The signs of the Messiah, 2:13-12:50

6. Jesus the light of the world, 9:1-10:42

i] That God might be glorified


John now presents the fifth sign (or sixth where the water into wine and the cleansing of the temple are treated as two separate signs) and its appended discourse titled by Dodd as Judgment by the Light. On the one hand, we witness a blind man, not only seeing, but growing in his understanding of the one who gave him sight, while on the other hand, we witness the confirmation of the state of loss for those who reject the light.


The sign and discourses Jesus the light of the world reveal the consequence of the light (God's revelation in Christ) shining in the world. The passage follows on from Jesus' visit to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles where he is revealed as the the water of life, the one who pours out the life-giving Spirit. Now we learn that this light shines in the darkness, and some begin to see and find life. Others reject the light and inevitably face judgment.


i] Context: This sixth episode, Jesus the light of the world, covers chapters 9 and 10. It begins with the sign / healing of the blind man along with its two associated discourses. This is followed up in chapter 10 by the parable of the Shepherd, along with an exposition on the true and false leaders of Israel, 10:1-21. This is followed by what Dodd calls an appendix, v22-39/42. As Dodd argues, we are best to treat each sign/discourse unit as a unified exposition of the gospel. Carson calls the teaching parable of the Shepherd, 10:1-6, a "sustained metaphor." Having observed the situation where the blind man responds to Jesus, rather than the religious authorities, a response that prompts persecution, Jesus paints a common picture of the shepherd who has rightful access to the flock, which, in response, follows him. The so called "appendix" which follows is set within the framework of the Feast of Dedication. It is during the feast that the religious authorities question Jesus' messianic credentials.


ii] Structure: This sign / discourse episode, That God might be glorified, presents as follows:

The healing of the man born blind, v1-7;

The neighbors question the miracle, v8-12;

The Pharisees examine the man, v13-17;

The parents are examined, v18-23;

The Pharisees examine the man a second time, v24-34;

Jesus addresses the issue, v35-41:

The blind man is led to faith, v35-38;

The truth is confirmed, v39-41:

"for judgment I have come into this world,

so that the blind will see

and those who see will become blind."


iii] Interpretation:

The sign recounted in v1-7 is a straightforward narrative, but the following discourse consists of a narrative account of the debate and a repetitive recounting of the events surrounding the healing of the blind man. The related teaching associated with the sign is drawn out within this narrative and tied together by a final theological perspective which is presented in v39.


The point made by the passage is simple enough and achieves the same object as the other sign / discourse episodes in The Signs of the Messiah, namely an exposition of the gospel - "the world, and the Jews with it, lies in darkness; whoever wants to walk in the light must come to Jesus", Kostenberger. So, this passage focuses "on spiritual sight leading to confession of faith in Jesus, and on spiritual blindness which refuses to believe", Lindars.

Dodd says of this passage that it "is one of the most brilliant passages in the Gospel." "The one-time blind beggar stands before his betters, to be badgered into denying the one thing of which he is certain. But the defendant proper is Jesus himself, judged in absentia. In some sort, the man whom Christ enlightens pleads the cause of life. When he is cast out, it is Christ whom the judges have rejected. Then comes the dramatic peripeteia (revesal). Jesus swiftly turns the tables on his judges and pronounces sentence."


iv] Sources:

As is typical of John's gospel, numerous theories exist as to the possible sources used to shape this chapter, although such theories are highly speculative, eg. see Haenchen. In the end, the teaching of the passage stands apart from source theories.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 9:1

A blind man sees, v1-41: i] The sign of the healing of the man born blind, v1-7. First, the sign. Jesus is the light of the world (the divine life-giving revelation from God, 8:12) and he enacts this reality with a man born blind. The disciples assume that either the man's sin, or his parents' sin, has caused the blindness, but for Jesus, the man's condition serves as an opportunity to give sight to someone lost in darkness, both physical and spiritual. Jesus purposely defies ritual-purity laws with the use of saliva and dirt in a healing on the Sabbath, and so declares himself as a light that transcends that of Moses. Like Elisha with Naaman, Jesus calls for an act of faith on the man's part, and so begins this man's journey to life.

paragwn (paragw) pres. part. "as he went along" - passing by, along. The participle is adverbial, temporal.

ek + gen. "from [birth]" - Expressing source / origin. A more Semitic way of putting it would be "from the mother's womb", cf. Matt.19:12. Blindness from birth underlines the seriousness of the condition and also stifles the argument that the man's condition is a consequence of sin.


tiV hJmarten (aJmartenw) aor. "who sinned ....?" - Exodus 20:5 certainly encouraged the notion that the stain of a parent's sin may infect a child, but the book of Job makes it clear that there is no direct correlation between a particular sin and sickness. "Whose sin caused this man's blindness?" Phillips.

iJna + subj. "that [he was born blind]" - that. Probably forming a consecutive clause, "with the result that ....", see v3 below.


a ll (alla) "but [this happened]" - but. Adversative, as NIV.

iJna + subj. "so that [the work of God might be displayed]" - NIV reads the hina clause as expressing purpose, but such a reading implies that God made the man blind so that Jesus could heal him. It is more likely that the clause expresses result. The man's blindness provides an opportunity for Jesus to be the light of the world. The man's blindness has nothing to do with his, or his parent's sin; "but because of his blindness, you will see God perform a miracle for him", CEV. Although unlikely, it is possible that this construction here is imperatival; "let the works of God be displayed in him!", cf. see Moule Idiom Book.


JhmaV pro. "we" - The use of the plural here by Jesus may be original, although some manuscripts have "I". If the plural is original, Jesus is including his disciples in this ministry statement.

ergazesqai (ergazomai) pres. inf. "[must] do the work" - to work [is necessary]. The infinitive functions as the subject of the verb "is necessary", a verb often used to express divine necessity.

ercetai (ercomai) pres. "[night] is coming" - go, come. Futuristic or predictive present, "night will come"; "it will soon be night."


o{tan + subj. of the verb to-be w\ "while" - Forming an indefinite temporal clause.

fwV eimi tou kosmou "I am the light of the world" - The genitive, tou kosmou, "of the world", is often treated as objective, so "for" rather than "of" we end up with "I am light for the world", Moffatt; also CEV, but possibly adjectival, possessive; "Jesus does his work as the Light of (that belongs to) the World while he is, as it were, shinning", Lindars.


eipwn (eipon) aor. part. "having said [this]" - having said [these things]. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal; "when he had thus spoken", AV.

eptusen (ptuw) aor. "he spit [on the ground]" - he spat. It was commonly held that saliva had curative powers, but its use was later banned in Jewish circles due to its use in the magical arts. Carson notes David Smith's suggestion that, saliva, as with dirt, implied ritual impurity and that Jesus here is defying Jewish sensibilities and healing independently of the prevailing notions of ritual cleanliness. As noted later, the day Jesus does this on is the Sabbath. This too may be a further intended affront to Jewish religious sensibilities.


niyai (niptw) aor. imp. "wash" - wash, bathe. Aorist probably indicates the command expects an immediate response. Note the parallel with 2 Kings 5:10-13. Implied object is obviously "eyes"; "wash your face", TEV.

thn kolumbhqran tou Silwam "the pool of Siloam" - The pond for the diverted waters from the spring of Gihon that flows through Hezekiah's tunnel. It is most likely the "lower pool", not the pool now identified as "the pool of Siloam."

apestalmenoV (apostellw) perf. pas. part. "sent" - [which is translated] having been sent. John typically explains Semitic words, here a word based on the root slh, "to send" = the waters sent from Gihon.

oun "so" - therefore. Drawing a logical conclusion.

hlqen (ercomai) aor. "came home" - came. The NIV "home" is assumed. He certainly didn't come back to Jesus, so "home" is a good guess.

blepwn (blepw) pres. part. "seeing" - The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of his going/coming.


ii] The questions raised by the blind man's neighbors, v8-12. The man born blind is questioned by his neighbors. The blind man's neighbors have seen him begging, probably at the same spot for a very long time. Now that he sees, they are unsure if this is the same man. The questioning serves to identify the source of the miracle, namely, "the man called Jesus."

oun "-" - Here resumptive and so not translated.

oiJ qewrounteV (qewrew) pres. part. "those who had [formerly] seen him" - the ones seeing him. The participle functions as a substantive in apposition to "neighbors". The present tense probably indicates continuous action, ie. they regularly saw him begging at a particular place.

oJti "-" - that [he was a beggar]. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what the neighbors had seen.

oJ kaqhmenoV (kaqhmai) pres. part. "who used to sit [and beg]" - the one sitting [and begging]. As with krosaitwn, the participle functions as a substantive.


elegon (legw) imperf. "claimed" - said. The use of the imperfect indicates that numerous comments were made of the man.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement, direct / indirect speech.

egw eimi "I am the man" - I am. An interesting use of a phrase that Jesus enjoyed using with some import, with reference to the great "I AM" of divine self-revelation. Here it carries no weight other than to mean, "I am the man who used to beg at ........."; "I am the man alright", Phillips.


hnew/cqhsan (anoigw) aor. pas. "opened" - were opened. The sense is "how is it that you now see?"; "how was your blindness cured?" Phillips.

elegon imperf. "they demanded" - they were saying/asking. Imperfect again indicating a continuous request, although the imperfect is often used of speech due to the durative nature of a conversation (especially if the person is long-winded!!!).


oJ legomenoV (legw) pres. pas. part. "[the man] they call Jesus" - the one being called. The participle serves as an adjective, attributive, limiting "the man"; "the man who is named Jesus."

epecrisen (epicriw) aor. "put it on" - rub on, anoint. The man is describing what happened; "smeared it on my eyes", CEV.

oJti "[said to me] that" - Introducing a dependent statement of direct speech.

apelqwn (apercomai) aor. part. "I went" - having gone [and having washed I saw]. As with niyamenoV "washed", attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "I saw".


autw/ dat. "[they asked] him" - [they said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

ekeinoV "this man" - that one. A rather rude form of address; "where is that fellow?"


iii] The first interrogation of the blind man by the Pharisees, v13-17. The man born blind is then questioned by the Pharisees. The neighbors obviously feel that the religious authorities should witness this amazing event, but the Pharisees are divided on whether it is an evil, or good omen. As far as the man is concerned, Jesus is obviously a very special person under God ("prophet" - used in the sense of "a man of God").

agousin (ago) act. "they brought" - drive, lead, bring. NEB "was brought" gives a passive sense, reinforcing the idea that those who knew the man insisted that he come with them to see the religious authorities.

FarisaiouV "Pharisees" - Later in the chapter John refers to "Jews", "Jewish authorities" TEV, but probably no distinction is intended.


It seems very likely that we have an editorial comment here which serves to explain the increased hostility of the religious authorities. For this reason Phillips treats this verse as a parentheses: "(It should be noted that Jesus made the clay and restored his sight on a Sabbath day)."


oun "therefore" - Rather than inferential it is possible that the conjunction is resumptive here.

palin adv. "also" - again. The NIV dodges the ambiguity of "again" with the use of "also", given that the "again" does not mean that this is the second time the Pharisees had questioned the man.


para + gen. "[this man is not] from [God]" - NEB carries the sense better, "is no man of God." The sense of "from beside" will be preferred by those who think the statement has messianic overtones, ie. "he cannot be the one God has sent." He is no man of God because he does not obey the Sabbath law, cf. Deut.13:1-5. In strict accordance with the law, Jesus should have properly waited till the first day of the week to perform the healing, since the man's condition was not life threatening.

oJti "for" - because. Here serving to introduce a causal clause.

ou threi (threw) pres. "he does not keep [the Sabbath]" - The sense is "he does not observe the Sabbath law."

poiein (poiew) pres. inf. "[how can a sinner] do" - [is able .....] to do. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "is able."

en + dat. "[they were] divided" - [a division was] in [them]. Locative, expressing space / sphere, here "among". "And they differed violently about Jesus", Barclay.


palin adv. "again" - NIV "finally ..... again", "so they asked the blind man once more", Moffatt.

oJti "-" - since, because. The conjunction here (as with the direct speech "he is a prophet") may form a dependent statement, "what do you say about him that he opened your eyes", ie. expressing what the blind man is saying. It is possible that it reflects Aramaic form here, and so may be treated as a relative pronoun, o{V "who". It is best to treat it as either introducing a direct quotation, so TEV, or as causal, "since/because", "what do you say about him, since it was your eyes he opened?"

profhthV "prophet" - The man possibly thinks Jesus is an Elisha type, even possibly that he is the promised Prophet like Moses, the one who precedes the Messiah, but it is more likely he sees Jesus in a general sense, as a special person who is obviously a man of God.


iv] The Pharisees interrogate the man's parents, v18-23. The Pharisees then question the man's parent's. The parents recognize that the miracle is causing some agitation among the religious authorities and so affirm nothing more than that the man is their son and that he was born blind.

oiJ Ioudaioi "the Jews" - "The Jewish authorities"

ouk episteusan (pisteuw) aor. "did not believe" - "Did not really believe", Phillips.

e{wV o{tou + aor. ind. "until [they sent]" - while, until. Forming a temporal clause referring to a past fact, here the man's blindness.

efwnhsan (fwnew) aor. "they sent" - they called. Although not stated, the investigation of the parents is obviously undertaken without their blind son being present.

tou anableyantoV (anablepw) gen. aor. part. "-" - of the one having received his sight. The participle functions as an adjective limiting the genitive pronoun "him". Left out of some manuscripts probably because of the unnecessary repetition. "Until they called the parents of him who was healed", Torrey.


For stylistic reasons the NIV divides this Greek sentence into two sentences separated by "they asked". "Is this your son who you say was born blind?" RSV.

oJti "-" - [you say] that [he was born blind]. Introducing a dependent statement, indirect speech.


Lit. "therefore the parents of him answered and said."

oJti "-" - that. Twice used in this verse to introduce a dependent statement of perception expressing what the parents know.


hnoixen autou touV ofqalmouV "opened his eyes" - "Gave him back his sight". "We do not know how he got his sight or who gave it to him", CEV.

hJmeiV "we [don't know]" - The pronoun is emphatic

hJlikian (a) "he is of age" - a span of life. "He is a grown-up man", Phillips.


oJti "because [they were afraid]" - that. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the parents "said this."

suneteqeito (suntiqhmi) pluperf. "[the Jews] had decided" - [the Jews] agreed together. The pluperfect indicates that the decision to act against anyone who acknowledged Jesus was made well before these events.

iJna + subj. "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement, indirect speech, expressing what the Jewish authorities had decided.

ean + subj. "if" - if. Forming a conditional clause, 3rd. class, where the condition has the possibility of becoming true; "if, as may be the case, ..... then ....."

aposunagwgoV adj. "put out of the synagogue" - excommunicate. John is probably referring to a total excommunication of believers from Israel - a banishment. There were other more formal disciplinary banishments which could last a week or a month and which did not bar a person from religious services. "Should be banned from the Synagogue", NEB.


v] The blind man is further interrogated by the Pharisees, v24-34. The man is further questioned by the Pharisees. Given that the Pharisees are unsure of Jesus' religious qualifications (this is the purpose of the oblique reference to his origin, v29), and are quite sure of his neglect of Mosaic law (he is a sinner, v24), they demand that the man born blind tell them by what deceitful means Jesus stage-managed this event ("give glory to God" = tell the truth). In response, the man observes that only a God-fearing man who does God's will could undertake the healing of a person born blind. The truth always hurts and so for his troubles the man is excommunicated.

ek deuterou "a second time" - of second. An uncommon temporal use of ek to form the idiomatic phrase "a second time"; "they called back the man who had been born blind", ATH.

doV doxan tw/ qew/ "give glory to God" - The sense is probably "swear by God to tell the truth", CEV.

oJti "-" - [we know] that [this man is a sinner]. Introducing a dependent statement of perception. Jesus is perceived to be a sinner because he broke the Sabbath law.


ei + ind. "if" - if. The conjunction here serves to introduce an interrogative noun clause, indirect question, cf. Zerwick #402.

aJmartwloV (oV) "he is a sinner" - Jesus did heal on the sabbath so his legal standing under the law is something the blind man is unable to debate.

wn (eimi) pres. part. "I was" - The participle is probably concessive, "although ......, yet ......", ie. he concedes the point that he was blind and that a possible sinner set about to heal him, yet the result is that he now sees. What does that say about this man Jesus?


ouk hkousate (akouw) aor. "you did not listen" - " Some suggest "would not listen", eg. . Moffatt. Some manuscripts have "believe" and others leave out the negative, carrying the sense "you have heard what I said to you."

akouein (akouw) pres. inf. "[why do you want] to hear" - The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "want".

mh "-" - no. This rhetorical question is formed in the Greek to expect a negative answer, "You don't want to become his disciples, do you?" Williams.


eloidorhsan (loidorew) aor. " they hurled insults" - insult, scoff, revile. "they became abusive", NEB. de "-" - but, and. Here adversative; "you are his disciples, but we are Moses' disciples", Berkeley.

tou MwusewV (hV ou) gen. "we are disciples of Moses" - The genitive is adjectival, relational. Moses is the source of the Law and therefore, he is the person religious Jews should follow.


oJti "[we know] that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they know.

touton "this fellow's [disciple]" - this one. The use of this pronoun by itself carries a contemptuous sense, as NIV.

ouk oidamen poqen estin "we don't even know where he comes from" - we do not know from where he is. Most commentators suggest that the "where" is his home town, eg. "we don't even know where his hometown is." Yet 7:27 indicates that the Jewish authorities do know that Jesus comes from Nazareth and given that no one will know where the messiah comes from, it is obvious (to them!) that Jesus is not the messiah. It is quite possible that we have here a general statement as to Jesus' lack of divine association and therefore, authority, unlike Moses whose authority comes from an intimate association with the divine. This approach makes sense of v30 where it is nonsensical to link a knowledge of Jesus hometown with his miraculous powers.


oidamen (oida) perf. "we know" - The blind man also uses "the royal" plural, obviously paralleling the use by the Jewish authorities.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception.

aJmartwlwn oJ qeoV ouk akouew "God does not listen to sinners" - sinners God does not hear. "Sinners" in the sense of those in rebellion against God, defiant of God. The proposition is that God does not answer the prayers of those who are against him, eg. Isa.1:15.

ean + subj. "-" - Conditional clause, 3rd. class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "if, as may be the case, .... then ....." "If anyone is a God-fearing man and does His will, he listens to him", Weymouth.

tiV qeosebhV adj. "the godly man" - anyone god-fearing, respectful, devout, pious. "The man who has proper respect for God", Phillips. As the second clause makes clear, a devout person is one who does what God wants them to do.


ek tou aiwnoV "[nobody] has ever [heard]" - from the age [it was not heard]. Temporal use of the preposition ek. It is "absolutely unheard of", Brown. "There is no record in any canonical writings of a person regaining their sight who was born blind."

gegennhmenou (gennaw) perf. pas. part. "[of a man] born [blind]" - [of a blind man] having been born. The participle serves as an adjective, attributive, limiting "blind man."


ei mh + imperf. "if ..... not .." - if, as is not the case, ..... then ..... Forming a conditional clause, 2nd class, contrary to fact, where the fact stated in the apodosis (the "then" clause) would have been true if the condition in the protasis (the "if" clause) had been true. The usual mh in the protasis and ou, ouk in the apodosis, but without an in the apodosis. cf. 3:10.

poiein (poiew) pres. inf. "[he could] do" - [he would not be able] to do. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "is able."


en + dat. "[you were steeped] in [sin]" - [you were born] in [sin altogether]. Local, expressing space / sphere. Possibly referring to his life as a sinner, "you a sinner through and through since you were born", JB, or referring to his state of inherited sin evidenced by his being born blind, "you were born in utter sin", RSV. Probably the latter.

kai su didaskeiV hJmaV "how dare you lecture us!" - and you are teaching us. "Who are you to give us lessons", NEB, although the NIV strikes the right cord.


vi] Jesus leads the blind man to a full confession of faith, v35-38. Jesus reveals himself as the divine revelation from God; he is the Son of Man, the one who gives the light of life to those who seek it, but confirms a state of loss upon those who don't. In response, the man born blind believes and bows before his Lord.

euJrwm (euJriskw) aor. part "when he found [him]" - having found. The participle is adverbial, temporal. "On meeting him", Moffatt, fails to underline the fact that Jesus seeks him out. "He went and found the man", CEV.

tou anqrwpou (oV) gen. "Son of Man" - The genitive is adjectival, relational. Why does Jesus represent himself to the blind man with the enigmatic title of Son of Man? Some manuscripts have "Son of God", which probably illustrates that some earlier copyists pondered the same question. John possibly uses this title for the attention of the reader. For John, the Son of Man is the divine revelation from God, the Word incarnate, who gives life to all who believe, cf. 1:51, but who also has authority to condemn those who don't, v39, cf. 5:27. This verse then, encapsulates the message of this episode.


kai tiV estin, kurie "who is he, sir?" - and who is he, lord? "Tell me who he is, sir", TEV

iJna + subj. "so that I may" - Forming an adverbial clause, final, expressing purpose, "in order that", or consecutive, expressing consequence, result, or hypothetical result, "so that", as NIV.

pisteusw (pisteuw) aor. subj. "believe" - The aorist carries the sense, "that I may come to put my faith in him."


eJwrakaV (oJraw) perf. "now seen" - you have seen. The NIV adds the "now" to draw out the sense of the Greek perfect, "you have already seen him", TEV.

oJ lalwn pres. part. "[he is] the one speaking [with you]" - the one speaking [with you is that one]. The participle serves as a substantive. The TEV adds "now" to draw out the continuous sense of the Greek present.


prosekunhsen (proskunew) aor. "he worshiped" - bowed down before, did obeisance. "Knelt down before", TEV. Possibly an inceptive imperfect serving to underline the beginning of the action, "he began to kneel down ..."

autw/ dat. pro. "him" Dative of direct object after the verb "to worship".


vii] John now provides a theological overview of the sign and its related narrative, v39-41. The purpose of Jesus' coming is to enable the blind to see, but at the same time to expose the blindness of those who claim to see. This verse, along with v38, is not found in some manuscripts.

eiV "for ...... into" - The first use of this preposition expresses purpose, "for the purpose of ...", the second is spatial, "to, into".

krima (a atoV) "judgment" - decision. Jesus did not come into the world just to judge the world, 3:17. Yet, as a consequence of his coming, judgement does take place. In the face of God's revelation, people separate into two distinct groups. "This is the paradox of the revelation, that in order to bring grace it must also give offence, and so can turn to judgment", Bultmann.

iJna + subj. "so that" - A purpose clause seems best, although hypothetical result, as NIV, is possible, although note the same ambiguous sense expressed in v2 and 3. The divisive nature of the revelation has as its purpose the drawing out of those who seek the light.

oi mh bleponteV (blepw) pres. part. "the blind [will see]" - the ones not seeing [may see]. The participle functions as a substantive.

oi bleponteV "those who see [will become blind]" - the ones seeing [may become blind]. The purpose of the revelation is not really that "those who see will become blind", but rather "that those who claim to have spiritual sight will be shown up for the blind people that they really are", Stott.


ek "some [Pharisees]" - out of from [the Pharisees]. "Some" is assumed, while the preposition serves as a partitive genitive.

oiJ ..... o[nteV (eimi) pres. part. "who [were with him]" - the ones being [with him]. The participle serves as an adjective, attributive, limiting "Pharisees", as NIV.

mh "[what, are we blind too?]" - no. The Greek implies an expected negative answer to the question, "we are not blind, are we?" The expected answer would be "of course not." The truth, of course, is that they are blind.


ei + imperf. ..... an + imperf. "if" - if, as is not the case, ..... then .....Forming a conditional clause, 2nd class, contrary to fact. See v33 above.

ouk an eicete aJmartian (a) "you would not be guilty of sin" - you would not have sin. Most commentators take "sin" in the Old Testament sense of "guilt", "you would not be guilty", Moffatt. The play on words makes the point that those who are aware of their guilt, who recognize it, can seek forgiveness and find it in the Son of Man, while those who deny their guilt, deny their condition of loss, their blindness, remain in a state of sin, blind, and under condemnation.


John Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]