What does John 5:21 mean?
ESV: For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
NIV: For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.
NASB: For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.
CSB: And just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to whom he wants.
NLT: For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants.
KJV: For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
NKJV: For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.
Verse Commentary:
Once again, Jesus makes a claim to power that is reserved only for God. The Old Testament clearly recognized that the power over life and death belonged solely to God (2 Kings 5:6–8). For Jesus to claim that He can give life, just as the Father gives life, means Jesus is stating His own divinity.

This conversation is the result of an incident which created two major controversies among local religious authorities. In John 5:1–15, Jesus heals a man who had been crippled for thirty-eight years. Rather than being amazed at the miracle, the Pharisees were upset that Jesus was breaking their Sabbath traditions. Jesus responds not only with claims that what He is doing is right, but that He is equal to God.

The end of this verse echoes the circumstances where Jesus healed a long-disabled man. There was "a multitude" of people with disabilities at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:3). The man Jesus healed didn't seem all that interested in either Jesus or His power (John 5:6–7, 14). Jesus' choice to heal this man was an example of God's divine sovereignty. In other words, God has the right to choose when He will or will not intervene. This includes the ability to "raise" both the spiritually and physically dead (John 5:24, 29).

Jesus has claimed equality to God in works (John 5:19), love (John 5:20), and will soon claim to be equal to God in 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.
Accessed 5/28/2024 12:52:25 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.