John 5:1-47 - Outline of John (Book Notes menu page)
5:1. After this there was a feast of the Jews;
and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
feast of the Jews- Annual attendance was required of all Jewish men, at three specific feasts...
Passover (Unleavened Bread), Pentecost (Weeks), and Tabernacles (Booths). Deu 16:16
This unnamed feast is probably not Passover, since Jesus' three and a half years of ministry would allow time for only the three Passovers named (Joh 2:23; 6:4; 11:55).
5:2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep [market] {ie., sheep gate} a pool,
which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
sheep gate- a gate in the city wall, near the Temple. cp. Neh 3:1; 12:39
Bethesda {HB name is Bet-chesed, meaning: 'house of mercy'}
five porches- archaeologists have located this pool, just north of the Temple complex.
It was actually two rectangular pools side by side. Platforms surrounding the pools on four sides, and between the pools were protected with roofs supported by pillars.
5:3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered,
waiting for the moving of the water.
5:4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water:
whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in
was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
The last line of v.3 and all of v.4 are not included in the most ancient manuscripts.
They were probably inserted as an explanatory note providing background for v.7.
an angel... troubled the water...- This was the belief of the people,
based on tradition and superstition, rather than Scripture.
Healings may have occassionally occurred, perhaps due to psychological effects.
5:5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
The infirmity is not described, but it may have come upon him due to some sin (v.14).
5:6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time [in that case],
he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
wilt thou...- GK= thelo, to desire, to wish.
Jesus did not ask, "Will you get better?"... but "Do you want to be made whole?"
The question must have seemed jarring and insensitive to the afflicted man.
But the Lord who is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities" framed it to fit the man's need (Heb 4:13,15). It caused the man to turn his eyes from the pool to Jesus.
5:7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man,
when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool:
but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
impotent- GK= astheneo, weak, feeble, without strength.
I have no man...- Perhaps he was despairing of his hopeless situation. cp. Psa 142:4
Perhaps he was suggesting that Jesus help him to the pool. But that was not His intention.
the pool- had been the focus of this man's life for decades.
But it was a false hope, he needed to look to the Lord. cp. Psa 142:5
5:8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
'The impotent man meets the Omnipotent.' [McGee]
Rise, take up... walk- Jesus used similar words in Mat 9:6.
In that case also, He dealt with underlying sin (v.14).
take up thy bed- there was no provision for a relapse.
-- there was no need for healing time or for physical therapy.
His word commanded and also enabled obedience.
5:9 And immediately the man was made whole,
and took up his bed, and walked:
and on the same day was the sabbath.
immediately- muscles long atrophied were instantly restored.
This miracle, done openly, was a public sign that the Messiah was present.
"...Then shall the lame man leap..." (Isa 35:4-7).
The impotent man is a type of Israel (which languished 38 years in the wilderness, Deu 2:14),
looking vainly to the Law (which was given by disposition of angels, Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19).
Healing was impossible because the flesh lacked strength to fulfill the requirements.
When he looked to Jesus, he was healed, and found rest from his disease.
Christ is the believer's sabbath rest. (Zech 13:1; Rom 8:3,4; Heb 4) [GWms]
5:10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured,
It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry [thy] bed.
the sabbath- the day of rest was commanded by God. Ex 20:8-11
it is not lawful... to carry...- cp. Jer 17:21,22
5:11 He answered them, He that made me whole,
the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.
5:12 Then asked they him,
What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
he that made me whole- The healed man 'broke' the sabbath,
on the authority of the One who healed him.
what man is that...? - Jesus' identity is at the heart of the discussion that follows-
-- if a mere man, he is a law breaker.
-- if God, He transcends the law which He made. cp. Joh 9:16
5:13 And he that was healed wist {ie., knew} not who it was:
for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in [that] place.
5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him,
Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more,
lest a worse thing come unto thee.
a that place- Jesus, in performing this public sign...
  • did not seek to make a name for Himself.
  • did not neglect the private ministry to an individual sinner.
in the temple- perhaps the man went there to offer thanksgiving. (Psa 107:20-22)
lest a worse thing...- ie., 38 years at Bethesda were nothing compared to hell fire. (cp. Mat 5:28-30)
5:15 The man departed, and told the Jews
that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
5:16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him,
because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
To the Jewish authorities, the impotent man offended because he carried his bed (v.10).
But Jesus was the greater offender, because He set His authority higher than the sabbath.
This conflict would persist through His earthly ministry (cp. Joh 7:23).
What did He carry on the sabbath? cp. Mat 8:17; Isa 53:4,11
5:17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
My Father works- On the seventh day of creation, God rested. His work was done. Gen 2:1,2
But when man sinned, God entered into the work of salvation.
  • Man, like an ox, had fallen into a ditch.
    God could not rest until He got him out. Mat 12:11,12; Luk 14:5 [McGee]
  • Jesus came to do His Father's business of salvation.
    He would not rest until it was finished. Joh 9:4; Heb 1:3
5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him,
because he not only had broken the sabbath,
but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
his Father- GK= patera idion, lit., his own Father {a unique relationship}.
The Jews rightly understood these words as a claim to deity.
sought the more to kill him- More serious than 'sabbath breaker,' the offense of
'blasphemy' was the charge for which He was eventually crucified. cp. Joh 10:33; Mat 26:63-66
making himself equal with God-
'equal' {GK= ison (masculine singular form of 'isos'), the same in size, number, quality...}
The Jews wrongly understood that He was claiming to be an 'equal' to the Father.
That is, an independent being who was deity in his own right (ie., 'Himself' versus 'the Father').
  • This would be blasphemous, for there is only one God (Deu 6:4; Mark 12:29).
  • This would also be impossible, since it would require that there be two omnipotent beings.
Note: In Php 2:6, "... equal with God...", the GK 'isa' is neuter plural, (lit., 'on equalities with').
It is not that the Son 'measures up' to the Father. But that in every way, they share one measure.
5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you,
The Son can do nothing of
{out from} himself, but what he seeth the Father do:
for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
the Son can do nothing out from Himself-
Some erroneously see this statement as Jesus disclaiming equality with God.
On the contrary, this statement clarifies the meaning of this equality.
Jesus was not saying that He lacked power in Himself, but that everything He did was in agreement with the Father's will.
Christ could not initiate any action which would conflict with the Father.
-- As a man, He was totally submissive to the Father.
-- As God, He acted in total agreement with the Godhead.
Four statements which Jesus made (in v.19-24) reinforce His claim to deity:
1. The Son does not act independently of the Father. v.19
    Whatever one does, the other does also.
    The Father and the Son are inseparably joined in their common work. (cp. v.17; Joh 14:10)
5:20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth:
and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
loveth- GK= phileo, to approve of, to befriend, to treat affectionately.
Love of the Father for the Son is usually expressed by GK= agapao, emphasizing love's intensity (eg., Joh 3:35; 17:26).
The emphasis, here, is tenderness and intimacy. cp. 'friends' {GK= philos} in 15:15.
2. The Father and the Son are in open communication due to their close relationship. v.20
The Son is privy to the Father's secret counsels. cp. Mat 11:27
greater works- eg., resurrection (v.21) and judgment (v.22) are greater than healing (v.8,9)
5:21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth [them] {gives life to them};
even so the Son quickeneth
{gives life to} whom he will.
3. The Son shares the Father's power to give life. v.21
cp. v.25,26; Deu 32:39; Joh 11:25; 17:2
to whom He will- This power is at Christ's discretion.
5:22 For the Father judgeth no man,
but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
Lit., "Not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment unto the Son."
5:23 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.
4. The Son will judge all men. v.22
cp. v.27 (judgment of: believers, 2Cor 5:10; unbelievers, Rev 20:11-15).
honour- GK= timao, to honor, to revere, to venerate.
"He that refuses to worship Jesus as God, refuses to worship God." [GWms]. Joh 15:23; 1Joh 2:23
cp. Isa 42:8; 43:10,11; 44:6; 45:21-23
5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you,
He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me,
hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation;
but is passed from death unto life.
Verse 24 is based on the four statements (in v.19-23) concerning Christ's Person.
he that hears...and believes...- The way a man receives Jesus and His words
is the way he receives God the Father, for they are inseparable.
has everlasting life- (present tense) Everlasting life is the present possession of the believer.
This assurance is based on the authority of the Life Giver (v.21).
shall not come into condemnation- Future judgment holds no terror for the believer.
This assurance is based on the authority of the Judge (v.22). 3:18; Rom 8:34; 1The 5:9
is passed from death into life- the present & permanent condition of the believer.
(This thought continues in v.25,26.) cp. Joh 3:36; Eph 2:1; 1Joh 5:11,12
v.25-29 reveal two aspects of Christ's power to make the dead alive:
  1. from spiritual death to eternal life (pertaining to believers), v.25-26
  2. from physical death to judgment (pertaining to saved & unsaved), v.27-29.
5:25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is,
when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God:
and they that hear shall live.
the is- because Christ came, new life is available for those who are dead in sin.
Since Christ's death for us, God's grace has been available to those who will receive it.
The Hour (or season) of Grace has already lasted for about 2000 years.
Eph 2:1,5; Col 2:13,14
the dead shall hear...they that hear shall live- The exchange of spiritual death for life
is for those who hear & receive the message of who Christ is and of what He has done.
Joh 11:25-26
5:26 For as the Father hath life in himself;
so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

5:27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also,
because he is the Son of man.
life in Himself- cp. v.21,24; 1:4; 1Cor 15:45
authority to judge- cp. v.22,23; Psa 2:6-9; 110:1,2,6
because he is the Son of man- It is fitting that men be judged by a Man. Dan 7:13,14
That this Man is fit to judge mankind is declared by His death and resurrection. 1Tim 2:5,6; Acts 17:31
5:28 Marvel not at this: {ie., at His ability to give life to the spiritually dead, v.21,24,25}
for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
5:29 And shall come forth;
they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life;
and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
the hour is coming- speaking of the future physical resurrections.
Just as the "hour" of grace has extended over many years (see note at v.25), the "hour" of resurrection will extend over a period of time and take place in several stages.
There are two major categories of resurrection.-
  1. resurrection of life- for those who have "done good"- 1The 4:15-17; Rev 20:4-6
    • Good works characterize those who participate in "the first resurrection."
      cp. Rom 2:6-10; Gal 6:8-10
    • But there is one 'good work' which is foundational,
      and without which all others are worthless (see Joh 6:28,29).
  2. resurrection of damnation- for those who have "done evil"- Rev 20:11-15
    evil- GK= phaula, worthlessness.
    (This word is used in Joh 3:20, see context of 3:16-21.) cp. Mat 7:21-23
5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: {cp. v.19}
as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just;
because I seek not mine own will,
but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
{cp. Joh 4:34}
of mine own self...nothing- As the perfect man,
"He had His own will (Luk 22:42) and His distinct Person in the Godhead, but no intent of His own apart from the Father. Hence, His judgment was righteous..." [GWms]
as I hear- cp. Isa 50:4,5
I judge- GK= krino, to separate, decide, determine.
His discernment of every matter is right, because it is in perfect accord with God's judgment. cp. Gen 18:25; Psa 96:13; Rom 2:2
Accordingly, His word is true and trustworthy.
5:31 If I bear witness of {ie., concerning} myself,
my witness is not true.
witness- Hebrew law required 2 or 3 witnesses to determine any disputed matter. Deu 19:15
my witness is not true- ie., not legally trustworthy, decisive, or convincing. cp. Joh 8:13-14
This verse means: "If I alone testified concerning my equality with God (v.18), my testimony would not be decisive." [GWms]
Jesus now presents other witnesses concerning Himself:
  1. John the Baptist, v.32-35
  2. Miraculous works, v.36
  3. The Father, v.37,38
  4. The Scriptures, v.39-47
Among these, there is one primary Witness:
5:32 There is another that beareth witness of me; {cp. 8:17-18}
and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.
5:33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. {cp. 1:19-34}
John testified that-
  • Jesus is eternal. 1:15
  • Jesus is God the Son. 1:34
  • Jesus is the one sufficient sacrifice. 1:29
Jesus said John's testimony was true, but...
5:34 But I receive not testimony from man:
but these things I say, that ye might be saved.
testimony from man- might help open the eyes of other men to the Person of Christ,
but bears no weight in the court of heaven as to whether His claims are true.
5:35 He was a burning and a shining light {GK= luchnos, lamp}:
and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light
{GK= phos, light (emitted light)}.
John was a lamp, a light-bearer. Jesus is the light. 1:4-9
5:36 But I have greater witness than [that] of John:
for the works which the Father hath given me to finish,
{cp. 4:34}
the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
the works that I do- His miracles were like credentials
attesting that He was the Messiah foretold in scripture.
cp. Isa 35:5-6; John 3:2; 9:16,30-33; 10:25,37,38
"His miracles were not conclusive of His claim of Deity, but the manner in which He performed them, and the nature of them, as predicted in the Scriptures were conclusive." [GWms]
bear witness...that the Father hath sent me- two GK words are used for "send" in this passage:
  • pempo- to send (in a general sense): Christ was sent to earth by the Father. cp. v.23,24,30,37
  • apostello- to send on a mission. Christ was sent to accomplish the Father's works. cp. v.36,38
    (In v.33, this word is used of representatives whom the Pharisees commissioned for a specific task.)
5:37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me.
Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
5:38 And ye have not his word abiding in you:
for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
the Father...has borne witness...- in many different ways, including:
  • a voice from Heaven-
    -- at His baptism, Mat 3:17
    -- at His transfiguration, Mat 17:5
  • the miracles, v.36; Joh 14:10,11
  • the Scriptures, v.39
  • the inward work of God within a man's heart-
    -- convicting, convincing and calling (cp. 6:44-45)
    -- giving understanding of God's Word.
The Pharisees were not qualified to evaluate the Father's testimony, because:
5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life:
and they are they which testify of me.
5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
search- lit., 'ye search...'
They were already studying the Bible. But they were searching for the fine points of the Law, because they thought (wrongly) that by careful observation of every obscure commandment, they would surpass others to merit righteousness and eternal life. (cp. Deu 32:46,47; Mat 23:23)
But they had missed the primary theme of the Scriptures:
they...testify of me- cp. Luk 24:27,44; Acts 17:11
ye will not {ie., you do not desire to} come to me- cp. v.6
Fallen human nature is in rebellion to God's clear witness concerning Christ.
cp. Joh 12:37-41; Psa 81:11; Isa 53:1-3; 1Joh 5:9-12
5:41 I receive not honour from men. {cp. v.34}
5:42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of {ie., for, toward} God in you.
5:43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not:
if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another,
and seek not the honour that [cometh] from God only?
honour- GK= doxa, glory. cp. Joh 7:18; 8:50-54
  • Jesus did not come to advance Himself.
    -- He came in His Father's name, to do His Father's will.
    -- He desired only the Father's approval. cp. 17:1,4,5
  • In contrast, the Pharisees...
    -- loved themselves & the things of earth, more than God. cf. Deu 6:5
    -- sought acclaim from men, not from God alone. Luk 16:15
how can ye believe...? - "True faith was impossible
because they were seeking the wrong object: man not God." [TBKC] cp. Heb 11:6
They rejected the One sent on the Father's mission to give them eternal life (Joh 3:16).
if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.-
Having rejected the Messiah of God, the nation would eventually accept a false messiah (the Antichrist), who like themselves, would come to advance himself. cp. Mat 24:5,15,24; 2The 2:3,4
5:45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: {cp. Joh 3:17}
there is [one] that accuseth you,
[even] Moses, in whom ye trust.
{lit., on whom you have placed your hope. [Wuest]}
5:46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me:
for he wrote of me.
5:47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
Moses...{your hope}- They considered themselves righteous according to the Law of Moses
(eg., in the keeping of the sabbath).
Like the impotent man at Bethesda (v.5,6)...
-- they were looking to a false hope. cp. Rom 3:19,20; 10:1-10
-- they needed to look to Him for true sabbath rest. cp. Mat 11:28; Heb 4:1-3,10
Moses...wrote of me.-
The prophecies and pictures of Christ in the Pentateuch are numerous. Consider...
if ye believe not his writings...- cp. Luk 16:31

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