by Mike Ratliff
30 Οὐ δύναμαι ἐγὼ ποιεῖν ἀπ᾽ ἐμαυτοῦ οὐδέν· καθὼς ἀκούω κρίνω, καὶ ἡ κρίσις ἡ ἐμὴ δικαία ἐστίν, ὅτι οὐ ζητῶ τὸ θέλημα τὸ ἐμὸν ἀλλὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντός με. (John 5:30 NA27)
30 “I am not able to do from myself. As I hear I judge and my judgment is just because I do not seek my will but the will of the one who sent me.” (John 5:30 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)
Our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Apostle John said in John 1:1-5, “Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. πάντα δι᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.”, and in v14, “Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας.”, translated as, “In the Beginning was the word and the Word was with God and God was the Word. This one was with God in the Beginning. All things came to be through him and without him not one thing came to be which came into being. In him was life and the life was the light of men and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not grasp it.” and in v14, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Our Lord Jesus Christ, being God the Son, the second person in the Holy Trinity became flesh and “tabernacled” among us. The Gospel of John was written by the Apostle as a “witness” of our Lord’s incarnation and is without a doubt the most profound exposition of Jesus as both God and man.
John gives us account after account of Jesus’ run-in with the Jewish religious leaders of his day who had “apprehended” the Law and the Mosaic Covenant turning both into a legalistic religious system that had lost its way. What do I mean? The Law was intended to show people their need for a Saviour. It has always had that purpose. No one can keep it. It never had the purpose of being “a way” to God in the keeping of it for no one can do it. The Mosaic Covenant was meant to be a mark of separation, that is, to mark the Jewish people as being separate from the nations around them and point the people back to the promises of God in the future coming of the Messiah.
When the Lord Jesus came upon the scene shortly after the ministry of John the Baptist had been used by God to draw many people into repentance he never soft sold his ministry. He never tried to soften the message in order to not offend people. In this he made enemies. In John 5 we read of those ready to stone him because they knew that he had claimed deity for himself. He never denied that he did this, but, instead, provided witnesses to them that it was true. Many who desire to attack the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ will look at John 5:30, which I placed at the top of this post. They claim that if Jesus was God he would be able to do whatever he wanted. Nothing would limit his ability. However, in v30 Jesus is not claiming inability, but that he has voluntarily submitted his will to that of the one who sent him so he always did his will alone.
31 Ἐὰν ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ, ἡ μαρτυρία μου οὐκ ἔστιν ἀληθής· 32 ἄλλος ἐστὶν ὁ μαρτυρῶν περὶ ἐμοῦ, καὶ οἶδα ὅτι ἀληθής ἐστιν ἡ μαρτυρία ἣν μαρτυρεῖ περὶ ἐμοῦ. 33 ὑμεῖς ἀπεστάλκατε πρὸς Ἰωάννην, καὶ μεμαρτύρηκεν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ· 34 ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου τὴν μαρτυρίαν λαμβάνω, ἀλλὰ ταῦτα λέγω ἵνα ὑμεῖς σωθῆτε. 35 ἐκεῖνος ἦν ὁ λύχνος ὁ καιόμενος καὶ φαίνων, ὑμεῖς δὲ ἠθελήσατε ἀγαλλιαθῆναι πρὸς ὥραν ἐν τῷ φωτὶ αὐτοῦ. (John 5:31-35 NA27)
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies about me, and I know that the testimony which he testifies about me is true. 33 You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 But the testimony I receive is not from man, but these things I say that you may be saved. 35 He was the lamp burning and shining and you chose to exult for a time in his light. (John 5:31-35 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)
In v31 our Lord clearly quotes the Law and how witnesses were to establish the truthfulness of the matter. In vv32-35 he gives us the witness of John the Baptist. Here is what John said of him from John 1:15, “…“This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) , and in John 1:29-34, “…“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” ….“I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Of course, God used John the Baptist to prepare the way for the ministry of our Lord Jesus then Herod beheaded him.
36 Ἐγὼ δὲ ἔχω τὴν μαρτυρίαν μείζω τοῦ Ἰωάννου· τὰ γὰρ ἔργα ἃ δέδωκέν μοι ὁ πατὴρ ἵνα τελειώσω αὐτά, αὐτὰ τὰ ἔργα ἃ ποιῶ μαρτυρεῖ περὶ ἐμοῦ ὅτι ὁ πατήρ με ἀπέσταλκεν. (John 5:36 NA27)
36 But I have testimony greater than John’s; for the works which the Father has given that I should finish them–these works which I do–testify about me that the Father has sent me. (John 5:36 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)
The second witness is our Lord’s works. These are the miracles of Jesus, which were witnesses to his deity and messiahship. In John’s Gospel these are major signs that he recorded to show us how they fulfill God’s purpose (John 20:30,31). Now think of those who deny the deity of Christ. How do they explain this witness? They want to have their own cultic Jesus, but then they deny his own words here.
37 καὶ ὁ πέμψας με πατὴρ ἐκεῖνος μεμαρτύρηκεν περὶ ἐμοῦ. οὔτε φωνὴν αὐτοῦ πώποτε ἀκηκόατε οὔτε εἶδος αὐτοῦ ἑωράκατε, 38 καὶ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ὑμῖν μένοντα, ὅτι ὃν ἀπέστειλεν ἐκεῖνος, τούτῳ ὑμεῖς οὐ πιστεύετε. (John 5:37-38 NA27)
37 And the Father who sent me, has testified about me. You have neither heard his voice nor have you ever seen him. 38 You do not have his word abiding in you because you do not believe the one whom he sent. (John 5:37-38 a personal translation of the NA27 Greek text)
The third witness is God the Father. Isn’t it amazing that our Lord does not apologize to those who do not believe in him for who he really is and the reason they do not is that they have never heard the Father’s voice nor do they have his word abiding in them. Why not? It is because they do not believe the Lord Jesus himself. Amazing truth. If you believe Jesus it was given to you by the Father to do so. If you believe you also have the word of Father abiding in you and you have heard his voice even though you have never seen him for no one this side of eternity ever has. If you are in Christ it is a work of the God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit that it is so.
39 ἐραυνᾶτε τὰς γραφάς, ὅτι ὑμεῖς δοκεῖτε ἐν αὐταῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον ἔχειν· καὶ ἐκεῖναί εἰσιν αἱ μαρτυροῦσαι περὶ ἐμοῦ· 40 καὶ οὐ θέλετε ἐλθεῖν πρός με ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχητε. 41 Δόξαν παρὰ ἀνθρώπων οὐ λαμβάνω, 42 ἀλλὰ ἔγνωκα ὑμᾶς ὅτι τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ θεοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς. 43 ἐγὼ ἐλήλυθα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ πατρός μου, καὶ οὐ λαμβάνετέ με· ἐὰν ἄλλος ἔλθῃ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τῷ ἰδίῳ, ἐκεῖνον λήμψεσθε. 44 πῶς δύνασθε ὑμεῖς πιστεῦσαι δόξαν παρὰ ἀλλήλων λαμβάνοντες, καὶ τὴν δόξαν τὴν παρὰ τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ οὐ ζητεῖτε; 45 Μὴ δοκεῖτε ὅτι ἐγὼ κατηγορήσω ὑμῶν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα· ἔστιν ὁ κατηγορῶν ὑμῶν Μωϋσῆς, εἰς ὃν ὑμεῖς ἠλπίκατε. 46 εἰ γὰρ ἐπιστεύετε Μωϋσεῖ, ἐπιστεύετε ἂν ἐμοί· περὶ γὰρ ἐμοῦ ἐκεῖνος ἔγραψεν. 47 εἰ δὲ τοῖς ἐκείνου γράμμασιν οὐ πιστεύετε, πῶς τοῖς ἐμοῖς ῥήμασιν πιστεύσετε; (John 5:39-47 NA27)
39 You search the Scriptures because you presume in this to have eternal life. 40 And you do not want to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from men, 42 but I know you, that the love of God you do not have in yourselves. 43 I have come in the name of my Father, and you have not received me. If another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How are you able to believe receiving glory from one another and the glory from the only God you do not seek? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; the one accusing you is Moses in whom you have hoped. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would have believed me, for he wrote about me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:39-47 a personal translation of the NA27 Greek text)
I remember reading some attacks a year ago or so from some liberal/emergent types attempting to use John 5:39 against those of us who hold God’s Word high and authoritative, et cetera. This is our Lord’s 4th witness, which is Sacred Scripture. Do you really think he would use the Word of God as his witness of his deity and messiahship if he was telling us that we shouldn’t hold Scripture up as the Word of God like that? What was he really saying? Those attacking him used God’s Word to attack him, but without knowledge. They assumed that if they simply stayed in the Scriptures and were religious and looked like they kept the Law then they were assured to have eternal life, but our Lord says something quite different. Eternal life is found only in Jesus Christ and is given to those who believe the Father as they are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, given living faith and are so forgiven of their sins as they believe the Gospel and are so justified. They receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. There is no other way.
Notice what he says about those who attack him and the truth. They do not have the love of God in themselves. Jesus knows this because they did not receive him. If they had then this would prove they believed God and proved it by receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Notice also, that they reject Jesus and the truth, but they are quite willing to receive liars. Why? They are not of the truth themselves. They are of this world and full of darkness. Jesus then turns the tables on them and uses Moses, who they attempt to use to accuse our Lord, to show that Moses was a prophet who prophesied about Jesus’ coming. Notice that those who believe God’s truth will also believe in Jesus. Those who always attack the Word of God as being accurate and true are not believers.
As I wrote those last few paragraphs several very famous “christian” leaders of our time came to mind. I used a small “c” there because they are not genuine Christians at all, but are apostates. I am thinking of Bart Ehrman who elevates “higher textual criticism” above Biblical exegesis and denies that authenticity of most of the New Testament. I also would like to mention Rob Bell who wrote a book a year ago or so titled “Love Wins” that was an attempt to draw people into a “Universalism” approach to theology. Rob Bell’s understanding of Biblical hermeneutics is very poor yet, like Bart Ehrman, because of their big names and ability to draw the focus of those who really don’t know any better, many can listen to what they say and be deceived. Both of these men would qualify for those people our Lord was speaking to in that last passage. Why? They deny the truth of God’s Word demanding their own version. My brethren, those who truly know the Lord have already accepted the Lord’s truth and so must reject all man’s attempts to make a version of that makes everyone happy or comfortable or is politically correct. However, the truth will never sell as many books.
Soli Deo Gloria!