THE PUBLIC MINISTRY OF JESUS 1, 19 -- 12, 50
3. Conflicts with the Jews
7, 1 -- 12, 50
This aspect of the development of the public ministry is
in perfect accord with the Synoptic narrative (cf. Mark 10, 1-52). But John confines his attention to Jerusalem,
and particularly to the officials there. All that he reports in this section can be dated from September to the following
April, the time of the Passion. It comprises our Lord's final efforts to convince the Jews of His mission, and the gradual
progress of their opposition to its culmination in the sentence of His death.
1-15: Jesus Goes Secretly to the Feast. 1. After these things is indefinite.
Judea was now practically closed to Christ, a fact that reveals the attitude of the officials of Judaism.
2. The Feast of Tabernacles, from the 15th to the 22nd Tishri (September-October), commemorated the
desert wanderings after the Exodus. It was very popular, and not seldom an occasion of national uprisings.
3-5. This may have suggested to our Lord's brethren (near relatives) the idea of a Messianic
demonstration. Their words reveal a misconception of His mission which was probably shared by many Galileans, and which,
as John points out, was due to want of faith. 6 f. My time: the time of
His Passion. Your time: as involving no critical issue in opposition to worldly aims. The world
here refers especially to the officials of Judaism (1). Cf. Matt. 5, 20; Mark 3, 29; 7, 6;
etc. 8. I do not go up: i.e., not with you; or, not as in solemn pilgrimage;
or, not openly; or (with the Greek), "not yet." 9. Jesus remained for the time in
Galilee, but went later, perhaps with some of His disciples. Some believe Luke 9, 51-56 a record of this journey.
11-13. The Jews, the officials who sought to apprehend Him. The people, undecided,
discussed Him secretly among themselves. 14. This is the first notice of our Lord's
formally teaching in the temple. The scribes or rabbis who taught there had the sanction of the Sanhedrin.
15. His mastery of the expository methods of the rabbis, and His acquaintance with the text of the
Law astonished them in one who was known not to have studied under any of the great rabbis. (Cf. Paul and Gamaliel,
Acts 22, 3.)
7, 16-24: The Source of Christ's Teaching.
Cf. 5, 16-18. 16. His answer meets the implied criticism of His teaching
(cf. 5, 30): you cannot reject my teaching without rejecting that of the Father. Cf. 12, 44-49.
17. Cf. Num. 16, 28-31. God's will is expressed in the Law and the Prophets; cf. Matt.
22, 40; Gal. 5, 14; Jas. 2, 8. The observance of God's will enables one to recognize His
teachings, as sin blinds one to the understanding of divine truths: cf. 1 Cor. 2, 5 ff; 3, 1 f;
Heb. 5, 11. This implies criticism of their conduct. 18. Another test
of the divine origin of His teachings: He seeks neither popular recognition nor applause but only the glory of the Father.
Cf. 5, 41; 6, 38. No injustice: since His doctrine is not of His own invention, as theirs
often is (Matt. 15, 3 f; Mark 7, 7-13), He violates the rights neither of the Sender nor of those to whom
He is sent. 19. Cf. Matt. 23, 15; Rom. 2, 23. Our Lord's
aim is to anticipate by this statement the objection based on His violation of the Sabbath. Another aim would be the
argument: you who do not keep the Law of Moses can hardly invoke it against me. The Greek text reads, "Did not Moses
give you the Law?" This more directly accuses them of its violation. Cf. Matt. 12, 34.
20. Cf. 5, 18; 7, 1. The crowd, ignorant of the officials' purpose, imagined
that an evil spirit had prompted what seemed to them a foolish speech; cf. 10, 21; Matt. 11, 18; Luke 7,
33. Jesus had been thus accused before, e.g., Matt. 9, 34; 12, 24; Mark 3, 22; Luke 11,
15. 21. He does not at once reply directly to the charge, but continues His defense.
One work, the healing of the man at the pool (see on 5, 8 f). You all wonder, and that with
displeasure; the charge includes the people with the officials. 22. For this
reason: because it is from the fathers. Many other explain: for this reason (given in 21) you wonder. Better,
perhaps: Moses' reason for giving you the law of circumcision is also my motive in healing on the Sabbath. Circumcision
was from Abraham (Gen. 17, 10 ff), though the laws regulating it came from Moses (Lev. 12, 3). Except
in the case of non-Jews, all things necessary to circumcision were lawful on the Sabbath. 23.
The law of the Sabbath yields to that of circumcision; much more to the general precept of charity; cf. Mark 3, 4.
A whole man: whereas circumcision might be regarded as the healing of one member. 24.
By appearances: largely the case in Pharisaic practice. A just judgment must be in accord with God's
7, 25-52: Christ's Origin. Belonging perhaps to a later
occasion. Taking advantage of a better disposition, He teaches the people the true origin of the Messias.
25 f. The people of Jerusalem itself would be more aware of the official attitude. Rulers:
here the sanhedrists, the leaders of Judaism. The Christ: these citizens recognize His claim, and it governs
their present attitude; they seem to be in doubt. 27. Where this man is from:
His place of origin and His family. In the case of the Messias, both were known; He was to be born in Bethlehem, of
the house of David. Cf. Matt. 2, 4-6; John 7, 42. His advent, however, was to be sudden and
from an unknown place: this opinion could find plausible support in Ps. 71, 6; Isa. 53, 8; Mich. 5,
2; Mal. 3, 2. 28. He answers the objection in the course of His teaching
in the temple: they fail to recognize Him as Messias because they do not know the One who sent Him. I have not come
of myself: like a pretender such as Judas the Galilean (Acts 5, 37). He is true: having the right
to send; perhaps also with reference to the authorization of rabbis. Whom you do not know: cf. 5,
37 f; 6, 45. 29. I am from him is much better supported than the
reading "with him." I keeping with the context, our Lord is from Him by generation, in which aspect His origin
is really unknown to the people.
Vv.30-36 specify two effects of this teaching:
the officials were the more disturbed, and tried to apprehend Christ, whereas many of the people, moved by His miracles, accepted
Him as the Messias. 31. This question implies some previous discussion, perhaps with
the officials trying to dissuade them. 32. Whispering: still in fear of
the officials (cf. 13). Rulers: the Greek text reads "chief priests and Pharisees." Cf. 7, 45;
11, 47; 18, 3. Not all the Pharisees were members of the Sanhedrin. Attendants: servants
whose office was to preserve order in the temple. 33 f. Cf. 8, 21; 13,
33. Our Lord assures them they can do nothing until the time set by the Father; then they will seek Him with another
motive, but will not be able to reach Him. The words convey a threat. 35 f.
Will He go to the Jews scattered among the Gentiles, and to the Gentiles themselves? Cf. Isa. 11, 11 f; 49,
1.6. 37-39. On the last day occurred all that remains to this chapter.
If anyone thirst: the symbol of living water, somewhat differently applied than in 4, 10 ff may
have been suggested by the libation of water on each day of the feast. But abundance of water was one of the blessings
expected of the Messias; Ezech. 47, 6-12; Joel 3, 18; Zach. 13, 1; 14, 8.
f. According to punctuation, either Christ is the source of the rivers of living water, or the one
who drinks is the source. With the balance of patristic authority, we understand it in the latter way. The quotation
in 38 has not been identified; various texts have been suggested, as Ecclus. 24, 28-32; Isa. 44, 3; 48,
21; 55, 1; 58, 11; etc. Cyprian quotes 1 Cor. 10, 4, and refers it to Isa. 48,
21. 39. The water libation was a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Cf. Isa. 44,
3; 55, 1 ff; Ezech. 36, 25; and John 16, 7.
Diverse effects upon the hearers. 40-44: The people. 42.
Cf. 7, 27: they did not know of His birth in Bethlehem. The discussion was heated; some of the people
sided with the officials in seeking an arrest, but were prevented by either awe or indecision. 45-49:
The attendants. These had been listening while awaiting opportunity to carry out their orders, and had meanwhile been
affected by His teachings. The Pharisees' angry reply again reveals the cleavage between the official and the popular
attitude. 49. Is accursed: the unlearned in the Law were despised as belonging
to Israel only in part. Ignorance was thought to induce violation, and violation to incur uncleanness, which must fall
under the malediction of the Law. 50-52: The Pharisees. The intervention of
Nicodemus, although justified and cautious, elicits only an intemperate reply. At night: the Greek text reads
"lately." One of them: a sanhedrist; cf. Luke 23, 50. Nicodemus as a doctor of the Law, objects
that it is against them. Cf. Ex. 23, 1 f; Lev. 19, 15; Deut. 1, 16 f. Art thou
a Galilean?: a compatriot of Jesus might be expected to defend Him, but Nicodemus was a Judean. Arises no prophet:
Scripture names no great prophet whose place of origin was or was to be Galilee. But cf. 4 Kings 14,
25 on Jonas.
[7, 53 -- 8, 11. Commentary on this section
begins at the beginning of the next chapter.]
Jesus Goes Secretly
to the Feast of Tabernacles 1 Now after these things Jesus went about in Galilee, for he did not wish
to go about in Judea because the Jews were seeking to put him to death. 2 Now the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was at
hand. 3 His brethren therefore said to him, "Leave here and go into Judea that thy disciples also may see the works
that thou dost; 4 for no one does a thing in secret if he wants to be publicly known. If thou dost these things, manifest
thyself to the world." 5 For not even his brethren believed in him.
6 Jesus therefore said to them, "My time has not yet come, by your time is always at hand.
7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I bear witness concerning it, that its works are evil. 8 As for
you, go up to the feast, but I do not go up to this feast, for my time is not yet fulfilled."
9 When he had said these things he stayed
on in Galilee. 10 But as soon as his brethren had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly, but as it
11 The Jews therefore were looking for him at the feast, and were saying, "Where is he?" 12 And there was much
whispered comment among the crowd concerning him. For some were saying, "He is a good man." But others were saying,
"No, rather he seduces the crowd." 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.
14* When, however, the feast was already half
over, Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15* And the Jews marvelled, saying, "How does this man come
by learning, since he has not studied?"
The Source of Christ's Teachings 16 Jesus answered them and
said, "My teaching is not my own, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone desires to do his will, he will know of the teaching
whether it is from God, or whether I speak on my own authority. 18 He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own
glory. But he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is truthful, and their is no injustice in him. 19 Did
not Moses give you the Law, and none of you observes the Law? 20 Why do you seek to put me to death?" The
crowd answered and said, "Thou hast a devil. Who seeks to put thee to death?"
21* Jesus answered and said to them, "One work
I did and you all wonder. 22 For this reason Moses gave you the circumcision"---not that it is from Moses, but from
the fathers---"and on a Sabbath you circumcise a man. 23 If a man receives circumcision on a Sabbath, that the Law of
Moses may not be broken, are you indignant with me because I made a whole man well on a Sabbath? 24 Judge not by appearances
by give just judgment."
Christ's Origin 25 Some therefore of the people of Jerusalem were saying,
"Is not this the man they seek to kill? 26 And behold, he speaks openly and they say nothing to him. Can it be
that the rulers have really come to know that this is the Christ? 27 Yet we know where this man is from; but when the
Christ comes, no one will know where he is from."
28* Jesus therefore, while teaching in the temple, cried out and said, "You both know me,
and know where I am from. Yet I have not come of myself, but he is true who has sent me, whom you do not know.
29 I know him because I am from him, and he has sent me."
30 They wanted therefore to seize him, but no one laid hands on him because his hour had not
yet come. 31 Many of the people, however, believed in him, and they kept saying, "When the Christ comes will he work
more signs than this man works?" 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering these things about him, and the rulers
and Pharisees sent attendants to seize him.
33 Jesus then said, "Yet a little while I am with you, and then I go to him who sent me.
34 You will seek me and will not find me; and where I am you cannot come." 35 The Jews therefore said among themselves,
"Where is he going that we shall not find him? Will he go to those dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?
36 What is this statement that he has made, 'You will seek me and will not find me, and where I am you cannot come'?"
37 Now on the last, the great
day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. 38 He who believes
in me, as the Scripture says,
'From within him there shall flow rivers of living water.'"*
39 He said this, however, of the Spirit whom they who believed in him were to receive; for the Spirit
had not yet been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
40 Some of the crowd, therefore, when they heard these words, said, "This is truly the Prophet."
41 Others said, "This is the Christ." Some, however, said, "Can the Christ come from Galilee? 42 Does not
the Scripture say that it is of the offspring of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David lived, that the Christ
is to come?" 43 So there arose a division among the crowd because of him. 44 And some of them wanted to seize
him, but no one laid hands on him.
45 The attendants therefore came to the chief priests and Pharisees; and these said to them, "Why have
you not brought him?" 46 The attendants answered, "Never has man spoken as this man." 47 The Pharisees then answered
them, "Have you also been led astray? 48 Has any one of the rulers believed in him, or any of the Pharisees? 49
But this crowd, which does not know the Law, is accursed."
50 Nicodemus, he who had come to him at night, who was one of them, said to them, 51 "Does
our Law judge a man unless it first give him a hearing, and know what he does?" 52 They answered and said to him, "Art
thou also a Galilean? Search the Scriptures and see that out of Galilee arises no prophet."
53 And they returned each one to his own house.
14: The feast of Tabernacles lasted eight days. This appearance of Christ in the temple would then
be on the fourth or fifth day.
15: They knew that Jesus had not been enrolled as a disciple of one of the great rabbis, and they could
not imagine where else He could attain such knowledge as was manifest in His preaching.
21: One work: curing the sick man
at the pool of Bethsaida.
28: You both know me: the Jews knew Christ as Jesus from Nazareth. His real character
and mission they did not as yet know.