The weak man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steps down before me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
I have no man.—There is an eloquence of helplessness more powerful than that of words. Day by day he has watched, listened for the first sound, caught the first movement in the bath, summoned the feeble vestiges of strength to an action on which all depended, and hoping each succeeding time, in spite of despair in which last time’s hope has been engulfed, has been coming, when “another goeth down before.” “I have no man” is to-day the helpless, unspoken cry of thousands imaged here.John 5:7. The impotent man answered, I have no man — I am poor as well as lame, and unable to hire any one to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and I have neither friend nor relation to do this kind office for me. He seems to consider Christ’s question as implying an imputation of carelessness and neglect in him, and, therefore, gives the reason why he was not made whole, notwithstanding his desire. While I am coming, another steppeth down before me — He signifies that he had made many efforts to get into the pool, but hitherto without success, one or another always preventing him; and none having the charity to say, Your case is worse than mine; do you go in now, and I will stay till the next time; for the old maxim is but too true, Every one for himself. Observe, reader, how mildly this man speaks of the unkindness of those about him, making no peevish reflections on any one. As we should be thankful for the least kindness, so we should be patient under the greatest contempts: and whatever cause we may think we have for resentment, yet we should take care that our expressions be always calm. And observe further, to his praise, that though he had waited so long in vain, yet still he continued lying by the pool side, hoping that some time or other help would come.
while I am coming, another steppeth down before me—the fruit was snatched from his lips. Yet he will not go away. He may get nothing by staying, he may drop into his grave ere he get into the pool; but by going from the appointed, divine way of healing, he can get nothing. Wait therefore he will, wait he does, and when Christ comes to heal him, lo! he is waiting his turn. What an attitude for a sinner at Mercy's gate! The man's hopes seemed low enough ere Christ came to him. He might have said, just before "Jesus passed by that way," "This is no use; I shall never get in; let me die at home." Then all had been lost. But he held on, and his perseverance was rewarded with a glorious cure. Probably some rays of hope darted into his heart as he told his tale before those Eyes whose glance measured his whole case. But the word of command consummates his preparation to receive the cure, and instantaneously works it.
I have no man; the Ethiopic version reads, "men"; he had no servant, so Nonnus, or servants, to wait upon him, and take him up in their arms, and carry him into the pool; he was a poor man, and such God is pleased to choose and call by his grace:
when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool; that is, as soon as it is troubled by the angel, to put him in first before any other; for it was the first man only that had a cure this way:
but while I am coming; in a slow way, by the help of his crutches, or in the best manner he could:
another steppeth down before me; not so much disordered, or more active and nimble: so among those that wait on the ministry of the word, some are sooner in Christ, or earlier called by his grace, than others; some lie here a long time, and see one and another come to Christ, believe in him, profess his name, and are received into the church; and they still left, in an uncalled and unconverted estate.The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. I have no man] He is not only sick but friendless.
is troubled] No doubt this took place at irregular intervals, else there would be no need to wait and watch for it.
to put me into the pool] Literally, in order to (John 4:47) throw me into the pool; perhaps implying that the gush of water did not last long and there was no time to be lost in quiet carrying. But in this late Greek ballein (= throw) has become weakened in meaning. Comp. John 13:2, John 20:25.
while I am coming] Unaided, and therefore slowly.
another steppeth down] This seems to shew that the place where the bubbling appeared was not large. He does not say ‘others step down before me:’ one is hindrance enough.John 5:7. Ἀπεκρίθη, answered) He gives no answer as to His wish to be made whole. The surer and the nearer the hope is, the greater is the wish: when the hope is small, the wish becomes dormant.—οὐκ ἔχω, I have not) He was a man very needy, and, as it seems, untutored. See John 5:11, notes.—βάλῃ, to put [mittat]) having taken me up quickly to let me down gently.—πρὸ ἐμοῦ, before me) It would have been the part of love, that all the other sick men with one consent should have conceded the first place to him in particular; but all were eager to be made whole themselves. [Would that there were as great an anxiety for the healing of the soul!—V. g.]Verse 7. - The sick (impotent) man answered him: Sir, I have no man, when the water has been troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. This implies that some special advantage accompanied the troubling of the water. The sudden escape of the medicinal gas may have soon subsided, and, with it, the special virtue of the well. The difficulty which the sick man found in reaching the point of disturbance may be accounted for in many ways. The steps which led into the water; the weakness of the sufferer, which made it an impossible task without help; the eagerness at many other impotent folk to take advantage of the supposed cure, jostling one another with selfish haste; or the absence of any personal friend to fight his battle for him, and cast him (βάλῃ) with the required plunge into water. The last point may be explained on the supposition that he was a comparative stranger in Jerusalem, and had made no friends; or by another, which several other allusions justify, viz. that he was a man who, from some reason or other, could neither make nor retain friendship. The melancholy recital of his frequent disappointment is given with an air of mendicant resignation - a kind of morbid satisfaction with his lot. The phrase, "while I am coming, another," etc., implies that he could move, if slowly, without help. The moroseness of self-dependence characterizes some sufferers, who rather glory in isolation than lament it. Still, the words express the hopelessness of thousands who, for lack of human help, are jostled out of life, peace, and salvation.
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