John Chapter 5: Healing of Man at Pool, Resurrections of Just and Unjust

Jan 16th, 2010 | By | Category: John, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

John Chapter 5: Healing of Man at Pool, Resurrections of Just and Unjust

John 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Jesus went up to Jerusalem at the time of “a feast,” which was Passover No. 2 in his ministry. When the account says simply “feast” without a descriptive word, it usually refers to Passover. An exception would be when, for example, the circumstances and context show it was the Feast of Dedication.

John 5:2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

Jesus went to a pool called Bethesda, meaning “house of mercy” or “place of mercy.” At the pool were five porticos to shelter and give shade to the sick and the lame. The pool had a reputation for curative effects.

John 5:3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

In the porticos, or porches, lay a multitude of impotent people. The word “great” is spurious and should be omitted (see Diaglott). Moreover, the nature of the pool itself precluded having a great multitude there.

What a sad condition existed at the pool! If we put ourselves in Jesus’ place, with the blind, lame, withered, etc., before us, it would be like the ward of a hospital with pathetic cases. No doubt Jesus went there intentionally. Although “the moving of the water” is a spurious phrase, the thought is Scriptural (see verse 7). A whirlpool bath, which simulates the action of warm waters agitating from a natural spring, would be comparable today. A curative effect is the result for certain infirmities.

John 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.

This entire verse is spurious. Furthermore, the thought is not even logical for healing to go to the individual who could get into the troubled water the fastest. Verse 4 was either an exaggeration or a fantasy that was added for emotionalism. In either case, it was wrong to add inaccurate emotional intensity. John 8:1-11 is another example of emotionalism being introduced as an interpolation. That account is also spurious.

John 5:5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

For 38 years, this man had been suffering from a serious health problem.

John 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?

In other words, Jesus previously knew about this person. Extending this reasoning, we realize that Jesus knew about all of us even before we came to him. “We love him [God, and by extension Jesus], because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). And since Jesus was about 31 years old here and the man had been in poor health for 38 years, Jesus as the Logos would have known about his condition. In addition, not only are the intuitive powers of Jesus shown here, but also his sympathetic eye for noting certain conditions. Some people could see such a scene and take no special cognizance of it, but Jesus noted the man’s continual disappointment, his long-standing disease, and the repetitive nature of the disease.

Jesus dealt with this man a little differently than he did with the Samaritan woman, Nicodemus, and the nobleman. He asked, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Now suppose we were that man.

For 38 years, we would have been frustrated in going to this pool to get the benefit of the waters. And even having made it into the waters at times over the years, we still had not been cured. This man was a bulldog: persistent, persevering, and tenacious like the importuning widow. That is a good quality. Drive and tenacity can be harnessed into a wonderful asset when one has the spirit of the truth. The man desired exceedingly to be healed.

John 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.

Notice how the impotent man answered Jesus. His reply indicates that he thought his cure was predicated upon his being put into the pool, and he hoped Jesus—obviously an unusual personage and kind—would assist him into the pool.

John 5:8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

There is no evidence that this man had faith, but let us speculate that Jesus was aware, as the Logos, of this man’s condition as well as subsequently when he went to Jerusalem during his First Advent as a man. The suggestion is that the miracle was prearranged. Jesus knew the man was there and did not try to draw out his faith. When Jesus asked if he would be made whole, the man’s reply shows he misunderstood. He was not expecting a miracle, but was hoping to get a cure from the waters of the pool.

Apparently, this miracle was very noticeable to others, for many would have known about his 38-year infirmity and his repeated struggle to get into the pool. Hence his health problem was well known. Out of a group of infirm people, Jesus selected this one and asked the question and effected the cure. When Jesus said, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk,” electricity would have surged through the man. Sensations would have gone through his system—and he rose and obeyed.

John 5:9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

Since Jesus evidently intended in advance to cure this man, he also intended to cure him on the sabbath, but why? To heal on the sabbath would bring up an issue he could then address. Jesus knew what would happen following this experience. He knew a “forum” of interested people would listen to his reasoning. It is true that the sabbath was to be observed, but the people needed to be educated about circumstances that could be attended to on the sabbath.

It is impressive that Jesus did not just say, “Arise and walk.” Here was a man who had been crippled for 38 years, and Jesus told him to pick up his bed. What a dramatic effect on those observing!

There is an antitypical reason for miracles being done on the sabbath. In earth’s Sabbath Day, the Millennium, such cures and miracles will abound. The miracles at Jesus’ First Advent were advance samples of future power and glory to come on behalf of the world of mankind.

Ordinarily, it would have been permitted and/or overlooked for a crippled person to carry something or to be carried on the sabbath. Hence the scribes and Pharisees were hypercritical and hypocritical to seize on this incident and similar incidents as sabbath-breaking. That is why Jesus, on another occasion, asked, “Which of you, having an ass or an ox fall into a pit on the sabbath, would not pull it out?” (Luke 14:5). Of course they would have rescued the animal.

John 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.

Some Jews accosted the cured man for carrying his bed on the sabbath day. Their spirit was  contrary to God’s intention regarding the sabbath. As Jesus said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). The sabbath was not meant to be a burdensome stone on their backs.

There is no law in the Bible against carrying one’s bed, and Jesus perfectly obeyed the Law. In fact, he came to fulfill it. The Law prohibited “work” on the sabbath, meaning that the Israelites  were not to do laborious work. For example, it was not permitted to gather sticks to cook with on the sabbath, but if the sticks were already gathered, one could light the fire and do the cooking. Eating was also permitted but not laboring for it—shopping, etc.

Jeremiah 17:21,22 reads, “Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.” This text is what the sabbath was based upon, and then the Pharisees added picayune restrictions. Some arguments Jesus used against the Pharisees’ interpretation of the sabbath are as follows:

1. If any of you have an animal that falls into a pit, would you not retrieve it? The instinct of the Pharisees would be to immediately pick up the animal and/or get it out of the pit, and they would not give the matter a second thought.

2. David, out of hunger and desperation, entered the Holy and ate the shewbread. Normally, this would be unlawful for any but the priests to do.

3. The disciples picked and ate as they walked along in a grain field on the sabbath. This was permissible because they were not harvesting and storing up the grain.

4. The priests worked on the sabbath. Preparing animals for sacrifice was hard physical work in the religious realm, and Jesus’ healings on the sabbath were acts of mercy and blessing on a higher plane. John 7:21-23 uses this line of reasoning in regard to the priests doing circumcision on the sabbath. Circumcision took place on the eighth day, whenever that day occurred, sabbath or not.

The following Orthodox practices today show the inordinate degree to which the sabbath is observed by some. Toilet paper is torn the day before. Water cannot be boiled on the sabbath, but one can start the pot boiling before the sabbath begins and continue on through. Elevators can be used on the sabbath if they automatically stop at each floor so that the person is not doing work by pushing buttons.

Jesus’ critics probably knew the healed man in his former condition. For 38 years, it was his custom to go down to the pool of Bethesda. They should have rejoiced at his restoration to health instead of hypocritically finding fault.

John 5:11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

John 5:12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?

John 5:13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

The Jews had said, “What are you doing carrying your bed? Don’t you know this is the sabbath?” The cured man’s answer incensed them. Instead of rejoicing over the cure, they responded, “Who had the nerve to tell you to pick up your bed and carry it?” The man did not know, for he had not asked Jesus his name.

Jesus had intentionally gone to the Pool of Bethesda, knowing in advance about the man being infirm for 38 years. Jesus did not ask the man to exercise faith. The man had yearned to be cured and was tenacious in his purpose of getting to the pool. He did not remain there overnight, for he had to go home to eat. Jesus’ purpose in healing that particular man will come out as the account proceeds.

John 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.

Jesus did not just happen to find the man in the Temple, but purposely sought him out. Jesus knew what would ensue after he said, “Take up thy bed and walk.” He realized that the super-Orthodox Jews would question him for acting on the sabbath, but their questioning would raise an issue he wanted to address. The stage was thus set for some wonderful sermons, especially since others knew of the man’s being ill for 38 years.

Jesus’ admonition to “sin no more” indicates the man’s illness had been the result of a sinful past—and the man knew it. All have sinned and gone astray, but this would have been something more than the usual. (Jesus similarly told the Samaritan woman of her sinful past— five husbands and the current man not being a husband.) The fact that the man went to the Temple in thankfulness after being healed shows that good character developed during the years of illness. Under the Law, some sins required going to the priest for examination. Therefore, the “Jews” of verses 10 and 12 could have been priests.

John 5:15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

Why did the man go back and tell the identity of Jesus? Rather than trying to shift blame to Jesus, he was probably so thankful that he wanted proper credit to be given and did not intend to cause a repercussion.

Sin is sin, and reciprocity occurs to offset it in one way or another. The man felt that the disease was a form of retribution, especially in view of Jesus’ words and caution to “sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon thee.” One leper out of ten came back to thank Jesus, but this man could not do that, for he did not even know Jesus’ name, let alone where to find him.

Therefore, if he was trying to express his thankfulness, the next best and logical thing to do was to go to the Temple. If he was truly thankful and right-hearted, he went and told the Jews about Jesus out of enthusiasm (and not from an evil motive). Probably he meant to give honor.

An instant cure after 38 years of illness would no doubt result in thankfulness and gratitude, not a desire to shift blame to Jesus.

John 5:16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

Notice, the Jews did not seek to kill the cured man but the one who had done the curing. Jesus was considered the perpetrator of the crime, and the Jews feared that he would heal others on the sabbath. They could not kill Jesus publicly but needed some kind of court first—unless he was caught actually doing the healing.

John 5:17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

The Diaglott rendering is, “My Father works till now, and I work.” Jesus was justifying his actions. His words incensed the Jews all the more (verse 18), but he knew in advance what the reaction would be. Those who impartially meditated on the events and Jesus’ words would have understood, but it was impossible to reason with those who were emotionally charged and distraught. In addition to the emotionally involved “Jews” who were singled out here, others were observing this interchange, for Jesus was accosted publicly.

What bearing did Jesus’ remark have on the issue at hand? Different translations imply that the Father is still working but that Jesus now has to work too. It is true that God rested from the natural creative works in the Seventh Day, but He did not rest from the spiritual or New Creation. God is the Author of the New Creation, and He is working in that regard. Individuals are drawn by the Father and begotten by His Word. It is God who selects certain individuals to hear the truth and then sends Jesus to those individuals. Whether or not one reacts favorably depends on the person, but it is an honor to even hear the truth.

The concept that God is working in spiritual matters was new to Orthodox Jews. Certain types of laborious work on the sabbath were prohibited under the Law, but not healing, eating, services of the priesthood, etc. In other words, spiritual work was permissible on the sabbath.

Jesus was saying, “My Father works right up to the present. He stopped His physical creative work but now works spiritually.” God rested from physical creation at the end of the Sixth Creative Day and left matters in the hands of the Logos until the end of the Kingdom, which will coincide with the end of the Millennium, when the Father will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28).

Of course the Jews did not grasp the real import of these words under the emotionally charged circumstances, but they did grasp the fact that Jesus called God his “Father.” They thought it was blasphemous for Jesus to put himself on a higher plane than they. A Father-Son relationship would be intimate, and it was foreign for the Jews to think of God as “Father.”

Even Daniel, Moses, and other faithful ones of the Old Testament did not address Jehovah in such an endearing term. Yes, they addressed Him with reverence, awe, and esteem, but not as “Father.” The Jews were supposed to be defending God and His Law in regard to the sabbath, and they were incensed that Jesus claimed such a close relationship.

The Father takes an active interest in us, His children, and has agencies that hearken to our prayers, causing providences on our behalf. “The Father himself loveth you [that is, us],” not just Jesus (John 16:27).

John 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.

Trinitarians use this verse, but Jesus did not say he was equal to the Father. His words in subsequent verses explain the Father-Son relationship, showing that they are two separate beings, with the Son subordinate to the Father.

Succeeding verses are excellent for refuting the false charge of the Jews. They wanted to kill Jesus earlier, but now, after he called God his Father, they sought “the more” to kill him. Strong’s Concordance shows that to be “equal” means to be of the same amount or kind; that is, by calling God his Father, Jesus was making himself similar. A later incident will clarify the Jews’ charge of blasphemy in another way, for they did not understand Jesus to be saying he was God. In fact, not at any time did they think Jesus meant he was the same being as the

Father. Jesus was saying there was a similarity and a close family relationship on a high plane. To think of such familiarity was repugnant to the Jews, who considered it blasphemy for Jesus to call himself the “Son” of God. But to Trinitarians, these Scriptures have a different connotation than they did to the Jew. Trinitarians read this (and the later) account and draw a wrong lesson of coequality and coeternity.

John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

Evidently, Jesus paused a little after his statement of verse 17 to let the hearers reflect on his words. The Jews reacted with indignation. Then Jesus continued to speak (verses 19-47).

Verse 19 says in effect that the Son is nothing and cannot do anything without the Father. Jesus was denying the thought of equality. He was saying, “There is no equality because I can do nothing without the Father, who is far superior.” Jesus characteristically used “verily, verily” to precede a very important statement, the thought being, “Take special notice!”

When the Jews became incensed at the thought of Jesus’ claiming to be on a high plane with the Father, he replied that the Father was the One, the God, and without Him, the Son could do nothing. Jesus answered two points, of which this was one.

What was the other point? Jesus was not so humble that he did nothing, but when he acted, it was in harmony with God’s will. What he did was with the Father’s consent and power. Jesus has the authority to do certain things (see verses 21 and 22). In other words, Jesus has authority, but of himself, he can do nothing. Verse 19 modifies Jesus’ later strong statements.

In John 14:28, Jesus said, “My Father is greater than I.” He always respected the Father’s superiority, and he taught his followers to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven.”

A false concept of humility says that one should always be in the background. There are certain circumstances where we have a responsibility to speak out. To hide the responsibility under the cloak of humility can be wrong. For example, Paul spoke out to great, notable men yet was humble. He realized that what he said and did was by the Lord’s strength, not his own. We can easily misjudge pride in others. Just because an individual speaks boldly does not mean he is proud. Sometimes the guiltiest people appear the best.

Jesus did only what the Father trained, instructed, and taught him to do. When the Father explained something, Jesus acted accordingly. He said, “The words that I speak are not mine but the Father’s who sent me” (John 5:19; 12:49,50 paraphrase). Because of his previous training, Jesus knew what to speak and do. When he spoke strongly, it was not because he felt equal to God but because he knew he was acting in harmony with the Father’s will. How galling Jesus’ words were to the Jews who were accusing him!

John 5:20 For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

These words were like heaping coals of fire on the Jews’ heads, and their anger increased.

Sometimes, as on this occasion, that which is considered a lack of tact is actually the proper thing to do. Others were no doubt listening as these aggressive, hypocritical Jews attacked Jesus.

The sideline listeners would have observed that Jesus was a leader, and the lost sheep needed leadership. Jesus said he and the Father are one, and he begot hope in the right-hearted Israelites by saying they could become one with him and the Father (John 10:30; 17:21).

The “greater works” the Father will show the Son will exceed what was done for the man who had been impotent for 38 years, and they will occur in the Kingdom. Jesus was saying to the Jews, “You will marvel in the Kingdom when even greater works are done than what you have just witnessed.”

John 5:21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

The word “quicken” means “to make alive.” Jesus was making himself somewhat comparable to the capability of the Heavenly Father; that is, the power of the Father had been transferred to the Son so that the Son could do likewise.

The Son will quicken whom he will in the Kingdom—the time when the Father will commit all judgment to the Son as regards the world of mankind. However, the Son always acts in harmony with the will of the Father. Stated another way, when the Son quickens “whom he will,” he will not be acting independently but according to the Father’s will.

These verses must be considered and harmonized together in order to get the proper perspective. The theme of Jesus’ discourse was that “of mine own self, I can do nothing” (paraphrase of verse 19). Then in the next breath, he said, “The Father makes alive, and I can make alive.” If the context is read, the verses are not contradictory. Jesus was saying, “I will not exercise powers and capabilities given to me unless they are expressly in harmony with the Father’s will.” In other words, Jesus has been given certain prerogatives and liberties that he will exercise, but he will always keep in mind the Father’s objectives and will use the power, etc., accordingly. Even though the Father gives much power to the Son, it is the Father who has mapped out the program in which the power will be used.

The statement “the Father raiseth up the dead” applies especially to Jesus and the Church in the Kingdom, whereas the statement “the Son quickeneth whom he will” applies to the world of mankind. The Father calls and draws the disciples to Christ, and Jesus said he would reject none whom the Father sent him (John 6:37). The Christian is begotten with the Word of God. As the Author and Selector of the New Creation, the Heavenly Father now quickens those who previously were dead in trespasses and sins and gives them a new life. This new life is very real, even though they must still die in the flesh. Incidentally, in the Greek, things still future can be spoken of as past or as currently occurring. An example is the reference to the Son’s doing quickening in the Kingdom.

John 5:22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

This verse applies to the Kingdom, for the Father is judging the Church class, the New Creation, during the Gospel Age. Moreover, the Son’s judgment of the world will terminate when the Kingdom is turned over to the Father and He is all in all at the end of the Millennium.

As proof that the Father judges the New Creation, Jesus said that he does not give positions of honor in the heavenly realm and that His Father will decide who sits on the right and left hand of the Son (Matt. 20:23).

John 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.

Verse 23 applies to the New Creation now, but especially to the world in the Kingdom, when all will have to bow the knee and confess that Jesus is the Savior. It is like Joseph in Egypt. Pharaoh made the pronouncement to the nation of Egypt that all must bow the knee to Joseph as prime minister. In the future, God will manifest to mankind that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.

Jesus will be endued with power from on high to perform his Kingdom work in that age, whereas in this age, Jesus is relatively unrecognized by the mass of mankind.

This verse alone, taken out of context, seems to support the Trinity. It sounds as if Father and Son get equal honor, glory, and praise, yet elsewhere Jesus said, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God” (Matt. 19:17). Similarly, the Apostle Paul on one occasion said he was the least of the apostles, but on another occasion said he was not a whit behind the chiefest of the apostles. Jesus was saying that he deserves honor but not to the same degree that the Father is honored. In other words, a chain of command is laid down in the Scriptures.

Many “proof” texts that Trinitarians use are estranged from the context. To refute them, we must read a few verses before and a few verses after the particular Scripture. Jesus’ statement (verse 19) “The Son can do nothing of himself” modifies the type of honor that is given to the Son. The illustration of Pharaoh and Joseph is excellent. The people had to bow the knee to Joseph and even acknowledge him verbally, giving deference and honor. All except Pharaoh, who had delegated that prerogative to Joseph, had to obey the arrangement.

John 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.

Many misunderstand this Scripture and think that the Christian’s new relationship in Christ means “once saved, always saved.” They say, “We have passed from death unto life, so there is no condemnation in us. We are assured and guaranteed a future life in heaven.” How do we refute this type of thinking?

The verses just preceding refer to a broader work that will occur in the Kingdom. Jesus was saying that those who hear his word now, ahead of time, and believe will not come into “judgment” (Greek krisis) with the world in the Kingdom. Again we must consider the context.

Two verses further on (verse 26), Jesus began to show what he will do in the Kingdom, when he gets “life in himself.”

The Apostle John’s technique in explaining various subjects is often misunderstood. Certain statements of his have a ring of finality that must be harmonized with the context and/or other Scriptures. In his epistles, especially the first epistle, John made several statements that apply to only that moment of utterance. For example, John said that the young men who remained faithful when the ecclesia divided had overcome Satan (1 John 2:13). It is true that they overcame in that particular test, but John did not mean they had overcome until the end of their course. Whether or not that was the case remained to be seen. The same principle applies here

in verse 24. At the time one consecrates, he passes from death unto life, but faithfulness must be maintained until death for this reckoned condition to become permanent. Moreover, the multiplicity of “if” clauses (for example, “if we suffer [with him], we shall also reign with him”) modifies Scriptures such as verse 24 (2 Tim. 2:12).

In his Gospel, John recorded the utterances of Jesus. In his epistles, John spoke from a more personalized viewpoint and gave his own advice (which is really the Lord’s advice). Studying John’s epistles helps us to understand his Gospel—the type of language he used, what weight to give his statements in applying them, etc. John might have been referring to the future, or he might have been referring to the immediate present. Those who respond now to Jesus’ message have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, but while in the kingdom of light, they can fall away if they do not remain faithful (1 Pet. 2:9).

John 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.

Notice the use of “verily, verily” again. In fact, the expression was used three times in this discourse (verses 19, 24, and 25). These words were a natural characteristic of Jesus (like Paul’s saying, “I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant,” and John’s saying, “little children,” a term that so impressed him when spoken by Jesus at the Memorial).

Verse 25 has a double application. In the present life, those who are dead in trespasses and sins can respond to Jesus. In the Kingdom, those who live through the trouble, as well as those in the grave, will have the opportunity to obey when they hear the voice of Jesus.

“And now is” is authentic, not spurious (see Diaglott). The previous verse (verse 24) has a present application. Verse 25 also has a present application but a future one as well; that is, it has a double application.

John 5:26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

Verse 26 is a good definition of immortality: “to have life in himself.” One who has immortality has no need for any sustenance in order to live. The Father has always had immortality. Jesus receives immortality for faithfulness unto death on the Cross. In regard to the account of the Samaritan woman, the water welling up within the individual who proves faithful in this age is a reference to immortality. The Church will receive life in themselves as the Son receives life in himself—from the Father.

Jesus slid from verse 24 (which applies to the present age), to verse 25 (which applies to both the present age and the Kingdom), to verse 26 (about Jesus’ immortality, which will be particularly used for the world of mankind in the Kingdom), to subsequent verses (which apply to the Kingdom).

John 5:27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

In still talking to the Jews, Jesus showed that his judgment authority comes from the Father (compare verse 22). Jesus has the liberty to do certain things but within broad outlines set by God.

Why did Jesus mention “because he is the Son of man”? (1) Because Jesus had firsthand experience as a human being, because he was born as a human and was touched with a feeling of man’s infirmities, he is the most qualified one to execute judgment (Heb. 4:15). He is sympathetic to what the human family is experiencing. (2) Perfect Adam had dominion before he fell, and now the Son, the perfect man who paid the Ransom price, has earned the authority to execute judgment. Jesus is the Son of the man (Adam). When Adam fell, he lost his standing before God, but Jesus came down here and partook of the human nature and perfectly fulfilled the Law. Thus Jesus inherited the life promised in the Law. He replaced Adam, who was the father of a potential living race until he fell and plunged the whole human race into sin.

(Mankind is judged in Adam.) Jesus became the second Adam, taking the first Adam’s place when he proved faithful unto death (1 Cor. 15:45). He came to give his life as the Ransom for the man who had fallen (1 Tim. 2:5,6). (3) Volume 5, The Atonement Between God and Man, gives further reasons.

In the Book of Daniel, Jesus was called “the Son of man” as the one brought before the Ancient of days (God) and given dominion, power, and judgment—the Kingdom of the most High (Dan. 7:13,14). The context shows that “the Son of man” is The Christ, Head and body, for the Kingdom will also be given to “the saints” of the most High God (Dan. 7:22). Jesus, the Head, is the chief “saint” over the Melchisedek priesthood, just as Aaron, also called a “saint,” was the head of the Levitical priesthood (Psa. 106:16; 110:4; Heb. 5:6,10). Although their understanding was limited, the Jews whom Jesus was addressing knew that the term “the Son of man” was in the Book of Daniel, and they knew that its use was related to Messiah and the Kingdom. Just as

the Father gives to the Son here in the fifth chapter of John, so the Ancient of days gives to the Son of man in Daniel 7:13,14,18.

John 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

John 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.

In verses 28 and 29, Jesus was speaking primarily of the Kingdom Age. Notice the two component parts: those who “have done good” and those who “have done evil.” Those who have done good would be the Little Flock, the Great Company, and the Ancient Worthies (the “spirits of just men made perfect”—Heb. 12:23). The Ancient Worthies will be raised perfect, having already proven faithful. When the Kingdom is established, the krisis period for each of these three classes will already have occurred, whereas the world will get their krisis period in the Kingdom.

“Damnation” (Greek krisis) means “judgment.” Krisis is translated “condemnation” in verse 24 and “judgment” in verse 27. The thought is of a trial period, not just a verdict. The Revised Standard Version has “resurrection of judgment,” that is, a resurrection of stripes and disciplines. Thus the nature of the judgment is shown rather than just final judgment.

In regard to those who “have done good,” there is a krisis period in which the pros and cons of each individual are weighed. At the end of the period, a verdict is rendered as to whether one is considered worthy of life. The verdict takes place before the individual is raised from the grave. If the decision is favorable, the individual gets perfect life upon being raised. If the decision is unfavorable, the individual does not come forth.

Those who “have done evil” are the world of mankind, who are not on trial for life now as individuals. (Nations and institutions are on trial in the present age in a collective sense.) Those of the world who have not merited Second Death will come forth to a resurrection by judgment, testing, and correction.

Notice that in these verses, Jesus did not take an abject, humble attitude and lay himself down as a doormat but told who had come to planet Earth. The Royal Majesty of heaven had now appeared! If the Jews had known that a sure heir-apparent to a future Kingdom was in their midst, they would probably have treated him well, hoping that when he came into his power, he would remember them in a very favorable way.

Healing the impotent man on the sabbath brought up this whole subject. The Jews found fault with Jesus, their attitude being, “By what authority do you do these things? You take too much upon yourself.” Jesus said that the Father continues to be active and the Son is also active. Jesus tried to reason that there is more to this subject than their narrow vision on the principles of sabbath-keeping. Some people think of the letter of the Law and do not realize there are times when the spirit supersedes the letter, such as healing the sick and David’s eating the showbread when he was famished. Hence there are times when technically breaking the sabbath is not a violation.

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: 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.

It is almost as if Jesus anticipated the doctrine of the Trinity, for this is the third time or so on the same occasion that he included this thought. With Jesus giving so much information about events all down the Gospel Age in Matthew 24 and 25, he no doubt knew the Trinity would become a factor as well as wars, rumors of wars, false prophets, etc., but he did not want to demean his position as Head of the body and Judge of the world in the next age. As the chief member of that class, Jesus could rightly apply the title “the Son of man” to himself.

John 5:31 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

This statement was based on the Law, which taught that to be properly established, a matter must come out of the mouth of two or three witnesses (Deut. 19:15). The New American Standard reads, “If I alone bear witness of Myself, My testimony is not true.” That is the correct thought, for one witness is not sufficient.

John 8:14 might seem to be a contradiction: “Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true.” Here in verse 31, Jesus said that the testimony would not be true if he bore witness of himself. The context of Chapter 8 is important, for Jesus certainly knew he had come from the Father and would return to the Father. What he meant was that others would not accept the testimony as true if he alone bore witness. The proper way for others to be convinced was by two or three witnesses.

John 5:32 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.

John 5:33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.

John 5:34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.

John 5:35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

John 5:36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

John 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.

John 5:38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

Three witnesses testified that Jesus is the Christ: (1) John the Baptist, a contemporary witness; (2) Jesus’ works; and (3) the Word (Moses, that is, the Old Testament, the [Word of the] Father).

The Old Testament told of a coming Messiah, and Jesus fit the descriptions. The people should have recognized Jesus as Messiah by analyzing his life, character, deportment, and miracles— all of these were in addition to his words. Jesus did not often say he was the Christ, the Messiah, but he frequently called himself “the Son of man,” which, to the Jews, was synonymous with being the Messiah.

The thought of verse 34 is, “I receive not testimony from man [only],” for Jesus did receive testimony from John the Baptist. Jesus said these things so “that ye might be saved”; that is,  Jesus went out of his way to reason with those who heard him. Paul also used reasoning to help others and to exercise their minds to perceive. He humbled himself on several occasions to help others. For example, he reviewed his life—persecutions, fastings, healings, shipwrecks, etc.—to show that he was a bona fide apostle. He used this reasoning to rebut the arguments of false apostles who felt they were superior to him.

Coming down to the level of our thinking is very helpful because most of us do not reason. If we had lived back there, Christ could have been in our midst without our recognizing him unless he called attention to the Old Testament prophecies and to what John the Baptist had said. In other words, the miracles alone might not have been enough to convince us.

Comment: Since Jesus was addressing Jews who wanted to kill him, the meaning would seem to be “that ye might be saved [ultimately],” for surely Jesus did not expect this element to become his followers back there. If, however, they would moderate their hateful heart condition, it would at least be favorable toward their ultimate salvation. Otherwise, this verse would seem to imply that now is the only opportunity for salvation.

Reply: That principle will become a little more visible later in regard to whom Jesus was dealing with and why.

Q: The Bible calls the Jews “stiffnecked” (Exod. 32:9; 33:3,5; 34:9; Deut. 9:6,13; 10:16; Acts 7:51).

In spite of all the miracles that were done in connection with the Exodus and during the 40 years in the Wilderness of Sinai, they continually strayed, disobeyed, and murmured. Now with Jesus, in spite of all the miracles, relatively few really believed. Are these national traits?

A: Yes, they were common characteristics in Moses’ day and at the First Advent. The Israelites “forgat his [God’s] works, and his wonders that he had showed them” (Psa. 78:11). Paul explained why: the word preached to them was not “mixed with faith” (Heb. 4:2). In other words, a lack of faith is related to forgetting. Faith is the exercise of the mind with regard to God and His promises. If we are familiar with God’s Word and are eager for its fulfillment, we have been developed in faith and will not forget as readily. Through the fall, we were  born with the tendency to forget, but faith, which comes by hearing and considering the Word of God, helps us not to forget the leadings of Divine Providence. At times, the Israelites seemed to forget overnight even the most stupendous miracles. We should remember the kindnesses done to us by others—consecrated or not—as well as the blessings we receive through Providence.

It is interesting how the Apostle John used light in verse 35. John the Baptist was called “a burning and a shining light.” In the first chapter, the apostle said that Jesus was the Light. And elsewhere God is called “the Father [the source] of lights” (James 1:17). As bright as the light of John the Baptist was, the apostle differentiated him from Jesus. The Sinaitic manuscript states that Jesus “is” the Light.

Q: In regard to verse 36, when do Jesus’ works finish?

A: The works continue right on to the end of the Millennial Age. Jesus had a work to do when he came at his First Advent; that is, he came to die and to teach those who had a hearing ear.

After his resurrection, he had to prove that indeed he had risen from the dead. Then he ascended on high and sent the promised Comforter. During the Gospel Age, he has been in the midst of the candlesticks (Rev. 1:13). These are all a part of the works the Father gave Jesus to do, and in the Kingdom, Jesus will deal with mankind. Therefore, in verse 36, Jesus was just saying that since his initial coming at the First Advent up to the time of this discourse, he was trying to do the Father’s works. Of course the primary work was his dying because all other works are contingent upon that faithfulness. “It is finished,” his words on the Cross, meant that his primary mission to pay the Ransom was accomplished.

Verse 36 helps to clarify the earlier Scripture “My Father worketh hitherto, and [now] I work” (John 5:17). The Father’s sabbath with regard to physical creation occurred way back with Adam and Eve. Subsequently Jesus takes a primary role with the human race—prior to his coming, at the First Advent, with his death and resurrection, during the Gospel Age, and during the Kingdom Age. All of these works are a process of the long interim in which the Father deals through the Son—up until the time the Kingdom is handed over to the Father and He is all in all. At that time, the Seventh Day will be complete, and God will no longer “rest.”

“Ye have neither heard his [the Father’s] voice at any time, nor seen his shape” (verse 37).

Although the Jews being addressed did not hear the Father’s voice, Jesus heard it at Jordan saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). Hence we know that God can speak. By inference, then, we also know that God’s divine spiritual body has a shape, a form.

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

John 5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

John 5:41 I receive not honour from men.

John 5:42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.

John 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.

John 5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

John 5:45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.

John 5:46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.

John 5:47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Notice how blunt Jesus was. Many think that he was always gentle, quiet, and kind at his First Advent and that we should be the same. However, the majority of his declarations to others were mighty, mighty strong! How would we like to be told that Moses’ words are not in us or that we err and do not know the Scriptures? The truth—even if it is strong—is also Christlikeness. There is a saying: “The truth hurts.” We do not have the liberty to criticize individuals, but we can criticize conduct, habits promulgated erroneously, false doctrines, and false applications of doctrine—all of which are not personal. Here Jesus did not use the name of an individual but addressed a group. There are times when this should be done. The ecumenical spirit of today is so pervasive that it has gone from religious circles to the world.

No ruffling of feathers is wanted, but to have no discrimination in lifestyle, for example, is license, not liberty. The tolerance of immorality and false doctrine has crept into nominal Christendom whereby everyone wants to be “buddy-buddy” (Protestant with Catholic), and such tolerance has even crept into our circles. We must be careful, for it is NOT Christlikeness to never say anything to ruffle anyone.

In verses 39 and 40, Jesus was saying, “You boast of the Scriptures by saying you believe Moses, whereas actually you do not know Moses!” We could make comparisons like that today. For instance, some may boast about Pastor Russell and not really know his writings in a comprehensive sense. Therefore, just to make a statement can be very superficial. These Jews claimed that they were children of Abraham and that they were standing up for Moses in contradistinction to Jesus’ different teachings. Jesus encouraged them to go back and search the Scriptures and find that they really do testify concerning his works.

In verse 42, Jesus told the Jews, “You do not have the love of God in you.” That was strong talk. And Jesus even said some strong things to his disciples. For example, he said to Peter, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matt. 14:29-31). And to the disciples, he said, “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith [even] as a [tiny] grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt. 17:20). Neither of these statements was complimentary, but they were helpful as constructive criticism. As a result, the disciples realized they needed more faith and they prayed, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). It is helpful to know what we lack, to know wherein lies our need.

Jesus said to the Jews, “I receive not honour from men [as you do]” (verse 41). In other words, “I am not looking for applause, commendation, or flattery from any man, for I speak what is truth. The Father sent me to deliver His message, and I am trying to do that to the absolute letter. Whether or not men receive it is their problem.”

Jesus said, “If another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive [acknowledge, recognize]” (verse 43). Protestants have applied this statement to false Christs, but the main application is to Papacy because it took over in Christ’s stead, with the pope claiming to be the vicar of Christ. Another application is to false apostles who tried to deny Paul’s apostleship— and to any others who promote self rather than really teaching Scripture.

In verse 45, Jesus said, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.” How do we harmonize this statement with the fact that Jesus did criticize the Jews—for not really searching the Scriptures, for not really believing Moses, and for not having the love of God? One way to answer this question is to say that the criticism of Moses was sufficient, so Jesus did not dwell on the matter, although he did voice his opinion, his criticism. Another way of answering is to say that the Word is even higher than Jesus, for it represents God’s Holy Spirit. Those who sin against Jesus can be forgiven, but those who sin against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven; that is, some opposed Jesus from a personal standpoint, and this type of opposition could be forgiven.

Jesus stated in verse 46, “He [Moses] wrote of me.” Moses said, “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken” (Deut. 18:15). The New Testament paraphrases this text, as it does many other Old Testament Scriptures. It is important to realize that the apostles correctly paraphrased. Some apologists say these are fallible quotations, but no! These paraphrases are adapted to apply to the subject at hand. Jesus did this too. Also, in the Pentateuch, Moses wrote down many types and shadows of Jesus, one example being the Passover lamb.

(1986–1987 Study)

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