Divinity of Christ in John 5:18


#1

I’m in a discussion with someone who holds the Arian position regarding Christ.

We’re talking about John 5:16-18, which reads:

“Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, because he did these things on the sabbath. But Jesus answered them: My Father worketh until now; and I work. Hereupon therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he did not only break the sabbath but also said God was his Father, making himself equal to God.”

To me, this is clear, but my opponent says the Pharisees “falsely accused” Jesus, referencing 8:48 and 9:16. Does he have a point?

Secondly, this passage has the oddity that the author, St John, is relaying what the Pharisees thought, not his own comments, when he says “because he did not only break the sabbath but also said God was his Father, making himself equal to God”. Since Jesus didn’t actually break the Sabbath, my opponent argues, the Pharisees could be just as wrong on the second claim (which they invented, according to him).

Can someone help clear this confusion up and perhaps explain the proper understanding? :shrug:


#2

The answer is that you are BOTH correct.

John 5:18 is a reference to what the Pharisees both believed and enforced, but it is John who is reporting this. It isn’t an “aside” comment referring to the personal views or inward thoughts of the Pharisees.

The verse can actually be rendered:

He not only broke the sabbath [as interpreted by them] but also called God his Father, making himself equal to God.

This is why scholars never set verse 18 as a quote when translating. It is a report by John, of his own origin, based on how the Pharisees enforced the Sabbath law.

Note that the author never challenges the view of the Pharisees. He is just reporting. As far as what actually happened, Jesus did in fact break the law as this religious group saw it.

There is internal evidence that John is teaching the divinity of Christ in this verse because John next says that Jesus “also called God his Father.”

Now did this claim, that Jesus was calling God his Father, originate with the Pharisees? No. It originated with Jesus, as John also reported:

My Father is working still, and I am working.–John 5:17.

Therefore verse 18 isn’t a comment regarding what the Pharisees internally believed. This is all just a report by John who isn’t interested with offering the views of the Pharisees.

While those you are speaking to are not totally incorrect that Jesus broke merely the Pharisees’s interpretation of the Sabbath rest laws, Jesus broke these nevertheless (if he hadn’t then this entire exchange would not have occurred), though in reality they were not binding on any Jew or, as Jesus had explained before, the Son of Man.–Matthew 12:8.

All of verse 18 is John’s reporting and teaching, based on Christ’s. Jesus did break the Pharisees’ unnecessary laws (which he tended to do as other accounts explain), and Jesus was indeed calling God his Father (the Pharisees often did the opposite claiming Jesus was in line with the Devil). Therefore it is also true that Jesus was making himself equal to God.

True, the Pharisees also recognized this final point but it was not due to it being something they invented. Jesus often claimed to be equal to God at other times.–John 10:30.


#3

Sorry, but I find that hard to understand. :blush: It doesn’t say “the sabbath as interpreted by them” (even though we would argue that), which is why I would hold that John is reporting from the Pharisees’ perspective, including their understanding of Jesus’ statement about His Father.

Wait, the Law of the Sabbath was not binding on the Jews? That’s new to me. I’d say they took it too strictly, yes, but I read your comment as saying it’s not binding at all. Or did you mean the interpretations of the Pharisees?

I’m sorry for being slow-witted. :rolleyes:


#4

First of all. I’m not making any of this up. None of this comes from personal opinion.

Second you have read the second part of my comments very incorrectly. You need to read again what I said was binding on the Jews and what wasn’t. In case you haven’t heard by now because I often bring it up ad nauseum is that I am Hebrew. I therefore would never teach something like the conclusion you’ve jumped to.

It’s sounds like these people have you stressed to the point that you are overly anxious. For what I’ve read for your posts this is not like you. You are usually level-headed. Take a breath, it’s going to be okay.

Now, first, the text can be interpreted as I wrote. This is based on a consensus of scholars, and can even be seen in the footnote of the RSVCE. The 2nd edition has a footnote to John 5:18 clarifying that John was saying that Jesus “broke the sabbath: i.e., broke the sabbath as interpreted by them.” Since this can be lost in the English sense, a translator would not be incorrect in offering it either in the text (likely in brackets) or as a footnote as the RSVCE does.

The Good News Translation, Catholic Edition renders this part of the verse “not only had he broken the Sabbath law, but he had said that God was his own Father and in this way had made himself equal with God.” This rendition is straight forward in merely reporting what was happening. This is all this comment of John’s is doing.

But you have to accept that this is not a situation where you are right and those you are speaking with are wrong. John is indeed commenting on the Sabbath laws as interpreted by the Pharisees, but he isn’t saying that he agrees with it or that he is describing their inner thoughts or views.

As to the second point, I merely stated that neither Jesus or any Jew was bound to a false interpretation of Sabbath resting laws. Jesus never violated these genuine laws. Jewish Christians also observed the valid Sabbath laws too. (Acts 21:20-24) But there were excessive interpretations that the Pharisees often demanded during the period of the Second Temple that Jesus condemned, like those associated with his healing the sick on the Sabbath.

These were not binding on any Jew, and Jesus taught this in commanding the man he healed to carry his mat (pallet) away after being healed. Such carrying of the mat broke the Pharisees’ interpretation of the Law but was not truly binding under the circumstances. Jesus was equal with God, thus if he commands you to carry your mat away on the Sabbath, you carry your mat away. God’s definition of the Sabbath is binding, not interpretations originating with mortals.–John 5:1-18.

Now even if John 5:18 is from the Pharisees’ perspective and only that, so what? You are arguing with a book that concludes with an apostle calling Jesus God. (John 20:28) if a person does not accept the teaching of the apostles and offers a length of excuses to avoid accepting that truth from the mouth of the Apostle Thomas, what makes you think they are going to listen to you?

As it is written: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.” (Luke 17:31) If they do not believe the testimony of the apostles, neither will they be convinced by you. So why are you worried about what stubborn people want to blindly believe?


#5

Bear in mind that John could be commenting on what the Pharisees thought, but not because he was speculating. As pointed out, Jesus did in fact do those things and did not hide it, so he was breaking the Law as far as the Pharisees were concerned (because if they didn’t believe He was the Son of God then they believed He had no authority over the Law). The Pharisees would have likely expressed their view as to why Jesus was sinning very publicly, so it wouldn’t have been obscure by any stretch of the imagination for the average person to know what/why charges were levied against Him.


#6

John 8:48
48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I have not a demon"

John 9:16
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was a division among them."

If Jesus had sent confusing messages as to Who He is or what He was teaching, He would have been obligated to correct it. He does not correct the Pharisees understanding Jesus claim to be God, therefore Jesus was claiming to be God.

I understand DelsonJacobs to say correctly, that it is John who is saying that Jesus made himself to be equal to God.

John 10:30, 33
“ ‘I and the Father are one.’ … The Jews answered him, ‘It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God.’ ”
Jesus knew the hearts and minds of the Scribes and Pharisees. And they clearly understood Jesus to be claiming to be God. As a good teacher He would have had to correct that if it was a misunderstanding on their part. However, Jesus does not “correct” their understanding. Therefore, their understanding must be correct, He is God. And Jesus goes on to restate that in various ways.

see more
defendingthebride.com/je/divine.html

.


#7

As to the second point, I merely stated that neither Jesus or any Jew was bound to a false interpretation of Sabbath resting laws.

But there were excessive interpretations that the Pharisees often demanded… These were not binding on any Jew
[/quote]

[quote=DelsonJacobs]While those you are speaking to are not totally incorrect that Jesus broke merely the Pharisees’s interpretation of the Sabbath rest laws, Jesus broke these nevertheless… though in reality they were not binding on any Jew
[/quote]

Delson,

You might consider taking it easy on Cutler here. Reading your comments, I too thought you were saying that ‘they’ referred to ‘the Sabbath rest laws’ rather than to ‘the Pharisees’ interpretation of the Sabbath rest laws’, given that you started with ‘while those… are not totally incorrect’. :wink:


#8

I wasn’t attacking Cutler or arguing with him or being hard, not intentionally any way. My apologies if I was a poor writer here, but I am quite confused how what I wrote caused confusion. The “those” are the people Cutler was “speaking” to who claimed that “Jesus broke merely…interpretation[s]” of the Law that, because they were incorrect interpretations, were not truly binding upon any Jew.

What I don’t understand is how this sentence is being read as if I am teaching that Jews are not under obligation to observe the Sabbath when I wrote:

While those you are speaking to are not totally incorrect that Jesus broke merely the Pharisees’ interpretation of the Sabbath rest laws, Jesus broke these nevertheless (if he hadn’t then this entire exchange would not have occurred), though in reality they were not binding on any Jew or, as Jesus had explained before, the Son of Man.–Matthew 12:8.–Italics added.

The subject is “the Pharisees’ interpretation of the Sabbath rest laws” which I said “were not binding on any Jew or, as Jesus had explained before, the Son of Man.” I then cite Matthew 12:8 were Jesus defends his disciples’ actions of picking grain as NOT breaking any Sabbath law according to the Pharisee interpretation.

When you read the cited Scripture and the context you will find that were it not for Jesus being present, the disciples would have been held responsible for these actions by the Pharisees. Jesus stepped in to show that what the Pharisees were demanding was not truly representative of what the Sabbath was all about. Because of this Christ’s disciples were not truly guilty because in reality they had not broken any Sabbath resting laws. All these harsh interpretations were thus not truly binding on any Jew.

I don’t see how after reading these along with my comment one would think I, a Jew, were stating that Jews are not obligated to observe the Sabbath itself. The discussion is about the Pharisees’ interpretation of it which Jesus himself often ignored. But I am not perfect.

There is a significant difference between what the Pharisees were demanding and what the Torah demands. Following one, Jesus brought out time and again, was not necessarily following the other. Often obeying the Law as dictated by the Pharisees actually made a person break the Law according to what Jesus said.–Read Matthew 15:1-9.

While Jesus acknowledged that Jews should do their best to follow what their religious leaders were telling them, he advised them not to follow their example. The Pharisees had created a system of burdens, most of which they didn’t follow themselves or realistically couldn’t. Obedience to the Law via the interpretation of it as seen by the Pharisees could mark one as guilty as they, so these interpretations were not binding upon any Jew either.–See Matthew 23:1-4, 13, 15.

I was under the assumption that most Catholics were aware of these facts and the differences between observing the Sabbath as interpreted by the Pharisees of Jesus’ day and observing the Sabbath as commanded by the Law. Did I assume too much? I don’t think I did. I have been under the understanding that there are many people on this site far more intelligent and well-read in the faith than I who I could not hold a candle to. But I could be wrong, and obviously I am not doing something as well as I can or should.

In line with that I apologize again for anything that was poorly written and that was coming across as an attack or being hard or harsh or anything along those lines.


#9

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