John 5:37 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 5:37, NIV: "And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,"

John 5:37, ESV: "And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen,"

John 5:37, KJV: "And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape."

John 5:37, NASB: "And the Father who sent Me, He has testified about Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form."

John 5:37, NLT: "And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face,"

John 5:37, CSB: "The Father who sent me has himself testified about me. You have not heard his voice at any time, and you haven't seen his form."

What does John 5:37 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The introduction to this Gospel mentioned the idea that God the Father had never been seen directly by men. Rather, God sent Jesus in order to serve that purpose (John 1:18). This opening passage referred to Jesus repeatedly as "the Word," using the Greek term Logos, meaning "the message, meaning, or definition." While truth is truth, no matter who accepts it (John 8:14), Jesus knows that human beings have a reasonable need for evidence (John 5:34). Rather than appealing to blind faith, Jesus provides exactly what the Jewish legal system required. Namely, three witnesses to support a claim (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6).

Jesus first referred to human testimony, from John the Baptist (John 5:33). He then referenced a much more powerful evidence, which is observation. In this case, that means the miracles He was performing (John 5:36). Now, Jesus offers what—to the Jewish religious authorities—should be the most powerful testimony of all: the written Word of God.

However, this testimony is lost on Jesus' critics. According to Christ, these men have never heard the voice of God. They certainly knew the words and letters of the Law, so how is it possible that they didn't recognize Jesus? The answer is one human beings naturally reject, but which experience tells us is true: "knowledge" is not the same as "faith." James, for example, makes the point that merely knowing about God is not the same as having saving faith in God (James 2:14, 19).

In Romans, Paul points out that people come to faith through hearing the word—the gospel—of Jesus (Romans 10:17). And yet, as Jesus will point out later, a person cannot accept truth if they're already closed off to it (John 7:17). A humble attitude of obedience has to come before a person can learn. The Jewish religious leaders had knowledge, but they did not have humility or true faith, so they did not recognize the fulfillment of their own Scriptures (John 5:39–40).