John 5:46
For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
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(46) For had ye believed Moses.—The present incredulity springs from that of the past. If they had really believed Moses, they would have seen in the whole spirit of the Pentateuch a manifestation of God, which would have led them to the fuller manifestation in Christ. Worship, and sacrifice, and offering, and priesthood, were all meant to teach. Their very name for “law” (Thorah) meant “instruction.” But they accepted what the senses could know, and never went down beneath this surface to its true significance—i.e., they never believed Moses. We have here, in another form, the thought of John 5:39-40.

For he wrote of me.—See the marginal references; but the thought is not to be confined to these passages.

5:45-47 Many trust in some form of doctrines or some parties, who no more enter into the real meaning of those doctrines, or the views of the persons whose names they bear, than the Jews did into those of Moses. Let us search and pray over the Scriptures, as intent on finding eternal life; let us observe how Christ is the great subject of them, and daily apply to him for the life he bestows.Do not think that I will accuse you - Do not suppose that I intend to follow your example. They had accused Jesus of breaking the law of God, John 5:16. He says that he will not imitate their example, though he implies that he might accuse them.

To the Father - To God.

There is one that accuseth you - Moses might be said to accuse or reprove them. He wrote of the Messiah, clearly foretold his coming, and commanded them to hear him. As they did not do it, it might be said that they had disregarded his command; and as Moses was divinely commissioned and had a right to be obeyed, so his command reproved them: they were disobedient and rebellious.

He wrote of me - He wrote of the Messiah, and I am the Messiah, Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:3; compare John 8:56; Genesis 49:10; Deuteronomy 18:15.

46. he wrote of me—"an important testimony to the subject of the whole Pentateuch—'of Me'" [Alford]. Had you given a hearty credit and understanding assent to Moses, that is, to the writings of Moses, for so the term is oft taken, Luke 16:31 24:27, you would have received me: as all the law of Moses pointed to and prefigured me, so he in particular wrote of me, Genesis 3:15 Deu 18:15.

For had ye believed Moses,.... The doctrine of Moses, and what he says in his writings:

ye would have believed me; for there is an agreement between Moses and Christ; Christ is the end of the law of Moses, and in him is the accomplishment of his writings:

for he wrote of me; in the books written by him, Christ is spoken of, as the seed of the woman, that should bruise the serpent's head; as the seed of Abraham, in whom all nations of the earth should be blessed; as the Shiloh, to whom the gathering of the people should be; and as that prophet, who should be like unto himself, to whom the people of Israel should hearken; and he wrote many things typically of Christ; and indeed, the whole Mosaic economy was typical of Christ, as the epistle to the Hebrews shows: and therefore disbelieving Christ, was disbelieving Moses; who therefore would be an accuser of them, and a witness against them.

For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.
John 5:46. Proof that Moses was their accuser. Moses wrote of Christ, referring to Deuteronomy 18:15, and generally to all the Messianic types (comp. John 3:14) and promises of the Pentateuch, and to its general Messianic import (Luke 24:44; Romans 10:5); in this, that they did not believe Christ (i.e. that He spoke the truth), is implied that they rejected the truth of what Moses had written concerning Him. This unbelief is the subject-matter of Moses’ accusation. Well says Bengel: “Non juvit Judaeos illud: Credimus vera esse omnia, quae Moses scripsit. Fide explicita opus erat.”

John 5:47. δέ] Further conclusion from the unbelief with regard to Moses, pointed out in John 5:46. Thus the discourse ends with a question implying hopelessness.

The antithesis is not between γράμμασιν and ῥήμασι (as if the writings were easier of belief than the words), but between ἐκείνου and ἐμοῖς (faith in him being the necessary condition of faith in Christ); while the distinction of Moses having written (comp. John 5:46), and Christ spoken, simply presents the historical relation. Were the antithesis between γράμμ. and ῥήμ., these words would have taken the lead; were it between both, in γράμ. and ῥήμ., and at the same time in ἐκείνου and ἐμοῖς likewise, this twofold relationship must have been shown, thus perhaps: τοῖς γράμμασιν τοῖς ἐκείνουτοῖς ῥήμασι τοῖς ἐμοῖς.


The discourse, John 5:19-47, so fully embodies in its entire progress and contents, allowing for the necessary Johannine colouring in the mode of representation, those essential doctrines which Jesus had to advocate in the face of the unbelieving Jews, and exhibits, in expression and practical application, so much that is characteristic, great, thoughtful, and striking, that even Strauss himself does not venture to deny that it came substantially from the Lord, though as to its form he attaches suspicious importance to certain resemblances with the first Epistle; but such a suspicion is all the less weighty, the more we are warranted to regard the Johannine idiosyncrasy as developed and moulded by the vivid recollection of the Lord’s words, and as under the guidance of His Spirit, which preserved and transfigured that recollection. The reasons which lead Weisse to see nothing in the discourse but synoptical matter, and B. Bauer to regard the whole as a reflection of the later consciousness of the Church, while Gfrörer supposes a real discourse, artificially shaped by additions and formal alterations, consist so much of arbitrary judgments and erroneous explanations and presuppositions, that sober criticism gains nothing by them, nor can the discourse which is attacked lose anything. Certainly we have in it “a genuine exposition of Johannine theology” (Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 273), but in such a manner, that this is the theology of Christ Himself, the miracle of healing at Bethesda being historically the occasion of the utterance in this manner of its main elements. This miracle itself is indeed by Baur regarded as a fictitious pretext, invented for the delivery of the discourse, so much so that “every feature in it seems to have been intended for this purpose” (p. 159); and this in the face of the fact that no reference whatever is made (in John 5:19 ff.) to the point in connection with the miracle at which the Jews took offence, viz. the breaking of the Sabbath (John 5:16). Nothing whatever is specially said concerning miracles (for ἔργα denotes a far wider conception), but the whole discourse turns upon that Messianic faith in the person of Jesus which the Jews refused to entertain. The fundamental truths, on this occasion so triumphantly expressed, “were never taught by Him so distinctly and definitely as now, when the right opportunity presented itself, at the very time when, after the Baptist’s removal, He came fully forth as the Messiah, and was called upon, quietly and comprehensively, to explain those highest of all relations, the explanation of which was previously demanded.” Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 298 f.; comp. his Johann. Schr. I. 206 ff. At this crisis of His great mission and work, the references in the discourse to the Baptist, and the apologetic statements concerning His life-giving work and the divine witness of Scripture, connect themselves so necessarily with His historical position, that it cannot even remotely suffice to suppose, with Weizsäcker, p. 282, that the discourse was composed simply with an eye to the synoptical statements of Matthew 11.

John 5:46. They will be accused by Moses because their unbelief in Christ convicts them of unbelief in Moses, εἰ γὰρἐμοί. Had they believed the revelation made by Moses and understood it, they would necessarily have believed in Christ. “Disbelief in me is disbelief in him, in the record of the promises to the patriarchs, in the types of the deliverance from Egypt, in the symbolic institutions of the Law, in the promise of a prophet like to himself; for it was of me (the order is emphatic) he wrote,” Westcott.

46. had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me] Better, If ye believed Moses, ye would believe Me: the verbs are imperfects, not aorists. See on John 8:19 (where we have a similar mistranslation), 42, John 9:41, John 15:19, John 18:36. Contrast the construction in John 4:10, John 11:21; John 11:32, John 14:28. This proves that Moses is their accuser.

for he wrote of me] Christ here stamps with His authority the authority of the Pentateuch. He accepts, as referring to Himself, the Messianic types and prophecies which it contains. Comp. Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44.

John 5:46. Ἐπιστεύετε ἂν, ye would have believed) It did not help the Jews to say, We believe, that all things, which Moses has written, are true. There was need of explicit faith.[112]—ἜΓΡΑΨΕΝ, He wrote) There is no part of his writings where he did not.

[112] And not merely of implicit faith, which took Moses’ writings in the mass, and not in detail.—E. and T.

Verses 46, 47. - For if ye believed Moses, ye would believe me. The reason for the previous saying is introduced by γάρ. The form of the conditional sentence shows that the protasis is a supposition of an event contrary to the fact. They were not believing Moses, though they were putting a vain and illusive confidence in him; and hence they were not believing in Christ. Here is the secret of the antagonism to the Lord. A deeper understanding of their own Scripture would involve an acceptance of the claims of Christ. For he wrote of me. The old saying contains Christ's utterance: Novum Testamentum in Vetere latet, Vetus Testamentum in Novo patet. Reference is made to the great place which Moses gave to the first promise, to the typical deliverances of a fallen world, to the hopes of a redeeming Seed. Christ referred to the Mosaic type involved in the spirit willing to sacrifice the Only Begotten, to the creation of the birthright blessing, the visions of the dying Israel, to the blessings on Judah; to the significance of the Law, of the tabernacle, of the Passover, of the Day of Atonement, of prophet, priest, and king, and the very special prophecy concerning a Prophet like unto himself. More than this, Moses had set forth in the Decalogue the portrait sketch of the perfect Man, of the Divine life which the Lord Jesus proceeded to fill out, to fulfil. He awakened by the Law that sense of sin and sinfulness which the Lord Christ had come to soothe and obliterate. but if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? "They are easier for you to understand; you have them ever on your tongue. If their meaning is missed, the deeper truths of my words will be more inaccessible to you." The antithesis is rather between the "his" and "my" than between the "writings" and "words." "This charge of not believing Moses, addressed to people who were put in a fury by the pretended violation of one of the Mosaic commandments, recalls other words of Jesus (Matthew 23:29-32), 'Ye build the tombs of the prophets, wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves that ye are children of them that killed the prophets" (Godet).

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