John 9:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 9:2, NIV: His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'

John 9:2, ESV: And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

John 9:2, KJV: And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

John 9:2, NASB: And His disciples asked Him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?'

John 9:2, NLT: 'Rabbi,' his disciples asked him, 'why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents' sins?'

John 9:2, CSB: His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? "

What does John 9:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the disciples' culture, sickness and suffering were often seen as a punishment for sin. In other words, those who suffered must have "deserved it," or at least someone in their family did. The fact that this man was born blind, then, leaves the disciples with only two options: either the man somehow sinned before his birth, or he is being punished for something his parents did.

Jesus will directly counter this mistake in the next verse. His response will be that personal suffering is not necessarily linked to one's own personal sin. In a broad sense, all suffering is a result of sin—aftershocks of the fall of man through Adam (Romans 5:12). It's also true that most of the suffering we experience in this world is primarily the result of human sin. Everything from political unrest to poverty to hunger are grounded in humanity rejecting their created purpose. But, as this man's example shows, not all suffering is directly deserved, in and of itself. In other words, not everything that happens to a person happens because they did something wrong. Hardship and suffering, including persecution, are not surefire signs of divine retribution. This directly counters the eastern idea of karma, which suggests that all current suffering is, in some way, that person's own fault.