9:1 And as he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth1. CONTENTION OVER THE MAN BORN BLIND. (Jerusalem.) John 9:1-41
NOTE.-- Some look upon the events in this and the next section as occurring
at the Feast of Tabernacles in October, others think they occurred at the
Feast of Dedication in December, deriving their point of time from John
And as he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. The man
probably sought to waken compassion by repeatedly stating this fact to
9:2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi,
who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind1?
Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born
blind? They assumed that all suffering was retributive, and asked for
whose sins this man suffered, regarding it as a case of extreme hardship,
for to be born blind is uncommon, even in the East. Their question had
reference to the doctrine of transmigration of souls, the man being regarded
as possibly having sinned in some pre-existing state.
9:3 Jesus answered, Neither
did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made
manifest in him1.
Neither did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God
should be made manifest in him. Jesus found a third alternative to their
dilemma. The man's parents were sinners, but neither their sin nor the
beggar's own sin had caused this calamity. It had come upon him as part of
God's plan for his life; it was part of the providential arrangement by
which God governs the world.
9:4 We must work
the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man
We must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night
cometh, when no man can work. As to the duration of his earthly works,
Jesus classifies himself with his disciples, for his humanity, like ours,
had its season of activity, or days, which was practically terminated by the
night of death. After his resurrection, Jesus performed no miracle of
9:5 When I am in
the world, I am the light of the world1.
When I am in the world, I am the light of the world. In the
spiritual sense, Christ is ever the light of the world, but while he lived
among men, even the privileges of physical light were imparted to him.
9:6 When he had thus spoken, he
spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed his eyes with the
He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed his
eyes with the clay. Jesus probably used the clay to aid the man's faith.
His so doing gave the Pharisees a chance to cavil at Jesus for breaking the
Sabbath. If later rabbis report correctly, the traditions of that day, the
clay might be put on the eyes for pleasure on the Sabbath, but not for
medicine, nor might the eyes be anointed with spittle on that day.
9:7 and said unto him, Go,
wash in the pool of Siloam1 (which is by interpretation,
Sent). He went away therefore, and washed, and came
Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. As to Siloam, see Luke
(Which is by interpretation, Sent.) It was probably called Sent
because its waters are sent to it from the Virgin's Fountain through a
tunnel cut through the hill Ophel. For the Virgin's Fountain, see John
He went away therefore, and washed, and came seeing. He did not
come back to Jesus, but came to his own house.
9:8 The neighbors therefore, and they that
saw him aforetime, that he was a beggar, said, Is not
this he that sat and begged1?
Is not this he that sat and begged? The conclusion of the neighbors
is very natural. Such a cure would slightly change his appearance, but in
any event the impossibility of the cure would raise doubts as to the
identity of the cured.
9:10 They said therefore unto him, How
then were thine eyes opened1?
How then were thine eyes opened? They question as to the manner,
not as to the fact.
9:11 He answered, The
man that is called Jesus1 made clay, and anointed mine
eyes, and said unto me, Go to Siloam, and wash: so I went away and washed, and I
The man that is called Jesus, etc. He speaks of Jesus as one well
known. He had learned who sent him before he went to Siloam. We shall note
how opposition enlarges the faith and the confession of this man.
9:13 They bring
to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind1.
They bring to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. They
wanted to see how the Pharisees would deal with Jesus' miracles. See
McGarvey's "Credibility", p. 112 f.
9:14 Now it was
the sabbath1 on the day when Jesus made the clay, and
opened his eyes.
Now it was the sabbath. Such conduct on the Sabbath raised legal
questions of which the Pharisees were also recognized judges.
9:15 Again therefore the Pharisees also
asked him how he received his sight. And he said unto them, He
put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and I see1.
He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and I see. The Pharisees
ascertained no more than the neighbors had learned (John
9:16 Some therefore of the Pharisees said,
This man is not from God, because he keepeth not the sabbath. But others said,
How can a man that is a sinner do such signs? And there
was division among them1.
And there was division among them. The cause of the division is
apparent. One party laid stress upon the Jewish tradition and judged Jesus a
sinner because he had violated them. The other party laid stress upon the
sign or miracle and argued that one who could do such things could not be a
violator of God's laws.
9:17 They say
therefore unto the blind man again1, What
sayest thou of him, in that he opened thine eyes2? And
he said, He is a prophet3.
They say therefore unto the blind man again. Both parties of the
What sayest thou of him, in that he opened thine eyes? Each party
asked the opinion of the blind man, hoping to get something to aid their
side of the argument--one party trusting to the man's gratitude, and the
other to his fear of the rulers.
And he said, He is a prophet. A far more pronounced confession than
that which he have in John
9:18 The Jews therefore did not believe
concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until
they called the parents of him that had received his sight1,
Until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.
The man's advocacy of Jesus as prophet suggested to those cunning diplomats
that there was collusion between Jesus and the man, and that the cure was
fraudulent. They therefore denied the cure and sent for the parents, to whom
they put the threefold question as to sonship, blindness, and cure.
9:20 His parents answered and said, We
know that this is our son, and that he was born blind1:
We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind. Thus they
answer clearly as to the first two points.
9:21 but how he
now seeth, we know not; or who opened his eyes, we know not1:
ask him; he is of age; he shall speak for himself2.
But how he now seeth, we know not; or who opened his eyes, we know not.
The emphasis in this verse lies in the pronouns.
Ask him; he is of age; he shall speak for himself. Thus the parents
timidly declined to answer the third point, alleging that their son is old
enough to answer for himself.
9:22 These things
said his parents, because they feared the Jews1: for the
Jews had agreed already, that if any man should confess him [to be] Christ, he
should be put out of the synagogue2.
These things said his parents, because they feared the Jews. The
parents, having heard the unrestrained, freely spoken account given by their
son as to his healing, had no doubt in their own minds as to who effected
that healing. They therefore declined to speak because of fear, and no
through lack of knowledge.
The synagogue. See Mark
9:24 So they
called a second time the man that was blind1, and
said unto him, Give glory to God: we know that this man is a sinner2.
So they called a second time the man that was blind. Following the
suggestion of the parents, and because a miracle could not now be denied.
And said unto him, Give glory to God: we know that this man is a sinner.
Taken in their English sense, these words would mean, "Praise God and
not Jesus for what has been done", but the phrase "give God the
praise" is, in Hebrew usage, an adjuration to a criminal to confess his
7:9; 1 Samuel
6:5). The idea may then be paraphrased thus: confess that you and Jesus
have conspired to work a pretended miracle. It is your best course, since we
know all about the frauds of Jesus and will soon unearth this one.
9:25 He therefore answered, Whether he is
a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I
was blind, now I see1.
One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. As to the
doings of Jesus, whether fraudulent or not, he could not answer, but he
could say that there was no sham or deception about his eyesight.
9:27 He answered them, I
told you even now, and ye did not hear; wherefore would ye hear it again1?
would ye also become his disciples?
I told you even now, and ye did not hear; wherefore would ye hear it
again? would ye also become his disciples? Perceiving that their boasted
knowledge as to the frauds of Jesus was untrue, and that they were even then
questioning him to obtain material to be used against Jesus, he declines to
repeat his statement and shows them that he understands their sinister
motive in questioning him by ironically asking them if they wished to become
disciples of Jesus.
9:28 And they reviled him, and said, Thou
art his disciple; but we are disciples of Moses1.
Thou art his disciple; but we are disciples of Moses. In Jewish
estimation, Moses stood next to God. To forsake Moses for another prophet
was to be an apostate. Such reviling was a severe test, but the man stood
9:30 The man answered and said unto them, Why,
herein is the marvel, that ye know not whence he is, and [yet] he opened mine
Why, herein is the marvel, that ye know not whence he is, and [yet] he
opened mine eyes. The man answers contempt with contempt; with biting
irony he declares that the miracle of his healing is no wonder at all when
compared with the fact that such wonderfully learned men should be totally
ignorant of so great a miracle-worker as Jesus. Thus he scorned their
superlative claim to infallible knowledge, expressed in John
9:31 We know that
God heareth not sinners1: but if
any man be a worshipper of God, and do his will, him he heareth2.
We know that God heareth not sinners. He takes up their style of
But if any man be a worshipper of God, and do his will, him he heareth.
Such was the teaching of the Old Testament. See Proverbs
9:32 Since the
world began it was never heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind1.
Since the world began it was never heard that any one opened the eyes
of a man born blind. The Old Testament contains no record of such a
miracle; the case stood alone as a marvel of power.
9:33 If this man
were not from God, he could do nothing1.
If this man were not from God, he could do nothing. He draws the
same conclusion which the better element of the Pharisees had drawn. See John
9:34 They answered and said unto him, Thou
wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us1? And
they cast him out2.
Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? They
give here the Jewish answer to the question asked in John
9:2. Do you, so stamped a sinner from birth, presume to teach us, the
heads of Israel? They had been denying that he had been blind; they now
inconsistently taunt him with blindness as evidence of his sin.
And they cast him out. The vast majority of commentators take this
as an immediate act, and hence allege that the language refers to his being
cast out of the hall or place where they were assembled, and not to his
being excommunicated. Their reason for this is found in the fact that the
man could not be excommunicated without a formal meeting of the Sanhedrin.
But there is nothing to show that the act was not a deliberate one,
including a formal meeting, etc. We agree with DeWette that his expulsion
from a hall
"would not be important enough to occasion verse 35."
9:35 Jesus heard
that they had cast him out1; and
finding him, he said, Dost thou believe on the Son of God2?
Jesus heard that they had cast him out. His was a sad plight,
indeed. To be put out of the synagogue was to be put on a level with the
heathen, and to be left without a country or a religious fellowship.
And finding him, he said, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
Being cut off from all that came through Moses, Jesus was leading him into
all that came through the Son of God.
9:36 He answered and said, And
who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him1?
And who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him? The form of the
man's question showed that he regarded a knowledge of the Son of God as a
privilege beyond all hope or expectation, and the reply of Jesus is suited
to this idea.
9:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou
hast both seen him, and he it is that speaketh with thee1.
Thou hast both seen him, and he it is that speaketh with thee. Thus
the unhoped for had been actually and sensually realized. To the outcast of
the synagogue here and to the outcast of the nation at Jacob's well (John
4:26), how fully Jesus revealed himself.
9:39 And Jesus
said1, For judgment came I into
this world2, that they that see
not may see3; and that they that
see may become blind4.
And Jesus said. Not addressing anyone in particular, but rather as
summing up the whole incident.
For judgment came I into this world. The life course of Jesus
attracted the needy and repelled the self-satisfied, and was therefore a
That they that see not may see. Those conscious of their
deficiencies and ready to ask for light received it (John
And that they that see may become blind. Those satisfied with their
own opinion became daily more blinded by their bigotry. See John
9:40 Those of the
Pharisees who were with him1 heard these things, and said
unto him, Are we also blind?
Those of the Pharisees who were with him. Not as disciples, but for
9:41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were
blind, ye would have no sin: but now ye say, We see:
your sin remaineth2.
If ye were blind, ye should have no sin. If you were conscious of
your spiritual darkness, and sought light, you either find it or not be
blamed for your failure to do so.
But now ye say, We see: your sin remaineth. They could see if they
would, and were responsible for their blindness.