Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said to him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Then enquired he of them.—But these two facts—the assurance at Cana, and the actual healing powers at Capernaum—were they in truth related to each other? He remembers the hour at which one was spoken; he inquires the hour at which the other was realised. He does not even now grasp the full meaning of the words, and thinks of the gradual abatement of the fever, and the slow convalescence, and asks when the child “began to amend.” They have seen the sudden change as of a new power passing into the body on the point of death. They have spoken of this as a new life, and they now think of the fever as having completely left him.
Yesterday at the seventh hour.—We have seen (John 1:39) that there is no sufficient reason for thinking that St. John uses the western method of counting the hours of the day. Still less is it likely that Galilean servants, who are here the speakers, should have done so. To believe, moreover, that it was seven o’clock in the morning or evening adds to, and does not remove, the difficulty of the length of time implied in “yesterday.” To say that the father remained some time with Jesus, and that “the believer doth not make haste,” is to pervert both the spirit and the words of the text. He clearly went at once (John 4:50), and his anxiety naturally quickened his speed. The distance was not more than twenty-five English miles, and he had not travelled the whole of it, for the servants had gone to meet him. The supposed explanation cannot therefore be explained. But the words, if taken in their simple meaning, involve no such difficulty. These Jews, as all Jews, meant by the “seventh hour” the seventh from sunrise, what we should call one o’clock. After sunset the same evening they would have commenced a new day (comp. Excursus F.), and this seventh hour would be to them as one o’clock the day before, or the seventh hour yesterday. We have thus an interval of five or six hours between the words spoken by our Lord and their confirmation by the servants.
The same hour - The very time when Jesus spoke.
The fever left him - It seems that it left him suddenly and entirely; so much so that his friends went to inform the father, and to comfort him, and also, doubtless, to apprise him that it was not necessary to ask aid from Jesus. From this miracle we may learn,
1. That Jesus has an intimate knowledge of all things. He knew the case of this son - the extent of his disease where he was and thus had power to heal him.
2. That Jesus has almighty power. Nothing else could have healed this child. Nor could it be pretended that he did it by any natural means. He was far away from him, and the child knew not the source of the power that healed him. It could not be pretended that there was any collusion or jugglery. The father came in deep anxiety. The servants saw the cure. Jesus was at a distance. Everything in the case bears the mark of being the simple energy of God - put forth with equal ease to heal, whether far or near. Thus, he can save the sinner.
second miracle Jesus did—that is, in Cana; done "after He came out of Judea," as the former before.
the seventh hour. The miracle appeared in the suddenness of the recovery, and also that it was without the application of means, at least any that could have produced so sudden an effect.
when he began to amend; or grow better; for he seemed to think, that his recovery might be gradual, and not all at once, as it was:
and they said unto him, yesterday at the seventh hour; which was one o'clock in the afternoon:Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 4:52. ἐπύθετο οὗν … κομψότερον ἔσχε. “Amoenum verbum, de convalescente, puero praesertim”—Bengel. Theophylact explains by ἐπὶ τὸ βέλτιον καὶ εὐρωστότερον μετῆλθεν ὁ παῖς: Euthymius by τὸ ῥᾳότερον, τὸ κουφότερον, as we speak of a sick person being “easier,” “lighter”. The best illustration is Raphel’s from Epictetus (Diss., 3, 10), who bids a patient not be too much uplifted if the physician says to him κομψῶς ἔχεις, you are doing well. The servants name the seventh hour, i.e., 1 p.m. of the previous day, as the time when the fever left him. [Accus. of time when, rare; Winer explains as if it meant the approximate time with a περί or ὡσεί understood; Acts 10:3; Revelation 3:3.] And this the father recognised as the time at which Jesus had said “Thy son liveth”. The distance between Cana and Capernaum is about twenty-five miles, so that it would appear as if the father had needlessly delayed on the road. But he may have had business for Herod or for himself on the road, or the beast he rode may have been unequal to the double journey. At any rate it seems illegitimate to say with Weiss that “yesterday” means before sundown; or to ascribe the father’s delay to the confidence he had in Jesus’ word. The discovery of the coincidence in point of time produces a higher degree of faith, ἐπίστευσεν αὐτὸς καὶ ἡ οἰκία αὐτοῦ ὅλη. The cure brings into prominence this distinctive peculiarity of a miracle that it consists of a marvel which is coincident with an express announcement of it.52. began to amend] Or, was somewhat better; a colloquial expression. The father fancies that the cure will be gradual. The fever will depart at Christ’s word, but will depart in the ordinary way. He has not yet fully realised Christ’s power. The reply of the servants shews that the cure was instantaneous.
Yesterday at the seventh hour] Once more we have to discuss S. John’s method of counting the hours of the day. (See on John 1:39 and John 4:6.) Obviously the father set out as soon after Jesus said ‘thy son liveth’ as possible; he had 20 or 25 miles to go to reach home, and he would not be likely to loiter on the way. 7 a.m. is incredible; he would have been home long before nightfall, and the servants met him some distance from home. 7 p.m. is improbable; the servants would meet him before midnight. Thus the modern method of reckoning from midnight to midnight does not suit. Adopting the Jewish method from sunset to sunset, the seventh hour is 1 p.m. He would scarcely start at once in the mid-day heat; nor would the servants. Supposing they met him after sunset, they might speak of 1 p.m. as ‘yesterday.’ (But see on John 20:19, where S. John speaks of the late hours of the evening as belonging to the day before sunset.) Still, 7 p.m. is not impossible, and this third instance must be regarded as not decisive. But the balance here seems to incline to what is antecedently more probable, that S. John reckons the hours, like the rest of the Evangelists, according to the Jewish method.John 4:52. Τὴν ὤραν, hour) The more carefully the Divine works and benefits are considered, the more nourishment faith acquires.—ὁ πυρετός, the fever) This disease, under ordinary circumstances, is slow in its retiring.—κομψότερον, better) [lit. more adorned] A delightful word to use of one becoming convalescent, especially a boy. He was supposing that it was only the risk of death that had been overcome; but there follows an account of the fever having been entirely removed [lit. quenched].Verse 52. - The father is full of joy at the blessed intelligence, but naturally seeks at once to link the event with the word and will of Jesus. He therefore inquired from them the hour in which he began to amend (κομψότερον ἔσχε). (This peculiar phrase is suitable on the lips of a man of rank; literally, "he did bravely, exceedingly well;" and κόμψως ἔχειν is occasionally used in contradistinction with κάκως ἔχειν in a similar sense. Epictetus, 'Diss.,' 3:10-13.) They say to him, therefore, Yesterday during the seventh hour the fever left him. The advocates of John's adoption of the Roman computation of time suppose that this was seven p.m., and, therefore, that a night had intervened on the return journey (so Westcott, Edersheim, and Moulton). This is not necessary, because, even on the Jewish computation, from sunrise to sunset, though the seventh hour must then mean between noon and one p.m., it could not have happened that much before midnight he should have broken into the streets of Capernaum. At that hour the noon might be spoken of as "yesterday." This, however, is not imperative; for, if the distance between Capernaum and Cana was from twenty to twenty-five miles, and if the nobleman had travelled to Cana on the day that he presented his request, it is clear that a night's halt might easily have been required. Baur and Hilgenfeld make the note of time an attempt on the part of the writer to exaggerate the marvel, as if the distance through which the will of Christ asserted itself could augment the wonder, or that the real supernatural could be measured by milestones. And Thoma thinks so poorly of the originality of the Johannist, that he imagines him to have worked into his narrative some of the small details of the Cornelius and Peter interviews in Acts 10.
Not a particle of time, but of sequence. Rev., so he inquired.
Began to amend (κομψότερον ἔσχεν)
A peculiar phrase, occurring only here in the New Testament. Literally, had himself better. Κομψότερον is from κομψός, well-dressed, well-cared-for, elegant; and this from κομέω, to take care of. The idea of the phrase is conveyed in the familiar English expression: He is doing well, or nicely, or bravely. A parallel is cited by the commentators from Arrian: "When the doctor comes in, you must not be afraid as to what he will say; nor if he says, 'You are doing bravely' (κόμψως ἔχεις), must you give way to excessive joy."
At the seventh hour (ὥραν ἐβδόμην)
The accusative case denotes not a point of time, but duration: during the seventh hour.
From πῦρ, fire. So the Latin febris, which is f for ferbris, from ferveo, to glow with heat.
Literally, sent him away. See on John 4:3.
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