John 5:16-29

16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

[My Father worketh] God created this world in six days. On the seventh he rested from all creative acts, and set it apart to be an everlasting example for mankind. But, though he rested from creating, he never ceased from preserving and governing that which he had formed. In this respect he can keep no sabbaths, for nothing can continue to exist without the continual energy of God. Jesus is God, and so keeps the same schedule.

18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

The idea of Son of God was not new to the Jews. They were convinced that Messiah would be the Son of God. See John 1:29-34 and John 1:45-49.
Their difficulty was in accepting the fact that Messiah had actually appeared in their lifetime.

19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

[The Son can do nothing of himself] Because of his inseperable union with the Father, God the Son and God the Father do not work independently, they work in concert.

20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

[Showeth him all things] Being united, the Father does not keep secrets from, nor restrict the Son.

[Greater works than these] Two of these he immediately mentions: Raising the dead, verse 21, and judging the world, verse 22.

21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

[As the Father raiseth up the dead] Example: The widow's son at Zarephath through the ministry of the prophet Elijah, 1 Kings 17:17-24.

[Even so the Son quickeneth] Examples: The ruler's daughter, Mark 5:35-42, the widow's son at Nain, Luke 7:11-15 and Lazarus at Bethany, John 11:14-44.

[Whom he will.] Here our Lord points out his sovereign power. He gives life according to his own will - not being obliged to plead for the power by which it was done, as did the prophets. His own will was absolute and sufficient in every case.

22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

[That] The reason for verse 22. The Father has committed all judgement unto the Son for the purpose THAT....

[Men should honor the Son] It is God's will that men recognize and honor the Son as God.

[He that honoreth not the Son] Anyone who thinks he can honor God while holding that Christ is less than the Son of God is mistaken.

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

[He that heareth my word] My doctrine - and believes upon him that sent me - who credits my work - that I am come from the Father to give light and life to the world by my doctrine and my death, has everlasting life.

[And shall not come into condemnation] Notice that condemnation (result of judgement) is future. As there are two physical states, life and death, so also are there two spiritual states, death and life. Physically, people are born and then die. Spiritually, people begin life as dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and then, by choice, may receive eternal life.

The basic difference is the new birth. Jesus told Nicodemas, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." (John 3:5-7)
As one continues to read the third chapter of John it becomes evident that Christ has paid the penalty for our sin and offers eternal life to those who believe in him. Birth is an event, not a process. At the moment one believes in Christ (not merely intellectual assent - the greek word used here denotes an action or commitment) the Holy Spirit of God causes the person to be spiritually born again, invested with eternal life, and delivered from condemnation to salvation. See Revelation 20:15.
As an illustration of saving faith, imagine yourself in great danger, perhaps trapped by a flood. Then a helicopter appears dangling a rope. You recognize (believe) that the rope is the means of your rescue so you grasp it, you commit yourself to it, and permit yourself to be lifted out of danger and carried to safety.

How to go about receiving eternal life? Right now pray to God and admit your dangerous spiritual condition (dead in trespasses and sins); acknowledge that you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for your sins, and who can offer you forgiveness and eternal life; then make the commitment; ask him to forgive your sins and cause you to be born again. You probably are not aware of it yet, but you are a new creature, with new motivation and an eternal future. Read again Ephesians 2:1-10.

25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

[And now is] Multiple periods of time are about to be discussed. What is currently happening and what will happen at the resurructions.

[The dead shall hear the voice] The hour is coming (and now is) when many who are dead in trespasses and sins shall hear the voice (the word) of the Son of God, believe, and receive spiritual life through him.

27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

[Authority to execute judgement also] Christ. The very God, who gave his life to redeem mankind, is also eminently qualified to judge mankind because he himself became a man and lived among men experiencing the trials and temptations which are common to men. Phlippians 2:6-7, Hebrews 2:16-18.

28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

[All that are in the graves] This is a later time period. The living have had their opportunity to hear the word and respond during their lifetime.. Now, the dead once again hear his voice and are resurrected (actually in two separate resurrections) to receive reward/penalty depending upon the results of their first encounter with the word. Those who heard and believed, unto the resurrection of life; those who insulted God by disregarding his word, unto the resurrection of damnation.

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


This page updated 12/15/2006

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