John 9:21
But by what means he now sees, we know not; or who has opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) But by what means he now seeth.—Better, but how he now seeth. The answer is in the exact words of the question, which is not seen in our version. They will not pass beyond the plain matters of fact of which they were certain.

Or who hath opened his eyes.—They pass here to a fourth question, which was not asked, but which they see to be the real point which the Pharisees are aiming at, and in which they have determined not to be entangled.

He is of age, ask him.—The better reading here is probably that which places “ask him” first; ask him, he is of age. The Received text has been influenced by John 9:23. The Greek expresses with the fullest emphasis, which it is not easy to preserve in English, that they intend to have nothing to do with this third question, but to leave it to their son to answer. Literally, it is, Ask him; he is of full age; he himself will speak concerning himself.

9:18-23 The Pharisees vainly hoped to disprove this notable miracle. They expected a Messiah, but could not bear to think that this Jesus should be he, because his precepts were all contrary to their traditions, and because they expected a Messiah in outward pomp and splendour. The fear of man brings a snare, Pr 29:25, and often makes people deny and disown Christ and his truths and ways, and act against their consciences. The unlearned and poor, who are simple-hearted, readily draw proper inferences from the evidences of the light of the gospel; but those whose desires are another way, though ever learning, never come to the knowledge of the truth.His parents answered ... - To the first two questions they answered without hesitation. They knew that he was their son, and that he was born blind. The third question they could not positively answer, as they had not witnessed the means of the cure, and were afraid to express their belief. It appears that they had themselves no doubt, but they were not eye-witnesses, and could not be therefore legal evidence.

He is of age - He is of sufficient age to give testimony. Among the Jews this age was fixed at thirteen years.

If any man did confess that he was Christ - Did acknowledge that he was the Messiah. They had prejudged the case, and were determined to put down all free inquiry, and not to be convinced by any means.

Put out of the synagogue - This took place in the temple, or near the temple. It does not refer, therefore, to any immediate and violent putting forth from the place where they were. It refers to excommunication from the synagogue. Among the Jews there were two grades of excommunication; the one for lighter offences, of which they mentioned 24 causes; the other for greater offences. The first excluded a man for 30 days from the privilege of entering a synagogue, and from coming nearer to his wife or friends than 4 cubits. The other was a solemn exclusion forever from the worship of the synagogue, attended with awful maledictions and curses, and an exclusion from all contact with the people. This was called the curse, and so thoroughly excluded the person from all communion whatever with his countrymen, that they were not allowed to sell to him anything, even the necessaries of life (Buxtorf). It is probable that this latter punishment was what they intended to inflict if anyone should confess that Jesus was the Messiah: and it was the fear of this terrible punishment that deterred his parents from expressing their opinion.

18-23. the Jews did not believe … he had been born blind … till they called the parents of him that had received his sight—Foiled by the testimony of the young man himself, they hope to throw doubt on the fact by close questioning his parents, who, perceiving the snare laid for them, ingeniously escape it by testifying simply to the identity of their son, and his birth-blindness, leaving it to himself, as a competent witness, to speak as to the cure. They prevaricated, however, in saying they "knew not who had opened his eyes," for "they feared the Jews," who had come to an understanding (probably after what is recorded, Joh 7:50, &c.; but by this time well known), that whoever owned Him as the Christ would be put out of the synagogue—that is, not simply excluded, but excommunicated. See Poole on "John 9:20" But by what means he now seeth we know not,.... As to the third question they could say nothing to it, they were not present when the cure was wrought, and knew nothing of the matter, but what they had heard from their son, or from others, or both:

or who hath opened his eyes we know not; they had heard it was Jesus, and their son had doubtless told them it was he; but since they could say nothing of their own personal knowledge, they choose not to say anything of him:

he is of age; at man's estate, as, with the Jews, one was, who was at the age of thirteen years, if he could produce the signs of puberty: and such an one was allowed a witness in any case, but not under this age; nor if he was arrived to it, if the above signs could not be produced (q). This man very likely was much older, as may be thought from the whole of his conduct, his pertinent answers, and just reasoning: wherefore his parents direct the sanhedrim to him for an answer to their third question,

ask him, he shall speak for himself; or "of himself", as the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions render it: their sense is, he is capable of giving an account of himself in this matter, and he will do it, and let him do it; put the question to him, and a proper answer will be returned; and so they left the affair to be issued in this way.

(q) Maimon. Hilchot Eduth, c. 9. sect. 7.

But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 9:21. The third question they have not the means of answering, or as John 9:22 indicates, they shammed ignorance to save themselves; and refer the examiners to the man himself.—ἡλικίαν ἔχει, his parents are no longer responsible for him. Examples of the Greek phrase are given by Kypke and Wetstein from Plato, Aristophanes, and Demosthenes, αὐτὸς περὶ αὑτοῦ [better ἑαυτοῦ] λαλήσει.21. by what means] Better, how, as in John 9:10; John 9:15; John 9:19; John 9:26. In their timidity they keep close to the precise questions asked.

who hath opened] Better, who opened. This is the dangerous point, and they become more eager and passionate. Hitherto there has been nothing emphatic in their reply; but now there is a marked stress on all the pronouns, the parents contrasting their ignorance with their son’s responsibility. ‘Who opened his eyes, we know not: ask himself; he himself is of full age; he himself will speak concerning himself.’ See on John 9:23.John 9:21. Οὐκ οἴδαμεν, we know not) As yet they had not seen their son seeing: but they had immediately conjectured that the gift of sight had come from Jesus. On this account the former part of this verse is not attributed to fear [but only the latter, “He is of age; ask him,” as stated] in John 9:23.—ἡμεῖς, we) Emphatic; in antithesis to αὐτὸς, himself which follows and is repeated more than once.—αὐτὸς ἡλικίαν ἔχει, αὐτὸν ἐρωτήσατε) So John 9:23. But the Latin, and after it, Augustine and others, at John 9:21, “ipsum interrogate; œtatem habet.” And what follows agrees with this; he shall speak for himself. [So [254][255][256][257] [258][259] Vulg. But [260] and Rec. Text put αὐτὸν ἐρωτ· after ἡλικίαν ἔχει].—ἡλικίαν, age) sufficient for giving testimony.

[254] the Vatican MS., 1209: in Vat. Iibr., Rome: fourth cent.: O. and N. Test. def.

[255] Bezæ, or Cantabrig.: Univ. libr., Cambridge: fifth cent.: publ. by Kipling, 1793: Gospels, Acts, and some Epp. def.

[256] Cod. Reg., Paris, of the Gospels: the text akin to that of B: edited by Tisch.

[257] Cod. Monacensis, fragments of the Gospels.

[258] Vercellensis of the old ‘Itala,’ or Latin Version before Jerome’s, probably made in Africa, in the second century: the Gospels.

[259] Colbertinus, do.

[260] the Alexandrine MS.: in Brit. Museum: fifth century: publ. by Woide, 1786–1819: O. and N. Test. defective.Verse 21. - The third question is prudently remitted back to the consciousness and testimony of the man himself. The parents had some justification for their cowardice. They had no information beyond that which their son had given them. He had stumbled forth as usual on the morning of that sabbath, and bad returned home in transports of joy. Their son had doubtless told them the story (the use of οἴδαμεν instead of γινώσκομεν is significant). They knew by incontestable intuitive knowledge the personality and lifelong affliction of their son; but, say they, We do not know (absolutely) how he now sees; or who opened his eyes, we know not. Ask him (if you want to know); he is of full age, and therefore his testimony is valid in your court. He will speak (concerning) for himself. "We can only come to know from his testimony what he tells us, and he can himself speak for himself, and tell you all he has told us."
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