Sefer Yochanan (Gospel According to John) Chapter 5 Pt.1 Wholeness at the Pool of Beit-Chasda [House of Kindness/Practical love] (John 5:1-24)
Belief, faith, trust, is a journey begun that does not end. If your faith ends it proves itself to be counterfeit. I’m not speaking of doubt, doubt does not negate faith, to the contrary it qualifies faith.
1After these things, words, events (ha-devariym[H]) there was a recurring festival (heorte[G], chag[H]) of the (ho[G], ha[H]) Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]), and Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) went up to Jerusalem (Yerushalayim[H], Flood/Downpour of Peace, wholeness, wellbeing).
1After these things, words, events, there was a recurring festival of the Judeans, religious Jews, and Yeshua went up to Jerusalem.
We note that these events follow the healing of the child of the officer of the king in Cana, Capernaum, and the Galilee region, 151 km, approximately 32 hours walk from Jerusalem.
Both the Hebrew and Greek texts refer to a singular festival, “a festival of the religious Jews/Judeans”. While some suggest that this festival is one of the Regaliym (Aliyot or pilgrimage festivals), this is untenable given the chronology of John’s Gospel.
Based on Yeshua’s reference to the approaching harvest in the previous chapter and the fact that it has almost been a year since His ascent to Jerusalem for the Passover (Pesach) the festival in the present verse is most likely the post-Torah festival of Purim which celebrates the deliverance of Israel from the evil Haman during the Persian exile (recorded in the Scroll of Esther). In fact this is the only option given that the Passover is just over a month away at this point in the chronology. Nor can the present festival be Passover because John’s Gospel uses the definite article “The” when referring to Passover, whereas the festival in question is simply called “Festival”.
The fact that Yeshua venerated this festival (Purim) shows that He was not opposed to honouring God’s continued work in Israel’s history and the spiritual history of humanity. An educated estimate of this festival’s occurrence in the first century CE places this particular Purim celebration on March 17th 29 CE, a weekly Shabbat day. As I have stated, it’s the only remaining festival that occurs prior to Pesach (6:4), and is therefore the only plausible choice here with regard to the chronology of the book of John.
Yeshua also venerated the extra-Biblical festival of Chanukah (Dedication) [John 10:22-23] which celebrates the deliverance of Israel from Greek (Syro-Phoenician) oppression, and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem on December (Kislev) 25, 165 BCE (1 Maccabees 4:36-40). The fact that Yeshua made Aliyah (going up) to go and celebrate an extra Biblical festival (something the Torah does not require of Jewish males) shows His veneration of those things which continued to memorialize the ongoing delivering work of God. Those foolish Messianic Gentiles who now rebuke Christians for celebrating Christmas (another extra Biblical festival) because it occurs on a pagan date, should take careful note of the date of the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees. Unlike many modern Messianic believers, Yeshua did not miss an opportunity to reveal God’s redemptive work to humanity. Thus, in our present text it is during Purim that He shows a suffering man the path, not only to healing, but to wholeness and a life lived free from condemnation.
“Went up” is a topographical phrase. Yeshua travelled south to Jerusalem going up to Mt Moriah (Temple Mount).
2 Now there is in (Yerushalayim[H], Flood/Downpour of Peace, wholeness, wellbeing) by the sheep gate (probatikos[G], sha’ar-hatzon[H]) a pool, which is called in Ivriyt[H] (Hebraisti[G], Hebrew) Beit chasda[H, A] (House of Kindness/Practical love, from the Hebrew root chesed), having five (chamishah[H]) porticoes, covered walkways lined with columns (stoa[G], ulamiym[H]).
2 Now there is in by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Beit chasda, having five covered walkways lined with columns.
The Greek text simply says “probatikos” sheep, and not “Sheep Gate”. However, historical context, archaeological evidence and common scholarship all point toward this being a reference to the north-eastern gate of the wall surrounding 1st century Jerusalem.
Notice, “Now there is in Jerusalem”. This means that contrary to popular Christian scholarly myth, the writer of John’s Gospel could not have written His original manuscript after 70 CE (the year of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans). The evidence continues to mount in support of the likelihood that the writer of John’s Gospel initially wrote his Gospel for a first century Jewish, Samaritan, Israeli audience, and only secondarily intended it to be distributed to the wider body of Jewish and Gentile believers throughout the known world.
“the sheep gate (sha’ar-hatzon[H])” This gate was probably named in connection to the main animal market where sacrificial sheep were bought and sold (some scholars dispute the existance of such a market in the 1st century), which was located directly outside this gate in the Second Temple era, and probably owed its location to the gate of Nehemiah’s time.
“Then Eliashib the high priest arose with his brothers the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They consecrated the wall to the Tower of the Hundred and the Tower of Hananel.” -Nehemiah 3:1 (NASB)
Scholars suggest that the Mishnah reference to “Sha’ar Tadiy” (Tadi Gate) [Mishnah. Middot 1:3] is a mis-spelling given that there is no known translation for the Mishnaic Hebrew word “Tadiy”. Therefore, they suggest that this gate is in fact “Sha’ar Taliy”, Gate of a Lamb, or, the Lamb’s Gate. Some suggest that this is the original Hebrew name for the gate mentioned in John 5:2.
Very near the site of the ancient Sheep’s Gate is the modern city gate dating to the 16th century. This modern gate is known as the “Lions’ Gate.” (ref. Rev.5:5-6; Isaiah 11:6)
The Lions’ gate is situated in the northeast corner of the Old City of Jerusalem, and provides access to the Temple Mount from the Kidron Valley. During the Byzantine period (6th Century CE) this gate was referred to as the “St Stephen’s Gate”, because it was believed that it was outside this gate Stephen, the first Messianic Jewish martyr was murdered (Acts 7:58).
Over the centuries, those who built up Jerusalem have had to reuse the ancient location of the gate due to the fact that Jerusalem gives way to the Kidron Valley on its north eastern side, thus it has always been the site of the north-eastern gate, which has been renamed multiple times over the centuries.
“Beit chasda[H, A] (House of Kindness/Practical love, from the Hebrew root chesed)” This pool is probably named for the healing and mercy shown by God to those who sought Him there. The pool was excavated in the 19th century, and is located directly north of the Temple Mount.
It is possible that prior to the second Temple era this pool was used to wash the sacrificial sheep before bringing them into the Temple. Though this seems unlikely given that no such requirement is commanded in the Torah. It is also highly unlikely, even tenuous, to suggest as some do, that this pool was being used by the Greco-Roman cult of Asclepius at the time of Yeshua (1st century CE). According to archaeological record the use of this pool for Roman rites dates back only as far as the second century CE (Encyclopaedia of Judaica 9: 1539), when it was used as a healing sanctuary of sorts, possibly related to neo pagan syncritism. Given the volatile Religious-Political climate of the first century CE, the use of this pool by the Asclepius Cult seems implausible at best. Further still we see that the movement of the pool’s waters is attributed to an Angel of God, and not to a foreign deity (v.4).
Those who claim that verse 4 is unreliable because it appears in fewer ancient manuscripts are, like so many revisionist scholars of our time, convinced that they have greater integrity than that of the scribes of Messianic (Greek) Scripture. Suffice to say, this is the height of hubris and a sad reflection on our post enlightenment propensity for self-delusion.
It is thought by some that this pool may be synonymous with the “Upper pool” mentioned in 2 Kings 18:17 and Isaiah 7:13, and by others that it is the pool known as “The Great Pool”.
"between Hebron and Jerusalem, is the fountain Etham, from whence the waters come by way of pipes, unto the great pool, which is in Jerusalem.'' - Cippi Hebraici, p. 10.
Therefore, the pool of Beit Chasda has a connection to the sacrificial Lamb of God Yeshua and the gate close by connects us figuratively to the attributes of His Messiahship, being both the humble self-sacrificing Lamb of God and the mighty returning Lion of Judah, King of the Jews and Ruler of the nations.
3 In these (the porticoes) lay a multitude (plethos[G]) of the sick, feeble, weak (astheneo[G]), blind (tuphlos[G]), lame, limping (cholos[G]), dry, withered, paralysed (xeros[G]) waiting for the moving (kinesis[G]) of the waters (hudor[G]); 4 for an angel, messenger (angelos[G], malakh[H]) of the Lord (YHVH[H]) went down during a certain season, on a certain occasion (Kairos[G]) into the pool and stirred up, agitated, disturbed (tarasso[G]) the water (hudor[G]); whoever then entered first into the water, after the stirring up was made sound, healthy, pure, whole (hugies[G]) from whatever at the time (depote[G]) was the disease, trouble, sickness (nosema[G]) which had tight hold of, arrested, possessed, restrained, held back, detained (katecho[G]) him, or held him down.
3 In these porticoes lay a multitude of the sick, feeble, weak, blind, lame, limping, dry, withered, and paralysed, waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel, messenger of the Lord went down during a certain season, on a certain occasion into the pool and stirred up, agitated, disturbed the water; whoever then entered first into the water, after the stirring up was made sound, healthy, pure, whole from whatever at the time was the disease, trouble, sickness which had tight hold of, arrested, possessed, restrained, held back, detained him, or held him down.
Based on archaeological excavation (beginning early 19th Century), it is thought that the water of the pool became agitated when the pipes to the upper pool were opened and the flow of water into the lower pool caused a small whirlpool-like effect. This practical solution does not negate angelic intervention, nor does it suggest that healings associated with this pool were psychosomatic. Yeshua did not discount the paralysed man’s testimony regarding the potential healing he might have received in the pool, rather, Yeshua showed that He needed no mechanism in order to heal, and that He was offering not just physical healing but everlasting wholeness.
While modern scholars claim that the manuscripts containing verse 4 are “inferior”. It is none the less a valid explanation of the miraculous healings that were clearly taking place at the pool, and one, that unlike the pagan rite theory, is far more plausible. If the paralysed man had been seeking healing from a Greco-Roman deity Yeshua would have rebuked him specifically for it. Therefore, as I have previously mentioned I see no reason to discount verse 4 or to accept the theory of pagan influence regarding the use of the pool of Beit Chasda in the first century CE.
5 And a certain (tis[G]) man (anthropos[G], iysh[H]) was there who had been infirm, ill, weak, suffering (astheneia[G]) for thirty-eight years. 6 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) having seen (vayare[H]) him lying there, and having known (ginosko[G], vayeida[H]) that he had already been there a long time (chronos[G]), He *said to him, “Do you wish, desire, are you willing, do you intend (thelo[G]) to become, be born (ginomai[G]) sound, healthy, pure, whole (hugies[G])?”
5 And a certain man was there who had been infirm, ill, weak, suffering for thirty-eight years. 6 Yeshua having seen him lying there, and having known that he had already been there a long time, He *said to him, “Do you wish, desire, are you willing, do you intend to become, be born sound, healthy, pure, whole?”
Note the past tense “having seen” and “having known”. Yeshua had foreknowledge of this man’s condition and the length of time that the man had suffered.
“Are you willing to be born whole?” This is an interesting question that denotes something more than what is seen on the surface. Of course the man is willing to be physically cured but Yeshua is not only asking him if he is willing to be cured. Yeshua does not work miraculous signs except for the purpose of directing a person or persons to salvation in Himself through the redemptive work of God. Therefore, Yeshua is asking the man if he is willing to repent of his sinful condition and be born into everlasting wholeness, purity, health. This is affirmed by the latter verse and its warning against a worse fate (5:14).
7 The sick, weak (astheneo[G]) man answered Him, “Adoniy[H] (Lord, Sir, kurios[G]), I have no one to put, carry, gently throw (ballo[G]) me into the pool when the water (ha-mayim[H]) has been stirred (tarasso[G]) up, and while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) *said to him, “Get up, arise, awaken (egeiro[G], kum[H]), take up (airo[G]) your mat, bedding (krabattos[G]) and walk, conduct your life, live (peripateo[G], vehit’hleikh[H]).”
7 The sick, weak man answered Him, “Adoniy I have no one to put, carry, gently throw me into the pool when the water has been stirred up, and while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Yeshua said to him, “Get up, arise, awaken, take up your mat, bedding and walk, conduct your life, live.”
Both the Greek peripateo and the Hebrew h’leikh (from halakhah “The way of walking”) infer walking in moral uprightness. In other words, “Awaken (from your sinful state), take up the bedding (that supported your complacent slumber), and walk rightly (before God and man)”. Therefore, the physical healing was a figure that was to point the man toward salvation (Himself) and not an end in and of itself.
9 And Immediately (eutheos[G]) the man became, was born (ginomai[G]) sound, healthy, pure, whole (hugies[G]), and picked up his mat, bedding (krabattos[G]) and began to walk, conduct his life, live (peripateo[G], vehit’hleikh[H]). Now it was a Shabbat[H] (sabbath, sabbaton[G]) on that day. 10 So the (ho[G], ha[H]) Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) were saying to the man who was cared for, healed (therapeuo[G]), “It is the Shabbat[H] (sabbath, sabbaton[G]) and it is not permissible for you to carry your mat, bedding (krabattos[G]).”
9 And Immediately the man became, was born sound, healthy, pure, whole, and picked up his mat, bedding and began to walk, conduct his life, live. Now it was a Shabbat on that day. 10 So the Judeans, religious Jews were saying to the man who was cared for, healed, “It is the Shabbat and it is not permissible for you to carry your mat, bedding.”
After thirty eight years of suffering this man took Yeshua at His word and acted on his belief in Yeshua by beginning to stand. In doing so the man entered the convergent power of God and was immediately and fully healed. This was a life transforming moment that meant all other considerations were put aside. In picking up his mat the man disregarded the extra-Biblical pre-rabbinic law of the first century CE. It is clear from the man’s response to Yeshua and the miraculous experience of his healing, that he saw Yeshua as a man of God and His word as a binding halakhic practise. Though he had not yet had a chance to properly acquaint himself with Yeshua because Yeshua had quickly slipped away in the crowd (v.13).
The objection made by the Religious Jewish residents of Judea and Jerusalem was one that misinterpreted Jeremiah 17:21-22 to refer to all burdens rather than to those burdens pertaining to work resulting in profit. It is clear from the writing of the prophet Nehemiah 13:19 that the prohibition against carrying a burden on Shabbat was specifically regarding trade and did not apply to bedding or any other aid to rest, which was the very reason Shabbat was instituted in the first place. The Talmud affirms the right understanding:
"he that rolls up a bed of the brasiers or tinkers (i.e. on the sabbath day) is bound to a sin offering.'' -Talmud. Bavel. Shabbat, fol. 47. 1. & 138. 1.
The Mishna (oral law) prohibits carrying a burden in a public area on Shabbat (Mishna. Sabbat, c. 10. sect. 3). But in a walled city like Jerusalem an “eruv” (Jewish religious law injunction) allows for carrying a burden on Shabbat. According to late rabbinic law healing of a life threatening illness was permitted on Shabbat but healing a chronic illness was not (Babylonian Talmud. Yoma 84b). Regardless, neither the Mishna nor the writings of our rabbis are binding. The body of extra-Biblical tradition that forms rabbinic halakhah (practise) does not meet the standard of inspired Scripture and is therefore inadequate in its assessment of this healed man’s actions. More importantly, those complaining about the carrying of a mat on the Shabbat had entirely missed the sign that was standing before them, a man miraculously healed by God, a miracle that was intended to point them (religious Judeans) to the Messiah and redemption.
It is important to note that Yeshua did not break a single command of the Torah during His lifetime. All instances where He is accused of violating Torah are in fact lawful exceptions and or valid applications of Torah Law. After all, He is the Davar (Word, Essence) of God, the Author and Goal of the Torah (Rom.10:4). In order to be the perfect, sinless sacrifice for the redemption of humanity, Yeshua was required to live a sinless life in a frail human body. If He had broken Torah Law as some falsely claim, He would not have been qualified to be the spotless sacrificial Lamb of God.
We note that this particular Sabbath was both the weekly Sabbath and the Sabbath of the first day of Purim (14 Adar). In addition to the weekly Sabbath Jewish festival days are also referred to as Sabbaths and in the year 29 CE Purim fell on a weekly Sabbath. However, Purim is also celebrated on the 15th of Adar (Shushan Purim) in walled cities like Jerusalem. Therefore, this man was probably physically healed on the weekly Sabbath of Purim 14 Adar 29 CE during the two days of Purim celebrated in Jerusalem.
The Greek therapeuo means to be “treated, cared for, attended to” by a physician, and only means healing by inference. We note that it is not the same as the word Yeshua used, which is hugies, and means to be made “sound, healthy, pure, whole”. Therefore, the Religious Jews of Jerusalem perceived of a physical healing but did not see the wholeness and spiritual healing that Yeshua was offering to this man.
11 But he answered them, “He Who made (poieo[G]) me sound, healthy, pure, whole (hugies[G]) was the one Who said to me, ‘take up (airo[G]) your mat, bedding (krabattos[G]) and walk, conduct your life, live (peripateo[G], vehit’hleikh[H])’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man Who said to you, ‘take up (airo[G]) and walk, conduct your life, live (peripateo[G], vehit’hleikh[H])?”
But he answered them, “He Who made me sound, healthy, pure, whole was the one Who said to me, ‘take up your mat, bedding and walk, conduct your life, live’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man Who said to you, ‘take up and walk, conduct your life, live?”
Notice that the man uses the Greek word hugies, meaning “sound, healthy, pure, whole”. Perhaps he has begun to understand the greater significance of Yeshua’s ministry to him. He had taken up his mat at the instruction of Yeshua and was innocent of any wrong doing relating to the Shabbat. In fact, his obedience proved him more righteous than his accusers.
It seems that the religious Jews of Jerusalem in question were eager to find the one they perceived to be a false teacher and have him answer before a religious court for teaching actions that they believed were contrary to Jewish religious law.
13 But the man who was healed (iaomai[G]) did not properly behold, consider (eido[G]) Who it was, for Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place.
But the man who was healed did not properly behold, consider Who it was, for Yeshua had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place.
It seems that Yeshua had not remained to receive any credit for the miracle and that the pool of Beit Chasda had been crowded with people, so that the healed man had not had time to properly identify his healer.
14 After these things Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) found (heurisko[G]) him in the temple (beveiyt-haMikdash[H], ho-hieron[G]) and said to him, “Behold, pay attention, now (hineih[H], horao[G]), you have become, been born (ginomai[G]) sound, healthy, pure, whole (hugies[G]); do not sin, miss the mark of God’s holiness (hamartane[G]) anymore, so that nothing worse, more severe (cheiron[G]) happens to you.”
After these things Yeshua found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, pay attention, now, you have become, been born sound, healthy, pure, whole; do not sin, miss the mark of God’s holiness anymore, so that nothing worse, more severe happens to you.”
“Yeshua found him in the temple” We note that the man was in the Temple and was very likely there to give thanks to God for his physical healing.
Iaomai is now the third Greek word used to describe the man’s healing. Iaomai is most often used to describe physical healing. Thus, the author makes it clear that the man has been physically healed, while leaving room for the spiritual lesson afforded by the earlier uses of the Greek hugies, meaning “sound, healthy, pure, whole”, and applicable figuratively, spiritually etc.
“do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” While it is true that certain sin leads to physical illness (ref. Ex. 4:11; Lev. 26:16; Num. 12:9-10; Deut. 32:39; 2 Chr. 7:13; 21:14-15), Yeshua is not threatening a worse physical illness, rather He is completing the remez (hint), the sod (mystery) of the teaching He began when he asked the man “Are you willing to become pure?” In other words, “If I work a miraculous physical healing in you, are you willing to repent and receive the everlasting spiritual wholeness that I am offering you?” Therefore, “something worse” refers to eternal torment (the lake of fire [Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15]).
“beveiyt-haMikdash[H], ho-hieron[G]” means inside the temple area itself, and does not refer to the outer court of the gentiles which is not considered part of the temple proper from a Jewish perspective.
15 The man went away, and told the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) that it was Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) Who had made him sound, healthy, pure, whole (hugies[G]).
The man went away, and told the Judeans, religious Jews that it was Yeshua Who had made him sound, healthy, pure, whole.
There’s no reason to presume that the man was a tell-tale who was trying to get Yeshua into trouble. To the contrary, given his healing and obvious faith in Yeshua He was more likely hoping that the Judean religious Jews would see that Yeshua was a tzaddik (righteous one), and would become His followers.
16 For this reason the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) were persecuting Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves), because He was doing these things on the Shabbat[H] (Sabbaton[G], Sabbath).
For this reason the Judeans, religious Jews were persecuting Yeshua, because He was doing these things on the Shabbat.
The religious Jews of Jerusalem were clearly intent on tearing Yeshua down. This based on what they saw as a violation of the Shabbat. It is also possible that these same Judeans were present when Yeshua had performed miraculous signs during the Passover and were jealous and suspicious concerning Yeshua’s rise to fame among the Am Ha-aretz (common people, lit. people of the land).
17 But Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) answered them, “My Father (Pater[G], Aviy[H]) is working, labouring (ergazomai[G], poeil[H]) until now, at this moment (arti[G], ad-atah[H]), and I Myself am working, labouring (ergazomai[G], poeil[H]).”
But Yeshua answered them, “My Father is working, labouring until now, at this moment, and I Myself am working, labouring.”
In order to understand what Yeshua is saying we must have an understanding of the Shabbat within the meta-narrative of Scripture. The Father created all things in six days and took pause on the seventh, the Shabbat. This day is commanded to Israel as a constant reminder of the creation, God’s choosing of Israel as His people, and an opportunity to rest and refuel for the work ahead. This rhythm of rest and symbol of Jewish identity remains extremely important. However, The last we hear of God “resting” in Scripture is at the beginning of Genesis. Based on this the Talmud recognizes a dividing of history into six one thousand year days, making up a kind of historical week that will end with the seventh and eternal Shabbat day, the Messianic Millennium (Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 97b). This is consistent with the teaching of Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) [Hebrews 4:9-11], which explains the Olam Haba (World to come) as an everlasting Shabbat.
Therefore, when Yeshua says “My Father is working, labouring until now, at this moment, and I Myself am working, labouring.” He is testifying to the fact that God has been actively participating in creation from the Shabbat of the beginning until the present time, and Yeshua has been and continues to participate with the Father in His redemptive work, even on the weekly Shabbat which remains in time and space until the end of all things when the everlasting Shabbat is made manifest to the renewed and restored creation.
Yeshua, Who was establishing a superior priesthood (Hebrews 4), was more than justified in His actions on the Shabbat.
“Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple [a]break the Sabbath and are innocent?” -Matthew 12:5 (NASB)
“7 You shall put pure frankincense on each row that it may be a memorial portion for the bread, even an offering by fire to the Lord. 8 Every sabbath day he shall set it in order before the Lord continually; it is an everlasting covenant [a]for the sons of Israel. 9 It shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the Lord’s offerings by fire, his portion forever.”
” -Leviticus 24:7-9 (NASB)
18 Because of this therefore the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) were seeking all the more to kill (apokteino[G]) Him, because He not only was breaking the Shabbat[H] (Sabbaton[G], Sabbath), but also was calling the God (ho-Theos [G], ha-Elohim[H]) His own (idios[G]) Father (Pater[G]), making Himself equal (isos[G]) with the God (ho-Theos [G], lei-Elohim[H]).
Because of this therefore the Judeans, religious Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Shabbat, but also was calling the God His own Father, making Himself equal with the God.
It is clear from the text that Yeshua’s first century Judean audience understood that Yeshua was making Himself equal with God and that what He had said was blasphemy. By claiming to have an intrinsic filial relationship with God Yeshua was revealing the fact that He is the promised Servant King Messiah, Imanu-El (God with us). This revelation is consistent with the meta-narrative and theme of John’s Gospel, which from the beginning makes the deity of the Messiah an unavoidable issue (John 1).
The fact that the Judeans were seeking to kill Yeshua is further evidence that they believed He was claiming to be one with God and was therefore guilty of the greatest of blasphemies in their eyes.
If Yeshua had broken the Shabbat and if He was not God with us as He claimed, then the Judean religious Jews had every right to stone Him to death according to the Torah (Ex. 31:14; Lev. 24:16). However, Yeshua is God with us and He has never broken the Shabbat. After all, He is the Lord of the Shabbat (Matt. 12:8).
19 Therefore Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) answered and was saying to them, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I (Aniy[H]) say to you, the Son (ho-huios[G], ha-ben[H]) can do (poieo[G], la’asot[H]) nothing (oudeis[G]), lo-yuchal[H]) of Himself, unless it is something, a word (davar[H]) from His soul (minafsho[H]) He sees, discerns, perceives (blepo[G], yireh[H]) the Father (ho-Pater[G], et-Aviyv[H]) doing; for whatever the Father (He) does (oseh[H]), these things (houtos[G]) the Son (ho-huios[G], ha-ben[H]) also (gam[H]) does, has done (poieo[G], ya’aseh[H]) likewise (homoios[G], kamohu[H]).
Therefore Yeshua answered and was saying to them, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something, a word from His soul He sees, discerns, perceives the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does, has done likewise.
Yeshua the Son can do nothing separately from God the Father because God is echad (a complex unity). The Father and Son are One, of one mind. Yeshua is God with us, He has submitted Himself to the Father because by entering time and space and taking on the frailty of human existence He is subject to the freewill of man and must therefore submit His will to that of the Father. This does not make Him less or unequal but shows the depth of love of God, Who, manifest in the Son, has entered His creation in order to personally redeem it.
Were Yeshua to do that which is not God’s will He would be inferior to God, but to submit Himself completely to do God’s will in the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) is to show that He is one with God, not inferior but demonstrating the very nature of God manifest in human form. This is consistent with the appearances of the Malakh HaShem (Angel/Messenger of YHVH) of the Tanakh, Who in a number of places is clearly the resurrected and transcendent Messiah.
Authority does not negate equality. Authority denotes position whereas equality expresses nature. The value of like things does not change based on the roles they have.
20 For the Father (Pater[G], ha-Av[H]) loves, cherishes, has an intimate friendship with (phileo[G], oheiv[H]) the Son (ho-huios[G], ha-ben[H]), and shows, points out, teaches, demonstrates, makes known to (deiknumi[G], umoreh[H]) Him all things (pas[G], kol[H]) that He (The Father) Himself is (has been) doing, making, constructing (poieo[G], ya’aseh[H]); and will show Him (Yeshua) greater (megas[G], gedoliym[H]) works, deeds, actions (ergon[G], ma’asiym[H]) than these, so that you will marvel, wonder, admire, be amazed (thaumazo[G], titamahu[H]).
For the Father loves, cherishes, has an intimate friendship with the Son, and shows, points out, teaches, demonstrates, makes known to Him all things that He (The Father) Himself is (has been) doing, making, constructing; and will show Him (Yeshua) greater works, deeds, actions than these, so that you will marvel, wonder, admire, be amazed.
The “greater works” are about to be made manifest in the life of Yeshua unto the salvation of all who will believe. Up to this point in time Israel has witnessed the miraculous works of God and is privileged to carry His written word: now, the Living Word is manifest in her presence to fill the redemptive purposes of God in her midst and cause her to marvel at the goodness born of God’s Holiness through the vicarious work of Yeshua.
The purpose of the works that the Father manifests through the Son is to cause the Judean religious Jews to marvel and admire the Son and the Father. Of course this will be extended to include all Jews and later Gentiles also. However, Yeshua is speaking these words directly to His opponents the Judean religious Jews. God’s plan for them is their salvation through Yeshua, Whom the presently despise but will later admire and believe in (John 11:45; 12:41; Acts 2).
21 For just as the Father (ho-Pater[G], ha-Av[H]) raises, wakens, arouses (egeiro[G], yaiyr[H]) the dead (ho-nekros[G], et-ha’meitiym[H]) and gives (has given) them life, quickens living (zoopoieo[G], veychayeh[H]), even so the Son (ho-huios[G], ha-ben[H]) also gives life, quickens living (zoopoieo[G], yechayeh[H]) to whomever He wills, intends, designs (thelo[G], yechpatz[H]).
For just as the Father raises, wakens, arouses the dead and gives them life, quickens living, even so the Son also gives life, quickens living to whomever He wills, intends, designs.
Ezekiel 37:5 attributes the act of resurrection to God Himself. Once again, this statement denotes the unity of God the Father and God the Son. Only God gives life, therefore, if the Son also gives life He is God with us.
“18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” -John 10:18 (NASB)
22 For not even the Father (ho-Pater[G], ha-Av[H]) judges (krino[G], yadiyn[H]) anyone, men, human beings (iysh[H]), but all, every kind of (pas[G], kulo[H]) judgment, sentence, decision (krisis[G], ha-mishpat[H]) has been given (didomi[G], natan[H]) into the hand (beyad[H]) of the Son (ho-huios[G], ha-ben[H]),
For not even the Father judges anyone, men, human beings, but all, every kind of judgment, sentence, decision has been given into the hand of the Son,
With regard to judgement God is no hypocrite, the Father Who is outside all things and in Whom all things exist does not pretend to be a human being or to have the frailty of a human being. However, the Son, God with us, experiences all things as we have and is therefore fully qualified in His own frailty to judge humanity (Phil. 2:5-7; Heb.4:15). Not that God the Father is unqualified, but that He perfects His qualification in the Son Who was crucified before the creation of the world in anticipation of humanity’s decision to sin. Therefore, God remains Judge in the sense that He gives judgement over to the Son in order that the Father might outwork His perfect justice.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” -Hebrews 4:15 (NASB)
23 so that all (pas[G], chulam[H]) will honour, pay homage to (timao[G], yechabdu[H]) the Son (ho-huios[G], ha-ben[H]) even as they honour, pay homage to (timao[G], yechabdu[H]) the Father (ho-Pater[G], ha-Av[H]). He who does not honour, pay homage to (timao[G], lo-yechabeid[H]) the Son (ho-huios[G], ha-ben[H]) also does not honour, pay homage to (timao[G], mechaveid[H]) the Father (ho-Pater[G], ha-Av[H]) who sent Him (pempo[G], shelachu[H]).
so that all will honour, pay homage to the Son even as they honour, pay homage to the Father. He who does not honour, pay homage to the Son also does not honour, pay homage to the Father who sent Him.
Yeshua is describing His role as King over Israel in the line of David. He is the King Messiah and has therefore been given authority by God and has submitted Himself back to God.
To deny that a son is born of a father is to call the father impotent. Therefore, to deny Yeshua’s Sonship is to deny God’s potency and is an act of dishonour toward God.
These words are a warning to the Judeans. They will be afforded the opportunity to honour Yeshua in the future, however, if they choose to dishonour Him they will prove that they have not known nor truly ever honoured the Father, El Elhohay Yisrael.
It is interesting to note that the Judeans had an officer of the Sanhedrin named “Av Beit Din”. Father of the House of Judgement, responsible for trying cases of religious law.
"and the father of the house of judgment", who judges thy judgments, or determines thy causes, is mighty over thy people, &c.'' -Targum on Song of Songs 7:4
Within early Jewish post Biblical literature a clearer figurative example of the role of the King Messiah in judging Israel would be hard to find.
24 “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, he who hears, listens to, comprehends (akouo[G], ha’shomeia[H]) My word (logos[G], davariy[H]), and continues to believe, trust in, have faith in (pisteuo[G], uma’amiyn[H]) Him who sent (pempo[G], le’sholchiy[H]) Me, has (echo[G]) everlasting life, perpetual living, a living world (zoe-aionios[G], chay-olam[H]), and does not come (ve’lo yavo[H]) into judgment, sentencing (krisis[G], ba’mishpat[H]), but has passed (metabaino[G]) out of (ek[G]) the death [both physical and spiritual] (ho-thanatos[G], mimavet[H]) into life, living (zoe[G], la’chayiym[H]).
“Amen, Amen, I say to you, he who hears, listens to, comprehends My word, and continues to believe, trust in, have faith in Him who sent Me, has everlasting life, perpetual living, a living world, and does not come into judgment, sentencing, but has passed out of the death [both physical and spiritual] into life, living.”
“Shomeia” from “Shema” is the call of God to Israel from the very beginning (Deut. 6:4).
“continues to believe” The Greek is a present and continuous tense. Belief, faith, trust, is a journey begun that does not end. If your faith ends it proves itself to be counterfeit. I’m not speaking of doubt, doubt does not negate faith, to the contrary it qualifies faith.
“has everlasting life” Not will have, but already has, in Messiah Yeshua by trusting the Father we have already begun to live eternally.
“And does not come into sentencing” Although all will be judged at the end of the age (2 Cor. 5:10), we who believe have nothing to fear regarding the Judgement because Yeshua’s sacrifice has afforded us freedom from sentencing and condemnation. Yeshua promises us that we will not come into sentencing because by His work we have already “passed out of death (the second death) into life”. In other words the just judgement that was upon us because of our sin has been mediated by Yeshua, He has taken our rightful punishment and has therefore removed all possibility of us suffering the second death. Thus, “has passed out of the death [both physical and spiritual] into life, living.”
“14 Therefore, since the children share in [a]flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” -Hebrews 2:14-25 (NASB)
“18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear [a]involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” -1 John 4:18 (NASB)
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.