Friday, July 25, 2008

John 5

Previous installments in this series:

Let's Study The Bible! (John 1)
John 2
John 3
John 4: Sanctifying Grace and Infant Baptism
John 6

The fifth chapter of John begins with Jesus traveling to Jerusalem for a Jewish feast. The notes in my Bible say that it was probably the feast of Passover, but possibly Pentecost. In Jerusalem, Jesus heals a paralytic next to the pool with five porticoes.

The John Chrysostom, in his homilies, sees this healing as a symbol of baptism:

A Baptism was about to be given, possessing much power, and the greatest of gifts, a Baptism purging all sins, and making men alive instead of dead. These things then are foreshown as in a picture by the pool, and by many other circumstances. And first is given a water whichpurges the stains of our bodies, and those defilements which are not, but seem to be, as those from touching the dead, those from leprosy, and other similar causes; under the old covenant one may see many things done by water on this account.
Candy has a note explaining the relevance of this healing:
verse 17 The Lord does not rest on the Sabbath. He rested on the seventh day of creation. Nowhere does the Bible say that God rested on any other seventh day after that. Jesus here affirms that God works on the Sabbath day, and therefore He does as well.

Though I don't think Candy has studied St.Thomas Aquinas, but she agrees with his interpretation:
The Jews, however, did not do any work on the Sabbath, as a symbol that there were certain things pertaining to the Sabbath which were to be accomplished, but which the law could not do. This is clear in the four things which God ordained for the Sabbath: for he sanctified the Sabbath day, blessed it, completed his work on it, and then rested. These things the law was not able to do. It could not sanctify; so we read: “Save me, O Lord, for there are no holy people left” (Ps 11:1). Nor could it bless; rather, “Those who rely on the works of the law are under a curse” (Gal 3:10). Neither could it, complete and perfect, because “the law brought nothing to perfection” (Heb 7:19). Nor could it bring perfect rest: “If Joshua had given them rest, God would not be speaking after of another day” (Heb 4:8).

These things, which the law could not do, Christ did. For he sanctified the people by his passion: “Jesus, in order to sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate” (Heb 13:12). He blessed them by an inpouring of grace: “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing of heaven, in Christ” (Eph 1:3). He brought the people to perfection by instructing them in the ways of perfect justice: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). He also led them to true rest: “We who have believed will find rest,” as is said in Hebrews (4:3). Therefore, it is proper for him to work on the Sabbath, who is able to make perfect those things that pertain to the Sabbath, from which an impotent law rested.
Verse 24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Candy writes:
THAT is how to get saved. God made it simple, because He desires that all come unto Him. How does one hear "the word?" By the spreading of the Gospel. Each Christian is given the job, by God, to spread the Gospel, so that more will hear, and believe, and get saved. Time is short - spread the truth of the Gospel of Christ while there is still time!

This is a clear difference in our theology. The note in my Navarre Bible explains the Catholic interpretation:
There is also a close connexion between hearing the word of Christ and believing in him who has 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 (Jn 12:44, 49).

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 Jn 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.
Again, the difference in our theology boils down to salvation resting on the action of our faith, our acceptance, or on God's grace. Catholicism puts the emphasis on God's grace, while not discounting the importance of faith in salvation.

CCC #161: Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. "Since "without faith it is impossible to please [God]" and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life 'But he who endures to the end.'"

#183: "Faith is necessary for salvation. The Lord himself affirms: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mk 16:16)."

In verses 31-39, Jesus is answering the objections of the Jews by appeals to four witnesses that what he is saying is true. Beginning in verse 39 through the end of the chapter, his fourth witness is the Scriptures.

In verse 39, Candy notes: Jesus is the word of God made flesh (see 1 John 5:7 and John 1:1). The Bible is the word of God in writing, for all to read, so that they will read of Jesus Christ, and be saved.

However, for verses 45-47, she says This is referring to the Old Testament, of which a large part was written by Moses. The Old Testament shows us that we are all guilty of sin, and that we cannot fully atone for our sins, without the shedding of blood. This is why Jesus came to this earth. This is why Jesus died on the cross. He shed His blood, so that we may have life eternal with the Heavenly Father.

I don't know if she intends to make it seem as if verse 39 is referring to the complete Bible, while verses 45-47 refer only to the Old Testament or if that is accidental.

However, it is worthwhile to note that all of this passage would have been referring to the Old Testament. Jesus may be found in the Old Testament, but not explicitly. Dei Verbum, a document of Vatican II, states it this way, "The economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so orientated that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ."

Jesus clearly could not have been referring to the complete Scriptures in verse 39, because the New Testament did not exist at this time. Nor did New Testaments fall from the heavens after Jesus ascended, so that everyone could "read of Jesus Christ, and be saved." The early Christians had to rely on the oral Word, passed from person to person, in order to hear the message of salvation. You can read my defense of sacred Tradition here.

This does not mean that we differ from Candy in other aspects, such that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God.

I thought to close, I would post a few selections from the Catholic Catechism on Sacred Scriptures.


For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates Lord's Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God's Word and Christ's Body.

In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, "but as what it really is, the word of God". "In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them."


God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."

"For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."

God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more."

The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures."

and #131-133

"And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life." Hence "access to Sacred Scripture ought to be open wide to the Christian faithful."

"Therefore, the study of the sacred page should be the very soul of sacred theology. The ministry of the Word, too - pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place - is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture."

The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

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