And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Your son lives.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And as he was now going.—Many a long mile lay between him and his child, and many an anxious thought must have come to his mind as he journeyed homeward. Now faith would be strong, and now almost give way; but he travels on with the words, “Thy son liveth,” which had come to him as a voice from heaven, sustaining and cheering him. Again he hears the same words, “Thy son liveth!” but they are spoken by the servants, who have come to meet him, and bring from Capernaum the glad news that he had himself heard at Cana.
Thy son liveth - Thy son shall recover; or he shall be restored to health, according to thy request.
The man believed - The manner in which Jesus spoke it, and the assurance which he gave, convinced the man that he could heal him there as well as to go to Capernaum to do it. This is an instance of the power of Jesus to convince the mind, to soothe doubts, to confirm faith, and to meet our desires. He blesses not always in the manner in which we ask, but he grants us our main wish. The father wished his son healed by Jesus "going down" to Capernaum. Jesus healed him, but not in the way in which he asked it to be done. God will hear our prayers and grant our requests, but often not in the precise manner in which we ask it. It is his to judge of the best way of doing us good.
second miracle Jesus did—that is, in Cana; done "after He came out of Judea," as the former before.
his servants met him, and told him, saying, thy son liveth; as soon as this cure was wrought, though it was not known in the family how, and by whom it was done, immediately some of the servants were dispatched to carry the news to their master, that his sorrow might be removed; and he give himself no further trouble in seeking for a cure: these meeting him on the road, with an air of pleasure, at once address him with the joyful news, that his son was thoroughly recovered of his disorder, and was alive, and well; news which he was acquainted with, and believed before; though it must give him an additional, pleasure to have it confirmed.And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 4:51-54. Αὐτοῦ καταβ.… αὐτῷ] see Buttmann, N. T. Gr. p. 270 [E. T. p. 315].
ἤδη] belongs to καταβ., not to ὑπήντ. (B. Crusius): when he was already going down, and now was no longer in Cana, but upon his journey back.
οἱ δοῦλοι, κ.τ.λ.] to reassure the father, and to prevent the now unnecessary coming of Jesus.
ζῇ] he is not dead, but the sickness has the opposite issue: he lives!
κομψότερον] finer, prettier, as in common life we are wont to say, “he is pretty well.” Exactly so in Arrian. Epict. iii. 10 of the sick: κομψῶς ἔχεις, and its opposite κακῶς ἔχεις. Comp. the Latin belle habere. Here it is an “amoenum verbum” (Bengel) of the father’s heart, which apprehends its good fortune still with feelings of tenderness and anxiety.
ἐχθές] see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 323.
ὥραν ἑβδόμην] He had therefore been on the way since one o’clock the day before, because we must suppose from John 4:50 that he set out immediately after the assurance of Jesus. This also seems strange to us, considering the distance from Cana to Capernaum, not exactly known to us indeed, but hardly three geographical miles. That in his firm faith he travelled “non festinans” (Lampe) is unnatural; the impulse of parental love would hurry him home; and so is also the idea that he stayed the night somewhere on the way, or at Cana (Ewald assumes the latter, making the seventh hour seven in the evening, according to the Roman reckoning). We may suppose some delay not named, on the journey back, or (with Hengstenberg, Brückner, and others) take the to-day in the mind of the Jewish servants as denoting the day which began at six P.M. (sunset). According to Baur and Hilgenfeld, this noting of the time is to be attributed, not to the genuineness and originality of the account, but to the subjective aim of the writer, which was to make the miracle as great and pointed as possible (comp. John 4:54, note).
ἐν ἐκ. τ. ὥρᾳ] sc. ἀφῆκεν αὐτὸν ὁ πυρετός. Observe, with reference to ἐκεῖνος, that it does not mean idem, but is the simple relative ille.
κ. ἐπίστευσεν, κ.τ.λ.] upon Jesus as the Messiah. Καλῶς οὖν καθήψατο αὐτοῦ ὁ τὴν καρδίαν αὐτοῦ γινώσκων Χριστὸς, εἰπών· ὅτι ἐὰν μὴ σημεῖα, κ.τ.λ., Euthymius Zigabenus. Observe how faith here attains its realization as to its object, and further, the importance of this καὶ ἡ οἰκία αὐτοῦ (the first household), which now occurs for the first time. Comp. Acts 16:14-15; Acts 16:34; Acts 18:8.
τοῦτο πάλιν δεύτερον, κ.τ.λ.] Referring back to John 2:11. Literally inaccurate, yet true as to its import, is the rendering of Luther: “This is the second miracle that Jesus did;” τοῦτο stands by itself, and the following δεύτ. σημ. supplies the place of the predicate (this Jesus did as the second miracle), hence no article follows τοῦτο. See on John 2:11, and Bremi, ad Lys. Exc. II. p. 436 f.; Ast, Lex. Plat. II. 406; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Apol. pp. 18 A, 24 B. Πάλιν, however, must not be overlooked, nor is it to be joined with δεύτερον (so usually) as a current pleonasm (see on Matthew 26:42; comp. John 21:15, Acts 10:15), for δεύτερον is not an adverb, but an adjective. It rather belongs to ἐποίησεν, thus affirming that Jesus now again did this as a second miracle (comp. Beza) upon His return from Judea to Galilee (as in John 2:1). Thus the idea that the miracle was a second time wrought upon His coming out of Judea into Galilee is certainly doubly expressed,—once adverbially with the verb (πάλιν ἐποίησεν), and then adjectivally with the noun (δεύτερονσημ.); both receive their more minute definition by ἐλθὼν, κ.τ.λ. Schweizer (p. 78) quite arbitrarily considers the reference to the first miracle at Cana unjohannean.
The βασιλιχός is not the same with the Centurion of Matthew 8:5 ff.; comp. Luke 7:2 ff. (Origen, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, and most others). On the assumption of their identity (Irenaeus, Eusebius, Semler, Seyffarth, Strauss, Weisse, B. Bauer, Gfrörer, Schweizer, Ammon, Baumgarten Crusius, Baur, Hilgenfeld, Ewald, Weizsäcker), which thus attributes the greater originality on the one hand to Matthew and Luke (Strauss, B. Bauer, Weisse, Baur, Hilgenfeld), on the other to John (Gfrörer, Ewald), and to the latter an adjusting purpose (Weizsäcker), the discrepancies as to place, time, and even as regards the sick person, constitute lesser difficulties, as well as the entirely different character in which the suppliant appears in John and in the two Synoptics. In these latter he is still a heathen, which, according to John, he cannot be (against Cyril, Jerome, Baur, and Ewald); see John 4:48, which represents him as associated with Galileans, and therefore Jews; and this alone suffices to establish the difference of the two miracles, apart from the fact that there is no more objection against the supposition of two healings wrought at a distance than against one. This is at the same time against Schweizer’s view, that the section in John is an interpolation. Indeed, a single example of healing at a distance, the historical truth of which, moreover, even Ewald maintains, might more easily be resolved by the arbitrariness of criticism into a myth borrowed from the history of Naaman, 2 Kings 9:5; 2 Kings 9:9 ff. (Strauss), or be explained away as a misunderstanding of a parable (Weisse), or be dissolved into a subjective transposition and development of the synoptical materials on John’s part for his own purpose, which would make the belief in miracles plainly pass beyond the Jewish range of view (Hilgenfeld), and appears in its highest form as a πιστεύειν διὰ τὸν λόγον (Baur, p. 152); although πιστεύειν τῷ λόγῳ, John 4:41, is something quite different from πιστεύειν διὰ τὸν λόγον, and the ἐπίστευσεν in John 4:53 took place, not διὰ τὸν λόγον, but διὰ τὸ σημεῖον.
 If John had really derived his matter from the Synoptics, it would be quite inconceivable how, according to the design attributed to him by Baur, he could have left unused the statement of Matthew 8:10, especially if the βασιλικός is taken to be a Gentile. See Hase, Tübingen Schule, pp. 32, 33.John 4:51. And while already on his way down [ἤδη showing that he did not remain with Christ until from some other source he heard that his son was healed], his servants met him and gave him the reward of his faith.—ὁ παῖς σου ζῇ, an echo, as Weiss remarks, of the words of Jesus, John 4:50. The servants seeing the improvement in the boy and not ascribing it to miracle, set out to save their master from bringing Jesus to Capernaum.John 4:51. Ἤδη, now) He was therefore hastening, in order that he might see those things which he believed: yet the trial of his faith lasted till the following day. He believes even his servants before that he sees.—οἱ δοῦλοι, servants) who themselves also subsequently believed.—ἀπήνησαν, met) Because the patient had so quickly become convalescent, they were desirous of knowing what had happened, and of gladdening their master by the tidings of his son’s recovery. Their joy was mutual. Without doubt the servants said, At this very seventh hour our master spake with Jesus [and so inferred, the cure was due to His miraculous power].—ζῇ, liveth) They announce the fact in the same words which Jesus had spoken [John 4:50].Verse 51. - Now as he was going down to Capernaum (if we take any of the more recent determinations of the site of Cana (see John 2:1, 2), this means that he had traversed a distance of between twenty and twenty-five miles, so that there is no reason to treat with ridicule or regard as inexplicable the time taken for the return journey, or that a night should have been spent in the transit from Cana), his servants met him, saying, that his boy lived. The oblique form is certainly far more reasonable, less mechanical, and more likely to have been altered into the direct form by an incautious copyist from the previous verse, than to have constituted the original text. Note that Jesus used the most dignified title, "son" (υἱός); the father employs the tender diminutive (παιδίον); while the servants use the domestic term (παῖς).
Thy son liveth (ὁ υἰός σοῦ ἔσχεν)
The best texts, however, read αὐτοῦ, his. So Rev., that his son lived. Christ uses υἱός, son, instead of παιδίον, little one, expressing the worth of the child as representing the family. See on John 1:12.
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