What does John 5:37 mean?
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,
NIV: And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
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.
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.
NLT: And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face,
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.
NKJV: And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.
Verse Commentary:
The introduction to this gospel mentioned that God the Father had never been seen directly by men. Rather, God sent Jesus to serve that purpose (John 1:18). This opening passage referred to Jesus repeatedly as "the Word" (John 1:1) 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, meaning John the Baptist (John 5:33). He then referenced even more potent powerful support, which is observation. In this case, it means the miracles He performed (John 5:36). Now, Jesus offers what Jewish religious authorities should think of as 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 different from "faith." James, for example, makes the point that merely knowing about God is different from 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 must 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).
Verse Context:
John 5:30–47 continues Jesus' response to His critics in Jerusalem. After healing a crippled man on the Sabbath and claiming to be equal with God, Jesus now speaks about evidence. Rather than simply saying, "have faith,'' or ''believe Me because I said so,'' He offers reasons why He should be believed. These include human testimony, the miracles He is performing, and the words of Scripture. Jesus also makes the point that those who reject the prior words of God—the Old Testament Scriptures—aren't going to believe in Christ, no matter what.
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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