These small group Bible study of John 5:19-47 contains commentary, outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

John 5:19-47 Bible Study And Inductive Questions For Small Groups


I. Jesus’ discourse on His authority (5:19-47)
    A. His authority comes from the Father (19-27)
    B. The Son does the will of the Father (19)
    C. The Son is loved by the Father (20)
    D. The Son will raise the dead like the Father (21)
II. The Son will judge (22-27)
    A. He will be honored (23)
    B. He is the key to escaping judgment (24)
    C. As the Son judges, He can also raise from the dead (25-26)
    D. This authority comes from the Father (27)
III. The Son will resurrect the righteous to eternal life (28-29)
IV. The Son is validated by the testimony of others (30-47)
    A. He is doing the will of God (30)
    B. His own testimony is not enough (31)
    C. The Father testifies (32)
V. John the Baptist testifies (33-36)
    A. His works testify (36)
VI. The Father testifies (37)
VII. They do not accept His testimony or the testimony of others (38-44)
    A. The Scriptures testify (39)
    B. Moses testified (46-47)

Discussion Questions

  • Why is the Son so reliant on God the Father? Isn’t Jesus also God?
  • Why does He just do the things He sees the Father doing?
  • What are the roles of the Father and Son?
  • Is either more important than the other?
  • Why does Jesus often use the phrase “truly, truly”?
  • What can learn from the fact that the Son gives life to “whom He wishes”?
  • What truth about God can we learn from that?
  • Why doesn’t God the Father judge people?
  • How can we escape this judgment?
  • What does it mean that the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live?
  • How do we know that the Son has authority? Where does it come from?
  • Who will be resurrected? What will they face after resurrection?
  • How do we know that Jesus’ judgment is fair?
  • Why is Jesus’ testimony not true if He is the only one to give it?
  • Who is He referring to in verse 32?
  • Who else testified about Jesus?
  • Why is this an important point?
  • In what ways did Jesus condemn the Jews He was talking with?
  • Why were they hypocrites and blind?
  • Did they know God?
  • Why would Moses accuse them?
  • Did Jesus fulfill the Jewish requirement to have 2-3 witnesses? Be prepared to give the witnesses or facts that support Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God.


John 12:49 – Jesus does not speak on His own initiative (19)

Matthew 3:17 – This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased (20)

1 Corinthians 11:3 – God is the head of Christ. (19-27)

Matthew 25:31-46 – After Jesus comes in glory He will sit on the throne and then judge everyone. (19-27)

Isaiah 42:8 – God will not give glory to another so the Son must also be God.

Philippians 2:4-12 – The Son will receive much honor. (23)

Acts 10:42 – Jesus has been appointed as the Judge. (27)

2 Corinthians 5:10 – We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. (27)

Luke 19:1-27 – The Master will return and judge the slaves for how they made use of what they had for His interests. (27)

John 11 – Jesus raises Lazarus. (29)

John 11:25 – Jesus is the resurrection and the life. (29)

Daniel 12:2 – There will be a resurrection to life and a resurrection to death. (29)

1 John 5:9 – The Father has testified about the Son. (31)

John 8:18 – Jesus testifies and the Father testifies. (32)

John 8:12-30 – A very similar event where Jesus talks to the Jews about who He is, where His authority comes from, who His Father is, and who testifies about Him. (19-47)

John 1:7 – John came as a witness to testify about the Light. (33)

Luke 24:27, John 1:45 – Moses and the prophets did write a lot about the coming Christ, Messiah. (45)

Matthew 23:5-7 – The Pharisees and religious leaders loved to be honored by men. (44)

Luke 16:31 – If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets they won’t be influenced even if this guy rises from the dead and tells them. (47)

Verse by Verse Commentary

The people wanted to kill Jesus. They realized He was making Himself out to be equal with God and they considered it blasphemy. In this section, Jesus responds to their feelings and criticisms and makes it clear where He gets His authority from, why they can know He is equal to God, and who else testifies that He is equal to God. Basically He is telling them not to just take His word for it, but to look at the source, look at what He is doing, and look at the testimony of others and then they should know clearly that He is speaking the truth and really from God and equal to God.

Verses 19-29

Doubling an expression made it a lot stronger so when Jesus said, “truly, truly” it was a very strong statement that the people were expected to listen to.

This is a really important passage, because in it Jesus defends His authority directly. He tells us some of the most important aspects of His ministry. He also points us to the head, the Father, and encourages people to trust in Him.

19 – Here the Son shows His submission to the Father. Although He is the Son of God and equal to God, He doesn’t just “do His own thing”. Even Jesus submitted Himself to His Father’s authority. Did He have to? That’s a point that could be debated, but He chose to. Being God, Jesus chose to submit Himself to the Father’s will. He did this even though it would lead Him to an agonizing death. The Son was holy as the Father was holy and imitated the Father, copying His works.

Some people say that we have never seen God in this world. We don’t know what He is like or what He would do. He is distant if He exists at all. But that is not true. We can know EXACTLY HOW GOD WOULD ACT because we have seen Jesus and Jesus does whatever the Father does in “like manner”. So if you want to know what God would want you to do in a situation study the life of Jesus and see how He would respond. Ask yourself, “what would Jesus do?” The Word has become flesh and dwelt among us John 1:14. Think how amazing that is that God came to live with us! This is why the study we are doing of John is so important. We can study the life of Christ and see how He responded, taught, and acted in all kinds of situations.


1 Corinthians 11:3 – But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

God the Father is the head of Christ. Each person of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has a unique role. They are equal. They are one in essence, in power, and in purpose. Jesus submitted Himself to the will of the Father. It’s a perfect situation because there is no conflict, tension, or struggle. They are One! Notice that though the Father is the head He shows the Son everything He is doing. The Son knows the plan and carries it out.

Jesus is showing the people that He is equal to God. The fact that He knows the plans of God shows that He is equal to God. Who knows the counsel of God except God Himself? Romans 11:34.

21 – The Father has the power to raise the dead and give eternal life and Jesus does as well. Remember, Jesus is showing the people that He is equal to God. So the fact that He raises people from the dead (and raises from the dead Himself) shows that He is equal to God. Only God has the power over death and life.

22 –Not only does Jesus have the power of life and death, but He also has the authority to judge everyone in the world. Acts 10:42, 2 Corinthians 5:10. Who can judge except for God? The first time Jesus came as a servant and a sacrifice. The second time He will come as the judge. In Luke 19 Jesus further elaborated on this point and encouraged His servants to be faithful while He was away since we know that He will come back and hold us accountable for how we live our lives.

23 – In this verse we see another example of how the Son is equal to the Father. The Son is to have equal honor as the Father. If someone doesn’t honor the Son then He is not honoring God. Who can have equal honor with God? God does not share His glory. Isaiah 42:8. God deserves honor above everything else. He is the Creator and the Master of the world. Giving this kind of honor to God is the same as worshiping Him. So we learn that we are to worship Jesus. Jesus Himself told Satan that we are to worship God only. This is another clear claim that Jesus is equal to God.

24 – Here is the crux of the passage. This verse deals with our response to all of these facts about Jesus. We know He is the judge and we know He has the power of death and life, both physically and spiritually. So what do we do to avoid this judgment? What do we do to have this life? Jesus makes it very clear. We are to believe in the Father (also believing the Son because He came from the Father). Remember this belief is more than just an intellectual assent. Satan believes, but fights against it. This belief is also not just a passive acceptance. It is an active entrusting of yourself to Christ with your life and with your future. It is committing yourself to Him.

Imagine a little child is lost in the woods late at night. She doesn’t know the way home and cannot get out. Suddenly an old man approaches her. The old man tells her he knows the way out and offers to show her the way. What will she do if she has the right kind of faith? Maybe she says, “I believe you know the way, but I want to try to find it myself. Thanks for your help anyway.” Will that faith get her out of the woods? No, she believes the old man, but doesn’t entrust herself to him or accept his help. Or what if she says, “I believe you, but I like it here in the woods.” Will that belief save her? The only kind of faith that will save her is if she swallows her pride, takes the old mans hand, listens to his instructions, and follows him out. That is the kind of faith/belief we must have in God.

Notice that the eternal life is present tense, but that the judgment is talked about as in the future. God will begin giving us the grace of eternal life immediately, but He withholds judgment until a later time. Do not wait.


Compare 25 to 28. Notice anything? The time has come already for people to hear about God and repent. This is available right now! But in verse 28 we see that the resurrections haven’t come yet. Who will be resurrected? Everyone will be resurrected! Stephen, Paul, Moses, Adam, Eve, Ruth, Hudson Taylor, Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Nero, and Nebuchadnezzar etc. BUT, all of those people will not take part in the same resurrection. See Daniel 12:2, John 11:25 (Jesus is the resurrection and the life). One resurrection leads to life and one leads to death. There will be one resurrection for the believers. They will receive a new wonderful body and live with God in paradise forever. The non-believers will also be raised up, forced to bow the knew to Jesus, probably given some kind of body, and then thrown into the lake of fire forever. Unfortunately for those who believe in evolution or reject God death is not the end. Do not wait to find out which resurrection you will be in.

Key Points

Jesus shows His equality with God in several areas.

  1. He does the actions of God.

  2. He knows the mind and the “secret counsel” of God.

  3. He has power over death and life.

  4. He judges, and the only one worth to judge is God.

  5. He deserves equal honor with God.

We are not God, but we can make some points for us to follow as well. Coordinating with point #

  1. We should copy Jesus’ actions so that we will be holy like Him.

  2. If we want to know the will of God, we must pray to God and look at His words.

  3. If we want to have eternal life and an abundant life we must come to God and entrust ourselves to Him.

  4. If we want to escape the judgment of sinners we need to believe in God. If we want to be rewarded with the righteous we need to follow God’s commands and do things that will have a permanent impact.

  5. We should worship and praise Jesus.

  6. This is not related to the first 5, but if Jesus, being God, submitted Himself to the Father as His authority, how much more should we submit ourselves to the authorities that God has put over us!

Knowledge of God is not just empty knowledge. Learning about Jesus isn’t just so that we can have a “file” in our minds of all of Jesus’ qualities. Rather, each thing we learn about Jesus should motivate us to act in a certain way.

For example, when I was getting some counseling from a pastor before getting married he gave me a helpful suggestion. He said that I should faithfully study my wife. The point isn’t so that I could have all this knowledge stored up in my mind, but so that as I got to know her better I could learn how to better encourage her, build her up, take care of her, etc. For example, if I study her and learn that she doesn’t like KFC (just for example), this knowledge would be useless if I kept taking her there every time we went out. To act on this knowledge I would instead choose another place to go. In a similar way if we learn that Jesus is the judge, but live our life as if we will be judged, this knowledge is useless. Or I learn that Jesus deserves honor, but live my life without honoring Him, this knowledge is useless. So take what you are learning about Jesus and put it into practice so that you can have a better relationship with Him.

Verses 30-32

30 – Jesus again shows that He is actively submitting Himself to the Father. He is not pursuing His own agenda. He is doing what the Father sent Him for. This also legitimizes His judgments.

If Jesus felt the need to show His judgments were just because He was doing God’s will and judging according to it, then surely we cannot judge from ourselves. Last week we were talking about not judging as the Pharisees, just from our own mind or convictions. If you rebuke somebody or judge them, with words or in your mind, make sure it comes from Scripture and not just your own idea.

31 – According to Jewish law (comes from Old Testament), a person’s testimony was only valid if it was confirmed by two or three others. John 8:17, Matthew 18:20. This was the rule by which people could be condemned. The people wanted to condemn Jesus and didn’t believe His testimony. Jesus responds to their criticism by essentially saying, “don’t just take My word for it” and pointing them to numerous other witnesses. This is a great lesson for us. Jesus was God and if anyone was “above the law” it would be Jesus. He could have denounced the law and said that didn’t apply to Him as God. But, He didn’t. He established the law, and He decided to fulfill it and work within it. So instead of saying He didn’t need other witnesses, He gave them a list so that they could be sure He was true. Again, if anyone could have been prideful it was Jesus. But He wasn’t.

In a similar way, we, as believers should not just say things and expect or ask others to believe it without backing up what we say with Scripture. Why should people believe you, Michael, if you share the gospel with them? Why should people believe you, Woody, if you tell them it is important to go to church? Why should people believe you, Moses, if you tell them they shouldn’t marry an unbeliever? The fact is we don’t have authority and people SHOULD NOT BELIEVE US just because we say something! The only way they should believe us is if we speak with an authority outside our own, that is Scripture. Do not be offended if those whom you teach want some proof from Scripture about what you share. That is good! If Moses shares the five points of Calvin and somebody challenges it and says to show them from Scripture every point, he should not be defensive or annoyed, but should be prepared to do it. There is not much more reason to believe Calvin that us. So, speak with God’s authority, not your own. Encourage people to look to the Bible as the final authority and not a person.

32 – Who is the one in this verse? Maybe the Father, or maybe John the Baptist

Verses 33-37

John the Baptist bore testimony of Jesus and said that He was the lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29, John 1:7). This was nice and very clear and many people listened to John the Baptist. His testimony was very clear and it seems like He spent a large majority of his time talking about the coming Messiah. However, Jesus doesn’t rely on merely the testimony of man.

36 – Jesus’ works testify that He is true. John mentions the word “works” sixteen times. Remember that a key purpose of John is to show us who Jesus is through His teachings and through some of His works/signs. These are mentioned again and again throughout John. His works show who He is. The blind man whom Jesus healed understood the fact that Jesus’ works should show us who He is. He said in John 9:33, “If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, calmed the storm, fed thousands out of almost nothing, cast out demons, healed across great distances, made wine out of water, cause a fish to come up with a coin in its mouth, etc. No one could do these things unless He came from God. Someone may say, well, Jesus came from God and God blessed Him, but He wasn’t God. However, remember that Jesus has claimed to be from God. Is it possible that someone could come from God and be blessed by God and then purposely lie to millions of people? Jesus was God and His works testified of that.

37 – The most important and powerful testimony comes from God the Father Himself. This comes indirectly through the Old Testament, which He inspired. And directly such as in Matthew 3:17.

They envisioned themselves as being close to God, coming from God, chosen by God. However, they didn’t know Him at all. Jesus came directly from His presence and knew Him intimately.

Verses 38-44

Here Jesus condemns them for several things.

  1. His word doesn’t abide in them. They know long lists of Scriptures and could probably recite large chunks of the Old Testament, but they didn’t actually have His Word.

  2. They rejected the One whom God sent.

  3. The Scriptures testify about Jesus, but they didn’t see it.

  4. They don’t have the love of God in their lives.

  5. They will not only reject Jesus who is coming from God, but follow other simple men who are not from God and have their own agendas.

  6. They enjoy being honored by each other, but don’t care about honoring God.

We need to take a long look at what Jesus condemns them for and examine our lives to see if any of these things are present. Probably we don’t outright reject Jesus as they did, but do we reject His will in our life? Do we follow simple people who don’t come from God? Do we know Scripture in our head, but do not let it abide in or live in us? That means we know it, but it is dead to us. It should be alive in our lives, actively controlling how we think and act. Do we have the love of God in our lives? Do we actively reach out to those in need around us and do acts of kindness for others? Do we enjoy getting respect from others? Do we truly seek the glory of God?

Maybe as I went through the list one or more of these things struck your mind and you know that you struggle with it. If so, confess to God and make up your mind to set it right. You can make some specific applications to do so.

39 – The Scriptures are the fourth thing that testify about Christ. How so? For starters, there were 300 plus prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament.

“To get a feel for the probabilities involved, consider this.  An author and speaker named Josh McDowell calculated the odds of Jesus fulfilling only eight of the Messianic prophecies as 1 out of 1017 (a one followed by 17 zeros).  This is equivalent to covering the entire state of Texas with silver dollars two feet deep, marking one of them, mixing them all up and having a blind-folded person select the marked one at random the first time.”

Leave a comment – Share your observations on this John 5:19-47 Bible study below. We would love to hear from you!

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