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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

John 7



Chap. 7 has three main divisions: 1. The controversy with His brethren (1–9); 2. His teaching at the Feast of Tabernacles (10–39); 3. The opposite results; division in the multitude and in the Sanhedrin (40–52).

Verse 1

1. μετὰ ταῦτα. see on John 3:22. The interval is again vague (Introduction to Chap. vi.): it covers five or six months, the interval between the Passover (John 6:4) and the Feast of Tabernacles.

περιεπάτει. see on John 6:66. The imperfects imply continued action. To this ministry in Galilee, which S. John thus passes over, much of Matthew 14:34 to Matthew 18:35 belongs.

οὐ γὰρ κ.τ.λ. See John 5:18. From this we understand that He did not go up to Jerusalem for the Passover of John 6:4. ‘Jewry’ is found here in all English Versions except Wiclif’s; it was common in the earlier translations. But in A.V. it has been retained (probably by an oversight) only here, Luke 23:5, and Daniel 5:13 : elsewhere Judæa has been substituted. In Daniel 5:13 the same word is translated both ‘Jewry’ and ‘Judah’! Comp. the Prayer-Book version of Psalms 76:1.

Verses 1-9


Verse 2

2. ἡ ἑορ. τ. Ἰουδ. ἡ σκ. Tabernacles, or ‘the Feast of the 7th month, or ‘of ingathering,’ was the most joyous of the Jewish festivals. It had two aspects: [1] a commemoration of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness, [2] a harvest-home. It was therefore a thanksgiving [1] for a permanent abode, and especially for a permanent place of worship, [2] for the crops of the year. Celebrebant hoc Judaei, velut reminiscentes beneficia Domini, qui occisuri erant Dominum (S. Augustine). It began on the 15th of the 7th month, Ethanim or Tisri (about our September), and lasted seven days, during which all who were not exempted through illness or weakness were obliged to live in booths, which involved much both of the discomfort and also of the merriment of a picnic. The distinctions between rich and poor were to a large extent obliterated in the general encampment, and the Feast thus became a great levelling institution. On the eighth day the booths were broken up and the people returned home: but it had special sacrifices of its own and was often counted as part of the Feast itself. The Feast is mentioned here, partly as a date, partly to shew what after all induced Christ to go up to Jerusalem, partly perhaps for its symbolical meaning. ‘The Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us’ (John 1:14). Tabernacles was a type of the Incarnation, as the Passover of the Passion.

Verse 3

3. οὖν. Because He had not attended the previous Passover.

οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ. See on John 2:12. The bluntness of this suggestion, given almost as a command, shews that they presumed upon their near relationship. It would be more natural in the mouths of men older than Christ, and therefore is in favour of their being sons of Joseph by a former marriage rather than sons of Joseph and Mary (comp. Mark 3:21; Mark 3:31). They shared the ordinary beliefs of the Jews about the Messiah, and therefore did not believe in their Brother. But His miracles perplexed them, and they wished the point brought to a decisive issue. There is no treachery in their suggestion; its object is not to put Him in the power of His enemies. Comp. John 2:3-4, where His Mother’s suggestion and His treatment of it are somewhat similar to what we have here.

οἱ μαθηταί σου. Any of them, whether pilgrims to Jerusalem for the Feast or living there. His brethren seem to imply that they themselves are not disciples. Θεωρήσουσιν, not merely ‘see,’ but ‘contemplate;’ see on John 6:40.

Verse 4

4. οὐδεὶς γ. For no man doeth anything in secret and himself seeketh to be in openness: or, according to BD1, and seeketh it (αὐτό) to be in openness. They imply that He works miracles to prove His Messiahship and hides them from those who would be convinced by them. To conceal His miracles is to deny His Messiahship; the Messiah must assert His position. Winer, p. 786.

ἐν παῤῥησίᾳ. Here and John 16:29 only with a preposition; see on John 7:13.

εἰ ταῦτα ποιεῖς. If Thou doest these things, not ‘If Thou do these things;’ no doubt as to the fact of His miracles is expressed. ‘If Thou doest miracles at all, do them before the whole nation, instead of in obscure parts of Galilee.’

φανέρωσον σ. Manifest Thyself; see on John 1:31 and John 21:1.

οὐδὲ γ. Evidence of the Evangelist’s candour; he admits that those who were thus closely connected with Jesus did not put their trust in Him: For not even did His brethren (as one would certainly expect) believe on Him. It is marvellous that in the face of this verse any one should have maintained that three of His brethren (James, Simon, and Judas) were Apostles. This verse is also fatal to the common theory, that these ‘brethren’ are really our Lord’s cousins, the sons of Alphæus. Certainly one of the sons of Alphæus (James) was an Apostle; probably a second was (Matthew, if Levi and Matthew are the same person, as is almost universally admitted); possibly a third was (Judas, if ‘Judas of James’ means ‘Judas, brother of James,’ as is commonly supposed). By this time the company of the Twelve was complete (John 6:67; John 6:70-71); so that we cannot suppose that some of the Twelve have still to be converted. If then one, two, or three sons of Alphæus were Apostles, how could it be true that the sons of Alphæus ‘did not believe on Him?’ ‘His brethren’ cannot be the sons of Alphæus. They seem to have been converted by the Resurrection. Immediately after the Ascension we find them with the Apostles and the holy women (Acts 1:14; comp. 1 Corinthians 9:5; Galatians 1:19).

Verse 6

6. ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ἐμ. see on John 8:31. My time for manifesting Myself to the world is not yet present; with special reference to the Passion. It is inadequate to interpret it of the time for going up to the Feast. Moreover, what sense would there be in ‘Your time for going up to the Feast is always ready?’ Whereas ‘You can always manifest yourselves’ makes excellent sense. See last note on John 2:4. Καιρός, frequent in the Synoptists, occurs here only in S. John, John 5:4 being a gloss: S. John’s word is ὥρα. Καιρός is Christ’s opportunity on the human side, ὤρα is His hour on the Divine side, i.e. as ordained by God.

Verse 7

7. ὁ κόσμος. Unbelievers; the common use in S. John: in John 7:4 it meant all mankind (see on John 1:10). He takes up their word and gives it a meaning far deeper than theirs. The world cannot hate them because they are part of itself (John 15:19). Hence it is that they can always manifest themselves; they can always count upon a favourable reception. As in John 3:3; John 3:5, John 5:19, John 6:44; John 6:65, οὐ δύναται expresses a moral impossibility; comp. John 7:34; John 7:36, John 8:21; John 8:43, John 12:39, John 13:33; John 13:36, John 14:17, John 16:12. For μαρτυρῶ see on John 1:7.

Verse 8

8. ὑμεῖς. Emphatic; you, with all your fondness for publicity.

ἐγὼ οὐκ ἀν. Οὔπω, certainly very ancient, is possibly a correction. It may have been substituted for οὐκ to avoid the charge of the heathen critic Porphyry, that Jesus here shews fickleness or deceit, and therefore cannot be Divine. But the sense is the same, whether we read οὐκ or οὔπω; ‘I am not going now, publicly, in the general caravan of pilgrims; not going with you, who do not believe on Me.’ He does not say ‘I shall not go.’ The next two verses shew exactly what the negative means.

Verse 9

9. Once more we see (John 7:1, John 1:43, John 2:1; John 2:12, John 4:2; John 4:43, John 6:1; John 6:59) that S. John is quite aware that Galilee is the main scene of Christ’s ministry, as the Synoptists represent. The gaps in his narrative leave ample room for the Galilean ministry.

Verse 10

10. εἰς τὴν ἑορτήν. These words, transposed in T.R., belong to ἀνέβησαν, not ἀνέβη. We are not told that Christ went up to the Feast, i.e. to keep it; so that His words ‘I go not up to this Feast’ may be true even in the sense ‘I shall not go up for it at all.’ All that is certain is that He appeared when the Feast was half over (John 7:14).

οὐ φανερῶς. Not manifestly; He did not follow the worldly advice of His brethren: comp. φανέρωσον in John 7:4. Had He gone in the general caravan there might have been another outburst of enthusiasm (John 6:14-15), such as actually took effect at the next Passover (John 12:12-18). Perhaps He went by a different route (e.g. through Samaria, as in John 4:4, instead of down the eastern bank of Jordan), or several days later. One suspects that traces of Docetism are difficult to find in this Gospel when it is maintained that this verse contains such. see on John 1:14, John 6:21, John 19:35.

Verses 10-39


Of this section John 7:10-13 are introductory.

Verse 11

11. οἱ οὖν Ἰ. The hostile party therefore; because they did not find Him in the caravan of pilgrims from Galilee. Note the imperfects, implying continued action.

ἐκεῖνος. That man of whom we have heard so much; John 9:12; John 9:28.

Verse 12

12. γογγυσμός. Muttering; see on John 6:41. Some are for and some are against Him.

ἐν τοῖς ὄχλοις. Perhaps, in the bands of pilgrims. Here only does S. John use ὄχλοι; ὄχλος is frequent, and is read here in אD.

πλανᾷ. Leadeth astray.

Verse 13

13. παῤῥησίᾳ. The word occurs nine times in the Gospel and four in the First Epistle, not in Matt. or Luke, and only once in Mark. It means either ‘without reserve’ (John 7:4, John 10:24, John 11:14, John 16:25; John 16:29, John 18:20), or ‘without fear’ (John 7:13; John 7:26, John 11:54). Originally it was confined to unreserved or fearless speech, but John 7:4 and John 11:54 break through this restriction.

διὰ τὸν φ. τ. . Because of the (prevalent) fear of the Jews. Thus ‘the sins of the teachers are the teachers of sin.’

Verse 14

14. Ἤδη δὲ τ. . μ. But when it was already the midst of the feast; i.e. about the fourth day. Whether He had been in Jerusalem for the first half is uncertain: see on John 7:10. Once more the Lord, whom they sought, suddenly visits His Temple, and perhaps for the first time teaches in public there: at the cleansing (John 2:13-17) He delivered no discourse. Note the change from aorist to imperfect.

Verses 14-39

14–39. We have [1] a discourse in the midst of the Feast in which three groups take part; ‘the Jews’ (14–24); some of the people of Jerusalem (25–31); the envoys of the Sanhedrin (32–36): [2] a discourse on the last day of the Feast (37–39). The report is no doubt greatly condensed, but the divisions and vacillations in the multitude are vividly preserved.

Verse 15

15. οὗτος. Contemptuous, as in John 6:32. Their question is so eminently characteristic, that it is very unlikely that a Greek writer of the second century would have been able to invent it for them; he would probably have made them too cautious to commit themselves to any expression of astonishment about Him. The substance of His doctrine excites no emotion in them, but they are astounded that He should possess learning without having got it according to ordinary routine. He had never attended the schools of the Rabbis, and yet His interpretations of Scripture shewed a large amount of biblical and other knowledge. That does excite them. Their questions and comments throughout this section are too exactly in keeping with what we know of the Jews in our Lord’s time to be the invention of a Greek a century or more later. By γράμματα is meant literature in general, not merely the Scriptures, which would be τὰ ἱερὰ γρ. (2 Timothy 3:15), or αἱ γραφαί (John 7:39; Acts 18:24; Acts 18:28, &c.). Comp. τὰ πολλά σε γράμματα εἰς μανίαν περιτρέπει, Acts 26:24.

Verse 16

16. οὐκ ἔστιν ἐμή. Jewish teachers commonly quoted their authorities. These Jews thought that Jesus was self-taught, and marvelled at His literary proficiency. Jesus here gives the authority for His teaching and accounts for its power. ‘My teaching does not originate with Me; that is why I have no need to learn in the schools. He who sent Me communicates it to Me.’

Verse 17

17. ἐάν τις θέλῃ. If any man willeth to do His will; see on John 1:44, John 6:67, John 8:44. The mere mechanical performance of God’s will is not enough; there must be an inclination towards Him, a wish to make our conduct agree with His will; and without this agreement Divine doctrine cannot be recognised as such. There must be a moral harmony between the teaching and the taught, and this harmony is in the first instance God’s gift (John 6:44-45), which each can accept or refuse at will. Comp. John 14:21. Doing the will of God means personal holiness, not mere belief: it is the ποιεῖν τὴν ἀλήθειαν of John 3:21.

γνώσεται. He will come to know, recognise; comp. John 7:26, John 8:32. No time is stated; but sooner or later the knowledge will come. ‘Will’ rather than ‘shall’; the words are partly a promise, partly a statement of fact. The test would be a strange one to men who were always seeking for ‘signs,’ i.e. miraculous proofs.

πότερον ἐκ τ. Θ. Whether it proceeds from God (as its Fount), or I speak from Myself. Note the change from ἐκ to ἀπό and comp. John 5:19; John 5:30, John 15:4.

Verse 18

18. Proof almost in the form of a syllogism that He does not speak of Himself. It applies to Christ alone. Human teachers who seek God’s glory are not thereby secured from erroneous teaching. These verses (16–18) remind us, and might remind some of His hearers, of an earlier discourse delivered in Jerusalem some seven months before: comp. John 5:19; John 5:30; John 5:37; John 5:44.

οὗτος ἀληθής ἐστιν. Emphatic retrospective pronoun; see on John 3:32. Any one who speaks from himself seeks his own glory: but an ambassador who speaks from himself is not only vain-glorious but false; he claims his master’s message as his own. The ambassador who seeks his master’s glory is true.

ἀδικία. Unrighteousness is not in him. S. John does not say ‘falsehood’ as we might expect, but uses a wider word which points out the moral root of the falsehood. Comp. John 8:46. Throughout S. John’s writings the connexion between truth and righteousness, falsehood and unrighteousness, is often brought before us. Hence his peculiar phrases ‘to do the truth’ (1 John 1:6), ‘to do a lie’ (Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:15).

There is no need to suppose that anything is omitted between 18 and 19, though the transition is abrupt. Christ has answered them and now takes the offensive. He exposes the real meaning of their cavillings; they seek His life.

Verse 19

19. οὐ ΄. ἔδ. ὑ τ. νόμον; Here the interrogation probably ends (comp. John 6:70); the next clause is a statement of fact. The words are possibly an allusion to the custom of reading the Law in public every day of the Feast of Tabernacles, when the Feast fell in a Sabbatical year (Deuteronomy 31:10-13). The argument is similar to John 5:45; Moses (see on John 1:17) in whom they trust condemns them. Moreover it is an argumentum ad hominem: ‘Ye are all breakers of the law, and yet would put Me to death as a breaker of it.’

Verse 20

20. Δαιμ. ἔχεις. Thou hast a demon (see on John 8:48). The multitude from the provinces know nothing of the designs of the hierarchy, although dwellers in Jerusalem (John 7:25) are better informed. These provincials think He must be possessed to have such an idea. Comp. John 10:20, and also Matthew 11:18, where the same is quoted as said of the Baptist. In both cases extraordinary conduct is supposed to be evidence of insanity, and the insanity is attributed to demoniacal possession, the κακοδαιμονᾷν of the Greeks. In John 8:48 the same remark is made, but in a much more hostile spirit, and there Christ answers the charge. Here, where it is the mere ignorant rejoinder of a perplexed multitude, He takes no notice of the interruption.

Verse 21

21. ἓν ἔρ. ἐπ. I did one work; the healing at Bethesda, which (He reminds them) excited the astonishment and indignation of all, not of the rulers only, as being wrought on the Sabbath. Ἕν, a single work, in contrast to frequent circumcisions on the Sabbath, or possibly to the many works which excited comparatively little attention: ἕν balances πάντες, one act sets all in amazement.

Many modern editors add διὰ τοῦτο from John 7:22 to this verse; ‘and ye all marvel on account of this.’ But this is cumbrous, and unlike S. John, who begins sentences with διὰ τοῦτο (John 5:16; John 5:18, John 6:65, John 8:47, John 10:17, John 12:18; John 12:39) rather than ends them with it.

Verse 22

22. διὰ τ. ΄. For this cause M. hath given you: the perfect indicates that the gift abides, the present result of a past act.

οὐκ ὅτι. Not that; the sentence is a parenthesis, and ὅτι does not answer to διὰ τοῦτο. The meaning is not, ‘For this cause M. hath given you circumcision, because it originated (ἐκ) not with him but with the fathers:’ which spoils the argument. Διὰ τοῦτο means, ‘in order to teach the same lesson as I do.’ It is not easy to determine the object of the parenthesis: whether it states [1] a mere matter of fact; or [2] the reason why circumcision on the eighth day (as being the older law, reaffirmed side by side with the later one) prevailed over the Sabbath; or [3] a reason why it might have been expected that the Sabbath (as being of Moses and in the Decalogue, whereas circumcision was not) would have prevailed over the law about circumcision. Anyhow the national conscience felt that it was better that the Sabbath should be broken, than that circumcision, the sign of the covenant and token of sanctification, should be postponed, and Jesus claims this right instinct as justifying Him. If then the Sabbath could give way to ceremonial ordinance, how much more to a work of mercy? The law of charity is higher than any ceremonial law. Ἐν σάββατῳ, on a Sabbath; any that fell on the eighth day.

Verse 23

23. ἵνα μὴ λ. ὁ ν. ΄. The law about circumcision on the eighth day (Leviticus 12:3), which was a re-enactment of the patriarchal law (Genesis 17:12). Some adopt the inferior rendering in the margin; ‘without breaking the law of Moses,’ or ‘without the law of Moses being broken;’ in which case ‘the law of Moses’ means the law about the Sabbath. But this is not the natural meaning of ἵνα μή. Comp. John 5:18, and see on John 10:35.

χολᾶτε. Here only in N.T. It signifies bitter resentment.

ὅτισαββάτῳ. Because I made a whole man sound on a Sabbath, whereas circumcision purified one part only.

Verse 24

24. κατ' ὄψιν. According to appearance Christ’s act was a breach of the Sabbath. ὄψις may mean ‘face,’ as in John 11:44 (see note there); but there is no reference to Christ’s having ‘no form nor comeliness,’ as if He meant ‘Judge not by My mean appearance.’

τὴν δικ. κρ. The righteous judgment: there is only one.

Verse 25

25. ἐλ. οὖν τ. Some therefore of them of Jerusalem said; i.e. in consequence of Christ’s vindication of Himself. Living in the capital, they know better than the provincials (John 7:20) what the intentions of the hierarchy are. Ἱεροσολυμῖται occurs only here and Mark 1:5.

Verse 26

26. ἴδε παῤῥησίᾳ. See on John 1:29 and John 7:13.

μήποτε κ.τ.λ. Can it be that the rulers indeed have come to know that this man is the Christ? Surely they have not; and yet why do they allow such language? Comp. John 7:31, John 4:29; John 4:33, and see on John 1:48. The suggestion is only momentary: they at once raise a technical difficulty which suffices with them to cancel the moral impression produced by His words.

Verse 27

27. ὁ δὲ Χρ. ὅταν ἔρχ. But when the Christ cometh; see on John 1:20. οὐδεὶς γινώσκει. No one cometh to know (John 7:26) or perceiveth. Note the change from οἴδαμεν to γινώσκει and comp. John 8:55, John 13:7, John 14:7, John 21:17. Πόθεν does not refer to the Messiah’s birthplace, which was known (John 7:41-42); nor to His remote descent, for He was to be the Son of David (ibid.); but to His parentage (John 6:42), immediate and actual. This text is the strongest, if not the only evidence that we have of the belief that the immediate parents of the Messiah would be unknown: but the precision and vivacity of this passage carry conviction with them, and shew how familiar the ideas current among the Jews at that time were to S. John. It never occurs to him to explain. The belief might easily grow out of Isaiah 53:8, ‘Who shall declare His generation?’ Justin Martyr tells us of a kindred belief, that the Messiahship of the Messiah would be unknown, even to Himself, until He was anointed by Elijah (Trypho, pp. 226, 336).

Verse 28

28. ἔκραξεν οὗν. Jesus therefore (moved by their gross misconceptions) cried aloud. The word expresses loud expression of strong emotion; comp. John 7:37, John 1:15, John 12:44. S. John well remembers that moving cry in the midst of Christ’s teaching in the Temple. The scene is still before him and he puts it before us, although neither ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ nor διδάσκων is needed for the narrative (John 7:14).

κἀμὲ οἴδ. κ.τ.λ. Various constructions have been put upon this: [1] that it is a question; [2] ironical; [3] a mixture of the two; [4] a reproach, i.e. that they knew His Divine nature and maliciously concealed it. None of these are satisfactory. The words are best understood quite simply and literally. Christ admits the truth of what they say: they have an outward knowledge of Him and His origin (John 6:42); but He has an inner and higher origin, of which they know nothing. So that even their self-made test, for which they are willing to resist the evidence both of Scripture and of His works, is complied with; for they know not His real immediate origin.

καὶ ἀπ' ἐμαυτοῦ. Καί introduces a contrast, as so often in S. John (John 7:30); ἀπ. ἐμ, is emphatic; and (yet) of Myself I am not come (John 8:42). ‘Ye know My person, and ye know My parentage; and yet of the chief thing of all, My Divine mission, ye know nothing.’

ἀληθινὸς ὁ π.] He that sent Me is a true Sender, One who in the most real and perfect sense can give a mission; or possibly, a really existing Sender, and not a fiction. In either case the meaning is ‘I have a valid commission.’

Verse 29

29. ἐγώ. Emphatic, in contrast to the preceding emphatic ὑμεῖς.

ὅτι παρ' αὐ. εἰμι. Because I am from Him, and He, and no other, sent Me. Jesus knows God [1] because of His Divine generation, [2] because of His Divine mission. Comp. the very remarkable passage, Matthew 11:27.

Verse 30

30. ἐζήτουν οὖν. They sought therefore, in consequence of His claiming Divine origin and mission; for though He has not mentioned God, they understand His meaning. Imperfect of continued action (John 11:27), the nominative being οἱ ἄρχοντες or οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι, not ὁ ὄχλος. Πιάζειν occurs Revelation 19:20; Revelation 19:7 times in this Gospel; elsewhere only Acts 3:7; Acts 12:4; 2 Corinthians 11:32. see on John 1:14, John 4:6, John 11:44 and John 19:37.

καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐπ. And (yet) no one laid hands. That καί in S. John often= ‘and yet,’ as here and John 7:28, is most true; that καί ever = ‘but’ is true neither of S. John nor of any other Greek writer. In A.V. καί is rendered ‘but’ here and in John 7:26, while in John 7:31 δέ is rendered ‘and.’ see on John 1:5 and John 8:20.

ἡ ὥρα αὐ. The hour appointed by God for His Passion (John 13:1), this meaning being clearly marked by the context (see on John 7:6 and John 2:4). The immediate cause of their not seizing Him was that they were as yet afraid to do so; but S. John passes through proximate causes to the prime cause of all, the Will of God. When the hour was come God no longer allowed their fear, which still existed (Matthew 26:5), to deter them.

Verse 31

31. ἐκ τ. ὀχλ. δὲ π. But (on the other hand, i.e. in contrast to the rulers) of the multitude many believed on Him (as the Messiah) and kept saying (in answer to objectors), When the Christ (see on John 7:27 and John 1:20) cometh, will He do more signs than those which this man did? They express, not their own doubts, but those of objectors in saying, ‘when the Christ cometh:’ they believe that He has come. Some of them perhaps had witnessed the numerous Galilean miracles; they have at any rate heard of them, and it is on them, not on His teaching and work, that their faith is based; hence its weakness. Winer, p. 641.

Verse 32

32. γογγύζοντος. Here, as in John 7:12, mere muttering, as distinct from murmuring, seems to be meant: see on John 6:41. But they are restless at all this uncertainty. The Pharisees (comp. John 4:1) hear what they say and report it to the Sanhedrin, which orders His arrest.

ἀρχιερεῖς. First mention of them by S. John. The word signifies, not the heads of the 24 courses of priests, but Caiaphas, Annas, and the other ex-high-priests, with, perhaps, their relations in the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:6). see on John 11:48, John 18:13. Note that in this the reckless hierarchy, who were mainly Sadducees, combine with the Pharisees; comp. John 7:45, John 11:47; John 11:57, John 18:3. On πιάσωσιν see on John 7:30.

Verse 33

33. εἶπεν οὖν ὁ Ἰ. Therefore said Jesus, i.e. in consequence of their sending to arrest Him: probably He recognised the officers waiting for an opportunity to take Him. Christ’s words are addressed to the officers and those who sent them, and it is very difficult to decide on their precise meaning. Perhaps the simplest interpretation is the best. ‘I must remain on earth a little while longer, and during this time ye cannot kill Me: then ye will succeed, and I shall go to My Father. Thither ye will wish to come, but ye cannot; for ye know Him not (John 7:28), and such as ye cannot enter there.’ This is the first formal attempt upon His life. It reminds Him that His death is not far off, and that it will place a tremendous barrier between Him and those who compass it. It is the beginning of the end; an end that will bring a short-lived loss and eternal triumph to Him, a short-lived triumph and eternal loss to them.

χρόν. μικρόν. About six months; from the F. of Tabernacles to the Passover.

ὑπάγω. The voluntariness of His dying is implied in the word: see on John 10:17-18, John 19:30; John 19:34, and on John 16:7.

πρὸς τ. πέμψ. με. See on John 1:33. One suspects that here S. John is translating Christ’s words into plainer language than He actually used. Had He said thus clearly ‘unto Him that sent Me,’ a phrase which they elsewhere understand at once of God (see on John 7:30), they could scarcely have asked the questions which follow in John 7:35. Unless we are to suppose that they here pretend not to understand; which is unlikely, as they speak not to Him but ‘among themselves.’

Verse 34

34. ζητήσετέ με. In spite of John 7:1; John 7:19-20; John 7:25; John 7:30, John 5:18, John 8:37; John 8:40, John 10:39, John 11:8, it seems clear from John 13:33 that these words are not to be understood of seeking His life: no infinitive is added here; in all the other cases we have ἀποκτεῖναι, πιάσαι, or λιθάσαι. Nor can repentance be meant; repentance could not be in vain. Rather distress is meant; they will seek for help at His hands and not find it (comp. John 8:21). But it is best not to limit the application to any particular occasion, such as the destruction of Jerusalem, the great hour of Jewish need.

ὅπου εἰμὶ ἐγώ, ὑμεῖς. The pronouns are again in emphatic opposition as in John 7:28-29; comp. John 7:7-8. Εἰμί, not εἶμι, which does not occur in N.T. Winer, p. 61. The present tense implies His continual presence with the Father; ‘where I am,’ not ‘where I shall be.’

οὐ δύνασθε. It is morally impossible: see on John 7:7.

Ποῦ οὗτος μέλλει. Where is this fellow (John 3:26, John 6:42; John 6:52) about to (John 6:71) go, seeing that we shall not find Him. Is He about to go unto the Dispersion among the Gentiles? Ἡ διασπορά τ. Ἑλλ. means those Jews who were dispersed among the heathen outside Palestine; the abstract for the concrete, like ἡ περιτομή for the Jews generally. Διασπορά occurs James 1:1 and 1 Peter 1:1 (see notes there), and nowhere else in N.T. There were three chief colonies of these ‘dispersed’ or ‘scattered’ Jews, in Babylonia, Egypt, and Syria, whence they spread over the whole world. ‘Moses from generations of old hath in every city them that preach him,’ Acts 15:21. These opponents of Christ, therefore, suggest that He means to go to the Jews scattered among the Gentiles in order to reach the Gentiles and teach them—the very mode of proceeding afterwards adopted by the Apostles; so that their saying, like that of Caiaphas (John 11:50), was an involuntary prophecy. But here it is spoken in sarcasm. Christ’s utter disregard of Jewish exclusiveness and apparent non-observance of the ceremonial law gave a handle to the sneer; which would be pointless if Ἑλλήνων were rendered ‘Hellenists,’ i.e. Grecised Jews. Ἕλληνες in N.T. always means Gentiles or heathen. see on John 12:20.

Verse 36

36. ὁ λόγος οὖτος. Οὗτος is again contemptuous, like ‘this precious word.’ But they cannot shake the impression which it has made on them. Their own scornful suggestion does not satisfy them, for they know that it is not true.

Verse 37

37. ἐνμεγάλῃ. Now on the last day, the great day. This was probably not the seventh day, but the eighth day, which according to Leviticus 23:36; Leviticus 23:39; Numbers 29:35; Nehemiah 8:18, was reckoned along with the seven days of the feast proper. To speak of the seventh day as ‘the great day of the feast’ would not be very appropriate; whereas the eighth day on which the people returned home was, like the first day, kept as a Sabbath (Leviticus 23:39), and had special sacrifices (Numbers 29:36-38). Comp. 2 Maccabees 10:6. In keeping with the solemnity of the day Christ solemnly takes up His position and cries aloud with deep emotion (see on John 7:28). The εἱστήκει and ἔκραξεν are very graphic: comp. John 1:35, John 18:5; John 18:16; John 18:18, John 19:25, John 20:11. He was standing, beholding the multitude engaged in the ceremonies of the last day of the Feast, and moved by the sight He cried aloud.

ἐάν τις διψᾷ. The words recall Isaiah 55:1 and Revelation 22:17, ὁ διψῶν ἐρχέσθω. See on John 7:30. The conjectured reference to the custom of pouring water at the Feast of Tabernacles is probably correct. On all seven days water was brought from the pool of Siloam and poured into a silver basin on the western side of the altar of burnt offering, a ceremony not mentioned in Q.T. Apparently this was not done on the eighth day. Accordingly Christ comes forward and fills the gap, directing them to a better water than that of Siloam. The fact that the water was poured and not drunk, does not seem to be a reason for denying the reference, especially when we remember how frequently Christ took an external fact as a text (comp. John 4:10, John 5:17; John 5:19, John 6:26-27, (John 8:12?) John 9:39, John 13:8; John 13:10; John 13:12-17; Mark 10:15-16; Mark 10:23-24, &c.). The pouring of the water would be suggestive enough, especially as it represented the water from the rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). In such cases there is no need for the analogy to be complete, and in the present case it would add point to the reference that it was not complete. Mere pouring of water could not quench even bodily thirst; Christ could satisfy spiritual thirst. ‘Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.’ Isaiah 12:3. Thus S. John, having shewn us Christ as typified by the Brazen Serpent (John 3:14) and the Manna (John 6:51), now shews Him as the Rock.

Verse 38

38. ὁ πιστεύων. Nominativus pendens; comp. John 6:39; John 15:2.

καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γρ. As the scripture said; as if some passage to this effect had recently been read. see on John 2:22. The phrase undoubtedly refers to the words that follow: but inasmuch as no such text is found in Scripture, some have tried to force the phrase into connexion with what precedes, as if the meaning were ‘He that believeth on me in the way that Scripture prescribes.’ Although the exact words are not found in Scripture there are various texts of similar import: Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 58:11; Zechariah 13:1; Zechariah 14:8, &c. But none of them contain the very remarkable expression ‘out of his belly.’ Godet contends for Exodus 17:6 and Numbers 20:11, and thinks that ‘out of it’ (Heb. ‘from within him’) is the source of ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ, and ‘abundant waters’ of ποταμοὶ ὕδατος, while ‘I will stand’ may possibly be alluded to in ‘Jesus was standing.’ In the LXX. there is no resemblance to the Greek here. Ποταμοί stands first with great emphasis; rivers out of his belly shall flow, rivers of living water; in marked contrast to the ewer of water poured each day of the Feast. (For the form ῥεύσουσιν see Winer, p. 109.) Note how, as so often in S. John, the conclusion of one thought is the starting-point of another. As in John 6:35, ‘coming to Christ’ is equivalent to ‘believing on Christ;’ and believing on Him is far in advance of thirsting for spiritual satisfaction, for a man may thirst and refuse to believe. But the believer cannot end in satisfying his own thirst; he at once becomes a fount whence others may derive refreshment. Whether he wills to be a teacher or no, the true Christian cannot fail to impart the spirit of Christianity to others. Thus we have three stages; [1] thirsting; [2] coming or believing; [3] being filled and supplying others.

Verse 39

39. περὶ τ. πν. S. John’s interpretation is to be accepted, whatever may be our theory of inspiration, [1] because no better interpreter of Christ’s words ever lived, even among the Apostles; [2] because it is the result of his own inmost experience. The principle of Christian activity has ever been the Spirit. He moves the waters, and they overflowed at Pentecost. Till then ‘the Spirit was not yet;’ the dispensation of the Spirit had not come.

οὗ ἔμελλον. Which they that believed on Him were about to (John 6:71) receive: οἱ πιστεύσαντες, those who did believe, the first disciples.

οὔπω γὰρ ἦν πν. As in John 1:33 and John 20:22 there is no article, and an influence of the Spirit rather than the Third Person is meant: the spiritual life was not yet. Christus Legis, Spiritus Evangelii complementum; Christ completes the Law, the Spirit completes the Gospel.

ὅτιἐδοξάσθη. Comp. John 16:7, John 17:1; John 17:5; Psalms 68:18. The Spirit, “though given in His fulness to Christ Himself (John 3:34), and operating through Him in His people (John 6:63), was not, until after Christ’s return to glory, to be given to the faithful as the Paraclete and representative of Christ for the carrying on of His work” (Meyer). Christ did not send the Paraclete until He Himself had resumed the fulness of Divinity; and the Spirit did not give Christ to be the life of the Church until Christ was perfected.

Verse 40

40. ἐκ τ. ὄχλ. οὖν. Of the multitude, therefore, some, when they heard these words, kept saying, or, began to say. For ἐκ τῶν as a nominative comp. John 1:24, John 16:17, and as an accusative 2 John 1:4; Revelation 2:10. The λόγοι probably mean the discourses from John 7:14 onwards.

ὁ προφήτης. The Prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15, who is here distinguished from the Messiah. see on John 1:21 and John 6:14.

Verses 40-52


Verse 41

41. μὴ γὰρὁ Χρ. ἐρ. We have here an instance how little attention our translators paid to the Greek article; in the same verse they translate the article in one place and ignore it in another. In the next verse they ignore it again. In all three places it should be ‘the Christ’ (see on John 1:20). What, doth the Christ come out of Galilee? Comp. Nathanael’s difficulty (John 1:46). It is quite inadmissible to infer, because S. John does not correct this mistake of supposing that Jesus came from Galilee, that he is either ignorant of the truth or indifferent to it. He knew that his readers would be well aware of the facts, and he leaves the error without comment to their pity or disdain; comp. John 1:45, John 6:42-43, John 7:20; John 7:52. On the other hand, could a Greek of the second century invent these discussions of the Jewish multitude?

Verse 42

42. ἐκ τ. σπ. Δ. Psalms 132:11; Jeremiah 23:5; Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 11:10. see on John 2:22.

ἀπὸ Βηθλεέμ. Micah 5:2; 1 Samuel 16:1; comp. Matthew 2:6. Like Oedipus they are tragically ignorant that the very test which they so confidently apply tells against them.

Verse 43

43. σχίσμα. Whence our word ‘schism.’ It means a serious and possibly violent division: John 9:16, John 10:19; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 12:25; comp. Acts 14:4; Acts 23:7. In N.T. it is never used in the modern sense of a separation from the Church, but of parties in the Church. In the Synoptists it is used only in its original sense of physical severing; ‘a worse rent is made;’ Matthew 9:16; Mark 2:21.

Verse 44

44. τινές. Not the officers, but some zealots who would have arrested Him on their own responsibility. see on John 11:27.

Verse 45

45. ἦλθ. οὖν οἱ ὑπ. Therefore came the officers, i.e. because neither they nor any of the multitude had ventured to arrest Him. Under the control of God’s providence (John 7:30), they had been unable to find any good opportunity for taking Him, and had been overawed by the majesty of His words (John 7:46). The influence which Christ exercised over His enemies shews again and again that they had no power over Him until He and His Father willed to allow it; comp. John 13:27, John 18:6, John 19:11. It would seem as if the Sanhedrin had continued sitting, waiting for the return of its officers; an extraordinary proceeding on so great a day (see on John 7:37), shewing the intensity of their hostility. Their question is quite in harmony with this. See on John 7:32. The omission of τούς before Φαρ. shews that the chief priests and Pharisees are now regarded as one body.

ἐκεῖνοι. The pronoun marks the Evangelist’s aversion: comp. John 10:6.

Verse 46

46. ἐλάλησεν οὕτως for οὕτως ἐλ. Omit ὡς οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος after ἄνθρωπος, with BLT: other MSS. exhibit great variation.

Verse 47

47. οἱ Φαρ. That part of the Sanhedrin which was most jealous of orthodoxy, regarded both by themselves and others as models of correct belief, therefore answered them; Surely ye also have not been led astray (John 7:12), ye, the officers of the Sanhedrin! ὑμεῖς is very emphatic. Comp. John 7:26; John 7:31; John 7:41, John 6:67. Πλανᾶσθαι implies fundamental departure from the truth, not mere error; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:26; 1 John 3:7; Rev. passim.

Verse 48

48. What right have you to judge for yourselves, contrary to the declared opinion of the Sanhedrin and of the orthodox party? What right have you to wear our livery and dispute our resolutions? Note the singular; Hath any one?Have any’ weakens it.

Verse 49

49. ὁ ὄχ. οὗτος. Very contemptuous; this multitude of yours, iste (35, 36), whose ignorant fancies you prefer to our deliberate decisions.

ὁ μὴ γιν. The μή implies censure; knoweth not when it ought to know. They ought to know that a sabbath-breaker cannot be the Messiah. Ὁ οὐ γιν. would express a mere fact; comp. John 6:64.

ἐπάρατοι. A mere outburst of theological fury. A formal excommunication of the whole multitude by the Sanhedrin (comp. John 9:22) would be impossible. How could such a sentence be executed on the right individuals? It was reserved for a Christian hierarchy to invent the interdict. Excommunication en masse was unknown to the Jews. Rabbinical writings abound in contempt for the “people of the earth.”

Verse 50

50. ὁ ἐλθὼν πρότερον. see on John 3:1-2. His being ‘one of them’ answers the challenge in John 7:48, ‘Hath any one of the rulers believed on Him?’ But he does not yet declare himself His disciple. Comp. the attitude of Gamaliel, Acts 5:34-42.

Verse 51

51. μὴ ὁ νόμος. Ὁ νόμος is emphatic. ‘You condemn the multitude for not knowing the law; but are we not forgetting the law in condemning a man unheard?’ These learned theologians and lawyers were forgetting such plain and simple texts as Deuteronomy 1:16-17; Deuteronomy 17:8; Deuteronomy 19:15, involving the most elementary principles of justice.

τὸν ἄνθρ. The man (prosecuted), except it first hear from himself, or perhaps hear his defence.

Verse 52

52. μὴ καὶ σύ. ‘Surely thou dost not sympathize with Him as being a fellow-countryman?’ They share the popular belief that Jesus was by birth a Galilean (see on John 7:41).

ἐρ. κ. ἴδε. Search and see; i.e. search and thou wilt see: like Divide et impera. The ὅτι may be either ‘that’ after ‘see,’ or ‘because:’ the former seems better.

ἐκ τ. Γαλ. οὐκ ἐγείρεται. Jonah of Gath-hepher (2 Kings 14:25) was certainly of Galilee; Nahum of Elkosh may have been, but the situation of Elkosh is uncertain; Hosea was of the northern kingdom, but whether of Galilee or not is unknown; Abelmeholah, whence Elisha came, was in the north part of the Jordan valley, possibly in Galilee. Anyhow, their statement is only a slight and very natural exaggeration (comp. John 4:29). Moreover they speak of the present and future, rather than of the past; ἐγείρεται, not (as T. R.) ἐγήγερται. Judging from the past, Galilee was not very likely to produce a prophet, much less the Messiah.

Of the various questions which arise respecting the paragraph that follows (John 7:53 to John 8:11) one at least may be answered with something like certainty,—that it is no part of the Gospel of S. John. [1] In both tone and style it is very unlike his writings. His favourite words and expressions are wanting; others that he rarely or never uses are found. [2] It breaks the course of the narrative by severing the two closely connected declarations of Christ, Ἐάν τις διψᾷ κ.τ.λ. and Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τ. κόσμου, with the two equally closely connected promises, ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ κ.τ.λ. and ὁ ἀκολουθῶν μοι κ.τ.λ. (John 7:37-38, John 8:12); and hence a few of the MSS. which contain it place it at the end of the Gospel, and one places it after John 7:36. [3] All the very serious amount of external evidence (see Appendix D.) which tells against the passage being part of the Gospel narrative at all of course tells against its being by S. John, and in this respect is not counterbalanced by other considerations. So that the internal and external evidence when put together is overwhelmingly against the paragraph being part of the Fourth Gospel.

With regard to the question whether the section is a genuine portion of the Gospel history, the internal evidence is wholly in favour of its being so, while the balance of external testimony is decidedly on the same side. [1] The style is similar to the Synoptic Gospels, especially to S. Luke; and four inferior MSS. insert the passage at the end of Luke 21, the place in the history into which it fits best. [2] It bears the impress of truth and is fully in harmony with Christ’s conduct on other occasions; yet it is quite original and cannot be a divergent account of any other incident in the Gospels. [3] It is easy to see how prudential reasons might in some cases have caused its omission (the fear of giving, as S. Augustine says, peccandi impunitatem mulieribus); difficult to see what, excepting its truth, can have caused its insertion. But “the utmost licence of the boldest transcribers never makes even a remote approach to the excision of a complete narrative from the Gospels” (W. and H.). [4] Though it is found in no Greek MS. earlier than the sixth century, nor in the earliest versions, nor is quoted as by S. John until late in the fourth century, yet Jerome says that in his time it was contained ‘in many Greek and Latin MSS.’ (Adv. Pelag. II. 17). But if it be thought that these must have been as good as the best MSS. which we now possess, we must remember that most of the worst corruptions of the text were already in existence in Jerome’s time.

The question as to who is the author, cannot be answered. There is not sufficient material for a satisfactory conjecture, and mere guesswork is worthless. The extraordinary number of various readings (80 in 183 words) points to more than one source.

One more question remains. How is it that nearly all the MSS. that do contain it (several uncials, including the Cambridge MS., and more than 300 cursives) agree in inserting it here? This cannot be answered with certainty. Similarity of matter may have caused it to have been placed in the margin in one copy, and thence it may have passed, as other things have done, into the text of the Cambridge and other MSS. In chap. 7 we have an unsuccessful attempt to ruin Jesus: this paragraph contains the history of another attempt, equally unsuccessful. Or, the incident may have been inserted in the margin (very possibly from Papias) in illustration of John 8:15, and hence have got into the text.

Verse 53

53. That this verse, as well as John 8:1-2, is omitted in most MSS. shews that prudential reasons could not explain the omission of the paragraph in more than a very limited number of cases. It is a minority of MSS. which omit only John 8:3-11.

καὶ ἐπορ. ἕκαστος. see on John 8:1. And they went each man unto his own house. But Jesus went, &c. It is unfortunate that the verse should have been placed at the end of this chapter instead of at the beginning of the next: this arrangement destroys the contrast between Jesus and the others, and creates an impression that the verse records the breaking up of the meeting of the Sanhedrin.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on John 7". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.