From: John 5:17-30
The Cure of a Sick Man at the Pool at Bethzatha (Continuation)
 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working still, and I am working.”
 This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not
only broke the Sabbath but also called God His Father, making Himself equal
Christ Defends His Action
 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His
own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing; for whatever He does, that
the Son does likewise.  For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all that
He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you
may marvel.  For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also
the Son gives life to whom He will.  The Father judges no one, but has given
all judgment to the Son,  that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the
Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent
Me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death
 “Truly, truly, 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 also to have life in Himself,
 and has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of
Man.  Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the
tombs 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 judgment.
 “I can do nothing on My own authority; as I hear, I judge; and My judgment
is just, because I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.”
17-18. “My Father is working still, and I am working”: we have already said that
God is continually acting. Since the Son acts together with the Father, who with
the Holy Spirit are the one and only God, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
can say that He is always working. These words of Jesus contain an implicit re-
ference to His divinity: the Jews realize this and they want to kill Him because
they consider it blasphemous. “We all call God our Father, who is in Heaven (Is-
aiah 63:16; 64:8). Therefore, they were angry, not at this, that He said God was
His Father, but that He said it in quite another way than men. Notice: the Jews
understand what Arians do not understand. Arians affirm the Son to be not equal
to the Father, and that was why this heresy was driven from the Church. Here,
even the blind, even the slayers of Christ, understand the works of Christ” (St.
Augustine, “In Ioann. Evang., 17, 16). We call God our Father because through
grace we are His adopted children; Jesus calls Him His Father because He is
His Son by nature. This is why He says after the Resurrection: “I am ascending
to My Father and your Father” (John 20:17), making a clear distinction between
the two ways of being a son of God.
19. Jesus speaks of the equality and also the distinction between Father and
Son. The two are equal: all the Son’s power is the Father’s, all the Son does
the Father does; but they are two distinct persons: which is why the Son does
what He has seen the Father do.
These words of our Lord should not be taken to mean that the Son sees what
the Father does and then does it Himself, like a disciple imitating his master;
He says what He says to show that the Father’s powers are communicated to
the Son through generation. The word “see” is used because men come to
know things through the senses, particularly through the sight; to say that the
Son sees what the Father does is a way of referring to all the powers which He
receives from Him for all eternity (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, “Comm. on St. John,
20-21. When He says that the Father shows the Son “all that He Himself is do-
ing”, this means that Christ can do the same as the Father. Thus, when Jesus
does things which are proper to God, He is testifying to His divinity through them
(cf. John 5:36).
“Greater works”: this may be a reference to the miracles Jesus will work during
His lifetime and to His authority to execute judgment. But THE miracle of Jesus
was His own resurrection, the cause and pledge of our own (cf. 1 Corinthians
15:20ff), and our passport to supernatural life. Christ, like His Father, has unli-
mited power to communicate life. This teaching is developed in verses 22-29.
22-30. Authority to judge has also been given by the Father to the Incarnate
Word. Whoever does not believe in Christ and in His word will be condemned (cf.
3:18). We must accept Jesus Christ’s lordship; by doing so we honor the Father;
if we do not know the Son we do not know the Father who sent Him (verse 23).
Through accepting Christ, through accepting His word, we gain eternal life and
are freed from condemnation. He, who has taken on human nature which He will
retain forever, has been established as our judge, and His judgment is just, be-
cause He seeks to fulfill the Will of the Father who sent Him, and He does no-
thing on His own account: in other words, His human will is perfectly at one with
His divine will; which is why Jesus can say that He does not do His own will but
the Will of Him who sent Him.
22. God, being the Creator of the world, is the supreme Judge of all creation. He
alone can know with absolute certainty whether the people and things He has
created achieve the end He has envisaged for them. Jesus Christ, the Incarnate
Word, has received divine authority (cf. Matthew 11:27; 28:18; Daniel 7:14), inclu-
ding the authority to judge mankind. Now, it is God’s will that everyone should be
saved: Christ did not come to condemn the world but to save it (cf. John 12:47).
Only someone who refuses to accept the divine mission of the Son puts himself
outside the pale of salvation. As the Church’s Magisterium teaches: “He claimed
judicial power as received from His Father, when the Jews accused Him of brea-
king the Sabbath by the miraculous cure of a sick man. [...] In this power is in-
cluded the right of rewarding and punishing all men, even in this life” (Pius XI,
Quas Primas, Dz-Sch 3677”). Jesus Christ, therefore, is the Judge of the living
and the dead, and will reward everyone according to his works (cf. 1 Peter 1:17).
“We have, I admit, a rigorous account to give of our sins; but who will be our
judge? The Father [...] has given all judgment to the Son. Let us be comforted:
the eternal Father has placed our cause in the hands of our Redeemer Himself.
St. Paul encourages us, saying, Who is [the judge] who is to condemn us? It is
Jesus Christ, who died [...] who indeed intercedes for us (Romans 8:34). It is the
Savior Himself, who, in order that He should not condemn us to eternal death,
has condemned Himself to death for our sake, and who, not content with this,
still continues to intercede for us in Heaven with God His Father” (St. Alphonsus
Liguori, “The Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ Reduced To Practice”, Chapter 3).
24. There is also a close connection between hearing the word of Christ and be-
lieving in Him who sent Him, that is, in the Father. Whatever Jesus Christ says
is divine revelation; therefore, accepting Jesus’ words is equivalent to believing in
God the Father: “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me, but in Him who sent
Me.... For I have not spoken on My own authority; the Father who sent Me has
Himself given Me the commandment what to say and what to speak” (John 12:
A person with faith is on the way to eternal life, because even in this earthly life
he is sharing in divine life, which is eternal; but he has not yet attained eternal
life in a definitive way (for he can lose it), nor in a full way: “Beloved, we are God’s
children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He
appears we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2). If a person stays firm in the faith and
lives up to its demands, God’s judgment will not condemn him but save him.
Therefore, it makes sense to strive, with the help of grace, to live a life consistent
with the faith: “If men go to so much trouble and effort to live here a little longer,
ought they not strive so much harder to live eternally?” (St. Augustine, “De Verb.
Dom. Serm.”, 64).
25-30. These verses bring the first part of our Lord’s discourse to a close (it runs
from 5:19 to 5:47); its core is a revelation about His relationship with His Father.
To understand the statement our Lord makes here we need to remember that,
because He is a single (divine) person, a single subject of operations, a single I,
He is expressing in human words not only His sentiments as a man but also the
deepest dimension of His being: He is the Son of God, both in His generation in
eternity by the Father, and in His generation in time through taking up human
nature. Hence Jesus Christ has a profound awareness (so profound that we can-
not even imagine it) of His Sonship, which leads Him to treat His Father with a
very special intimacy, with love and also with respect; He is aware also of His
equality with the Father; therefore when He speaks about the Father having gi-
ven Him life (verse 26) or authority (verse 27), it is not that He has received part
of the Father’s life or authority: He has received absolutely all of it, without the
Father losing any.
“Do you perceive how their equality is shown and that they differ in one respect
only, namely, that one is the Father, while the other is the Son? The expression
‘He has given’ implies this distinction only, and shows that all other attributes are
equal and without difference. From this it is clear that He does everything with
as much authority and power as the Father and is not endowed with power from
some outside source, for He has life as the Father has” (St. John Chrysostom,
“Hom. on St. John”, 39, 3).
One of the amazing things about these passages of the Gospel is how Jesus
manages to express the sentiments of God-Man despite the limitations of human
language: Christ, true God, true man, is a mystery which the Christian should
contemplate even though he cannot understand it: he feels bathed in a light so
strong that it is beyond understanding, yet fills his soul with faith and with a de-
sire to worship his Lord.
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.
17. But Jesus answered them, My Father works hitherto, and I work.
18. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
AUG. The mystery of which rest the Lord Jesus Himself sealed by His burial: fore He rested in His sepulcher on the sabbath, having on the sixth day finished all His work, inasmuch as He said, It is finished. What wonder then that God, to prefigure the day on which Christ was to rest in the grave, rested one day from His works, afterwards to carry on the work of governing the world. We may consider too that God, when He rested, rested from the work of creation simply, i.e. made no more new kinds of creatures: but that from that time till now, He has been carrying on the government of those creatures. For His power, as respects the government of heaven and earth, and all the things that He had made, did not cease on the seventh day: they would have perished immediately, without His government: because the power of the Creator is that on which the existence of every creature depends. If it ceased to govern, every species of creation would cease to exist: and all nature would go to nothing. For the world is not like a building, which stands after the architect has left it; it could not stand the twinkling of an eye, if God withdrew His governing hand. Therefore when our Lord says, My Father works hitherto, he means the continuation of the work; the holding together, and governing of the creation. It might have been different, had He said, Works even now. This would not have conveyed the sense of confirming. As it is we find it, Until now; i.e. from the time of the creation downwards.
AUG. He says then, as it were, to the Jews, Why think you that I should not work on the sabbath? The sabbath day was instituted as a type of Me. You observe the works of God: by Me all things were made. The Father made light, but He spoke, that it might be made. If He spoke, then He made it by the Word; and I am His Word. My Father worked when He made the world, and He works until now, governing the world: and as He made the world by Me, when He made it, so He governs it by Me, now He governs it.
CHRYS. Christ defended His disciples, by putting forward the example of their fellow-servant David: but He defends Himself by a reference to the Father. We may observe too that He does not defend Himself as man, nor yet purely as God, but sometimes as one, sometimes as the other; wishing both to be believed, both the dispensation of His humiliation, and the dignity of His Godhead; wherefore He shows His equality to the Father, both by calling Him His Father emphatically. (My Father), and by declaring that He does the same things, that the Father does, (And I work). Therefore, it follows, the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was His Father.
AUG. i.e. not in the secondary sense in which it is true of all of us, but as implying equality. For we all of us say to God, Our Father, Which art in heaven. And the Jews say, You are our Father. They were not angry then because He called God His Father, but because He called Him so in a sense different from men.
AUG. The words, My Father works hitherto, and I work, suppose Him to be equal to the Father. This being understood, it followed from the Father's working, that the Son worked: inasmuch as the Father does nothing without the Son.
CHRYS. Were He not the Son by nature, and of the same substance, this defense would be worse than the former accusation made. For no prefect could clear Himself from a transgression of the king's law, by urging that the king broke it also. But, on the supposition of the Son's equality to the Father, the defense is valid. It then follows, that as the Father worked on the Sabbath without doing wrong: the Son could do so likewise.
AUG. So, the Jews understood what the Arians do not. For the Arians say that the Son is not equal to the Father, and hence sprang up that heresy which afflicts the Church.
CHRYS. Those however who are not well-disposed to this doctrine, do not admit that Christ made Himself equal to the Father, but only that the Jews thought He did. But let us consider what has gone before. That the Jews persecuted Christ, and that He broke the sabbath, and said that God was His Father, is unquestionably true. That which immediately follows then from these premises, viz. His making Himself equal with God, is true also.
HILARY. The Evangelist here explains why the Jews wished to kill Him.
CHRYS. And again, had it been that our Lord Himself did not mean this, but that the Jews misunderstood Him, He would not have overlooked their mistake. Nor would the Evangelist have omitted to remark upon it, as he does upon our Lord's speech, Destroy this temple.
AUG. The Jews however did not understand from our Lord that he was the Son of God, but only that He was equal with God; though Christ gave this as the result of His being the Son of God. It is from not seeing this, while they saw at the same time that equality was asserted, that they charged Him with making Himself equal with God: the truth being, that He did not make Himself equal, but the Father had begotten Him equal.
19. Then answered Jesus and said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do: for what things soever he does, these also does the Son likewise.
20. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all things that himself does: and he will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel.
HILARY. He refers to the charge of violating the sabbath, brought against Him. My Father works hitherto, and I work; meaning that He had a precedent for claiming the right He did; and that what He did was in reality His Father's doing, who acted in the Son. And to quiet the jealousy which had been raised, because by the use of His Father's name He had made Himself equal with God, and to assert the excellency of His birth and nature, He says, Verily, verily, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do.
AUG. Some who would be thought Christians, the Arian heretics, who say that the very Son of God who took our flesh upon Him, was inferior to the Father, take advantage of these words to throw discredit upon our doctrine, and say, You see that when our Lord perceived the Jews to be indignant, because He seemed to make Himself equal with God, He gave such an answer as showed that He was not equal. For they say, he who can do nothing but what he sees the Father do is not equal but inferior to the Father. But if there is a greater God, and a less God, (the Word being God,) we worship two Gods, and not one.
HILARY. Lest then that assertion of His equality, which must belong to Him, as by Name and Nature the Son, might throw doubt upon His Nativity , He says that the Son can do nothing of Himself.
AUG. As if He said: Why are you offended that I called God My Father, and that I make Myself equal with God? I am equal, but equal in such a sense as is consistent with His having begotten Me; with My being from Him, not Him from Me. With the Son, being and power are one and the same thing. The Substance of the Son then being of the Father, the power of the Son is of tile Father also: and as the Son is not of Himself, so He can not of Himself. The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do. His seeing and His being born of the Father are the same. His vision is not distinct from His Substance, but the whole together is of the Father.
HILARY. That the wholesome order of our confession, i.e. that we believe in the Father and the Son, might remain, He shows the nature of His birth; viz. that He derived the power of acting not from au accessible of strength supplied for each work, but by His own knowledge in the first instance. And this knowledge He derived not from any particular visible precedents, as if what the Father had done, the Son could do afterwards; but that the Son being born of the Father, and consequently conscious of the Father's virtue and nature within Him, could do nothing but what He saw the Father do: as he here testifies; God does not see by bodily organs, but by the virtue of His nature.
AUG. If we understand this subordination of the Son to arise from the human nature, it will follow that the Father walked first upon the water, and did all the other things which the Son did in the flesh, in order that the Son might do them. Who can be so insane as to think this?
AUG. Yet that walking of the flesh upon the sea was done by the Father through the Son. For when the flesh walked, and the Divinity of the Son guided, the Father was not absent, as the Son Himself said below, The Father that dwells in Me, He does the works. He guards however against the carnal. interpretation of the words, The Son can do nothing of Himself. As if the case were like that of two artificers, master and disciple, one of whom made a chest, and the other made another like it, by adding, For whatsoever things he does, these do the Son likewise. He does not say, Whatsoever the Father does, the Son does other things like them, but the very same things. The Father made the world, the Son made the world, the Holy Ghost made the world. If the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one, it follows that one and the same world was made by the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Ghost. Thus it is the very same thing that the Son does. He adds likewise, to prevent another error arising. For the body seems to do the same things with the mind, but it does not do them in a like way, inasmuch as the body is subject, the soul governing, the body visible, the soul invisible. When a slave does a thing at the command of his master, the same thing is done by both; but is it in a like way? Now in the Father and Son there is not this difference; they do the same things, and in a like way. Father and Son act with the same power; so that the Son is equal to the Father.
HILARY. Or thus; All things and the same, He says, to show the virtue of His nature, its being the same with God's. That is the same nature, which can do all the same things. And as the Son does all the same things in a like way, the likeness of the works excludes the notion of the worker existing alone g. Thus we come to a true idea of the Nativity, as our faith receives it: the likeness of the works bearing witness to the Nativity, their sameness to the Nature.
CHRYS. Or thus; That the Son can do nothing of Himself, must be understood to mean, that He can do nothing contrary to, or displeasing to, the Father. And therefore He does not say that He does nothing contrary, but that He can do nothing; in order to show His perfect likeness, and absolute equality to the Father. Nor is this a sign of weakness in the Son, but rather of goodness. For as when we say that it is impossible for God to sin, we do not charge Him with weakness, but bear witness to a certain ineffable goodness; so when the Son says, I can do nothing of myself, it only means, that He can do nothing contrary to the Father.
AUG. This is not a sign of failing in Him, but of His abiding in His birth from the Father. And it is as high an attribute of the Almighty that He does not change, as it is that Ho does not die. The Son could do what He had not seen the Father doing, if He could do what the Father does not do through Him; i.e. if He could sin: a supposition inconsistent with the immutably good nature which was begotten from the Father. That He cannot do; this then is to be understood of Him, not in the sense of deficiency, but of power.
CHRYS. And this is confirmed by what follows: For whatsoever be does these also do the Son likewise. For it the Father does all things by Himself, so does the Son also, if this likewise is to stand good. You see how high a meaning these humble words bear. He gives His thoughts a humble dress purposely. For whenever He expressed Himself loftily, He was persecuted, as an enemy of God.
AUG. Having said that He did the same A things that the Father did, and in a like way, He adds, For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that Himself does. And shows Him all things that Himself does: this has a reference to the words above; But what He sees the Father do. But again, our human ideas are perplexed, and one may say, So then the Father first does something, that the Son may see what He does; just as an artificer teaches his son his art, and shows him what he makes, that he may be able to make the same after him. On this supposition, when the Father does a thing, the Son does not do it; in that the Son is beholding what His Father does. But we hold it as a fixed and incontrovertible truth, that the Father makes all things through the Son, and therefore He must show them to the Son, before He makes them. And where does the Father show the Son what He makes, except in the Son I Himself, by whom He makes them? For if the Father makes a thing for a pattern, and the Son attends to the workmanship as it goes on, where is the indivisibility of the Trinity? The Father therefore does not show the Son what He does by doing it, but by showing does it, through the Son. The Son sees, and the Father shows, before a thing is made, and from the showing of the Father, and the seeing of the Son, that is made which is made; made by the Father, through the Son. But you will say, I show my Son what I wish him to make, and he makes it, and I make it through him. True; but before you do any thing, you show it to your son, that he may do it for your example, and you by him; but you speak to your son words which are not yourself; whereas the Son Himself is the Word of the Father; and could He speak by the Word to the Word? Or, because the Son was the great Word, were lesser words to pass between the Father and the Son, or a certain sound and temporary creation, as it were, to go out of the mouth of the Father, and strike the ear of the Son? Put away these bodily notions, and if you are simple, see the truth in simplicity. If you can not comprehend what God is, comprehend at least what He is not. You will have advanced no little way, if you think nothing that is untrue of God. See what I am saying exemplified in your own mind. You have memory, and thought, your memory shows to your thought Carthage: before you perceive what is in her, she shows it to thought, which is turned toward her: the memory then has shown, the thought has perceived, and no words have passed between them, no outward sign been used. But whatever is in your memory, you receive from without: that which the Father shows to the Son, He does not receive from without; the whole goes on within; there being no creature existing without, but what the Father has made by the Son. And the Father makes by showing, in that He makes by, the Son who sees. The Father's showing begets the Son's seeing, as the Father begets the Son? Showing begets seeing, not seeing showing. But it would be more correct, and more spiritual, not to view the Father as distinct from His showing, or the Son from His seeing.
HILARY. It must not be supposed that the Only Begotten God needed such showing on account of ignorance. For the showing here is only the doctrine of the nativity; the self-existing Son, from the self-existing Father.
AUG. For to see the Father is to see His Son. The Father so shows all His works to the Son, that the Son sees them from the Father. For the birth of the Son is in His seeing: He sees from the same source, from which He is, and is born, and remains.
HILARY. Nor did the heavenly discourse lack the caution, to guard against our inferring from these words any difference in the nature of the Son and the Father. For He says that the works of the Father were shown to Him, not that strength was supplied Him for the doing of them, in order to teach that this showing is substantially nothing else than His birth; for that simultaneously with the Son Himself is born the Son's knowledge of the works the Father will do through Him.
AUG. But now from Him whom we called co-eternal with the Father, who saw the Father' and existed in that He saw, we return to the things of time, And He will show him greater works than these. But if He will show him, i.e. is about to show him, He has not yet shown him: and when He does show him, others also will see; for it follows, That you may believe. It is difficult to see what the eternal Father can show in time to the co-eternal Son, Who knows all that exists within the Father's mind. For as the Father raises up the dead and quickens them even so the Son quickens whom He will. To raise the dead was a greater work than to heal the sick. But this is explained by considering that He Who a little before spoke as God, now begins to speak as man. As man, and therefore living in time, He will be strewn greater works in time. Bodies will rise again by the human dispensation by which the Son of God assumed manhood in time; but souls by virtue of the eternity of the Divine Substance. For which reason it was said before that the Father loved the Son, and showed Him what things soever He did. For the Father shows the Son that souls are raised up; for they are raised up by the Father and the Son, even as they cannot live, except God give them life. Or the Father is about to show this to us, not to Him; according to what follows, That you may believe. This being the reason why the Father would show Him greater things than these. But why did He not say, shall show you, instead of the Son? Because we are members of the Son, and He, as it were, learns in His members, even as He suffers in us. For as He says, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it to Me: so if we ask Him, how He, the Teacher of all things, learns, He replies, When one of the least of My brethren learns, I learn.
21. For as the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them; even so the Son quickens whom he will.
22. For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son:
23. That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honors not the Son honors not the Father which has sent him.
AUG, Having said that the Father would show the Son greater works than these, He proceeds to describe these greater works: For as the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom He will. These are plainly greater works, for it is more of a miracle that a dead man should rise again, than that a sick mall should recover. We must not understand from the words, that some are raised by the Father, others by the Son; but that the Son raises to life the same whom the Father raises. And to guard against any one saying, The Father raises the dead by the Son, the former by His own power, the latter, like an instrument, by another power, He asserts distinctly the power of the Son: The Son quickens whom he will. Observe here not only the power of the Son, but also His will. Father and Son have the same power and will. The Father wills nothing distinct from the Son; but both have the same will, even as they have the same substance.
HILARY. For to will is the free power of a nature, which by the act of choice, rests in the blessedness of perfect excellence.
AUG. But who are these dead, whom the Father and Son raise to life? He alludes to the general resurrection which is to be; not to the resurrection of those few, who were raised to life, that the rest might believe; as Lazarus, who rose again, to die afterwards. Having said then, For as the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them, to prevent our taking the words to refer to the dead whom He raised up for the sake of the miracle, and not to the resurrection to life eternal, He adds, For the Father judges no man; thus showing that He spoke of that resurrection of the dead which would take place at the judgment. Or the words, As the Father raises up the dead, &c. refer to the resurrection of the soul; For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son, to the resurrection of the body. For the resurrection of the soul takes place by the substance of the Father and the Son, and therefore it is the work of the Father and the Son together: but the resurrection of the body takes place by a dispensation of the Son's humanity, which is a temporal dispensation, and not co-eternal with the Father. But see how the Word of Christ leads the mind in different directions, not allowing it any carnal resting place; but by variety of motion exercising it, by exercise purifying it, by purifying enlarging its capacity, and after enlarging filling it. He said just before that the Father showed what things soever He did to the Son. So I saw, as it were, the Father working, and the Son waiting: now again I see the Son working, the Father resting.
AUG. For this, viz. that the Father has given all judgment to the Son, does not mean that He begat the Son with this attribute, as is meant in the: words, So has He given to the Son to have life in Himself. For if so, it would not be said, The Father judges no man, because, in that the Father begat the Son equal, He judges with the Son. What is meant is, that in the judgment, not the form of God but the form of the Son of man will appear; not because He will not judge Who has given all judgment to the Son; since the Son says of Him below, There is one that seeks and judges, but the Father judges no man; i.e. no one will see Him in the judgment, but all will see the Son, because He is the Son of man, even the ungodly who will look on Him Whom they pierced.
HILARY. Having said that the Son quickens whom He will, in order that we might not lose sight of the nativity, and think that He stood upon the ground of His own unborn power, He immediately adds, For the Father judges no man, but has given all judgment to the Son. In that all judgment is given to Him, both His nature, and His nativity are shown; because only a self-existent nature can possess all things, and nativity cannot have any thing, except what is given it.
CHRYS. As He gave Him life, i.e. begot Him living; so He gave Him judgment, i.e. begot Him a judge. Gave, it is said, that you may not think Him unbegotten, and imagine two Fathers: All judgment, because He has the awarding; both of punishment and reward.
HILARY. All judgment is given to Him, because He quickens whom He will. Nor can the judgment be looked on as taken away from the Father, inasmuch as the cause of His not judging is, that the judgment of the Son is His. For all judgment is given from the Father. And the reason for which He gives it, appears immediately after: That all men may honor the Son even as you honor the Father.
CHRYS. For, lest you should infer from hearing that the Author of His power was the Father, any difference of substance, or inequality of honor, He connects the honor of the Son with the honor of the Father, showing that both have the same. But shall men then call Him the Father? God forbid; he who calls Him the Father, does not honor the Son equally with the Father, but confounds both.
AUG. First indeed, the Son appeared as a servant, and the Father was honored as God. But the Son will be seen to be equal to the Father, that all men may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. But what if persons are found, who honor the Father, and do not honor the Son? It cannot be: He that honors not the Son, honors not the Father which has sent Him. It is one thing to acknowledge God, as God; and another to acknowledge Him as the Father. When you acknowledge God the Creator, you acknowledge an almighty, supreme, eternal, invisible, immutable Spirit. When you acknowledge the Father, you do in reality acknowledge the Son; for He could not be the Father, had He not the Son. But if you honor the Father as greater, the Son as less, so far as you gives less honor to the Son, you take away from the honor of the Father. For you in reality think that the Father could not or would not beget the Son equal to Himself; which if He would not do, He was envious, if He could not, He was weak. Or, That all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father; has a reference to the resurrection of souls, which is the work of the Son, as well as of the Father. But the resurrection of the body is meant in what comes after: He that honors not the Son honors not the Father that sent Him. Here is no as; the man Christ is honored, but not as the Father Who sent Him, since with respect to His manhood He Himself says, My Father is greater than I. But some one will say, if the Son is sent by the Father, He is inferior to the Father. Leave your fleshly actions, and understand a mission, not a separation. Human things deceive, divine things make clear; although even human things give testimony against you, e.g. if a man offers marriage to a woman, and cannot obtain her by himself, he sends a friend, greater than himself; to urge his suit for him. But see the difference in human things. A man does not go with him whom he sends; but the Father Who sent the Son, never ceased to be with the Son; as we read, I am not alone, but the Father its with Me.
AUG. It is not, however, as being born of the Father, that the Son is said to be sent, but from His appearing in this world, as the Word made flesh; as He says, I went forth from the Father, and am come into the world: or from His being received into our minds individually, as we read, Send her, that she may be with me, and may labor with me.
HILARY. The conclusion then stands good against all the fury of heretical minds. He is the Son because He does nothing of Himself: He is God, because, whatsoever things the Father does, He does the same; They are one, because They are equal in honor: He is not the Father, because He is sent.
24. Verily, verily, I say to you, He that hears my word, and believes in him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.
GLOSS. Having said that the Son quickens whom He will, He next shows that we attain to life through the Son: Verily, verily, I say to you, He that hears My word, and believes in Him that sent Me, has everlasting life.
AUG. If, in hearing and believing is eternal life, how much more in understanding? But the step to our piety is faith, the fruit of faith, understanding. It is not, Believes in Me, but in Him that sent Me. Why is one to hear His word, and believe another? Is it not that He means to say, His word is in Me? And what is, Hears My word, but hears Me? And it is, Believe in Him that sent Me; as to say, He that believes in Him, believes in His Word, i.e. in Me, because I am the Word of the Father.
CHRYS. Or, He did not say, He that hears My words, and believes in Me; as they would have thought this empty boasting and arrogance. To say, Believes in Him that sent Me, was a better way of making His discourse acceptable. To this end He says two things: one, that he who hears Him, believes on the Father; the other, that he who hears and believes shall not come into condemnation.
AUG. But who is this favored Person? Will there be any one better than the Apostle Paul, who says, We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ? Now judgment sometimes means punishment, sometimes trial. In the sense of trial, we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ: in the sense of condemnation we read, some shall not come into judgment; i.e. shall not be condemned. It follows, but is passed from death into life: not, is now passing, but has passed from the death of unbelief, into the life of faith, from the death of sin, to the life of righteousness. Or, it is so said perhaps, to prevent our supposing that faith would save us from bodily death, that penalty which we must pay for Adam's transgression. He, in whom we all then were, heard the divine sentence, You shall surely die; nor can we evade it. But when we have suffered the death of the old man, we shall receive the life of the new, and by death make a passage to life. But to what life? To life everlasting: the dead shall rise again at the end of the world, and enter into everlasting life. For this life does not deserve the name of life; only that life is true which is eternal.
AUG. We see the lovers of this present transitory life so intent on its welfare, that when in danger of death, they will take any means to delay its approach, though they can not hope to drive it off altogether. If so much care and labor then is spent on gaining a little additional length of life, how ought we to strive after life eternal? And if they are thought wise, who endeavor in every way to put off death, though they can live but a few days longer; how foolish are they who so live, as to lose the eternal day?
25. Verily, verily, I say to you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
26. For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself.
AUG. Some one might ask you, The Father quickens him who believes in Him; but what of you? do you not quicken? Observe you that the Son also quickens whom He will; Verily, verily, I say to you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.
CHRYS. After, The hour comes, He adds, and now is; to let us know that it will not be long before it comes. For as in the future resurrection we shall be roused by hearing His voice speaking to us, so is it now.
THEOPHYL. Here He speaks with a reference to those whom He was about to raise from the dead: viz. the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, the son of the widow, and Lazarus.
AUG. Or, He means to guard against our thinking, that the being passed from death to life, refers to the future resurrection; its meaning being, that he who believes is passed: and therefore He says, Verily, verily, I say to you, The hour comes, (what hour?) and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. He said not, because they live, they hear; but in consequence of hearing, they come to life again. But what is hearing, but obeying? For they who believe and do according to the true faith, live, and are not dead; whereas those who believe not, or, believing, live a bad life, and have not love, are rather to be accounted dead. And yet that hour is still going on, and will go on, the same hour, to the end of the world: as John says, It is the last hour.
AUG. When the dead, i.e. unbelievers, shall hear the voice of the Son of God, i.e. the Gospel: and they that hear, i.e. who obey, shall live, i.e. be justified, and no longer remain in unbelief.
AUG. But some one will ask, Has the Son life, whence those who believe will fire? Hear His own words: As the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself. Life is original and absolute in Him, comes from no other source, depends on no other power. He is not as if He were partaker of a life, which is not Himself; but has life in Himself: so as that He Himself is His own life. Hear, O dead soul, the Father, speaking by the Son: arise, that you may receive that life which you have not in yourself, and enter into the first resurrection. For this life, which the Father and the Son are, pertains to the soul, and is not perceived by the body. The rational mind only discovers the life of wisdom.
HILARY. The heretics, driven hard by Scripture proofs, are obliged to attribute to the Son at any rate a likeness, in respect of virtue, to the Father. But they do not admit a likeness of nature, not being able to see that a likeness of virtue, could not arise but from a likeness of nature; as an inferior nature can never attain to the virtue of a higher and better one. And it cannot be denied that the Son of God has the same virtue with the Father, when He says, What things soever (the Father) does, the same does the Son likewise. But an express mention of the likeness of nature follows: As the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself. In life are comprehended nature and essence. And the Son, as He has it, so has He it given to Him. For the same which is life in both, is essence in both; and the life, i.e. essence, which is begotten from life, is born; though not born unlike the other. For, being life from life, it remains like in nature to its origin.
AUG. The Father must he understand not to have given life to the Son, who was existing without life, but so to have begotten Him, independently of time, that the life which He gave Him in begetting, was co-eternal with His own.
HILARY. Living born from living, has the perfection of nativity, without the newness of nature. For there is nothing new implied in generation from living to living, the life not coming at its birth from nothing. And the life which derives its birth from life, must by the unity of nature, and the sacrament of a perfect birth, both be in the living being, and have the being who lives it, in itself. Weak human nature indeed is made up of unequal elements, and brought to life out of inanimate matter; nor does the human offspring live for some time after it is begotten. Neither does it wholly live from life, since much grows up in it insensibly, and decays insensibly. But in the case of God, the whole of what He is, lives: for God is life, and from life, can nothing be but what is living.
AUG. Given to the Son, then, has the meaning of, begat the Son; for He gave Him tines life, by begetting. As He gave Him being, so He gave Him to have life in Himself; so that the Son did not stand in need of life to come to Him from without; but was in Himself the fullness of life, whence others, i.e. believers, received their life. What then is the difference between Them? This that one gave, the other received.
CHRYS The likeness is perfect in all but one respect, viz. that, in point of essence, one is the Father, the other the Son.
HILARY. For the person of the receiver, is distinct from that of the giver: it being inconceivable that one and the same person, should give to and receive from Himself. He who lives of Himself is one person: He who acknowledges an Author of His life is another.
27. And has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
28. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29. And shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.
THEOPHYL. The Father granted the Son power not only to give life, but also to execute judgment. And has given Him authority to execute judgment.
CHRYS. But why does He dwell so constantly on these subjects; judgment, resurrection, and life? Because these are the most powerful arguments for bringing men over to the faith, and the most likely ones to prevail with obstinate hearers. For one who is persuaded that he shall rise again, and be called by the Son to account for his misdeeds, will, though he know nothing more than this, be anxious to propitiate his Judge. It follows, Because He is the Son of man, marvel not at this. Paul of Samosata reads it, Has given Him power to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man. But this connection has no meaning; for He does not receive the power to judge because He is man, (as, on this supposition, what would prevent all men from being judges:) but because He is the ineffable Son of God; therefore is He Judge. We must read it then, Because He is the Son of man, marvel not at this. As Christ's hearers thought him a mere man, and as what He asserted of Himself was too high to be true of men, or even angels, or any being short of God Himself, there was a strong obstacle in the way of their believing, which our Lord notices in order to remove it: Marvel not, He says, that He is the Son of man: and then adds the reason why they should not marvel: For the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And why did He not say, Marvel not that He is the Son of man: because in truth He is the Son of God? Because, having given out that it was He who should raise men from the dead, the resurrection being a strictly divine work, He leaves His hearers to infer that He is God, and the Son of God. Persons in arguing often do this. When they have brought out grounds amply sufficient to prove the conclusion they want, they do not draw that conclusion themselves; but, to make the victory greater; leave the opponent to draw it. In referring above to the resurrection of Lazarus and the rest, he said nothing about judgment, for Lazarus did not rise again for judgment; whereas now, that He is speaking of the general resurrection, He brings in the mention of the judgment: And (they) shall come forth, He says, they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation. Having said above, He that hears My words, and believe in Him that sent Me, has everlasting life; that men might not suppose from this, that belief was sufficient for salvation, He proceeds to speak of works: And they that have done good, - and they that have done evil.
AUG. Or thus: Inasmuch as the Word was in the beginning with God, the Father gave Him to have life in Himself; but inasmuch as the Word w as made flesh of the Virgin Mary, being made man, He became the Son of man: and as the Son of man, He received power to execute judgment at the end of the world; at which time the bodies of the dead shall rise again. The souls then of the dead God raises by Christ the Son of God, their bodies by the same Christ, the Son of man. Wherefore He adds, Because He is the Son of man: for, as to the Son of God, He always had the power.
AUG. At the judgment will appear the form of man, that form will judge, which was judged; He will sit a Judge Who stood before the judge; He will condemn the guilty, Who was condemned innocent. For it is proper that the judged should see their Judge. Now the judged consist of both good and bad; so that the form of the servant will be strewn to good and bad alike; the form of God to the good only. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
AUG. None if the, founders of false religious sects have been able to deny the resurrection of the soul, but many have denied the resurrection of the body; and, unless You, Lord Jesus, had declared it, what answer could we give the gainsayer? To set forth this truth, He says, Marvel not at this; (i.e. that He has given power to the Son of man to execute judgment,) for the hour is coming, &c.
AUG. He does not add, And now is, here; because this hour would be at the end of the world. Marvel not, i.e. marvel not, men will all be judged by a man. But what men? Not those only, whom He will find alive, For the hour comes, in which all that are in their graves shall hear His voice.
AUG. What can be plainer? Men's bodies are in their graves, not their souls. Above when He said, The hour comes, and added, and now is; He proceeds, When the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God. He does not say, All the dead; for by the dead are meant the wicked, and the wicked have not all been brought to obey the Gospel But in the end of the world all that are in their graves shall hear His voice, and come forth. He does not say, Shall live, as He said above, when He spoke of the eternal and blessed life; which all will not have, who shall come forth from their graves. This judgment was committed to Him because He was the Son of man. But what takes place in this judgment? They that have done good shall go to the resurrection of life, i.e. to live with the Angels of God; they that have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. Judgment here meaning damnation.
30. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own wild, but the will of the Father which has sent me.
AUG. We were about to ask Christ, you will judge, and the Father not judge: will not you then judge according to the Father? He anticipates us by saying, I can of Mine own Self do nothing.
CHRYS. That is, nothing that is a departure from, or that is unlike to, what the Father wishes, shall you see done by Me, but as I hear, I judge. He is only showing that it was impossible He should ever wish any thing bat what the Father wished. I judge, His meaning is, as if it were My Father that judged.
AUG. When He spoke of the resurrection of the soul, He did not say, Hear, but, See. Hear implies a command issuing from the Father. He speaks as man, who is inferior to the Father.
AUG. As I hear, I judge, is said with reference either to His human subordination, as the Son of man, or to that immutable and simple nature of the Sonship derived from the Father; in which nature hearing and seeing is identical with being. Wherefore as He hears, He judges. The Word is begotten one with the Father, and therefore judges according to truth. It follows, And My judgment is just, because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which has sent Me. This is intended to take us back to that man who, by seeking his own will, not the will of Him who made him, did not judge himself justly, but had a just judgment pronounced upon him. He did not believe that, by doing his own will, not God's, he should die. So he did his own will, and died; because the judgment; of God is just, which judgment the Son of God executes, by not seeking His own will, i.e. His will as being the Son of man. Not that He has no will in judging, but His will is not His own in such sense, as to be different from the Father's.
AUG. I seek not then Mine own will, i.e. the will of the Son of man, in opposition to God: for men do their own will, not God's, when, to do what they wish, they violate God's commands But when they so do what they wish, as at the same time to follow the will of God, they do not their own will. Or, I seek not Mine own will: i.e. because I am not of myself, but of the Father.
CHRYS. He shows that the Father's will is not a different one from His own, but one and the same, as a ground of defense. Nor marvel if being hitherto thought no more than a mere man, He defends Himself in a somewhat human way, and shows his judgment to be just on the same ground which any other person would have taken; viz. that one who has his own ends in view, may incur suspicion of injustice, but that one who has not cannot.
AUG. The only Son says, I seek not Mine own will: and yet men wish to do their own will. Let us do the will of the Father, Christ, and Holy Ghost: for these have one will, power, and majesty.
Catena Aurea John 5