Did God Cause a Man to be Born Blind?


#8

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:

Regards,

Mike


#9

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!


#10

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).


#11

Paidion,

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.

Regards,

Mike


#12

[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]


#13

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.


#14

Thank you so much for your encouragement, Gabe.


#15

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


#16

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:
biblehub.com/greek/2443.htm
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.


#17

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.”


#18

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


#19

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


#20

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:


#21

No. I won’t be translating the New Testament. However, since you are so adamant, I will offer a few short passages which I have translated:

I Corinthians 13

  1. If I speak in the languages of mankind and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal,
  2. and if I have prophecy and know all secrets and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to transfer mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
  3. And if I feed away all my possessions and deliver my body to be burned and do not have love, it is of no advantage to me.
  4. Love is patient; it is kind; it is not envious. Love does not boast or is not arrogant.
  5. It does not behave unbecomingly; it is not self-seeking; it does not get irritated; it does not take stock of wrongs suffered.
  6. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in reality.
  7. It covers everyone; it believes everyone; it expects [the best of] everyone; it endures everyone.
  8. Love never falls. As for prophecies, they will become inoperative. As for tongues, they will cease. As for knowledge, it will be rendered inoperative.
  9. For we know partially and we prophesy partially.
  10. But when the complete comes, the incomplete will become inoperative.
  11. When I was a child, I spoke as a child; I thought as a child; I reasoned as a child. When I became a man, I put an end to childish ways.
  12. For now we see through a mirror, obscurely but then face to face. Now I know partially, but then will know thoroughly even as I am thoroughly known.
  13. So now, faith, hope, and love remain—these three. But the greatest of these is love.

Note: Mirrors were different in those days. They were metallic, and often gave a dim or distored image.

John 12:1-8

  1. Let not your heart be troubled; trust in God; trust also in me.
  2. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
  3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again to take you along with me, so that where I am, you also may be.
  4. And you perceive the road where I am going.
  5. Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not perceive where you are going, how can we perceive the road?”
  6. Jesus said to him, “I am the road, the reality, and the life. No one comes toward the Father except through me.”
  7. “If you had perceived me, you would have perceived my Father also. From now on, you perceive Him and have experienced Him.”
  8. Philip said to Him, “Lord, give evidence of the Father to us, and we shall be content.”

John 1:1-18
1:1-5
In the Beginning [of time] was the Expression [of GOD] and the Expression was pro-GOD and the Expression was Deity. This one was pro-GOD in the Beginning. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. That which came to be in him, was life, and the life was the light of human beings, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overtake it.

1:6-14
There came to be, a man who had been sent from GOD, his name – John. This one came for a witness so that he might bear witness concerning the light, so that all should believe through him. He was not that light, but [he came] in order that he should witness concerning the light. He [the Expression] was the real light which illuminates every person who comes into the world system. He was in the world system and the world system came to be, though him, and the world system does not know him. He came to his own things, and his own people did not receive him. But as many as received him, to them he gave the authority to become children of GOD – to those trusting into his name, the ones who are generated out of God, not out of bloods, nor out of the will of the flesh, nor out of the will of a man. And the Expression [of God] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we gazed at his glory, the glory of the only-generated from a Father, full of grace and reality.

1:15-18
John witnessed about him and cried out saying, “This was he whom I said, ‘The one coming after me has come to be, before me, because he was prior to me.” Because out of the filling of him, we all received, grace in place of grace. No one has ever seen God. The only-generated God, the one who is in the Father’s bosom, he has revealed him.

A Commentary on the first 18 verses of John 1

Verse 1:
In the Beginning [of time] was the Expression [of GOD]

The Greek word “λογος” (logos) refers to an expression of oneself. It is usually translated as “word”. I do not say that this is a poor translation. In English “word” is used in this way. Someone may say, “Joe is going to give us a word.” However, this translation can be confusing since “word” in English also refers to “A single unit of meaning formed by a sound or sounds” [American Heritage Dictionary].

Some suppose that, because “logos” means “expression” and that it expresses the thought of the one who gives the word, that in this context, it denotes the mind or thought or reasoning of God — that it is impersonal, but is personified in the context as a figure of speech. My belief is that the word is used of Jesus, and that He is called “the logos” because He expressed God the Father to mankind when He lived on earth. That’s why He could say, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” [John 14:9].

and the Expression was pro-GOD

This is usually translated that the logos or “word” was with God. But this also is confusing, for our first thought is that the logos was physically close to God. But there are other Greek prepositions for “with” in that sense. The Greek word “προς” (pros) usually means “toward” but can mean “with” in the sense of sharing the thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, etc. of another person. We use “with” in this sense when Jack expresses himself and Sam says, “I’m with you, Jack.” In Greek, the word for God is “θεος” (theos). If the word is preceded by the article as in “‘ο θεος” (the God), then the Father is meant. This seems to be so in every case in which “θεος” stands alone (is not modified by an adjective or an adjectival phrase).

and the Expression was Deity.

This phrase is usually translated, “and the word was God”. Some people read it emphasizing the word “was”. In doing so, they imply that the “word” and “God” are identical. But this is not the case since “θεος” is not preceded by the article. In addition, the word order is changed: “θεος ‘ην ‘ο λογος” (God was the word). This word order is used elsewhere in the New Testament. For example:

God is love I John 4:16] “‘o θεος ‘αγαπη ‘εστιν” (God love is). Love is the kind of thing God is, the kind of “stuff” of which He consists ---- His essence.

Your word is reality. [John 17:17]. “‘o λογος ‘ο σος ‘αληθεια ‘εστιν” (The word of you reality is) Reality is the kind of thing God’s word is. It’s the stuff of which His word consists — the essence of His word.

Thus: The Expression was Deity [John 1:1] “θεος ‘ην ‘ο λογος” (Deity was the Expression). Deity is the kind of thing that the Expression was. It is the stuff of which He consists ---- His very essence.

Martin Luther concurred with this understanding. Whatever else he might have been, Luther was a good Greek scholar. He put it quite succinctly, saying that the lack of an article is against Sabellianism and the word order is against Arianism.

Sabellianism was a form of modalism or “oneness”, the idea that God is a single divine Individual who reveals Himself in three modes, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Arianism may have originated from the early Christian teaching that the Son of God was begotten by God before all ages, and being God’s only begotten Son, he was therefore fully deity. Arius himself, when writing in 321 A.D. to Eusebius bishop of Nicodemia, referred to the Son as “fully God”:

“But what we say and think we both have taught and continue to teach, that the Son is not unbegotten, nor part of the unbegotten in any way, nor is he derived from any substance; but that by his own will and counsel he existed before times and ages, fully God, only-begotten, unchangeable.”

However, Arius was perceived by Martin Luther and many others, as having taught that Christ was “a lesser god”. This thought may have arisen from Arius’s error in teaching that since the Son was begotten before all ages as an act of God, there must have been a time at which He did not exist.

So the Logos of God was Deity. He was not God Himself. Nor was He part of a Trinity. He Himself in His prayer declared His Father to be the only true God:

John 17:3 "This is lasting life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

By the addition of “and Jesus Christ whom You have sent”, Jesus indicates that He is other than “the only true God”.

Verses 2-5
This one was pro-GOD in the Beginning. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. That which came to be in him, was life, and the life was the light of human beings, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overtake it.

Life came to be in Jesus, and this life was the light of people. Nevertheless, this life or light was Jesus Himself. He said that He was the life. He also declared Himself to be the Light of the World (John 8:12 and 9:5) What is in a person can be the essence of that person. Our own thoughts and emotions are we ourselves!

6-8
There came to be, a man who had been sent from GOD, his name – John. This one came for a witness so that he might bear witness concerning the light, so that all should believe through him. He was not that light, but [he came] in order that he should witness concerning the light.

Clearly John the Baptizer bore witness to Christ the light of the world, so that all should believe through Him (Christ). The gospels unmistakably indicate that John announced the coming of the Messiah prior to His coming…

9-10
He [the Expression] was the real light which illuminates every person who comes into the world system. He was in the world system and the world system came to be, though him, and the world system does not know him.

Through Christ, the world system came to be. But in its creation, it was not a twisted, evil, corrupt world system such as it came to be after sin entered it. Yet Christ continue to illuminate every person who comes into it. This may explain how some non-disciples can be so loving and caring of others. Notwithstanding, the world system in general does not know Christ.

11-13
He came to his own things, and his own people did not receive him. But as many as received him, to them he gave the authority to become children of GOD – to those trusting into his name, the ones who are begotten out of God, not out of bloods, nor out of the will of the flesh, nor out of the will of a man but of God.

Jesus came to His own things. Which things were they? Doubtless the things which came into being through Him. He came to them by way of His human birth. But generally, His own people did not receive Him. But He gave to them who did receive Him the authority to become the children of God. Today we hear, “Just receive Jesus as your personal Saviour, and you will immediately become a child of God.” But that is not what John taught He taught that it is merely the first step, a step whereby Christ gives you the authority to become a child of God. For one must not only receive Him, but submit to Him. As one begins to entrust themselves to Christ, they become begotten of God, and as they continue in Him, they will eventually be born into the resurrection.

14
And the expression [of God] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we gazed at his glory, the glory of the only-generated from a Father, full of grace and reality.

Christ, the Expression of God, became flesh by being born as a human being. He was a real human being, not “God clothed in human flesh” as some would have it. As a baby he cried (in spite of the Xmas carol to the contrary) and wet his diapers (or the equivalent in those days). He grew up increasing in wisdom and stature. His mind had to mature just as any normal kid. He had no intrinsic miraculous powers. Every miracle which the Father performed through Him was a consequence of His complete relationship with His Father.

15-17
John witnessed about him and cried out saying, “This was he whom I said, ‘The one coming after me has come to be, before me, because he was prior to me.” Because out of the filling of him, we all received, grace in place of grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and reality came to be through Jesus Christ.

John announced Christ, and because of God’s filling Him with every grace, we have received grace, only to have it replaced by an even deeper grace. God gave the law through Moses. The law was unable to produce consistently righteous people. But the enabling grace of God which was made available to us through Jesus opens the possibility and even the actuality of righteousness in God’s children. Thus righteousness become a reality in one’s life

No one has ever seen God. The only-begotten God, the one who is in the Father’s bosom, he has revealed him.

The Son of God was the only God who was begotten. God our Father, the only true God, was not begotten but was simply there at the beginning of time. No one has ever seen God. Moses didn’t see God; the prophets didn’t see God. They may have seen Him in visions, but they didn’t really see Him in actuality. If they had seen Him, they would have known Him. But the only-begotten God knows Him as He really is, and therefore was able to reveal Him to us, both by His teaching and by His example.


#22

Thanks, Don. I’ve been discussing the idea of God being morally responsible for setting up a creation in which things like blindness can happen, and though this doesn’t answer that question (nobody so far has), it gives a better view. The idea that God could be glorified by that, if He orchestrated it in the first place, is pretty repugnant.


#23

One thing to consider is that some in Jewish circles at the believed in the preexistence of souls, maybe even reincarnation. You see hints of that when Jesus asks who the people say I am and they say, Some Elijah or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Obviously, I’m not trying to espouse the idea of reincarnation, but if some thought that this blind man had sinned in a past life, then its not hard to imagine that he is getting punished from that sin. for how could they say he sinned at the time of his birth.


#24

but if some thought that this blind man had sinned in a past life, then its not hard to imagine that he is getting punished from that sin. for how could they say he sinned at the time of his birth.

Yes it’s true plus some believed the baby in the womb could have sinned.


#25

When we hear the word glory, in relation to God, we hear “credit”, “fanfare”, “acclaim for greatness”. This not what glory really is. Glory is the presence of God. It is the emination of His essence in a way that can be perceived, and acknowledged. It is the evidence of union with God, and expression of His indwelling in us and manifestations toward us.

Romans 8 explains that the creation was not subjected to futility of its own accord- but it was subjected in hope. Hope with God is not as hope with man. Man hopes and it is like this, “I hope this or that happens.” When in reference to God, His hope is simply the as yet unfulfilled but predetermined goal of His plan- who causes all things to work according to the counsel of His will. That is why “Hope makes not ashamed”, and we “exult in the hope of the glory of God”- which is the fulfillment of the promise that God will be all in all.

That is why the truth of the restoration of all things is so imprtant to the gospel. Without it, there is no context from which to determine His plan from the beginning, which was to create a family of friends who share intimately and fully the joy of absolute freedom in absolute love in unrestricted fellowship.

So we must go to the original purpose of God(to become all in all n a huge family of creation) to understand the method of God, which was to create us in perfection, then to teach us through chaos what we could never learn through perfection, and to share that learning with us through Christ in a way that makes us one from both directions.

We think as if this life and living it is the goal. It is not. Life is the method through which God achieves the goal, our education- which is a superficial word for “revealing His glory in us”, by giving us all things in Christ as sons and daughters.

So…futility is the set. Within it chaos spins and wrecks havoc with our best intentions. In every life the end result will be the same. His glory revealed within an “educated” being. A being fully open and aware of love as grace poured out upon dry ground to yield trees of life. In this age suffering is the lot of all mankind. Within the futility many chaotic destructive events occur as the result of our state of being- which is chaotic due to self will.

The chaos is the result of God having given us the reins. His goal is that we will learn to give them back to Him, so He can give them back to us as we become more like Him, until finally He is all in all, and there is no longer any need for rule, power and authority.

So God does not blind someone so that He can get glory(fame renown credit acclaim). Blindness and all the attendant evils of futility are the result of the method through which God bound all things in chaos, until all things should be restored by ever-increasing manifestations of love. Love is the glory of God, and we are a sort of first-fruits of His (new)creation. He is intervening in the chaotic state of our futility in order to draw us into His glory, which is the new creation- the total fusion of God within His creatures. That’s why the whole creation will be set free from futility into the “glorious liberty of the children of God”.

Jesus is “the radiance of the Father’s glory and exact representation of His nature”(Heb 1).

The mystery of God is Christ in you is the hope of glory.

I think Paidon’s translation is excellent, and more accurately renders the thoughts of the speaker and the perceptions of the hearers in their time(which is the ultimate goal of translation).

Jesus could have said, “Adam sinned, so we have some blind and some lepers and wars and criminals and famine and plague, but I am going to fix all that.”

But He said, essentially, “The man’s blindness is not because of sin, it is because of the night, so I will do what I have come to do while it is yet day(totally a paraphrase)”. He came to redeem and restore, so that the glory of God- His great love for all His creation, could be made manifest through His Son first, and through us also now and in the ages to come.(Eph 2:7)


#26

I kind of like this!

We are complex beings with a complex creator.
We could study 24/7/365 for the rest of our lives and not understand it all.
But it is fun trying!


#27

Yes it is, especially when we are trying together ;o)