John 5:21
For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
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(21) The following verses (John 5:21-29) show what these greater works are. They are the Resurrection and the judgment; but these are regarded as spiritual as well as physical, as present as well as future. Once again the background of the thought is to be found in John 5:17. Resurrection and Judgment were the work of the Father—“My Father worketh hitherto;” but the manifestation in limits of space and time is the work of the Son—“and I work.”

For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them.—The “them” after “quickeneth” is better omitted. The words are purposely general. Raising the dead and making alive are attributes of God. “He kills and He makes alive” (Deuteronomy 32:39). “He bringeth down to the underworld and bringeth up” (1Samuel 2:6; Tobit 13:2). “He has the power of life and death” (Wisdom Of Solomon 16:13). These the Son seeth the Father doing, and these also He doeth in like manner. He, too, has the power to quicken whom He will, and He useth that power. Deadened souls have felt it, and are living in the new-born life. There is in His word, for the man who hears it and believes it, a moral change which is nothing other than an actual passing out of death into life (John 5:24).

John 5:21-23. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, &c. — Here he declares what are those greater works, namely, raising the dead and judging the world. These two, quickening and judging, are proposed, John 5:21-22. The acquittal of believers, which presupposes judgment, is treated of in John 5:24; the quickening some of the dead, John 5:25; and the general resurrection, John 5:28. For the Father judgeth no man — Without the Son; but he doth judge by that man whom he hath ordained, Acts 17:31. That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father — Honour him as the Maker, Upholder, Redeemer, Saviour, Governor, and Judge of the world, and that either willingly, by yielding to him the homage of faith, love, and obedience, and so escaping condemnation, and attaining eternal life; or unwillingly, and so feeling the wrath of the Judge. This demonstrates the equality, or sameness, rather, of the Godhead of the Son and the Father. If our Lord were God only by office, or investiture, and not in the unity of the divine essence, he would not be honoured even as, that is, with the same honour as that wherewith the Father is honoured. He that honoureth not the Son — With the same equal honour, greatly dishonoureth the Father which sent him.

5:17-23 The Divine power of the miracle proved Jesus to be the Son of God, and he declared that he worked with, and like unto his Father, as he saw good. These ancient enemies of Christ understood him, and became more violent, charging him not only with sabbath-breaking, but blasphemy, in calling God his own Father, and making himself equal with God. But all things now, and at the final judgment, are committed to the Son, purposely that all men might honour the Son, as they honour the Father; and every one who does not thus honour the Son, whatever he may think or pretend, does not honour the Father who sent him.As the Father raiseth up the dead - God has power to raise the dead. By his power it had been done in at least two instances - by the prophet Elijah, in the case of the son of the widow of Sarepta 1 Kings 17:22, and by the prophet Elisha, in the case of the Shunamite's son, 2 Kings 4:32-35. The Jews did not doubt that God had power to raise the dead. Jesus here expressly affirms it, and says he has the same power.

Quickeneth them - Gives them "life." This is the sense of the word "quickeneth" throughout the Bible.

Even so - In the same manner. By the same authority and power. The power of raising the dead must be one of the highest attributes of the divinity. As Jesus affirms that he has the power to do this "in the same manner" as the Father, so it follows that he must be equal with God.

The Son quickeneth - Gives life to. This may either refer to his raising the dead from their graves, or to his giving spiritual life to those who are dead in trespasses and sins. The former he did in the case of Lazarus and the widow's son at Nain, John 11:43-44; Luke 7:14-15. The latter he did in the case of all those who were converted by his power, and still does it in any instance of conversion.

Whom he will - It was in the power of Jesus to raise up any of the dead as well as Lazarus. It depended on his will whether Lazarus and the widow's son should come to life. So it depends on his will whether sinners shall live. He has power to renew them, and the renewing of the heart is as much the result of his "will" as the raising of the dead.

21-23. raiseth the dead and quickeneth them—one act in two stages. This is His absolute prerogative as God.

so the Son quickeneth them—that is, raiseth up and quickeneth.

whom he will—not only doing the same divine act, but doing it as the result of His own will, even as the Father does it. This statement is of immense importance in relation to the miracles of Christ, distinguishing them from similar miracles of prophets and apostles, who as human instruments were employed to perform super-natural actions, while Christ did all as the Father's commissioned Servant indeed, but in the exercise of His own absolute right of action.

He seemeth not to speak of what God will do in the general resurrection, but of those whom the Lord raised up from the dead in the Old Testament, by Elijah and Elisha. The giving of and restoring unto life, are things proper unto God, Deu 32:39 1 Samuel 2:6.

So the Son quickeneth whom he will: God hath given unto me a power to raise from the dead whom I will; as he did raise up Jairus’s daughter, Matthew 9:25, and the widow’s son, Luke 7:14, and Lazarus. John 11:43. This was one of those greater works, of which our Saviour spake in the former verse.

For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them,.... Which may be understood either spiritually of raising dead sinners from the death of sin, to a life of grace and holiness; and the rather, because it is expressed in the present tense "raiseth", and not "hath raised"; or naturally of raising those that are dead in a corporeal sense, and quickening them, as the widow of Sarepta's son by Elijah, and the Shunamite's son by Elisha:

even so the Son quickeneth whom he will; both in a spiritual sense, being the resurrection and the life, or the author of the resurrection from a moral death to a spiritual life, whose voice, in the Gospel, the dead in sin hear, and live; and in a natural sense, as in the above instances of Jairus's daughter, the widow of Naim's son, and Lazarus; and in the general resurrection, when at his voice, and word of power, all that are in their graves shall come forth, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting damnation; and all this as he wills: he quickens, in a spiritual sense, whom he pleases, even as many as the Father has given him; and he will raise up to everlasting life, at the last day, whom he pleases, even as many as were made his care and charge, whom he has redeemed by his blood; and called by his grace. Now as the quickening of the dead is an act of almighty power, and this being exercised by the Son in a sovereign way, as is by his Father, it shows his proper deity, and full equality with the Father. The resurrection of the dead is here expressed by "quickening", as it frequently is by the Jews, who often speak of , "the quickening the dead", for the resurrection; so the Targumist on Zechariah 3:8, "in the quickening of the dead", "I will quicken thee"; see the Jerusalem Targum on Genesis 29:26.

{4} For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

(4) The Father makes no man partaker of everlasting life except in Christ, in whom alone also he is truly worshipped.

John 5:21. Jesus now specifies these μείζονα ἔργα, namely, the quickening of the dead, and judgment (John 5:21-30); ἔργα accordingly is a broader conception than miracle, which, however, is included in the category of the Messianic ἔργα. See especially John 5:36.

John 5:21. He speaks of the operation of His power in judging and raising the dead, first in an ethical sense down to John 5:27, and then, John 5:28-29, subjoins the actual and universal awakening of the dead as the completion of His entire life-giving and judicial work as the Messiah. Augustine anticipated this view (though illogically apprehending John 5:21 in a moral sense, and John 5:22 in a physical), and it is adopted among the older writers, especially by Rupertius, Calvin, Jansen, Calovius, Lampe, and more recently by Liicke, Tholuck, Olshausen, Maier, de Wette, Lange, Hilgenfeld, Lechler, Apost. Zeitalt. p. 225 f., Weiss, Godet. Others have extended the ethical interpretation even as far as John 5:28-29 (so Deysing in the Bibl. Brem. i. 6, Eckermann, Ammon, and many others; recently, Schweizer, B. Crusius, Reuss), which, however, is forbidden by the language and contents of John 5:28-29; see on John 5:28-29. Further, when Luthardt (comp. Tholuck on John 5:21-23, and Hengstenberg on John 5:21-24, also Brückner on John 5:21) understands ζωοποιεῖν generally of the impartation of life, he must take both kinds of quickening as the two sides of the ζωή, which appears quite irreconcilable with the right understanding of οὓς θέλει, and with the distinct separation between the present and the future (the latter from John 5:28 onwards). The ζωοποιεῖν of the Messiah during His temporal working concerns the morally dead, of whom He morally quickens whom He will; but at a future day, at the end of all things, He will call forth the physically dead from their graves, etc., John 5:28-29. The carrying out of the double meaning of ζωοποιεῖν onwards to John 5:28 (for John 5:28-29 even Luthardt himself takes as referring only to the final future) leads to confusion and forced interpretation (see on οἱ ἀκούσαντες, John 5:25). Further, most of the Fathers (Tertullian, Chrysostom and his followers, Nonnus, and others), most of the older expositors (Erasmus, Beza, Grotius, Bengel, and many others), and recently Schott in particular (Opusc. i. p. 197), Kuinoel, Baumeister (in the Würtemb. Stud. II. 1), Weizel (in the Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 636), Kaeuffer, de ζωῆς αἰων not. p. 115 ff., also Baeumlein and Ewald, have taken the entire passage John 5:21-29 in a literal sense, as referring to the resurrection and the final judgment. Against this it is decisive: (a) that ἵνα ὑμεῖς θαυμάζητε in John 5:20 represents the hearers as continuous witnesses of the works referred to, and these works, therefore, as successive developments which they will see along with others; (b) that οὓς θέλει is in keeping only with the ethical reference; (c) that ἵνα πάντες τιμῶσι, etc., John 5:23, expresses a continuing result, taking place in the present (in the αἰὼν οὗτος), and as divinely intended; (d) that in John 5:24, ἐκ τοῦ θανάτου cannot be explained of physical death; (e) that in John 5:25, καὶ νῦν ἐστιν and οἱ ἀκούσαντες are compatible only with reference to spiritual awakening. To this may be added, (f) that Jesus, where He speaks (John 5:28-29) of the literally dead, very distinctly marks out the resurrection of these latter from that of the preceding as something greater and as still future, and designates the dead not merely with great definiteness as such (πάντες οἱ ἐν τοῖς μνημείοις), but also makes their ἀνάστασις ζωῆς conditional, not, as in John 5:24, upon faith, but, probably seeing that they for the most part would never have heard the gospel, upon having done good,—thus characteristically distinguishing this quickening of the dead from that spoken of immediately before.

ὥσπερζωοποιεῖ] The awakening and reviving of the dead is represented as the essential and peculiar business of the Father (Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6; Tob 13:2; Wis 16:13); accordingly the Present tense is used, because the statement is general. Comp. Romans 4:17. Observe, however, that Jesus here speaks of the awakening of the dead, which is peculiar to the Father, without making any distinction between the spiritual and literal dead; this separation first appears in the following reference to the Son. The awakening of both springs from the same divine source and basis of life.

ἐγείρει and ζωοποιεῖ we might expect in reverse order (as in Ephesians 2:5-6); but the ζωοποιεῖν is the key-note, which resounds through all that follows, and accordingly the matter is regarded in accordance with the popular view, so that the making alive begins with the awakening, which therefore appears as the immediate antecedent of the ζωοποιεῖν, and is not again specially named in the apodosis.

οὓς θέλει] for He will not quicken others because they believe not (John 5:24); this, and not an absolute decree (Calvin, Reuss), is the moral condition of His self-determination, just as also His κρίσις (John 5:22) is in like manner morally determined. That this spiritual resurrection is independent of the descent fvom Abraham, is self-evident from the fact of its being spiritual; but this must not be taken as actually stated in the οὓς θέλει. Many, who take ζωοποιεῖ literally, resort to the historical accounts of the raising of individuals from the dead (Lazarus, etc.), for which few cases the οὓς θέλει is neither appropriate nor adequate. See, besides, John 5:25. Ewald takes God as the subject of θέλει, which is neither logical (on account of the καὶ, which places both subjects in the same line), nor possible according to the plain words, though it is self-evident that the Son acts only in the harmony of His will with that of the Father; comp. John 5:30; John 6:40.

ζωοποιεῖ] ethically, of the spiritual quickening to the higher moral ζωή, instead of that moral death in which they were held captive when in the unconverted state of darkness and sin. See on Luke 15:24; Matthew 4:16; Ephesians 5:14; Romans 6:13; Isaiah 26:19. Without this ζωοποίησις, their life would remain ethically a ζωὴ ἄβιος (Jacobs, ad Anthol. VII. p. 152), βίος ἀβίωτος (Xen. Mem. iv. 8. 8). The Present, for He does it now, and is occupied with this ζωοποιεῖν, that is, by means of His word, which is the life-giving call (John 5:24-25). The Future follows in John 5:28.

John 5:21. ὥσπερ γὰρζωοποιεῖ. This is one of the “greater works” which the Father shows to the Son. The Jews believed in the power of God to give life and to raise the dead; see Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6; Isaiah 26:19. In our Lord’s time there was in use the following prayer: “Thou, O Lord, art mighty for ever; Thou quickenest the dead; Thou art strong to save; Thou sustainest the living by Thy mercy; Thou quickenest the dead by Thy great compassion; Thou makest good Thy faithfulness to them that sleep in the dust; Thou art faithful to quicken the dead. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who quickenest the dead.” There is therefore no need to ask, what quickening of the dead is here meant? What was meant was that the power which they all believed to be in God was likewise in the Son. He quickens οὓς θέλει, i.e., no matter how dead the person is; even though he has lain as long useless as the impotent man. The question of the human will is not touched here, but it may be remarked that the will of the impotent man was consulted as the prime requisite of the cure.

21. raiseth up the dead] This is one of the ‘greater works’ which the Father sheweth the Son, and which the Son imitates, the raising up those who are spiritually dead. Not all of them: the Son imparts life only to ‘whom He will:’ and He wills not to impart it to those who will not believe. The ‘whom He will’ would be almost unintelligible if actual resurrection from the grave were intended.

21–27. The Father imparts to the Son the power of raising the spiritually dead. It is very important to notice that ‘raising the dead’ in this section is figurative; raising from moral and spiritual death: whereas the resurrection (John 5:28-29) is literal; the rising of dead bodies from the graves. It is impossible to take both sections in one and the same sense, either figurative or literal. The wording of John 5:28 and still more of John 5:29 is quite conclusive against spiritual resurrection being meant there: what in that case could ‘the resurrection of damnation’ mean? John 5:24-25 are equally conclusive against a bodily resurrection being meant here: what in that case can ‘an hour is coming, and now is’ mean?

21–29. The intimacy of the Son with the Father proved by the twofold power committed to the Son (a) of communicating spiritual life, (b) of causing the bodily resurrection of the dead.

John 5:21. Γάρ, for) He declares what are those greater works: quickening and judging. From His judicial power flows His unlimited authority in quickening whom He will, and at what time He will. Weigh well the γάρ, for, John 5:22, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” But the quickening of the dead is a proof of His judicial power, which does not as yet come before men’s eyes. “Weigh well the γάρ, for, John 5:21 : and so quickening the dead raises men’s admiration in a greater degree than judging does. These two, quickening and judging, are set before us at John 5:21-22; and, in inverse order by χιασμός, at John 5:24 is discussed the exemption of believers from condemnation, which itself presupposes a judgment: at John 5:25 is discussed the restoration to life of some of the dead; marvellous indeed, but however so as that the general resurrection, John 5:28, is to exceed this marvel.—ἐγείρει, raiseth up) This double-membered sentence has this force: Just as the Father raises up the dead (whom He will), and quickens them: so also the Son (raises up the dead) whom He will, (and) quickens them.—νεκρούς, the dead) in body: for the death of the body is properly opposed to disease [alluding to the infirmity of the impotent man], John 5:5 : and life eternal, into which an entrance is gained through the resurrection of the body, is opposed to the judgment, John 5:22.—οὕς θέλει, whom He will) Never does the effect fail to follow His will. A universal assertion, as John 5:22-23.

Verses 21-26. - Greater works:

the resurrection of the dead. Verse 21. - For (γὰρ introduces an illustration, a proof of the previous assertion. viz. that the eternal love of the Son would issue in such new marvels) as the Father raiseth the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. This is the most exhaustive expression of the Father's love and revelation to the Son. This thing the Son sees, and this same thing he will do, whether these Jews attempt to put any arrest upon his will or not. The majority of commentators regard vers. 21-27 as descriptive of the moral and spiritual resurrection of dead souls, and hold that a transition is made in vers. 28, 29 to the resurrection of dead bodies and the final consummation. There are some, however, who regard the whole passage - even vers. 28, 29 - as referring, with the previous verses, to moral resurrection, although the words, "in their tombs" (μνημείοις) are there added to give distinctness and explicitness to that future resurrection; and though "now is" of ver. 25 is not there predicated or repeated. Others (with many of the older expositors) refer the entire passage to the final resurrection, which, however, is incompatible with ver. 20 and with the "now is" of ver. 25. Others, again, see in ver. 21, in ἐγείρει and ζωοποιεῖ,, the whole process of resurrection and renewal, both physical and moral, bodily and spiritual. They suppose that in ver. 25 Christ refers first to the spiritual renovation, to be affirmed and consummated in the universal resurrection and judgment of the last day. The generality of the terms ἐγείρει and ζωοποιει, attributed to the Father, makes it possible that the Lord was referring to the numerous events of uplifting from the pit, from the lowest sheol, which formed the staple religious nutrition of the Jewish race. The history of Divine revelation is one lengthened series of interpositions and deliverances, of resurrections of the people of Israel, and of the theocracy from bondage, exile, and spiritual and civil death, and of references to the wonderful transformations of saints and prophets and kings from the depths of despair to the light of life and Divine favour. Ezekiel (37) had likened the most memorable of these resurrections to the uprising of a huge army from a valley of vision, strown with the dry bones of both houses of Israel. "So also," says Jesus, "the Son quiekeneth." including under this term, it may be, the physical healing which is often the precursor and condition of spiritual awakening and moral health and vigour. The Son, the incarnate Logos, revealing himself on earth, both as Logos and Son of man, is now quickening after the same fashion whom he will. The will of Christ is in such entire harmony with the Father's will that there is no rivalry here. The will of the Son is in spontaneous accord with the Divine purpose of resurrection and quickening. He is already doing thus here on earth, as the great organ of the Father, that which makes his will the revelation of the Father. There is no arbitrary decree, such as Calvin found here, nor such as Roues insists upon. The emphasis is simply upon the subject of the verb θέλει; and we have in the expression a vindication of the nineteenth verse, "The Son doeth that which he sees the Father doing." His own θέλημα being the origin and revealed centre on earth of Divine manifestations. John 5:21Raiseth - quickeneth

Physically and spiritually.

The Son quickeneth

Not raiseth and quickeneth. The quickening, however (ζωοποιεῖ, maketh alive), includes the raising, so that the two clauses are coextensive. In popular conception the raising precedes the quickening; but, in fact, the making alive is the controlling fact of the raising. Ἑγείρει, raiseth, means primarily awaketh.

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