What does John 9:1 mean?
ESV: As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.
NIV: As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.
NASB: As Jesus passed by, He saw a man who had been blind from birth.
CSB: As he was passing by, he saw a man blind from birth.
NLT: As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.
KJV: And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
NKJV: Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.
Verse Commentary:
The timing of this event is not easy to determine. Scripture was originally written without chapter and verse divisions; the last event mentioned was Jesus escaping another murder attempt by local religious leaders (John 8:59). This could mean He saw this man immediately afterwards. Then again, ancient writers were far more concerned with general facts and themes, rather than most minor details. More than likely, there is some period of time between the events of chapter 8 and those of chapter 9.

This man will be the subject of Jesus' sixth miraculous "sign" as recorded in the gospel of John. Almost every aspect of this story has spiritual implications, which is why John devotes an unusually long passage to the miracle and its immediate aftermath. The important detail is that this man is blind, a condition often used in Scripture as a metaphor for those who lack saving faith in God. The Old Testament predicted the Messiah would cure blindness (Isaiah 29:18; 35:5; 42:7). In all of Scripture, only Jesus is seen miraculously healing the blind—further proof of His identity (Matthew 11:5; 12:22–23).

It's also key to notice that this man was born blind. He's not about to regain something he lost at some point in the past. Jesus is going to give this man an ability that he has literally never had. This provides a powerful parallel to the role of God in bringing us to saving faith, and to salvation by grace. This man was never able to "see the Light," until Christ stepped in.
Verse Context:
John 9:1–12 contains the sixth of the gospel of John's seven miraculous ''signs'' of Jesus' divinity. This miracle is the healing of a man who has been blind since birth. Jesus corrects His disciples' misconceptions about sin and suffering, then grants this man an ability he has never had before. This will lead to more angry confrontations with local religious leaders, as they purposefully ignore the spiritual message being proven by Jesus' works.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus encounters a man who has been blind his entire life. In typical fashion for that era, the disciples assume this condition is due to some specific sin--either the man's sin or his parents' sin. Jesus challenges this idea, and heals the man. His restoration leads to interrogation, as the Pharisees try to discredit Jesus' miraculous work. The healed man's simple, straightforward perspective embarrasses the religious leaders, who excommunicate him in frustration. Jesus is able to meet with the man, explaining more about His identity and the purpose of His ministry. Jesus also reminds the Pharisees that those who ought to know better, spiritually, will be held more accountable as a result.
Chapter Context:
Jesus has begun to actively confront the false teachings of local religious leaders. His most recent debate included a heated exchange with the Pharisees, where Jesus claimed to have existed before Abraham. This resulted in an attempted stoning for blasphemy. Here, Jesus continues to antagonize religious hypocrites by healing a man who was born blind. The ensuing ruckus further exposes Jerusalem's religious leaders as shallow, prejudiced, and false. This event launches Jesus into another lengthy discussion of His ministry, recorded in chapter 10, including several crucial teachings on His role as Shepherd.
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.
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