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practice of virtue. It is a favourite maxim of the present day, that increased knowledge will bring with it growth in godliness. Scripture at all events entirely reverses the process. The way to know of the doctrine whether it be of God, is to do His will." (See John v. 44: viï. 12.)
Hengstenberg remarks : “Whosoever would lead souls to Christ, should not tarry long about the specious arguments with which the natural man seeks to disguise the hateful perversion of his state of will, but should above all things try to excite willingness to
do the will of God.” 18.—[He that speaketh of himself, etc.] In this verse, as in the pre
ceding verses, “He that speaketh of himself” would be more literally rendered “speaketh from himself.” The verse contains a general principle, applicable not only to our Lord's own case, but to teachers of religion in every age. The meaning seems to be as follows :-“He that undertakes on his own responsibility, and without being sent by God, to speak to men about religion, will naturally seek to advance his own importance, and get honour for himself. Speaking from himself, he will speak for himself, and try to exalt himself. He, on the contrary, who is a true messenger of God, and in whom there is no dishonesty or unrighteousness, will always seek first the glory of the God who sent him.” In short, it is one mark of a man being a true servant of God, and really commissioned by our Father in heaven, that he ever seeks his Master's glory more than his own.
The principle here laid down is a very valuable one. By it we may test the pretensions of many false teachers of religion, and prove them to be unsound guides. There is a curious tendency in every system of heresy, or unsound religion, to make its ministers magnify themselves, their authority, their importance, and their office. It may be seen in Romanism and Brahminism to a remarkable extent.
Alford's remark, however, is very true, that in the highest and strictest sense, “the latter part of the sentence is only true of the Holy One Himself, and that owing to human infirmity, purity of motive is no sure guarantee for correctness of doctrine;" and therefore in the end of the verse it is not said, “ he who seeketh God's glory," but “ he who seeketh His glory that sent Him”-specially indi. cating Christ Himself.
Burgon thinks that "true” is a word used intentionally, in contrast with the expression, “He deceiveth the people.”
19.-[Did not Moses give you the law ? Our Lord here appeals to
the well-known reverence with which all Jews regarded Moses and the law. But it is highly probable that He had in view the practice of publicly reading the law of Moses to the people during the seven days of the feast of tabernacles, which was observed once in every seven years at that feast. (Deut. xxxi. 10.) If, as is possible, this was one of the seventh years in which the law was so read, there would be a singular significance and aptness in His appeal. “This very day you have been hearing that law, which you profess to honour so much. But do you honour it in your lives?"
None of you keepeth the law, etc.] This would be more literally rendered, “none of you doeth the law.” It is the same word that is used in the expression, “if any man will do His will” (v. 17.) The meaning seems to be, “You reject me and my doctrine, and profess to be zealous for the honour of Moses and the law. And yet none of you really obey the law in heart and in spirit. For instance : why do you seek to kill me? You are full of hatred of me, and want to put me to death unjustly, in the face of the sixth commandment. This is not keeping the law.”
The Greek word rendered “ go about,” is the same that is rendered “ seek” in v. 1 of this chapter, and ch. v. 16, 18. 20.-[The people answered and said, etc.] It seems probable that
those who said this were the common people, the multitude of Jews gathered from all parts of the world, to many of whom our Lord was a stranger. We can hardly suppose that the rulers and leaders of Jerusalem would have spoken in this way.
The expression “Thou hast a devil,” may possibly be a repetition of the old charge, that our Lord wrought His miracles by Beelzebub, and was in league with the devil, as John viii. 48. In that sense it would be the strongest form of reproach, blasphemy, and contempt. But considering who the speakers were, it is more likely that it simply means, “Thou art beside Thyself, and mad.” (So John X. 20.)
The expression, “who goeth about to kill Thee,” can easily be understood, if we suppose the speakers to be the common people and not the rulers. The common people probably knew nothing about the intention of the rulers to put Jesus to death, and would
think Him beside himself to say that any one wanted to kill Him. 21.—[Jesus answered...I have done one work.] Our Lord can only
refer here to the miracle He had wrought on a former occasion at the pool of Bethesda. (Ch. v. 1, etc.) This was at present the only
great miracle that had been publicly performed in Jerusalem : and from its having led to our Lord being brought before the Sanhedrim, or great council of the Jews, and to His defence made before them, it would be a miracle that all would know.
[Ye all marvel.] This strong present tense seems to mean, “ye are all still wondering," not only at the greatness of the miracle, but also at my working it on the Sabbath day. Schleusner maintains that the Greek word rendered “marvel ” means here, “ye are indignant, ye take amiss.” He thinks the word is used in this
sense in Mark vi. 6 : John v. 28 : and Galat. i. 6. 22.-[Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision.] There is a difficulty
in this verse in the expression we translate “therefore.” It is literally, “ on this account,-for this reason, on account of this.” It is not easy to say how the expression comes in, and with what it is connected. (1) Some, as Theophylact, Beza, Poole, Whitby, Hammond, Maldonatus, Pearce, Doddridge, Bloomfield, Olshausen, Tholuck, Hengstenberg, and Stier, propose to alter the stopping, and to connect it with the end of the preceding verse, -"ye all marvel because of this one work.” (Compare Mark vi. 6.) But it is doubtful whether the Greek language will fairly admit this.— (2) Some would connect “ therefore” with “are ye angry,” in the following verse :-“Are you really angry with me on account of this one work, when you yourselves break the Sabbath, in a sense, by circumcising on the Sabbath day?”—But this connection seems very distant indeed.—(3) Some, as Grotius, Calovius, Jansenius, and Webster, think the expression altogether elliptical, and would fill up the sense after “therefore,” by supposing some such connection as this :—“On account of this work and your anger at it, let me remind you of your own practice about circumcision.” (See Matt. xviii. 22: xii. 30: Luke xii. 22.)—(4) Some, as Chemnitius, Musculus and De Dieu, interpret "therefore” as “because," and make the sentence mean, “Because Moses gave you circumcision, you circumcise a man on the Sabbath day,” &c. But it seems a violent strain to make the Greek word we render “ therefore” mean “because.” — (5) Some, finally, as Alford, Burgon, Barradius, Toletus, and Lyranus, would connect “therefore” with the middle of this verse, and would have it mean, “ For this reason Moses gave you circumcision, viz., not because it was an ordinance appointed first by him, but because it was given to the fathers,”—i. e., Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This last is perhaps as tenable a view as any. But it is undeniably a difficulty, and must remain so. Adopting this view, the whole verse may be paraphrased as follows :—“Moses, whose
name and law you highly reverence, gave you among other things the ordinance of circumcision. He gave it, remember, for this reason : because it was an old ordinance, handed down to him by your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and not an ordinance first communicated to him like the Levitical law. Now you, in obedience to the ordinance of circumcision, which ought to be administered on the eighth day after a child's birth, think it no breach of the fourth commandment to circumcise a child on the Sabbath day. In fact you postpone the law of the Sabbath to the law of circumcision. You admit that a work of piety and necessity may be done on the Sabbath day. You admit that the fourth commandment which was given on Mount Sinai was not so important as the older law of circumcision.”
Burgon shows that “therefore” is used just in the same way as here, at the beginning of a sentence, and pointing forward, in John v. 16, 18; viii. 47; x. 17 ; xii. 18, 39.
We should note how here, as elsewhere, our Lord refers to Moses as a real person, and to the Old Testament history as real true his
tory. 23.—[If a man, etc.] The argument in this verse is as follows :
“Even among yourselves you circumcise a child on the sabbathday, when it happens to be the eighth day after his birth, in order that the law of circumcision, which your great lawgiver, Moses, sanctioned and re-ordained, should not be broken. You thus admit the whole principle that there is some work which may be done on the sabbath day. Is it then just and fair to be angry with me, because I have done a far greater work to a man on the sabbath, than the work of circumcision? I have not wounded his body by circumcision, but made him perfectly whole. I have not done a purifying work to one particular part of him, but have restored his whole body to health and strength. I have not done a work of necessity to one single member only, but a work of necessity and benefit to the whole man.”
I cannot see any ground for the idea suggested by Alford, that our Lord implies in this verse, that the law of the Sabbath is a mere Judaical practice and comparatively a modern ordinance, and that as such it properly gave way to the older and higher law of circumcision, which was “of the fathers.”—It might be replied, firstly, that the sabbath is so far from being a Judaical institution, that it is actually older than circumcision, and was appointed in Paradise. It might be replied, secondly, that our Lord seems purposely to guard against the idea by speaking of circumcision as “ given by Moses,” and as a part of “the law of Moses." In fact, He does this twice with such curious particularity, that one might think He meant to guard against anyone wresting this passage into an argument against the perpetual obligation of the sabbath day. He is pleased for the occasion to speak both of circumcision and the sabbath as part of “the law of Moses." He did this purposely, because the minds of His hearers were full of Moses and the law at this particular period. And His argument amounts to this, that if they themselves allowed the Mosaic law of the sabbath must give way in a case of necessity to the Mosaic law of circumcision, they admitted that some works might be done on the sabbath day; and therefore His work of healing an entire man on the sabbath day could not be condemned as sinful.
The marginal reading, “ without breaking the law of Moses," instead of, “that the law of Moses should not be broken,” appears to me inadmissible and unnecessary. It is inadmissible, because it is a forced and unnatural interpretation of the Greek words. It is unnecessary, because our Lord is evidently speaking of circumcision as part of “the law of Moses."
The idea of some commentators, as Trapp, Rollock, Hutcheson, Beza, and Stier, that “every whit whole” means “ wholeness" of soul as well as body, and implies conversion of heart as well as restoration to entire health and strength of the physical man, appears to me unlikely and far-fetched. It is a pious thought, but not apparently in our Lord's mind. Moreover, it is not quite certain that the man healed at Bethesda was healed in soul as well as body. There is no clear proof of it. 24.—[Judge not according to the appearance, etc.] The sense of this
verse must be sought in connection with the subject of which our Lord has just been speaking. The Jews had condemned our Lord and denounced Him as a sinner against the fourth commandment, because He had done a work on the sabbath day. Our Lord refers to this and says,—“Judge not the deed I did according to the appearance. I did a work on the sabbath unquestionably. But what kind of a work was it? It was an act of necessity and mercy, and therefore an act as lawful to be done as circumcision, which you yourselves perform on the sabbath day. In appearance the sabbath was broken. In reality it was not broken at all. Judge fair and just and righteous judgment. Do not hastily condemn an action, such as this, without looking below the sur. face."
There is perhaps a reference here to Isaiah's prophecy about