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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

John 5

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-47

CHAPTER 5

1. The Healing of the Impotent Man. (John 5:1-9.)

2. The Opposition of the Jews. (John 5:10-18.)

3. His Unity with the Father. (John 5:19-23.)

4. The Present Hour. Believers Delivered from Death and Judgment. (John 5:24-25.)

5. The Future Hour. His Power to Raise the Dead. (John 5:26-29.)

6. Witness Concerning Himself. (John 5:30-32.)

7. The Witness of John. (John 5:33-35.)

8. The Witness of His Works. (John 5:36.)

9. The Witness of the Father. (John 5:37-38.)

10. The Witness of the Scriptures, and the Unbelief of the Jews. (John 5:39-47.)

The teachings contained in this chapter are closely linked with the third and fourth chapters. He went up to Jerusalem again. In the foreground stands the healing of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda with its five porches. An angel troubled the water at Certain seasons, so that some were healed. We believe that it was actually so, though we cannot explain it. Many critics attack this occurrence and reject its genuineness. (“After all there is no more real difficulty in the account before us, than in the history of our Lord’s temptation in the wilderness, the various cases of Satanic possession, or the release of Peter from prison by an angel. Once admit the existence of angels, their ministry on earth, and the possibility of their interposition to carry out God’s designs, and there is nothing that ought to stumble us in the passage. The true secret of some of the objections to it, is the modern tendency to regard all miracles as useless lumber, which must be thrown overboard, if possible, and cast out of the Sacred Narrative on every occasion. Against this tendency we must watch and be on our guard.”) But the impotent man could not avail himself of the opportunity for he was helpless. Such was Israel’s condition under the law. The thirty-eight years point back to Israel’s wandering in the wilderness. Furthermore the impotent man presents a striking picture of the utter helplessness of man as a sinner. By His word the Lord Jesus made him perfectly whole, so that he took up his bed and walked.

Opposition and objection from the Jews followed at once. They accused the healed man of breaking the Sabbath. He evidently did not know the Lord at all; only after He had spoken to him (John 5:14) did he find out that it was Jesus. Then he told the Jews. Their hatred was turned at once against the Lord. They persecuted Him and sought to slay Him because He had done this miracle on the Sabbath. The Lord’s answer is most blessed. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” It is the first time in this Gospel that He speaks of God as “My Father.” He, the Son, was in their midst to make the Father known. He told them that His Father works and that the Son works. Sin made this work necessary. He stood in their presence and claimed perfect and unbroken fellowship with His Father.

The Jews knew what He meant. Had He said “Our Father” instead of “My Father” no word of protest would have escaped their lips. They knew His words could mean but one thing, that He is equal with God, by saying that God was His Father. Augustine remarked on this verse: “Behold the Jews understood what the Arians (deniers of His Deity) would not understand.” And He accepted the charge of the Jews as a correct one. “He thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” (Philippians 2:6). His words which follow declare His perfect unity with the Father in His work; He is the Beloved of the Father; the Father raiseth up the dead, so does He; judgment is committed unto the Son; He is to be honored as the Father is honored. “Whosoever does not honor the Son with equal honor to that which he pays to the Father, however he may imagine that he honors or approaches God, does not honor Him at all; because he can only be known by us as ‘the Father who sent his Son.’“ (Dean Alford.) Unitarianism, Russellism, the new theology and a host of other which deny the absolute Deity of our Lord, stand condemned and convicted in the presence of these wonderful words, “He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father.” All worship apart from the Son of God is idolatry. He claims the unity in Godhead; and such belongs to Him.

John 5:24 is a blessed Gospel text. Hearing and believing are the conditions to receive eternal life. There is no mention made of repentance. The word “repent” so prominent in the Gospel of Matthew in the Kingdom offer is not found once in the fourth Gospel. Faith and repentance, however, are inseparable. He that hears His words and believeth Him that sent the Son also repents. Again eternal life is spoken of as a present possession, “hath” not “shall have” or “shall receive later,” but “hath eternal life.” And with that gift comes deliverance from judgment. The reception of eternal life is a full acquittal; passed from death and all it means, into life.

“The coming hour” in John 5:25 is the present dispensation. The dead are the spiritually dead. They that hear the voice of the Son of God shall live; they receive His life. Then He speaks of an hour which was to come and which has not yet come. Two resurrections are revealed by Him; the resurrection of life and the resurrection of judgment. This does not mean that these two resurrections are to take place the same time, in, what is termed, a general resurrection. Elsewhere we find the full revelation concerning these two resurrections. There is the first resurrection, the resurrection of the just, and a thousand years later the resurrection of the wicked dead. (Revelation 20:1-15.) All the wrong teachings concerning the wicked dead, such as Annihilation, Restitution, Restoration, Second Chance, etc., as taught by Seventh Day Adventism, Millennial Dawnism, (also called “International Bible Students’ Association” and “Jehovah’s Witnesses”) Universalism and others, are completely refuted by the words of our Lord in John 5:29.

The five witnesses who testify concerning Himself, that He is the Son of God, are of much importance and should be carefully studied.

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on John 5:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/john-5.html. 1913-1922.

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