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

John 5:5, NIV: "One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years."

John 5:5, ESV: "One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years."

John 5:5, KJV: "And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years."

John 5:5, NASB: "Now a man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years."

John 5:5, NLT: "One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years."

John 5:5, CSB: "One man was there who had been disabled for thirty-eight years."

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

The Pool of Bethesda is described as a gathering place. With five roofed porches—colonnades—it would have been a popular place to escape the sun. It was also very close to the temple, making it an ideal place for beggars to sit, hoping for charity. Verse 3 described the number of people with disabilities in this area as "a multitude."

According to this verse, the man Jesus is about to heal has been suffering for nearly forty years with his infirmity. Considering that average life expectancy then was shorter than it is today, this was literally a lifetime of suffering. The Bible doesn't give any specific explanation of the man's injury. Based on what Jesus says to the man later in the chapter (John 5:14), some speculate that his disability was the result of some personal sin. This might have been an injury, or a disease. However, this is only speculation.

Upcoming verses will paint a puzzling picture of this man. Rather than asking to be healed, or saying he wants to be healed, the man will simply complain that he has no helpers. Later, he will quickly shift blame for his actions onto Jesus. Details are scarce in this passage, but there are reasons to think this man might not have wanted to be healed. This makes Jesus' choice of him—among all of the many people there—an even more interesting one.