He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not.—The words, “or no,” are added to the text, but rightly complete the meaning. He, like his parents, will confine himself to matters of fact coming under his own certain knowledge. They had declared authoritatively that they knew this Man to be one whose life was characterised by sin. He is convinced that this cannot be so (John 9:31; John 9:33), but he does not dispute their assertion; he simply makes his own, which cannot be gainsaid, and which cuts the ground from under them.
One thing I know.—For this use of “one thing” to mark the chief thing which is so important that all others are excluded, and it is left as the only one in the mind, comp. Mark 10:21 (“one thing thou lackest”) and Luke 10:42 (“one thing is needful”).
Whereas I was blind, now I see.—Better, Being a blind man, now I see. He places the two things in contrast. He was the well-known “blind man,” whose experience of his own blindness had extended from birth to manhood. They declare that he has not been healed. He is conscious of his power to see, and this one thing he affirms. The difficulty is of their making; let them explain it as they think best.John 9:17. By his saying that he did not know whether he was a sinner may be meant that though he might be a prophet, yet that he might not be perfect; or that it did not become him, being an obscure and unlearned man, to attempt to determine that question. What follows shows that he did not believe that he was a sinner, and these words were probably spoken in irony to deride the Pharisees. They were perverse and full of cavils, and were determined not to believe. The man reminded them that the question was not whether Jesus was a sinner; that, though that might be, yet it did not settle the other question about opening his eyes, which was the chief point of the inquiry.
One thing I know ... - About this he could have no doubt. He disregarded, therefore, their cavils. We may learn, also, here:
1. That this declaration may be made by every converted sinner. He may not be able to meet the cavils of others. He may not be able to tell how he was converted. It is enough if he can say, "I was a sinner, but now love God; I was in darkness, but have now been brought to the light of truth."
2. We should not be ashamed of the fact that we are made to see by the Son of God. No cavil or derision of men should deter us from such an avowal.
3. Sinners are perpetually shifting the real point of inquiry. They do not inquire into the facts. They assume that a thing cannot be true, and then argue as if that was a conceded point. The proper way in religion is first to inquire into the facts, and then account for them as we can.
Whether he be a sinner or not, I know not: or "if he is a sinner I know not", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it, suggesting that he did not know he was a sinner; he could not charge him with being one; nor could he join with them in saying he was a sinner; nor did he think and believe he was: however, he was sure he had done a good thing to him, and in that he was no sinner; and what proof they had of his being one he could not tell: and be that as it will, adds he,
one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see; as if he should say, whatever charges you bring against the person that has done me this favour, which I am not able to answer to, you cannot reason me out of this; this I am sure of, that once I had no eyes to see with, and now I have, and that by the means of this man you reproach. And so it is with persons enlightened in a spiritual sense, whatever things they may be ignorant of, though they may not know the exact time of their conversion, nor have so much Gospel light and knowledge as others, or be so capable of expressing themselves, or giving such a distinct and orderly account of the work of God upon them as some can, nor dispute with an adversary for the truths of the Gospel, or have that faith of assurance, and discoveries of God's love, and the application of such great and precious promises as others have; yet this they know, that they were once blind, as to the knowledge of spiritual things, as to a saving knowledge of God in Christ, as to a true sight and sense of themselves, their sins and lost estate, as to the way of righteousness and salvation by Christ, or the work of the Spirit of God upon their souls, or as to any true and spiritual discerning of the Scriptures, and the doctrines of grace in them: but now they are comfortably assured, they see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the plague of their own hearts, the insufficiency of their righteousness to justify them before God, and the beauty, fulness, suitableness, and ability of Christ as a Saviour; and that their salvation is, and must be of free grace; and that they see the truths of the Gospel in another light than they did before, and have some glimpse of eternal glory and happiness, in the hope of which they rejoice.He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 9:25. But they find in the man a kind of independence and obstinacy they are not used to. Εἰ ἁμαρτωλός … βλέπω. He does not question their knowledge, and he draws no express inferences from what has happened, but of one thing he is sure, that he was blind and that now he sees.25. He answered] Better, Therefore he answered. He will not commit himself, but keeps to the incontrovertible facts of the case.
whereas I was blind] Literally, being a blind man, but the Greek participle may be either present or imperfect; either ‘being by nature a blind man’ or ‘being formerly blind.’ In John 3:13 and John 19:38 we have the same participle, and a similar doubt as to whether it is present or imperfect: so also in John 9:8.John 9:25. Ἐι, if [whether]) In a case, concerning which he has as yet no certainty, he nevertheless does not yield to the false authority of others; and he rather believes, that Jesus is not a sinner, than that He is a sinner.—τυφλὸς ὤν, whereas I was blind) The participle has the force of a præterite tense, which is manifest from that which follows, now I see. Comp. Galatians 1:23, “They had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith, which once he destroyed, ὄτι ὁ διώκων ἡμᾶς πότε, νῦν εὐαγγελίζεται τὴν πίστιν, ἥν πότε ἐπόρθει.”Verse 25. - He therefore answered (and said), Whether he be a sinner - using the words of "the Jews" ironically - I know not. You assert it, but the facts of my experience are altogether of a different kind. I do not know, as you say that you do. The Jews reason from foregone prejudices; the healed man has no such evidence, no such grounds - he adds in immortal words, One thing I know with invincible conviction, that whereas I was blind (De Wette says there is no need to regard the ὤν as an imperfect participle, and the present suggests the whole career of the man from birth till that memorable morning), now I see. The plain consistent testimony of the man triumphs over their logic, which sought to bewilder his judgment. The language which a deeply felt experience can always bring against the a priori demonstrations of the insufficiency of the evidence of Divine revelation. I was blind; now I see the face of God in nature, the kingdom of God all around me, the fact of my own forgiveness, the dawning of a brighter day.
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