And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)For judgment I am come into this world.—These words arise immediately out of what has preceded. The beggar has passed from a state of physical blindness, and has received the faculty of sight. He has passed from a state of spiritual blindness, and has received the power to recognise and believe on Jesus Christ as the Son of God. He did not see, but the result of the manifestation of the Messiah is for him that he now does see. Conscious of his own spiritual blindness, he asked, “Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him?” and to him, as to every earnest and humble seeker after truth, because in all his seeming need he really “hath,” there is given that he may “have more abundance.” In marked contrast to this spirit of humility and desire to come to the light, was that of the Pharisees. They claimed to have the “key of knowledge” (Matthew 11:25), and were, as a Pharisee represents him who is “called a Jew,” “confident that they were guides of the blind, lights of them which are in darkness” (Romans 2:17 et seq.; comp. 1Corinthians 1:21; 1Corinthians 3:18). Conscious of their own spiritual light, they felt no need of a truer Light, and therefore could not see it; and from them, as from every careless and self-trusting possessor of truth, because, in all his seeming abundance, he really “hath not,” there is taken away “even that he hath.” (Comp. Note on John 1:16.)
This passing from darkness to light, and from light to darkness, suggests thoughts which our Lord has already uttered in John 3:17-19, and which will meet us again more fully in John 12:37-50. (See Notes on these passages.) Judgment is not the ultimate end of His coming, for He came to save the world; but it is an end, and therefore a result. The special form of the word rendered “judgment” in this place is used nowhere else by St. John, and indicates that what is here thought of is not the act of judging, but the concrete result—the sentence pronounced after judgment. His coming was a bringing light into the darkness of men’s hearts, a testing of the false and the true, and as men accepted or rejected Him they pronounced a judicial sentence upon themselves. That light judged no man, and yet by it every man was judged.
That they which see not might see.—The force of these words lies in the fact that the phrases, “they which see not” and “they which see,” are to be interpreted as from their own point of view—“That they which think they see not might really see; and that they which think they see might really be made blind.”John 9:39-41. And Jesus said — While he stood talking with the blind man who had received his sight, several people, it seems, being gathered about them; For judgment, as well as mercy, I am come into this world, that they which see not might see — That the ignorant, who are willing and desirous to be instructed, might have divine knowledge and true wisdom imparted to them; and that they which see — Who are confident that they see, who are conceited of, or trust in, their supposed knowledge and wisdom; might be made blind — Might be confirmed in their ignorance and folly, and be abandoned to a greater degree thereof. In these words he alluded to the cure of the blind man, but his meaning was spiritual; representing the consequences of his coming, which, by the just judgment of God, would be, that while the blind, both in body and soul, should receive their sight, they who boasted that they saw would be given up to still greater blindness than before. He meant to show, also, that his coming would manifest the disposition and character of every man. The humble, teachable, and upright, though they were as much in the dark with respect to religion and the knowledge of divine things, as the blind man had been with respect to the light of the sun, should be greatly enlightened by his coming: whereas those, who in their own opinion were wise, and learned, and clear-sighted, should appear to be, what they really were, blind, that is, quite ignorant and foolish. And some of the Pharisees which were with him — Which were present on this occasion; heard these words — And apprehending that he glanced at them, and cast a reflection on their sect, which was held in great veneration among the common people, because of their supposed skill in the law; said unto him, Are we blind also? — Dost thou imagine that we are like the rude, ignorant vulgar? We, who are their teachers, and have taken such pains to acquire the knowledge of the Scriptures? Darest thou say that we are blind, whose judgment every one has such a veneration for, and values, and bows to? Observe, nothing fortifies men’s corrupt hearts more against the convictions of the truth, or more effectually repels those convictions, than the good opinion which others have of them; as if what had gained applause with men, must needs find acceptance with God; than which nothing can be more false and deceitful, for God sees not as man sees. Jesus said, If ye were blind — Unavoidably ignorant, and not favoured with the means of divine and saving knowledge; ye should have no sin — In comparison of what you now have. But now ye say, We see — Are possessed of a high degree of discernment and knowledge, are more enlightened than the rest of mankind; therefore your sin remaineth — Without excuse, without remedy. It abides upon you with greater aggravations; and the conceit which you have of your own knowledge hinders conviction, and prevents the first entrance of instruction and true wisdom into your minds. They gloried that they were not blind, as the common people were, nor so credulous as they, but had abilities sufficient to direct their own conduct, and needed no aid in that respect from any one. Now this very thing which they gloried in, Christ here tells them was their shame and ruin: for, 1st, If they had been really ignorant, their sin would not have been so deeply aggravated, nor would they have had so much to answer for as now they had; for invincible ignorance, though it does not justify sin, excuses it in some measure, and lessens its guilt. 2d, If they had been sensible of their blindness, and had seen their need of one to guide them, they would soon have accepted Christ as their guide, and then they would have had no sin unpardoned, unconquered. They would have submitted to the righteousness of faith, and have been brought into a justified state. Those who are convinced of their disease, are in a fair way to be cured: but self-sufficiency, self-confidence, and self-righteousness, are some of the greatest hinderances of salvation. As those are most blind who will not see, so their blindness is most dangerous who fancy they do see. No patients are managed with so much difficulty as those who are in a phrensy, who say they are well, and that nothing ails them. The sin of those that are self-confident remains; for they reject the gospel of grace, and therefore the guilt of their sin remains uncancelled; and they grieve and quench the Spirit of grace, and therefore the power of their sin remains unbroken. Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? Hearest thou the Pharisee say, We see? There is more hope of a fool, of a publican, and a harlot, than of such. John 3:17; John 12:47; John 5:45. To judge is to express an opinion in a judicial manner, and also to express any sentiment about any person or thing, John 7:24; John 5:30; Luke 8:43. The meaning here may be thus expressed: "I came to declare the condition of men; to show them their duty and danger. My coming will have this effect, that some will be reformed and saved, and some more deeply condemned."
That they ... - The Saviour does not affirm that this was the design of his coming, but that such would be the effect or result. He came to declare the truth, and the effect would be, etc. Similar instances of expression frequently occur. Compare Matthew 11:25; Matthew 10:34; "I came not to send peace, but a sword" - that is, such will be the effect of my coming.
That they which see not - Jesus took this illustration, as he commonly did, from the case before him; but it is evident that he meant it to be taken in a spiritual sense. He refers to those who are blind and ignorant by sin; whose minds have been darkened, but who are desirous of seeing.
Might see - Might discern the path of truth, of duty, and of salvation, John 10:9.
They which see - They who suppose they see; who are proud, self-confident, and despisers of the truth. Such were evidently the Pharisees.
Might be made blind - Such would be the effect of his preaching. It would exasperate them, and their pride and opposition to him would confirm them more and more in their erroneous views. This is always the effect of truth. Where it does not soften it hardens the heart; where it does not convert, it sinks into deeper blindness and condemnation.
that they which see not might see, &c.—rising to that sight of which the natural vision communicated to the youth was but the symbol. (See on Joh 9:5, and compare Lu 4:18).
that they which see might be made blind—judicially incapable of apprehending and receiving the truth, to which they have wilfully shut their eyes.judgment here mentioned. Some think that by it is meant the Divine counsel and decree: I am come into the world, to execute the just will, and counsel, and pleasure of my Father: and the event of it is this, that some who saw not, see; and some who see, in a sense are made blind. Others understand it of condemnation; I am come to execute the judgment of condemnation: but thus it is hardly reconcilable to John 3:17, where it is said, that God sent not his Son to condemn the world. The best notion of it is theirs who interpret it of the spiritual government of the world, committed to Christ, and managed by him with perfect rectitude and equity. One eminent part of this was his publishing the gospel, the law of faith. The event of which is, that many spiritually blind, and utterly unable to see the way that leads to eternal life, might (as this person that was born blind is now clear sighted) be enlightened with the saving knowledge of the truth; and many that think they see, should by their obstinate infidelity be more blind than they were from their birth. Not that I cast any such ill influence upon them; but this happeneth through their own sore eyes. I am the light of the world; and as it is of the nature of light to make other things visible to men; and it hath its effect, and doth so, where men’s eyes are not ill affected with humours and the like; so the light of my gospel, by which I shine in the world, makes the way of salvation by me, ordained by my Father, Acts 3:18, evident and clear to many souls who are in darkness and the shadow of death: but it so happeneth, through the prejudices that others are prepossessed with against me, and the doctrine of my gospel by which I shine in the world, so full of ignorance, malice, and hatred against me and the doctrine which I bring; that through their own perverseness, and the righteous judgment of God, at last giving men over to their own delusions, they are made more blind. In this sense this scripture agreeth with what was prophesied by Isaiah 8:14, And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and the words of Simeon in Luke 2:34, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; as also with that of Paul, Romans 9:33. John 3:17. Nor is the sense of the words that Christ came by the judgment of God, or the order of divine providence, or to administer justice in the government of the world, in a providential way, or to distinguish his own people from others, though all these are true; but either to fulfil the purpose and decree of God in revealing truth to some, and hiding it from others; or in a way of judgment to inflict judicial blindness on some, whilst in a way of mercy he illuminated others. So Nonnus interprets it of , a twofold "judgment", which is different the one from the other.
That they which see not, might see; meaning, not so much corporeally as spiritually, since in the opposite clause corporeal blindness can have no place; for though Christ restored bodily sight to many, he never took it away from any person. The sense is, that Christ came as a light into the world, that those who are in the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief, and who are sensible of the same, and desire spiritual illuminations, as this man did, might see what they are by nature, what need they stand in of him, and what fulness of grace, life, righteousness, and salvation, there is in him for them.
And that they which see might be made blind; that such who are wise and knowing in their own conceit, who fancy themselves to have great light and knowledge, to have the key of knowledge, and to have the true understanding of divine things, and to be guides of the blind, such as the Scribes and Pharisees, might be given up to judicial blindness and hardness of heart, so as to shut their eyes, and harden their hearts against the Gospel, and the truths of it, and which was in judgment to them: such different effects Christ and his Gospel have, as to illuminate and soften some, and blind and harden others; just as some creatures, as bats and owls, are blinded by the sun, whilst others see clearly by the light of it; and as that also has these different effects to soften the wax, and harden the clay; see Isaiah 6:9.And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 9:39. An Oxymoron, to which Jesus (comp. 1 Corinthians 1:18 ff.), seeing at His feet the man born blind, and now endued not only with bodily, but also with spiritual sight, gives utterance with profound emotion, addressing Himself, moreover, not to any one particular person (hence εἶπεν without the addition of a person, comp. John 1:29; John 1:36), but to those around Him in general. From among these the Pharisees then (John 9:40) come forward to reply. The compact, pregnant sentence is uttered irrespectively of the man who had been blind, who also in a higher sense appears in John 9:36 as still μὴ βλέπων, and in ver 38 as βλέπων.
εἰς κρῖμα] telically, i.e. to this end, as is clear from the more exact explanation ἵνα, etc., that follows. This κρῖμα is an end, though not the ultimate end, of the appearance of Jesus. He came to bring about, as a matter of fact, a judicial decision; He came, namely, in order that, by means of His activity, those who see not might see, i.e. in order that those who are conscious of the lack of divine truth (comp. the poor in spirit in Matthew 5:3) might be illumined thereby, and they who see might become blind (not merely: appareant caeci, as Grotius and several others explain), i.e. those who fancy themselves to be in possession of divine truth (comp. Luke 11:52; Matthew 11:25; Romans 2:19; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 3:18), might not become participators therein; but (comp. Isaiah 6:9 f.) be closed, blinded, and hardened against it (like the self-conceited Pharisees). The point of the saying lies in this: that οἱ μὴ βλέποντες is subjective, and βλέπωσι objective; whereas οἱ βλέποντες is subjective, and τυφλοὶ γένωνται objective.
κρῖμα is neither merely separation (Castalio, Corn. a Lapide, Kuinoel, De Wette, and several others), nor equivalent to κατάκρισις (Ammonius, Euth. Zigabenus, Olshausen); but what Christ here says regarding Himself is a matter of fact, a retributive judicial arrangement, affecting both sides according to the position they take up relatively to Him. Hence there is no contradiction with John 3:17, John 8:15, John 12:47. Comp. also Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 186 f. If, with Godet, we understand οἱ μὴ βλέποντες and ΟἹ ΒΛΈΠΟΝΤΕς of those who have not and those who have the knowledge of the Jewish law, we must refer ΒΛΈΠΩΣΙ and ΤΥΦΛΟΊ to the divine truth which Christ reveals. A twofold relation is thus introduced, to which the words λέγετε ὅτι βλέπομεν, John 9:41, are also opposed.
 On this accentuation of κρῖμα, see Lobeck, Paral, p. 418; comp., however, Lipsius, grammat. Unters. I. p. 40.—The word itself is used by John only in this place. It denotes, not the trial which is held, the judicial procedure (κρίσις), but its result, the judicial sentence which is pronounced, the decision of the court, what is judicially measured out, etc. Hence κρῖμα λαμβάνειν, βαστάζειν, etc.
 It is true, indeed, that the μὴ βλέποντες are susceptible, and the βλέποντες unsusceptible; but this was not determined by the consideration that the former believed without seeing, whilst the latter refused to believe, notwithstanding all they had seen of Jesus (see Baur, p. 179); on the contrary, the susceptibility of the one and the unsusceptibility of the other were rooted in their inner relation to Christ, which is necessarily moral, and the result of free self-determination. Indeed, against the view now controverted, ver. 41 alone is decisive, apart even from the mysterious designation of the matter by a circumstance occurring in connection with it. Comp. Delitzsch, Psych. p. 162.—On μὴ βλέπειν, to be blind, comp. Soph. O. C. 73; O. R. 302; see also Xen. Mem. i. 3. 4. On τυφλός in the figurative sense, see Soph. O. R. 371.John 9:39. Summing up the spiritual significance of the miracle Jesus said: Εἰς κρίμα … γένωνται. “For judgment,” for bringing to light and exhibiting in its consequences the actual inward state of men; “that those who see not may see,” that is, that those who are conscious of their blindness and grieved on account of it may be relieved; while those who are content with the light they have lose even that. With a kind of sad humour He points out how easily felt blindness is removed, but how obstinately blind is presumed knowledge. The blind man now saw, because he knew he was blind and used the means Jesus told him to use: the Pharisees were stone-blind to the world Jesus opened to them, because they thought that already they knew much more than He did.39. And Jesus said] There is no need to make a break in the narrative and refer these words to a subsequent occasion. This is not natural. Rather it is the sight of the man prostrate at His feet, endowed now with sight both in body and soul, that moves Christ to say what follows. His words are addressed to the bystanders generally, among whom are some of the Pharisees.
For judgment I am come] Better, For judgment I came. The precise form of word for ‘judgment’ occurs nowhere else in this Gospel. It signifies not the act of judging (John 5:22; John 5:24; John 5:27; John 5:30) but its result, a ‘sentence’ or ‘decision’ (Matthew 7:2, Mark 12:40, Romans 2:2-3, &c.), Christ came not to judge, but to save (John 3:17, John 8:15); but judgment was the inevitable result of His coming, for those who rejected Him passed sentence on themselves (John 3:19). See on John 1:9 and John 18:37. The pronoun is emphatic.
they which see not] They who are conscious of their own blindness, who know their deficiencies; like ‘they that are sick’ and ‘sinners’ in Matthew 9:12-13, and ‘babes’ in Matthew 11:25. This man was aware of his spiritual blindness when he asked, ‘Who is He then, that I may believe on Him!’
might see] Better, may see, may really see, may pass from the darkness of which they are conscious, to light and truth.
they which see] They who fancy they see, who pride themselves on their superior insight and knowledge, and wish to dictate to others; like ‘they that be whole,’ and ‘righteous’ in Matthew 9:12-13, and ‘the wise and prudent’ in Matthew 11:25. These Pharisees shewed this proud self-confidence when they declared, ‘we know that this man is a sinner,’ and asked ‘Dost thou teach us?’
might be made blind] Or, may become blind, really blind (Isaiah 6:10), may pass from their fancied light into real darkness.
39–41. “The concluding verses contain a saying which is thoroughly in the manner of the Synoptists (cf. Matthew 15:14; Matthew 23:16-17; Matthew 23:24; Matthew 23:26). It also supplies a warranty for ascribing a typical significance to miracles.
That the Synoptists do not relate this miracle does not affect its historical character, as the whole of these events in Judaea are equally omitted by them.… The vague and shifting outlines of the Synoptic narrative allow ample room for all the insertions that are made in them with so much precision by S. John.” S. pp. 165, 166.John 9:39. Κρίμα, judgment) just and true, better than that of the Pharisees.—βλέπωσι, may see) in body and mind—οἱ βλέποντες, who see) who suppose that they are possessed of sight, and are not conscious that they are blind: John 9:41, “Now ye say, We see.”—τυφλοί, blind) in mind.Verses 39-41. - (b) The blindness of those who are satisfied with their twilight. Verse 39. - The sight of the man, enlightened and prostrate in adoring gratitude, led Jesus, in the face of the bystanders, with Pharisees among them (ver. 40), to declare the general effects which would follow from his entire self-manifestation (so Meyer, Godet). Westcott says, "Not to any one or group, but as interpreting the scene before him." A sublime monologue. And Jesus said, I came for judgment. Not κρισιν, to execute judgment, but εἰς κρίμα, with a view to bring about a judicial decision on the moral condition of mankind (see notes on John 3:17, 18; 5:22, 23; 8:11, 15, 16) as a matter of fact. "This is the κρίσις, that men love darkness rather than light." Christ came to save - that was his supreme purpose; but to the Son is given the whole κρίσις, and κρῖμα will follow the revelation of the Son of God. He is the Touchstone of humanity. What men think of Christ is the question which decides in every age their moral condition before God. Into this world of sin and strife, of crossing lights and strange delusions, of ignorance and superstition (εἰς τὸν κόσμον is different when τοῦτον is added; see John 8:23; John 11:9; John 12:25, 31; John 13:1; John 16:11; John 18:36) - not the world as the mere cosmos, or the sphere of creative activity, nor even the whole of humanity as John 3:16, but humanity viewed in its separation from grace, and in all its need - in order that they who see not might see; i.e. not those who merely feel that they cannot see (as Lucke, Meyer, etc.), but the practically blind - the μὴ βλέποντες, those who are sitting in darkness, with the capacity for sight, but not the opportunity; who cannot, as a matter of fact, apart from the revelation of new light, see the face of God; the babes to whom the Lord of heaven and earth has been pleased to unveil himself (see Matthew 11:25); the poor in spirit, who do not but now may see the kingdom, and the pure in heart ready to behold their God. So far the κρῖμα declares itself to be a blessed consummation - sight to the blind, cleansing to the leper, life to the dead. Even the man born blind suns himself in the heaven of the Savior's smile. The Light of the world shines upon them, and they see. But Christ's coming brings out also the character of those, and pronounces judgment on those, who say of themselves, "We see;" "We have never been in bondage," "We need no repentance;" "Abraham is our father;" "We know the Law;" "Who (nevertheless) do not come to the Light;" who are not "of the truth;" and the beaming of his unappreciated glory involves in their case, that those who see might become blind (τυφλοί), incapable of seeing. Those who have the knowledge of the Law, "the wise and prudent" (Luke 10:21), who boast their freedom, their knowledge, their advantages, their profession, may, nay do, by resolute turning away from "the Light of this world," lose their power of spiritual vision. But the unsophisticated, needy, even the publicans and harlots, consciously sitting in the region of the shadow of death, do by faith and repentance find that the great Light has unawares shone upon them.
Not the act of judgment, but its result. His very presence in the world constitutes a separation, which is the primitive idea of judgment, between those who believe on Him and those who reject Him. See on John 3:17.
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