John 7:23
If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are you angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) That the law of Moses should not be broken.—The text here is to be preferred to the marginal reading, though the latter has still the support of considerable authority. In the one case, the law which may not be broken is the law directing circumcision on the eighth day. In the other, “without breaking the law of Moses,” refers to the law of the Sabbath. The rule of circumcision on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12; Genesis 21:4) was adopted in the Mosaic law (Leviticus 12:3), and strictly adhered to—we have examples in the New Testament, in Luke 1:59; Luke 2:21, and Philippians 3:5—and if the eighth day fell on the Sabbath, then, according to Rabbinic precept, “circumcision vacated the Sabbath.” The school of Hillel the Great—and disciples of this school were at the time of our Lord the chief teachers at Jerusalem (comp. Note on John 5:39)—gave as a reason for this that the “Sabbath Law was one of the Negative and the Circumcision Law one of the Positive Precepts, and that the Positive destroys the Negative.” His appeal, then, is an example of His knowledge of their technical law, at which they wondered in John 7:15. Indeed, the argument itself is an example of Hillel’s first great law of interpretation—“that the Major may be inferred from the Minor.” If circumcision be lawful on the Sabbath, much more is it lawful to restore the whole man. For other instances in which our Lord used this famous Canon of Interpretation, comp. Matthew 7:11; Matthew 10:29-31.

7:14-24 Every faithful minister may humbly adopt Christ's words. His doctrine is not his own finding out, but is from God's word, through the teaching of his Spirit. And amidst the disputes which disturb the world, if any man, of any nation, seeks to do the will of God, he shall know whether the doctrine is of God, or whether men speak of themselves. Only those who hate the truth shall be given up to errors which will be fatal. Surely it was as agreeable to the design of the sabbath to restore health to the afflicted, as to administer an outward rite. Jesus told them to decide on his conduct according to the spiritual import of the Divine law. We must not judge concerning any by their outward appearance, but by their worth, and by the gifts and graces of God's Spirit in them.That the law of Moses should not be broken - In order that the law requiring it to be done at a specified time, though that might occur on the Sabbath, should be kept.

Are ye angry ... - The argument of Jesus is this: "You yourselves, in interpreting the law about the Sabbath, allow a work of necessity to be done. You do that which is necessary as an ordinance of religion denoting separation from other nations, or external purity. As you allow this, you ought also, for the same reason, to allow that a man should be completely restored to health - that a work of much more importance should be done." We may learn here that it would be happy for all if they would not condemn others in that thing which they allow. People often accuse others of doing things which they themselves do in other ways.

Every whit whole - Literally, "I have restored the whole man to health," implying that the man's whole body was diseased, and that he had been entirely restored to health.

22. Moses … gave unto you circumcision, &c.—Though servile work was forbidden on the sabbath, the circumcision of males on that day (which certainly was a servile work) was counted no infringement of the Law. How much less ought fault to be found with One who had made a man "every whit whole"—or rather, "a man's entire body whole"—on the sabbath-day? What a testimony to the reality of the miracle, none daring to meet the bold appeal. The strength of this whole argument seemeth to be this: If a ritual law (such was that for observation of the sabbath, given in Mount Sinai, Exodus 20:1-17) may give place to another ritual law which is more ancient, (such was that of circumcision, given to Abraham long before), much more ought it to give place to a law of nature written in every man’s heart, viz. that it is our duty to help those that are in great degrees of misery and affliction; which is what I paid obedience to in curing the impotent man that lay at the pool of Bethesda. Do you yield this in your daily practice, that a man may be circumcised, yea, and ought to be circumcised, on the eighth day, though it happeneth to be the sabbath day; and not to do it were a violation of the law of Moses about circumcision, which was a law given you by Moses, though, before him, to Abraham also? What reason then have you to be angry with me, who on the sabbath day have only healed a man, and made him

every whit whole? That is, (as some think), I have not only cured him as to his body, but as to his soul; but that hardly seemeth probable; for if it were so, the Jews could have no evidence of the spiritual cure. Others therefore think that the term olon anyrwpon, signifieth no more than perfectly, or completely whole, as to his body. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision,.... As it was certain in many instances he did:

that the law of Moses might not be broken; either the law concerning circumcision, which confirmed the law given to Abraham, and required it should be on the eighth day, let it fall when it would, even on a sabbath day; and therefore on that day, male children received circumcision, that that law might be kept, and not be broken: or else the law concerning the sabbath; and the sense be, if circumcision was administered on the sabbath day, "without breaking the law of Moses", as some render the words, which commanded the observation of the sabbath,

are ye angry at me; and pursue me with so much wrath and bitterness,

because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? or "a man that was whole, sound on the sabbath day"; who was wholly, or all over disordered, every limb of whom shook with the palsy: or as some think the sense is, he was made every whit whole, both in soul and body; and then the argument is, if it was, no breach of the sabbath to make a wound, and lay a plaster on it, as in circumcision; it would be no violation of it, nor ought any to be offended with it, that Christ should heal a diseased man, who was so in every part of his body, and restore health to his soul likewise and nothing is more common with the Jews than to say, the danger of life, and , "the preservation of the soul", or life, drive away the sabbath (b).

(b) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 132. 1.

If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the {f} law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?

(f) That is to say, if the law of circumcision which Moses gave matters so much to you that you do not hesitate to circumcise upon the sabbath, do you rightly reprove me for thoroughly healing a man?

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 7:23. Περιτομήν] Circumcision, without the article, but placed emphatically first, corresponding with ὅλον ἄνθρωπον in the apodosis.

ἵνα μὴ λυθῇ, κ.τ.λ.] in order that so the law of Moses be not broken (by the postponement of the rite), seeing that it prescribes circumcision upon the eighth day. Jansen, Bengel, Semler, Paulus, Kuinoel, Klee, Baeumlein, wrongly render ἵνα μήwithout,” and take ὁ νόμ. Μωϋσ. to mean the law of the Sabbath.

ἐμοὶ χολᾶτε] towards me how unjust! On χολᾶν, denoting bitter, violent anger (only here in the N. T.), comp. 3Ma 3:1; Artemid. i. 4; Beck, Anecd. p. 116.

ὅτι ὅλον ἄνθρ. ὑγ. ἐπ. ἐν σαββ.] The emphasis of the antithesis is on ὅλον ἄνθρ., in contrast with the single member in the case of circumcision. We must not, therefore, with Kling in the Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 157 f., find here the antithesis between wounding and making whole; nor, with B. Crusius, that between an act for the sake of the law, on account of which circumcision was performed, and one for the sake of the man himself; similarly Grotius. In ὑγ. ἐποίησα, further, there must necessarily be expressed an analogy with what is done in circumcision, which is therefore equally regarded as a cure, and a healing, not with reference to the subsequent healing of the wound (Cyril, Lampe), for περιτ. is circumcision itself, not its healing; nor with reference to the supposed medical object of circumcision (Rosenmüller, Kuinoel, Lücke, Lange; comp. Philo, de Circumcis. II. 210 f.; see, on the contrary, Keil, Archaeol. I. 309 f.), no trace of which was contained either in the law or in the religious ideas of the people; but with reference to the purification and sanctification wrought upon the member by the removal of the foreskin.[265] In this theocratic sense, a single member was made whole by circumcision; but Christ, by healing the paralytic, had made an entire man whole, i.e. the whole body of a man. The argument in justification, accordingly, is one a minori ad majus; if it was right not to omit the lesser work on the Sabbath, how much more the greater and more important! To take ὅλον ἄνθρ., with Euthymius Zigabenus 2, Beza, Cornelius a Lapide, Bengel, and Olshausen, as signifying body and soul, in contrast with the σάρξ, on which circumcision was performed, is alien to the connection, which shows that the Sabbath question had to do only with the bodily healing, and to the account of the miracle itself, according to which Jesus only warned the man who had been made whole, John 5:14.

[265] Comp. Bammidbar, R. xii:i. 203. 2 : “praeputium est vitium in corpore.” With this view, which regards the foreskin as impure,—a view which does not appear till a late date (Ewald, Alterth. p. 129 f.),—corresponds the idea of the circumcision of the heart, which we find in Leviticus 26:41, Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6, and often in the prophets and the N. T., Romans 2:29, Colossians 2:11, Acts 7:51.23. that the law of Moses should not be broken] i.e. the law about circumcision on the eighth day (Leviticus 12:3), which was a re-enactment of the patriarchal law (Genesis 17:12). Some adopt the inferior rendering in the margin; ‘without breaking the law of Moses,’ or ‘without the law of Moses being broken;’ in which case ‘the law of Moses’ means the law about the Sabbath.

are ye angry] The word occurs nowhere else in N.T. It signifies bitter and violent resentment.

because I have made] Better, because I made. Comp. John 7:21.John 7:23. Ἴνα μή, that not) but that,[184] so that the law may not be broken; or else, without the law being broken thereby.—ὁ νόμος Μωσέως, the law of Moses) the law concerning the Sabbath, which is not violated by circumcision being performed on it.—ἐμοὶ, at me) as if I have broken the law concerning the Sabbath.—χολᾶτε, are ye angry) Χόλος in Homer, as Eustathius observes, denotes also a lasting anger. This anger of the Jews had lasted now for sixteen months; but it blazed out with a new paroxysm, when they saw Jesus.—ὅλον, the whole [man, body and soul. Eng. Vers. differently “every whit whole,” ὄλον ὑγιῆ]) It is not the whole body of the man, which is opposed to that part, which is circumcised; for a consequence, in the case of an admission, does not proceed from less to greater, in this way, It is lawful to circumcise a part, therefore it is lawful to cure the whole body. But it is the whole man, body and soul, ch. John 5:14,[185] whose healing is a benefit much greater, and, so much more becoming the Sabbath and sanctioned by the law, than the external act of circumcision regarded by itself, or even circumcision, even though it should be regarded as a sacrament. For circumcision is a mean: healing of the soul is an end. [Besides circumcision is accomplished not without a wound; healing therefore is more in accordance with the Sabbath.—V. g.]—ἐποίησα, I have made) αὐτοκρατορικῶς, by supreme power.

[184] Quin, “whereby not;” to prevent the law being broken.—E. and T.

[185] “Behold thou art made whole; sin no more.” Implying a healing of the soul as well as body.—E. and T.Verse 23. - If a man on (a) sabbath receive circumcision, which was the removal by surgical means of what was regarded as a cause and sign of physical impurity, as well as the seal of the covenant made with the family of Abraham, that his seed should be heir of the world, and that in that seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed, in order that the law of Moses might not be broken. It is not without difficulty that, in the previous verse, the law of circumcision on the eighth day is declared to be older than Moses, to have come down from the fathers of the consecrated race: how, then, does he call it the law of Moses? Clearly he refers to the fact that this particular law was embodied by Moses and made part of his own code, even though in one respect it was obviously older than the particular form of the fourth commandment, and must frequently clash with the letter of that commandment. The law of Moses, then, as much as the law of the Abrahamic covenant, would have been broken by any infraction of the rule which made circumcision incumbent on the eighth day. The common custom of the people was to adminster this rite on that day, even if it fell on a sabbath. "None of you keepeth the Law" in its Strict integrity, said Jesus. Nay, it is certain that the older laws, which Moses endorsed and embodied in his own code, do themselves demand such violation from you. This appeal to the spirit of the Law - the closest approach that a Jew could make to the will of God - is reproduced in Paul's Epistles (Colossians 2:11; Ephesians 2:11). Are ye then wroth with me (χολᾶτε, χολᾶν (from χολῆ, bile, gall) - to be bitter with wrath, and even mad with rage (Aristoph., 'Nub.,' 833), is found in 3Macc. 3:1, but not elsewhere in the New Testament) - because I made an entire man - i.e. the whole frame of the paralyzed man (not his spirit or mind in contrast with his body) - sound - or, healthy - on a sabbath day? The antithesis is not between healing the wound of circumcision and healing the paralytic. Of the former there does not seem the faintest trace, notwithstanding the conjecture of Lampe. Circumcision was the removal of an offending portion of the human body, the sanitary purpose of which rite was strenuously believed in, but it was a partial cleansing and actual excision of one member of the body. To accomplish this purpose Moses, by his enactment, regarded even the sabbatic law as subsidiary. Why, then are the Jews wrathful with Jesus for making an entire man - a whole physical frame - healthful on the sabbath? The stress laid on the Authorized Version and R.T. translations, "every whit whole," by some commentaries is unfortunate; for it would throw discredit on circumcision altogether, which was far from our Lord's contention here, and would reduce the force of his argument. Christ does not in this argument take up the great line of defence pursued in ch. 5. Nor does he call the healing of the paralytic more than an ἔργον, a "work;" but it must be remembered that he had spoken on the previous occasion of his great miracles as "works," the like to which he saw the Father ever doing. Are ye angry (χολᾶτε)

Only here in the New Testament. From χολή, gall. Strictly, the verb means to be full of bile, hence to be melancholy mad.

Every whit whole (ὅλον ὑγιῆ)

Strictly, I made a whole man sound, in contrast with the rite of circumcision which affects only a single member, but which, nevertheless, they practice on the Sabbath.

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