John 5:47
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

King James Bible
But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

American Standard Version
But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Douay-Rheims Bible
But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?

English Revised Version
But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Webster's Bible Translation
But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Weymouth New Testament
But if you disbelieve his writings, how are you to believe my words?"

John 5:47 Parallel
Commentary
Vincent's Word Studies

Writings (γράμμασιν)

It is important to understand the precise sense of this word, because it goes to determine whether Jesus intended an antithesis between Moses' writings and His own words, or simply between Moses (ἐκείνου) and Himself (ἐμοῖς).

Γράμμα primarily means what is written. Hence it may describe either a single character or a document. From this general notion several forms develop themselves in the New Testament. The word occurs in its narrower sense of characters, at Luke 23:38; 2 Corinthians 3:7; Galatians 6:11. In Acts 28:21, it means official communications. Paul, with a single exception (2 Corinthians 3:7), uses it of the letter of scripture as contrasted with its spirit (Romans 2:27, Romans 2:29; Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6). In Luke 16:6, Luke 16:7, it denotes a debtor's bond (A.V., bill). In John 7:15, Acts 26:24) it is used in the plural as a general term for scriptural and Rabbinical learning. Compare Sept., Isaiah 29:11,Isaiah 29:12) where a learned man is described as ἐπιτάμενος γράμματα, acquainted with letters. Once it is used collectively of the sacred writings - the scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15), though some give it a wider reference to Rabbinical exegesis, as well as to scripture itself. Among the Alexandrian Greeks the term is not confined to elementary instruction, but includes exposition, based, however, on critical study of the text. The tendency of such exegesis was often toward mystical and allegorical interpretation, degenerating into a petty ingenuity in fixing new and recondite meanings upon the old and familiar forms. This was illustrated by the Neo-Platonists' expositions of Homer, and by the Rabbinical exegesis. Men unacquainted with such studies, especially if they appeared as public teachers, would be regarded as ignorant by the Jews of the times of Christ and the Apostles. Hence the question respecting our Lord Himself: How knoweth this man letters (γράμματα John 7:15)? Also the comment upon Peter and John (Acts 4:13) that they were unlearned (ἀγράμματοι). Thus, too, those who discovered in the Old Testament scriptures references to Christ, would be stigmatized by Pagans, as following the ingenious and fanciful method of the Jewish interpreters, which they held in contempt. Some such feeling may have provoked the words of Festus to Paul: Much learning (πολλά γράμματα) doth make thee mad (Acts 26:24). It is well known with what minute care the literal transcription of the sacred writings was guarded. The Scribes (γραμματεῖς) were charged with producing copies according to the letter (κατὰ τὸ γράμμα).

The one passage in second Timothy cannot be urged in favor of the general use of the term for the scriptures, especially since the best texts reject the article before ἱερὰ γράμμα, so that the meaning is apparently more general: "thou hast known sacred writings." The familiar formula for the scriptures was αἱ γραφαὶ ἁγίαι. A single book of the collection of writings was known as βιβλίον (Luke 4:17), or βίβλος (Luke 20:42); never γραφή, which was the term for a particular passage. See on Mark 12:10.

It seems to me, therefore, that the antithesis between the writings of Moses, superstitiously reverenced in the letter, and minutely and critically searched and expounded by the Jews, and the living words (ῥήμασιν, see on Luke 1:37), is to be recognized. This, however, need not exclude the other antithesis between Moses and Jesus personally.

John 5:47 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Luke 16:29,31 Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them...

Cross References
Luke 16:29
But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'

Luke 16:31
He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'"

2 Timothy 3:15
and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

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