Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


John 5:19

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The Son can do nothing of himself - Because of his inseparable union with the Father: nor can the Father do any thing of himself, because of his infinite unity with the Son.

What things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son - God does nothing but what Christ does. What God does is the work of God, and proper to no creature - Jesus does whatsoever God does, and therefore is no created being. The Son can do nothing but what he sees the Father do: now, any intelligent creature may do what God cannot do: he may err - he may sin. If Jesus can do nothing but what God does, then he is no creature - he can neither sin nor err, nor act imperfectly. The conclusion from our Lord's argument is: If I have broken the Sabbath, so has God also; for I can do nothing but what I see him doing. He is ever governing and preserving; I am ever employed in saving.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The Son can do nothing of himself - Jesus, having stated the extent of his authority, proceeds here to show its “source and nature,” and to prove to them that what he had said was true. The first explanation which he gives is in these words: “The Son” - whom he had just impliedly affirmed to be equal with God - did nothing “of himself;” that is, nothing without the appointment of the Father; nothing contrary to the Father, as he immediately explains it. When it is said that he can “do nothing” of himself, it is meant that such is the union subsisting between the Father and the Son that he can do nothing “independently” or separate from the Father. Such is the nature of this union that he can do nothing which has not the concurrence of the Father, and which he does not command. In all things he must, from the necessity of his nature, act in accordance with the nature and will of God. Such is the intimacy of the union, that the fact that “he” does anything is proof that it is by the concurring agency of God. There is no separate action - no separate existence; but, alike in being and in action, there is the most perfect oneness between him and the Father. Compare John 10:30; John 17:21.

What he seeth the Father do - In the works of creation and providence, in making laws, and in the government of the universe. There is a special force in the word “seeth” here. No person can see God acting in his works; but the word here implies that the Son sees him act, as we see our fellow-men act, and that he has a knowledge of him, therefore, which no mere mortal could possess.

What things soever - In the works of creation and of providence, and in the government of the worlds. The word is without limit - all that the Father does the Son likewise does. This is as high an assertion as possible of his being “equal” with God. If one does “all” that another does or can do, then there must be equality. If the Son does all that the Father does, then, like him, he must be almighty, omniscient, omnipresent, and infinite in every perfection; or, in other words, he must be God. If he had “this” power, then he had authority, also, to do on the Sabbath day what God did.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The Divine power of the miracle proved Jesus to be the Son of God, and he declared that he worked with, and like unto his Father, as he saw good. These ancient enemies of Christ understood him, and became more violent, charging him not only with sabbath-breaking, but blasphemy, in calling God his own Father, and making himself equal with God. But all things now, and at the final judgment, are committed to the Son, purposely that all men might honour the Son, as they honour the Father; and every one who does not thus honour the Son, whatever he may think or pretend, does not honour the Father who sent him.
Ellen G. White
Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 410

Many who are seeking efficiency for the exalted work of God by perfecting their education in the schools of men will find that they have failed of learning the more important lessons. By neglecting to submit themselves to the impressions of the Holy Spirit, by not living in obedience to all God's requirements, their spiritual efficiency has become weakened; they have lost what ability they had to do successful work for the Lord. Absenting themselves from the school of Christ, they have forgotten the sound of the Teacher's voice, and He cannot direct their course. CT 410.1

Men may acquire all the knowledge possible to be imparted by the human teacher, but God requires of them still greater wisdom. Like Moses, they must learn meekness, lowliness of heart, and distrust of self. Our Saviour Himself, when bearing the test for humanity, acknowledged that of Himself He could do nothing. We also must learn that there is no strength in humanity alone. Man becomes efficient only by becoming partaker of the divine nature. CT 410.2

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 147.3

Where many have erred, was in not being careful in following God's ideas, but their own. Christ Himself declared, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do” (John 5:19). So utterly was He emptied of Himself that He made no schemes and plans. He lived accepting God's plans for Him, and the Father day by day unfolded His plans. If Jesus was so wholly dependent, and declared, “Whatsoever I see the Father do, that I do,” how much more should human agents depend upon God for constant instruction, so that their lives might be the simple working out of God's plans! ... HP 147.3

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Ellen G. White
Maranatha, 302.5

While bearing human nature, He [Christ] was dependent upon the Omnipotent for His life. In His humanity, He laid hold of the divinity of God; and this every member of the human family has the privilege of doing.... Mar 302.5

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Ellen G. White
Steps to Christ, 75

All that Christ was to the disciples, He desires to be to His children today; for in that last prayer, with the little band of disciples gathered about Him, He said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word.” John 17:20. SC 75.1

Jesus prayed for us, and He asked that we might be one with Him, even as He is one with the Father. What a union is this! The Saviour has said of Himself, “The Son can do nothing of Himself;” “the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.” John 5:19; 14:10. Then if Christ is dwelling in our hearts, He will work in us “both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. We shall work as He worked; we shall manifest the same spirit. And thus, loving Him and abiding in Him, we shall “grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” Ephesians 4:15. SC 75.2

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