John 5:16
And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) The words, “and sought to slay Him,” should be omitted. They have been inserted in some MSS. to explain the first clause of John 5:18. For “He had done,” read He was doing. The word is in the imperfect tense, expressing continuance or custom. It is either that from this one instance they generalise a law of practice to justify their persecution, or that some of the earlier unrecorded miracles were also performed on the Sabbath. (Comp. Luke 6:1-11.)

5:10-16 Those eased of the punishment of sin, are in danger of returning to sin, when the terror and restraint are over, unless Divine grace dries up the fountain. The misery believers are made whole from, warns us to sin no more, having felt the smart of sin. This is the voice of every providence, Go, and sin no more. Christ saw it necessary to give this caution; for it is common for people, when sick, to promise much; when newly recovered, to perform only something; but after awhile to forget all. Christ spoke of the wrath to come, which is beyond compare worse than the many hours, nay, weeks and years of pain, some wicked men have to suffer in consequence of their unlawful indulgences. And if such afflictions are severe, how dreadful will be the everlasting punishment of the wicked!Persecuted Jesus - They opposed him; attempted to ruin his character; to destroy his popularity; and probably held him up before the people as a violator of the law of God. Instead of making inquiry whether he had not given proof that he was the Messiah, they "assumed" that he must be wrong, and ought to be punished. Thus every bigot and persecutor does in regard to those who differ from them.

To slay him - To put him to death. This they attempted to do because it was directed in the law of Moses, Exodus 31:15; Exodus 35:2. See Luke 6:7, Luke 6:11; Luke 13:14. We see here,

1. How full of enmity and how bloody was the purpose of the Jews, All that Jesus had done was to restore an infirm man to health - a thing which they would have done for their cattle Luke 6:7, and yet they sought. his life because he had done it for a sick "man."

2. Men are often extremely envious because good is done by others, especially if it is not done according to the way of their denomination or party.

3. Here was an instance of the common feelings of a hypocrite. He often covers his enmity against the power of religion by great zeal for the form of it. He hates and persecutes those who do good, who seek the conversion of sinners, who love revivals of religion and the spread of the gospel, because it is not according to some matter of form which has been established, and on which he supposes the whole safety of the church to hang. There was nothing that Jesus was more opposed to than hypocrisy, and nothing that he set himself more against than those who suppose all goodness to consist in "forms," and all piety in the "shibboleths" of a party.

16. because he had done these things on the sabbath day—What to these hypocritical religionists was the doing of the most glorious and beneficent miracles, compared with the atrocity of doing them on the sabbath day! Having given them this handle, on purpose to raise the first public controversy with them, and thus open a fitting opportunity of laying His claims before them, He rises at once to the whole height of them, in a statement which for grandeur and terseness exceeds almost anything that ever afterwards fell from Him, at least to His enemies. But the Jews made another use of it, seeking from hence an advantage against him, because he had violated the sabbath, which they often made a capital crime. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus,.... With their tongues, reproaching and reviling him, as a sabbath breaker, a destroyer of the law, and a sinful wicked man:

and sought to slay him; either in a violent way, by setting the zealots, a sort of ruffians under the pretence of religion, upon him; or rather in a judicial way, summoning him before the sanhedrim, in order to condemn him to death for the breach of the sabbath, which by the law of Moses was punishable with death:

because he had done these things on the sabbath day; because he had cured the man of his disease, under which he had laboured eight and thirty years, and had ordered him to take up his bed, and walk home with it on his back on the sabbath day. This drew upon him their resentment to such a degree, that they not only persecuted him with their tongues, but sought to take away his life. Nothing would satisfy them but his blood.

And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 5:16-17. Διὰ τοῦτο] on account of this notice referring to Jesus, and then ὅτι, because He that is. See on John 10:17.

ἐδίωκ.] not judicially, by means of the law (Lampe, Rosenmüller, Kuinoel), of which the sequel says nothing, but in a general way: they made Him the object of their persecutions.

ταῦτα] these things, such as the healing of the paralytic.

ἐποίει] he did, not ἐποίησεν.

ἀπεκρίνατο] The means by which He met the διώκειν of the Jews, whether that then showed itself in accusations, reproaches, machinations, or otherwise in overt acts of hostility. This Aorist occurs in John only here, John 5:19; John 12:23.

ὁ πατήρ μου, κ.τ.λ.] My Father is working even to this moment; I also work. This expression is not borrowed from Philo (Strauss); Jesus alludes to the unresting activity of God for human salvation[205] since the creation was finished, notwithstanding the divine rest of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3) observed after the six days’ work. This distinct reference (not generally “to the sustaining and government of the world”) is presented in the activity of Christ answering to that of God the Father. “As the Father,” that is, says Jesus, has not ceased from the beginning to work for the world’s salvation, but ever works on even to the present moment,[206] so of necessity and right, notwithstanding the law of the Sabbath, does He also, the Son, who as such (by virtue of His essentially divine relationship of equality with the Father) cannot in this His activity be subject to the sabbatical law, but is Lord of the Sabbath (comp. Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28). Olshausen and de Wette import this in the words: “As in God rest and action are united, so in Christ are contemplation and activity.” But there is no mention of rest and contemplation. According to Godet, Jesus says, “Jusqu’à chaque dernier moment où mon père agit, j’agis aussi;” the Son can only cease His work when He sees the Father cease. But in this case we should have simply ἕως (John 9:4), and not ἕως ἄρτι; ἕως ἄρτι means nothing more nor less than usque adhuc (John 2:10, John 16:24; 1 John 2:9), the now limiting it still more distinctly than ἕως τοῦ νῦν (Lobeck, ad Phryn. pp. 19, 20).

κἀγὼ ἐργάζομαι] is not to be again supplemented by ἕως ἄρτι. I also (do not rest, but) work. The relation of both sentences is not that of imitation (Grotius), nor of example (Ewald), but of necessary equality of will and procedure. The asyndeton (instead of “because my Father,” etc.) makes the statement all the more striking. See on 1 Corinthians 10:17.

[205] Jesus accordingly does not deny that God rested on the seventh day after the six days of creation (against Ammon); but He affirms that since then He is ever active, even on the Sabbath-days, for man’s redemption. Nor does He speak of the law concerning the Sabbath as not of divine institution (Baur), as of no obligation, or as abrogated; but He as the Son stands above it, and is as little bound by it as the Father, who ever continues to work, even on the Sabbath. This against Hilgenfeld (Lehrbegriff, p. 81; Evang. p. 270; and in his Zeitschrift 1863, p. 218), who considers that, according to this Gospel, Jesus, passing by the O. T. representation of God, rises to the absolutely transcendental essence, exalted above all contact with the finite, and manifest only to the Son; and that the evangelist, following the Gnostics, refers the history of the creation to the Demiurge, as distinct from the most high God. This is not the “eagle height” of John’s theology.

[206] ἓως ἄρτι carries our view of God’s working, which began with the creation, onwards to the present moment, the moment wherein Jesus has to defend Himself on account of Sabbath-breaking. In conformity with this redemptive work of God the Father onwards until now, and which was interrupted by no rest, He also works. The inference that herein is implied a divine rest at a future period, as Luthardt thinks,—who regards the day of Christ’s resurrection as the then approaching Sabbath of God’s redemptive work,—is quite remote from the text. Ἕως ἄρτι includes the survey of the entire past down to the moment then present, without any intimation of a change in the future, which, if intended, should appear in the context, as in John 16:24.John 5:16. The consequence however was that “the Jews persecuted Jesus,” ἐδίωκον, not in the technical sense; but, as the imperfect also suggests, they began from this point to meditate hostile action; cf. Mark 3:6. καὶ ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν ἀποκτεῖναι, on the ground that He was a Sabbath-breaker, and therefore worthy of death; ὅτι ταῦτα ἐποίει ἐν σαββάτῳ. The plural and the imperfect show that the cure of the impotent man was not the only case they had in view. Their allies in the provinces had made them acquainted with similar cases. It would almost seem as if He was in the habit of thus signalising the Sabbath.16. And therefore] Better, And on this account, or, and for this cause (John 12:18; John 12:27). It is not St John’s favourite particle ‘therefore.’ but a preposition and pronoun. Comp. John 5:18.

and sought to slay him] These words are not genuine here, but have been inserted from John 5:18. The other two verbs are both in the imperfect tense expressing continued action; ‘used to persecute, continued to persecute;’ ‘used to do, habitually did.’ From which we may infer that some of the unrecorded miracles (John 2:23, John 4:45) were wrought on the Sabbath: unless the Evangelist is speaking from their point of view; ‘because (as they said) He habitually did these things on the Sabbath.’John 5:16. Ἐδίωκοι) they attempted to thrust Him out [began to persecute].—καὶ ἐξήτουν αὐτὸι ἀποκτεῖναι) More modern copies have inserted this here from John 5:18.[104] The attempt to kill is opposed to persecution, properly so called.

[104] BCDL Vulg. and Memph. Versions omit it. A and Hilary, however, have it.—E. and T.

And so also the margin of Ed. 2 sets aside this clause more decidedly than the Ed. Maj., and the Germ. Vers. has altogether omitted it.—E. B.Did the Jews persecute

The imperfect tense (ἐδίωκον) might be rendered began to persecute, as this is an opening of hostilities against Jesus, or, more probably, corresponds with the same tense in ἐποίει, he did, or better, was wont to do. Διώκω, to persecute, is originally to run after, to pursue with hostile purpose, and thence to harass.

And sought to kill Him

The best texts omit.

He did

See above. Godet observes: "the imperfect malignantly expresses the idea that the violation of the Sabbath has become with Him a sort of maxim."

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