John 9:16
Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.
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(16) This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day.—See Note on John 9:14, and reference there. Here the truth of the miracle is granted, but it is urged that the power by which it is wrought cannot be of God, because it was exercised on the Sabbath day. The inference is, that it was done by the influence of the power of evil.

Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?—This question is asked by the better party among the Pharisees, represented, as we know, by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathæa, and perhaps by Gamaliel. They see the inference implied in the earlier question, and appeal to the nature of the miracles wrought. Works of mercy, and love, and power, were not the product of a life of sin, or of communion with the powers of darkness. We find evidence of this better spirit among the Pharisees before, in the question of Nicodemus (John 7:51). It has now extended to others. The teaching on the earlier work on the Sabbath (John 5) has led some among them, at least, to look with allowance upon this.

And there was a division among them.—Comp. Note on John 7:43.

9:13-17 Christ not only worked miracles on the sabbath, but in such a manner as would give offence to the Jews, for he would not seem to yield to the scribes and Pharisees. Their zeal for mere rites consumed the substantial matters of religion; therefore Christ would not give place to them. Also, works of necessity and mercy are allowed, and the sabbath rest is to be kept, in order to the sabbath work. How many blind eyes have been opened by the preaching of the gospel on the Lord's day! how many impotent souls cured on that day! Much unrighteous and uncharitable judging comes from men's adding their own fancies to God's appointments. How perfect in wisdom and holiness was our Redeemer, when his enemies could find nothing against him, but the oft-refuted charge of breaking the sabbath! May we be enabled, by well-doing, to silence the ignorance of foolish men.This man is not of God - Is not sent by God, or cannot be a friend of God.

Because he keepeth not the sabbath-day - They assumed that their views of the Sabbath were correct, and by those views they judged others. It did not occur to them to inquire whether the interpretation which they put on the law might not be erroneous. Men often assume their own interpretations of the Scriptures to be infallible, and then judge and condemn all others by those interpretations.

A sinner - A deceiver; an impostor. They reasoned conclusively that God would not give the power of working such miracles to an impostor. The miracles were such as could not be denied, nor did even the enemies of Jesus attempt to deny them or to explain them away. They were open, public, frequent. And this shows that they could not deny their reality. Had it been possible, they would have done it; but the reality and power of those miracles had already made a party in favor of Jesus, even in the Sanhedrin John 7:50; John 12:42, and those opposed to them could not deny their reality. It may be added that the early opponents of Christianity never denied the reality of the miracles performed by the Savior and his apostles. Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian - as acute foes of the gospel as perhaps have ever lived - never call this in question. They attempted to show that it was by some evil influence, or to account for the miracles in some other way than by admitting the divine origin of the Christian religion, but about the facts they had no question. Were they not as well qualified to judge about those facts as men are now? They lived near the time; had every opportunity to examine the evidence; were skilful and talented disputants; and if they could have denied the reality of the miracles they would have done it. It is scarcely possible to conceive of more conclusive proof that those miracles were really performed, and, if so, then the Lord Jesus was sent by God.

A division - Greek, "A schism." A separation into two parties.

16, 17. This man is not of God, &c.—(See on [1816]Joh 5:9; [1817]Joh 5:16).

Others said, &c.—such as Nicodemus and Joseph.

They are so far from owning Christ as God, the eternal Son of God, and equal with his Father, that they will not allow him to have any relation to God, as one sent of him. It is true, the sanctification of the sabbath is so great a piece of religion, (the whole of which is sometimes expressed by it, Isaiah 56:4,6), that whoso maketh no conscience of it, may reasonably be concluded to have little or nothing of God in him: but we must rightly understand what the will of God is as to that sanctification, and not think that it lieth in a performance of some ritual services, while in the mean time we neglect moral duties. Christ had kept the sabbath, though not in that superstitious sense they thought it was to be observed, keeping to all their traditions about it. Others of the Pharisees had a something better opinion of Christ by reason of the miracles he had wrought; concluding, that if he had been so bad a man, as some of their brethren would have him taken to be. God would not have assisted him to the doing of such miraculous works as he had done. Thus the wise God made a division amongst the counsels of Christ’s enemies, his work being not yet finished, nor the time come when he was to die for the redemption of man.

Wherefore said some of the Pharisees,.... Or sanhedrim, for they were not all of one mind, as appears by what follows:

this man is not of God; meaning not the blind man, but Jesus; and their sense is, he is not sent of God, he does not come from him to do his will and work, nor does he seek his glory, nor is he on his side, or for his interest;

because he keepeth not the sabbath day: this they concluded from his making clay of spittle, and spreading it on the blind man's eyes, which was contrary to the traditions of their elders: one of whose rules and canons is (n), that

"it is forbidden to put fasting spittle even on the eyelid on a sabbath day.''

An eye salve, or a plaster for the eye, if it was put on for pleasure, was lawful, but not for healing (o): but if it was put on, on the evening of the sabbath, it might continue on the sabbath day (p).

Others said, how can a man that is a sinner, or a sabbath breaker,

do such miracles? as curing a man born blind, the like of which was never heard: those that reasoned after this manner may be supposed to be Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.

And there was a division among them; even in the sanhedrim, they could not agree about the character of the person that had done this miracle.

(n) T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 14. 4. & Avoda Zara, fol. 40. 4. & T. Bab. Sabbat, fol 108. 2. & Maimon. Hilchot Sabbat, c. 21. sect. 25. (o) Piske Tosephot Sabbat, art. 67. (p) T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 3, 4. Maimon. ib.

{5} Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

(5) Religion is assaulted most by the pretence of religion: but the more it is pressed down, the more it rises up.

John 9:16. And then the Pharisees introduce their charge and its implication, Οὗτοςτηρεῖ. The miracle is not denied, rather affirmed, but it cannot be a work of God, for it has been done on Sabbath. Cf. John 3:2 and John 5:16. Some of their party, however, inclined to a different conclusion, Πῶςποιεῖν; How can such a work be done at all, whether on Sabbath or any other day, by a sinner? This breach of the Sabbath law must admit of explanation. It cannot arise from opposition to God.—καὶ σχίσμα ἦν ἐν αὐτοῖς, as before among the people, John 7:43, so now among the authorities a pronounced and permanent cleft was apparent.

16. This man is not of God] Comp. ‘He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils’ (Matthew 9:34); like this, an argument of the Pharisees. The fact of a miracle is not denied: but it cannot have been done with God’s help; therefore it was done with the devil’s help.

How can a man that is a sinner, &c.] The less bigoted, men like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, shew that the argument cuts both ways. They also start from the ‘sign,’ but arrive at an opposite conclusion. Comp. Nicodemus’ question, John 7:51. Perhaps Christ’s teaching about the Sabbath (John 5:17-23) has had some effect.

there was a division] See on John 7:43.

John 9:16. Παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ, from God) The words opposed are, to be from God, and to be a sinner, [An antithesis worthy of observation. Either the former, or else the latter, exactly applies as the description of every man.—V. g.—ὅτι, because) In Theology applied to estimating characters, nothing is to be done in a hurry.

Verse 16 ? indicates, as the evangelist so often does elsewhere (John 7:43; John 10:19), that the words and works of Christ produce opposite effects on different classes. Certain individuals of the Pharisees therefore said among themselves, This Man - referring to Christ, then uppermost in their minds and in their machinations - This Man is not from God, because he keepeth not the sabbath. The form of the sentence is peculiarly contemptuous, the word "man" being thrown very emphatically to the end of the sentence. This, in their opinion, is another offence against the Law, after serious warning. The previous controversy (John 5.) had produced no effect upon Jesus. He continued, in their opinion, to invalidate all his claims by violating the sabbath laws, which they had brought to the highest point of perfection. Renan and others insist on Christ's repeated violation of the sabbath; but the fact is that the Lord sustained the highest meaning of the sabbath, though he resolutely repudiated the inhuman glosses and manifest absurdities of the traditionary customs and rabbinical rules. Jesus could not be, they thought (or argued), "from God," invested with his authority, or doing his works, so tong as he would not take their view of the sabbath. This Jesus is making obstinate assault upon their prejudices. On seven distinct occasions the Lord chose to heal on the sabbath, and thus to set the restrictions of august rabbis at defiance. But even in the great Sanhedrin, in the highest council of the nation, sat men of the character of Joseph, Nicodemus, and Gamaliel, who would get some idea of the Divine commission of Jesus from the simple fact of the miracles. In this smaller court the opponents of Christ ignore and doubt the miracle itself, on account of the unsabbatic heresy, while a few are convinced that signs of this kind (and probably they had many in their minds) were in themselves proof of Divine co-operation and approval. But others said, How can a man that is a sinner (on your hypothesis) do such signs? "As far as they go, these miracles are demonstrative proof that at least God must be with him, as he has said, and they make it extremely doubtful whether he can be a bad man after all - can have verily broken the Divine Law." Such a speech as this from Pharisees is an emphatic proof of the profound effect produced by Jesus upon the life of the nation. It stands in close association with the remarkable statement of Nicodemus (John 3:2), "We know that no man can do these miracles (signs) which thou art doing, except God be with him." Jesus and rabbinism are here face to face. Either he is from God and they are actually making the Law of God void and vapid by their traditions, or they and their code are from God and he, having broken with them, has broken with God, and the miracle will turn out to he magic or falsehood, collusion or worse. Thus a solemn crisis of profound importance occurs. And there was a division (σχίσμα, cutting into two parties) amongst them. These opposite effects and conclusions are the confirmation of the words of the prologue (John 1:4, 5, 11, 12), and they further triumphantly refute the charge that the author of the Gospel was actuated by an untiring hostility to the kingdom and polity of the ancient Israel. John 9:16Keepeth not the Sabbath

A Rabbinical precept declares, "It is forbidden to apply even fasting-spittle to the eyes on the Sabbath." The words in John 9:14, made the clay, also mark a specific point of offense.

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