John 9:2
Parallel Verses
New International Version
His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

New Living Translation
"Rabbi," his disciples asked him, "why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents' sins?"

English Standard Version
And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

New American Standard Bible
And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?"

King James Bible
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
His disciples questioned Him: "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

International Standard Version
His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that caused him to be born blind?"

NET Bible
His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man or his parents?"

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And his disciples asked him and they were saying, “Our Master, who is it that has sinned, this one or his parents, that he would be born blind?”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, why was this man born blind? Did he or his parents sin?"

Jubilee Bible 2000
And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

King James 2000 Bible
And his disciples asked him, saying, Teacher, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

American King James Version
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

American Standard Version
And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?

Douay-Rheims Bible
And his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?

Darby Bible Translation
And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this [man] or his parents, that he should be born blind?

English Revised Version
And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?

Webster's Bible Translation
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

Weymouth New Testament
So His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned--this man or his parents--that he was born blind?"

World English Bible
His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Young's Literal Translation
and his disciples asked him, saying, 'Rabbi, who did sin, this one or his parents, that he should be born blind?'
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

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.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 2. - And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi. This honorific appellation is found in John 1:38, 49; John 3:2; John 4:31; John 6:25; John 11:8; but very rarely in the other Gospels. It is applied to John the Baptist (John 3:26). The question seems to denote a very different frame of mind from that with which the previous chapter terminated. Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? It was the current idea and popular doctrine, not only that all suffering in this life had its origin in sin, and was a witness to the damage done to our nature by sin, by the disruption of our normal relations with the living God, but furthermore that every peculiar disaster pointed to some special or particular sin. Doubtless the Book of Job was a formal discussion of the question. The writer of that work repudiates the right of any onlooker to infer special sins from peculiar punishments. Jesus, moreover (Luke 13:1-3); had repeatedly discouraged the tendency to judge, but he did this by the still more solemn assurance that all men deserved the special fate of some. Still, the calamity of congenital blindness, with all its hopelessness, provided a very apt occasion for raising the question, "Who did sin, this man, or his parents?" It is and always will be difficult to say whether the disciples thought that they had exhausted the alternatives, or believed that they had plausible reasons for thinking either alternative possible. Some have argued that they had Scripture ground for the second of the suppositions, that the sin of the parents of the blind man was the real cause of the blindness of their son. Thus (Exodus 20:5) the idea is embedded in the Decalogue, and it is repeated in Exodus 34:7 and Numbers 14:18, that the iniquities of fathers are visited upon their children. The forty years in the wilderness was a case in point (Numbers 14:33, 34; Jeremiah 32:18), and numerous examples may be given of the punishment descending from parent to child; e.g., upon the house of Ahab, and on the sufferers from exile in Babylon. Compare the continuous threatening of vengeance for unfaithfulness upon the generation to come. The argument may have been strengthened by observation of the lot of men who have brought poverty, disease, and disgrace upon their unborn children. Ezekiel had deliberately repudiated the inference that Israel had drawn from their Scriptures, in the dictum or proverb (Ezekiel 18:2) that "the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge," and maintained with great and passionate earnestness, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." This may have led the disciples to put the conjectural solution. Did this man sin? Is there any way or sense in which the man's own sin could be the cause of so great a calamity? It seems entirely gratuitous to derive from this passage any final conclusion as to the method in which they supposed it possible that the man's personality preceded his birth, or any certain conviction that they meant more by their question than this - if sin is the cause of such fearful privation, it must either be the man's parents' or his own. It could not have been his own; was it then his parents'? There was sufficient discussion of the problem among the Jews for one or more vague and unsettled opinions to be floating in their minds.

(1) It cannot be proved that the doctrine of metempsychosis was ever held by the Jews. The language in which Josephus refers to the views of the Pharisees is ambiguous (cf. 'Bell. Jud.,' 2:08. 14; 'Ant.,' 18:01. 3). The view held by them was simply that "the immortal souls of the good (only) pass into another body," are raised into a new life; "but that the souls of the sinful αἰδίῳ τιμωρίᾳ κολαζέσθαι, are afflicted with eternal punishment." This differs profoundly from the Oriental, or Pythagorean, or Platonic doctrine of transmigration.

(2) The Jewish speculation of the pre-existence of souls has some countenance from Wisd. 8:19, 20, where the pseudo-Solomon says, "I was a witty child, and... being good, I came into a body undefiled," modifying somewhat the Platonic idea of a harmony between the pre-existing soul and the body (see Grimm, 'Exeg. Handb.,' in loc.; Bruch, 'The Pre-existence of the Soul,' freely translated; American 'Bibliotheca Sacra:' 1863); but beyond this there is no sound indication that the Jewish mind had accepted the doctrine which played so great a part in the later discussions as to the views of Origen.

(3) Lightfoot ('Horae Hebraicae,' in, loc.) thinks "the dogma held by R. Akiba, commenting on Ecclesiastes 13:1, to the effect that "in the days of Messiah there will be neither merit nor demerit" - i.e. that neither merit nor demerit of parents will be imputed to posterity - may account for the query of the apostles.

(4) The idea of the possible sinfulness of the child while in the womb of its mother - a theory based upon the supposed moral activity of Jacob and Esau in the womb of Rebecca ('Bemidbar Rab.,' fol. 230. 2), and the statement that John the Baptist leaped in the womb of his mother Elisabeth (Luke 1:41) - may have co-operated with other vague views floating in their minds with sufficient intensity to explain the first part of their question.

(5) The supposition of some (Tholuck), that the disciples may have thought that the man's sins were foreknown, and that the blindness was punishment beforehand, is so abhorrent to any notion of the justice of God, that we cannot suppose that it ever entered into their inquiry. The fact that no fewer than five distinct hypotheses as to the possibility of culpability before birth having had some place in Hebrew and contemporary thought, is an adequate explanation of the fact that they should have put this ever-recurring problem of evil in the particular form in which we find it.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And his disciples asked him,.... It may be that some of the twelve apostles, or others of his disciples, might put the following question to him on sight of this blind man, who by some means or another knew was born blind:

saying, master, who did man, or his parents, that he was born blind? the first of these questions, whether the man himself had sinned before he was born, which might be the occasion of his blindness, proceeds not upon the doctrine of original sin, though the Jews then believed that; See Gill on Romans 5:12; since that was common to all men, and therefore could not admit of such a question; but either upon the notion of transmigration of souls into other bodies; and so the disciples might ask whether this man had sinned in a pre-existent state when in another body, which was the reason of this blindness, or of his being put into a blind body. This notion, Josephus says (a), was embraced by the Pharisees; though, according to him, it seems, that they only understood it of the souls of good men; and if so, this could lay no foundation for such a question, unless these disciples had given into the Pythagorean notion of a transmigration of all souls, which was to be known by defects, as blindness, &c. (b); or else this question proceeded upon a principle received by the Jews, that an infant might do that which was faulty and criminal, and actually sin in the womb; of which Dr. Lightfoot has given instances: the second question proceeds upon the methods which sometimes God has taken with men, by visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children; or, as the above learned writer observes, upon a notion the Jews had, that a child might suffer for what the mother did whilst it was in the womb; or on another, which prevailed among them, that there should be neither merit nor demerit in the days of the Messiah; that is, that neither the good deeds, nor bad deeds of their parents, should be imputed to their children, neither the one to their advantage, nor the other to their disadvantage: and therefore since he the Messiah was come, they ask, how this blindness should come to pass? what should be the reason of it?

(a) De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 8. sect. 14. (b) Sallust. de Diis, c. 20.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

2. who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind—not in a former state of existence, in which, as respects the wicked, the Jews did not believe; but, perhaps, expressing loosely that sin somewhere had surely been the cause of this calamity.

John 9:2 Additional Commentaries
Context
Jesus Heals the Man Born Blind
1As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" 3Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.…
Cross References
Exodus 20:5
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

Matthew 23:7
they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called 'Rabbi' by others.

Matthew 23:8
"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.

Luke 13:2
Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?

John 4:31
Meanwhile his disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something."

John 9:1
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.

John 9:34
To this they replied, "You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out.

Acts 28:4
When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live."
Treasury of Scripture

And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

who.

John 9:34 They answered and said to him, You were altogether born in sins, …

Matthew 16:14 And they said, Some say that you are John the Baptist: some, Elias; …

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