COMMENTARY

John 9:1-41

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

[As Jesus passed by] Having left the temple, where the Jews were going to stone him, it is probable that our Lord went, as was his custom, to the mount of olives. The next day, which was the sabbath, he met a man who had been born blind, sitting in some public place, asking for alms from those who passed by.

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

[Who did sin] The Pythagoreans believed in reincarnation -- that the souls of men were sent into other bodies for the punishment of some sin which they had committed in a previous life. This doctrine seems to have gained wide acceptance, even among the Jews. The meaning of the question was, Did this man sin in a previous life, that he is punished in this body with blindness? Or, did his parents commit some sin for which they are thus plagued in their offspring?

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

[Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents] This blindness is not caused by his sin, nor his parents, but has happened in the ordinary course of Divine providence, and shall become the instrument of salvation to him, edification to others and glory to God.

4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

[While it is day] Though I plainly perceive that the cure of this man will draw down upon me the malice of the Jewish rulers, yet I must accomplish the work for which I came while it is yet day - while the term of this life of mine shall last.

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

[I am the light of the world] Like the sun, it is my business to dispense light and warmth everywhere, and neglect no opportunity to enlighten the souls of men.

6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

[Anointed the eyes of the blind man] This action probably had no medical efficacy, but was the method Jesus chose to use in this instance.

7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

[Go, wash] It is unlikely that washing in the pool had any medical value either, but faith and obedience resulted in a miracle.

[Pool of Siloam] Also called Shiloah, Siloe or Siloa, was a fountain under the walls of Jerusalem toward the east, between the city and the brook Kidron. Some think it is the same as En-rogel, the fuller's fountain, mentioned several times on the Old Testament. Its waters were collected in a great reservoir for the use of the city, and a stream from it supplied the pool of Bethesda.

8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?
9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.

[Is not this he that sat and begged? This miracle was almost too much to believe. The restoration of his sight may have given him a different appearance and mannerism.

10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?
11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.

[A man that is called Jesus] The simple truth is his testimony. Notice how his understanding of and relationship with Jesus grows as the chapter continues.

12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

[Where is he?] I do not know. I was still blind when I left him to go to the pool.

13 They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.

[They brought to the Parisees] The people, now firmly convinced that the man had been cured, brought him to the Pharisees. There were rules in Leviticus which described how one who was thought to have leprosy was to be brought before the high priest for final determination. No such rule for blindness existed, but this was such an unusual circumstance it may have seemed like the right thing to do.

14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.
15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.
16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

[He keepeth not the sabbath day] How easily people come to believe that their own fabrications are God's will. The law relative to the observation of the sabbath was not for the purpose of bringing hardship upon man nor servant nor beast, but to provide much needed rest and renewal. Jesus went out of his way to challenge the unnecessarily restrictive regulations which had grown up around the sabbath.

17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

[He is a prophet] According to Jewish maxim, a prophet might dispense with the observation of the sabbath. If they allowed that Jesus was a prophet, then, even in their sense, he might break the law of the sabbath and be guiltless; or, if they did not allow that he was a prophet, than they had to account for the miracle some other way than by the power of God.

18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.

[But the Jews did not believe] All the subterfuge they could use was simply to sin against their conscience by asserting that the man had not been blind; but even this assertion was soon disproved by the testimony of the parents who, if further tried on this subject, could have produced as witnesses, not only the whole neighborhood, but nearly the whole city, for it appears that the man got his bread by publicly begging.

19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?
20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:
21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.

[He is of age] Literally, he has stature. He is a full grown man. Mature age was fixed among the Jews as 30 years.

22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.

[Put out of the synagogue] That is, excommunicated - separated from all religious connection with those who worshipped God. This was the lesser form of excommunication among the Jews and was termed nidui. The cherem, or anathema. was not used against the followers of Christ until after the resurrection.

24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.

[We know this man is a sinner] Having called the man a second time they attempted to intimidate him and put their words into his mouth.

25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

[Whereas I was blind, now I see] He pays no attention to their perversion of justice, but, in the simplicity of his heart, speaks to the fact.

26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?
27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?
28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.

[Then they reviled him] The Greek word is a combination of two, word and spear. They spoke cutting, piercing words to him. He did not change his testimony.

[We are Moses disciples] By this they meant that they were genuine Pharisees; for they did not credit the Sadducees to be disciples of Moses.

29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.

[We know not from whence he is] As if they had said, We have the fullest assurance that the commission of Moses was Divine, but we have no proof that this man has such a commission. This argument revolves around How does one identify a prophet? As we have seen earlier, miracles were among the proofs.

30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.
31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

[Opened the eyes of one that was born blind] Neither Moses or the prophets have opened the eyes of one born blind. If this person were not the best of beings, would God grant him a privilege which he has hitherto denied to his choicest favorites?

33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.

[If this man were not of God] A very just conclusion. Only those determined to not believe could deny this logic.

34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

[Thou was altogether born in sins] You did not give us what we wanted to hear, therefore we will use the erroneous popular belief in transmigration to declare that you are wicked and cast you out from our presence.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

[Dost thou believe on the Son of God?] This was the same as Do you believe in the Messiah? for these two characters were inseperable.

36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?

37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.

38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

[Lord, I believe] A clear mind objectively evaluated the facts and came up with the answer which had eluded the most eminent scholars of the day.

39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

[For judgement I am come] To manifest and execute the just judgement of God. 1. By giving sight to the blind and light to those who sit in darkness. 2. By removing the light from those who abuse and refuse it.

40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?

41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

[Therefore your sin remaineth] Because you say, we see - we are perfectly capable of judging between a true and false prophet, and can from the Scriptures point out the Messiah from his works - on this account you are guilty, and your sin is of no common nature. You have rejected the Lord from being your deliverer and by your leadership and influence have led others into the same error. You will be punished.


Based upon excerpts from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from Amazon.com

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