John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 9:39 - 9:39

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 9:39 - 9:39

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

39.For judgment am I come into this world. The word judgment cannot be understood, in this passage, to denote simply the punishment which is inflicted on unbelievers, (276) and on those who despise God; for it is made to include the grace of illumination. Christ, therefore, calls it judgment, because he restores to proper order what was disordered and confused; but he means that this is done by a wonderful purpose of God, and contrary to the ordinary opinion of men. And, indeed, human reason considers nothing to be more unreasonable than to say, that they who see are made blind by the light of the world. This then is one of the secret judgments of God, by which he casts down the pride of men. It ought to be observed, that the blindness which is here mentioned, does not proceed so much from Christ as from the fault of men. For by its own nature, it does not strictly blind any man, but as there is nothing which the reprobate desire more earnestly than to extinguish its light, the eyes of their mind, which are diseased through malice and depravity, must be dazzled by the light which is exhibited to them. In short, since Christ is, by his own nature, the light of the world, (Joh_8:12,) it is an accidental result, that some are made blind by his coming.

But again it may be asked, Since all are universally accused of blindness, who are they that see ? I reply, this is spoken ironically by way of concession, because unbelievers, though they are blind, think that their sight is uncommonly acute and powerful; and elated by this confidence, they do not deign to listen to God. Besides, out of Christ the wisdom of the flesh has a very fair appearance, because the world does not understand what it is to be truly wise. So then, they see, says our Lord Jesus Christ, (277) who, deceiving themselves and others under a foolish confidence in their wisdom, are guided by their own opinion, and reckon their vain imaginations to be great wisdom. (278) Such persons, as soon as Christ appears in the brightness of his Gospel, are made blind; not only because their folly, which was formerly concealed amidst the darkness of unbelief, is now discovered, but because, being plunged in deeper darkness by the righteous vengeance of God, they lose that small remnant of I know not what light which they formerly possessed.

It is true that we are all born blind, but still, amidst the darkness of corrupted and depraved nature, some sparks continue to shine, so that men differ from brute beasts. Now, if any man, elated by proud confidence in his own opinion, refuses to submit to God, he will seem — apart from Christ — to be wise, but the brightness of Christ will strike him with dismay; for never does the vanity of the human mind begin to be discovered, until heavenly wisdom is brought into view. But Christ intended, as I have already suggested, to express something more by these words. For hypocrites do not so obstinately resist God before Christ shines; but as soon as the light is brought near them, then do they, in open war, and — as it were, with unfurled banner, (279) — rise up against God. It is in consequence of this depravity and ingratitude, therefore, that they become doubly blind, and that God, in righteous vengeance, entirely puts out their eyes, which were formerly destitute of the true light.

We now perceive the amount of what is stated in this passage, that Christ came into the world to give sight to the blind, and to drive to madness those who think that they are wise. In the first part of it, he mentions illumination, that they who see not may see; because this is strictly the cause of his coming, for he did not come tojudge the world, but rather to save that which was lost, (Mat_18:11.) In like manner Paul, when he declares that he has vengeance prepared against all rebels, at the same time adds, that this punishment will take place

after that believers shall have fulfilled their obedience,


And this vengeance ought not to be limited to the person of Christ, as if he did not perform the same thing daily by the ministers of his Gospel.

We ought to be the more careful that none of us, through a foolish and extravagant opinion of his wisdom, draw down upon himself this dreadful punishment. But experience shows us the truth of this statement which Christ uttered; for we see many persons struck with giddiness and rage, for no other reason but because they cannot endure the rising of the Sun of righteousness. Adam lived, and was endued with the true light of understanding, while he lost that divine blessing by desiring to see more than was allowed him. Now if, while we are plunged in blindness and thus humbled by the Lord, we still flatter ourselves in our darkness, and oppose our mad views to heavenly wisdom, we need not wonder if the vengeance of God fall heavily upon us, so that we are rendered doubly blind This very punishment was formerly inflicted on the wicked and unbelievers (280) under the Law; for Isaiah is sent to blind the ancient people, that

seeing they may not see: blind the heart of this people, and shut their ears,


But in proportion as the brightness of the divine light is more fully displayed in Christ than in the Prophets, so much the more remarkably must this example of blindness have been manifested and perceived; as even now the noon-day light of the Gospel drives hypocrites to extreme rage.

(276) “Aux infideles.”

(277) “Ceux voyent, dit nostre Seigneur Jesus Christ.”

(278) “Pour une grande sagesse.”

(279) “Et comme a enseigne desployee.”

(280) “Les mechans et infideles.”