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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 5 - Verse 37
Verse 37. The Father himself—hath borne witness of me. This God had done,
1st. By the miracles which Jesus had wrought, and of which he was conversing.
2nd. At the baptism of Jesus, where he said, "This is my beloved Son," Mt 3:17.
3rd. In the prophecies of the Old Testament. It is not easy to say here to which of these he refers. Perhaps he has reference to all.
Ye have neither heard his voice. This difficult passage has been interpreted in various ways. The main design of it seems to be clear—to reprove the Jews for not believing the evidence that he was the Messiah. In doing this he says that they were indisposed to listen to the testimony of God. He affirmed that God had given sufficient evidence of his divine mission, but they had disregarded it. The first thing that he notices is that they had not heard his voice. The word hear, in this place, is to be understood in the sense of obey or listen to. See Barnes "Joh 5:25".
The voice of God means his commands or his declarations, however made; and the Saviour said that it had been the characteristic of the Jews that they had not listened to the voice or command of God. As this had been their general characteristic, it was not wonderful that they disregarded now his testimony in regard to the Messiah. The voice of God had been literally heard on the mount. See De 4:12: "Ye heard the voice of the words." At any time. This has been the uniform characteristic of the nation that they have disregarded and perverted the testimony of God, and it was as true of that generation as of their fathers.
Nor seen his shape. No man hath seen God at any time, Joh 1:18. But the word shape, here, does not mean God himself. It refers to the visible manifestation of himself; to the appearance which he assumed. It is applied in the Septuagint to his manifesting himself to Moses, Nu 12:8: "With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently;" in Greek, in a form or shape—the word used here. It is applied to the visible symbol of God that appeared in the cloud and that rested on the tabernacle, Nu 9:15,16. It is the same word that is applied to the Holy Spirit appearing in bodily shape like a dove, Lu 3:22. Jesus does not here deny that God had appeared in this manner, but he says they had not seen—that is, had not paid attention to, or regarded, the appearance of God. He had manifested himself, but they disregarded it, and, in particular, they had disregarded his manifestations in attestation of the Messiah. As the word hear means to obey, to listen to, so the word see means to pay attention to, to regard (2 Jo 1:8; 1 Jo 3:6), and thus throws light on Joh 14:9: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." "I am a manifestation of God—God appearing in human flesh, as he appeared formerly in the symbol of the cloud; and he that regards me, or attends to me, regards the Father."
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