Apologetics, Archaeology, z55
Comments 4

Controversial Bethesda pool discovered exactly where John said it was

The Bethseda Pool discovered Image biblewalk.com

The remains of the Bethesda Pool found exactly where the Apostle John said it was located. Image biblewalks.com

There is a story in the Gospel of John that proved problematic for liberals who don’t believe the Bible.

I am talking about Jesus healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15). In the account, Jesus came across a lame man lying by the pool. According to tradition, when an angel stirred the waters, the first sick person to enter the pool was healed.

When Jesus asked the man, who had been lame for 38 years, how he was doing, the man said because he did not have anyone to help him, when the waters stirred someone always stepped in before him. Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk” (v 8) and the man was instantly healed.

In the account, the apostle John provides some detail about the pool. First he said it was near the “sheep’s gate” and secondly it had “five porticoes” (verse 2). A portico, similar to a porch, is a covered entrance way. It was a five-sided pool.

However, because the healing by this pool is only mentioned in John’s Gospel, the liberals quickly concluded it was a later addition by someone not familiar with Jerusalem. That theory prevailed until the late 19th century when archaeologists discovered the pool exactly where John said it was — by the Sheep’s gate now located in the Muslim-controlled sector of Jerusalem.

Not only that, the pool had five porticoes, just as John said it did. It was five sided because the rectangular pool had two large basins that were separated by a wall/portico. This made five in total for the pool. The northern pool collected water which replenished the southern side.

Because of the broad steps located beneath a portico leading down to the southern basin, it is believed this pool is also served as a mikveh or ritual bath for the Jews.

In addition, they even found evidence of the healing tradition associated with the pool as they discovered shrines dedicated to a Greek god of healing — Asclepius (a god of medicine/healing). It was part of a Roman medicinal bath built on the site between 200 AD and 400 AD.

Obviously, pagans recognized the healing attributes of the pool and transferred them to their pagan gods. A similar thing happened in Acts 14:9-18 when villagers in town of Lystra mistakenly believed Zeus and Hermes had performed a miraculous healing after Paul and Barnabas healed a lame man from the city.

So John was right.

The most incredible healing

This isn’t the first time that an account found in only one of the Gospels has proven controversial. Mark records the healing of a blind man mentioned nowhere else.

Even christian commentators and preachers have considered this healing as less than successful as Jesus prayed for the man twice to completely heal him. Some even suggest it shows some healings need more faith, implying Jesus lacked faith in his first attempt.

However, recent medical discoveries show this is in fact one of the great miracles of the Bible, as within the account there is evidence that proves it to be a true miracle. Read: Did a Bible miracle prove itself?

Read more:



  1. Pingback: The Four Anchors of St. Paul’s Shipwreck | AMAIC Education

  2. Pingback: My Favorite 5 New Testament Archaeology Discoveries in Recent Years! | Open Our Eyes, Lord!

  3. If these are dated back to 200-400A.D. why do you date the pool back earlier? I have heard these types of buildings were not even built until the second century. All this still poses a problem of a Literal Bible.


    • Thanks for your comment. After the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, they obliterated the Temple and drove many of the Jews out of the city. In fact, there is an arch standing in Rome where you can clearly see the Jewish Menorah among other things that the Romans looted from the Temple. After quelling the Jewish rebellion, Rome basically took over Jerusalem and obviously someone built a small shrine over a site they thought had religious significance to the Jews.



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