Johann Peter Lange.

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teristic, but also the fact tliat they seem entirely
to ignore the miraculous healing itself. [They
do not ask: * Who is he that healed theff but
they carefully bring out the unfavorable side of
what had taken place, as malicious persons al-
ways do. — Alford.]

Ver. 18 f. And he that was healed knew
not. — Bengel's apology : **Grabbato ferendo inten-
ius et judaica interpellatione districttUy" says less
than the rest of the verse itself, for Jeans had
withdrawn himself, f Meyer incorrectly : He
withdrew "when this collision with the Jews
arose." This would be at least a very equivocal
course, to forsake one who was attacked on His
account; this Jesus never did. He turned aside
because a multitude was there, whose demon-
strations He wished to avoid ; perhaps the treat-
ment of this invalid also required it.

Ver. 14. Jesus findeth him in the tem-
pie. — Chrysostom, Tholuck, Meyer: The healing
made a religious impression upon him. Tet the
evangelist seems intentionally to imply that this
meeting did not immediately follow ; he writes
fierd TavTOy not //era rovro.^ And the address of
Christ to him does not indicate a man thoroughly
possessed with gratitude. Sin no more, lest,
etc. — An unusually earnest injunction upon one
whom He had healed, notwithstanding He finds
him in the temple. Hence, too, it cannot be sup-
posed that no more is intended here than merely

• [Meyer quotes Ast, Lex. Plot. L, p. 178 for thia coatemp-
tuoQfl use of 6 avBfMwoK. — P. S.]

t [c'^cVeutrcK, not from Uviia. enatavU, emersit, ** He emerffed
from the waves of the crowd and reappeared in the quiet
harbor of the Temple," as Wordsworth fancifully explains,
but from cicvcika, turned aticU; He spoke the healing words
and passed on unobserved.— P. 8.J

X [But the distinction between fwrA ravra and /uirra rovro
is sQode doubtful by this very passage and the uniform use of
ficra ravra in the Apocalypse. Comp. note on ver. 1.— P. S.J

Digitized by


CHAP. V. 1-47.


tbe general connection of sin with evil (Iren.
Ado. hser.^ V. 15; Bucer, Calov, Neander). This
ioterpretation on the contrary, is no doubt a false
application of John ix. 8. Here a special con-
nection between a particular kind of sin and the
particular disease must have existed, according
to Chrjsostom, BulUngor, Meyer, and others.
Neither the special sin nor the special disease is
known ; which magnifies the penetrating know-
ledge of the Lord.^ But a sin which produced
disease thirty-eight years before, may be desig-
nated in general even in an old man as a sin of
youth. Iiest Bomethlng worse befall thee.
— Ben gel: **Orauuu quiddam quam injirmiias 38
annorum." [Trench: The ;t">o»' ^' "gives us
an awful glimpse of the severity of God's judg-
ments.*' Comp. Matt. xii. 45.]

Ver. 15. The man departed. — Strictly:
Then departed the man; 6 avdptJKog, Chrysostora
concludes that it was not ingratitude which
moved him to this; that he had spoken before
the Jews not of carrying his bed, but of that
which they cared least to hear: that Jesus had
healed hiin. This apology falls, when we con-
sider his former declaration. There he de-
scribed the unknown man by the words. He that
made me whole. For this reason he now says
in giving his information: He that made me
whole is Jesus. Meyer explains: the motive is
neither maliee (SchUiermaoher, Lange [incor-
rect citation; Comp. LebenJesu, II. p. 769], Paulus,
etc.), nor gratitude wishing to get Jesus acknow-
ledged among the Jews (Cyril, Chrysostora), nor
obedience to the rulers (Bengel, LUcke, De
Weite, Luthardt), but his authority (Jesus) is to
hhn forthwith higher than thatof theSanhe^rists,
and he braves ihem with it. (Thus this man
would be a hero, while Nicodemus is supposed
to be h>impercd. ) According to Tholuck the man
is somewaat stupid and without suspicion of the
rulers. Probably he added to weakness of
heart and ignorance a fear of the Jews, in which
he sought to shield himself from their reproach
without perceiving that he might be prejudicing.
It is worthy of notice, that they probably let his
case drop, while the blind man in chap. ix. they
in the end excommunicate; that here in fact
tliey even base upon the statement of this man a
process against Jesus.

Ver. 10. For this cause the Jews perse-
cuted Jesas. — What follows evidenrly refers to
a trial (Lnmpe, BosenmuUer, Kuinoel; against
Meyer [and Alford] ; comp. Luke xxi. 12, diQKeiv
used of judicial process), though the terms are
80 chosen as^t the same time to express the con-
tinuance of the persecutions after the failure of
tbe process. Probably Jesus was arraigned be-
fore the little SanhedriA. Winer: "There were
smaller colleges of this name (Sanhedrin, the
liUle Sanhedrin), consisting of twenty-three
counsellors (according to Sanhedrin^ 1, 6) in every
Palestinean city which numbered more than one
hundred and twenty inhabitants; in Jerusalem
even two {Sanhedr. 11, 2).'* But of these, as
also of the courts of three, to which the cog-
niiance and punishment of lighter oflfences per-
tained, ^osephus knows nothing; whereas he

*rThi8 is as striking an instance of tlie penetrating look
of our Lord into the inner recesses of man's heart, as His
knowlodgo of tbe history of the Samaritan woman.— P. S.J

mentions a court of seven (Aniiq. iv. 8, 14) in
the provincial cities, which always had among
its members two from the tribe of Levi (Matt.
v. 21; X. 17). The variations in the form of
the little Sanhedrin amount, however, to nothing;
enough that it existed.

Because he did* these things; ravrn. —
They craftily combine the two charges: (1) the
healing of the invalid on the Sabbath, and (2)
the commanding him to carry his bed, in the
single indictment for breaking the Sabbath in
various ways: thus covering the main fact that
He had wrought a miracle. Concerning the re-
striction of healing by the Sabbath regulations
of the Pharisees, see above on ver. 9.

[On the Sabbath, ev <Ta/3/3dr<^. — This was
the cause of oflfence and brings out, in connec-
tion with ver. 17, the difference between the
then prevailing Jewish and the Christian idea
of Sabbath observance. The former is negative
and slavish, the latter positive and free. The
Pharisees scrupulously adhered to the letter of
the fourth commandment as far as it forbid any
(common) work, and hedged it around with all
sorts of hair-splitting distinctions and rabbinical
restrictions, but they violated its spirit which
demands the 'posii'iYe sanctification of the Sabbath
by doing good. The rest of the Sabbath is not
the rest of idleness or mere cessation from labor,
else God Himself who is always at work (ver.
17), would be a Sabbath-breaker as well as
Christ. It is rather rest in God, a rest from
ordinary work in order to a higher and holier ac-
tivity for the glory of God and the good of man. We
must cease from our earthly work, that God may
do His heavenly work in and through us. The
Sabbath law, like the whole law, is truly ful-
filled by love to God and love to man. Christ
refutes the false conception of Sabbath rest; as a
mere cessation from labor, in various ways, now
by the example of David eating the show-bread,
now by the example of the priests working in the
temple, now by the readiness of the Jews to do-
liver an ox out of a pit on the Sabbath. Here
He takes higher ground andolaims equality with
the Father who never ceases doing good. God's
rest after creation was not a rest of sleep or in-
action, but a rest of joy in the completion of His
work and of benediction of His creatures. "God
blessed the seventh day and sanctified it." (Gen.
ii. 3). His strictly creative activity ceased with
the Hexatsmeron, but his worXd-pmneruinff and
governing^ as well as His redeeming activity con-
tinues without interruption, and this is properly
His Sabbath, combining the highest action with
the deepest repose. In the case of man while on
earth abstinence from the distracting multipli-
city of secular labor and toil is only the neces-
sary condition for attending to his spiritual in-
terests. Acts of worship and acts of charity are
proper works for the Christian Sabbath, and are
refreshing rest to body and soul, carrying in
themselves their own exceeding great reward.
The eternal Sabbath of God's people will be un-
broken rest in worship and love, as Augustine
says, at the close of his Civitas Dei: " There we
shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise."

♦ [Not had done (E. V.). The imperfect eiroiei seems to im-
ply the malignant charge of repeated or habitual Sabbath-
breaking. Comp. Oodet in loc.—P. S.J

Digitized by




Christ neyer Tiolated the fourth or any other com-
mandment of God, in its true diTine meaning and
intent, but fulfilled it by doctrine and example
(Matt. Y. 17). He emancipated us from the
slavery of the negative, superstitious and hypo-
critical Sabbatarianism of the Fharisees, and set
us an example of the true positive observance of
the Sabbath by doing good; the Sabbath being
made /or man (Mark ii. 27), t. e., for his temporal
and eternal benefit. This was its purpose when
God instituted it, together with the marriage re-
lation, in the state of man's innocence, and this
Christ has restored, as He restored the marriage
relation to its original purity. The commenta-
tors pass too slightly over this point, and some
of them misconstrue Christ's and Paul's opposi-
tion to the Jewish Sabbatarianism of that age into
ft violation or abrogation of the fourth command-
ment.* Trench, in his work on MiracUtf p. 206
(Am. ed.), has some good remarks on ver. 16,
which I shall transfer hero:

** * The Jews,* not here the multitude, but some
among the spiritual heads of the nation, whom
it is very noticeable that St. John continually
characterizes by this name, (i. 19; vii. 1; ix.
22; xviii. 12, 14;) find fault With the man for
carrying his bed in obedience to Christ's com-
mand, their reason being because * the same day '
on which the miracle was accomplished *was the
Sabbath;' and the carrying of any burden was
one of the expressly prohibited works of that
day. Here, indeed, they had apparently an Old
Testament ground to go upon, and an interpre-
tation of the Mosaic law from the lips of a pro-
phet, to justify their interference, and the of-
fence which they took. But the man's bearing
of his bed was not a work by itself; it was mere-
ly the corollary, or indeed the concluding act of
his healing, that by which he should make proof
himself, and give testimony to others of its
reality. It was lawful to heal on the Sabbath
day; it was lawful then to do that which was
immediately involved in and directly followed
on the healing. And here lay ultimately the
true controversy between Christ and His adver-
saries, namely, whether it was most lawful to do
good on that day, or to leave it undone (Luke
vi. 9). Starting from the unlawfulness of leav-
ing good undone. He asserted that He was its
true keeper, keeping it as God kept it, with the
highest beneficent activity, which in His Father's
case, as in Hid own, was identical with deepest
rest, — and not, as they accused Him of being, its
breaker. It was because He Himself had *done
those things' (see ver. 16), that the Jews perse-
cuted Him, and not for bidding the man to bear
his bed, which was a mere accident and conse-
quence involved in what He himself had wrought."
—P. 8.]

Ver. 17. My Father worketh antil now
[fwf ipTt, *'tndea ereatione sine intervallo sab-

•[So also Ren^s, aguinst whom Godet, II., p. 26, Justly re-
marks that Christ's cunditioo as a Jew, and His mission as the
Jewish Messiah, forbid that He shonld ever, during His
earthir life, have violated any of the Divine commandments,
in their proper sense, which it was His sacred duty strictly
to fulfll. £wald, the great oriental scholar, is perfectly cor-
rect in saying (on John, p. 205), that Christ in ver. 17, mortal-
ly hit the Sabbath laws as they were then understood and car-
ried out, but not the true sense of the primitive S^ibbathand
the fourth commandment, which forbid not higher work, but
only the ordinary work of week days.— P. S.j

bati,** Bengel], and I work also. — A difficult
answer. It undoubtedly asserts (1) Christ's
exaltation above the Sabbath law, like Mark iL
28; (2) the conformity of His working to the law
of the Sabbath, in other words His fulfilling of
the Sabbath law, Matt. xii. 12; (8) the relation
of the working of God to His own working as its
pattern, ver. 20; (4) His working out from God
and with God, which makes their charge a charge
against Qod Himself, ver. 19. The li^t idea has
special emphasis. According to Strauss the sen-
tence is Alexandrian. [Philo of Alexandria, in
his Treatise on the Allegories of the Sacred Law*,
chap. vii. says with regard to the institution of
the Sabbath after creation: *'Qod never ceases
to work (jTotuv 6 ^edc ovSknore navrrcu), but when
He appears to do so. He is only beginning the
creation of something else; as being not only
the Creator, but also the Father of everything
which exists." — P. S.] But Alexandrianism ex-
plained only the law of the Sabbath by the eter-
nal working of God. There is a distinction be-
tween the creative work of God at the beginning
which originates the world, and looks hke hu-
man effort, and His subsequent festive working
in the created world. This way of God, work-
ing on the Sabbath the works of the Spirit,
works of relief and love, in incessant divine
agility, as it manifests itself in the objective
world, must manifest itself also in the Son. Ac-
cording to Tholuck, modern expositors (Grotius,
Liicke) stop with the idea that human activity
is allowed on the Sabbath. We substitute:
Divine activity.

According to Luthardt the words are uttered
with reference to the future Sabbath: First the
working of the Father, then that of the Son,
then that of the Holy Spirit. A correct idea,
but not here in place, for according to our text
the Father and the Son work simultaneously
and together. Meyer: **The subject is not the
preserving and governing of the world in gene-
ral, but the continued activity of God for the
salvation of mankind in spite of His Sabbath
resting after the creation" (Gen. ii. 1-8). But
this is in fact the work of preserving and gov-
erning, provident ia, Olshausen and De Wette ex-
plain : the working of God is rest and activity
together, and so it is in Christ. Meyer on the
contrary : of rest and contemplation there is not
a word. The subject, however, is a divine
working which as such is also repose, combining
at once activity and festive contemplation. Gro-
tius: It is a relation of imitation. Meyer denies
this, contrary to ver. 19; it is only th^neoessary
correlation of volition and execution. The
Father's having the initiative brings in the ele-
ment of imitation which by no means exhausts
the idea of co-operation (so as to reduce it to a
mere working side by side after the same man-
ner, as of one God with another). On Hilgen-
feld*s discovery of the demiurge, see Meyer [p.
228 f., 5th ed.].

[Godet compares with this yer. Luke ii. 49,
and justly remarks that it virtually contains the
whole following discourse. It asserts the mysr
terious union of Christ with God, which Christ
had already expressed in His twelfth year to
His parents. It is rightly understood by the
Jews (ver. 18), though wrongly construed by

Digitized by


CHAP. V. 1-47.


them into blasphemy, siooe they saw in Him a
mere man. It is at the same time the most
triumphant refutation of the charge of Sabbath-
breaking. What a sublime apology this! In
charging Me, He says to His adversaries, with
breaking the law of Qod, you charge the Law-
giver, my Father, with breaking His own law:
for my activity continually and in each moment
corresponds to His. Owen remarks on this
verse: *' There is not the shadow of a doubt, that
Jesus did here claim, and intended to claim, ab-
solute equality with the Father. What is here
most logically inferred, is distinctly stated, John
L 1; Col. i. 15-17; Heb. i. 2, 3."— P. S]

Yer. 18. The Jews soaght the more to
kiU him, etc, — The one complex charge (of Sab-
bath-breaking) now becomes two, and the second
is the greater. He has ascribed to Himself a
singular relation to God. By this He is sup-
posed to have blasphemed God and incurred the
death of the blasphemer, Lev. zziv. 16 (Bengel:
**/i misere pro blasphemia habuerunt"). They
had already hated Him unto death on the first
charge, but a prosecution for death they could
not easily under the circumslances make out of
the Sabbath-breaking, and in their second
charge their real intention becomes also the
formal one of finding Him guilty of death. Hence
nunc arnpliuSf to interpret the ^laXhrif [Bengel],
is more suitable than the magit of Meyer. Am-
plitu means not only intuper^ but also appertius.
Tholuck incorrectly: the murderous wish still
remains informaia. The matter still depended on
the inquisition only in so far as the pretended
blasphemy seemed to be not sufficiently estab-
lished by Christ's expression : My Father, «*The
name of father, except in the much disputed
passage. Job xxxiv. 36, and in Ps. Ixxxix. 26
where it is descriptive, is not used in the Old
Testament as a personal name. In the Apocrypha
the individual use o^ the word first begins to de-
velop itself, Wisd. xiv. 8; Sir. xxiii. 1, 4.
Otherwise God is only in the national (theo-
cratic) sense Father of the people, and even in
the use of the term in this sense there still ap-
pears in the century after Christ a certain re-
serve, etc. Thus this specific calling of God his
Father (comp. Id<or» Bom. viii. 82r must havo
been very striking in his mouth." Tholuck.

[The Jews correctly understood 6 irar^p fiov
(initead of ^fiCiv) to assert a ^^cu/mr and ^elusive
fttherhood (irarepa idtov^ patrem proprium) in
relation to Jesus such as no mere man could claim,
and a peculiar sonship of Jesus such as raised
Him above all the children of God and made Him
equal in essence with God. (Comp. the fjtovoyevi}g
vl6^ of John and the idioc vide of Paul, Rom. viii.
82). But regarding Jesus as a mere man, and
evidently a man in His sound senses, the Jews
charged Him with blasphemy. inevitable
from their premises. The only logical alter-
native is: Christ was either a blasphemer, or
equal with God. Comp. x. 83. Alford remarks:
*4he Jews understood His words to mean nothing
short of peculiar personal Sonshipf and thus equali-
ty of nature with God. And that this their un-
derstanding was the right one, the discourse
testifies. All might in one sense, and the Jews
did in a closer sense, call God their, or our^
Father; bat they at once said that the individual

use of •MyFathir* by Jesus had a totally dis-
tinct, ^nd in their view a blasphemous meauin^;:
this latter especially, because He thus made
God a participator in His crime of breaking the.
Sabbath. Thus we obtain from the adversaries
of the faith a most important statement of one of
its highest and holiest doctrines." Augustine
says (Tract. 17) : **£cee intelligunt Judaic quod
non intelligunt Ariani,'' — P. S.]

Yer. 19. The Son can do nothing of him-
self, but what he seeth the Father doing,^
etc. — introduced with Verily, verily; thus open-
ing a new truth. He retracts nothing that He has
said, but now, that the question of the Messiah
comes up, plants Himself on general ground, and
speaks alternately now objectively of the Son
and the Father, ver. 19-23; ver. 25-29, now sub-
jectively of Himself and the Father, ver. 24;
ver. 80-47. Bg this changing of the grammatical
person, with the perfect identity of the real persoUy so
that the objective sentences assert universal Chrisio*
logical relations, and the subjective Uis relation to
the Jewish rulers, — by this master stroke of self-
vindication, not noticed by expositors. He sus-
tains His wisdom, without prejudicing in tbo
least the steadfastness of His confession, an^
He puts their inquisition in the issue utterly to
shame (or makes it a mandalum de super sedendo),
Luther: **A beautiful excusado, making the
matter worse." Tholuck: •'Jesus strengthens
that which gave oflfence." But the turn, with
which He does this ought not to be overlooked.
The time of His unveiled revelation of Himself
as the Messiah was the time of His death: this
was not yet come. On the difi'erent views of the
fathers as to the ensuing discussion, whether it
presents the revelation of the Father to the Son
in the internal trinitarian aspect, or in the eco-
nomic, see Tholuck, p. 165. Tholuck remarks
(p. 97): "In the Gospels, as in Paul, the pre-
dicate vl6c is not to be understood of the ?.6yoc
aaapKog, but of the ivaapKog (Nitzsch, System,
§ 83; Hofmann, Schriftbeweis^ I., p. 173): yet
like the Pauline, the Johannean view also re-
gards the Incarnate Word in continuity with the
Adyog aoapKog, and hence applies to Him what is
said of the former." It is to be observed that the
opposition between eternity and time is not so
abstractly carried out in the Scriptures, as in
scholastic theology.

Can do nothing.f nothing at all, denotes not

* [Benders remarks on this verse are worth quoting: *'a<^'
iavTov ov8i¥\ Hoc gloria est, nnn imperftctionit .... Httc
ex intimo sensu uniiatis naturalis el amorosa cum Patn
profeeta twU. D^endit Dominus^ quodftctrat opus in iabba-
to^ Futris tui exemplo^ a quo non disoedut. <Stc de i^V'itu
SdnctOf xvi. 13, ubi eiian iiMiUimum huic loco fequitur anti-
theton. At diixbolus ex propriis loquitur^ viii. 44, tt falsi doc-
torit est in suo nomine venire et ex hxjo ccrde loqui aul facere.
V. 43.*' Oodet directs attention to the naivete of the form or
this sentence as contrasted with its sublimity. Jesus spealcs
of Uis intimate relation with the infinite Jehovah as of the
simplest thing in the world. It is the saying of the child of
twelve years : " I must be about my Father's business," ele-

vated to the highest key.— P. 8.1

"flOv ivparai is here a momi, iiui. uirMk|'ivoiv<»*, lunuunj,
ana such an inability which is absolute unwillingness, and

hence identical with the highest moral ability. So perfect
freedom is the highest ability to do good, or negatively ex-
pressed, the absolute inability or unwillingness to do wrong,
hence identical with moral necessity. Chriut's assertion,
therefore, that He can do nothing independently of the
Father, far from indicating imperfection, implies the highest
moral perfection. Oodet : " T^ut pM moral dan» cMe relation.
Lt non-pouvoir dorU il s'agit id n'tsl qtu le citt nCgatif dc
Vamor JUial."-^. S.]

Digitized by




only the dependence of the Son on the Father in
His working, the negative side of obedience, nor
only His iipitation of the Father, the formal side
of obedience, but also His working at the motion
of the Father. The Father is the limit or the
law, the Father is the example, and the Father
is also the motive, the impulse of His action.
The action of the Son is at every point begotten
by the action of the Father. The negative side
of the obedience of Christ consists in His being
unable 'to do anything of Himstlf; the positive
#ide consists in His »tdng^ His intuitive percep-
tion of the initiative of the Father (^/trav,
comp. chap. viii. 38, and ikKo'vuVy chap. zvi. 18).

i Meyer:, "In d^' kavrov we must not find a
isiinction between the human and the divine
will (Beyschlag), nor an indistinct and one-
sided reference to the human element ii> Christ
(De Wette), but the wholt divine-human tuhjcct, the
'incarnate Logos, with whom there can be no atcitas
agendi, no self-determination independent of the
Father; otherwise He would be exclusively divine
or exclusively human. Hence there is here no
contradiction with the Prologue." — ^P. S.]

rin like manner, 6/ioluct excludes the idea
of imitation and the analogy of master and ser-
vant, or teacher and pupil; it points to the equal-
ity of the Son with the Father. The Son does the
same things with the same power and in the same
manner. He is as the Nicene Creed has it, ** God
of God," " very God of very God."— P. 8.] The
human analogy of the child doing like the father,
is here only distantly alluded to ; the main thing
is the original priority of the Father even in the
Trinity, a point which the Greek church rightly
asserts, but falsely exaggerates. [A priority of

Online LibraryJohann Peter LangeA commentary on the Holy Scriptures: → online text (page 48 of 171)