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Tuesday, June 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
John 7

Pink's Commentary on John and HebrewsPink's Commentary

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Verses 1-13

Exposition of the Gospel of John


Christ and the Feast of Tabernacles

John 7:1-13

Below we give a rough Analysis of the passage which is to be before us:

1. Jesus walked in Galilee: verse 1.

2. Time: immediately before the Feast of Tabernacles: verse 2.

3. The request of Christ’s brethren: verses 3-5.

4. Christ’s reply to them: verses 6-8.

5. Christ still in Galilee: verse 9.

6. Christ goes up to the Feast: verse 10.

7. The attitude of men toward Christ: verses 11-13.

John 7:0 begins a new section of this fourth Gospel. Our Lord’s ministry in Galilee was now over, though He still remained there, because the Judeans sought to kill Him. The annual Feast of tabernacles was at hand, and His brethren were anxious for Christ to go up to Jerusalem, and there give a public display of His miraculous powers. To this request the Savior made a reply which at first glance appears enigmatical. He bids His brethren go up to the Feast, but excuses Himself on the ground that His time was not yet fully come. After their departure, He abode still in Galilee. But very shortly after, He, too, goes up to the Feast; as it were in secret. The Jews who wished to kill Him, sought but were unable to discover Him. Among the people He formed the principal subject of discussion, some of whom considered Him a good man, others regarding Him as a deceiver. And then, in verse 14 we are told, "Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught." Such is a brief summary of the passage which is to be before us.

That our passage will present a number of real difficulties to the cursory reader is not to be denied, and perhaps the more diligent student may not be able to clear up all of them. The simplest and often the most effective way of studying a portion of God’s Word is to draw up a list of questions upon it. This will insure a more definite approach: it will save us from mere generalizations: it will reveal the particular points upon which we need to seek God’s help.

Who are meant by "his brethren"? (verse 3) brethren who did not "believe in him" (verse 5). To what did Christ refer when He said, "My time is not yet come" (verse 6)? Why did Christ refuse to go up to the Feast with His brethren (verse 8)? And why, after saying that His time was not yet come, did He go to the Feast at all (verse 10)? What is meant by "He went not openly, but as it were in secret" (verse 10)? If He went up to the Feast "as it were in secret," why did He, about the midst of the Feast, go into the temple, and teach (verse 14)? These are some of the more pertinent and important questions which will naturally occur to the inquiring mind.

It should be obvious that the central item in our passage is the Feast itself, [1] and in the scriptural significance of this Feast of tabernacles must be sought the solution of most of our difficulties here. It will be necessary, then, to compare carefully the leading scriptures which treat of this Feast, and then shall we be the better able to understand what is before us. Having made these preliminary remarks we shall now turn to our passage and offer an exposition of it according to the measure of light which God has been pleased to grant us upon it.

"After these things Jesus walked in Galilee" (John 7:1 ). The first three words intimate that a new section of the Gospel commences here cf. John 6:1 and our comments thereon. "After these things" probably has a double reference. In its more general significance, it points back to the whole of His Galilean ministry, now ended. There is a peculiar and significant arrangement of the contents of the first seven chapters of John: a strange alternating between Judea and Galilee. In John 1:0 the scene is laid in Judea (see verse 28); but in John 2:1-12 Christ is seen in Galilee. In John 2:13 we are told that "Jesus went up to Jerusalem," and He remained in its vicinity till we reach John 4:3 , where we are told, "He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee." Then, in verse 1, we read, "Jesus went up to Jerusalem," and He is viewed there to the end of the chapter. But in John 6:1 we are told, "After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee." And now in John 7:0 we are to see Him once more in Jerusalem.

But why this strange and repeated alternation? In the light of Matthew 4:15 "Galilee of the Gentiles" we would suggest two answers: First, this fourth Gospel, in a special manner, concerns the family of God, which is made up of Jew and Gentile; hence the emphasis here by our attention being directed, again and again, to both Judea and Galilee. But note that Judea always comes before Galilee: "To the Jew first" being the lesson taught. In the second place, if our references above be studied carefully, it will be seen that the passages treating of Galilee and what happened there, come in parenthetically; inasmuch as Jerusalem is both the geographical and moral center of the Gospel.

"After these things," then, points back to the conclusion of His Galilean ministry: John 2:1-11 ; John 4:43-54 ; John 6:1-71 . But we also regard these words as having a more restricted and specific reference to what is recorded at the close of chapter 6, particularly verse 66. "After these things" would thus point, more directly, to the forsaking of Christ by many of His Galilean disciples, following the miracles they had witnessed and the teaching they had heard.

"After these things Jesus walked (literally, "was walking") in Galilee." It appears as though the Lord was reluctant to leave Galilee, for it seems that He never returned there any more. It was useless to work any further miracles, and His teaching has been despised, nevertheless, His person He would still keep before them a little longer. Jesus walking in Galilee, rather than dwelling in privacy, suggests the thought of the continued public manifestation of Himself: let the reader compare John 1:36 ; John 6:19 ; John 10:23 and John 11:54 for the other references in this Gospel to Jesus "walking", and he will find confirmation of what we have just said. Again, if John 7:1 be linked with John 6:66 (as the "after these things" suggests) the marvelous grace of the Savior will be evidenced. Many of His disciples went back and walked no more "with him." Notwithstanding, He continued to "walk," and that too, "in Galilee"!

"After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him" (John 7:1 ). Let the reader turn back and consult our remarks on verse 15 concerning "the Jews." It is indeed solemn to trace right through this fourth Gospel what is said about them. "The Jews" are not only to be distinguished from the Galileans, as being of Judea, but also from the common people of Judea. Note how in our present passage "the are distinguished from "the Jews": see verses 11, 12, 13. "The Jews" were evidently the leaders, the religious leaders. Notice how in John 8:48 it is "the Jews" who say to Christ "Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a demon." It was "the Jews" who cast out of the synagogue the man born blind, whose eyes Christ had opened (John 9:22 , John 9:34 ). It was "the Jews" who took up stones to stone Christ (John 10:31 ). It was "the officers of the Jews" who "took Jesus, and bound him" (John 18:12 ). And it was through "fear of the Jews" that Joseph of Arimathaea came secretly to Pilate and begged the body of the Savior (John 19:38 ). And so here: it was because of the Jews, who sought to kill Him, that Jesus would not walk in Judea, but remained in Galilee. Christ here left us a perfect example. By His actions, He teaches us not to court danger, and unnecessarily expose ourselves before our enemies. This will be the more evident if we link this verse with John 11:53 , John 11:54 : "From that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness," etc. It will thus appear that our Lord used prudence and care to avoid persecution and danger till His time was fully come; so it is our duty to endeavor by all wise means and precautions to protect and preserve ourselves, that we may have opportunities for further service.

"Now the Jews’s feast of tabernacles was at hand" (John 7:2 ). By comparing this verse with John 6:4 it will be seen that upwards of six months is spanned by John 6:0 to 7:1. John 6:4 says the Passover was nigh, and from Leviticus 23:5 we learn that this Feast was kept in the first month of the Jewish year: whereas Leviticus 23:34 tells us that the Feast of tabernacles was celebrated in the seventh month. How evident it is then that John was something more than an historian. Surely it is plain that the Holy Spirit has recorded what He has in this fourth Gospel (as in the others) according to a principle of selection, and in consonance with a definite design.

"Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand." As already intimated, it will be necessary for us to give careful attention to the leading scriptures of the Old Testament on the Feast of tabernacles, that we may ascertain its historical and typical significance, and thus be the better prepared to understand the details of the passage now before us.

Leviticus 23:0 reveals the fact that there were seven Feasts in Israel’s religious calendar, but there were three of these which were singled out as of special importance. This we gather from Deuteronomy 16:16 , where it is recorded that Jehovah said to Israel, "Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose i.e. in the tabernacle, and afterwards the temple; in the feast of unleavened bread inseparably connected with the passover, and in the feast of weeks i.e. pentecost, and in the feast of tabernacles." We reserve a brief comment on the first two of these, until we have considered the third.

The first time the Feast of tabernacles is mentioned by name is in Leviticus 23:0 , namely, in verses 34-36 and 39-44. As this passage is too long for us to quote here in full, we would request the reader to turn and read it through carefully before going farther. We give now a brief summary of its prominent features. First, the Feast began on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (verse 34). Second, it was a "holy convocation," when Israel was to offer "an offering made by fire unto the Lord" (verse 36). Third, it lasted for eight days (verse 39). Fourth, those who celebrated this Feast were to take "boughs of goodly trees" (verse 40). Fifth, they were to "rejoice before the Lord their God seven days" (verse 40). Sixth, they were to "dwell in booths" (verse 42). Seventh, the purpose of this was to memorialize the fact that "Jehovah made their fathers to dwell in booths, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt" (verse 43). In Numbers 29:12-40 we have a detailed record of the ritual or sacrificial requirements connected with this Feast.

Though Leviticus 23:0 is the first time the Feast of tabernacles is mentioned by name, there is one earlier reference to it, namely, in Exodus 23:16 , where it is termed the Feast of Ingathering, [2] "which is the end of the year (i.e. of the sacred calendar of Feasts), when thou hast gathered in thy labors out of the field." The Feast of tabernacles, then, was the grand Harvest Festival, when the Lord of the harvest was praised for all His temporal mercies. This one was the most joyous Feast of the year. It was not observed by Israel till after they had entered and settled in Canaan: their dwelling in booths at this Feast memorialized their wanderings in the wilderness.

The Old Testament records but two occasions when this Feast was ever observed by Israel in the past, and they are most significant. The first of these is found in 1 Kings 8:0 , see verses 2, 11, 13, 62-66, and note particularly the "seventh month" in verse 2 and the "eighth day" in verse 66. This was in the days of Solomon at the completion and dedication of the Temple. In like manner, the antitypical Feast of tabernacles, will not be ushered in till the completion of the spiritual "temple," which God is now building (Ephesians 2:22 ; 1 Peter 2:5 ). The second account of Israel’s past celebration of this Feast is recorded in Nehemiah 8:13-18 . The occasion was the settlement of the Jewish remnant in Palestine, after they had come up out of captivity.

We cannot offer here anything more than a very brief word on Deuteronomy 16:16 . The three great Feasts which God required every male Israelite to observe annually in Jerusalem, were those of unleavened bread (inseparably connected with the passover), of weeks (or pentecost), and tabernacles. The first has already received its antitypical accomplishment at the Cross. The second began to receive its fulfillment on the day of pentecost (Acts 2:0 ), but was interrupted by the failure of the nation to repent (see Acts 3:1-21 ). The third looks forward to the future.

"Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand." Someone has pointed out that in John 5:6 , and 7 there is a striking order followed in the typical suggestiveness of the contents of these chapters. In John 5:0 Israel may be seen, typically, as being delivered from the bondage of Egypt: this was adumbrated in the deliverance of the impotent man from lifelong suffering. In John 6:0 there is repeated reference made to Israel in the wilderness, eating the manna. While here in John 7:0 Israel is viewed in the land, keeping the Feast of tabernacles.

"His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest" (John 7:3 ). These "brethren" were the brothers of Christ according to the flesh: that is, they were sons of Mary too. That they were completely blind to His Divine glory is evident from the fact they here told Him what to do. Blind to His glory, they were therefore devoid of all spiritual discernment, and hence their reasoning was according to the carnal mind. But what did they mean by "Go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest"? The answer is to be found in the "also" and the "therefore" at the beginning of the verse "His brethren therefore said unto him," etc. The "therefore," of course, looks back to something previous. What this is, we find in the closing verses of John 6:0 . In the first part of that chapter we have recorded a wonderful "work" performed by the Lord. But in verse 66 we are told, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." Now, said these brethren according to the flesh, do not waste any further efforts or time here, but go to Judea. They were evidently piqued at the reception which Christ had met with in Galilee. His work there seemed to amount to very little, why not, then, try Jerusalem, the headquarters of Judaism! Moreover, now was an opportune time: the Feast of tabernacles was at hand, and Jerusalem would be full.

"For there is no man that doeth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, show thyself to the world" (verse 4). Note the "if" here. There was evidently a slightly veiled taunt in these words. We take it that these brethren were really challenging Christ, and that the substance of their challenge was this: ‘If these works of yours are genuine miracles, why confine yourself to villages and small country-towns in Galilee, where the illiterate and unsophisticated habituate. Go up to the Capital, where people are better qualified to judge. Go up to the Feast, and there display your powers, and if they will stand the test of the public scrutiny of the leaders, why, your disciples will gather around you, and your claims will be settled once for all.’ No doubt, these "brethren" really hoped that He would establish His claims, and in that event, as His near kinsmen, they would share the honors which would be heaped upon Him. But how insulting to our blessed Lord all this was! What indignities He suffered from those who were blind to His glory!

"If thou do these things, show thyself to the world." How these words betrayed their hearts! They were men of the world: consequently, they adopted its ways, spoke its language, and employed its logic. "Show thyself to the world" meant, Accompany us to Jerusalem, work some startling miracle before the great crowds who will be assembled there; and thus, not only make yourself the center of attraction, but convince everybody you are the Messiah. Ah! how ignorant they were of the mind of God and the purpose of His Son’s mission! It was "the pride of life" (1 John 2:16 ) displaying itself. And how much of this same "pride of life" we see today, even among those who profess to be followers of that One whom the world crucified! What are the modem methods of evangelistic campaigns and Bible conferences the devices resorted to to draw the crowds, the parading of the preacher’s photo, the self-advertising by the speakers what are these, but the present-day expressions of "Show thyself to the world"!

"If thou do these things, show thyself to the world." One other comment, an exegetical one, should be made on this before we pass on to the next verse. Here is a case in point where "the world" does not always signify the whole human race. When these brethren of Christ said, "Go show thyself to the world," it is evident that they did not mean, ‘Display yourself before all mankind.’ No, here, as frequently in this Gospel, "the world" is merely a general term, signifying all classes of men.

"For neither did his brethren believe in him" (John 7:5 ). How this illustrates the desperate hardness and depravity of human nature. Holy and perfect as Christ was, faultless and flawless as were His character and conduct, yet, even those who had been brought up with Him in the same house believed not in Him! It was bad enough that the nation at large believed not on Him, but the case of these "kinsmen" (Mark 3:21 , margin) was even more excuseless. How this demonstrates the imperative need of God’s almighty regenerating grace! And how this exemplifies Christ’s own teaching that "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him"! And how striking to note that the unbelief of His "brethren" was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy: "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children" (Psalms 69:8 ).

Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready" (John 7:6 ). These words of Christ must be interpreted in the light of the immediate context. His brethren had said, "Go show thyself to the world." But His time to do this had not then come, nor has it yet arrived. Not then would He vindicate Himself by openly displaying His glory. This was the time of His humiliation. But how plainly His words here imply that there is a time coming when He will publicly reveal His majesty and glory. To this He referred when He said, "And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:30 ). And what will be the effect of this on "the world"? Revelation 1:7 tells us: "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." And solemn will be the accompaniments of this showing of Himself to the world. Then shall He say, "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me" (Luke 19:27 ); see, too, the last half of Revelation 19:0 . How little, then, did these brethren realize the import of their request! Had He openly manifested Himself then before the Cross it would have involved the perdition of the whole human race, for then there had been no atoning-blood under which sinners might shelter! Thankful must we ever be that He did not do what they asked. And how often we ask Him for things, which He in His Divine wisdom and grace denies us! How true it is that "we know not what we should pray for as we ought" (Romans 8:26 )!

"Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready." There was no "pride of life" in Christ. He demonstrated this in the great Temptation. All the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them could not tempt Him. Instead of seeking to show Himself before the world, instead of advertising Himself, instead of endeavoring to attract attention, He frequently drew a veil over His works and sought to hide Himself: see Mark 1:36-38 ; Mark 7:17 ; Mark 7:36 ; Mark 8:26 , etc. After He had been transfigured on the holy mount and His glory had appeared before the eyes of the three apostles, He bade them "that they should tell no man what things they had seen" (Mark 9:9 ). How truly did He make Himself of "no reputation"! But how different with these brethren. "Your time is alway ready," He said. They were ever willing and wanting to win the applause of men, and make themselves popular with the world.

"The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil" (John 7:7 ). How this helps us to fix the meaning of the last clause of the previous verse. "Your time is alway ready" meant, as we have said, Your time to display yourself before the world, in order to court its smiles, is ever to hand. But how solemn is the reason Christ here gives for this! It was because they had not cast in their lot with this One who was "despised and rejected of men." Because of this, the world would not hate them. And why? Because they were of the world. Contrariwise, the world did hate Christ. It hated Christ because He testified of it (not "against" it!), that its works were evil. The holiness of His life condemned the worldliness of theirs. And right here is a solemn and searching test for those who profess to be His followers today. Dear reader, if you are popular with the world, that is indeed a solemn sign, an evil omen. The world has not changed. It still hates those whose lives condemn theirs. Listen to the words of Christ to His apostles, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:19 ). Here our Lord tells us plainly that the world hates those who are truly His. This, then, is a searching test: does the world "hate" you?

"Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee" (John 7:8 , John 7:9 ). The meaning of these verses is really very simple. Christ plainly qualified Himself. He did not say that He would not go up to the Feast; what He said was, He would not go then His time to go had not "yet come." "My time" must not be confounded with "Mine hour" which He used when referring to His approaching death. The simple force, then, of these verses is that Christ declined to go up to the Feast with His brethren.

"But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast" (John 7:10 ). How tragic is this. How it reveals the hearts of these "brethren." They left Christ for the Feast! They preferred a religious festival for fellowship with the Christ of God. And how often we witness the same thing today. What zeal there is for religious performances, for forms and ceremonies, and how little heart for Christ Himself.

"But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret" (John 7:10 ). The first part of this verse supplies another reason why He would not accompany His brethren to the Feast, as well as explains the somewhat ambiguous "as it were in secret." The general method of travel in those days, and especially at festival seasons, was to form caravans, and join together in considerable companies (cf. Luke 2:44 ). And when such a company reached Jerusalem, naturally it became known generally. It was, therefore, to avoid such publicity that our Lord waited till His brethren had gone, and then He went up to the Feast, "not openly, (R.V. publicly"), but as it were in secret," i.e., in private. "But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast." the words we have placed in italics are not so much a time-mark as a word of explanation. The "when" has the force of because as in John 4:1 ; John 6:12 ; John 6:16 , etc.

"Then went he also up unto the feast." This simple sentence gives us a striking revelation of our Lord’s perfections. In order to appreciate what we have here it is necessary to go back to the first verse of the chapter, where we are told, "Jesus walked in Galilee, for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him." Why is it that the Holy Spirit has begun the chapter thus? The central incident in John 7:0 is Christ in Jerusalem at the Feast of tabernacles. Why, then, introduce the incident in this peculiar way? Ah! the Holy Spirit ever had the glory of Christ in view. Because the Jews "sought to kill him" He "walked in Galilee." And therein, as pointed out, He left us an example not to needlessly expose ourselves to danger. But now in verse 10 we find that He did go to Judea, yes to Jerusalem itself. Why was this? We have to turn back to Deuteronomy 16:16 for our answer. There we read, "Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles." According to the flesh Christ was an Israelite, and "made under the law" (Galatians 4:4 ). Therefore, did He, in perfect submission to the will of His Father, go up to Jerusalem to keep the feast. In the volume of the book it was "written of him," and even though the Jews "sought to kill him," He promptly obeyed the written Word! And here, too, He has left us an example. On the one hand, danger should not be courted by us; on the other, when the Word of God plainly bids us follow a certain line of conduct, we are to do so, no matter what the consequences.

"Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he? And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, he is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people. Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews" (John 7:11-13 ). Mark what a strange variety of opinions there were concerning Christ even at the beginning! In the light of this passage the differences and divergencies of religious beliefs today ought not to surprise us. As said the late Bishop Ryle, "They are but the modern symptoms of an ancient disease." Christ Himself distinctly affirmed, "Think not that I am come to send peace." Whenever God’s truth is faithfully proclaimed, opposition will be encountered and strife stirred up. The fault is not in God’s truth, but in human nature. As the sun shines on the swamp it will call forth malaria: but the fault is not in the sun, but in the ground. The very same rays call forth fertility from the grainfields. So the truth of God will yield spiritual fruit from a believing heart, but from the carnal mind it will evoke endless cavil and blasphemy. Some thought Christ a good man; others regarded Him as a deceiver: sufficient for the disciple to be as His Master.

"Some said, he is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people" (John 7:12 ). "The Lord might bring blessing out of it, but they were reasoning and discussing. In another place He asks His disciples, ‘Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?’ They tell Him, ‘Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some Elias; and others, one of the prophets.’ It was all discussion. But when Peter replies, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ He tells him, ‘Blessed art thou Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven’. There was personal recognition of Himself, and where there is that, there is no discussion. Discussing Him as subject-matter in their minds, they had not submitted to the righteousness of God. Where people’s minds are at work discussing the right and the wrong, there is not the mind of the new-born babe; they are not receiving, but judging" (J.N.D.).

"Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews" (John 7:13 ). What a solemn warning to us is this! What an awful thing is the fear of man! How often it has silenced faithful witness for Christ! It is written, "The fear of man bringeth a snare" (Proverbs 29:25 ). This is still true. Let us pray then for holy boldness that we may testify faithfully for an absent Savior before a world that cast Him out.

The following questions on our next portion may help the student:

1. Wherein is verse 15 being repeated today?

2. Why did Christ speak of His "doctrine" rather than doctrines, verse 16?

3. What is the relation of verse 17 to the context?

4. Wherein does verse 18 help us to carry out 1 John 4:1 ?

5. What is the difference between "the law of Moses" (verse 23) and "the law of God" (Romans 7:22 , Romans 7:25 )?

6. To what did the speakers refer in the second half of verse 27 cf. verse 42?

7. What comforting truth is illustrated in verse 30?


[1] Note there is a sevenfold reference to the "Feast" in John 7:0 .

[2] That this is the same Feast appears by a comparison of Deuteronomy 16:16 with Exodus 23:14-17 .

Verses 14-31

Exposition of the Gospel of John


Christ teaching in the temple

John 7:14-31

Below is an outline Analysis of the passage which is to be before us:

1. Christ in the Temple, teaching: verse 14.

2. The Jews marvelling and Christ’s answer: verses 15-19.

3. The people’s question and Christ’s response: verses 20-24.

4. The inquiry of those of Jerusalem: verses 25-27.

5. The response of Christ: verses 28, 29.

6. The futile attempt to apprehend Christ: verse 30.

7. The attitude of the common people: verse 31.

In the last chapter we discussed the first thirteen verses of John 7:0 , from which we learned that notwithstanding "the Jews" (Judean leaders) sought to kill Him (verse 1), Christ, nevertheless, went up to Jerusalem to the Feast of tabernacles (verse 10). We pointed out how this manifested the perfections of the Lord Jesus, inasmuch as it demonstrated His submission to the will and His obedience to the word of His Father. Our present chapter records an important incident which transpired during the midst of the Feast. The Savior entered the Temple, and, refusing to be intimidated by those who sought His life, boldly taught those who were there assembled.

"Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught" (John 7:14 ). Twice previously has "the temple" been mentioned in this Gospel. In John 2:0 we behold Christ as the Vindicator of the Father’s house, cleansing the Temple. In verse 14 we read how Christ found in the temple the impotent man whom He had healed. But here in John 7:0 , for the tint time, we find our Lord teaching in the Temple.

The Holy Spirit has not seen well to record the details of what it was that our Lord "taught" on this significant occasion, but He intimates that the Savior must have delivered a discourse of unusual weight. For in the very next verse we learn that even His enemies, "the Jews," marvelled at it. In keeping with His usual custom, we doubt not that He took advantage of the occasion to speak at length upon the different aspects and relations of the Feast itself. Most probably He linked together the various Old Testament scriptures which treat of the Feast, and brought out of them things which His hearers had never suspected were in them. And then there would be a searching application of the Word made to the consciences and hearts of those who listened.

"And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" (John 7:15 ). "These words undoubtedly refer to our Lord’s great acquaintance with the Scrip tures, and the judicious and masterly manner in which He taught the people out of them, with far greater majesty and nobler eloquence than the scribes could attain by a learned education." (Dr. Philip Doddridge). But how their very speech betrayed these Jews! How this exclamation of theirs exposed the state of their hearts! It was not their consciences which were exercised, but their curiosity that was aroused. It was not the claims of God they were occupied with, but the schools of men. It was not the discourse itself they were pondering, but the manner of its delivery that engaged their attention.

"How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" How like the spirit which is abroad today! How many there are in the educational and religious world who suppose it is impossible for man to expound the Scriptures gracefully and to the edification of his hearers unless, forsooth, he has first been trained in some college or seminary! Education is an altar which is now thronged by a multitude of idolatrous worshippers. That, no doubt, is one reason why God’s curse has fallen on almost all our seats of learning. He is jealous of His glory, and anything which enters into competition with Himself He blights and withers. An unholy valuation of human learning, which supplants humble dependence upon the Holy Spirit is, perhaps, the chief reason why God’s presence and blessing have long since departed from the vast majority of our centers of Christian education. And in the judgment of the writer, there is an immediate and grave danger that we may shortly witness the same tragedy in connection with our Bible Schools and Bible Institutes.

If young men are taught, even though indirectly and by way of implication, that they cannot and must not expect to become able ministers of God’s Word unless they first take a course in one of the Bible Institutes, then the sooner all such institutions are shut down the better both for them and the cause of God. If such views are disseminated, if a course in some Bible School is advocated in preference to personal waiting upon God and the daily searching of the Scriptures in private, then God will blast these schools as surely as He did the seminaries and universities. And such an event is not so far beyond the bounds of probability as some may suppose. Already there are not wanting signs to show that "Ichabod" has been written over some of them. One of the principle Bible training schools in England closed down some years ago; and the fact that one of the leading Institutes in this country is constantly sending out urgent appeals for financial help is conclusive evidence that it is now being run in the energy of the flesh.

"Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me" (John 7:16 ). Let every young man who reads these lines ponder carefully this sentence from Christ. If he is fully assured that he has received a call from God to devote his life to the Lord’s service, and is now exercised as to how he may become equipped for such service, let him prayerfully meditate upon these words of the Savior. Let him remember that Christ is here speaking not from the standpoint of His essential glory, not as a member of the Godhead, but as the Son of God incarnate, that is, as the Servant of Jehovah. Let him turn to John 8:28 and compare its closing sentence: "As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." It was in no human schools He had learned to teach so that men marvelled. This discourse He had delivered originated not in His own mind. His doctrine came from the One who sent Him.

It was the same with the apostle Paul. Hear him as he says to the Galatians, "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (John 1:11 , John 1:12 ). And these things, dear brethren, are recorded for our learning. No one has to take a course in any Bible School in order to gain a knowledge and insight of the Scriptures. The man most used of God last century Mr. C. H. Spurgeon was a graduate of no Bible Institute! We do not say that God has not used the Bible schools to help many who have gone there; we do not say there may not be such which He is so using today. But what we do say is, that such schools are not an imperative necessity. You have the same Bible to hand that they have; and you have the same Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. God may be pleased to use human instruments in instructing and enlightening you, or He may give you the far greater honor and privilege of teaching you directly. That is for you to ascertain. Your first duty is to humbly and diligently look to HIM, wait on Him for guidance, seek His will, ,and the sure promise is, "The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way" (Psalms 25:9 ).

"My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." These words were spoken by Christ to correct the Jews, who were unable to account for the wondrous words which fell from His lips. He would assure them that His "doctrine" had been taught Him by no man, nor had He invented it. "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." How zealous He was for the Father’s honor! How jealously He guarded the Father’s glory! Let every servant of God learn from this blessed One who was "meek and lowly in heart." Whenever people praise you for some message of help, fail not to disclaim all credit, and remind your God dishonoring admirers that the "doctrine" is not yours, but His that sent you.

"My doctrine is not mine." Observe that Christ does not say "My doctrines are not mine," but "My doctrine." The word "doctrine" means "teaching," and the teaching (truth) of God is one correlated and complete whole. In writing to Timothy, Paul said, "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine" (not doctrines 1 Timothy 4:6 ). And again he wrote, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine" (2 Timothy 3:16 ). In striking contrast from this, Scripture speaks of "the doctrines of men" (Colossians 2:22 ); "strange doctrines" (Hebrews 13:9 ); and "doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1 ). Here the word is pluralized because there is no unity or harmony about the teachings of men or the teachings of demons. They are diverse and conflicting. But God’s truth is indivisible and harmonious.

"If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:17 ). The wording of this verse in the A.V. leaves something to be desired; we give, therefore, the translation found in Bagster’s Interlinear: [1] "If any one desire his will to practice, he shall know concerning the teaching whether from God it is, or I from myself speak." The Greek word here rendered "desire" signifies no fleeting impression or impulse, but a deeply rooted determination. The connection between this verse and the one preceding is as follows: "What you have just heard from My lips is no invention of Mine, but instead, it proceedeth from Him that sent Me. Now if you really wish to test this and prove it for yourselves you must take care to preserve an honest mind and cultivate a heart that yields itself unquestioningly to God’s truth."

"If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." In this declaration our Lord laid down a principle of supreme practical importance. He informs us how certainty may be arrived at in connection with the things of God. He tells us how spiritual discernment and assurance are to be obtained. The fundamental condition for obtaining spiritual knowledge is a genuine heart-desire to carry out the revealed will of God in our lives. Wherever the heart is right God gives the capacity to apprehend His truth. If the heart be not right, wherein would be the value of knowing God’s truth? God will not grant light on His Word unless we are truly anxious to walk according to that light. If the motive of the investigator be pure, then he will obtain an assurance that the teaching of Scripture is "of God" that will be far more convincing and conclusive than a hundred logical arguments.

"If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." How this word rebuked, again, these worldly-minded Jews; and how it reverses the judgment of many of our moderns! One does not have to enter a seminary or a Bible Institute and take a course in Christian Apologetics in order to obtain assurance that the Bible is inspired, or in order to learn how to interpret it. Spiritual intelligence comes not through the intellect, but via the heart: it is acquired not by force of reasoning, but by the exercise of faith. In Hebrews 11:3 we read, "Through faith we understand," and faith cometh not by schooling but by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God! Thousands of years ago one of Israel’s prophets was moved by the Holy Spirit to write, "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know THE LORD" (Hosea 6:3 ).

"He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him" (John 7:18 ). Christ here appealed to the manner and purpose of His teaching, to show that He was no impostor. He that speaketh of, or better from, himself, means, he whose message originates with himself, rather than God. Such an one seeketh his own glory. That is to say, he attracts attention to himself: he aims at his own honor and aggrandizement. On the other hand, the one who seeks the glory of Him that sent him, the same is "true" or genuine (cf. "true" in John 6:32 and 15:1), i.e. a genuine servant of God. And of such, Christ added, "and no unrighteousness is in him." Interpreting this in the light of the context (namely, verses 12 and 15), its evident meaning is, The one who seeks God’s glory is no impostor.

"He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." What a searching word is this for every servant of God today! How it condemns that spirit of self-exaltation which at times, alas, is found (we fear) in all of us. The Pharisees sought "the praise of men," and they have had many successors. But how different was it with the apostle Paul, who wrote, "I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle" (1 Corinthians 15:9 ). And again, "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints" (Ephesians 3:8 ). And what an important word does this eighteenth verse of John 7:0 contain for those who sit under the ministry of the professed servants of God. Here is one test by which we may discover whether the preacher has been called of God to the ministry, or whether he ran without being sent. Does he magnify himself or his Lord? Does he seek his own glory, or the glory of God? Does he speak about himself or about Christ? Can he truthfully say with the apostle, "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord" (2 Corinthians 4:5 )? Is the general trend of his ministry, Behold me, or Behold the church, or Behold the Lamb of God?

"Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?" (John 7:19 ). Here Christ completely turns the tables upon them. They were saying that He was unlettered, and now He charges them with having the letter of the Law, but failing to render obedience to it. They professed to be the disciples of Moses, and yet there they were with murder in their hearts, because He had healed a man on the Sabbath. He had just declared there was no unrighteousness in Himself; now He uncovered the unrighteousness which was in them, for they stood ready to break the sixth commandment in the Decalogue. His question, "Why go ye about to kill me?" is very solemn. It was a word of more than local application. Where there is no heart for the truth, there is always an heart against it. And where there is enmity against the truth itself there is hatred of those who faithfully proclaim it. No one who is in anywise acquainted with the history of the last two thousand years can doubt that. And it is due alone to God’s grace and restraining power that His servants do not now share the experiences of Stephen, and Paul, and thousands of the saints who were "faithful unto death" during the Middle Ages. Nor will it be long before the Divine restraint, which now holds Satan in leash and which is curbing the passions of God’s enemies, shall be removed. Read through the prophecies of the Revelation and mark the awful sufferings which godly Jews will yet endure. Moreover, who can say how soon what is now transpiring in Russia may not become general and universal!

"The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?" (John 7:20 ). "The people" evidently refers to the miscellaneous company of Israelites in the Temple courts. At that season they came from all parts of Palestine up to Jerusalem to observe the Feast. Many of them were ignorant of the fact that the Judean leaders had designs upon the life of Christ; and when He said to the Jews (of verse 15) "Why go ye about to kill me?" (verse 19, and cf. verse 1), these "people" deemed our Lord insane, and said "Thou hast a demon," for insanity is often one of the marks of demoniacal possession. This fearful blasphemy not only exposed their blindness to the glory of Christ, but also demonstrated the desperate evil of their hearts. To what awful indignities and insults did our blessed Lord submit in becoming incarnate! "Thou hast a demon:" is such an aspersion ever cast on thee, fellow-Christian? Then remember that thy Lord before thee was similarly reviled: sufficient for the disciple to be as his Master.

"Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel" (John 7:21 ). Christ ignored the horrible charge of "the people," and continued to address Himself to "the Jews." And herein He has left us a blessed example. It is to be noted that in the passage where we are told, "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps," the Holy Spirit has immediately followed this with, "who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again" (1 Peter 2:22 , 1 Peter 2:23 ). What a beautiful illustration John 7:0 gives of this! When He was reviled, He "reviled not again." He made no answer to their blasphemous declamation. O that Divine grace may enable us to "follow his steps." When Christ said to the Jews, "I have done one work, and ye all marvel," He was referring to what is recorded in John 5:1-16 .

"Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?" (John 7:22 , John 7:23 ). Our Lord continued to point out how unreasonable was their criticism of Himself for healing the impotent man on the Sabbath day. He reminds them that circumcision was performed on the Sabbath; why then should they complain because He had made a poor sufferer whole on that day! By this argument Christ teaches us that works of necessity and works of mercy may be legitimately performed on the Sabbath. Circumcision was a work of necessity if the Law of Moses was to be observed, for if the infant reached its eighth day on the Sabbath, it was then he must be circumcised. The healing of the impotent man was a work of mercy. Thus are we permitted to engage in both works of necessity and works of mercy on the holy Sabbath.

It is to be observed that Christ here refers to circumcision as belonging to "the law of Moses." For a right understanding of the teaching of Scripture concerning the Law it is of first importance that we distinguish sharply between "the law of God" and "the law of Moses." The Law of God is found in the ten commandments which Jehovah Himself wrote on the two tables of stone, thereby intimating that they were of lasting duration. This is what has been rightly termed the moral Law, inasmuch as the Decalogue (the ten commandments) enunciates a rule of conduct. The moral Law has no dispensational limitations, but is lastingly binding on every member of the human race. It was given not as a means of salvation, but as expressing the obligations of every human creature to the great Creator. The "law of Moses" consists of the moral, social, and ceremonial laws which God gave to Moses after the ten commandments. The Law of Moses included the ten commandments as we learn from Deuteronomy 5:0 .

In one sense the Law of Moses is wider than "the law of God," inasmuch as it contains far more than the Ten Commandments. In another sense, it is narrower, inasmuch as "the law of Moses" is binding only upon Israelites and Gentile proselytes; whereas "the law of God" is binding on Jews and Gentiles alike. [2] Christ dearly observes this distinction by referring to circumcision as belonging not to "the law of God," but as being an essential part of "the law of Moses" which related only to Israel.

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24 ). The connection between this verse and the preceding ones is dear. Christ had been vindicating His act of healing the impotent man on the Sabbath day. To His superficial critics it might have seemed a breach of the Sabbatic law; but in reality it was not so. Their judgment was hasty and partial. They were looking for something they might condemn, and so seized upon this. But their verdict, as is usually the case when hurried and prejudiced, was altogether erroneous. Therefore, did our Lord bid them; "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." He exhorted them to be fair; to take into account all the circumstances; to weigh all that God’s Word revealed about the Sabbath. "In it thou shalt not do any work," was not to be taken absolutely: other scriptures plainly modified it. The ministrations of the priests in the temple on the Sabbath, and the circumcising of the child on that day when the Law required it, were cases in point. But the Jews had overlooked or ignored these. They had judged by appearances. They had not considered the incident according to its merits, nor in the light of the general tenor of Scripture. Hence, their judgment was unrighteous, because unfair and false.

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." This is a word which each of us much need to take to heart. Most of us fail at this point; fail in one of two directions. Some are prone to form too good an opinion of people. They are easily deceived by an air of piety. The mere fact that a man professes to be a Christian, does not prove that he is one. That he is sound in his morals and a regular attender of religious services, is no sure index to the state of his heart. Remember that all is not gold that glitters. On the other hand, some are too critical and harsh in their judgment. We must not make a man an offender for a word. In many things we all offend. "There is not a just man on earth that doeth good and sinneth not" (Ecclesiastes 7:20 ). The evil nature, inherited from Adam, remains in every Christian to the end of his earthly course. And too, God bestows more grace on one than He does on another. There is real danger to some of us lest, forgetting the frailties and infirmities of our fellows, we regard certain Christians as unbelievers. Even a nugget of gold has been known to be covered with dust. It is highly probable that all of us who reach heaven will receive surprises there. Some whom we expected to meet will be absent, and some we never expected to see will be there. Let us seek grace to heed this timely word of our Lord’s: "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."

"Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?" (John 7:25 , John 7:26 ). In this chapter one party after another stands exposed. The Light was shining and it revealed the hidden things of darkness. First, the "brethren" of Christ (verses 3-5) are exhibited as men of the world, unbelievers. Next, "the Jews" (the Judean leaders) display their carnality (verse 15). Then, the miscellaneous crowd, "the people" (verse 20) make manifest their hearts. Now the regular inhabitants of Jerusalem come before us. They, too, make bare their spiritual condition. In sheltering behind "the rulers" they showed what little anxiety they had to discover for themselves whether or not Christ was preaching the truth of God. Verily, "there is no difference, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." The common people were no better than the rulers; the Lord’s brethren no more believed on Him than did the Jews; the inhabitants of Jerusalem had no more heart for Christ than they of the provinces. How plain it was, then, that no man would come to Christ except he had been drawn of the Father! It is so still. One class is just as much opposed to the Gospel as any other. Human nature is the same the world over. It is nothing but the distinguishing grace of God that ever makes one to differ from another.

"Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is" (John 7:27 ). What pride of heart these words evidence! These men of Jerusalem deemed themselves wiser than their credulous rulers. The religious leaders might stand in some doubt, but they knew whence Christ was. Evidently they were well acquainted with His early life in Nazareth. Supposing that Joseph was His father, they were satisfied that He was merely a man: "We know this man" indicates plainly the trend of their thoughts.

"But when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is." This sentence needs to be pondered with verse 42 before us. From Matthew 2:4 , Matthew 2:5 it is also plain that it was well known at the time that the Messiah should first appear in Bethlehem. What, then, did these people mean when they said, "When Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is"? With Dr. Doddridge, we regard this statement as an expression of the Jewish belief that the Messiah would be supernaturally born, i.e. of a virgin, as Isaiah 7:14 declared.

"Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not" (John 7:28 ). It appears to the writer that in the first part of this utterance the Lord was speaking ironically. Some of them who lived in Jerusalem had declared, "we know this man whence he is." Here Christ takes up their words and refutes them. "Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am," such was their idle boast; but, continues the Savior, "I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not." So they did not know whence He was. When Christ here declared of the Father, "He that sent me is true," He looked back, no doubt, to the Old Testament Scriptures. God had been "true" to His promises and predictions, many of which had already been fulfilled, and others were even then in course of fulfillment; yea, their very rejection of His Son evidenced the Father’s veracity.

"But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me" (John 7:29 ). It was because Christ knew the Father, and was from Him, that He could reveal Him; for it is by the Son, and by Him alone, that the Father is made known. "No man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him" (Matthew 11:27 ). None cometh unto the Father but by Christ; and none knoweth the Father but by Him.

"Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come" (John 7:30 ). This verse sets forth a truth which should be of great comfort to God’s people, and indeed it is so, when received by unquestioning faith. We find here a striking example of the restraining hand of God upon His enemies. Their purpose was to apprehend Christ. They sought to take Him, yet not a hand was laid upon Him! They thirsted for His blood, and were determined to kill Him; yet by an invisible restraint from above, they were powerless to do so. How blessed, then, to know that everything is under the immediate control of God. Not a hair of our heads can be touched without His permission. The demon-possessed Saul might hurl his javelin at David, but hurling it and killing him were two different things. Daniel might be cast into the den of lions, but as his time to die had not then come, their mouths were mysteriously sealed. The three Hebrews were cast into the fiery furnace, but of what avail were the flames against those protected by Jehovah?

"Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come." How this evidences the invincibility of God’s eternal decrees! "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord" (Proverbs 21:30 ). God had decreed that the Savior should be betrayed by a familiar friend, and sold for thirty pieces of silver. How, then, was it possible for these men to seize Him? They could no more arrest Christ than they could stop the sun from shining. "There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand" (Proverbs 19:21 ). What an illustration of this is furnished by the incident before us!

"No man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come." Not until the sixty-ninth "week" of Daniel 9:24 had run its courses could Messiah the Prince be "cut off." All the hatred of men and all the enmity of Satan and his hosts could not hasten Christ’s appointed death. Until God’s foreordained hour smack, and the incarnate Son bowed to His Father’s good pleasure, He was immortal. And blessed be God, it is our privilege to be assured that the hand of death cannot strike us down before God’s predestined "hour" arrives for us to go hence. The enemy may war against us, and he may be permitted to strike our bodies; but shorten our lives he cannot, anymore than he could Job’s. A frightful epidemic of disease may visit the neighborhood in which I live, but I am immune till God suffers me to be affected. Unless it is His will for me to be sick or to die, no matter how the epidemic may rage, nor how many of those around me may fall victims to it, it cannot harm me. "I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress: my God, in him will I trust." His reassuring voice answers me: "Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee" (Psalms 91:2 , Psalms 91:6 , Psalms 91:7 ). Should any be inclined to think we have expressed ourselves too strongly, we ask them to ponder the following scriptures: "Is there not an appointed time for man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?" that is, strictly numbered (Job 7:1 ). "Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass . . . If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come" (Job 14:5 , Job 14:14 ).

"No man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come." How this brings out the fact that all of Christ’s sufferings were undergone voluntarily. He did not go to the Cross because He was unable to escape it; nor did He die because He could not prevent it. Far, far from it. Had He so pleased, He could have smitten down these men with a single word from His mouth. But even that was not necessary. They were prevented from touching Him without so much as a single word being spoken!

"And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these, which this man hath done?" (John 7:31 ). Whether or not this was a saving faith it is rather difficult to ascertain. Personally, we do not think it was. Bather do we regard this verse as parallel with John 2:23 : "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did." But that theirs was not a saving faith is evident from what follows: "But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all." So here, the remainder of verse 31 seems to argue against a saving faith. "When Christ cometh," intimates that they did not really regard the Lord Jesus as the Messiah himself. And their closing words, ‘Will he do more miracles than these which this (fellow) hath done?" shows what a derogatory conception they had of the incarnate Son of God.

The following questions bear upon our next chapter: John 7:32-53 :

1. What is there in verse 34 which unmistakably brings out the Deity of Christ?

2. What does verse 35 go to prove?

3. Does verse 38 describe your spiritual experience? If not, why?

4. What solemn warning is conveyed by verses 41, 42?

5. What do verses 50, 51 go to show?

6. Were the Pharisees correct in verse 52?

7. What is there in this passage which magnifies Christ as "the Word"?


[1] This is a work we strongly recommend to those who desire to be students of the Word. It gives the original Greek and immediately beneath, a literal, word for word, English translation. Obtainable from the publisher of this book.

[2] See the author’s booklet "The Law and the Saint" for a fuller discussion of this subject. Obtainable from the publisher of this book. 30 cents.

Verses 32-53

Exposition of the Gospel of John


Christ in the temple (Concluded)

John 7:32-53

The following is a general Outline of the passage which is to be before us:

1. The Pharisees’ attempt to apprehend Christ: verse 32.

2. Christ’s words to their officers: verses 33, 34.

3. The mystification of the Jews: verses 35, 36.

4. Christ’s words on the last day of the Feast: verses 37-39.

5. The divided opinion of the common people: verses 40-44.

6. The confession of the officers: verses 45, 46.

7. The conference of the Pharisees broken up by Nicodemus: verses 47-53.

The passage for our present consideration continues and completes the one that was before us in our last lesson. It views our Lord still in the Temple, and supplies additional evidences of His absolute Deity. It also affords further proofs of the desperate wickedness of the human heart. There is a strange mingling of the lights and the shadows. First, the Pharisees send officers to arrest Christ, and then we find these returning to their masters and confessing that never man spake as He did. On the one hand, we hear of Christ ministering blessing to the thirsty souls who come unto Him and drink; on the other, we learn of there being a division among the people because of Him. The Sanhedrin sit in judgment upon Christ, and yet one of their own number, Nicodemus, is found rebuking them.

Before examining in detail the dosing verses of John 7:0 this will be the best place, perhaps, to call attention (though very briefly) to the significant order of truth found in John 5:6 , and 7. This may be seen in two different directions: First, concerning Christ Himself; second, concerning His people. In John 5:0 Christ is seen disclosing His Divine attributes, His essential perfections. In John 6:0 He is viewed in His humiliation, as the One come down from heaven, and who was to "give his life" for the world. But here in John 7:0 , He says, "Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me" (verse 33), and speaks of the gift of the Holy Spirit, which was subsequent upon His glorification (verse 39). So, too, there is a similar progressive unfolding of truth in connection with the believer. In John 5:0 he is viewed as "quickened" (verse 21). In John 6:0 we see the result of this: he comes to Christ and is saved. Now, in John 7:0 , we hear of "rivers of living water" flowing from him to others!

"The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him" (John 7:32 ). Things began to move swiftly. An interval of but six months divides between the time contemplated in our lesson and the actual crucifixion of Christ. The shadows commence to fall more thickly and darkly across His path. The opposition of His enemies is more definite and relentless. The religious leaders were incensed: their intelligence had been called into question (verse 26), and they were losing their hold over many of the people (verse 31). When these tidings reached the ears of the Pharisees and chief priests, they sent out officers to arrest the Savior.

"Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me" (John 7:33 ). This was tantamount to saying, My presence here is a source of annoyance to your masters, but not for long will this be continued. But our Lord did not forget to remind these officers that He was complete master of the situation. None could remove Him until His work was finished: "Yet a little while am I with you." True that little while spanned only six months, but until these had run their course He would be with them, and no power on earth could prevent it; no power either human or satanic could shorten that little while by so much as a single day or hour. And when that little while had expired He would "go." He would return to His Father in heaven. Equally powerless would they be to prevent this. Of His own self He would lay down His life, and of His own self would He take it again.

"Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me." How solemnly these words apply to our own age! Christ is now here in the Person of the Holy Spirit. But not forever is the Holy Spirit to remain in the world. When the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, then shall the Holy Spirit return to the One that sent Him. And how many indications there are that this is not far distant! Verily, we are justified in saying to sinners, "Yet a little while" will the Holy Spirit be "with you" and then He will "go unto him" that sent Him. Then resist Him no longer: "Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."

"Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come" (John 7:34 ). This, no doubt, received its first fulfillment immediately after our Lord had risen from the dead. When "some of the watch" came to Jerusalem and made known to the chief priests that Christ had risen, that the sepulcher was empty, we may be sure that a diligent search was made for Him. But never again did any of them set eyes upon Him the next time they shall behold Him will be at the Great White Throne. Whither He had gone they could not come, for "Except a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God." And how tragically have these words of Christ received a continual verification in connection with Israel all through the centuries. In vain have the Jews sought their Messiah: in vain, because there is a veil over their hearts even as they read their own Scriptures (2 Corinthians 3:15 ).

"Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come" (John 7:34 ). These words also have a solemn message for unsaved Gentiles living today. In applying the previous verse to our own times we pointed out how that the words, "Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me" find their fulfillment in the presence of the Spirit of Christ in the world today, a presence so soon to be removed. And once He is removed, once the Spirit of Christ returns to heaven, He will be sought in vain. "Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me" will receive a most solemn verification in a soon coming day. This is very clear from Proverbs 1:24-28 : "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me." Nor does this solemn passage stand alone: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able when once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door" (Luke 13:24 , Luke 13:25 ). In view of these solemn warnings let every unsaved reader heed promptly that imperative word in Isaiah 55:6 : "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near."

"And where I am, thither ye cannot come." How this brings out the Deity of Christ. Mark He does not say, "Where I shall be," or "Where I then am, ye cannot come"; but, though still on earth, He declared, "Where I am, thither ye cannot come." In the previous verse He had said, "I go unto him that sent me." These two statements refer severally, to His distinct natures. "Where I am" intimated His perpetual presence in heaven by virtue of His Divine nature; His going there was yet a future thing for His human nature!

"Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?" (John 7:35 ). How true it is that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14 ). Devoid of any spiritual perception, these Jews were unable to understand Christ’s reference to His return to heaven. When they asked, "Will he go to the dispersed among the Gentiles?" they were referring to those Jews who lived away from Palestine. The Greek word is "diaspora" and signifies the Dispersion. It is found only here and in James 1:1 where it is rendered "The twelve tribes which are scattered abroad," literally, "in the dispersion’’, and in 1 Peter 1:1 , "sojourners of the dispersion." Further, these Jews asked, "Will he teach the Gentiles?" What an evidence is this that unbelief will think about anything but God? God not being in their thoughts, it never occurred to them that the Lord Jesus might be referring to His Father in heaven; hence their minds turned to the dispersion and the Gentiles. It is thus even with a Christian when he is under the control of unbelief: the last one he will think of is God. Solemn and humbling commentary is this on the corruption of our natural heart.

"What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?" (John 7:36 ). And mark it, these were not illiterate men who thus mused, but men of education and religious training. But no amount of culture or religious instruction can impart spiritual understanding to the intellect. A man must be Divinely illumined before he can perceive the meaning and value of the things of God. The truth is that the most illiterate babe in Christ has a capacity to understand spiritual things which an unregenerate university graduate does not possess. The plainest and simplest word from God is far above the reach of the natural faculties.

"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (John 7:37 ). Their celebration of this Feast of tabernacles was drawing to a close. The "last" or eighth day had now arrived. It is here termed "the last great day of the feast"; in John 19:31 the same word is rendered "high day." It was so called because on this closing day there was a general and solemn convocation of the worshippers (see Leviticus 23:36 ). On this eighth day, when the temple courts would be thronged with unusually large crowds, Jesus "stood and cried." What a contrast this pointed between Himself and those who hated Him: they desired to rid the world of Him; He to minister unto needy souls.

"Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." Here is the Gospel in a single short sentence. Three words in it stand out and call for special emphasis "thirst," "come," "drink." The first tells of a recognized need. Thirst, like hunger, is something of which we are acutely conscious. It is a craving for that which is not in our actual possession. There is a soul thirst as well as a bodily. The pathetic thing is that so many thirst for that which cannot slake them. Their thirst is for the things of the world: pleasure, money, fame, ease, self-indulgence; and over all these Christ has written in imperishable letters, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again."

But in our text Christ is referring to a thirst for something infinitely nobler and grander, even for Himself. He speaks of that intense longing for Himself which only the Spirit of God can create in the soul. If a poor sinner is convicted of his pollution and desires cleansing, if he is weighted down with the awful burden of conscious guilt and desires pardon, if he is fully aware of his weakness and impotency and longs for strength and deliverance, if he is filled with fears and distrust and craves for peace and rest, then, says Christ, let him "come unto me." Happy the one who so thirsts after Christ that he can say, "As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God" (Psalms 42:1 ).

"Let him come unto me." "Come" is one of the simplest words in the English language. It signifies our approach to an object or person. It expresses action, and implies that the will is operative. To come to Christ means, that you do with your heart and will what you would do with your feet were He standing in bodily form before you and saying, "Come unto me." It is an act of faith. It intimates that you have turned your back upon the world, and have abandoned all confidence in everything about yourself, and now cast yourself empty-handed, at the feet of incarnate Grace and Truth. But make sure that nothing whatever is substituted for Christ. It is not, come to the Lord’s table, or come to the waters of baptism, or come to the priest or minister, or come and join the church; but come to Christ Himself, and to none other.

"And drink." It is here that so many seem to fail. There are numbers who give evidence of an awakened conscience, of heart-exercise, of a conscious need of Christ; and there are numbers who appear to be seeking Him, and yet stop short at that. But Christ not only said, "Come unto me," but He added, "and drink." A river flowing through a country where people were dying of thirst, would avail them nothing unless they drink of it. The blood of the slain lamb availed the Israelite household nothing, unless the head of that household had applied it to the door. So Christ saves none who do not receive Him by faith. "Drinking" is here a figurative expression, and signifies making Christ your own. In all ages God’s saints have been those who saw their deep need, who came to the Lord, and appropriated the provision of grace.

"If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." Let us not forget where these words were first uttered. The Speaker was not in a penitentiary, but in the Temple. Christ was not addressing a company of profligates, but a religious crowd who were observing a Divinely-instituted Feast! What an example for each of His servants! Brother preacher, take nothing for granted. Do not suppose that because those you address are respectable people and punctual in their religious exercises they are necessarily saved. Heed that word of your Master’s, and "preach the gospel to every creature," cultured as well as illiterate, the respectable as well as the profligate, the religious man as well as the irreligious.

"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38 ). The language used by our Lord really implies that He had some definite passage in mind. We believe that He referred to Isaiah 58:11 , And thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." Our Lord applies the promise to believers of the present dispensation. The believer should not be like a sponge-taking in but not giving out but like a spring, ever fresh and giving forth. Twice before had Christ employed "water" as a figure, and it is striking to observe the progressive order. In John 3:5 He had spoken of a man being born "of water and of the Spirit": here the "water" comes down from God cf. John 3:3 margin, "born From above." In John 4:14 He says, "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Here the "water" springs up to God, reaching out to the Source from whence it came. But in John 7:38 He says, "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Here the "water" flows forth for God in blessing to others.

"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." This verse describes the normal Christian, and yet, how many of us would say that its contents are receiving a practical exemplification in our daily lives? How many of us would make so bold as to affirm that out of our innermost part are flowing "rivers of living water"? Few indeed, if we were honest and truthful. What, then, is wrong? Let us examine the verse a little more attentively.

"Out of his belly shall flow." What is the "belly"? It is that part of man which constantly craves. It is that part which, in his fallen condition, is the natural man’s god "Whose god is their belly" (Philippians 3:19 ), said the apostle: styled their "god" because it receives the most care and attention. The "belly" is that part of man which is never really satisfied, for it is constantly crying for something else to appease its cravings. Now the remarkable thing, yea, the blessed thing, is, that not only is the believer himself satisfied, but he overflows with that which satisfies out of his innermost parts "flow (forth) rivers of living water" The thought indeed is a striking one. It is not merely "from him" shall flow, but "out of his belly shall flow;" that is, from that very part of our constitution which, in the natural man, is never satisfied, there shall be a constant overflow.

Now how is the believer satisfied? The answer is, By "coming" to Christ and drinking; which mean receiving from Him: by having his emptiness ministered to from His fulness. But does this refer only to a single act? Is this something that is done once for all? Such seems to be the common idea. Many appear to imagine that grace is a sort of thing which God puts into the soul like a seed, and that it will grow and develop into more. Not that we deny that the believer grows, but the believer grows in grace; it is not the grace in him which grows! O dear Christian reader, we are to continue as we began. Where was it that you found rest and peace? It was in Christ. And how did you obtain these? It was from a consciousness of your need (thirsting), and your coming to Christ to have this met, and by appropriating from Him. But why stop there? This ought to be a daily experience. And it is our failure at this very point which is the reason why John 7:38 does not describe our spiritual history.

A vessel will not overflow until it is full, and to be full it has to be filled! How simple; and yet how searching! The order of Christ in the scripture before us has never changed. I must first come to Him and "drink" before the rivers of living water will flow forth from my satisfied soul. What the Lord most wants from us is receptiveness, that is, the capacity to receive, to receive from Him. I must receive from Him, before I can give out for Him. The apostles came to Christ for the bread before they distributed to the hungry multitude. Here is the secret of all real service. When my own "belly" has been filled, that is, when my own needy heart has been satisfied by Christ, then no effort will be required, but out from me shall flow "rivers of living water." O may Divine grace teach us daily to first come to Christ before we attempt anything for Him.

"But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given: because that Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39 ). This intimates a further reason why we are told in verse 37 that the words there recorded were uttered by Christ on "the last" day, that is the eighth day of the Feast. In Scripture eight ever refers to a new beginning, and for this reason, like the numeral three, eight is also the number of resurrection: Christ arose on the eighth day, "in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first of the week" (Matthew 28:1 ). And, doctrinally considered, Christ was here speaking as from resurrection ground. He was referring to that which could not receive its accomplishment till after He had risen from the dead. When he said "the Holy Spirit was not yet," John meant that He was not yet publicly manifested on earth. His manifestation was subsequent to the glorification of Christ.

"Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet" (John 7:40 ). The line of thought found in this verse and the twelve that follow it might be termed, The testing of men by the truth, and their failure to receive it. The first class brought before us here is the common people. Many of them were impressed by the gracious words which proceeded out of the mouth of Christ. They said, "Of a truth this is the Prophet." Their language was identical with that of the Galileans, recorded in John 6:14 . But observe they merely said, "This is the Prophet." We are not told that they received Him as such. Words are cheap, and worth little unless followed by action. It is significant, however, that John was the only one of the Evangelists that records these sayings of the people, for they were in harmony with his special theme. As its first verse intimates, the fourth Gospel presents Christ as "the Word," that is, the Speech, the Revealer, of God. A "prophet" is God’s spokesman!

"Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" (John 7:41 , John 7:42 ). Here is another illustration of an acquaintance with the letter of the Word which failed to regulate the walk. These people could quote prophecy while they rejected Christ! How vain is an intellectual knowledge of spiritual things when unaccompanied by grace in the heart! These men knew where Christ was to be born. They referred to the Scriptures as though familiar with their contents. And yet the eyes of their understanding were not enlightened. The Messiah Himself stood before them, but they knew Him not. What a solemn warning is there here for us! A knowledge of the letter of Scripture is not to be despised, far from it: would that all the Lord’s people today were as familiar with the Word as probably these Jews were. It is a cause for deep thankfulness if we were taught to read and memorize Scripture from our earliest childhood. But while a knowledge of the letter of Scripture is to be prized, it ought not to be over-estimated. It is not sufficient that we are versed in the historical facts of the Bible, nor that we have a clear grasp, intellectually, of the doctrines of Christianity. Unless our hearts are affected and our lives moulded by God’s Word, we are no better off than a starving man with a cook book in his hand.

"Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the Scripture said, that Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" These words are recorded for our learning. We must not pass them over hurriedly as though they contained no message for us. They should lead us to solemnly and seriously examine ourselves. There are many today who, like these men of old, can quote the Scriptures readily and accurately, and yet who give no evidence that they have been born again. An experiential acquaintance with Christ is the one thing needful. A heart knowledge of God’s truth is the vital thing, and it is that which no schooling or seminary training can confer. If you have discovered the plague of your own heart; if you have seen yourself as a lost sinner, and have received as yours the sinner’s Savior; if you have tasted for yourself that the Lord is gracious; if you are now, not only a hearer but a doer of the Word; then, abundant cause have you to thank God for thus enlightening you. You may be altogether ignorant of Hebrew and Greek, but if you know Him, whom to know is life eternal, and if you sit daily at His feet to be taught of Him, then have you that which is above the price of rubies. But O make quite sure on the point, dear reader. You cannot afford to remain in uncertainty. Rest not, until by Divine grace you can say, "One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. And if your eyes have been opened, pray God daily to give you a better heart-knowledge of His Word.

"So there was a division among the people because of him" (John 7:43 ). How this fulfilled His own predicted word. Near the beginning of His public ministry (cf. Matthew 10:34 ,Matthew 10:35 ) He said, "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division. For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three," etc. (Luke 12:51 , Luke 12:52 ). So it proved then, and so it has been ever since. Why we do not know. God’s ways are ever different from ours. There will be another "division" among the people of the earth when the Lord Jesus leaves the Father’s throne and descends into the air; yea, a "division" also among the people in the graves. Only the "dead in Christ" shall then be raised, and only the living ones who have been saved by Him will be "caught up together to meet the Lord in the air." The rest will be left behind. What a "division" that will be! In which company would you be, dear reader, were Christ to come today?

"So there was a division among the people because of him." If this was the ease when Christ was upon earth, then we must not be surprised if those who faithfully serve Him occasion a "division" during His absence. Scripture says, "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you." Read through the book of Acts and note what "divisions" the preaching of the apostles caused. Mark that solemn but explicit word in 1 Corinthians 11:19 , "For there must be also factions among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you" (R.V.). How senseless, then, is all this modem talk about the union of Christendom. Fellow-preacher, if you are faithfully declaring all the counsel of God, be not surprised, nor be dismayed, if there is a "division" because of you. Regard it as an ominous sign if it be otherwise.

"And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him" (John 7:44 ). This is similar to what was before us in verse 30. Again and again is this noted in John’s Gospel: cf. John 5:16 , John 5:18 ; John 17:1 ; John 8:20 ; John 10:39 , etc. But they were powerless before the decrees of God. "Some of them would have taken him." The Greek word means they "desired" to do so. They had a will to, but not the ability. Ah! men may boast of their will-power and of their "free will," but after all, what does it amount to? Pilate said, "Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee" (John 19:10 ). So he boasted, and so he really believed. But what was our Lord’s rejoinder? "Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above." It was so here: these men desired to arrest Christ, but they were not given power from above to do so. Verily, we may say with the prophet of old, "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23 ).

"Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have you not brought him?" (John 7:45 ). Well might they ask such a question, for they were totally ignorant of the real answer. Well might Pharaoh now ask, Why did I fail in destroying the Hebrews? Or Nero, Why did I not succeed in exterminating all the Christians? Or the king of Spain, Why did my "invincible Armada" fail to reach the English ports and destroy the British navy? Or the Kaiser, Why did my legions not succeed in taking Paris? In each case the answer would be, Because God did not allow you to! Like these other infamous characters, the Pharisees had reckoned without God. They sent their officers to arrest Christ: they might as well have ordered them to stop the sun from shining. Not all the hosts of earth and hell could have arrested Him one moment before God’s predestined hour had arrived. Ah, dear reader, the God of the Bible is no mere figurehead. He is Supreme in fact as well as in name. When He gets ready to act none can hinder; and until He is ready, none can speed Him. This is a hateful thought for His enemies, but one full of comfort to His people. If you, my reader, are fighting against Him, be it known that the great God laughs at your consummate folly, and will one day ere long deal with you in His fury. On the other hand, if you are, by sovereign grace, one of His children, then He is for you, and if God be for you, who can be against you? Who, indeed!

"The officers answered, Never man spake like this man." (John 7:46 ). What a testimony was this from unbelievers! Instead of arresting Him, they had been arrested by what they had heard, Mark again how this magnifies Christ as "the Word"! It was not His miracles which had so deeply impressed them, but His speech! "Never man spake as this man." True indeed was their witness, for the One they had listened to was more than "man" "the Word was God"! No man ever spake like Christ because His words were spirit and life (John 6:63 ). What sayest thou of Christ, my reader? Do you own that "never man spake as this man"? Have His words come to you with a force that none other’s ever did? Have they pierced you through to "the dividing asunder of soul and spirit"? Have they brought life to your soul, joy to your heart, rest to your conscience, peace to your mind? Ah, if you have heard Him say "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," and you have responded to His voice, then can you say indeed, "Never man spake like this man."

"Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?" (John 7:47 , John 7:48 ). The "rulers" were men of official rank; the "Pharisees,’’ the religious formalists of that day. Few "rulers" or men of eminent standing, few "scribes" or men of erudition, few "Pharisees’’ or men of strict morality, were numbered among the followers of the Lamb. They were too well satisfied with themselves to see any need of a Savior. The sneering criticism of these Pharisees has been repeated in every age, and the very fact that it is made only supplies another evidence of the veracity of God’s Word. Said the apostle Paul, "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things which are" (1 Corinthians 1:26-28 ). And why? "that no flesh should glory in his presence"!

"But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed" (John 7:49 ). "This people" was a term of contempt. It has been rendered by some scholars, "This rabble this mob this rift raft." Nothing was more mortifying to these proud Pharisees, and nothing is more humiliating to their modern descendants than to find harlots and publicans entering the kingdom while they are left outside.

"Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?" (John 7:50 , John 7:51 ). Have any of the Pharisees believed on Christ, they asked? Not many had, but at least one had, as Nicodemus gave evidence. Here is the one ray of light which relieves this dark picture. Sovereign grace had singled out one of these very Pharisees, and gave him courage to rebuke his unrighteous fellows. It is true that Nicodemus does not appear to have said much on this occasion, but he said sufficient to break up their conference. Not yet did he come out boldly on the Lord’s side; but he was no longer one of His enemies. The work of grace proceeds slowly in some hearts, as in the case of Nicodemus; for eighteen months had elapsed since what is recorded in John 3:0 . With others the work of grace acts more swiftly, as in the case of Saul of Tarsus. Here, as everywhere, God acts according to His own sovereign pleasure. Later, if the Lord will, Nicodemus will come before us again, and then we shall behold the full corn in the ear. John’s Gospel depicts three stages in the spiritual career of Nicodemus. In John 3:0 it is midnight: here in John 7:0 it is twilight: in John 19:0 it is daylight in his soul.

"They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet" (John 7:52 ). But they were wrong. Their own Scriptures refuted them. Jonah was a "prophet," and he arose from Galilee: see 2 Kings 14:25 . So, most probably, did one or two other of their prophets. When they asked Nicodemus, "Art thou also of Galilee?" they evidently meant, Art thou also a Galilean, that is, one of His party?

"And every man went unto his own house" (John 7:53 ). The reference here is to "every man" mentioned throughout this chapter. The Feast was now over. The temporary "booths" would be taken down: and all would now retire to their regular dwellings. "Every man went unto his own house" is very solemn. Away from Christ they went. Him they left! They desired His company no longer. And there the curtain falls.

The following questions are designed to prepare the student for the next chapter on John 8:1-11 :

1. Wherein does this passage supply a further proof of the awful condition of Israel?

2. What is the force and significance of "He sat down"? verse 2 contrast "Jesus stood" in John 7:37 .

3. Wherein lay the "temptation"? verse 6.

4. What was the significance of Christ writing with His finger on the ground? verse 6.

5. Why did He "again" write on the ground? verse 8.

6. According to which of the Divine attributes was Christ acting in verse 11?

7. What do the words "go, and sin no more" (verse 11) evidence?

Bibliographical Information
Pink, A.W. "Commentary on John 7". "Pink's Commentary on John and Hebrews". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/awp/john-7.html.
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