Then said Jesus to him, Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Signs and wonders.—See Note on John 2:11. The words are here addressed to Jews, for there is no reason to think that the nobleman himself was not one. They are spoken to him, but the ye extends them to others standing near and to the class of persons whom he represents. It had been so with the Jews in Jerusalem (John 2:18; John 2:23), and it was so with the Jews in Galilee. (Comp. 1Corinthians 1:22.) How different from this faith, which demanded a miracle, and therefore was not faith, but sight, was the acceptance by the Samaritans without a miracle, who believed for the woman’s word, and more fully when they heard the word of Christ Himself.
Ye will not believe.—The negative is in its strongest form, Ye will by no means believe.John 20:29. Our Saviour saw that this courtier came to him purely upon a natural account, for the recovery of his dying son, without a desire to be instructed in his heavenly doctrine; therefore (as it may be presumed) he checks this courtier; and not him alone, but the generality of the Jews, who were only struck with admiration of his works, and drawn from curiosity, or some temporal benefit, to follow him, without a due regard of his person, or the heavenly, saving truths preached by him.
except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe. This was the cast of the Jews every where, both in Judea and Galilee; they required signs and miracles to be wrought, in confirmation of Christ's being the Messiah, and which indeed was but right; and Christ did perform them for that purpose: but their sin of unbelief lay in this, that they wanted still more and more signs; they could not be contented with what they had seen, but required more, being sluggish and backward to believe. Our Lord seems to say this chiefly for the sake of the Galilaeans, that were about him; who, though they might be acquainted with his former miracles, when among them, of turning water into wine, and had seen his wondrous works at the feast at Jerusalem, yet were very desirous of seeing more, and perhaps very pressing for this cure.Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)48. signs and wonders] Christ’s miracles are never mere ‘wonders’ to excite astonishment; they are ‘signs’ of heavenly truths as well, and this is their primary characteristic. Where these two words are joined together ‘signs’ always precedes, excepting four passages in the Acts, where we nave ‘wonders and signs.’ This is the only passage in which S. John uses ‘wonders’ at all. In John 2:11 the word translated ‘miracles’ is the same as the one here translated ‘signs.’ See below, John 4:54.
ye will not believe] In marked contrast to the ready belief of the Samaritans. The form of negation in the Greek is of the strong kind; ye will in no wise believe. See note on 1 Corinthians 1:22. Faith based on miracles is of a low type comparatively, but Christ does not reject it. Comp. John 10:38, John 14:11, John 20:29. This man’s faith is strengthened by being put to test. The words are evidently addressed to him and those about him, and they imply that those addressed are Jews.John 4:48. Ἐὰν μή, unless) Jesus implies, that He can give life to the nobleman’s son, even though the patient be absent: and He requires the nobleman to believe it, and not to require that Jesus should set out with him, as being himself about to see at the bedside of the sufferer the cure wrought on him.—ἴδητε, ye see) ch. John 20:29, [Jesus to Thomas] “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”—οὐ μὴ πιστεύσητε, ye will not believe) i.e. A disease has fallen upon thy son, that an opportunity might be afforded Me for rendering miraculous aid, which, as ye have not seen, ye do not believe: comp. ch. John 11:4, [Jesus as to Lazarus] “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby,” wherein the address, ch. John 11:40, is given, somewhat in inverse order, as compared with that to the nobleman, [Jesus to Martha] “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” There was something of the Judaic feeling, which was eagerly intent on miracles, in the nobleman, who seems to have been a Jew. This is marked by the use of the second person plural. But at the same time a miracle is promised, and faith is also first required on the nobleman’s part; and whilst it is being required, it is awakened by Jesus: comp. ch. John 10:37, “If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not.” The reply, compounded of a kind of outward appearance of repulse, and a tacit promise of aid, is in consonance with the feeling of the suppliant, compounded as it was of faith and weakness.Verse 48. - Then said Jesus to him - as representing the whole class whose faith rested upon, and was nourished, by, the outward sign, with a certain amount of reproof if not of irony in the strength of his phrase - Except ye see (there is no special emphasis laid on the ἴδητε, as distinct from the mere report or testimony of such things) signs and wonders, ye will by no means believe. This is the only occasion in John's Gospel where these two terms are conjoined. They are frequently brought together in Acts (Acts 2:22, 43; Acts 4:30; Acts 5:12, etc.), and used in conjunction in Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12. John ordinarily uses (ἔργα) "works" to denote those objective tangible facts which were "signs" (σημεῖα) of the Lord's higher nature and claims. Here τέρατα, a word meaning "portents," remarkable, inexplicable events out of the common order, accompanies "signs," to complete the notion. The craving for "signs and wonders" did absorb the higher life of Judaism. "The Jews require a sign" (1 Corinthians 1:22), and minds that are yet in the Jewish stage of partial discipline, for spiritual revelation, still do the same. There is still in many of us the weak faith which needs the stimulating diet of the "sign" before there is any full recognition of the Divine fulness of blessing. Christ does not condemn, though he mourns over, this spiritual babyhood; and while he says (John 10:38; John 14:11; John 15:24) that belief for the works' sake may lead up to true faith, yet the language addressed to Thomas, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed," reveals his deepest thought of their comparative worth. The demand for "signs and wonders" in Galilee contrasts with the ready reception which the Samaritans had given to his word. Many of the difficulties of these narratives arise from the obvious fact that they are so closely compressed. Weiss has a hard task to make what he calls this "harsh answer" tally with Matthew's account of the reception of the centurion, and of the "great faith" which in his case preceded the miracle. A single sentence in the urgent request of the nobleman, implying that at Capernaum they needed the same kind of proof that had been given at Jerusalem of the Lord's prophetic claims, would account for all the emphasis laid upon the inperfect faith of the Galilaeans. He who "knew what was in man" knew in what way to rouse in this suppliant an adequate recognition of the Divine in himself.
Addressing the nobleman (him), but having in mind the Galilean population which he represents (ye).
Signs and wonders (σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα)
Ye will not (οὐ μὴ)
The double negative is correctly given by Rev., "ye will in nowise."
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