What does John 5:19 mean?
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.
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.
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 whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in the same way.
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.
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.
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.
NKJV: Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
Verse Commentary:
This 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 it at the end of a statement was 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.

The first claim to equality with God is in works: actions and deeds. 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 is equivalent to the works of God the Father. Both ideas factor into later statements (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).
Verse Context:
John 5:16–29 begins Jesus' response to local religious leaders. After healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus is attacked for violating traditions related to the Mosaic law and for claiming to be equal to God. In this passage, Jesus claims many of the attributes of God the Father. Among these are the power, judgment, love, and honor of God. Jesus also states that those who reject His message dishonor God and only those who believe Him will have eternal life. In the next passage, Jesus will support these claims by referring to various forms of evidence, all of which prove His ministry to be true.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus again returns to Jerusalem, as required for the various feast days. While there, He heals a man who had been crippled for nearly forty years. Since this occurred on the Sabbath, local religious leaders are angry. In fact, they are more upset with Jesus for working on the Sabbath than amazed at His miracle. In response, Jesus offers an important perspective on evidence. Jesus refers to human testimony, scriptural testimony, and miracles as reasons to believe His declarations. Christ also lays claim to many of the attributes of God, making a clear claim to divinity.
Chapter Context:
Chapters 1 through 4 showed Jesus avoiding major publicity. Here, in chapter 5, He will begin to openly challenge the local religious leaders. This chapter is Jesus' first major answer to His critics in this gospel. The fact that Jesus is willing to heal on the Sabbath sets up a theme of His upcoming disagreements with the Pharisees. Jesus also provides an important perspective on the relationship between evidence and faith, which He will expand on in later chapters. This chapter also establishes a key point made by Jesus' critics: His claims to be God.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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