9:1 Now as Jesus was passing by, 1 he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 9:2 His disciples asked him, 2 “Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man 3 or his parents?” 4 9:3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man 5 nor his parents sinned, but he was born blind so that 6 the acts 7 of God may be revealed 8 through what happens to him. 9 9:4 We must perform the deeds 10 of the one who sent me 11 as long as 12 it is daytime. Night is coming when no one can work. 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 13 9:6 Having said this, 14 he spat on the ground and made some mud 15 with the saliva. He 16 smeared the mud on the blind man’s 17 eyes 9:7 and said to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” 18 (which is translated “sent”). 19 So the blind man 20 went away and washed, and came back seeing.
[9:1] sn Since there is no break with chap. 8, Jesus is presumably still in Jerusalem, and presumably not still in the temple area. The events of chap. 9 fall somewhere between the feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2) and the feast of the Dedication (John 10:22). But in the author’s narrative the connection exists – the incident recorded in chap. 9 (along with the ensuing debates with the Pharisees) serves as a real-life illustration of the claim Jesus made in 8:12, I am the light of the world. This is in fact the probable theological motivation behind the juxtaposition of these two incidents in the narrative. The second serves as an illustration of the first, and as a concrete example of the victory of light over darkness. One other thing which should be pointed out about the miracle recorded in chap. 9 is its messianic significance. In the OT it is God himself who is associated with the giving of sight to the blind (Exod 4:11, Ps 146:8). In a number of passages in Isa (29:18, 35:5, 42:7) it is considered to be a messianic activity.
[9:2] sn The disciples assumed that sin (regardless of who committed it) was the cause of the man’s blindness. This was a common belief in Judaism; the rabbis used Ezek 18:20 to prove there was no death without sin, and Ps 89:33 to prove there was no punishment without guilt (the Babylonian Talmud, b. Shabbat 55a, although later than the NT, illustrates this). Thus in this case the sin must have been on the part of the man’s parents, or during his own prenatal existence. Song Rabbah 1:41 (another later rabbinic work) stated that when a pregnant woman worshiped in a heathen temple the unborn child also committed idolatry. This is only one example of how, in rabbinic Jewish thought, an unborn child was capable of sinning.
[9:5] 13 sn Jesus’ statement I am the light of the world connects the present account with 8:12. Here (seen more clearly than at 8:12) it is obvious what the author sees as the significance of Jesus’ statement. “Light” is not a metaphysical definition of the person of Jesus but a description of his effect on the world, forcing everyone in the world to ‘choose up sides’ for or against him (cf. 3:19-21).
[9:6] 15 tn Or “clay” (moistened earth of a clay-like consistency). The textual variant preserved in the Syriac text of Ephraem’s commentary on the Diatessaron (“he made eyes from his clay”) probably arose from the interpretation given by Irenaeus in Against Heresies: “that which the Artificer, the Word, had omitted to form in the womb, he then supplied in public.” This involves taking the clay as an allusion to Gen 2:7, which is very unlikely.
[9:7] 18 tn The pool’s name in Hebrew is shiloah from the Hebrew verb “to send.” In Gen 49:10 the somewhat obscure shiloh was interpreted messianically by later Jewish tradition, and some have seen a lexical connection between the two names (although this is somewhat dubious). It is known, however, that it was from the pool of Siloam that the water which was poured out at the altar during the feast of Tabernacles was drawn.
[9:7] 19 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author. Why does he comment on the meaning of the name of the pool? Here, the significance is that the Father sent the Son, and the Son sent the man born blind. The name of the pool is applicable to the man, but also to Jesus himself, who was sent from heaven.