John 5:1
After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
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(1) A feast of the Jews.—The writer does not tell us what feast this was, and we must be content to remain without certain knowledge. There is, perhaps, no Jewish feast with which it has not been identified, and it has been even proclaimed confidently that it must have been the Day of Atonement! (Caspari, Chron. and Geogr., Introd., Eng. Trans., p. 130). Our reading is to be regarded as the better one, though not a few authorities insert the article, and interpret “the Feast” to mean the Feast of Passover.

The time-limits are John 4:35, which was in Tebeth (January), and John 6:4, which bring us to the next Passover in Nisan (April), i.e., an interval of four months, the year being an intercalary one with the month VeAdar (and Adar) added, or, as we should say, with two months of March. The only feast which falls in this interval is the Feast of Purim, and it is with this that the best modern opinion identifies the feast of our text. It was kept on the 14th of Adar (March), in commemoration of the deliverance of the Jews from the plots of Haman, and took its name from the lots cast by him (Esther 3:7; Esther 9:24 et seq.). It was one of the most popular feasts (Jos. Ant. xi. 6, § 13), and was characterised by festive rejoicings, presents, and gifts to the poor. At the same time it was not one of the great feasts, and while the writer names the Passover (John 2:13; John 6:4; John 13:1), the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2), and even that of the Dedication (John x 22), this has no further importance in the narrative than to account for the fact of Jesus being again in Jerusalem. (Comp. Introduction: Chronological Harmony of the Gospels, p. 35)

John 5:1. After this there was a feast — Greek, η εορτη, the feast; of the Jews — This, in all probability, was the feast of the passover; because that solemnity was called the feast, by way of eminence, (Matthew 27:15; Mark 15:6;) and because immediately after it, we find the disciples on the sabbath in the fields, rubbing the ears, probably of barley, a kind of grain which was always fit for reaping at the passover. It is generally thought this was the second passover that Christ attended after the commencement of his public ministry.

5:1-9 We are all by nature impotent folk in spiritual things, blind, halt, and withered; but full provision is made for our cure, if we attend to it. An angel went down, and troubled the water; and what disease soever it was, this water cured it, but only he that first stepped in had benefit. This teaches us to be careful, that we let not a season slip which may never return. The man had lost the use of his limbs thirty-eight years. Shall we, who perhaps for many years have scarcely known what it has been to be a day sick, complain of one wearisome night, when many others, better than we, have scarcely known what it has been to be a day well? Christ singled this one out from the rest. Those long in affliction, may comfort themselves that God keeps account how long. Observe, this man speaks of the unkindness of those about him, without any peevish reflections. As we should be thankful, so we should be patient. Our Lord Jesus cures him, though he neither asked nor thought of it. Arise, and walk. God's command, Turn and live; Make ye a new heart; no more supposes power in us without the grace of God, his distinguishing grace, than this command supposed such power in the impotent man: it was by the power of Christ, and he must have all the glory. What a joyful surprise to the poor cripple, to find himself of a sudden so easy, so strong, so able to help himself! The proof of spiritual cure, is our rising and walking. Has Christ healed our spiritual diseases, let us go wherever he sends us, and take up whatever he lays upon us; and walk before him.A feast - Probably the Passover, though it is not certain. There were two other feasts - the Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles - at which all the males were required to be present, and it might have been one of them. It is of no consequence, however, which of them is intended. CHAPTER 5

Joh 5:1-47. The Impotent Man Healed—Discourse Occasioned by the Persecution Arising Thereupon.

1. a feast of the Jews—What feast? No question has more divided the Harmonists of the Gospels, and the duration of our Lord's ministry may be said to hinge on it. For if, as the majority have thought (until of late years) it was a Passover, His ministry lasted three and a half years; if not, probably a year less. Those who are dissatisfied with the Passover-view all differ among themselves what other feast it was, and some of the most acute think there are no grounds for deciding. In our judgment the evidence is in favor of its being a Passover, but the reasons cannot be stated here.John 5:1-9 Christ cures an impotent man at the pool of Bethesda

on the sabbath day.

John 5:10-16 The Jews cavil, and persecute him for it.

John 5:17,18 He justifieth himself by the example of God his Father,

John 5:19-30 and asserts the power and judgment committed unto him

by the Father,

John 5:31-35 he appeals to the testimony of John,

John 5:36-38 of the Father,

John 5:39,40 and of the Scriptures.

John 5:41-44 He showeth that his humility caused their rejection of him,

John 5:45-47 but that in disbelieving him they disbelieved Moses also.

Though there are some that think the feast mentioned here was that of Pentecost, and others that it was the feast of tabernacles, yet the most and best interpreters judge it was the feast of the passover that is here mentioned; and that this was the second passover which happened after our Saviour had entered upon his public ministry. We read of the first, John 2:13; and from that verse of that chapter to this chapter the evangelist (as they think) hath been relating so much of our Saviour’s actions, until the second passover, as it was the will of God we should have upon public authentic record, and had not been recorded by the other evangelists, who give a further account of his actions done this year, Matthew 4:1-25 8:1-34 9:1-38 Mark 1:1-45 2:1-28 Luke 4:1-44 5:1-39. In the time of our Saviour’s public ministry (which was three years and a half) there were four passovers. The other evangelists take notice but of one of them, and that the last. John is thought to have mentioned all the four; the first, John 2:13, the second in this place, the third, John 6:4, the fourth, John 8:1. Another reason they give why the feast of the passover should be here intended is, because from about that time to the harvest were four months, according to what our Saviour had said, John 4:35.

Jesus went up to the passover, to Jerusalem, to show his obedience to his Father’s law, Deu 16:16.

After this there was a feast of the Jews,.... After Christ had been in Samaria, which was four months ago, John 4:35, and had been in Galilee for that time, and had cured the nobleman's son, and had done other mighty works, the time came on for one of the three festivals of the Jews; either the feast of Pentecost, as some think; or as others, the feast of tabernacles; or rather, the feast of the passover, so called, in John 4:45 since John is very particular, in giving an account of the several passovers, in Christ's ministry:

and Jesus went up to Jerusalem; according to the law of God, which obliged all the males to appear there at that time; and to show his compliance with it, and obedience to it, whom it became to fulfil all righteousness; and this he did also, that he might have an opportunity of discoursing, and doing his miracles before all the people, which came at this time, from the several parts of the land.

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
John 5:1. Μετὰ ταῦτα] after this stay of Jesus in Galilee; an approximate statement of time, within the range of which the harmonist has to bring much that is contained in the Synoptics. The distinction made by Lücke between this and μετὰ τοῦτο, according to which the former denotes indirect, and the latter immediate sequence, is quite incapable of proof: μετὰ ταῦτα is the more usual in John; comp. John 5:14; John 3:22; John 6:1; John 7:1.

ἑορτὴ τῶν Ἰουδαίων] a feast of the Jews; John does not describe it more definitely. But what feast is meant appears with certainty from John 4:35; comp. John 6:4. For in John 4:35 Jesus spoke in December, and it is clear from John 4:4 that the Passover was still approaching; it must therefore[203] be a feast occurring in the interval between December and the Passover, and this is no other than the feast of Purim (יְמֵי הַפּוּרִים, Esther 9:24 ff; Esther 3:7), the feast of lots, celebrated on the 14th and 15th of Adar (Esther 9:21), consequently in March, in commemoration of the nation’s deliverance from the bloody designs of Haman. So Keppler, d’Outrein, Hug, Olshausen, Wieseler, Krabbe, Anger, Lange, Maier, Baeumlein, Godet, and most others. So also Holtzmann (Judenth. u. Christenth. p. 374) and Märcker (Uebereinst. d. Matth. u. Joh. 1868, p. 11). In favour of this interpretation is the fact that, as this feast was by no means a great one, but of less importance and less known to Hellenistic readers, the indefinite mention of it on John’s part is thoroughly appropriate; while he names the greater and well-known feasts,—not only the Passover, but the σκηνοπηγία in John 7:2, and the ἐγκαίνια in John 10:22. To suppose, in explanation of the fact that he does not give the name, that he had forgotten what feast it was (Schweizer), is compatible neither with the accuracy of his recollection in other things, nor with the importance of the miracle wrought at this feast. It is arbitrary, however, to suppose that John did not wish to lay stress upon the name of the ἙΟΡΤΉ, but upon the fact that Jesus did not go up to Jerusalem save on occasion of a feast (Luthardt, Lichtenstein); indeed, the giving of the name after ἸΟΥΔΑΊΩΝ (comp. John 7:2) would in no way have interfered with that imaginary design. It is objected that the feast of Purim, which was not a temple feast, required no journey to Jerusalem (see especially Hengstenberg, Christol. III. p. 187 f., Lücke, de Wette, Brückner); and the high esteem in which it is held in Gem. Hier. Megill. i. 8 cannot be shown to refer to the time of Jesus. But might not Jesus, even without any legal obligation, have availed Himself of this feast as an occasion for His further labours in Jerusalem? And are we to suppose that the character of the feast—a feast for eating and drinking merely—should hinder Him from going to Jerusalem? The Sabbath (John 5:9), on which apparently (but see Wieseler, p. 219) the feast could never occur, may have been before or after it; and, lastly, what is related of Jesus (John 6:1 ff.) between this festival and the Passover, only a month afterwards, may easily have occurred within the space of that month. In fine, it can neither have been the Passover (Cod. Λ., Irenaeus, Eusebius’ Chron., Rupertus, Luther, Calovius, Grotius, Jansen, Scaliger, Cornelius a Lapide, Lightfoot, Lampe, Paulus, Kuinoel, Süsskind, Klee, Neander, Ammon, Hengstenberg), nor Pentecost (Cyril, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Erasmus, Melancthon, Beza, Calvin, Maldonatus, Bengel), nor the feast of Tabernacles (Cod. 131, Cocceius, Ebrard, Ewald, Hilgenfeld, Lichtenstein, Krafft, Riggenbach), nor the feast of the Dedication (a possible surmise of Keppler and Petavius); nor can we acquiesce in leaving the feast undeterminable (Lücke, de Wette, Luthardt, Tholuck, Brückner. Baumgarten Crusius hesitates between Purim and the Passover, yet inclines rather to the latter).

[203] If this feast itself is taken to be the Passover, we are obliged, with the most glaring arbitrariness, to put a spatium vacuum of a year between it and the Passover of John 6:4, of which, however, John (John 6:1-4) has not given the slightest hint. On the contrary, he lets his narrative present the most uninterrupted sequence. Hengstenberg judges, indeed, that the gap can appear strange only to those who do not rightly discern the relation in which John stands to the Synoptics. But this is nothing more than the dictum of harmonistic presuppositions.

John 5:1. μετὰ ταῦτα, “after this”; how long after does not concern the narrative.—ἦν ἑορτὴ τῶν Ἰουδαίων. See critical note. Even if the article were the true reading, this would not, as Lücke has shown, determine the feast to be the Passover. Rather it would be Tabernacles, see W.H[52] ii. 76. We are thrown upon general considerations and that these yield a very uncertain result is shown by the variety of opinion expressed by commentators. The feasts we have to choose from are: Purim in March, Passover in April, Pentecost in May, Tabernacles in October, Dedication in December. It is chiefly between Purim and Passover that opinion is divided, because some feast in spring is supposed to be indicated by John 4:35. Against Passover it is urged that in chap. 6 another Passover is mentioned; but this is by no means decisive, as John elsewhere passes over equally long intervals of time. Lampe, Lightfoot, Grotius, Whitelaw, and Wordsworth argue for Passover: Tischendorf, Meyer, Godet, Farrar, Weiss, and others strongly favour Purim; while Lücke seems to prove that no sure conclusion can be reached. [For a full and fair presentation of opinions and data see Andrew’s Life of our Lord, p. 189 sqq.] The feast, whatever it was, is mentioned here to account for Jesus being again in Jerusalem.

[52] Westcott and Hort.

1–9. The Sign at the Pool of Bethesda

1. After this] Better, After these things, a more indefinite sequence.

a feast of the Jews] This is the reading of highest authority, although some important MSS. read ‘the feast of the Jews,’ probably because from very early times this feast was believed to be the Passover. If ‘a feast’ is the true reading, this alone is almost conclusive against its being the Passover; S. John would not call the Passover ‘a feast of the Jews.’ Moreover in all other cases where he mentions Passovers he lets us know that they are Passovers and not simply feasts, John 2:13, John 6:4, John 11:55, &c. He gives us three Passovers; to make this a fourth would be to put an extra year into our Lord’s ministry for which scarcely any events can be found, and of which there is no trace elsewhere. Almost every other feast, and even the Day of Atonement, have been suggested; but the only one which fits in satisfactorily is Purim. We saw from John 4:35 that the two days in Samaria were either in December or January. The next certain date Isaiah 6:4, the eve of the Passover, i.e. April. Purim, which was celebrated in March (14th and 15th Adar), falls just in the right place in the interval. This feast commemorated the deliverance of the Jews from Haman, and took its name from the lots which he caused to be cast (Esther 3:7; Esther 9:24; Esther 9:26; Esther 9:28). It was a boisterous feast, and some have thought it unlikely that Christ would have anything to do with it. But we are not told that He went to Jerusalem in order to keep the feast; Purim might be kept anywhere. More probably He went because the multitudes at the feast would afford great opportunities for teaching. Moreover, it does not follow that because some made this feast a scene of unseemly jollity, therefore Christ would discountenance the feast itself.

John 5:1. Ἑορτή, a feast) The following authorities recognise this feast to be Pentecost: Epiphanius, Chrysostom, Cyril, Euthymius, Theophylact, the old Gospel harmony published by Ottomarus Luscinius, Lyranus, Stapulensis, Erasmus in his paraphrase, Maldonatus, Calvin, Piseator, Bullinger in his Acts, p. 4; comp. Hunnius and E. Schmidius, also Brochmand Syst. T. i. fol. 339. Add. Pflacher. And that this was Pentecost, I have proved, as I hope, in my Order of Times, p. 252 [Ed. ii., p. 219].

Verses 1-47. -

1. Christ proved, by signs and wonders and testimonies, to be Source of life. Verses 1-9. -

(1) A sign on a paralyzed body and an unsusceptible soul. Verse 1. - The journey to Jerusalem is said to have taken place at the time of "a feast," or "the feast of the Jews." After these things (μετα ταῦτα). Suggesting a number of events, not necessarily connected with each other. (For the latter idea of a period expressed by μετα τοῦτο see John 2:12 and John 11:7, 11; for μετα ταῦτα, see John 6:1 and John 21:1. etc.) There was the feast of the Jews. Now, "the feast" of the Jews could hardly be any other than the second Passover, while John 6:4 would indicate a third. "The feast" referred to in John 4:45 undoubtedly means the first Passover. "A feast" would leave the question open, though by no means excluding positively the second Passover, as the anarthrousness of the word might be chosen with a view to call special attention to it. However, the indefinite ἑορτη has been identified by commentators with every feast in the calendar, so there can be no final settlement of the problem. If the feast be the Passover, then our Lord's ministry lasted a little more than three years. If not, it must be one or other of the feasts that elapsed between the Passovers of ch. 2 and ch. 6 Edersheim, with many others, refuses to accept any chronological hint in John 4:35, and therefore throws the journey from Jerusalem to Galilee a few weeks after the first Passover, in the early summer, and supposes that Jesus returned to the unnamed feast in the autumn. Several critics say of John 4:35, one part of the sentence must be parabolical and the other literal, and that the disciples might be anticipating a spiritual harvest after four months, and Jesus drew from the physically ripening corn fields his comparison. This seems to me entirely contrary to our Lord's ordinary method; and that the disciples were in too carnal a mood to be credited with an anticipation of spiritual results in Samaria at all. Those who think that John 4:35 does give a hint of four months preceding harvest, place the journey between the middle of December and the middle of January. To my mind there is consequently no difficulty in imagining that when those four months should have been spent, and before the regular calling and appointment of the twelve apostles, our Lord should have gone up to the feast - one of the feasts which did summon the adult men to the metropolis. This is the view of Irenaeus, Luther, Cretins, Lampe, Neander, Hengstenberg, Conder, and many others. Wieseler, Hug, Meyer Lance, Godet, Weiss, Farrar, Watkins, think that the Feast of Purim, celebrated on the 15th of Adar (or March) (2 Macc. 15:36), in commemoration of the deliverance of the people from the evil intention of Haman (Esther 9:21, etc.), was that national fast and feast which Jesus thus honoured. Purim was not one of the divinely appointed festivals, but it is also stated that the Lord undoubtedly attended one of the national and recently appointed festivals, that of Dedication (John 10:22). The more serious objection is that it could, if desired, have been celebrated quite as well in Galilee as in Jerusalem, and that the method of celebration seemed contrary to the whole spirit of the Master, and the whole tone of the discourse which followed. It is said that part of the ritual of the feast was the free and frequent gifts made spontaneously by one to another. Westcott prefers the autumn Feast of Trumpets as more suitable on several grounds than the Passover,

(1) because of the absence of the article, - this, however, is very problematical (see Tischendorf, 8th edit.);

(2) because when at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2) the incident described in ch. 5 is still in lively recollection;

(3) because the great events of the Feast of Trumpets, the commemoration of the Creation and the Law giving, correspond with the theme of the Lord's great discourse. The fact that this particular miracle on the sabbath should be referred to a few mouths later in Jerusalem, on Christ's third appearance there, is not improbable, if we bear in mind that Judaean emissaries in Galilee had been bitterly assailing Jesus, on the ground of his persistent determination to heal sickness and hopeless maladies on the sabbath day. This Jerusalem "sign," and the claim he made on the ground of it, had roused the cry, and was still the matter of contention. The claims of the Purim feast turn principally on the fact that, since it occurred, about a month before the Passover, on the 14th or 15th of Adar, this visit might have taken place in the course of the four months referred to in John 4:35, and therefore between the sojourn in Samaria and the Passover of John 6:4, which Jesus diet not attend. Dr. Moulton (assuming the anarthrous form of the ἑορτη) thinks that the feast is left undetermined because there was nothing in it typical of our Lord's work, and fulfilled in his Person. Such a position renders the visit itself strange and apparently unealled for. These long gaps, silences, during which there is no record of event or discourse, constitute a leading feature of the gospel history, and indeed of most of the history of both Old and New Testaments. To my mind there is advantage rather than otherwise in supposing more time than a few months to have been consumed in the Galilaean ministry described in Mark 2 and 3 Tregelles and the Revisers, with Westcott and Hort, have relegated the δευτεροπρωτω of Luke 6:1 to the margin, but; Tischendorf (8th edit.) and Canon Cooke, etc., retain the remarkable expression, on the overwhelming evidence of a host of authorities. If it stand, which we believe it must, then during the Galilaean ministry, and in the interval which preceded the Passover mentioned in ch. 6:4, there is a reference to the proximity of a previous Passover and a previous harvest; the Galilaean opposition to Christ on this question of ritual being at its very height. If so, the feast must have been the Passover. The question cannot be finally settled, and commentators are in hopeless conflict with one another. It must be admitted that the majority of modern critics assume the Feast of Purim to be that intended, and thereby reduce the length of our Lord's ministry from Cana to Calvary to two short years. And Jesus went up to Jerusalem. This was before the formal call of the twelve apostles, and there is no proof that he was accompanied by his disciples. Many of the commentators (and see Weiss, 'Life of Christ,' vol. 2:321) urge that not even John himself was present on the occasion, from the absence of lifelike touches and particularity of incident. There is, however, much detail in the first fifteen verses. The great discourse that follows is not broken into dramatic dialogue, and does certainly present more of the biographer's subjective treatment than other portions of the narrative. It is more conceivable, however, that John did, on grounds mentioned by Caspari (see Introduction), accompany his Lord, and learned, by what he heard of these great words, and by subsequent converse with Jesus, the burden of the mighty revelation. Thoma sets to work in the most dogmatic way, and Weiss with a perfectly different spirit, to demonstrate the identity of the narrative which follows, with the famous story of the cure of the paralytic "borne of four" which occurs in the synoptic narrative. Thoma goes further, and imagines that the supposed healing of the paralytics by both Peter and Paul are also here idealized. John 5:1A feast (ἑορτὴ)

Or festival. What festival is uncertain. It has been identified with the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles; also with the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Dedication, and the Feast of Purim.

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