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4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the J. P. 4740.
V. Æ. 27.
tinued his journey into Galilee (it was but a three day's journey from Jerusalem Jerusalem. to Galilee,) and, after remaining there for a few weeks, returned again to Jerusalem, according to Cyril and Chrysostom, to celebrate the feast of Pentecost, or, according to others, at a somewhat later period, to celebrate the feast of tabernacles.
The most formidable objection to the supposition that the miracle at the pool of Bethesda, and the subsequent plucking of the ears of corn, took place at the feast of Pentecost, is given by Archbishop Newcome. This author supposes that a whole year probably elapsed between the conversation with Nicodemus at the first passover, and the miracle at Bethesda ; and he gives a calculation of the probable periods that he supposes must have transpired between the several events; allowing the shortest time possible for each. According to this calculation, he makes it appear that four months and a half must at least be allowed; and, as the Pentecost was only fifty days after the Passover, this statement alone will be sufficient to prove that the miracle at the pool of Bethesda could not have been wrought at Pentecost. I have endeavoured to compress his reasoning within the shortest compass.
After the passover, in which Christ conversed with Nicodemus, we read, John iii. 22, that Christ remained in Judæa, and baptized, that is, his disciples who were with him baptized, (John iv. 2.) Now, as his disciples were not at that time with him, (for Andrew, Peter, James, and John, were not yet called), he must first have collected disciples before he baptized ; and as he continued there till he had baptized more disciples than John, it is not improbable that our Lord stayed in Judæa for at least one month.
To this it may be answered, that there were many who followed Christ, and many, though they had seen his miracles, who forsook him; whose names are not mentioned. The sacred narratives leave out so many events, and sometimes glance so slightly at many of the most important, that it is not at all improbable our Lord may have been followed from Jerusalem by many, who professed themselves his disciples for a time, and baptized in his name, yet who left him as others had done, because he did not fulfil the expectations they had previously formed of the Messiah. Their notions were so contradictory, that we may very naturally suppose they were satisfied with the miraculous proofs he gave that he was more than a prophet: but they were discontented with the continued subjection of their country to the Romans, and the poverty and lowliness of our Lord himself. It is not necessary therefore to suppose that his twelve apostles, or any of them, attended him. Many who had seen, or had been assured of the miracle of the driving the buyers and sellers from the temple, might have followed him. The first intelligence of the open evident revival of miracles would have attracted the inhabitants of the surrounding districts in such numbers, that those who were baptized by Christ's disciples would soon exceed those who were baptized by John: and as the jealousy of the Jews would be soon excited, more especially as our Lord had now begun to be the object of public attention, there is no reasonable cause why a month should be the period of his residence in Judæa : seven or ten days would be amply sufficient.
The tour from Judæa, through Samaria to Galilee, Archbishop Newcome supposes must have occupied at least seven days. The distance from Judæa to Sa
J.P. 4740. pool, and troubled the water : whosoever then first, after the
maria is about sixty miles, from thence to Cana fifty more. It appears, from John iv. 40 and 43, that our Lord remained at Samaria two days; seven days, therefore, will be sufficient to allow for this journey.
At Cana, Archbishop Newcome supposes, our Lord remained four days at least, to allow time for the nobleman of Capernaum (which was about thirty-five miles distant) to hear of our Lord's miracles, and to send the message to him respecting his son, the answer returned, &c. Four days, we may well suppose, would be occupied in the transactions related in John iv. 46, to the end.
The Archbishop allows eight days for the teaching in the synagogues, mentioned Luke iv. 15; and four for the sojourning at Nazareth, Luke iv. 16. His arguments on these points are satisfactory.
Three weeks are allowed by this divine as the time of our Lord's remaining at Capernaum, Matt. iv. 13 ; because it is said, “ He dwelt there." But it seems to have escaped his attention, that the expression in the original, karøknoev els Katrepvasy, does not uniformly mean, he took up his constant residence. The word Karolkéw sometimes denotes, to remain in a place for a short time, to reside as a guest. It appears probable that our Lord might have been invited to Capernaum, to the house of the nobleman whose son he had cured. We learn, in Matt. viii. 20, that Christ had not where to lay his head, that is, he had no habitation which he could call his own. We are informed that he dwelt at Capernaum : but the word, in the original, does not imply that he continued there for so long a period as three weeks. It is more probable that the house of the nobleman, who is supposed to have been Herod's steward, served but as a temporary residence; from whence he might conveniently visit other parts of Galilee. When we remember the diligence with which our Lord attended to the immediate design of his mission, it seems more likely that he staid at Capernaum three or four days; after which he proceeded on his tour through Galilee, from whence, when he returned, he might again go back to Capernaum. This plan would fully justify the expression of the Evangelist, that “ he dwelt there.” In addition to the three weeks allotted by Archbishop Newcome for our Saviour's residence at Capernaum, a period of one month is assigned to his tour through Galilee. This, however, is quite uncertain. Mark i. 38, 39. describes the same tour through Galilee, and relates the return of our Lord to Capernaum after some days, Mark ii. 1, di nepūv; an indefinite expression, which may possibly signify a month, but may, with greater propriety, be supposed to denote a much less time. The circuit of Galilee may be considered seventy miles in extent; if we allow ten miles a day, the tour round Galilee, till the return to Capernaum, when Matthew was called, and our Lord left Galilee for Jerusalem, will be fourteen days. The whole time, therefore, between the conversation with Nicodemus, and the event we have been considering, may be easily comprised within the compass of seven weeks; and the feast at which the miracle at the pool of Bethesda was wrought, might have been, and most probably was, not the Passover, but the Pentecost.
Pilkington places this cure at the pool of Bethesda, or Beth-Chesda, immediately after the temptation, (Evang. History, note to sect. 57.) supposing, as the event took place in Judæa, it was in the first visit there. But he has produced no authority for his supposition, which may be considered as merely arbitrary.
V. Æ. 27.
troubling of the water, stepped in, was made whole of what- J.P. 4740. soever disease he had 32.
5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity Jerusalem. thirty and eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been
32 The authenticity of this passage has been much disputed among divines ; some having considered it as an interpolation, which was inserted from the marginal notes, illustrative of the popular superstition. Doddridge, from Jerome, supposes the pool to be partly mineral, and used for general bathing, and that it was endued with a miraculous power some time before the ministry of Christ; and that after this miracle, or after the rejection, or the passion of Christ, its virtue ceased. Lightfoot remarks: to these waters flowing from Siloam, as a type of the Messiah, it might please God to give this miraculous virtue some time before“ He that was sent appeared,” (John ix. 7.); that this pool was first laid by Solomon, Josephus de Bel. lib. 5. cap. 13, compared with Nehemiah iii. and at first called Solomon's Pool, or now Bethesda, or the place of mercy, from its beneficial virtue. He adds, that the fountain Gihon, (1 Kings i. 33.) is also named Siloam, Chald. Paraph. ad loc. Thus R. Solomon and D. Kimchi, Gihon is Siloam. The spring divided into two streams, fed at some distance two pools of water, the lower pool, to the west of Jerusalem, called the Pool Of Siloam, John ix. 7. Neh. iii. 15. and formed by Hezekiah, 2 Chron. xxxii. 30; and the upper pool, named the Pool of Solomon, or the Old Pool, Isaiah xxii. 11, to the southeast, which is this Pool of Bethesda. Solomon was anointed king at Gihon, (1 Kings i. 45.) and the waters of Siloam were held in such estimation among the Jews, that the prophets made them a type of the kingdom of David and of Christ, (Isaiah xii. 3. and viii. 6.) which is thus explained by the Targum, or Chaldee Paraphrase: “ The kingdom of David that rules them quietly.” The whole of this transaction was typical of Christ. He is the true Bethesda, or house of mercy, the fountain (foretold by Zech. xiii. 1.) open to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness, unto which all the poor, the blind, the impotent, are invited to come, to receive health, and strength, and life eternal.
Bishop Marsh, however, is of opinion, (Introd. to N. T. vol. ii. p. 732, note 118.) that the fourth verse is spurious, “ from its being omitted in the Codex Bezæ and the Codex Vaticanus, which are the two most ancient MSS. now extant. It is likewise omitted in the Codex Ephrem (which is inferior in age to the Codex Beza), but written in the margin as a scholion; it is written in more modern MSS. in the text, but marked with an asterisk, or obelus, as suspicious ; and in MSS. still more modern, it is written without any mark, which gives us, (he concludes,) the various gradations by which it has acquired its place in our present text, and a certain proof that the verse was originally nothing more than a marginal scholion, and of course spurious." Verse four is likewise omitted in the Camb. MS. Copt. and is marked with an asterisk, dr appears only in the margin of five, or six, of the Paris MSS. But in every other MS. and in all the versions, and Greek Scholiasts, Clemens, Alexandrinus, Jerome, and St. Augustin, its authenticity is established. See Elsley in loc. and Mr. Penn's work on the Mosaical Geology, the last in which the subject is discussed.
J. P. 4740. now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou V. Æ. 27.
be made whole ?
7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool : but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk 33
9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked : and on the same day was the sabbath.
10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It a Jer. xvii. 22. is the sabbath-day; it is not lawful for thee to carry thy
11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.
12 Then asked they him, what man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk ?
13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for JeOr from the sus had conveyed himself away, * a multitude being in that that was.
14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
Christ vindicates the Miracle, and asserts the dignity of his Office.
JOHN v. 16. to the end. 16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work 34.
33 This was contrary to the letter of the law, Jer. xvii. 21, 22. and extremely so to the traditions : for, according to them, he that carrieth any thing on the sabbath, in his right hand or left, or in his bosom, or upon his shoulder, he is guilty. Talmud. in Lab. per 10. In this the man's faith was tried, for in taking up his bed he risked death or scourging. Our Saviour here assumes the power of a prophet, who, the Jews held, had a right to infringe the rest of the sabbath ; justifying it from Joshua surrounding Jericho seven successive days with the ark.-Grotius, Whitby, in loc.
34 In this verse our Saviour fully declares to the Jews his Messiahship. Scho etgen considers the verse to be a continuation of a conversation which the Evan
18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, be- J. P. 4740.
V. Æ. 27. cause he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. Jerusalem.
19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
gelist has omitted. The subject is the sabbath. The words of our Lord, as the Jews perfectly understood, contain an assertion of bis high office, in as plain terms as the plan of his ministry permitted. And none but a being who was invested with the offices and character of the Messiah, could have adopted such language without blasphemy. As my Father on the sabbath day still continues the mighty works which are visible in the kingdom of his great creation, so do I likewise work in the spiritual kingdom which I am now establishing in the world. Since the day when the world was made, the sublime scheme of Providence has been maturing. God, the Creator, has been preserving the world, that his Church might be completed, and the spirits of mankind be admitted the companions of angels. God the Son has governed and directed the generations of Adam; imparting to them gradual revelations of his will, and appointing them institutions to preserve
his mercy in their remembrance. Whether he spake by the prophets, himself, - or his apostles, he, like the God of the creation, never ceases to benefit mankind. God the Holy Spirit, from the moment when the Angel Jehovah ordained the institution of sacrifice after the fall, has ever continued to make his appeal to the hearts of men, persuading and intreating them to accept the mercy provided for them by the mysterious atonement of the divine Incarnate. The world was created and the plan of revelation was formed at the same time they have their origin from the same God. His glory, and the happiness of man, are the objects with both; they began together, they continue together, but they will not end together. Por as the soul is superior to the body, as God is superior to the universe, he has ordained that the body shall die, and the earth itself shall perish. The heavens shall pass away, but the spirit shall triumph in the ruins of the universe. The world continues till the Church is completed. The scaffolding shall be destroyed when the temple of God is built. With this system of truth the Jews were well acquainted. They knew that from the time the visible world was made, the Angel Jehovah had constantly guided the Church of God; and Christ, by the assertion in this verse, declared himself that great being who began to plan the happiness of mankind at the time when the Father created the world, and who continued equally with the Father to work for their benefit. I use this term, “to work,” because it is warranted by our Lord ; and shall not stop to discuss the questions which have been proposed by metaphysicians, on the causes of the actions of the Deity. It may, however, be added, that we cannot entertain a more lofty notion of the Deity, than that He is eternally blessing myriads of animated worlds. Παύεται ουδέποτε ποιών ο θεός· αλλ' ώσπερ ίδιον το καίειν πυρός, και χίονος το ψύχειν, ούτω και θεού το ποιείν. God never ceases from action ; but as it is the property of fire to burn, and of the snow to chill, so is it the property of the Deity to act and do.-Philo de alleg. lib. ii. apud Schoetgen. Hor. Hebr. vol. i. p. 354.