Vincent's Word Studies
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
From his birth (ἐκ γενετῆς)
The word only here in the New Testament.
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
This man, or his parents
It was a common Jewish view that the merits or demerits of the parents would appear in the children, and that the thoughts of a mother might affect the moral state of her unborn offspring. The apostasy of one of the greatest Rabbis had, in popular belief, been caused by the sinful delight of his mother in passing through an idol grove.
Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
But that (ἀλλ' ἵνα)
There is an ellipsis: but (he was born blind) that.
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
I must work (ἐμὲ δεῖ ἐργάζεσθαι)
The best texts read ἡμᾶς, us, instead of ἐμὲ, me. Literally, it is necessary for us to work. The disciples are thus associated by Jesus with Himself. Compare John 3:11.
Sent me, not us
The Son sends the disciples, as the Father sends the Son.
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
As long as (ὅταν)
See on John 8:12. The article is wanting. Westcott says, "Christ is 'light to the world,' as well as 'the one Light of the world.' The character is unchangeable, but the display of the character varies with the occasion."
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,
On the ground (χαμαὶ)
Only here and John 18:6.
Only here and John 9:11. The spittle was regarded as having a peculiar virtue, not only as a remedy for diseases of the eye, but generally as a charm, so that it was employed in incantations. Persius, describing an old crone handling an infant, says: "She takes the babe from the cradle, and with her middle finger moistens its forehead and lips with spittle to keep away the evil eye" ("Sat.," ii., 32, 33). Tacitus relates how one of the common people of Alexandria importuned Vespasian for a remedy for his blindness, and prayed him to sprinkle his cheeks and the balls of his eyes with the secretion of his mouth ("History," iv., 81). Pliny says: "We are to believe that by continually anointing each morning with fasting saliva (i.e., before eating), inflammations of the eyes are prevented" ("Natural History," xxviii., 7). Some editors read here ἐπέθηκεν, put upon, for ἐπέχρισεν, anointed.
Of the blind man
Omit, and read as Rev., his eyes.
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.
Wash the eyes. See on Acts 16:33.
By Rabbinical writers, Shiloach: Septuagint, Σιλωάμ: Vulgate and Latin fathers, Siloe. Josephus, generally, Siloa. In scripture always called a pool or tank, built, and not natural. The site is clearly identified in a recess at the southeastern termination of Zion, near the junction of the valley of Tyropoeon with that of the Kidron. According to Dr. Thomson, it is a parallelogram about fifty-three feet long and eighteen wide, and in its perfect condition must have been nearly twenty feet deep. It is thus the smallest of all the Jerusalem pools. The water flows into it through a subterraneous conduit from the Fountain of the Virgin, and the waters are marked by an ebb and flow. Dr. Robinson witnessed a rise and fall of one foot in ten minutes. The conduit has been traversed by two explorers, Dr. Robinson and Captain Warren. See the account of Warren's exploration in Thomson, "Southern Palestine and Jerusalem," p. 460. On the word pool, see on John 5:2.
The Hebrew word means outflow (of waters); missio, probably with reference to the fact that the temple-mount sends forth its spring-waters. Many expositors find a typical significance in the fact of Christ's working through the pool of this name. Thus Milligan and Moulton, after noting the fact that the water was drawn from this pool for pouring upon the altar during the Feast of Tabernacles; that it was associated with the "wells of salvation" (Isaiah 12:3); and that the pouring out of the water symbolized the effusion of spiritual blessing in the days of the Messiah, go on to say: "With the most natural interest, therefore, the Evangelist observes that its very name corresponds to the Messiah; and by pointing out this fact indicates to us what was the object of Jesus in sending the man to these waters. In this, even more distinctly than in the other particulars that we have noted, Jesus, in sending the man away from Him, is keeping Himself before him in everything connected with his cure. Thus, throughout the whole narrative, all attention is concentrated on Jesus Himself, who is the Light of the world, who was 'sent of God' to open blind eyes." See also Westcott and Godet.
The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?
The best texts substitute προσαίτης, a beggar.
That sat and begged (ὁ καθήμενος καὶ προσαιτῶν)
Literally, the one sitting and begging. Denoting something customary.
Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.
He said (ἐκεῖνος)
The strong demonstrative throws the man into strong relief as the central figure.
Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?
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.
To the pool of Siloam
The best texts read simply, Go to Siloam.
Received sight (ἀνέβλεψα)
Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.
They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.
And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.
It was the Sabbath day when (ἦν δὲ σάββατον ὅτε)
The best texts read, instead of ὅτε when, ἐν ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ on which day. Literally, it was a Sabbath on the day on which.
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.
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.
Keepeth not the Sabbath
A Rabbinical precept declares, "It is forbidden to apply even fasting-spittle to the eyes on the Sabbath." The words in John 9:14, made the clay, also mark a specific point of offense.
They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.
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.
Notice the change from the Pharisees. The Pharisees had already divided on this miracle (John 9:16). The Jews represent that section which was hostile to Jesus.
Of him that had received his sight (αὐτοῦ τοῦ ἀναβλέψαντος).
Properly, "of the very one who had received."
And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?
His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:
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.
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.
Had agreed - that (συνετέθειντο - ἵνα)
The sense is, had formed an agreement in order to bring about this end, viz., that the confessor of Christ should be excommunicated.
He should be put out of the synagogue (ἀποσυνάγωγος)
The literal rendering cannot be neatly given, as there is no English adjective corresponding to ἀποσυνάγωγος, which means excluded from the synagogue: as nearly as possible - that He should become banished from the synagogue. The adjective occurs only in John's Gospel - here, John 12:42; John 16:2. Three kinds of excommunication were recognized, of which only the third was the real cutting off, the other two being disciplinary. The first, and lightest, was called rebuke, and lasted from seven to thirty days. The second was called thrusting out, and lasted for thirty days at least, followed by a "second admonition," which lasted for thirty days more. This could only be pronounced in an assembly of ten. It was accompanied by curses, and sometimes proclaimed with the blast of the horn. The excommunicated person would not be admitted into any assembly of ten men, nor to public prayer. People would keep at the distance of four cubits from him, as if he were a leper. Stones were to be cast on his coffin when dead, and mourning for him was forbidden. If all else failed, the third, or real excommunication was pronounced, the duration of which was indefinite. The man was to be as one dead. No intercourse was to be held with him; one must not show him the road, and though he might buy the necessaries of life, it was forbidden to eat and drink with him. These severer forms appear to have been of later introduction, so that the penalty which the blind man's parents feared was probably separation from all religious fellowship, and from ordinary intercourse of life for perhaps thirty days.
Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.
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.
Give God the praise (δὸς δόξαν τῷ Θεῷ)
Rev., give glory to God. Compare Joshua 7:19; 1 Samuel 6:5. This phrase addressed to an offender implies that by some previous act or word he has done dishonor to God, and appeals to him to repair the dishonor by speaking the truth. In this case it is also an appeal to the restored man to ascribe his cure directly to God, and not to Jesus. Palgrave, "Central and Eastern Arabia," says that the Arabic phrase commonly addressed to one who has said something extremely out of place, is Istaghfir Allah, Ask pardon of God.
The we is emphatic. We, the wise men and guardians of religion.
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.
Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?
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?
Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.
The verb means to reproach or scold in a loud and abusive manner. Calvin, on 1 Corinthians 4:12, "being reviled we bless," remarks: "Λοιδορία is a harsher railing, which not only rebukes a man, but also sharply bites him, and stamps him with open contumely. Hence λοιδορεῖν is to wound a man as with an accursed sting."
His disciple (μαθητὴς ἐκείνου)
Literally, that man's disciple. The pronoun has a contemptuous force which is not given by his.
We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.
Perfect tense, hath spoken, and the authority of Moses' words therefore continues to the present. So Rev., Λαλέω is to talk, familiarly. See Exodus 33:11.
Whence he is
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.
A marvelous thing (θαυμαστόν)
The correct reading adds the article, the marvel. So Rev.
Ye know not
Ye is emphatic: ye who might be expected to know about a man who has wrought such a miracle.
And yet (καὶ)
Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
A worshipper of God (θεοσεβὴς)
Only here in the New Testament. The kindred word, θεοσέβεια, godliness, occurs only at 1 Timothy 2:10. Compounded with Θεός, God, and σέβομαι, to worship, the same verb which appears in εὐσεβής, devout (Acts 10:2, Acts 10:7; Acts 22:12), and εὐσέβεια, godliness (Acts 3:12; 1 Timothy 2:2, etc.). See on 2 Peter 1:3. These two latter words, while they may mean reverence toward God, may also mean the due fulfillment of human relations; while θεοσεβὴς, worshipper of God, is limited to piety towards God.
Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
Since the world began (ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος)
If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.
They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.
Literally, all of thee.
Standing first in the Greek order, and emphatic, as is also σὺ thou, in both instances. "In sins wast thou born, all of thee; and dost thou teach us?"
Emphatic. Dost thou, thus born in sins, assume the office of teacher?
Cast him out
From the place where they were conversing. Not excommunicated, which this miscellaneous gathering could not do.
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?
Said unto him
Omit unto him.
Dost thou believe (σὺ πιστεύεις)?
The form of the question indicates the confident expectation of an affirmative answer. It is almost an affirmation, you surely believe; you (σὺ, emphatic) who have born such bold testimony to me that they have cast you out. Note the phrase, πιστεύεις εἰς, believe on, and see on John 1:12.
Son of God
Both Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort read Son of man.
He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?
Who is He?
The best texts insert καὶ, and; and who is he? which imparts an air of eagerness to the question.
And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.
And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.
See on Acts 10:25.
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.
Not the act of judgment, but its result. His very presence in the world constitutes a separation, which is the primitive idea of judgment, between those who believe on Him and those who reject Him. See on John 3:17.
And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
Are we blind also (μὴ καὶ ἡμεῖς τυφλοί ἐσμεν)?
The also belongs with we. The interrogative particle has the force of we are surely not, and the we is emphatic. Are we also blind? So Rev.
Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
Ye should have no sin (οὐκ ἀν εἴχετε ἁμαρτίαν)
Or, ye would have had. The phrase ἁμαρτίαν ἔχειν, to have sin, occurs only in John, in the Gospel and First Epistle.