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Bible Commentaries

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

John 5



Other Authors
Verse 1

here the malice of the Pharisees; they were more hurt at the cure of the sick man, than at the violation of the sabbath. Therefore, they ask not, Who healed you; but, as if they wished to keep that out of sight, Who told you to take up you bed? (St. John Chrysostom) --- But he answers: The same who healed me: Why should I not receive orders from him from whom I have received my health? (St. Augustine) --- By the festival, mentioned in ver. 1, is generally understood the Passover; and this was the second from the commencement of Christ's ministry. St. Matthew calls it by this name, chap. xxvi. 5; St. Mark, Chap. xiv. 2. and xv. 6; and St. Luke, Chap. xxiii. 17. For the first Passover, see above, John ii. 13; for the third, John vi. 4; for the fourth and last, Matthew xxvi. 17. The first three are only mentioned by St. John, the fourth by all the evangelists.

Verse 2



Probatica piscina: some Greek copies, Greek: probatike kolumbetra. But in the common copies, Greek: epi te probatike kolumbetra, i.e. prope piscinam, &c. Greek: Kolumbetra signifies lavacrum. See Legh's Crit. Sacra.

Verse 4



Angelus Domini. The word Greek: kuriou, Domini is found in several of the best Greek manuscripts though wanting in others. But that the cure was miraculous, see St. John Chrysostom, Greek: om. ls. p. 207, tom. viii. Greek: Aggelos iatiken enetikei dunamin. St. Ambrose, lib. de initandis, chap. iv. St. Augustine (trac. xvii. in Joan.) credas hoc Angelica virtute ficri solere. St. Cyril on this place, Angeli descendentes de cœlo piscinæ aquam turbabant.

Verse 5

Infirmity. The Greek, astheneia, signifies in its radical interpretation, a loss of strength: in this place it seems to denote a confirmed palsy.

Verse 6

Wilt thou be made whole? No doubt but the poor man desired nothing more. Christ put this question, to raise him to a lively faith and hope. (Witham)

Verse 8

Arise, take up thy bed, and walk. The man found himself healed at that very moment, and did as he was ordered, though it was the sabbath-day. The Jews blamed him for it: he told them, that he who had healed him, bade him do so. And who it was he knew not, till Jesus finding him in the temple, said to him: (ver. 14.) Sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee. Upon this he went, not out of malice, but out of gratitude, and told the Jews that Jesus had cured him. (Witham)

Verse 14

Sin no more, &c. By these words our Saviour shews, that his infirmity was sent in punishment of his sins. When our souls are covered with the leprosy of sin, we are frequently insensible of our misfortune; whereas, as soon as the body is attacked with sickness, though ever so inconsiderable, we are not to be pacified till the physician has been consulted, and some remedy applied to remove, if possible, the complaint. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. xxxvii. in Joan.) --- Men are astonished that God, for so short a pleasure as is found in the perpetration of sin, should have decreed an everlasting punishment in the fire of hell; for they say, Shall I be punished for ever, for having indulged a sinful thought for a single moment? But their astonishment will cease, when they consider that punishments are not inflicted on sins in proportion to the length of time that was spent in their perpetration, but that they are proportioned to their malice. Now the malice of sin being infinite, aimed against the infinite majesty and infinity sanctity of God, the punishment, to be any ways commensurate, must be infinite. If, therefore, the sinner dies charged with the infinite debt of mortal sin unrepented of, as the time of mercy and repentance finishes with the present life, the sin must necessarily remain, God's hatred for sin must necessarily remain, and the punishment justly inflicted must necessarily continue. (Haydock) --- These words are applicable to every penitent sinner, when he returns from the tribunal of confession, and shew how careful he ought to be not to relapse into his former sins. "For he who after pardon sins again, is unworthy of mercy; who being cured, makes himself sick again, and who being cleansed, defiles himself again." (Tom. ii. St. John Chrysostom, de lapsu prim. hom.)

Verse 17



Pater meus usque modo operatur, Greek: ergazetai. See St. John Chrysostom, Greek: om. le. on these words. St. Cyril, lib. ii. in Joan. chap. vi. St. Augustine, trac. xvii. in Joan. &c.

Verse 18



Patrem suum, or proprium suum patrem, Greek: ton patira idio.

Verse 19



Non potest filius a se, &c. St. John Chrysostom, Greek: om. le. (t. viii. p. 222.) a seipso nihil facit, neque pater a seipso facit, Greek: oude o pater aph eautou ti poion. See St. Cyril, lib. ii. in Joan. St. Augustine, trac. xvii. in Joan. on the same texts. St. Athanasius, orat. 2. cont. Arianos, tom. ii. p. 488. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Orat. xxxvi. 584. tom. i. Ed. Par. an. 1630. St. Ambrose (tom. ii. in Ps. cxviii.) Nihil a se facit filius: quia per unitatem operationis, nec filius sine patre facit, nec sine filio pater. St. Hilary, lib. vii. De Trin. P. 927. Ed. Ben. But St. Jerome (tom. iv. part 2, p. 521. Ed. Ben.) Non possum facere a meipso, objiciebant Ariani; sed respondet Ecclesia, ex persona hominis hæc dici, &c. St. Jerome does not mean that he had a human or created person, as the Nestorians pretend; but that these words were spoken, or might be understood of Christ, inasmuch as his human nature was united to his divine person.

Verse 20

Greater works than these will he (the Father) shew him, &c. These words may also, with Maldonatus be expounded of Christ, as man; but the ancient interpreters understand them of Christ, as God, in this sense, that the Father, and the Son, or the Father by the Son, will shew greater miracles hereafter done by Christ, that more persons may admire and believe. (Witham)

Verse 21

For as the Father ... giveth life, so also the Son giveth life to whom he will; where these words, to give life to whom he will, shew the power of the Son and of the Father to be equal. (Witham) --- Our Saviour here mentions the greater works he spoke of in the preceding verse; for it is much more wonderful that the dead should rise, than that the sick should recover their health. We are not to understand these words, as if they meant some were raised to life by the Father, and others by the Son; but that the Father raises those whom the Son raises. And lest any one should understand this, that the Father makes use of the Son as his minister, through whose means he raises the dead, he immediately adds, &c. (St. Augustine, Tract. xxi. in Joan.) --- We see the lovers of this temporal and perishable life, labour to the utmost of their power, I will not say to avoid death, but merely to prolong their frail existence. If, therefore, men labour with so much solicitude, if they strain every nerve to prolong their lives but for a few years; how foolish and blind to their interest must those be, who live in such a manner as to be deprived of the light of eternal day! (St. Augustine, De verb. Dei. Serm. 64.)

Verse 22



Omne judicium dedit filio. St. Augustine expounds it (trac. xxi.) sed judicium manifestum. Pater occultus erit judex, filius manifestus, quia mani feste ad judicium veniet.


Verse 24

Hath everlasting life. That is, a title to an eternal inheritance of glory, by believing in the Father, and in the Son, and also in the Holy Ghost, as we are taught to believe at our baptism. (Witham)

Verse 25

The hour cometh ... when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God. Though some understand this of the rising of Lazarus; others of those that rose with Christ at his resurrection: yet by these words, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, seems rather to be signified the general resurrection at the end of the world; and though it be said, that now is the hour, this may be spoken of the last age of the world; and, as St. John says, (1 John ii. 18.) children, it is the last hour. In fine, some interpreters understand these words of a spiritual resurrection from sin, which Christ came to bring to the world. (Witham)

Verse 27

To execute judgment, because he is the Son of man; or, because, he is God made man, and is to come to judgment in a visible manner, to judge all men. (Witham)

Verse 29

Unto the resurrection of judgment. That is, condemnation. (Challoner)

Verse 30

I can do nothing of myself, &c. See ver. 19. St. John Chrysostom also take notice, that it may be no less with truth said of the Father, that he can do nothing of himself, nor without his Son, nor both of them without the Holy Ghost; because both they, and their actions, are inseparable. (Witham)

Verse 31

If I bear witness of myself, &c. Christ tells the Jews elsewhere, (chap. viii. 14.) that though he should bear witness of himself, it would be true. But the sense of the words in this place is: I could allow you, that if I only gave testimony of myself you might seem to have some reason to except against my testimony: but now besides my own words, you have had also the testimony of John the Baptist, who divers times witnessed that I am the Messias, and the Son of God, come to take away the sins of the world. 2. You have had the testimony of my eternal Father, particularly at my baptism. 3. You have yet a greater testimony, by the works and miracles wrought before your eyes, and at the same time foretold by the prophets. 4. The prophets, and the Scriptures, which you search, or which I remit you to, to search them diligently, these also bear witness concerning me. (Witham)

Verse 38

do not observe the commandment he gave you. (Deuteronomy xviii. 15. 19.) of listening to the prophet He would send you.

Verse 39

, You search the Scriptures: (scrutamini; Greek: ereunate). It is not a command for all to read the Scriptures; but a reproach to the Pharisees, that reading the Scriptures as they did, and thinking to find everlasting life in them, they would not receive him to whom all those Scriptures gave testimony, and through whom alone they could have that true life. (Challoner) --- This hope is the cause and motive which leads to this study; and eternal life is the end they propose to themselves in it. Hence, from the context and mode of argumentation made use of, the indicative, you search, instead of the imperative mood, search ye, is best supported. Catholics are most unjustly accused of depriving the faithful of the use of the holy Scriptures. The council of Trent, (Session v. canon i. de reform.) makes this proviso; that in churches where there exists a prebendary, or benefice, set apart for lectures on sacred Scripture, the bishops, &c. shall compel those holding such benefice to expound the sacred Scriptures themselves, should they be equal to the duty; or, by a proper substitute, chosen by the bishop or local ordinary. Also in monasteries of monks, it is prescribed that if abbots neglect, let the bishops of the places compel their compliance; and in convents where studies can be conveniently prosecuted, let there be also a lecturer on Scripture appointed, to be chosen from the most able professors. Moreover, in public universities, where this most honorable and most necessary of all lectures has not been instituted, let the piety and charity of religious princes and governments provide for it; so that the Catholic faith may be defended and strengthened, and sound doctrine protected and propagated. And where the lecture has been instituted, but discontinued, let it be re-established. Moreover, no one was to be appointed to this office, whose life, morals, and learning had not been examined and approved by the bishop of the place, &c.

Verse 40

And you will not come to me. Christ now gives them reason why they do not receive him, and his doctrine, nor believe in him; because they are void of the love of God, full of self-love, envy, pride, seeking for praise and glory one from another. Hence you will not receive me, who come in the name of my Father, sent to redeem the world. But if another, such as false prophets, or even Antichrist himself, who will pretend to be the Messias, come in his own name, him you will receive. (Witham) --- It is proper to remark, that the testimonies here adduced all rise gradually one above another, and make a body of evidence that must leave the incredulous Jews without excuse: for they pay no regard to Jesus Christ himself, nor to John the Baptist, nor to the evidence of miracles, nor to the voice of God, nor to the Scriptures, nor even to Moses himself.

Verse 44


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Bibliography Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 5:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

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