John 5:19 MEANING

John 5:19
(19) The Son can do nothing of himself.--The key to this and the following verses is in the relation of Father and Son, from which they start. The Jews saw in this equality with God blasphemy, and sought to kill Him. Men have since seen and now see in it inferiority, and a proof that Christ did not claim for Himself the glory which the Apostle claims for Him in the prologue (John 1:1-18), and which the Church has ever in reverent adoration placed as a crown upon His brow. The words "Son," "Father," are the answer to both. Did they accuse Him of blasphemy? He is a Son. The very essence of blasphemy was independence of, and rivalry with, God. He claimed no such position, but was as a Son subject to His Father's will, was as a Son morally unable to do anything of Himself, and did whatever He saw the Father do. Yea, more. He thought not His equality with God a thing to be seized, but emptied Himself and became, as they then saw Him, in the form of a servant, and in the likeness of men. (Comp. Notes on Philippians 2:6 et seq.)

Verses 19-29. -

(b) Christ vindicated his equality with the Father. Verse 19, 20a. -

(a) He declares himself to be "the Son Verse 19. - Jesus therefore answered and said to them; i.e. replied to their secret thoughts, and to the sentiments of animosity and hostility which they did not conceal. He spake in language of extraordinary solemnity and august claim. The Verily, verily, with which he prefaced the opening sentence, and which he repeated (cf. vers. 24, 25, as in John 3:3 and elsewhere) on subsequent occasions, denoted the high ground of authoritative revelation on which he took his stand. He proceeded, without a break or interruption, to assert, on the authority of his own consciousness, the true relation subsisting between the Son and the Father - the deep, eternal, sacred link between them; in essence and in affection, in work and function; and gave several illustrations of these matters, the verification of which was not beyond the capacity of his hearers. These he made the basis of the argument of ver. 23, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father." What did he wish "the Jews" to understand by "the Son"? Did he identify himself with the Son of whom he here speaks? Surely this is unquestionably the case, for the "answer" here given is one addressed to those who were seeking to slay him because he claimed for himself that God was "his own Father." He had said," My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." He justified the true reverence he felt for the Father when using this language, by describing in various ways the functions, privileges, and work of "the Son." Is "the Son," however, here the Eternal Son, the Logos, before and independently of his incarnation? and are the doctrines here announced an appeal to a pre-existing belief in such a sonship on the part of his enemies, so that he is dealing, at least from vers. 19-23, with the internal relations of the Godhead? The references to the recent ἔργον, and the moral effects which are to be produced upon his hearers by further activity, make this view doubtful. Does he here speak simply of "the Son of man" in his purely dependent, servile capacity, and earthly manifestation? (Watkins). We think not; for the deeds and functions of "the Son" are here so lofty and far reaching that this interpretation is inadmissible. Therefore we conclude, with Meyer and others, that by "the Son" he did mean "the whole subject, the God-Man, the incarnate Logos, in whom the self-determination of action independently of the Father cannot find place." This view of "the Son" involves the continuity of the Logos-consciousness, and not its obliteration; nor is this (as Reuss urges, and even Godet appears in part to concede) incompatible with the Logos-doctrine of the prologue. The Son is not able to do anything from himself, in the great work of healing, life giving, and redemption, except that which he seeth the Father doing. The Logos made flesh, the Son who has taken humanity up into his own eternal being, is ever in full contemplation of the Father's activity. He is in intimate and continuous and affectionate relations with the Father, who in this capacity has sent his Son to be the world's Saviour. He sees the Father's healing grace and omnipresent energy and ceaseless activity in regions where "the Jews" fail to discern them. The incarnate Son does not set up a rival throne or authority. He moves, lives, has his being, from the Father and not from himself.

5:17-23 The Divine power of the miracle proved Jesus to be the Son of God, and he declared that he worked with, and like unto his Father, as he saw good. These ancient enemies of Christ understood him, and became more violent, charging him not only with sabbath-breaking, but blasphemy, in calling God his own Father, and making himself equal with God. But all things now, and at the final judgment, are committed to the Son, purposely that all men might honour the Son, as they honour the Father; and every one who does not thus honour the Son, whatever he may think or pretend, does not honour the Father who sent him.Then answered Jesus, and said unto them,.... They charged him with blasphemy for calling God his Father, and making himself equal to him: and his answer is so far from denying the thing, or observing any mistake, or misrepresentation of his words, that he allows the whole, and vindicates himself in so saying:

verily verily, I say unto you; nothing is more certain; it may be depended on as truth; I who am truth itself, the "Amen", and faithful witness, aver it with the greatest assurance:

the Son can do nothing of himself; or he does do nothing of himself, nor will he do anything of himself; that is, he neither does, nor will, nor can do anything alone or separate from his Father, or in which he is not concerned; not anything without his knowledge and consent, or contrary to his will: he does everything in conjunction with him; with the same power, having the same will, being of the same nature, and equal to each other: for these words do not design any weakness in the Son, or want of power in him to do anything of himself; that is, by his own power: for he has by his word of power spoke all things out of nothing, and by the same upholds all things; he has himself bore the sins of his people, and by himself purged them away, and has raised himself from the dead; but they express his perfection; that he does nothing, and can do nothing of himself, in opposition to his Father, and in contradiction to his will: as Satan speaks of his own, and evil men alienated from God, act of themselves, and do that which is contrary to the nature and will of God; but the Son cannot do so, being of the same nature with God, and therefore never acts separate from him, or contrary to him, but always co-operates and acts with him, and therefore never to be blamed for what he does. The Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions render it, "the Son cannot do anything of his own will"; so Nonnus; as separate from, or contrary to his Father's will, but always in agreement with it, they being one in nature, and so in will and work. He does nothing therefore

but what he seeth the Father do; not that he sees the Father actually do a work, and then he does one after him, as the creation of the world, the assumption of human nature, and redemption of man, or any particular miracle, as if upon observing one done, he did the like; but that he being brought up with him, and lying in his bosom, was privy to the whole plan of his works, and saw in his nature and infinite mind, and in his vast counsels, purposes, and designs, all that he was doing, or would do, and so did the same, or acted agreeably to them; and which still shows and proves their unity of nature, and perfect equality, since there was nothing in the Father's mind but was known to the Son, seen, and observed, and acted up to by him: so Philo the Jew (e) says of the

"Father's most ancient Son, whom he otherwise calls the firstborn; that being begotten, he imitates the Father, and seeing, or looking to his exemplars and archetypes, forms species;''

that is, being conversant with the original and eternal ideas of things in the divine mind, acts according to them, which he could not do if he was not of the same nature with, and equal to his Father. Moreover, the Son sees what the Father does by co-operating with him, and so does no other than what he sees the Father do, in conjunction with him: to which may be added, that the phrase shows, that the Son does nothing but in wisdom, and with knowledge; and that as the Father, so he does all things after the counsel of his will:

for whatsoever things he doth, these also doth the Son likewise; the Son does the selfsame works as the Father does, such as the works of creation and providence, the government both of the church, and of the world; and he does these things in like manner, with the same power, and by the same authority, his Father does, and which proves him to be equal with him; the very thing the Jews understood him to have asserted, and which they charged him with: and this he strongly maintained. The Syriac version reads, "for the things which the Father does, the same also does the Son"; and the Persic version, "whatsoever God has done, the Son also does like unto it".

(e) De Confus. Ling. p. 329.

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