Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


John 5:31

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If I bear witness - If I had no proof to bring of my being the Messiah, and equal to God, common sense would direct you to reject my testimony; but the mighty power of God, by which I work my miracles, sufficiently attests that my pretensions are well founded.

Bishop Pearce gives a different turn to this verse, by translating it interrogatively, thus: "If I only bear witness of myself, is not my witness true? i.e. is it, on that account, not true? In John 8:14, he says, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true. And in John 8:18, he says, I am one that bear witness of myself."

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

If I bear witness of myself - If I have no other evidence than my own testimony about myself.

My witness - My testimony; my evidence. The proof would not be decisive.

Is not true - The word “true,” here, means worthy of belief, or established by suitable evidence. See Matthew 22:16; “We Know that thou art true” - that is, worthy of confidence, or that thou hast been truly sent from God, Luke 20:21; John 8:13, John 8:17. The law did not admit a man to testify in his own case, but required two witnesses, Deuteronomy 17:6. Though what Jesus said was true John 8:13, John 8:17, yet he admitted it was not sufficient testimony alone to claim their belief. They had a right to expect that his statement that he came from God would be confirmed by other evidence. This evidence he gave in the miracles which he performed as proof that God had sent him.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Our Lord returns to his declaration of the entire agreement between the Father and the Son, and declared himself the Son of God. He had higher testimony than that of John; his works bore witness to all he had said. But the Divine word had no abiding-place in their hearts, as they refused to believe in Him whom the Father had sent, according to his ancient promises. The voice of God, accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost, thus made effectual to the conversion of sinners, still proclaims that this is the beloved Son, in whom the Father is well pleased. But when the hearts of men are full of pride, ambition, and the love of the world, there is no room for the word of God to abide in them.
Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 204-13

The Jews had so perverted the law that they made it a yoke of bondage. Their meaningless requirements had become a byword among other nations. Especially was the Sabbath hedged in by all manner of senseless restrictions. It was not to them a delight, the holy of the Lord, and honorable. The scribes and Pharisees had made its observance an intolerable burden. A Jew was not allowed to kindle a fire nor even to light a candle on the Sabbath. As a consequence the people were dependent upon the Gentiles for many services which their rules forbade them to do for themselves. They did not reflect that if these acts were sinful, those who employed others to perform them were as guilty as if they had done the work themselves. They thought that salvation was restricted to the Jews, and that the condition of all others, being already hopeless, could be made no worse. But God has given no commandments which cannot be obeyed by all. His laws sanction no unreasonable or selfish restrictions. DA 204.1

In the temple Jesus met the man who had been healed. He had come to bring a sin offering and also a thank offering for the great mercy he had received. Finding him among the worshipers, Jesus made Himself known, with the warning words, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” DA 204.2

The healed man was overjoyed at meeting his Deliverer. Ignorant of the enmity toward Jesus, he told the Pharisees who had questioned him, that this was He who had performed the cure. “Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day.” DA 204.3

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 201-13

This chapter is based on John 5.

“Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.” DA 201.1

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Jesus' Ministry according to John