John 5:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 5:19, NIV: "Jesus gave them this answer: 'Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."

John 5:19, ESV: "So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise."

John 5:19, KJV: "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise."

John 5:19, NASB: "Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whateverthe Father does, these things the Son also does in the same way."

John 5:19, NLT: "So Jesus explained, 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does."

John 5:19, CSB: "Jesus replied, "Truly I tell you, the Son is not able to do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son likewise does these things."

What does John 5:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse begins an extended passage featuring Jesus' defense of His ministry. These words are delivered in a specific context. He has been challenged by the Pharisees over two major points: First, Jesus has violated their traditional view of the Sabbath (John 5:16). Second, in so doing, Jesus has made a claim to equality with God (John 5:18). Rather than back off from this claim, Jesus will use the next few verses to make even more specific claims about His equality with God the Father.

Jesus introduces this section by repeating the word amēn. This word is often translated as "truly." Using such a word at the end of a statement was, in that day, a way of declaring the truth of the statement. This word has survived use in various other languages, and many people still end prayers with the word amen. Using such a phrase at the beginning of a statement, however, implied that what was being said was first-hand information. This was used for original teachings, or eyewitness accounts. When Jesus says, "Amēn, amēn, legō hymin…"—"truly, truly I say to you"—He is claiming to know these things personally, directly, and first-hand.

Jesus' first claim to equality with God is in works. Jesus is acting under submission to God the Father, meaning any works He does cannot be considered violations of God's will. At the same time, Jesus claims that what He does, His works, are equivalent to the works of God the Father. Both of these ideas factor into later statements, such as John 10:30, where Jesus will proclaim "I and the Father are one."

In upcoming verses, Jesus will claim three other areas where He is equal to God: in love (John 5:20), judgment (John 5:22), and honor (John 5:23).