John 9:3 Neither hath this man sinned,

KJV Verse: 

Jhn 9:3 Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Neither has this one failed nor have his predecessors [failed] rather [this blindness exists] in order that divine actions might be seen clearly in him.

Hidden Meaning: 

Christ says this in response to his followers asking why someone should be born blind.

First, some basic vocabulary. "Sinning" is a religious translation of a verb, hamartanô, which means something more like "to fail" or "to make mistake." An article about these problems is here (go down about midway).

The next interesting word is the one translated as "manifest," which means "make clear." This word is the key to this verse because one of Christ's primary teachings is that God is hidden. Just recently, in Jhn 8:55, Christ made the point that people have not seen God, but that he has seen God. The Father is, by his nature hidden, Mat 6:5-6. God is only seen through his actions in the world.

Today, we mistakenly hear Christ's answer in the context of his upcoming miracle. However, this is not the acts of God Christ is referring to here. What his followers heard at the time was that, generally, such suffering was not a matter of divine judgment but a matter of the divine making itself visible.

Christ was saying that being born blind is not some kind of justice or payback. Rather this blindness, and, by extension other unpleasant acts of nature, had a different purpose entirely. They make the fact of a hidden divine power visible. In other words, this type of "evil" in the world makes it clear that not everything is in the control or result of the decisions of humanity. this is discussed in a larger context in this article on the Problem of Evil.

Vocabulary: 

Οὔτε "Neither" is from oute, which means "and not," and "neither/nor" when used in a series.

οὗτος "This man" is from houtos (houtos), which means "this", "that", "the nearer." As an adverb, it means "in this way", "therefore", "so much", "to such and extent," and "that is why."

ἥμαρτεν (3rd sg aor ind act) “Hath sinned” is from hamartanô which mean “to miss the mark,” “to fail in one’s purpose,” “to err,” "fail in having", "to be deprived of," “to be mistaken,” and “to neglect.”

οὔτε "Nor" is from oute, which means "and not," and "neither/nor" when used in a series.

οἱ γονεῖς "Parents" is goneus, which mean "progenitor" and can refer to parents or ancestors.

αὐτοῦ, "His" is from autos (autos), which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

ἀλλ᾽ "But" is from alla (alla), which means "otherwise", "but", "still", "at least", "except", "yet," nevertheless", "rather", "moreover," and "nay." It denotes an exception or a simple opposition.

ἵνα "That" is from hina (hina), which means "in that place", "there", "where", "when", "that", "in order that", "when," and "because."

φανερωθῇ (3rd sg aor subj pass) "Should be made manifest" is from phaneroô (phaneroo), which means "make manifest", "reveal", "make clear", "make known," and "make famous."

τὰ ἔργα "The works" is from ergon (ergon ), which means "works", "tasks", "deeds", "actions", "thing," and "matter."

τοῦ θεοῦ "Of God" is from theos (theos), which means "God," the Deity."

ἐν "In" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

αὐτῷ. "Him" is from autos (autos), which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

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