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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

John 9



Other Authors
Verse 1

From his birth ( ἐκ γενετῆς )

The word only here in the New Testament.

Verse 2

This man, or his parents

It was a common Jewish view that the merits or demerits of the parents would appear in the children, and that the thoughts of a mother might affect the moral state of her unborn offspring. The apostasy of one of the greatest Rabbis had, in popular belief, been caused by the sinful delight of his mother in passing through an idol grove.

Verse 3

But that ( ἀλλ ' ἵνα )

There is an ellipsis: but (he was born blind ) that.

Verse 4

I must work ( ἐμὲ δεῖ ἐργάζεσθαι )

The best texts read ἡμᾶς , us, instead of ἐμὲ , me. Literally, it is necessary for us to work. The disciples are thus associated by Jesus with Himself. Compare John 3:11.

Sent me, not us

The Son sends the disciples, as the Father sends the Son.

Verse 5

As long as ( ὅταν )

More correctly, whensoever. Rev., when. Whether in my incarnation, or before my incarnation, or after it. Compare John 1:4, John 1:10.

The light

See on John 8:12. The article is wanting. Westcott says, “Christ is 'light to the world,' as well as 'the one Light of the world.' The character is unchangeable, but the display of the character varies with the occasion.”

Verse 6

On the ground ( χαμαὶ )

Only here and John 18:6.

Anointed ( ἐπέχρισε )

Only here and John 9:11. The spittle was regarded as having a peculiar virtue, not only as a remedy for diseases of the eye, but generally as a charm, so that it was employed in incantations. Persius, describing an old crone handling an infant, says: “She takes the babe from the cradle, and with her middle finger moistens its forehead and lips with spittle to keep away the evil eye” (“Sat.,” ii., 32,33). Tacitus relates how one of the common people of Alexandria importuned Vespasian for a remedy for his blindness, and prayed him to sprinkle his cheeks and the balls of his eyes with the secretion of his mouth (“History,” iv., 81). Pliny says: “We are to believe that by continually anointing each morning with fasting saliva (i.e., before eating), inflammations of the eyes are prevented” (“Natural History,” xxviii., 7). Some editors read here ἐπέθηκεν , put upon, for ἐπέχρισεν , anointed.

Of the blind man

Omit, and read as Rev., his eyes.

Verse 7

Wash ( νίψαι )

Wash the eyes. See on Acts 16:33.


By Rabbinical writers, Shiloach: Septuagint, Σιλωάμ : Vulgate and Latin fathers, Siloe. Josephus, generally, Siloa. In scripture always called a pool or tank, built, and not natural. The site is clearly identified in a recess at the southeastern termination of Zion, near the junction of the valley of Tyropoeon with that of the Kidron. According to Dr. Thomson, it is a parallelogram about fifty-three feet long and eighteen wide, and in its perfect condition must have been nearly twenty feet deep. It is thus the smallest of all the Jerusalem pools. The water flows into it through a subterraneous conduit from the Fountain of the Virgin, and the waters are marked by an ebb and flow. Dr. Robinson witnessed a rise and fall of one foot in ten minutes. The conduit has been traversed by two explorers, Dr. Robinson and Captain Warren. See the account of Warren's exploration in Thomson, “Southern Palestine and Jerusalem,” p. 460. On the word pool, see on John 5:2.


The Hebrew word means outflow (of waters); missio, probably with reference to the fact that the temple-mount sends forth its spring-waters. Many expositors find a typical significance in the fact of Christ's working through the pool of this name. Thus Milligan and Moulton, after noting the fact that the water was drawn from this pool for pouring upon the altar during the Feast of Tabernacles; that it was associated with the “wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3); and that the pouring out of the water symbolized the effusion of spiritual blessing in the days of the Messiah, go on to say: “With the most natural interest, therefore, the Evangelist observes that its very name corresponds to the Messiah; and by pointing out this fact indicates to us what was the object of Jesus in sending the man to these waters. In this, even more distinctly than in the other particulars that we have noted, Jesus, in sending the man away from Him, is keeping Himself before him in everything connected with his cure. Thus, throughout the whole narrative, all attention is concentrated on Jesus Himself, who is the Light of the world, who was 'sent of God' to open blind eyes.” See also Westcott and Godet.

Verse 8


The best texts substitute προσαίτης , a beggar.

That sat and begged ( ὁ καθήμενος καὶ προσαιτῶν )

Literally, the one sitting and begging. Denoting something customary.

Verse 9

He said ( ἐκεῖνος )

The strong demonstrative throws the man into strong relief as the central figure.

Verse 11

To the pool of Siloam

The best texts read simply, Go to Siloam.

Received sight ( ἀνέβλεψα )

Originally, to look up, as Matthew 14:19; Mark 16:4, and so some render it here; but better, I recovered sight.

Verse 14

It was the Sabbath day when ( ἦν δὲ σάββατον ὅτε )

The best texts read, instead of ὅτε when ἐν ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ onwhich day. Literally, it was a Sabbath on the day on which.

Verse 16

Keepeth not the Sabbath

A Rabbinical precept declares, “It is forbidden to apply even fasting-spittle to the eyes on the Sabbath.” The words in John 9:14, made the clay, also mark a specific point of offense.

Verse 18

The Jews

Notice the change from the Pharisees. The Pharisees had already divided on this miracle (John 9:16). The Jews represent that section which was hostile to Jesus.

Of him that had received his sight ( αὐτοῦ τοῦ ἀναβλέψαντος ).

Properly, “of the very one who had received.”

Verse 22

Had agreed - that ( συνετέθειντο - ἵνα )

The sense is, had formed an agreement in order to bring about this end, viz., that the confessor of Christ should be excommunicated.

Confess ( ὁμολογήσῃ )

See on Matthew 7:23; see on Matthew 10:32.

He should be put out of the synagogue ( ἀποσυνάγωγος )

The literal rendering cannot be neatly given, as there is no English adjective corresponding to ἀποσυνάγωγος , which means excluded from the synagogue: as nearly as possible - that He should become banished from the synagogue. The adjective occurs only in John's Gospel - here, John 12:42; John 16:2. Three kinds of excommunication were recognized, of which only the third was the real cutting off, the other two being disciplinary. The first, and lightest, was called rebuke, and lasted from seven to thirty days. The second was called thrusting out, and lasted for thirty days at least, followed by a “second admonition,” which lasted for thirty days more. This could only be pronounced in an assembly of ten. It was accompanied by curses, and sometimes proclaimed with the blast of the horn. The excommunicated person would not be admitted into any assembly of ten men, nor to public prayer. People would keep at the distance of four cubits from him, as if he were a leper. Stones were to be cast on his coffin when dead, and mourning for him was forbidden. If all else failed, the third, or real excommunication was pronounced, the duration of which was indefinite. The man was to be as one dead. No intercourse was to be held with him; one must not show him the road, and though he might buy the necessaries of life, it was forbidden to eat and drink with him. These severer forms appear to have been of later introduction, so that the penalty which the blind man's parents feared was probably separation from all religious fellowship, and from ordinary intercourse of life for perhaps thirty days.

Verse 24

Give God the praise ( δὸς δόξαν τῷ Θεῷ )

Rev., give glory to God. Compare Joshua 7:19; 1 Samuel 6:5. This phrase addressed to an offender implies that by some previous act or word he has done dishonor to God, and appeals to him to repair the dishonor by speaking the truth. In this case it is also an appeal to the restored man to ascribe his cure directly to God, and not to Jesus. Palgrave, “Central and Eastern Arabia,” says that the Arabic phrase commonly addressed to one who has said something extremely out of place, is Istaghfir Allah, Ask pardon of God.

We know

The we is emphatic. We, the wise men and guardians of religion.

Verse 28

Reviled ( ἐλοιδόρησαν )

The verb means to reproach or scold in a loud and abusive manner. Calvin, on 1 Corinthians 4:12, “being reviled we bless,” remarks: “ Λοιδορία is a harsher railing, which not only rebukes a man, but also sharply bites him, and stamps him with open contumely. Hence λοιδορεῖν is to wound a man as with an accursed sting.”

His disciple ( μαθητὴς ἐκείνου )

Literally, that man's disciple. The pronoun has a contemptuous force which is not given by his.

Verse 29

Spake ( λελάληκεν )

Perfect tense, hath spoken, and the authority of Moses' words therefore continues to the present. So Rev., Λαλέω is to talk, familiarly. See Exodus 33:11.

Whence he is

Compare John 7:27; John 8:14.

Verse 30

A marvelous thing ( θαυμαστόν )

The correct reading adds the article, the marvel. So Rev.

Ye know not

Ye is emphatic: ye who might be expected to know about a man who has wrought such a miracle.

And yet ( καὶ )

See on John 8:20; see on John 1:10.

Verse 31

We know

Here the pronoun is not expressed, and the we is not emphatic, like the pronouns in John 9:24, John 9:29, but expresses the common information of all concerning a familiar fact.

A worshipper of God ( θεοσεβὴς )

Only here in the New Testament. The kindred word, θεοσέβεια , godliness, occurs only at 1 Timothy 2:10. Compounded with Θεός , God, and σέβομαι , to worship, the same verb which appears in εὐσεβής , devout (Acts 10:2, Acts 10:7; Acts 22:12), and εὐσέβεια , godliness (Acts 3:12; 1 Timothy 2:2, etc.). See on 2 Peter 1:3. These two latter words, while they may mean reverence toward God, may also mean the due fulfillment of human relations; while θεοσεβὴς , worshipper of God, is limited to piety towards God.

Verse 32

Since the world began ( ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος )

The exact phrase only here in the New Testament. Ἁπ ' is found in Acts 3:21; Acts 15:18; ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων in Colossians 1:26.

Verse 34

Altogether ( ὅλος )

Literally, all of thee.

In sins

Standing first in the Greek order, and emphatic, as is also σὺ thouin both instances. “In sins wast thou born, all of thee; and dost thou teach us?”


Emphatic. Dost thou, thus born in sins, assume the office of teacher?

Cast him out

From the place where they were conversing. Not excommunicated, which this miscellaneous gathering could not do.

Verse 35

Said unto him

Omit unto him.

Dost thou believe ( σὺ πιστεύεις )?

The form of the question indicates the confident expectation of an affirmative answer. It is almost an affirmation, you surely believe; you ( σὺ , emphatic) who have born such bold testimony to me that they have cast you out. Note the phrase, πιστεύεις εἰς , believe on, and see on John 1:12.

Son of God

Both Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort read Son of man.

Verse 36

Who is He?

The best texts insert καὶ , and; and who is he? which imparts an air of eagerness to the question.

Verse 38

Worshipped ( προσεκύνησεν )

See on Acts 10:25.

Verse 39

Judgment ( κρίμα )

Not the act of judgment, but its result. His very presence in the world constitutes a separation, which is the primitive idea of judgment, between those who believe on Him and those who reject Him. See on John 3:17.

Verse 40

Are we blind also ( μὴ καὶ ἡμεῖς τυφλοί ἐσμεν )?

The also belongs with we. The interrogative particle has the force of we are surely not, and the we is emphatic. Are we also blind? So Rev.

Verse 41

Ye should have no sin ( οὐκ ἀν εἴχετε ἁμαρτίαν )

Or, ye would have had. The phrase ἁμαρτίαν ἔχειν , to have sin, occurs only in John, in the Gospel and First Epistle.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 9:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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