John 5:25, 28 ‘The hour cometh and now is……the hour cometh.’

October 15, 2017 by David Farmer 0 comments

Posted in: Weekly Commentary

We must needs have before us the entirety of this enigmatic passage if we are to have any opportunity to grasp the enormity of what our Savior has spoken to those Jews that were so completely perplexed over His speech. We could seriously expect them to be thinking in their minds what was later to be spoken by His very disciples. When He uttered in John 16:18 what was mysterious to these who had been with Him already for a few years, these followers said, What is this that he saith….we know not what he saith. But in John, chapter five, He is speaking not to men that had been with Him some time, but to a multitude of Jews, when He employed twice the phrase the hour cometh. What is this that he saith?

Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself; and he gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is a son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.

The hour cometh, and again, the hour cometh? What is this that He is saying? We know not what He is saying. What are these two hours? And just what are we to understand from them?  

It appears on the surface that each of these two hours has vast importance for men. When the first hour comes, we are told, the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God. How important is that? Especially when it is added that ‘they that hear shall live.’ If they that hear shall live, what does that say about those that do not hear? When it is said again that the hour cometh, it is declared that all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice. And they shall come forth.

This passage in the fifth chapter of John is rather enigmatic. We have two occasions, or is it simply one occasion to which we are being referred? We have those dead that are hearing then living upon having heard. We have in the second case, those in tombs hearing; all—every one—are able to hear; and they come forth. What is the distinction? We are not told that all they that hear shall live, but they that have done good shall come forth unto the resurrection of life. What about the rest of those hearing from their tombs? They that have done evil shall come forth unto the resurrection of judgment. So then each and every one shall hear; each and every one shall come forth, but not each and every shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, but many unto the resurrection of judgment. Is this not the true distinction between the wheat and the tares? Is this not the time when Christ will say to the reapers, Matthew 13:30, Gather up first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them? Marvel not at this. There shall be a separation between good and evil; between the wheat and the tares.

But what is the difference between those that are called the dead that hear His voice, and those that are in the tombs that hear His voice? Paul speaks to us in his epistle to the church at Ephesus, when he has said in 2:1, of those saints that are at Ephesus, who he goes on to refer to as the faithful in Christ Jesus, reminding them in this manner;

And you did he make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world.

He reminds his believing readers that they were once spiritually dead, but ‘He’ made you alive; the ‘He’ being our Lord Jesus Christ. They were once dead, but are now alive. These are they of whom Christ has spoken in chapter five of his gospel. These are the dead that hear.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.

But the dead cannot hear anything, true or false; can they? Is it not indeed the case that these that hear are giving, by their ability to hear, demonstration that they are not dead but are alive? Have these folk not necessarily been recipients of the new birth? Did not Jesus tell Nicodemus that except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God? And does it not follow to say that except a man be born anew, he cannot hear the King? And is this not the first resurrection referred to by John, speaking the Revelation given him by Christ? Revelation 20:6. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power.

Bringing these asseverations together, must we not conclude that Jesus, John, and Paul are all speaking of one and the same event? Is not the born anew, or born again, or born from above that which is necessary for one to see the kingdom of God, according to Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, the very necessity spoken of by Christ in our focus passage from John 5:25 in order to ‘hear and live’? And in the past tense, that of which Paul made mention when reminding his Ephesian readers of their having been made alive? Yea, this is surely also the matter of John’s remarks in Revelation 20 regarding what he spoke of as ‘the first resurrection,’ of which he added Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power. At the conclusion of this 20th chapter, John brings up again the issue of the second death as he declares in rather abrupt terms;

And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. And if any was found not written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.

Here then we have discovered to our understanding yet a further denomination of the cleavage between the wheat and the tares. The wheat are those that have been born anew; the tares are those that have not been born anew. The wheat are those that hear and live while the tares are those who cannot hear the voice of God, nor of His Son. The wheat are those that have been made alive; the tares are those that are yet dead. The wheat speaks of those that will finally be ‘gathered into my barn,’ the ‘my’ being Christ; they will be gathered unto Christ. The tares are those that will be gathered into bundles to be burned. If one does not experience the radical change, he will suffer being cast out at the radical division. It has been said that those who have been born only once will die twice; those who have been born twice will only die once.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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