John 5:28-38

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 28) The Lord Jesus had spoken of His Deity, sovereignty, Lordship, the authority given Him by the Father, and especially of His power to quicken and give eternal life to dead sinners. He then says to these Jews, "Do not marvel at my power to raise men from natural death to spiritual life; the hour is coming when ALL those who are IN THE GRAVES shall hear my voice and arise at my command."

(Vs. 29) All who are raised shall not partake of eternal life, happiness, and glory. They are divided into two classes. First, they that have "done good" shall arise to live eternally with Him. The words "done good" do not refer to their own personal goodness or works, as if they merited His favor (Rom. 3: 10-12); but it refers to THEIR WALK, which manifests the new nature within them by His grace. The Christ-life WITHIN is seen by Christ-like deeds WITHOUT (James 2:17-20). "They that have done evil" describes the great company of unbelievers who have lived in sin and unbelief, died without repentance toward God and faith in Christ, and refused to hearken to His words of grace and truth. They will be compelled to hear Him as He summons them to appear before His judgment throne, and these shall go away into everlasting condemnation.

(Vs. 30) The Son cannot act independently of the Father, for THEY ARE ONE! When the Scriptures say "God cannot" do a thing, they do not imply that He is limited in power; but rather they declare His Divine nature, character, and perfection (Titus 1:2: James 1:13). If He is God the Son, then His will and work are in perfect unison with God the Father! "My judgment is just." This is profoundly solemn. In the resurrection of which He spoke, He will not deal in grace, but in inflexible righteousness. He will administer judgment, not mercy. This excludes every ray of hope for all who are raised into damnation. His will is the same as His Father's will (John 6:37-40).

(Vs. 31) In John 8:14 the Master said, "Though I bear record of myself, my record is true." But here He speaks according to the law of God and the Scriptures, which require two or three witnesses for any truth to be established. The words of men do need confirmation, but not so the Son of God. However, Christ came to "fulfill all righteousness" and to do all that He did "according to the Scriptures" (Deut. 19:15; Matt. 18:15). The Lord begins to set forth the many infallible witnesses to His Deity and His mission.

(Vs. 32) The witness referred to here is the heavenly Father (Matt. 3:17; Matt. 17:5: I John 5:7-10).

(Vs. 33-35) Here the Lord reminds the Jews how, when they sent unto John, that he bore a faithful witness to Christ's person and work (John 1:20-27). "But I receive not testimony from man." He was not appealing to the witness of John for a confirmation of His own words and works, but He appealed to John FOR THEIR SAKES that they might be saved. John was sent of God to arouse men's attention and to produce in them a sense of their deep need for the One Who was to come. John was indeed a famous light, burning in the knowledge and love of the truth. For a while they pretended great affection for him; but when they saw that John's one purpose was to bear witness of Christ the Lamb, they turned away from him; for they looked for a more splendid and glorious Messiah than the one Christ appeared to be.

(Vs. 36) His mighty works bore unmistakable witness to Who He is and what He came to do. He frequently appealed to His works as affording Divine testimony (John 10:25, 38; John 14:11; John 15:24). Bishop Ryle calls attention to five things about our Lord's miracles.

(Vs. 37-38) Again He says, "The Father hath borne witness of me. But you have not heard His voice nor seen His glory." Because of Verses 38 and 39, we believe Christ speaks here of the witness which the Father has borne of His Son through the prophets, law, and Scripture. This seems to give more meaning to what follows. Christ is revealed in promise, prophecy, picture, and type in all that has been written; but they could not see, nor did they believe.

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.