Did God Cause a Man to be Born Blind?


According to most translations of John 9:2-4, a man was born blind so that God’s works could be revealed in him. For Jesus (or God through Jesus) healed him of his blindness. For example here is how the NKJV reads:

2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.
4 "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.

Does this seem reasonable? That God would cause this man to be born blind, to endure blindness throughout his childhood and part of his adulthood, just in order to heal him and receive glory for it? Or do we just dismiss this to say, “We don’t understand God’s ways with our ‘human’ reasoning” or “God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform” or “We can’t expect God to do things the way WE think is best. He does what He wants.”

None of these “answers” really answer anything. This is a moral problem, and God is the most moral being in the universe! God is LOVE. Would the God of love do such a thing?

Before ascribing such an act to God, we should first examine the text carefully, and see whether it is indeed translated correctly. As most of you know, Hellenistic Greek (the form of Greek used from 300 B.C. to 300 A.D.) was written all in capitals, with no spaces between words, and no punctuation other than a short line over some words to indicated that they were abbreviations.

Here is a way to punctuate the passage in such a way as to give an entirely different meaning to it:

*2 And His disciples asked HIm, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3,4 Jesus answered, "Neither this man NOR his parents sinned. But in order that the works of God might be revealed in him, it is necessary to work the works of Him who sent Me, while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.*


Wow! Thanks so much, Don. That has bothered me since I was a young girl. I always just figured I must not understand it, and you have finally cleared it up. I very much appreciate that. :slight_smile:


I agree with your punctuation, Paidion.


Thank you, Cindy. And Geoffey, too. Your responses have greatly encouraged me, after reading the adverse responses to this same posting on a different forum.


I have been delighted since Paidion first brought this up. I have posted it on my facebook page. We’ll see what happens there. Dum de dum dum.

I am wondering if it disturbs people because it shows that perhaps the Bible just might could be in some manner, mispunctuated, which would make the whole thing, hmmm, perchance, fallible somehow, and that is a very upsetting thought. :astonished:


For instance, “I tell you this day, you will be with me in paradise.” Like, ‘‘I’m telling you right now, you can know for sure, that in that Day, you will be with me in paradise.’’


Even from a purely grammatical view, Paidion, your punctuation makes more sense. The usual punctuation seems awkward, but yours seems straight-forward and even obvious:

“Who sinned?”

“Nobody.” [period]

Then Jesus, having concisely answered their question, went on to explain the forthcoming miracle.


I did some research on John 9 a couple of years ago - I couldn’t square goodness with a being that would make a person blind for their own ends.

I stumbled across a PhD paper which was looking at the translation of the Greek word “hina”. The conclusion regarding the passage is that “nevertheless” would be a better translation than “in order that”.

The paper can be found here: era.lib.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/1395

its a bit of a read - 400 pages - especially for a non-linguist like me, but helped me considerably with the passage in John 9.

Here’s the abstract of the paper:




I am wondering if it disturbs people because it shows that perhaps the Bible just might could be in some manner, mispunctuated, which would make the whole thing, hmmm, perchance, fallible somehow, and that is a very upsetting thought.

Well Jepne i think it’s pretty well known there were no punctuations in the koine greek but it rarely made much difference, but in the cases that it does, we can have some whoppers, like maybe this.

Thanks Paidion, great post!


Mike, the translation of “ἱνα” (hina) as “nevertheless” in John 9:3 would be pretty handy for our purpose. But realistically, the word never means “nevertheless.” The word occurs at least 340 times in the New Testament, and “nevetheless” makes no sense in any of those places except John 9:3. However,“that”, “in order that”, “so that” or “in order to” seems to make sense in all of them.

The Online Bible Greek lexicon states that the word means “that, in order that, so that.”
In the NASB Greek lexicon, we find the following: “A prime conjuction denoting purpose, definition, or result; in order that, that, so that…”
In Strong’s Greek Lexicon, we find this definition: "in order that (denoting the purpose or the result).



did you read the paper at all? It does give other places where the usual translation may be improved upon, not just John 9: 3.




[size=130]Yes, Mike. I read the paper. But I addressed only the meaning of the word ἱνα because that was the matter under discussion.[/size]


Thanks for the post Paidion. I would be more than willing to wager a lot of money to say that you have hit the nail on the head with this one.


Thank you so much for your encouragement, Gabe.


Just more evidence that Paidon ought to make his own translation of the New Testament.


Hi Mike
I didn’t read the 296 pages as Paidion says he did, but I wonder if your ‘nevertheless’ comes from the word ‘alla’ (which can mean ‘nevertheless’) which precedes ‘hina’.
That said, I note this information about ‘hina’:

from here:
so I do not dismiss your input that out of over 600 uses of the word in the NT, some might simply imply a result rather than an intention from the onset.
However, I do like Paidion’s suggestion regarding a different application of our punctuation.
Interesting topic.


Hi Pilgrim,

Yes, “hina” often or usually implies a result or end as indicated in your quote. That’s why “in order to” is a correct translation in many or most cases.

If I chain my goat in order to prevent it from eating the fruit trees, then I chain my goat so that the result of chaining it will be its not eating the fruit trees. The word “nevertheless” simply does not fit.

The word “alla” means “but.” In the 12 occurences in the New Testament, The ESV renders the word “alla” as “nevertheless” in 4 of these occurences." However, in each of these 4, the translation “but” would make perfect sense also.

Also, in John 9:3, “nevertheless” doesn’t seem to fit as a translation of “alla.”


Paidion, ever thought of making your own NT translation? I’d get a lot out of it.


Chris, I’m 77—a bit old to be starting such a major project. I have translated small portions of it.


According to the actuarial table, it is a good bet that you have another decade of earthly life. There are 7,956 verses in the New Testament. That comes to translating about 795 verses per year, which is about 15 verses per week, which is about 2 verses per day. :slight_smile:

My father-in-law (who is 82 years old) recently finished copying the entire Bible with a pen into notebooks–from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. :open_mouth: