Matthew Henry.

Exposition of the Old and New Testament : wherein each chapter is summed up in its contents ; the sacred text inserted at large, in distinct paragaraphs ; each paragraph reduced to its proper heads ; the sense given, and largely illustrated ; with practical remarks ad observations (Volume 5) online

. (page 216 of 289)
Online LibraryMatthew HenryExposition of the Old and New Testament : wherein each chapter is summed up in its contents ; the sacred text inserted at large, in distinct paragaraphs ; each paragraph reduced to its proper heads ; the sense given, and largely illustrated ; with practical remarks ad observations (Volume 5) → online text (page 216 of 289)
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return to their old course ; and therefore there is
need of great watchfulness, lest after healing mercy
we return again to folly. The misery we were made
whole from, warns us to sin no more, having felt the
smart of sin ; the mercy we were made whole by, is
an engagemient upon us not to offend him who healed
us. This is the voice of every providence. Go, and
sin no rnore. This man began his new life very
hopefully in the temple, yet Christ saw it necessary
to give him this caution ; for it is common for peo-
ple, when they are sick, to promise much, when
newly recovered, \.o perform something, but after a
while X.O forget all.

[3.] He gives him warning of his danger, in case
he should return to his former sinful course ; Lest a
worse thing come to thee. Christ, who knows all
men's hearts, knew that he was one of those that
must be frightened from sin. Thirty-eight years'
lameness, one would think, was a thing bad enough ;
vet there is something worse that will come to him
if he relapse into sin after God has given him such a
deliverance as this, Ezra 9. 13, 14. The hospital
where he lay, was a melancholy place, but hell
much more so : the doom of apostates is a worse
thing than thirty-eight years' lameness.

Now, after this interview between Christ and his
patient, oliserve in the two following verses,

First, The notice which the poor simple man gave
to the Jews concerning Christ, v. 15. He told them
it was Jesus that had made him whole. We have
reason to think he intended this for the honour of
Christ, and the benefit of the Jews, little thinking
that he who had so much power and goodness, could
have any enemies; but those who wish well to
Christ's kingdom, must have the wisdom of the ser-
pent, lest they do more hurt than good with their
zeal, and not cast pearls before swine.

Secondly, The rage and enmity of the Jews against
him ; Therefore did the rulers of the Jews persecute
Jesus. See, 1. How absurd and unreasonable their
enmity to Christ was. Therefore because he had
made a poor sick man well, and so eased the public
charge, upon which, it is likely, he had subsisted ;
therefore they persecuted him, because he did good
in Israel. 2. How bloody and ciniel it was ; They
sought to slay, him ; nothing less than his blood, his
life, would satisfy them. 3. How it was varnished
over with a colour of zeal for the honour of the sab-
bath ; for this was the pretended crime. Because he
had done these things on the sabbath-dav ; as if that
circumstance were enough to vitiate the best and
most divine actions, and to render him obnoxious
whose deeds were otherwise most meritorious.
Thus hypocrites often cover their real enmity against
the power of godliness, with a pretended zeal for the
form of it.

17. But Jesus answered them, My Fa-
ther worketh hitherto, and I work. 18,



ST. JOHN, V.



719



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.

19. Then answered Jesus and said unto
them, Veriljr, 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 alsodoelh the Son likewise.

20. For the Father loveth the Son, and
sheweih him all things that himself doelh :
and he will shew him greater works than
these, that ye may marvel. 21. Foiasthe
Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth
them ; even so the Son quickeneth whom
he will. 22. For the Father judgeth no
man, but hath committed all judgment unto
the Son : 23. That all jne?i should honour
the Son, even as they honour the Father,
He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth
not the Father which hath sent him. 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. 25. Verily, verily, I saj'
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.
26. For as the Father hath life in himself,
so hath he given to the Son to have life in
himself; 27. And hath given him authority
to execute judgment also, because he is the
Son of man. 28. Marvel not at this : for
the hour is coming, in the which all that are
in the graves shall hear his voice, 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. 30. I can of mine own self do
nothing : as I hear I judge ; and my judg-
ment is just ; because I seek not mine own
will, but the will of my Father which hath
sent me.

We have here Christ's discourse upon occasion
of his beng accused as a Sabbath-Breaker ; and it
seems to be his vindication of himself before the
Sanhedrim, when he was an-aigned before them ;
whether on the same day, or two or three days af-
ter, does not appear; probably, the same day. Ob-
serve,

1. The doctrine laid down, by which he justified
what he did on the sabbath-day ; (xi. 17. ) He an-
swered them. This supposes that he had something
laid to his charge ; or what they suggested one to
another, when they sought to slay him, {v. 16.) he
kne'-jj, and gave this reply too, My Father worketh
hitherto, and I work. At other times, in answer to
the like charge, he had pleaded the example of Da-
vid's eating of the shrew-bread, of the priest's slay-
ing of the sacrifices, and of the people's watering
of their cattle, on the sabbath-day ; but here he
goes higher, and alleges the example of his Father
and his divine authority ; waving all other pleas, he



insists upon that which was instar omnium — equi-
valent to the tuhole, and abides by it, which he had
mentioned, Matth. 12. 8. The ion of man is Lord
even of the iiabbath-day ; but he here enlarges
on it.

1. He pleads that he was the Son of God, plainly
intimated in his calling God his Father ; and if so,
his holiness was unquestionable, and his sovereignty
incontestable, and he might make what alterations
he pleased of the divine law. Surely they wilt re-
verence the So7i, the Heir of all things.

2. That he was a Worker together with God.
(1.) My Father worketh hitherto. The example

of Ciod's resting on the seventli day from all his
work, is, in the fourth commandment, made the
ground of our observing it as a sabbath, or day of
■rest. Now God rested only from such work as he
had done the six days before ; otherwise he worketh
hitherto, he is every day working, sabbath-days and
week-days ; upholding and governing all the crea-
tures, and concurring by his common providence to
all the motions and operations of nature, to his own
glory ; therefore, when we are appointed to rest on
the sabbath-day, yet we are not restrained from do-
ing that which has a direct tendency to the glory of
God ; as the man's caiTying of his bed had.

(2.) I work ; not only therefore I may work, like
him, m doing good on sabbath-days as well as other
days, but I also work with him. As God created
all things by Christ, so he supports and governs aU
by him, Heb. 1. 3. This sets what he does, above
all exception ; he that is so great a Worker, must
needs be an uncontrollable Governor ; he that does
all, is Lord of all, and therefore Lord of the sabbath;
which particular branch of his authority he would
now assert, because he was shortly to show it fur-
ther, in the change of the day from the seventh to
the first.

II. The offence that was taken at his doctrine ;
{v. 18.) The .Tews sought the more to kill him. His
defence was made his offence, as if by justifying
himself he had made bad worse. Note, Those that
will not be enlightened by the word of Christ, will
be enlightened and exasperated by it ; and nothing
more vexes the enemies of Christ than his asserting
of his authority : see Ps. 2. 3 — 5. They sought to
kill him,

1. Because he had broken the sabbath : for let
him say what he would, in his own justification, they
ai-e resolved, right or wrong, to find him guilty of
sabbath-breaking. When malice and envy sit upon
the bench, reason and justice may even be silent at
the bar, for whatever they can say, wiU undoubtedly
be overruled.

2. Not only so, but he had said also. That God
was his Father. Now they pretend a jealousy for
God's honour, as before for the sabbath-day, and
charge Christ with it as a heinous crime, that he
made himself equal with God ; and a heinous crime
it had been, if he had not really been so. It was
the sin of Lucifer, / will be like the Most High.
Now,

(1.) This was justly inferred from what he said ;
that he was the Son of God, and that God was his
Father, ■a-a.Tiftt Uiot — his own Father; his, so as he
was no one's else. He had said that he worked
with his Father, by the same authority and power,
and hereby he made himself equal with God. £cce,
intclliguni Judxi, quod von intelligunt Ariani —
Behold, the Jews understand what the Arians do not.

(2.) Yet it was unjustly imputed to him as an of-
fence, that he equalled himself with God, for he
was, and is, God equal with the Father ; (PhU. 2.
6.) and therefore Christ, in answer to this charge,
does not except against the inuendo as strained or
forced, but m;ikes out his claim, and proves that he
is equal with God in power and glory.



720 ST. JOHN, V.

III. Christ's discourse upon this occasion, which
continues without intemiption to the end of the chap-
ter ; in these verses he explains, and afterward con-
firms, liis commission, as Mediator, and Plenipo-
tentiary in the treaty between God and man. And
as the honours he is hereby entitled to, are sucli as
it is not fit for any ci'eature to receive, so t)ie work
he is hereby entrusted with, is sucli as it is not pos-
sible for any creature to go through with, and there-
fore he is God equal with the Fathei\

1. In general. He is one with tlie Father in all
he does as Mediator, and there was a perfect good
understanding between them in the whole matter.
It is ushered in with a solemn preface, {-v. 19. ) Ve-
rily, vcrUy, I say unto you; I the Amen, the Amen,
say it This speaks what is said to be, (1.) Very
awful and great, and such as commands the most se-
rious attention. (2. ) Very sure, and such as com-
mands an unfeigned assent. (3. ) It intimates tliat
they are matters purely of divine revelation ; things
which Christ has told us, and which we could not
otherwise have come to the knowledge of. Two
things he saith in general, concerning the Son's one-
ness with the Father in working.

[1.] That the Son cow/or ms^o Me Father; {v. 19.)
The Soji can do nothing of himself, but what he sees
the Father do, for these things does the Son. The
Lord Jesus, as Mediator, is. First, Obedient to his
Father's will; so entirely obedient, that he can do no-
thing of himself, in the same sense as it is said, God
cannot lie, cannot deiiy himself, which speaks the
perfection of his truth, not any imperfection in his
strength; so here, Christ was so entirely devoted to
his Father's will, that it was impossible for him in any
thing to act separately. Secondly, He is observant
of his Father's counsel; he can, he will, do nothing
but ivhat he sees the Father do. No man can find
out the work of God, but the only-begotten Son, who
lays in his bosom, sees what he does, and is inti-
mately acquainted with his puiposes, and has the
plan of them ever before him. What he did as
Mediator, throughout his whole undertaking, was
the exact transcript or counterpart of what the Fa-
ther did ; that is, what he designed, when he foiTned
the plan of our redemption in his eternal counsels,
and settled those measures in every thing which ne-
ver could be broken, nor ever needed to be altered ;
it was the copy oi\i\iaX great original ; it was Christ's
faithfulness, as it was Moses's, that he did all accord-
ing to the pattern showed him in the mount. This
is expressed in the present tense, what he sees the
Father do, for the same reason, that, when he was
here upon earth, it was said, He is in heaven, {ch.
3. 13.) and is in the bosom of the Father; {ch. 1.
18.) as he was even then by his divine nature pre-
sent in heaven, so the things done in heaven were
present to his knowledge. Wliat the Father did in
his counsels, the Son had ever in his view, and still
he had his eye upon it, as David in spirit spoke of
him, / have set the Lord always before me, Ps. 16.
8. Thirdly, Yet he is equal with the Father in work-
ing, for what things soever the Father does, these
also does the Son likewise; he did the same things,
not such things, but -raSTa, the same things ; and he
did them in the same manner, ifioian — likewise, with
the same authority, and liberty, and wisdom, the
same energy and efficacy. Does the Father enact,
repeal, and alter, positive laws ? Does he overrule
the course of nature, know men's hearts.' So does
the Son. The power of the Mediator is a divine
power.

[2.] That the Father communicates to the Son,
•V. 20. Observe, First, The inducement to it ; The
Father lometh the Son ; he declared. This is my be-
loved Son. He had not only a good will to the un-
dertaking, but an infinite complacency in the Under-
taker. Christ was now hated of men, one whom



the nation abhorred ; (Isa, 49. 7. ) but he comforted
himself with this, that his Father loved him. Se-
condly, The instances of it. He shows it,

1. In what he does communicate to him ; He
sheweth him all things that himself doth. The Fa-
ther's measures in making and ruling the world are
showed to the Son, that he may take the same mea-
sures in framing and governing the church, which
work was to be a duplicate of the work of creation
and providence, and is therefore called the world to
come. He shows him all things a mtK Trotu — which
he does, that is, which the Son does, so it might be
consti-ued ; all that the Son doesj isby direction from
the Father ; he shows him.

2. In what he will communicate ; he will ahoio
him, that is, will appoint and direct him to do,
greater works than these. (1.) Works of greater
power than the curing of the impotent man ; for he
should raise the dead, and should himself rise from
the dead. By the power of nature, with the use of
means, a disease may possibly in time be cured ; but
nature can never, by the use of any means, in any
time raise the dead. (2.) Works of gi-eater autho-
rity than waiTanting of the man to carry his bed on
-the sabbath-day. They thought that a daring at-
tempt ; but what was that to his abrogating ot the
whole ceremonial law, and instituting of new ordi-
nances, which he would shortly do; that ye may
marvel. Now they looked upon his works with
contempt and indignation, but he will shortly do
that which they will look upon with amazement,
Luke 7. 16. Many are brought to marvel at Christ's
works, whereby he has the honour of them, who
are not brought to believe, by which they would
have the benefit of them.

2. \-n particular. He proves his equality with the
Father, by specifying some of those works which
he does, that are the peculiar works of God. This
is enlarged upon, v. 21 — 30. (1.) He does, and shall
do, that which is the peculiar work of God's al-
mighty power — raising tht dead, artd gixiing life, v.
21, 25, 26, 28. (2.) He does, and shall do, that
which is the peculiar work of God's sovereign do-
minion and jurisdiction — -judging, and executing
judgment, v. 22 — 24, 27. These two are inter-
woven, as being nearly connected ; and what is said
once, is repeated and inculcated ; put both together,
and they will prove that Christ said not amiss, when
he made himself equal with God.

[1.] Observe what is here said concerning the
Mediator's power to raise the dead, and gfve life.
See,

First, His authority to do it ; (y. 21.) As the Fa-
ther raiseth up the dead, so the Son quickeneth whom,
he will.

1. It is God's prerogative to raise the dead, and
give life, even his who first breathed into man the
breath of life, and so made him a living soul; see
Deut. 32. 39. 1 Sam. 2. 6. Ps. 68. 20. Rom. 4. 17.
This God had done by the prophets Elijah and Eli-
sha, and it was a confirmation of their mission. A
resurrection fro?n the dead never lay in the common
road of nature, nor ever fell within the thought of
those that studied only, the compass of nature's pow-
er, one of whose recei^'ed axioms, was point-blank
against it ; A privatione ad habitum non datur re-
gressus — Existence, when once extinguished, cannot
be rekindled. It was therefore ridiculed at Athens
as an absurd thing, Acts 17. 32. It is purely the
work of a divine power, and the knowledge of it
purely by divine revelation. This the Jews would
o\vn.

2. The Mediator is invested with this preroga-
tive ; He qziickens whom he will; raises whom he
will to life, and when he pleases. He does not en-
liven things by natural necessity, as the sun does,
whose beams revive of course ; but he acts as a free



ST. JOHN, V,



721



Agent, has the dispensing of his power in his own
hand, and is never either constrained, or restrained,
in the use of it. As he lias tlie power, so he has the
wisdom and sovereignty, -of a God ; has the keys of
the grave and of death, (Rev. 1. 18.) not as a ser-
vant, to open and shut as he is bidden, for he has it
as the key of David, which lie is Master of, Rev. 3.
7. An absolute prince is described by this ; (Dan.
S. 19.) Whom he would he slew, or kept alive; it
is true of Christ, without a hyperbole.

Secondly, His ahili/y to do" it. Therefore he has
power to quicken when he will as the Father doth,
because he has Ife in himself, as the Father has,
t). 26.

1. It is certain that the Father has life in himself.
Not only he is a self-existent Being, who does not
derive from, or depend upon, any other, (Exod. 3.
14.) but he is a sovereign Giver of life ; he has the
disposal of life in himself, and of all good ; (for so
life sometimes signifies ;) it is all derived from him,
and dependent on him ;) he is to his creatures the foun-
tain of life, and all good ; Author of their being and
well-being ; the living God, and the God of all living.

2. It is as certain that he has given to the Son to
have life in himself As the Father is the Original of
all natural life and good, being the great Creator, so
the Son, as Redeemer, is the Original of all spiritual
life and good ; is that to the church, that the Father
is to the world ; see 1 Cor. 8. 6. Col. 1. 19. The king-
dom of gi-ace, and all the life in that kingdom, are
as fully and absolutely in the hand of the Redeemer
as the kingdom of providence is in the hand of the
Creator ; and as God, who gives being to all things,
has his being of himself, so Christ, who gives life,
raised himself to life by his own power, ch. 10. 18.

Thirdlu, His acting according to his authority and
ability. Having life in himself, and being authorized
to guicken whom he will, by virtue hereof there are,
accordingly, two resurrections performed by his
powerful word ; both which are here spoken of.

1. A resurrection that now is, {v. 29. ) a resurrec-
tion from the death of sin to the life of righteousness,
by the power of Christ's grace. The hour is com-
ing, and now is. It is a resurrection beg-un already,
and further to be carried on ; when the dead shall
hear the x'oice of the Son of God. This is plainly
distinguished from that, v. 28. which speaks of the
resurrection at the end of time. This sa\'s nothing,
as that does, of the dead in their graves, and of all
of them, and their coming forth. Now, (1.) Some
think this was fulfilled in those whom he miracu-
lously raised to life, Jairus's daughter, the widow's
son, and Lazanis ; and it is observable, that all
whom Christ raised, were spoken to, as. Damsel,
arise; Yoiing man, arise; Lazarus, come forth ;\
■whereas, those raised under the Old Testament,
were raised, not bv a word, but other applications,
1 Kings 17. 21. 2'Kings 4. 34.— 13. 21. Some un-
derstand it of those saints that rose with Christ ; but
we do r.-it read of the voice of the Son of God calling
them. But, (2. ) I rather understand it of the power
of the doctrine of Christ, for the recovering and
quickening of those that were dead in trespasses and
sins, Eph. 2. 1. The hour was coining, when dead
souls should be made alive by the preaching of the
gospel, and a spirit of life from God accompanying
it ; nay, it then was, while Christ was upon earth.
It may refer especially to the calling of the Gentiles,
which is said to be as life from the dead, and, some
think, was prefigured by Ezekiel's vision, (ch. 57.
1.) and foretold, Isa. 26. 19. Thy dead men shall
live. But it is to be applied to all the wondei-fiil suc-
cess of the gospel, among both Jews and Gentiles ;
an hour which still is, and is still coming, till all the
elect be effectually called. Note, [1.] Sinners are
spiritually dead, destitute of spiritual life, sense,
strengfn and motion, dead to God, miserable, but

Vol. v.— 4 Y



neither sensible of their misery, nor able to help
themselves out of it. [2.] The conversion of a soul
to God is its rcsuiTcction fi'oni death to life ; when
it begins to li\ e, when it begins to live to God, to
breathe after him, and move toward him. [3.] It
is by the voice of the Son of God that souls ai'C raised
to spiritual life ; it is wrought by his power, and
that power con\'eyed and communicated by his
word ; The dead shall hear, shall be made to hear,
to understand, receive, and believe, the voice of the
Son of God, to hear it as his voice ; then the Spirit
by it gives life, otherwise the letter kills. [4.] The
voice of Christ must be heard by us, that we may
live by it. They that hear, and attend to what they
hear, shall live. Hear, and your soul shall live, Isa.
55. 3.

2. A resurrection yet to come ; this is spoken of,
V. 28, 29. introduced with, "Marvel not at this,
which I have said of the first resurrection, do not
reject it as incredible and absurd, for at the end of
time you shall all see a more sensible and amazing
proof of the power and authority of the Son of man. "
As his own resurrection was reserved to be the final
and concluding proof of his personal commission, so
the resurrection of all men is reserved to be a like

Sroof of his commission to be executed by his Spirit,
low obser\-e here,

(1.) When this resuiTection shall be; The hour
is coining; it is pjced to an hour, so veiy punctual
is this great appointment. The judgment is not ad-
journed sine die — to some time not yet pitched upon;
no, he hath appointed a day. The hour is coining.
[1.] It is not yet come, it is not the hour spoken of
at V. 25. that is coming, and now is. Those erred
dangerously, who said that the resurrection was past
already, 2 'Tim. 2. 18. But, [2.] It will certainly
come, it is coming on, nearer every day than other j
it is at the door. How far off it is we know not ;
but we know that it is infallibly designed and unal-
terably determined.

(2. ) Who shall be raised ; all that are in the
graxtes, all that ha\e died from the beginning of
time, and all that shall die to the end of time. It was
said, (Dan. 12. 2.) ]\!any shall arise; Christ here
tells us those many shall be all ; all must appear
before the Judge, and therefore all must be raised ;
every person, and the whole of every person ; every
soul shall return to its body, and every bone to its
bone. The grave is the prison of dead bodies, where
they are detained ,- their furnace, where they are
consumed ; (Job 24. 19.) yet, in prospect of their
resurrection, we may call it their bed, where they
sleep to be awaked, again ; their treasury, where they
are laid up to be used again. Even those that are
not put into graves, shall arise ; but because most
are put into gi-aves, Christ uses this expression, all
that are in the graves. The Jews used the word
sheol for the grave, which signifies the state of the
dead ; all that are in that state, shall hear.

(3.) How they shall be raised. Two things are
here told us.

[1.] The efficient of this resuiTection ; TViey shall
hear his voice ; that is, he shall cause them to hear
it, as Lazarus was made to hear that word, Come
forth ; a divine power shall go along with the \oice,
to put life into them and enable them to obey it.
'\\'hen Christ rose, there was no voice heard, not a
word spoken, because he rose by his own power ;
but at the resurrection of the children of men we
find three voices spoken of, 1 Thess. 4. 16. The
Lord shall descend with a shout, the shout of a king,



Online LibraryMatthew HenryExposition of the Old and New Testament : wherein each chapter is summed up in its contents ; the sacred text inserted at large, in distinct paragaraphs ; each paragraph reduced to its proper heads ; the sense given, and largely illustrated ; with practical remarks ad observations (Volume 5) → online text (page 216 of 289)