Exegesis of John 9 Part 1

Exegesis of John 9 Part 1


In John chapter 9, Jesus performs a stunning miracle. However, John adds a “Paul Harvey” rest of the story narrative to drive home a point on who is blind and who is not. This story gives just a couple of verses to the actual miracle. More important is what happened after the miracle. The story brings forth an essential theme for John –dark and light through the metaphors of blindness and sight. This essay will explore John 9 with observations and interpretations demonstrating that the theme of dark and light permeates the story. Beginning with a discussion on the gospel as a whole and where this story fits in the body of the gospel, the discussion will move through the scenes; attention will be paid to first-century beliefs and customs that flavor the main characters’ dialogue. Following the chapter’s exegesis will discuss how John uses light and dark in his other writings, along with a brief application.

Overview of the Gospel of John

The Gospel of John is unique from the other synoptic gospels in that a significant volume of the material is unique to John. The Gospel contains no parables and no exorcisms as well. Instead, the Gospel is a logical progression of thought driving home the thesis that Jesus, the Messiah is God. This thesis is punctuated by the nine “I am” statements in the Gospel (which compliments the seven “I am” statements in the Apocalypse). The purpose of the Gospel (as stated in 20:30-31) is twofold – that those who hear the Gospel will believe Jesus is the Messiah, and through that belief, his followers will have eternal life.[1]

The occasion of the Gospel prompts several different views. Probably written in Ephesus and Northwestern Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), other locations of authorship include possibly Alexandria, Syria, among others.[2] Similar to the location of authorship is the identity of the author. Traditionally, the Gospel has been attributed to John the Apostle, son of Zebedee, brother of James. Other authorship theories include a community of Johannine followers, another John altogether, or even Lazarus.[3] The time frame of authorship has different views as well – early in the second half of the first century, after the temple destruction in the latter part of the first century, or well into the second century. Whatever the case for location, author, and date, it cannot be denied that the Gospel and the letters and the Apocalypse should be seen as a collected body of work instead of individual pieces. For this essay, it will be assumed that the Gospel was written by John the Apostle in Ephesus in the latter part of the first century.

The Gospel is primarily divided into five parts:

  • Prologue (1:1-18)
  • Jesus’ ministry to the world (Book of signs 1:19 – 12:50)
  • Jesus’ ministry to the disciples (farewell discourse 13-17)
  • Passion, resurrection, and appearances (18 – 20)
  • Epilogue (21)[4]

The passage occurs within the ministry of the world and is part of John’s sign structure which include a) changing of water to wine (2:1-11), b) healing of the official’s son (4:46-54), c) healing of a paralyzed man (5:1-9), d) feeding of the five thousand (6:1-14), e) walking on water (6:16-21 f), the passage at hand where a blind man is healed (9:1-7), and g) the revival of Lazarus from death (11:1-44).[5]

[1] Jan van der Watt, An Introduction to the Johannine Gospels and Letters (London,; New York: 2007 T&T Clark), 10.

[2] Ibid, 124-125.

[3] Ibid, 110-112.

[4] Ibid, 12.

[5] Paul A. Rainbow, Johannine Theology: The Gospel, the Epistles and the Apocalypse (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014) Kindle Location 3743-3744.

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