What does John 5:46 mean?
ESV: For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.
NIV: If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.
NASB: For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.
CSB: For if you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me.
NLT: If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me.
KJV: For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
Verse Commentary:
In Luke 16:19–31 Jesus tells the story of Lazarus and the rich man. At the end, Jesus makes the point that those who reject the written Word of God won't be convinced by anything, even a miracle of resurrection. The same idea is in play here as Jesus responds to His critics (John 5:18). These men have plenty of evidence, including the words of other men (John 5:33) and seeing Jesus' miracles in person (John 5:36).

More importantly, these men are well-trained experts in the Jewish Scriptures. They know the law of Moses. And yet, they reject Jesus and His message. This is not due to ignorance, this is due to a willful refusal to see the truth (John 5:39–40). Jesus is making His criticism of the local religious leaders extremely personal. They claim to believe in the words Moses wrote—Jesus calls their claim a lie. Since the Old Testament predicted Jesus, and the Pharisees refuse to accept Him (John 5:38–40), they don't really want to know the will of God. They are more concerned with the rules and laws of other men (Matthew 15:6–9).
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—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 more or less avoiding 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 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 gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. 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”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
Accessed 4/16/2024 12:39:49 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.