus’ statement of v. 37 is extremely significant: He worshiped Jesus. In the Johannine context the word would connote its full sense: This was something due God alone. Note also that Jesus did not prevent the man from doing this. The verb προσκυνέω (proskunew) is used in John 4:20-25 of worshiping God, and again with the same sense in 12:20. This would be the only place in John’s Gospel where anyone is said to have worshiped Jesus using this term. As such, it forms the climax of the story of the man born blind, but the uniqueness of the concept of worshiping Jesus at this point in John's narrative (which reaches its ultimate climax in the confession of Thomas in John 20:28) may suggest it is too early for such a response and it represents a later scribal addition.

109 tn Grk “And Jesus.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

110 tc ‡ Some early and important witnesses (Ì75 א* W b sams ac2 mf) lack the words, “He said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him. Jesus said,” (vv. 38-39a). This is weighty evidence for the omission of these words. It is difficult to overstate the value of Ì75 here, since it is the only currently available papyrus ms extant for the text of John 9:38-39. Further, א is an important and early Alexandrian witness for the omission. The versional testimony and codex W also give strong support to the omission. Nearly all other mss, however, include these words. The omission may have been occasioned by parablepsis (both vv. 37 and 39 begin with “Jesus said to him”), though it is difficult to account for such an error across such a wide variety of witnesses. On the other hand, the longer reading appears to be motivated by liturgical concerns (so R. E. Brown, John [AB], 1:375), since the verb προσκυνέω (proskunew, “I worship”) is used in John 4:20-25 of worshiping God, and again with the same sense in 12:20. If these words were authentic here, this would be the only place in John’s Gospel where Jesus is the explicit object of προσκυνέω. Even if these words are not authentic, such an omission would nevertheless hardly diminish John’s high Christology (cf. 1:1; 5:18-23; 14:6-10; 20:28), nor the implicit worship of him by Thomas (20:28). Nevertheless, a decision is difficult, and the included words may reflect a very early tradition about the blind man’s response to Jesus.

111 tn Or “that those who do not see may see.”

112 sn See the note on Pharisees in 1:24.

113 tn Grk “heard these things.”

114 tn Grk “and said to him.”

115 tn Questions prefaced with μή (mh) in Greek anticipate a negative answer. This can sometimes be indicated by using a “tag” at the end in English (here the tag is “are we?”).

116 tn Grk “Jesus said to them.”

117 tn Grk “you would not have sin.”

118 tn Grk “now because you say, ‘We see…’”

119 tn Or “your sin.”

120 sn Because you claim that you can see, your guilt remains. The blind man received sight physically, and this led him to see spiritually as well. But the Pharisees, who claimed to possess spiritual sight, were spiritually blinded. The reader might recall Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in 3:10, “Are you the teacher of Israel and don’t understand these things?” In other words, to receive Jesus was to receive the light of the world, to reject him was to reject the light, close one’s eyes, and become blind. This is the serious sin of which Jesus had warned before (8:21-24). The blindness of such people was incurable since they had rejected the only cure that exists (cf. 12:39-41).

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