John 5:1-4

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

feast of the Jews (v. 1) — John did not refer to the feast as Jehovah’s feast because it was just an outward religious ceremony. The feast was probably Pentecost, one of three annual feasts for which Jewish males were required to travel to Jerusalem.

sheep gate (v. 2 — Nehemiah 3:1) — The gate through which sacrificial animals were brought to the temple.

Bethesda (v. 2) = house of mercy

The last clause in verse 3 and all of verse 4 are not in the earliest manuscripts and were probably added later by someone other than John.

If verse 4 wasn’t written by John (and it has always bothered me some) — There was probably a superstition that when the spring bubbled, the first one in would be healed. And since, as this passage shows, the healthier always got in first, the superstition probably wasn’t often put to much of a test.

If an angel did move the water, perhaps it was to show the impotency of the Law to save — The crippled man was there 38 years! — and how Christ was far superior to the Law.

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2 Responses to John 5:1-4

  1. n8 says:

    I’ve read that side note in my Bible before, that a particular verse or part of a verse is not found in earlier manuscripts. Although, I don’t think I ever knew that about this passage. So, why is it in there?

  2. Roger says:

    Good question. A scribe might have added something to make a passage clearer (or so he thought) or to support his own viewpoint. Or maybe he just goofed up. The important thing to know is that about 99.75% of what we have is undisputably part of the earliest manuscripts, and that NONE of the disputed portions alter a major theological truth in any way. That’s amazing considering how long the Bible has been around, how often it’s been copied and how many people and sects there have been over the years who have wanted to twist the truth.

    Regarding this passage — nobody can know for sure whether John included it in the original or not. Perhaps he did and some scribes thought it was too fantastic and left it out of their copies. Or maybe it was in the original but there was a “they thought” at the start of verse 4 that was taken out by somebody intentionally or unintentionally.

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