They say to the blind man again, What say you of him, that he has opened your eyes? He said, He is a prophet.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)They say unto the blind man again.—The question is not asked by either of the parties, for this must have been noted, but by the assembly generally. They who questioned him in John 9:15, question him again now. They have differed among themselves, and they ask what impression the fact of the miracle had left upon him who was the object of it, with regard to the person of Him who had performed it.
What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes?—Stress is laid on the pronoun. What sayest thou? He ought to know better than any one, seeing that his eyes had been opened and this they admit, while the nature of his witness is uncertain; but immediately that is given they disbelieve the fact of the miracle, and soon reject with scorn him they question now (John 9:34).
The English reader should observe the punctuation here, which rightly makes the question one. It is sometimes read as though it were, “What sayest thou of Him? that He hath opened thine eyes?” It is not, however, the fact which is here questioned, but the opinion of the man, based upon the fact, for the present assumed as true, which is called for.
He is a prophet.—The education of the man has been doing its work, and he is convinced that the power which has healed him is direct from God, and that the person who has exercised it is a messenger from God. His words are uttered in the brevity and calmness of clear conviction, and they are the direct negative to the statement of the Pharisees, “This man is not from God.” (Comp John 3:2; John 4:19; John 6:14.) It is important to note, that even in the language of the ordinary people, the word “prophet” did not mean simply a predictor of events in the future, but one who was as the representative of God. He was not only or chiefly a “fore-teller,” but a “forth-teller,” declaring God’s truth, revealing His will and character, bearing the witness of divine works; but as the future is ever present to the divine counsels, prophecy, in the narrower sense, may be part of the work of the true prophet.John 9:17-23. They say unto the blind man, What sayest thou of him — What inference dost thou draw from what thou sayest he hath done for thee? He said, He is a prophet — For surely otherwise he would have been unable to perform so great a miracle. But the Jews did not believe that he had been blind — The Jews, hoping to make the whole turn out a cheat, would not believe that the beggar had been blind, although all his neighbours had testified the truth of it, pretending, no doubt, that it was a common trick of beggars to feign themselves blind; and that this one in particular was in a combination with Jesus to advance his reputation; (see John 9:28;) a circumstance which they urged from the favourable opinion he had expressed of him. Until they called the parents of him that had received his sight — Having called his parents, they inquired of them, first, whether he was their son; next, if he had been born blind; and then, by what means he had obtained his sight. They answered, that most certainly he was their son, and had been born blind; but, with respect to the manner in which he had received his sight, and the person who had conferred it upon him, they could give no information; but that their son, being of age, would answer for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews — “As the man who had been blind knew who had opened his eyes, without doubt he had given his parents an account, both of the name of his benefactor, and of the manner in which he had conferred the great blessing upon him; besides, having repeated these particulars frequently to his neighbours and acquaintance, who were all curious to hear him relate the miracle, (John 9:11,) we can conceive no reason why he should conceal them from his parents. The truth is, they lied grossly, and were ungrateful to Jesus in concealing his name on this occasion. But they were afraid to utter the least word which might seem to favour him.” For the Jews had agreed already — That is, it was resolved by an act of the court; that if any man did confess that he was the Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue — That is, should be excommunicated. They refused, therefore, to bear testimony unto Jesus, for fear of being excommunicated. “The Jews had two sorts of excommunication: one was what they called niddai, which separated the person under it four cubits from the society of others, so that it hindered him from conversing familiarly with them, but left him free, at that distance, either to expound the law, or hear it expounded in the synagogue. There was another kind, called shematta, from shem, which signifies a name in general, but, by way of eminence, was appropriated to God, whose awful name denotes all possible perfection. This kind of excommunication is said to have excluded the person under it from the synagogue for ever. We have the form of it, Ezra 10:7; Nehemiah 13:25; being that which was inflicted on those Jews who refused to repudiate their strange wives. It seems to have been the censure also which the council threatened against those who should acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah, and which they actually inflicted on this beggar; for the words, εξεβαλον αυτον, they cast him out, (John 9:34-35,) agree better to this kind than to the other. Probably, also, it was this that our Lord speaks of, when he says to his disciples, (John 16:2,) αποσυναγωγους ποιησουσιν υμας, they shall put you out of the synagogues. According to Selden, the synagogue from which persons under this censure were excluded, was every assembly whatever, whether religious or civil; the excommunicated person not being allowed to converse familiarly with his brethren, although he was not excluded either from public prayers or sacrifices. But in this opinion he has not many followers. The excommunications of the primitive Christians seem to have resembled those of the Jews in several particulars, for they excluded excommunicated persons from their religious assemblies, and from all communion in sacred things; and when they restored them to the privileges of the faithful, it was with much difficulty, and after a severe and long penance.” See Buxtorf, on the word Niddai; and Macknight.
He is a prophet - That is "I think that the power to work such a miracle proves that he is sent from God. And though this has been done on the Sabbath, yet it proves that he must have been sent by God, for such a power could never have proceeded from man." We see here:
1. A noble confession made by the man who was healed, in the face of the rulers of the people, and when he doubtless knew that they were opposed to Jesus. We should never be ashamed, before any class of men, to acknowledge the favors which we have received from Christ, and to express our belief of his power and of the truth of his doctrine.
2. The works of Jesus were such as to prove that he came from God, however much he may have appeared to oppose the previous notions of men, the interpretation of the law by the Pharisees, or the deductions of reason. People should yield their own views of religion to the teachings of God, and believe that he that could open the eyes of the blind and raise the dead was fitted to declare his will.What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? What opinion hast thou of this man, who hath opened thine eyes? To make the question perfect, interpreters think, there ought to be this supplement, on the sabbath day. What dost thou think of such a man as this, who would make clay, and apply it to thy cure upon the sabbath day? How can such a act be defended?
The blind man answered,
He is a prophet. It was taken for granted by the Jews, according to their traditions, that at the command of a prophet it was lawful to violate the sabbath; which indeed is no more than, that God hath not, in giving us a law, bound up himself, but he may dispense with his own law. Their prophets had an extraordinary mission from God, and immediately revealed the will of God; so as they looked upon what they said as spoken by God himself. The blind man declareth, that he believed that Christ was a prophet; and being so, his words and actions had an extraordinary warrant, and therefore were not to be judged by ordinary rules.
what sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? the question seems, at first sight, as if it was, whether Jesus had opened his eyes or not; but by the answer it appears, that it required his thoughts of him, "who hath opened thine eyes", as the Vulgate Latin and Persic versions read; or "seeing", or "because he hath opened thine eyes", as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions:
he said, he is a prophet; the Syriac and Persic versions read, "I say he is a prophet"; or, "he is certainly a prophet", as the Arabic version. The Jews were wont to conclude a man's being a prophet from miracles wrought by him; see John 6:14; though it does not appear that he believed him, as yet, to be that prophet, or the Messiah, that was to come; see John 9:36.They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 9:17. As there was such a difference of views among those who were assembled, they feel it to be of importance to ascertain the opinion of the man who had been healed. It might lead to further light being thrown on the affair. The subject of λέγουσιν is οἱ Φαρισ., neither the hostile among them merely (Apollinarius and many others), nor the well-wishers alone (Chrysostom and his followers).
πάλιν] a repetition of the question after John 9:15.
ὅτι] εἰς ἐκεῖνο, ὅτι; see on John 2:18. Theodore of Mopsuestia well remarks: ὑπὲρ ὧν.
προφήτης] who had shown Himself to be such by this miracle. Comp. John 3:2, John 4:19, John 6:14, al. Thus the faith of the man became clear and confirmed by the controversy of the Pharisees. And he makes confession of what he up to this time believes.John 9:17. Differing among themselves, they refer the question to the man, Σὺ τί λέγεις … “You, what do you say about Him, on account of His opening your eyes?” The question is not one of fact, but of inference from the fact; the ὅτι means “in that,” “inasmuch as,” and the Vulgate simply renders “Tu quid dicis de illo, qui aperuit oculos tuos?” Promptly the man replies, προφήτης ἐστίν.17. There being a division among them they appeal to the man himself, each side wishing to gain him. ‘They’ includes both sides, the whole body of Pharisees present. Their question is not twofold, but single; not, ‘What sayest thou of Him? that He hath opened thine eyes?’ but What sayest thou of Him, because He opened thine eyes? ‘Thou’ is emphatic; ‘thou shouldest know something of Him.’ They do not raise the question of fact; the miracle as yet is not in dispute. His answer shews that only one question is asked, and that it is not the question of fact.
He is a prophet] i.e. one sent by God to declare His will; a man with a special and Divine mission; not necessarily predicting the future. Comp. John 4:19, John 3:2.John 9:17. Προφήτης, a prophet) i.e. from God, John 9:16, “This man is not from God,” 33; ch. John 1:6, “There was a man sent from God,” etc.; John 3:2, “We know that Thou art a teacher come from God” [Jesus had prayed in undertaking the cure, John 9:31 : and from that circumstance the blind man had come to know the close intimacy subsisting between Jesus and God.—V. g.] It is delightful to observe how faith gradually arises in this man, whilst the Pharisees are contradicting [Teased with the repeated questionings of the men, at last he unlearned the lesson of being bound by mere authority. Thus advantage may be derived even from the perverse ways and humours of others.—V. g.]Verse 17. - They; i.e. the Pharisees, divided in opinion, though probably united in their interrogation. Those, on the one hand, who believed in the miracle, and held that it carried Divine approbation of the conduct of Jesus, and, on the other hand, those who were so satisfied of the moral fault involved in the transaction, that they held that the miracle itself, if not a piece of deception or collusion, might even indicate some demonic source, rather than a Divine one, say therefore unto the blind man again - the πάλιν points to the virtual repetition of inquiries already made (ver. 15) - What dost thou say concerning him, seeing that he opened thine eyes? "What explanation hast thou to offer? What view dost thou entertain of the Man himself? Some of us think that his trifling with the sabbatic law puts out of court the idea of any Divine aid having enabled him to work this marvel. Other some, as you see, declare that the fact which has occurred is proof that Jesus must have had God's approval, and be sustained by Divine grace. But what dost thou, the healed man, say? What conclusion hast thou adopted? Seeing that he has opened thine eyes, what sayest thou of Jesus?" There is a bare chance that the man might give a vague answer, or one which would minimize the miracle. It is obvious that, while the Pharisees were contradicting each other and in danger of open collision, the faith of the blind man who had received his sight became stronger. The light was dawning on him. The answer, so far as it went, boldly took the side of Jesus, and perhaps its cue from the language of those who had said, "How can a bad man do such signs as these?" And he said, He is a Prophet (cf. John 4:19; John 6:14). Prophets, as divinely sent men, are even more authoritative than learned rabbis. If Jesus has broken through some of these restrictions by which they have "placed a hedge about the Law," surely he had a prophetic right to do it. The healing marks a Divine commission, and the healed man owned and freely confessed to so much as this: "He is a Prophet." Maimonides (quoted by Dr. Farrar) shows that the idea was current that a prophet might, on his own ipse dixit, alter or relax even the sabbath law, and that then the people were at liberty to obey him.
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