John 9:1
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
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(1) And as Jesus passed by.—Better, And. as He was passing by. The words are immediately connected with those of the preceding verse, “and went out of the Temple.” It was then, as He was leaving the Temple to escape the fury of His enemies who had taken up stones to cast at Him, and was passing by. the place where the blind man was, that His eye fell upon him. The day was the Sabbath of the preceding discourse, now drawing to its close. (Comp. John 9:4; John 9:14, and John 8:12.) The place was probably some spot near the Temple, perhaps one of its gates. We know that beggars were placed near these gates to ask alms (Acts 3:2), and this man was well known as one who sat and begged (John 9:8).

A man which was blind from his birth.—The fact was well known, and was probably publicly proclaimed by the man himself or his parents (John 9:20) as an aggravation of his misery, and as a plea for the alms of passers by. Of the six miracles connected with blindness which are recorded in the Gospels, this is the only case described as blindness from birth. In this lies its special characteristic, for “since the world began, was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind” (John 9:32).

John 9:1-3. And as Jesus passed by — The word Jesus is not in the Greek, which is παραγων ειδεν ανθρωπον τυφλον, and passing on; he found a man blind from his birth — This chapter, therefore, seems to be a continuation of the preceding. As Jesus and his disciples (having left the temple, where the Jews were going to stone him) were passing through one of the streets of the city, they found a blind beggar, who, to move the people’s compassion, told them he was born in that miserable condition. The disciples, on hearing this, asked their Master whether it was the man’s own sin, or the sin of his parents, which had occasioned his blindness from the womb. It seems the Jews, having derived from the Egyptians the doctrines of the pre-existence and transmigration of souls, supposed that men were punished in this world for the sins they had committed in their pre-existent state. The purport of that doctrine was, that, if a man behaved himself amiss, his soul was afterward sent into another body, where he met with great calamities, and lived in a more miserable condition than before; whereas a more advantageous situation, and happier condition than the former, were supposed to be the rewards of distinguished virtue; a notion which they borrowed from the Pythagoreans, and which seems to be hinted at by Josephus, (Bell., lib. 2. cap. 12,) and is plainly referred to, Wis 8:19-20; compare Matthew 14:2; Matthew 16:14. “From the account which Josephus gives, however, of this matter, it appears, the Pharisees believed that the souls of good men only went into other bodies; whereas the souls of the wicked, they thought, went immediately into eternal punishment: an opinion somewhat different from that which the disciples expressed on this occasion. For, if they spake accurately, they must have thought that, in his pre-existent state, this person had been a sinner, and was now punished for his sins then committed, by having his soul thrust into a blind body. Nevertheless, from what they say, we cannot certainly determine whether they thought that, in his pre-existent state, this person had lived on earth as a man, which is the notion Josephus describes, or whether they fancied he had pre-existed in some higher order of being, which was the Platonic notion.” Now the disciples might possibly have been acquainted with these opinions, and might put the question in the text, on purpose to know their Master’s decision on so curious a subject. It seems more probable, however, as Theophylact has observed, after Chrysostom, that, as they were plain, illiterate fishermen, they had not heard of any such notions. Another opinion imbibed by the Jews during their captivity was, that all their sufferings descended upon them from the crimes of their forefathers, and were wholly unmerited on their part. It was this opinion which drew from the pen of Ezekiel that severe remonstrance and animated vindication of the ways of Providence, in his eighteenth chapter. Some remains of this opinion might have possessed the minds of the apostles: and they might have supposed they saw in the man born blind a case which could not be accounted for, but by supposing him to suffer for his parents’ guilt. But our Lord showed them that the case admitted of a very different solution; Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents — So as to bring this suffering upon him; nor was the punishment of either the chief design of this dispensation of Providence; but that the works of God — Namely, his miraculous works; should be made manifest in him — Particularly his sovereignty, in bringing him into the world blind; his power, in conferring the faculty of sight upon him; and his goodness, in bearing witness to the doctrine by which men are to be saved.9:1-7 Christ cured many who were blind by disease or accident; here he cured one born blind. Thus he showed his power to help in the most desperate cases, and the work of his grace upon the souls of sinners, which gives sight to those blind by nature. This poor man could not see Christ, but Christ saw him. And if we know or apprehend anything of Christ, it is because we were first known of him. Christ says of uncommon calamities, that they are not always to be looked on as special punishments of sin; sometimes they are for the glory of God, and to manifest his works. Our life is our day, in which it concerns us to do the work of the day. We must be busy, and not waste day-time; it will be time to rest when our day is done, for it is but a day. The approach of death should quicken us to improve all our opportunities of doing and getting good. What good we have an opportunity to do, we should do quickly. And he that will never do a good work till there is nothing to be objected against, will leave many a good work for ever undone, Ec 11:4. Christ magnified his power, in making a blind man to see, doing that which one would think more likely to make a seeing man blind. Human reason cannot judge of the Lord's methods; he uses means and instruments that men despise. Those that would be healed by Christ must be ruled by him. He came back from the pool wondering and wondered at; he came seeing. This represents the benefits in attending on ordinances of Christ's appointment; souls go weak, and come away strengthened; go doubting, and come away satisfied; go mourning, and come away rejoicing; go blind, and come away seeing.As Jesus passed by - As he was leaving the temple, John 8:59. This man was in the way in which Jesus was going to escape from the Jews. CHAPTER 9

Joh 9:1-41. The Opening of the Eyes of One Born Blind, and What Followed on It.

1-5. as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from birth—and who "sat begging" (Joh 9:8).John 9:1-7 A man that was born blind receiveth sight.

John 9:8-12 He relates to his neighbours the means of his cure.

John 9:13-33 He is brought to the Pharisees, who examine strictly

into the fact, and are offended with his

acknowledgment of the Divine mission of the author.

John 9:34 They excommunicate him.

John 9:35-38 He is received of Jesus, and confesseth him.

John 9:39-41 Christ taxes the Pharisees with spiritual blindness.

The evangelist doth not tell us where our Saviour was passing by, but the word seemeth to import a passing by the highway side, when he saw this poor man, who was born blind; which is particularly noted, because such blindness is judged incurable as to the art of man.

And as Jesus passed by,.... The word "Jesus" is not in the Greek text, but is rightly supplied by us, as it is in the Vulgate Latin, and as the word "Christ" is in the Persic version; for of his passing from the temple, and by the multitude that were there, and on his way to the place he designed to make to, is this said, as appears from the close of the preceding chapter; though some think this is to be understood of his passing by at another time and place, since the preceding fact of the woman's being taken in adultery, and the discourse of our Lord with the Jews, were quickly after the feast of tabernacles; whereas the following ones, both in this, and the next chapter, seem to be at the feast of dedication, John 10:22, which was some months after: but it may be, that the parable of the sheep, though it runs in connection with what is said in this chapter, might be delivered then; or what follows, John 10:22, might be said at the feast of dedication, when the parable, and what is related here, might be delivered before, seeing there is so very strict a connection between this, and the preceding chapter; and the Ethiopic version is very express, rendering it, "and departing from thence"; that is, from the temple, at that time when the Jews took up stones to stone him:

he saw a man which was blind from his birth; which man was an emblem of God's elect in a state of nature, who being conceived in sin, are transgressors from the womb, and so are alienated from the life of God through their ignorance and blindness: they are blind as to any true and spiritual knowledge of God in Christ; as to any true sight of sin, or sense of their own estate and condition; and with respect to Christ, and the way of peace, righteousness, and salvation by him; and as to the Spirit, and the operations of his grace, and with regard to the Scriptures, and the doctrines of the Gospel: and as Christ saw this man first, and not the man him, for he was blind, so Christ first looks upon his chosen ones with an eye of love and mercy, as he passes by them, and both enlightens and quickens them, Ezekiel 16:6. He saw Matthew the publican first, as he passed along, and called him from the receipt of custom to be a follower of him, Matthew 9:10.

And {1} as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

(1) Sin is even the beginning of all bodily diseases, and yet it does not follow that in punishing, even very severely, that God is punishing because of sin.

John 9:1 f. The direct connection, by means of καί, with the preceding words ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τ. ἱεροῦ, and the correlation of παράγων therewith, makes it impossible, without arbitrariness, to take any view but this,—that the healing of the blind man, instead of not being determinable with chronological exactness (Hengstenberg), must rather be placed soon after Jesus had left the temple, whilst He was still on His way, and on the very same day, the record of whose scenes commences with John 8:21. This day was a Sabbath (John 9:14); not, however, the one mentioned in John 7:37 (Olshausen), but a later one, see on John 8:12. The objection that the calmness which marks the transaction, and the presence of the disciples, are not in keeping with the scene which had occurred shortly before (John 8:59), and that therefore another day ought to be assumed (De Wette and others), has little force; for the calmness of the bearing of Jesus is anything but a psychological riddle, and the disciples might easily have gathered round Him again.

παράγων] in passing by, namely, the place where the blind beggar was (probably in the neighbourhood of the temple, Acts 3:2). Comp. on Matthew 9:9, and Mark 2:14.

τυφλὸν ἐκ γενετῆς.] So much the greater was the miracle; comp. Acts 3:2; Acts 14:8. The supposition, based on John 9:5, that this blind man represents the κόσμος, to which Jesus, having been spurned by the Jews, now turns (Luthardt), is the less warrantable, as the stress in that verse is laid on φῶς, and not on τοῦ κόσμου (comp. even John 8:12). This healing of the blind is not intended to have a figurative import, though it is afterwards used (John 9:39 ff.) as a figurative representation of a great idea.

τίς ἥμαρτεν, etc.] The notion of the disciples is not, that neither the one nor the other could be the case (Euth. Zigabenus, Ebrard, comp. also Hengstenberg); but, as the positive mode of putting the dilemma shows, that either the one or the other must be the case. See Baeumlein, Partic. p. 132. They were still possessed by the popular idea (comp. on Matthew 9:2, also the book of Job, and Acts 28:4) that special misfortunes are the punishment of special sins; against which view Jesus, here and in Luke 13:9 ff., decidedly declares Himself. Now, as the man was born blind, either it must have been the guilt of his parents, which he was expiating,—a belief which, in accordance with Exodus 20:5, was very prevalent (Lightfoot, p. 1048), and existed even among the Greeks (Maetzner in Lycurg. in Leocr. p. 217),—or he himself must have sinned even whilst in the womb of his mother. The latter alternative was grounded in the popular notion that even an embryo experiences emotions (comp. Luke 1:41; Luke 1:43), especially evil emotions, and that the latter predominate (see Sanhedr. f. 91. 2; Beresh. Rabba, f. 38. 1, b.; Lightfoot), comp. Wetstein. The explanation of the question from the belief (which there is also no right to assume as presupposed in Matthew 14:2) in the transmigration of souls (Calvin, Beza, Drusius, Aretius, Grotius, Hammond, Clericus, and several others) is as inadmissible as the assumption of a belief in the pre-existence of souls (Cyril, De Wette, Brückner). For apart from the uncertainty of the fact whether the doctrine of the transmigration of souls was entertained by the Jews in the days of Christ (see Tholuck on the passage, and Delitzsch Psychol. p. 463 f. [E. T. p. 545 f.]), those two doctrines could not have been popularly known among the people, and therefore must not be assumed to have been held by the disciples, although it is true that the pre-existence of souls, both of good and bad, is an unquestionable article of doctrine in Wis 8:19 f., as also with Philo and the Essenes, with the Rabbins, and in the Cabbala (see Grimm on Wisdom of Solomon in the Exeget. Handb. p. 177 f.; Bruch, Lehre v. d. Prae-existenz d. Seel. p. 22). It is quite out of place, however, to refer to the heathen view of the pre-existence of souls (Isidorus and Severus in Corder. Cat). Tholuck’s suggestion, finally, that the thought, though obscurely conceived, is, that the blind man, through being born blind, is marked out as a sinner in virtue of an anticipation of punishment, both contradicts the words, and is altogether destitute of biblical support. In Luthardt’s view, the disciples, in accordance with Exodus 20:5, regarded the second of the two supposed cases as alone possible, but mentioned the first as a possibility, in order that Christ might solve the riddle which they were unable to solve. Similarly Baeumlein and Delitzsch, who looks upon the question as the mere expression of perplexity resulting from a false premiss. It is an arbitrary procedure, however, to ascribe such a difference to two cases regarding which a question is asked in precisely the same form, or to treat the possibility in the one case as posited merely in appearance. The disciples considered both cases possible, and wished to know which of them was real. At the same time, however, they deemed a third case out of the question, and this was the error in the dilemma which they put forth,—an error which Jesus (John 9:3) lays bare and corrects by setting before them the Tertium datur.

ἵνα τυφλ. γενν.] The retributive result, in accordance with the teleological connection of the divine destiny. That the man was born blind might have been previously known to those who asked the question; or the man himself might just have informed them of the fact, for the purpose of adding force to his request for alms (John 9:8).John 9:1-7. The cure narrated.1–5. The Prelude to the Sign

1. And as Jesus passed by] Or, And as He was passing by. This was possibly on His way from the Temple (John 8:59), or it may refer to a later occasion near the Feast of the Dedication (John 10:22). We know that this man begged for his living (John 9:8), and that beggars frequented the gates of the Temple (Acts 3:2), as they frequent the entrances of foreign churches now.

blind from his birth] The man would be repeatedly stating this fact to passers by. The Greek for ‘from his birth’ occurs nowhere else in N.T. Justin Martyr uses the phrase twice of those whom Christ healed; Trypho lxix.; Apol. i. xxii. No source is so probable as this verse, for nowhere else is there an account of Christ’s healing a congenital disease. See on John 1:23 and John 3:3.John 9:1. Καὶ παράγων, and passing by) Immediately after the attack of His enemies.—τυφλόν, blind) Who was begging at the temple. Comp. Acts 3:2, “The lame man, laid at the Beautiful gate of the temple, to ask alms.”Verses 1-7. -

(8) The Lord confirms by a sign the declaration that he is the Light of the world, by giving eyesight as well as light. That which had been proclaimed as a great truth of his Being and mission, viz. that he was the Light of the world, was now to be established and confirmed to the disciples by a signal miracle. The "higher criticism" finds explanation of this and other similar miracles at Bethsaida and Jericho, in the prophecy of Isaiah 42:19; Isaiah 43:8; Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 29:18. Volkmar holds that the story of Zacchaeus is thus rewritten! Thoma thinks that we have a spiritualization of the "miracle" on Saul of Tarsus. It would be waste time to point out the differences which are patent to the simplest criticism. Verse 1. - And - the καί suggests relation both in subject-matter, in time, place, occasion, and theme, with that which had preceded - as Jesus was passing by, going along his way, he saw a man blind from birth (cf. ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, Acts 3:2; Acts 14:8). He was obviously a well-known beggar, who had often proclaimed the fact that he was blind from birth (see ver. 8). Such a condition and history rendered the cure more difficult and hopeless in the view of ordinary professors of the healing art, and the juxtaposition of such a symbolic fact with the near activity of those who were boasting of their Abrahamic privilege and their national and mere hereditary advantages, is one of the instances of the unconscious poesy of the gospel history. There he sits, the very type of the race which says, "We see," but which to Christ's eye was proclaiming its utter helplessness and blindness, not asking even to be illumined, and revealing the fundamental injury done to the very race and nature of man, and calling for all the healing power that he had been sent into the world to dispense. The man who had been struck blind, or whose eyesight had been slowly dosed by disease, became the type of the effect of special sins upon the character and life; thus e.g., vanity conceals radical defects and weaknesses; pride hides from the sinner's own view his own transgressions; temporary blindness to great faults is one of the symptoms of gross sin like David's, and prejudice is proverbially blind and deaf; but here is a man who is nothing less than the type of a congenital bias to evil, of hereditary damage done to human nature. Unless Christ can pour light upon those who are born blind, he is not the Savior the world needs. From his birth (ἐκ γενετῆς)

The word only here in the New Testament.

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