John 9:1-41

John 9:1-41
Lent A17


As he walked along,A he sawB a manC blindD from birth. 

Notes on verse 1

A “walked along” = parago. 11x in NT. From para (by, beside, in the presence of, alongside) + ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, go, drive). This is to lead near or by, to pass by, go along, be a passer-by.
B “saw” = horao. To see, perceive, attend to, look upon, experience. Properly, to stare at and so implying clear discernment. This, by extension, would indicate attending to what was seen and learned. This is to see, often with a metaphorical sense. Can include inward spiritual seeing.
C “man” = anthropos. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face). This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.
D “blind” = tuphlos. Derivation unclear. Perhaps from tuphoo (to be conceited, foolish, puffed up, haughty; properly, to blow smoke; figuratively being muddled or cloudy in mind; poor judgment that harms spiritual clarity; also, being covered with smoke – so filled with pride); from tuphos (smoke, vanity, arrogance); from tupho (to raise smoke, smolder, slowly consume without flame). This is blind or a blind person – perhaps in the sense of smoke making things opaque and impossible to see. This is blind literally or figuratively.

His disciplesE askedF him, “Rabbi,G who sinned,H this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 

Notes on verse 2

E “disciples” = mathetes. From matheteuo (to make a disciple of); from mathnao (to learn key facts, gain knowledge from experience; generally implies reflection as part of the learning process); from math– (thinking things through). This is a disciple, learner, or student. It is where we get “mathematics” from.
F “asked” = erotao. From eromai (to ask) OR from ereo (to say, tell, call, speak of). This is asking a question or making an earnest request. It is used between someone with whom the asker is close in some sense. So, they anticipate special consideration for their request.
G “Rabbi” = rhabbi. 15x in NT – 8x in the Gospel of John. From Hebrew rab (chief); from rabab (to be many, increase, multiply). This is a title of respect for a teacher-scholar. Literally, it means great one or honorable sir. It can also be understood as my master or my teacher.
H “sinned” = hamartano. From a (not) + meros (a part or share, portion); {from meiromai (to get one’s allotment or portion)}. This term also used of archers not hitting their targets. Literally, it means not getting your share or to miss the mark. Figuratively, it meant to do wrong or to sin.

3 JesusI answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’sJ works might be revealedK in him. We must workL the works of him who sentM me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world,N I am the lightO of the world.”

Notes on verses 3-5

I “Jesus” = iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be) + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone). This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
J “God’s” = theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
K “revealed” = phaneroo. From phaneros (visible, apparent, clear, shining); from phos (light, a source of light, fire, or radiance; light with specific reference to what it reveals; luminousness whether natural or artificial, abstract or concrete, literal or figurative); from phao (to shine or make visible, especially with rays of light); from the same as phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear). This is to make visible or clear, to make known. Properly, it is to illumine and so to make apparent or bring into open view.
L “work” = ergazomai. Related to “works” in v3. From ergon (work, task, action, employment). This is to work or labor, perform, practice, to effect through direct engagement.
M “sent” = pempo. This is to send, put forth, or dispatch. This often refers to a temporary errand. It is sending someone with a focus on the place they departed from. By contrast, another Greek word, hiemi, emphasizes the destination and yet another word, stello, focuses on the motion that goes with the sending.
N “world” = kosmos. Perhaps from the base of komizo (to carry, convey, recover); from komeo (to take care of). This is order, the world, the universe, including its inhabitants. Literally, this is something that is ordered so it can refer to all creation. It can also refer to decoration in the sense that something is better ordered and, thus, made more beautiful. This is were “cosmos” and “cosmetics” come from.
O “light” = phos. Related to “revealed” in v3. See note K above.

When he had said this, he spat on the groundP and made mudQ with the saliva and spreadR the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, “Go,S washT in the poolU of Siloam”V (which meansW Sent).X Then he went and washed and came back able to see.Y 

Notes on verses 6-7

P “on the ground” = chamai. 2x in NT. Perhaps from chasma (chasm, gap, gulf); from chasko (to yawn); from chao (to gape or yawn). This is earthward – on the ground or to the ground.
Q “mud” = pelos. 6x in NT. Could be either clay or mud.
R “spread” = epichrio. 2x in NT. From epi (on, upon, at, against, what is fitting) + chrio (to anoint, rub with oil, consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). This is to spread on or anoint. Chrio is the root of the word “Christ.”
S “go” = hupago. Related to “walked along” in v1. From hupo (by, under, under the authority of) + ago (see note A above). This is to lead under so to depart, go away, or die. It is to lead away under the command of someone else, being given a mission or objective to carry out.
T “wash” = nipto. 17x in NT. From nizo (to cleanse). This is to wash, particularly the hands, feet, or face. This word is often used for ceremonial or ritual ablution as when Jesus washes the disciples’ feet in John 13 and during debates about the tradition of the elders as in Matthew 15 and Mark 7.
U “pool” = kolumbethra. 4x in NT. From kolumbao (properly, to dive; also to swim); from kolumbos (a diver). This is literally a place for swimming or diving. So, it is a pond or a pool. This is where the name “Columbus” comes from.
V “Siloam” = siloam. 3x in NT. From Hebrew shelach (Shiloah or Siloah; a reservoir or fountain located within Jerusalem); from shalach (to send, send away). This is Siloam.
W “means” = hermeneuo. 3x in NT. From Hermes (Hermes, the Greek god – messenger for the gods). As Hermes was a messenger, this verb means interpret, translate, or explain.
X “sent” = apostello. From apo (from, away from) + stello (to send, set, arrange, prepare, gather up) [probably from histemi (to make to stand, stand, place, set up, establish, appoint, stand firm, be steadfast]. This is to send forth, send away, dismiss, send as a messenger. It implies one that is sent for a particular mission or purpose rather than a quick errand. This is where “apostle” comes from.
Y “able to see” = blepo. Literally (grammatically here) “seeing.” This is literally to see – it is primarily used in the physical sense. However, figuratively it can be seeing, which includes attention and so to watchfulness, being observant, perceiving, and acting on the visual information. It can also mean beware.

The neighborsZ and those who had seenAA him before as a beggarBB began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 

9 Some were saying, “It is he.”

Others were saying, “No,CC but it is someone like him.”

He kept saying, “I am the man.” 

10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 

11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”DD 

Notes on verses 8-11

Z “neighbors” = geiton. 4x in NT. From ge (earth, land, region, soil; people who live in a region; properly, this is the earth itself, the ground, but it is used to refer to the place and the people of the place). This is a neighbor as one who is adjoined to your ground. It implies a friend.
AA “seen” = theoreo. From theaomai (to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit); from thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance); from theoros (a spectator or envoy). This is gazing, beholding, experiencing, discerning. It is looking at something to analyze it and concentrate on what it means. This is the root of the word “theatre” in that people concentrate on the action of the play to understand its meaning.
BB “beggar” = prosaiteo. 3x in NT. From pros (at, toward, to, with) + aiteo (to ask, call for, desire, require, demand). This is to beg or to ask for something earnestly or repeatedly.
CC “no” = ouchi. From ou (no, not; saying something is not true) + xi (adds emphasis). This is an emphatic negative – not at all, by no means, out of the question.
DD “received my sight” = anablepo. Related to “able to see” in v7. From ana (upwards, up, again, back, among, anew) + blepo (see note Y above). This is to look up or to receive/regain sight.

12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”EE

13 They broughtFF to the PhariseesGG the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbathHH day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight.

He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” 

Notes on verses 12-15

EE “know” = eido. This is to know, consider perceive, appreciate, behold, or remember. It means seeing with one’s eyes, but also figuratively, it means perceiving – seeing that becomes understanding. So, by implication, this means knowing or being aware.
FF “brought” = ago. Related to “walked along” in v1 & “go” in v7. See note A above.
GG “Pharisees” = pharisaios. From Aramaic peras (to divide, separate) and from Hebrew parash (to make distinct, separate, scatter). This is a Pharisee, a member of a Jewish sect active in the 1st century. Their name meant separate in the sense of wanting to live a life separated from sin. Whereas the Sadducees were part of the priestly line and inherited their religious position and responsibilities, Pharisees were regular people who studied the scriptures and offered guidance to regular folk. Sadducees were often wealthier and willing to sacrifice their identity to rub elbows with Roman society. Pharisees were often more concerned with what it meant to follow God without compromising what made them different as followers of God. Sadducees primarily believed in that which was written down (the first five books of the Bible) and Pharisees believed in the Bible and the traditions of the elders. Pharisees had a very wide range of interpretations and diversity of opinion. Their standard mode of religion engagement was lively debate with one another. To argue religion with another teacher was to recognize that they had something of value to offer.
HH “sabbath” = sabbaton. From Hebrew shabbath (sabbath); from shabath (to rest, stop, repose, cease working; by implication, to celebrate). This is the sabbath. It can also be used as shorthand for a week i.e. the time between two sabbaths.

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observeII the sabbath.”

But others said, “How can a man who is a sinnerJJ perform such signs?”KK And they were divided.LL 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

He said, “He is a prophet.”MM

Notes on verses 16-17

II “observe” = tereo. Perhaps related to “seen” in v8. From teros (a guard or a watch); perhaps akin to theoreo (see note AA above). This is to watch over or guard. Hence, to maintain or preserve. This is keeping in eye on something. There is a different Greek word, phulasso, which means keeping something from escaping. Yet another word, koustodia, implies some kind of fortress or military setup accompanying guarding. Figuratively, tereo can mean following commands or  remaining unmarried.
JJ “sinner” = hamartolos. Related to “sinned” in v2. From hamartano (see note H above). This is sinning, sinful, sinner. It referred to missing the mark or falling short. The term was also used in archery for missing the target.
KK “signs” = semeion. From the same as semaino (to give a sign, signify, indicate, make known); from sema (a sign or mark). This is a sign given by God to confirm or authenticate a message or prophecy. It is not necessarily miraculous, but it can be. The Gospel of John generally uses this word instead of miracle.
LL Literally “and division there was among them.” Divided” = schisma. 8x in NT. From schizo (to split, divide, tear, sever; split in a literal or figurative sense). This is a split or a tear. Figuratively, it can refer to a schism, division, or dissension. This is where the word “schism” comes from and also “schizophrenia” (literally “split mind”).
MM “prophet” = prophetes. Related to “revealed” in v3. From pro (before, in front of, earlier than) + phemi (to declare, say, use contrasts in speaking to shed light on one point of view). Phemi is from phao (to shine) or phaino (see note K above). This is a prophet or poet. One who speaks with inspiration from God

18 The JewsNN did not believeOO that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 

20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age.PP He will speak for himself.” 

Notes on verses 18-21

NN “Jews” = ioudaios. From Ioudas (Judah, Judas); from Hebrew Yehudah (Judah, son of Jacob, his tribal descendants, a name for the southern kingdom. Literally, it means praised); probably from yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise); from yad (hand). This is Jewish, a Jew, or Judea.
OO “believe” = pisteuo. From pistis (faith, faithfulness, belief, trust, confidence; to be persuaded or come to trust); from peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is to believe, entrust, have faith it, affirm, have confidence in. This is less to do with a series of beliefs or doctrines that one believes and more to do with faithfulness, loyalty, and fidelity. It is trusting and then acting based on that trust.
PP “age” = helikia. 8x in NT. From the same as helikos (of what size, how much; properly, full grown, an adult); from helix (mature, adult, of the same age). This refers to maturity, stature, life span, or being of a suitable age. It could refer to maturity in terms of years or size.

22 His parents said this because they were afraidQQ of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreedRR that anyone who confessedSS Jesus to be the MessiahTT would be put out of the synagogue.UU 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; askVV him.”

Notes on verses 22-23

QQ “afraid” = phobeo. From phobos (panic flight, fear, fear being caused, terror, alarm, that which causes fear, reverence, respect); from phebomai (to flee, withdraw, be put to flight). This is also to put to flight, terrify, frighten, dread, reverence, to withdraw or avoid. It is sometimes used in a positive sense to mean the fear of the Lord, echoing Old Testament language. More commonly, it is fear of following God’s path. This is where the word phobia comes from.
RR “agreed” = suntithemi. Related to “put” in v15. 4x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + tithemi (to put, place, lay, set, establish). This is placing together so, by extension, to make an agreement or covenant with. Figuratively, it speaks of consent, bargaining, or concurring.
SS “confessed” = homologeo. Related to “saying” in v2. From homologos (of one mind); {from homou (together) + lego (to say, speak)}. This is speaking the same and thus to agree, profess one’s agreement with, confess. It can be promise or publicly declare. It can be endorse, celebrate, praise, or align with.
TT “Messiah” = christos. Related to “spread” in v6. From chrio (see note R above). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.
UU “put out of the synagogue” = aposunagogos. 3x in NT – all in the Gospel of John. From apo (from, off, away from) + sunagoge (literally, a bringing together, a place of assembly; can be used for the people or for the place where they assemble; also sometimes used of Christian churches in the New Testament; synagogue, assembly, congregation, or church; where the word “synagogue” comes from.); {from sun (with, together with, closely associated) + ago (see note A above)}. This is expelling someone from the synagogue or being an outcast from the synagogue.
VV “ask” = eperotao. Related to “asked” in v2. From epi (on, upon, at, against, what is fitting) + erotao (see note F above). This is to ask, question, demand. Properly, it is asking appropriately or making a special request.

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give gloryWW to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 

25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 

26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 

27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? DoXX you also want to become his disciples?” 

28 Then they reviledYY him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.ZZ 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 

Notes on verses 24-29

WW “glory” = doxa. From dokeo (to have an opinion, seem, appear, suppose; a personal judgment; to think); from dokos (opinion). This is literally something that evokes a good opinion – something that connects to our understanding of intrinsic worth. The ultimate expression of this is, of course, God and God’s manifestation. So, this is opinion, honor, and dignity, but also praise, glory, renown, and worship.
XX {untranslated} = me. This is no, not, neither, or never. It can also be used when posing a question when the speaker expects the answer to be “no.”
YY “reviled” = loidoreo. 4x in NT. From loidoros (abusive, abuser, reproach; insults meant to harm someone’s reputation); perhaps from loidos (mischief). This is to abuse or revile. It implies harsh words to demoralize or humiliate. Can also mean vilify.
ZZ “Moses” = mouses. From Hebrew Mosheh (Moses); from mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose.

30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing!AAA You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worshipsBBB him and obeys his will.CCC 32 Never since the world beganDDD has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 

Notes on verses 30-33

AAA “astonishing thing” = thaumastos. Related to “seen” in v8 & perhaps “observe” in v16. 6x in NT. From thaumazo (to marvel, admire, wonder at, be amazed or awestruck); from thauma (wonder, marvel; something that causes you to gape; by implication, admiration); from theaomai (see note AA above). This is wonderful or marvel. So, it is a sight that evokes awe and moves the viewer to deep feelings.
BBB “worships” = theosebes. Related to “God’s” in v3. 1x in NT. From theos (see note J above) + sebo (to worship, revere, adore, be devout; properly this is personally placing a high value on someone or something, showing respect). This is devout, pious, showing reverence to God.
CCC “will” = thelema. Related to “want” in v27. From thelo (to desire, wise, will, intend). This is the act of will, choice, purpose, or decree.
DDD “since the world began” = ek + ho + aion. Literally “from the age” or “out of eternity.” Aion is from the same as aei (ever, always, unceasingly, perpetually; on every occasion). This is an age, cycle of time, course, continued duration. It is also used to describe the eternal or forever. This is the word used to discuss the present age or the messianic age.

34 They answered him, “You were born entirelyEEE in sins,FFF and are you trying to teachGGG us?” And they drove him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he foundHHH him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 

36 He answered, “And who is he, sir?III Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 

Notes on verses 34-36

EEE “entirely” = holos. This is whole, complete, or entire. It is a state where every member is present and functioning in concert. This is the root of the word “whole.”
FFF “sins” = hamartia. Related to “sinned” in v2 & “sinner” in v16. From hamartano (see note H above). Literally, this means not having one’s share or portion – like not receiving inheritance or what was allotted to you. This word means missing the mark so it is used for guilt, fault, and acts of sin.
GGG “teach” = didasko. From dao (learn). This is to teach, direct, instruct, or impart knowledge. In the New Testament, this is almost always used for teaching scripture.
HHH “found” = heurisko. This is to find, learn, or obtain. It is to discover something, which generally implies a period of searching for it. This is to find in a literal or figurative sense. This is where the word “heuristic” comes from.
III “sir” = kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.

37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 

38 He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshipedJJJ him. 

39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgmentKKK so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 

40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 

41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.LLL

Notes on verses 37-41

JJJ “worshiped” = proskuneo. From pros (advantageous for, at, to, toward, with) + kuneo (to kiss) [may be related to kuno (dog)]. This is to do reverence, kneel, to prostrate oneself in homage, to worship.
KKK “judgment” = krima. From krino (to judge, decide, think good, condemn, determine, pass judgment, stand trial, sue; judging whether in court or in a private setting; properly, mentally separating or distinguishing an issue – to come to a choice or decision, to judge positively or negatively in seeking what is right or wrong, who is innocent or guilty; can imply trying, condemning, punishing, or avenging). This is judgment, sentence, verdict. Sometimes, this can have a negative sense – condemnation. It is the decision and the full force of its effect negative and positive.
LLL “remains” = meno. This is to stay, remain, wait, await, continue, abide.

Image Credit: “Healing of the Blind Man” by Carl Bloch, 1871.

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