Cure on a Sabbath. 1After this, there was a feast* of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.a 2Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep [Gate]* a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.b 3In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.* 4* 5One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” 7The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” 8Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”c 9Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.d
Now that day was a sabbath. 10So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”e 11He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” 12They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” 13The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there.f 14* After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him,g “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. 16Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath.h 17* But Jesus answered them,i “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” 18For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.j
The Work of the Son. 19* Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing;k for what he does, his son will do also. 20For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed.l 21For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,* so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.m 22Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment* to his Son,n 23so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.o 25Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.p 26For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to his Son the possession of life in himself.q 27And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man.r 28* Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voices 29and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.t
30“I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.u
Witnesses to Jesus. 31v “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony cannot be verified. 32But there is another* who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. 33You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.w 34I do not accept testimony from a human being, but I say this so that you may be saved.x 35He was a burning and shining lamp,* and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.y 36But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.z 37Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,a 38and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.b 39You search* the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf.c 40But you do not want to come to me to have life.
Unbelief of Jesus’ Hearers. 41“I do not accept human praise;* 42moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.d 43I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him.e 44How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?f 45Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope.g 46For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me.h 47But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
* [5:1–47] The self-revelation of Jesus continues in Jerusalem at a feast. The third sign (cf. Jn 2:11; 4:54) is performed, the cure of a paralytic by Jesus’ life-giving word. The water of the pool fails to bring life; Jesus’ word does.
* [5:1] The reference in Jn 5:45–46 to Moses suggests that the feast was Pentecost. The connection of that feast with the giving of the law to Moses on Sinai, attested in later Judaism, may already have been made in the first century. The feast could also be Passover (cf. Jn 6:4). John stresses that the day was a sabbath (Jn 5:9).
* [5:2] There is no noun with Sheep. “Gate” is supplied on the grounds that there must have been a gate in the NE wall of the temple area where animals for sacrifice were brought in; cf. Neh 3:1, 32; 12:39. Hebrew: more precisely, Aramaic. Bethesda: preferred to variants “Be(th)zatha” and “Bethsaida”; bêt-’eśdatayin is given as the name of a double pool northeast of the temple area in the Qumran Copper Roll. Five porticoes: a pool excavated in Jerusalem actually has five porticoes.
* [5:3] The Caesarean and Western recensions, followed by the Vulgate, add “waiting for the movement of the water.” Apparently an intermittent spring in the pool bubbled up occasionally (see Jn 5:7). This turbulence was believed to cure.
* [5:4] Toward the end of the second century in the West and among the fourth-century Greek Fathers, an additional verse was known: “For [from time to time] an angel of the Lord used to come down into the pool; and the water was stirred up, so the first one to get in [after the stirring of the water] was healed of whatever disease afflicted him.” The angel was a popular explanation of the turbulence and the healing powers attributed to it. This verse is missing from all early Greek manuscripts and the earliest versions, including the original Vulgate. Its vocabulary is markedly non-Johannine.
* [5:14] While the cure of the paralytic in Mk 2:1–12 is associated with the forgiveness of sins, Jesus never drew a one-to-one connection between sin and suffering (cf. Jn 9:3; Lk 12:1–5), as did Ez 18:20.
* [5:17] Sabbath observance (10) was based on God’s resting on the seventh day (cf. Gn 2:2–3; Ex 20:11). Philo and some rabbis insisted that God’s providence remains active on the sabbath, keeping all things in existence, giving life in birth and taking it away in death. Other rabbis taught that God rested from creating, but not from judging (=ruling, governing). Jesus here claims the same authority to work as the Father, and, in the discourse that follows, the same divine prerogatives: power over life and death (Jn 5:21, 24–26) and judgment (Jn 5:22, 27).
* [5:19] This proverb or parable is taken from apprenticeship in a trade: the activity of a son is modeled on that of his father. Jesus’ dependence on the Father is justification for doing what the Father does.
* [5:21] Gives life: in the Old Testament, a divine prerogative (Dt 32:39; 1 Sm 2:6; 2 Kgs 5:7; Tb 13:2; Is 26:19; Dn 12:2).
* [5:22] Judgment: another divine prerogative, often expressed as acquittal or condemnation (Dt 32:36; Ps 43:1).
* [5:28–29] While Jn 5:19–27 present realized eschatology, Jn 5:28–29 are future eschatology; cf. Dn 12:2.
* [5:32] Another: likely the Father, who in four different ways gives testimony to Jesus, as indicated in the verse groupings Jn 5:33–34, 36, 37–38, 39–40.
* [5:35] Lamp: cf. Ps 132:17—“I will place a lamp for my anointed (= David),” and possibly the description of Elijah in Sir 48:1. But only for a while, indicating the temporary and subordinate nature of John’s mission.
* [5:39] You search: this may be an imperative: “Search the scriptures, because you think that you have eternal life through them.”
* [5:41] Praise: the same Greek word means “praise” or “honor” (from others) and “glory” (from God). There is a play on this in Jn 5:44.
c. [5:8] Mt 9:6; Mk 2:11; Lk 5:24; Acts 3:6.
d. [5:9] Mk 2:12; Lk 5:25; 9:14.
e. [5:10] Ex 20:8; Jer 17:21–27; Mk 3:2; Lk 13:10; 14:1.
f. [5:13] Mt 8:18; 13:36; Mk 4:36; 7:17.
g. [5:14] 8:11; 9:2; Ez 18:20.
j. [5:18] 7:1, 25; 8:37, 40; 10:33, 36; 14:28; Gn 3:5–6; Wis 2:16; Mt 26:4; 2 Thes 2:4.
k. [5:19] 3:34; 8:26; 12:49; 9:4; 10:30.
m. [5:21] 11:25; Dt 32:39; 1 Sm 2:6; 2 Kgs 5:7; Tb 13:2; Wis 16:13; Is 26:19; Dn 7:10, 13; 12:2; Rom 4:17; 2 Cor 1:9.
n. [5:22] Acts 10:42; 17:31.
o. [5:24] 3:18; 8:51; 1 Jn 3:14.
p. [5:25] 5:28; 8:51; 11:25–26; Eph 2:1; 5:14; Rev 3:1.
r. [5:27] 5:22; Dn 7:13, 22; Mt 25:31; Lk 21:36.
t. [5:29] Dn 12:2; Mt 16:27; 25:46; Acts 24:15; 2 Cor 5:10.
w. [5:33] 1:19–27; Mt 11:10–11.
y. [5:35] 1:8; Ps 132:17; Sir 48:1.
a. [5:37] 8:18; Dt 4:12, 15; 1 Jn 5:9.
c. [5:39] 12:16; 19:28; 20:9; Lk 24:27, 44; 1 Pt 1:10.