John 9:3
Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents.—The answer is, of course, to be understood with the limitation of the question, “that he was born blind.” Neither his special sin nor theirs was the cause of the blindness. Our version does not give quite accurately the form of the answer. It should be, Neither did this man sin, nor his parents. Their question sought to establish a connection between the suffering and some definite act of sin. The answer asserts that no such connection exists, and our Lord’s words remain a warning against the spirit of judging other men’s lives, and tracing in the misfortunes and sorrows which they have to bear the results of individual sin or the proof of divine displeasure. There is a chain connecting the sin of humanity and its woe, but the links are not traceable by the human eye. In the Providence of God vicarious suffering is often the noble lot of the noblest members of our race. No burden of human sorrow was ever so great as that borne by Him who knew no human sin.

But that the works of God should be made manifest in him.—They had sought to trace back the result of sin which they saw before them to a definite cause. He will trace it back to the region of the divine counsel, where purpose and result are one. Evil cannot be resolved into a higher good: it is the result of the choice exercised by freedom, and without freedom goodness could not be virtue. Permitted by God, it is yet overruled by Him. It has borne its fearful fruit in the death and curse of humanity, but its works have led to the manifestation of the works of God in the divine plan of redemption. It is so in this instance. The blindness of this beggar will have its result, and therefore in the divine counsel had its purpose, in the light which will dawn upon the spiritual as well as upon the physical blindness, and from him will dawn upon the world.

9:1-7 Christ cured many who were blind by disease or accident; here he cured one born blind. Thus he showed his power to help in the most desperate cases, and the work of his grace upon the souls of sinners, which gives sight to those blind by nature. This poor man could not see Christ, but Christ saw him. And if we know or apprehend anything of Christ, it is because we were first known of him. Christ says of uncommon calamities, that they are not always to be looked on as special punishments of sin; sometimes they are for the glory of God, and to manifest his works. Our life is our day, in which it concerns us to do the work of the day. We must be busy, and not waste day-time; it will be time to rest when our day is done, for it is but a day. The approach of death should quicken us to improve all our opportunities of doing and getting good. What good we have an opportunity to do, we should do quickly. And he that will never do a good work till there is nothing to be objected against, will leave many a good work for ever undone, Ec 11:4. Christ magnified his power, in making a blind man to see, doing that which one would think more likely to make a seeing man blind. Human reason cannot judge of the Lord's methods; he uses means and instruments that men despise. Those that would be healed by Christ must be ruled by him. He came back from the pool wondering and wondered at; he came seeing. This represents the benefits in attending on ordinances of Christ's appointment; souls go weak, and come away strengthened; go doubting, and come away satisfied; go mourning, and come away rejoicing; go blind, and come away seeing.Neither hath this man sinned ... - That is, his blindness is not the effect of his sin, or that of his parents. Jesus did not, evidently, mean to affirm that he or his parents were without any sin, but that this blindness was not the effect of sin. This answer is to be interpreted by the nature of the question submitted to him. The sense is, "his blindness is not to be traced to any fault of his or of his parents."

But that the works of God - This thing has happened that it might appear how great and wonderful are the works of God. By the works of God, here, is evidently intended the miraculous power which God would put forth to heal the man, or rather, perhaps, the whole that happened to him in the course of divine providence first his blindness, as an act of his providence, and then his healing him, as an act of mercy and power. It has all happened, not by the fault of his parents or of himself, but by the wise arrangement of God, that it might be seen in what way calamities come, and in what way God meets and relieves them. And from this we may learn:

1. To pity and not to despise and blame those who are afflicted with any natural deformity or calamity. While the Jews regarded it as the effect of sin, they looked upon it without compassion. Jesus tells us that it is not the fault of man, but proceeds from the wise arrangement of God.

2. All suffering in the world is not the effect of sin. In this case it is expressly so declared; and there may be many modes of suffering that cannot be traced to any particular transgression. We should be cautious, therefore, in affirming that there can be no calamity in the universe but by transgression.

3. We see the wise and wonderful arrangement of Divine Providence. It is a part of his great plan to adapt his mercies to the woes of men: and often calamity, want, poverty, and sickness are permitted, that he may show the provisions of his mercy, that he may teach us to prize his blessings, and that deep-felt gratitude for deliverance may bind us to him.

4. Those who are afflicted with blindness, deafness, or any deformity, should be submissive to God. It is his appointment, and is right and best. God does no wrong, and the universe will, when all his works are seen, feel and know that he is just.

3. Neither … this man, &c.—The cause was neither in himself nor his parents, but, in order to the manifestation of "the works of God," in his cure. Our Saviour must not be understood here, as either asserting the blind man or his parents free from sin, and a degree of sin deserving such a punishment; but as speaking to his disciples question strictly, and answering, that this affliction came not upon him, either for any personal sin of his own, (for he could not be guilty of any actual sin before he was born), nor yet for any sin that his parents had committed: but that the works of God might be made glorious in him; both his work of power in afflicting, and his work of mercy in healing him. Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents,.... Not but that both were guilty of original sin, and had committed actual transgressions; but Christ's answer is to be considered agreeable to the design of the question; and the sense is, that it was not any sin that either of them had committed, whilst he was in the womb, or previous to his birth, that was the cause of this blindness; otherwise, all such irregularities and afflictions arise from sin, and the fall of man, as does that spiritual blindness with which all mankind are attended:

but that the works of God should be manifest in him; that is, that Christ might have an opportunity of working a miracle in the cure of him, whereby it might appear that he is truly and properly God, the Son of God, and the Messiah; and so spiritual blindness, which has followed the fall of man, takes place in the elect of God in common with others, that the power of divine grace might be displayed in bringing them out of darkness into marvellous light.

Jesus answered, {a} Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

(a) Christ reasons here as his disciples thought, who presupposed that no diseases came except for the reason of sins: as a result of this he answers that there was another cause of this man's blindness, and that was in order that God's work might be seen.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 9:3. Οὐ παντελῶς ἀναμαρτήτους αὐτούς φησιν, ἀλλʼ ὅσον εἰς τὸ τυφλωθῆναι αὐτόν, Euth. Zigabenus.

ἀλλʼ] sc. τυφλὸς ἐγεννήθη.

τὰ ἔργα τοῦ θεοῦ] the works of God, ie. what God works, was to be manifested in Him. The expression must be left in this general form (it first acquires its more exact force in John 9:4); it denotes the entire category of which such miraculous healings were a particular species; hence the works of God were set forth and brought to light in this concrete case, to wit, in the man (ἐν αὐτῷ) who experienced the divine miraculous power. In the connection of the divine decree, however, from which everything accidental, everything independent of the divine plan, is excluded, this φανέρωσις must stand in the relation of a purpose towards the sufferings which, in this particular concrete case, are miraculously removed. Hence ἵνα φανερ., etc., is a thought which contains the true nature of the Theodicy for all sufferings. According to Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 201, the ἔργα θ. are spiritual operations, namely, the enlightenment of the world, symbolically set forth by this healing of the blind. This, however, anticipates the doctrinal application which Jesus Himself makes of the work which He wrought (John 9:39).John 9:3. Both alternatives are rejected by Jesus, Οὔτεαὐτοῦ. And another solution is suggested, ἵνααυτῷ. Evil furthers the work of God in the world. It is in conquering and abolishing evil He is manifested. The question for us is not where suffering has come from, but what we are to do with it. John 9:4. The law which is binding on all men Jesus enounces.—ἐμὲ δεῖ ἐργάζεσθαι … Work, active measures to remove suffering, are more incumbent on men than resentful speculation as to the source of suffering. As to God’s connection with evil, the practical man need only concern himself with this, that God seeks to abolish it. The time for doing so is limited, it is ἕως ἡμέρα ἐστίν, “so long as it is day,” that is as the next clause shows, so long as life lasts. [On ἕως in N.T. see Burton, Moods, 321–330.]—ἔρχεται νύξ, suggested by the threats (John 8:59, etc.) and by the presence of the blind man.3. Christ shews that there is a third alternative, which their question assumes that there is not. Moreover He by implication warns them against assuming a connexion between suffering and sin in individuals (see on John 5:14). Neither did this man sin (not ‘hath sinned’), nor his parents. The answer, like the question, points to a definite act of sin.

but that] i.e. he was born blind in order that. This elliptical use of ‘but (in order) that’ is common in S. John, and illustrates his fondness for the construction expressing a purpose: see on John 1:8 and John 8:56.

the works of God] All those in which He manifests Himself, not miracles only. Comp. John 11:4. There is an undoubted reference to this passage (1–3) in the Clementine Homilies (John 19:22), the date of which is about a. d. 150. Comp. John 10:9; John 10:27.John 9:3. Ἀπεκρίθη, answered) Jesus is wont to answer more plainly to His disciples than to the unbelieving Jews.—ἥμαρτεν, hath sinned) Repeat, that he should be born blind [Human reason delights to draw the conclusion of there being some special fault, from some special misfortune: Luke 13:2; Luke 13:4, “Suppose ye, these Galileans—whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices—were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you nay, etc. Or those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell,” etc.; Acts 28:4, “When the barbarians saw the venemous beast hang on—Paul’s—hand, they said, No doubt this is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.”—V. g.—ἀλλʼ, but) Comp. ch. John 11:4, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”—ἴνα, that) The power of God.—τὰ ἔργα, the works) Plural. When one work of God is known, all are known. From His works shine forth the Power, and the Glory, and the Grace of God.Verse 3. - Jesus answered, Neither did this man sin, nor his parents (that he should be born blind). There was no immediate connection between the special sin of the parents and this particular calamity. Our Lord does not assert in those words the sinlessness of those people, but severs the supposed link between their conduct and the specific affliction before them. But (he was born blind) that the works of God should be made manifest in him. The disciples will soon see in the history of this man the meaning of his lifelong blindness. In the man himself' the grace of God will work mightily, both a bodily and spiritual illumination. Evil in this case is to redound to greater good. This provides no opportunity for any to fasten on one or another some charge of special transgression, but, as all evil ought to do, it provides opportunity for the redeeming work which Christ came to accomplish, and which he permitted his disciples to share. But that (ἀλλ' ἵνα)

There is an ellipsis: but (he was born blind) that.

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