Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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JOHN - Chapter 9

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John 9

Supplemental Commentary:

I.  THE PUBLIC MINISTRY OF JESUS  1, 19 -- 12, 50 (continued)

3.  Conflicts with the Jews  7, 1 -- 12, 50 (continued)

9, 1-41:  The Man Born Blind.  Christ having been virtually expelled from the temple (8, 59), the following event can hardly have occurred just as He was leaving it--perhaps not even soon afterward.  At least it preceded the date next given (10, 22), that of the Feast of the Dedication.

1-12:  The miracle.    1.  Beggars frequented the approaches to the temple.  No other cure of congenital blindness is expressly recorded in the Gospels.    2.  Whether an unborn child could sin was a disputed question, but all agreed that a parent's sin might be visited upon a child: cf. Deut. 5, 9; 2 Kgs. 12, 14.    3-5.  Neither supposition is true in this case; the physical evil was permitted by God in order to lead to a greater good.    4.  The time for that good (the manifestation of divine glory and power in Christ) is fast elapsing; night is coming, a definite allusion to His approaching death, though expressed in the terms of a general truth.    5.  Light of the world: the present function of the light is the revelation which our Lord has been giving, the evidence of His nature which is a call to faith.    6 f.  He used clay in this instance, Chrysostom thinks, to make the blindness more evident before the miracle.  The clay, at all events, was not the medium of the cure.  The pool of Siloe was at the lower end of the Tyropoeon valley, within the city walls.  John suggests a symbolic relation of its name to the Hebrew verb "send": Christ is the sent of God.  In some instances the pool was used for ritual purifications.    8-12.  The manner in which the miracle became known is significant.

13-34:  The Pharisees investigate the miracle.  The affair illustrates the popular recognition of the Pharisees' authority in questions of the Law.  The investigation of the case may have run into the following days.  The episode also contrasts the Pharisees, unmoved by the miracle, with the man who was cured and believed.    15 f.  The first examination results in dissension among themselves.  Cf. 7, 12.48.  What had been violated was their traditional interpretation of the precept concerning the Sabbath.    17.  Their second injury, not wholly free from malice, shows the man's faith in contrast to their doubt.    18-23.  Their third question is put to the parents, in an effort to disprove the fact.  He is of age: i.e., over thirteen years.  The parents' fear again shows the official opposition to Christ.  Exclusion from the community had been a penalty imposed since the time of the exile; Cf. 1 Esd. 10, 8.  Its character at the time of Christ is not known.    24-33.  The last question.  Give glory to God: a solemn adjuration to tell the truth.  Cf. Jos 7, 19; 1 Kgs. 6, 5.  They hoped he would either deny the fact or withdraw his previous confession of faith.  We know that this man is a sinner hints at the answer they await; the we is emphatic.    26.  As they repeat their first question, the man's surprise becomes indignation.  The Greek text reads, "and you did not hear," meaning "you refused to hear."    28.  Disciples of Moses was a current designation of the Pharisaic scribes.  They repeat the popular doubt already voiced in Jerusalem; cf. 7, 25 ff.    30.  The man's answer condemns their bad faith.    31.  Does not hear sinners: the sinner has no claim upon divine favor such as this miracle demonstrates.    32.  From the beginning of the world: a Semitic phrase meaning emphatically "never."    33.  For the cured man the evidence is cogent: if He were not from God, He could do nothing of this order.    34.  The result: the Pharisees repel the man from their presence, definitely displaying their own voluntary blindness.  Born in sins alludes to his former blindness and his ignorance of the Law.  Dost thou teach us, expresses a typically Pharisaic point of view.

35-41:  Sight and blindness contrasted.  He who had been blind received also the new vision of faith; they who thought themselves enlightened in the Law are declared blind.  Cf. Isa. 6, 9; 42, 16; 52, 10.    35.  In the Son of God: not His divinity, but His supernatural power and mission.  Many Greek manuscripts read "the Son of Man," meaning the Messias.  Thus the man's courageous faith is rewarded with the offer of still higher faith.    37 f.  Worshipped him: perhaps with religious devotion; he had confessed to the Pharisees the power of God in Christ.  This is faith.    39.  For judgment: cf. Matt. 11, 25; Luke 10, 21; 1 Cor. 1, 26-29; the sense is "discernment," "discrimination."  Recall 3, 17 f; 5, 24; cf. Deut. 30, 15-20; Luke 2, 34.  Mankind is divided into two groups, those accepting and those rejecting Christ, the one represented by the cured man, the other by the Pharisees.  But observe that God gives both the same opportunity.    40 f.  If you were blind: i.e., ignorant of what you are doing.  They pride themselves on their knowledge of the Law.  Your sin remains: it is habitual, formal.

Confraternity Bible:

The Man Born Blind  1 And as he was passing by, he saw a man blind from birth.  2* And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who has sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?"  3 Jesus answered, "Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents, but the works of God were to be made manifest in him.  4 I must do the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.  5 As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world."

6 When he had said these things, he spat on the ground and made clay with the spittle, and spread the clay over his eyes, 7 and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloe (which is interpreted 'sent')."  So he went away, and washed, and returned seeing.  8 The neighbors therefore and they who were wont to see him before as a beggar, began saying, "Is not this he who used to sit and beg?"  Some said, "It is he."  9 But others said, "By no means, he only resembles him."  Yet the man declared, "I am he."

10 They therefore said to him, "How were thy eyes opened?"  11 He answered, "The man who is called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to the pool of Siloe and wash.'  And I went and washed, and I see."  12 And they said to him, "Where is he?"  He said, "I do not know."

13 They took him who had been blind to the Pharisees.  14 Now it was a Sabbath on which Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.  15 Again, therefore, the Pharisees asked him how he received his sight.  But he said to them, "He put clay upon my eyes, and I washed, and I see."

16 Therefore some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath."  But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner work these signs?"  And there was a division among them.  17 Again therefore they said to the blind man, "What dost thou say of him who opened thy eyes?"  But he said, "He is a prophet."

18 The Jews therefore did not believe of him that he had been blind and had got his sight, until they called the parents of the one who had gained his sight, 19 and questioned them, saying, "Is this your son, of whom you say that he was born blind?  How then does he now see?"  20 His parents answered them and said, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but how he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we ourselves do not know.  Ask him; he is of age, let him speak for himself."  22 These things his parents said because they feared the Jews.  For already the Jews had agreed that if anyone were to confess him to be the Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.  23 This is why his parents said, "He is of age; question him."

24 They therefore called a second time the man who had been blind, and said to him, "Give glory to God!  We ourselves know that this man is a sinner."  25 He therefore said, "Whether he is a sinner, I do not know.  One thing I do know, that whereas I was blind, now I see."  26 They therefore said to him, "What did he do to thee?  How did he open thy eyes?"  27* He answered them, "I have told you already, and you have heard.  Why would you hear again?  Would you also become  his disciples?"  28 They heaped abuse on him therefore, and said, "Thou art his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.  29 We know that God spoke to Moses; but as for this man, we do not know where he is from."  30 In answer the man said to them, "Why, herein is the marvel, that you do not know where he is from, and yet he opened my eyes.  31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshipper of God, and does his will, he hears him.  32* Not from the beginning of the world has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.  33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."  34 They answered and said to him, "Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?"  And they turned him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had turned him out, and when he had found him, said to him, "Dost thou believe in the Son of God?"  36 He answered and said, "Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?"  37 And Jesus said to him, "Thou hast both seen him, and he it is who speaks with thee."  38 And he said, "I believe, Lord."  And falling down, he worshipped him.

39 And Jesus said, "For judgment have I come into this world, that they who do not see may see, and they who see may become blind."  40 And some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this, and they said to him, "Are we also blind?"  41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin.  But now that you say, 'We see,' your sin remains."


2: Some rabbis held that an unborn child could sin.  All were agreed that the sins of a parent could be visited upon the child.  Hence the question.  But in this case neither is true.  God permitted this evil, resulting from natural and by no means unusual causes, in order to manifest His divine power.

27: The Greek text reads, "and you heard not."  The sense is the same in the context: You heard but did not heed.

32: Not from the beginning of the world: an emphatic "never."