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Sudden Deliverance After Long Waiting

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
John 5:1-9 tells us of God's providential, perfectly-timed works of deliverance for those in need.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part one of a series

John 5:1-9 tells us of God's providential, perfectly-timed works of deliverance for those in need.

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me." Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. (John 5:1-9)

This passage from the Gospel of John is the historical account of one of the many miracles that our Lord Jesus Christ performed during His earthly ministry. Jesus had come up to Jerusalem. He had come to the place in the city where there was a pool surrounded by five porches or colonnades. Surrounding this pool were "a great multitude" of people in great physical need.

Some of them are described as being "sick people". In the original language this is a general description of people who are in particular kinds of physical weakness. But then the Apostle John by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit adds to that general statement of the condition of this multitude three specific conditions that were present among them individually. Some were blind. Some were lame. Others were paralyzed. And all of them, we are told, were waiting for "the moving of the water." More literally the original language speaks of the agitation of the water.

We are told in verse four that an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever stepped in first after the angel had agitated the water was immediately cured of his desperate infirmity.

An Omission in Corrupted Texts

Depending on the translation you are using, you may not find those words in your Bible. You will find them in the King James Version and the New King James translation. But in the New King James, and in many other translations that omit these words, you will also find a notation in the margin or in a footnote.

The notation says that the last words of verse three, "waiting for the moving of the water," and all of verse four, which describes the work of an angel in agitating the water at certain times, are omitted in some Greek texts. You may even have a notation that says that these words are omitted in what are called the "best" or "oldest" texts.

Before we go on I am compelled to address this point of controversy. The assertions that these words are not to be found in the original text of Scripture are absolutely wrong. "But why then," you may be asking, "do we have these notations in some Bibles?" Or, "Why are these words missing from the Bible that I have in my hands?" Furthermore, we must ask, "Why is this problem important in our present study?" We shall address those questions, and effects of this and other such omissions on individual Christians, on churches, and on preaching in our day, as we continue.

Next: An Awkward Attempt to Deny the Supernatural Work of God

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