Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you should have no sin: but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)If ye were blind, ye should have no sin.—His answer is that He does not place them among those who are in this second sense blind. If they were among those “which see not” they would be conscious of their blindness, and would seek for spiritual light. They would ask, “Who is He, Lord, that we may believe on Him?” and would not ask in vain. In that case their present rejection of Him would arise from ignorance willing to be overcome, and this ignorance, not being wilful, would not be sin. Conscious ignorance would be the first step towards knowledge.
But now ye say, We see.—Their true place is among those who were spiritually blind, and were unconscious of it, “they which see,” they which think they see.” For them the first step towards true spiritual light must be a consciousness of blindness. As it is, as long as they think that they see, there is no ground for hope. (Comp. Matthew 9:12-13.)
Therefore your sin remaineth.—The word “therefore” should probably be omitted. The words “Your sin remaineth,” or better, Your sin abideth (comp. Note on John 3:36), stand alone in their awful solemnity. They stand side by side with “Ye say, We see.” The two states are one. The assertion of spiritual knowledge and independence was the original cause of sin (Genesis 3:4), and while spiritual pride exists sin cannot cease.
No sin - You would not be guilty. Sin is measured by the capacities or ability of people, and by their opportunities of knowing the truth. If people had no ability to do the will of God, they could incur no blame. If they have all proper ability, and no disposition, God holds them to be guilty. This passage teaches conclusively:
1. that people are not condemned for what they cannot do.
2. that the reason why they are condemned is that they are not disposed to receive the truth.
3. that pride and self-confidence are the sources of condemnation.
4. that if people are condemned, they, and not God, will be to blame.
We see - We have knowledge of the law of God. This they had pretended when they professed to understand the law respecting the Sabbath better than Jesus, and had condemned him for healing on that day.
Your sin remaineth - You are guilty, and your sin is unpardoned. People's sins will always be unpardoned while they are proud, and self-sufficient, and confident of their own wisdom. If they will come with humble hearts and confess their ignorance, God will forgive, enlighten, and guide them in the path to heaven.
ye should have no sin—none of the guilt of shutting out the light.
ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth—Your claim to possess light, while rejecting Me, is that which seals you up in the guilt of unbelief.If ye were blind; if your ignorance were simple, and not affected, and you were sensible that your blindness were not incurable, and your sin might be pardoned. This appeareth to be the sense from the opposition of it, now ye say, We see, in the latter part of the verse. They were indeed blind, as to any true and saving sight of Christ, and of the true way of salvation by believing in him; seeing (as they apprehended) a way of salvation without Christ, by the works of the law, and wilfully shutting their eyes against the glorious light of the gospel shining on them.
Ye should have no sin; you should not have so much sin, so much guilt upon your souls, as you now have: though your ignorance had been sin, yet it had not been so great a sin as a wilful shutting your eyes against the light.
But now ye say, We see; now that you have an opinion that you see, and boast in your knowledge of the law, as if you were the only men that saw; and upon this presumption reject the doctrine of salvation; therefore your sin remaineth, by it you not only conclude yourselves under the guilt of sin, but your sin remaineth upon you, not pardoned to you: which teacheth us, that without a true and saving sight of sin, and such a one as carrieth the soul out of itself to Christ for pardon and remedy, there is no hope of pardon and forgiveness from all the mercy that is in God.
ye would have no sin: or your sin would not be so aggravated; it would not be imputed to you; it would be pardoned and taken away from you: for the sense cannot be, that their blindness would not have been criminal, or they should have no sin in them, or any done by them; only, that had this been barely their case, there would have been some hope of them, that their sin might be forgiven, and put away, and be no more; see 1 Timothy 1:13;
but now ye say we see; they thought themselves to be wise and knowing, and stood in no need of any illumination from him, but were obstinate and hardened in their infidelity, and wilfully opposed and shut their eyes against all the light and evidence of truth:
therefore your sin remaineth; untaken away, yea, immoveable, or unpardonable; the guilt of it abode upon them; nor was there any hope of its being removed from them; owning that they saw, and yet believed not: sinning wilfully against light and knowledge in rejecting Jesus, as the Messiah, they sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost, which is never forgiven. And so the Ethiopic version renders it, "your error shall not be forgiven you"; see Matthew 12:32.Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 9:41. Alas! Jesus intends to say, Ye are not blind. Were ye blind (as I intended the μὴ βλέποντες in John 9:39), that is, people who are conscious of being destitute of the true knowledge, then ye would be without sin, i.e. your unbelief in me would not be sinful, just because it would involve no resistance to divine truth, but would simply imply that ye had not yet attained thereunto, a result for which ye were not to blame. But now ye assert we see (profess to be possessors of divine truth); the consequence whereof is, that your sin remaineth (is not removed), i.e. that your unbelief in me not only is sinful, but also this, your sin continues to exist, remains undestroyed (ἀνεξάλειπτος μένει, Theodoret, Heracleon), because your conceit is a perpetual ground for rejecting me, so that you cannot attain to faith and the forgiveness of sin. “Dicendo videmus, medicum non quaeritis,” Augustine. “Si diceretis: caeci sumus, visum peteretis et peccatum jam desiisset,” Bengel. According to Lücke (so also substantially Baeumlein), whom J. Müller follows (Lehre v. d. Sünde, I. p. 286, ed. 5), the meaning is: “Were you blind, i.e. without the capability of knowledge, there would be no sin (guilt) in your unbelief; you would then be unable to believe with knowledge. But so long as you say, notwithstanding all your blindness, We see, and therefore do not put away your conceited self-deception, so long your unbelief cannot depart, but must remain.” Against this view are the following objections: 1. Τυφλοί, because answering to ΜῊ ΒΛΈΠΟΝΤΕς in John 9:39, cannot denote incapacity for knowledge; 2. The antithesis λέγετε ὅτι βλέπ. suggests for ΤΥΦΛΟΊ, not the objective, but the subjective meaning; 3. ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑ is thus taken in different senses in the two halves. Other imported meanings are: Were you blind, like the multitude which you regard as blind, perhaps you would have no sin, etc. (Ewald, as though besides ἄν John had written also ΤΆΧΑ or ἼΣΩς); or (Hengstenberg), if ye suffered merely from the simple blindness of the human race, which is blind from birth, ye would have no sin of decisive significance, no unpardonable sin; as though there were the slightest reference to anything of the kind! Substantially correct are Erasmus, Beza, Grotius, and several others; comp. Luthardt and Ebrard; still ΟὐΚ ἊΝ ΕἼΧ. ἉΜ. ought not to be transposed into, “then would your sin forgive you.” The explanation of Godet is a natural consequence of his interpretation of John 9:39, but founders on the words λέγετε ὅτι βλέπομεν.
 Not, physically blind, as Nonnus, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, and several others here, as well as in ver. 40, after the example of Chrysostom, wrongly understand.
 Not, “The sin remains yours” (Ewald). Comp. John 15:16.
 “S’ils appartenaient à la multitude ignorante, leur incrédulité à l’égard de Jésus pourrait n’être qu’une affaire d’entraînement (it would be merely a sin against the Son of man); mais éclairés, comme ils le sont, par la connaissance de la parole de Dieu, c’est sciemment, qu’ils rejettent le Messie” (this is a sin against the Holy Ghost). In this case, however, Jesus must have said: νῦν δὲ βλέπετε, not νῦν δὲ λέγετε ὁτι βλέπομεν, which Godet, it is true, regards merely as an allusion to the question in ver. 40; whilst in reality it is the key to the correct understanding of the entire passage.
The absence from the Synoptics of the miracle performed on the man born blind ought to have found its explanation simply in the circumstance that it did not take place in the (Galilean) sphere of the synoptic narrative, and ought not to have been made the ground of an attack on its historical credibility, as was done by Strauss (who compares the healing of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:10); by Weisse (who derives the narrative, by means of a misunderstanding, from John 9:39); and by Baur (who regards this story as the intensified expression of the healings of the blind recorded by the synoptists, p. 245 f.); whilst Gfrörer, on the contrary, content with asserting the presence of unhistorical additions, comes to a conclusion disadvantageous to the synoptists.
According to Baur (p. 176 ff.), the narrative of the miracle was definitely and intentionally shaped, so as to set forth faith in its pure objectivity, the susceptibility to the divine as it is affected by the pure impression of the divine element in the ἔργα θεοῦ, even when it is not yet aware who is the subject of these ἔργα. “It clings to the thing itself; and the thing itself is so immediately divine, that in the thing, without knowing it, one has also the person.” In such wise are arbitrary, and not even relevant (see Brückner), abstractions from history converted into the ground of history. Ammon makes the occurrence a natural healing of an inflammation of the eyes! a counterpart to the converse travesty of some of the Fathers, who express the opinion that the blind man lacked eyes altogether, and that Jesus formed them out of the πηλός, as God at first formed man from the earth (see especially Irenaeus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Nonnus); comp. on John 9:6 f.41. If ye were blind] Christ returns to His own meaning of ‘blind’ or ‘they which see not’ in John 9:39. ‘If ye were conscious of your own spiritual darkness, if ye yearned and strove to reach the light, ye would not have sin (see on John 15:22); for either ye would find the light, or, if ye failed, the failure would not lie at your door.’ For the construction comp. John 5:46; John 8:19; John 8:42; John 15:19; John 18:36.
therefore your sin remaineth] Better, your sin abideth (see on John 1:33): ‘therefore’ is an insertion, and must be omitted. ‘Ye profess to see: your sin in this false profession and in your consequent rejection of Me abideth.’ It was a hopeless case. They rejected Him because they did not know the truth about Him; and they would never learn the truth because they were fully persuaded that they were in possession of it. Those who confess their ignorance and contend against it, (1) cease to be responsible for it, (2) have a good prospect of being freed from it. Those who deny their ignorance and contend against instruction, (1) remain responsible for their ignorance, (2) have no prospect of ever being freed from it. Comp. John 3:36.John 9:41. Ἁμαρτίαν sin) If ye would say, we are blind, ye would seek sight, and your sin would have already ceased. Sin exists even in the intellect; for blindness affects the sight, and is synonymous with sin.Verse 41. - The reply of our Lord is not meant to be a crushing and final retort, condemning them to hopeless night, but was obviously intended to show them that they are not yet free from sin, that they are only partially appreciating the light which shines upon them. If ye were blind - incapable of sight; if ye had all along been deprived of the faculty of perceiving the true Light that shineth in the darkness (a condition of things which would have emancipated them from responsibility, and which Christ would not admit to be the case); perhaps more, if ye had been utterly blind to the light which is shining upon you now, which, however, is not true - ye would not have sin. This is akin to the solemn language of John 15:22-24. They did not themselves admit that there was any congenital blindness about them. They did not pretend or expect to ride off on such a πρόφασις, such an excuse. Could they be, judicially or naturally, blind? The very idea was an absurdity, and so Jesus added, But now ye say, We see. You even boast that you are "instructors of the ignorant, and leaders of the blind; a light to those who sit in darkness, having the form of knowledge and truth in the Law" (Romans 2:17-21). You are the very opposite of the "not-seeing" (μὴ βλέποντες); you are self-satisfied; you will not come to the Light. What is the issue? The Lord seems to pause before his answer (the οϋν, "therefore," is rejected by the best manuscripts and critics): Your sin abideth; or, remaineth. It will remain until you fully admit the great principle and reason, the motive and characteristics, of my mission. The very facility you profess, the intimacy you claim with the Law and its founder, and your partial knowledge of my claim, take away your excuse. The discourse which follows shows how entire must be the submission to Christ, how complete the union with him, of those who say, "We see."
Or, ye would have had. The phrase ἁμαρτίαν ἔχειν, to have sin, occurs only in John, in the Gospel and First Epistle.
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