This is part 12 of 49 parts video series covering the Gospel of John. In this video, Jesus explained to the religious leaders some of the nature of His relationship and work with God the Father. Because of this, we have a lot of information of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Watch to hear wahat Jesus said.
John 5:17-29 (GNT)
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JOHN 5: 17-29 (GNT)
17Jesus answered them, “My Father is always working, and I too must work.”
18 This saying made the Jewish authorities all the more determined to kill him; not only had he broken the Sabbath law, but he had said that God was his own Father and in this way had made himself equal with God.
The Authority of the Son
19 So Jesus answered them, “I tell you the truth: the Son can do nothing on his own; he does only what he sees his Father doing. What the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. He will show him even greater things to do than this, and you will all be amazed. 21 Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, in the same way the Son gives life to those he wants to. 22 Nor does the Father himself judge anyone. He has given his Son the full right to judge, 23 so that all will honor the Son in the same way as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
24 “I am telling you the truth: those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me have eternal life. They will not be judged, but have already passed from death to life. 25 I am telling you the truth: the time is coming—the time has already come—when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear it will come to life. 26 Just as the Father is himself the source of life, in the same way he has made his Son to be the source of life. 27 And he has given the Son the right to judge, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not be surprised at this; the time is coming when all the dead will hear his voice 29 and come out of their graves: those who have done good will rise and live, and those who have done evil will rise and be condemned.
Commentary by Enduring Word
For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him: Remarkably, the healing seemed to make no difference to those who persecuted Jesus. All they could see was that their religious rule was broken, a rule that went beyond the command of Scripture itself.
“Inciting others to break the law (as they understood it) was worse than breaking it oneself. Therefore they launched a campaign against Jesus which was not relaxed until his death some eighteen months later.” (Bruce)
The absolute devotion to the traditions of man surrounding the Sabbath can’t be understated. For example, Deuteronomy 23:12-14 tells Israel to practice good sanitation when their armies are camped. Ancient rabbis applied the same principle to the city of Jerusalem, which they regarded as “the camp of the Lord.” When this was combined with Sabbath travel restrictions, it resulted in a prohibition against going to the bathroom on the Sabbath.
And sought to kill Him: The anger and hatred of the religious leaders is difficult to explain, apart from seeing that it had a spiritual root. They did not like Jesus, and therefore they did not like God the Father (but also said that God was His Father).
My Father has been working until now, and I have been working: Jesus did not try and explain that He had not truly worked on the Sabbath. Instead, He boldly explained to the religious leaders that His Father worked on the Sabbath, and therefore Jesus the Son also worked on the Sabbath.
“God never stops working, for as it is the property of fire to burn and of snow to be cold so of God to work.” (Philo, cited in Dods)
In some ways, it is strange that the God of the Bible is a working God. “In the old world, it was hardly an honourable thing to work. It was a think for slaves and serfs and strangers, not for freeborn men. Hence work and greatness rarely went together; and nothing could be more alien to the genius of paganism than a toiling God. It was a revolution when Jesus taught ‘God loves.’ But it was hardly less revolutionary when He taught ‘God works.’” (Morrison)
“Though he rested from creating, he never ceased from preserving and governing that which he had formed: in this respect he can keep no sabbaths; for nothing can continue to exist, or answer the end proposed by the Divine wisdom and goodness, without the continual energy of God.” (Clarke)
This answers the objection raised by a hostile (and ignorant) critic of Christianity. I saw this statement written in an anti-Christian tract: Just say “no!” to a god who claims to be all powerful, but then requires a nap after only six days of creating (Genesis 2:2). This objection betrays the lack of understanding on behalf of the writer. The Bible clearly says that God does not need sleep or rest (Psalm 121:3-4, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep). The rest of God on the seventh day was given for man’s benefit, not God’s, demonstrating a pattern of rest necessary for man’s well being.
My Father…and I: “His explanation shows that he did not claim identity with the Father as one person, but he asserted his unity with the Father in a relationship that could be described as sonship.” (Tenney)
But also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God: The religious leaders did not miss the fact that Jesus claimed to be equal with God. They knew clearly that when Jesus said that God was His Father in this unique way, He declared Himself equal with God.
“He was claiming that God was His Father in a special sense. He was claiming that He partook of the same nature as His Father. This involved equality.” (Morris) Morris also notes that the verbs broke and said are both in continuous tenses; Jesus habitually broke their man-made Sabbath rules and habitually said He was equal with God.
“The individual use of ‘My Father’ by Jesus had a totally distinct, and in their view a blasphemous meaning; this latter especially, because He this made God a participator in His crime of breaking the sabbath.” (Alford)
“It should be carefully observed that He did not deny the accuracy of their deduction, but continued to speak as One who claimed such equality of authority.” (Morgan)
Augustine wisely said of this passage: “Behold, the Jews understand what the Arians do not understand.” Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses are among those that hold the doctrines of the Arians, denying the deity of Jesus.
Jesus explains His relationship to the Father.
(19-20) The Son does as the Father does.
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.”
Then Jesus answered and said to them: In this extended discussion Jesus explained to the religious leaders some of the nature of His relationship and work with God the Father. Because of this, we have a lot of information of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son.
Leon Morris said of this section, “The language Jesus uses throughout is thoroughly Rabbinic.”
The Son can do nothing of Himself: Jesus explained that He, as God the Son, does nothing independently. He was and is fully submitted to the Father’s will. This submission comes by choice, not by coercion or by an inferior nature.
Relevant to the Sabbath controversy discussed in the previous verses, this was Jesus’ way of telling the religious leaders that He did not tell the healed man to carry his bed on His own authority; He did it in complete submission to God the Father in heaven.
“It is not simply that He does not act in independence of the Father, He cannot act in independence of the Father.” (Morris)
Whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner: Jesus explained that His work was a perfect reflection of the work and will of God the Father. Jesus showed us exactly what the work and will of God is.
“The Father is not passive in the matter, merely allowing Jesus to discover what He can of the Father’s will; but the Father shows Him.” (Dods)
“C.H. Dodd discerned an ’embedded parable’ in verses 19 and 20: Jesus draws an analogy from his own boyhood experience in the carpenter’s workshop, when he learned to imitate the things he saw Joseph doing, thus serving his apprenticeship.” (Bruce)
Some people think of a great difference – or even a small difference – between God the Father and God the Son, as if God the Father emphasized judgment and God the Son emphasized love. Sometimes they think the same way over what they call the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. This thinking is wrong; it usually comes from refusing to see the display of love in God the Father, or the display of righteousness in God the Son.
“He is explaining also, by inference, the mystery of the Incarnation – that God The Son in becoming Man ceased not to be God, and that the Personality of Jesus is the Personality of God The Son.” (Trench)
The Father loves the Son: The relationship between the First and Second members of the Trinity is not one of master and slave, not of employer and employee, but of Father and Son, united by love.
“The Father loves the Son (the tense denotes a continuing habitual love; the Father never ceases to love the Son).” (Morris)
“That ‘the Father loves the Son’ has been affirmed already in this Gospel (John 3:35); it is immaterial that the verb here is phileo whereas in the earlier occurrence it is agapao.” (Bruce)
He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel: The religious leaders were stunned by what Jesus told the formerly paralyzed man to do. Jesus here told them that they would see even greater works, ones that would make them marvel.
(21-23) The works of the Father, the works of the Son.
“For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
As the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will: Jesus used the work of resurrection as an example of the shared work of the Father and the Son. Here the Son has the power and authority to raise the dead and give life to them just as the Father does.
In this Jesus appealed to ultimate power. It’s hard to think of greater power and authority than of that to raise the dead. The religious leaders didn’t want to think much about Jesus’ ability to heal a paralytic; they focused on Him as a Sabbath breaker. Yet the power of Jesus went far beyond the power to heal.
The Son gives life to whom He will: “Here our Lord points out his sovereign power and independence; he gives life according to his own will-not being obliged to supplicate for the power by which it was done, as the prophets did; his own will being absolute and sufficient in every case.” (Clarke)
b. But has committed all judgment to the Son: Jesus used the work of judgment as an example of a division of labor between the Father and the Son. It is before God the Son that people will stand on the Day of Judgment. Even during His earthly ministry, Jesus was something of a judge among humanity.
Just being in the presence of Jesus led one to know, “I’m not like Him.” Jesus looked at the rich young ruler, and he was judged. He looked upon Simon Peter, and he was judged. Those were not looks of anger; they were looks of love. Yet when they saw the face of Jesus they knew a love was extended to them that they were not worthy of.
“Wherever Jesus was, there was the element of judgment….there was always self-reproach where Jesus was. Men were ashamed of themselves, they knew not why. His life was an unceasing act of love, and yet it was an unceasing act of judgment.” (Morrison)
That all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father: God the Father gave this work of judgment to God the Son so that people would honor Jesus as they should, and that they should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Failing to honor God the Son means that it is impossible for one to also honor God the Father who sent the Son.
This was a clear claim to deity. If Jesus – designating Himself as the Son – was not God, then it would be idolatry to honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
“All must honour Him with equal honour to that which they pay to the Father – and whosover does not, however he may imagine that he honours or approaches God, does not honour Him at all; because He can only be known or honoured by us as ‘the Father who sent His Son.’” (Alford)
The Father who sent Him: “The Incarnation is every whit as much The Father’s act as it is The Son’s: The Father ‘sent,’ The Son ‘came.’” (Trench)
(24-27) From death to life in the Son of God.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.”
He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life: Jesus explained to the astonished religious leaders that those who heard his word would have everlasting life. They would have the life connected with eternity, and have that live now.
John 3:16 stated that belief in Jesus – in the sense of trusting in, relying on, and clinging to – was the path to everlasting life. Here Jesus said that hearing His word and belief in the Father (Him who sent Me) is the path to everlasting life. Because the Father and the Son are so united in their work, each is true of the other. True belief in the Father is belief in the Son, and true belief in the Son is belief in the Father.
With these words Jesus lifted Himself far about the level of any mere man. Think of it: “Hear My word and have everlasting life.” This was either the babbling of an insane man or the words of God Himself. There is no neutral ground to be found here.
“It does not appear from our text that everlasting life is communicated by drops of water, or in any other ceremonial manner; but the command is, ‘Hear, and your soul shall live.’” (Spurgeon)
Shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life: This is one aspect that is essential to everlasting life; to escape judgment for sin and to pass from the position of death to the position of life.
Has passed from death into life: “Has changed his country, or place of abode. Death is the country where every Christless soul lives. The man who knows not God lives a dying life, or a living death; but he who believes in the Son of God passes over from the empire of death, to the empire of life.” (Clarke)
The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live: Jesus had already explained that one who lives can hear His word, believe, and have everlasting life. Now He adds that one day even the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and be raised again. These are remarkable claims to be much more than a man.
He has granted the Son to have life in Himself: Jesus further described His uniqueness to the religious leaders by claiming that He has life in Himself, a gift granted by God the Father. Jesus had life in Himself, not dependent upon other people or things.
None of us has life inherent in ourselves. Our life is derived from our parents, and the fragile environment around us. Jesus claimed that His life was derived from no one; it is inherent and uncreated. Theologians call this quality of self-existence aseity and recognize that God alone possesses it.
“What a paradox it is to say that it is ‘given‘ to Him to have ‘life in Himself‘! And when was that gift given? In the depths of eternity.” (Maclaren)
As Jesus explained His nature and deity to the religious leaders in this chapter, it is evident that He did not claim identity with the Father as one person, but asserted His equality to God the Father and His relationship of love with the Father. Jesus and the Father are not the same, but they are equal, just as John 1:1 states.
These words of Jesus contradict two later errors about the nature of the deity of God the Son. One is sometimes called the “Jesus Only” doctrine, confusing the Father and the Son (anciently known as Sabellianism, and held today by groups like Oneness Pentecostals). The other is the error that Jesus is not God, (anciently known as Arianism, and held today by groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses).
(28-30) The reality of the Son’s coming judgment.
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”
The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice: Previously Jesus said that all who have everlasting life would hear His voice and live (John 5:25). He now extended the concept of resurrection to all humanity, both those who have done good and who have done evil.
“This does not mean that salvation is on the basis of good works, for this very Gospel makes it plain over and over again that men enter eternal life when they believe on Jesus Christ. But the lives they live form the test of the faith they profess.” (Morris)
Commentary by Enduring Word
About the Gospel of John. The gospel of John was written to persuade people to believe in Jesus (20:30-31). The opening verses declare that Jesus is God, stressing His unique relationship with God the Father. The book focuses on seven of Jesus’ signs (miracles), to show his divinity. Jesus called people to believe in him, promising eternal life. He proved he could give life by raising Lazarus (ch.11) and by his own death and resurrection. John features Christ’s seven “I am” statements, his encounters with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, his upper room teachings and washing of disciple’s feet (chs. 13-16, and his high priestly prayer (ch. 17. It includes the most well-known summary of the gospel (3:16).