At the Feast.
John 7:1. Having described the crisis in Galilee the evangelist proceeds to describe the various opinions and discussions held regarding Jesus in Jerusalem. See Sanday, p. 144. In chap. 6, a Passover was said to be at hand; but Jesus did not go to it, but continued to go about teaching in Galilee, . Although appropriate to a single school, denoted generally the going about of a teacher with his disciples; hence, “to dispute,” or “to discourse”. in Aristoph., Frogs, 907 and 918, means “a philosophical discussion or argumentation”. John assigns a reason for Jesus remaining in Galilee; this, according to Holtzmann and Weiss, proves that he considered the Judaean ministry the rule, the Galilean the exception. But the assigning of a reason may be accounted for by the unlikelihood of Jesus remaining in Galilee after what was recorded in chap. 6. His reason for remaining in Galilee, even after His rejection there, was the active hostility of the Jews, . See John 7:18. Things were not yet ripe for His exposing Himself to the hostility of the authorities.
John 7:1-13. The circumstances of His visit to Jerusalem.
John 7:2. But occasion arose for His abandoning His purpose to remain in Galilee. ’ . In Hebrew (Leviticus 23:34), the Feast of Succoth, or Booths, in Greek , the fixing of tents; so called because in this Feast the Jews commemorated how their fathers had dwelt in tents, and been fed and cared for as if in a settled condition. It was one of the great Feasts, and as it fell in October and Jesus had not attended the previous Passover, it might seem desirable that He should go up to Jerusalem now.
John 7:3. The desirableness of doing so is urged by His brothers. ’ . The reason they advanced was “that Thy disciples also may see Thy works which Thou doest”. seems to imply that since the Feeding of the Five Thousand in April, Jesus had been living in comparative retirement, perhaps at Nazareth. At Jerusalem, all who were attached to Him would be found at the Feast; and the brothers recognise that He would then have an opportunity of putting His claims to the proof. “No one,” they say, “who seeks public recognition confines his activities to a hidden and private corner.” , as in John 11:54, means “openly” or “in public,” and is in direct contrast to . Having laid down the general law, they then apply it to Him, “if (or ‘since,’ not expressing doubt) Thou doest these things, show Thyself to the world”. Lücke, following Euthymius, thinks doubt is implied in ; but this implies an ignorance on the part of the brothers which is inconceivable.
John 7:5. It is indeed added ’ , “For not even did His brothers believe in Him”; but this does not mean that they did not believe He wrought miracles, but that they had not submitted to His claim to be Messiah. They required to see Him publicly acknowledged before they could believe. Therefore this clause is introduced to explain why they urged Him to go to Jerusalem.
John 7:6. His answer was ’ . The time for my manifestation to the authorities as Messiah is not yet come; but no time is inappropriate or unsafe for you to show yourselves.
John 7:7. The reason of the different procedure lies in the different relation to the world held by Jesus and His brothers. ’ . There is no danger of your incurring the world’s hatred by anything you do or say; because your wishes and actions are in the world’s own spirit. But me the world hates, and I cannot at random or on every occasion utter to it my claims and purpose, because the very utterance of these claims causes it to be conscious that its desires are earthly (see chap. 6 passim). This hatred of the world compelled Him to choose His time for manifesting Himself.
John 7:8. ’ “Go ye up to the feast. I go not up yet to this Feast, for my time is not yet fulfilled.” His time for manifesting Himself publicly was not yet come, and therefore He did not wish to go up to the feast with His brothers, who were eager for some public display. Had He gone in their company He would have been proclaimed, and would have appeared to be the nominee of His own family. It was impossible He should go on any such terms.
John 7:9. He therefore remained where He was.
John 7:10. ’ . “But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the Feast, not openly, but, as it were, in secret.” That is to say, He went up, but not at His brothers’ instigation, nor with the publicity they had recommended. [Of course if we read in John 7:8 a change of mind must be supposed, although not the “inconstantia” alleged by Porphyry.]
John 7:11. ’ ; “the Jews,” possibly, as usual in John, the authorities (so Meyer, Weiss, etc.), and thus in contrast to the of John 7:12; but John 7:15 rather indicates that the term is used more generally. They looked for Him, expecting that He would appear at least at this third feast. They asked ; which Luther, Meyer, etc., think contemptuous; but cannot thus be pressed. Cf. 1 John passim.
John 7:11-13. Disappointment at Jesus’ non-appearance.
John 7:12. Among the masses ( ) there was regarding Him; not “murmuring,” as R.V, but rather “whispering,” suppressed discussion in low tones, in corners, and among friends; “halblaute Mittheilung entgegengesetzter Ansichten” (Holtzmann), “viel im Volke über ihn herumgeredet” (Weizsäcker). Specimens of this talk are given: ’ . “Some said, He is a good man,” , pure in motive and seeking to do good. “But others said, No: but He misleads the multitude” (Matthew 27:63, Luke 23:5), that is, seeks to ingratiate Himself with the people to serve His own ends.— ’ . “No one, however, talked openly about Him, for fear of the Jews.” Until the Jews, the authorities, gave their decision, neither party dared to utter its opinion openly.
 Revised Version.
John 7:14. . “But when it was now mid-feast,” i.e., the fourth day. is commonly used in this sense: , midday; , midsummer.— ’ . “Jesus went up to the temple and taught”; see John 18:20; He did not go to Jerusalem to seclude Himself and worship in private, nor did He go to proclaim Himself explicitly as Messiah. He went and taught. His teaching astonished the Jews, and they asked ; It is not His wisdom that astonishes them, for even uneducated men are often wise; but His learning or knowledge. (Acts 26:24) “included the whole circle of rabbinical training, the sacred Scriptures, and the comments and traditions which were afterwards elaborated into the Mishna and Gemara” (Plumptre, Christ and Christendom). But it cannot be supposed that Jesus made Himself acquainted with these comments. His skill in interpreting Scripture and His knowledge of it is what is referred to. What the scribes considered their prerogative, He, without their teaching, excelled them in.
John 7:14-36. The teaching of Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles. [Spitta supposes that the original place of paragraph John 7:15-24 was at the end of chap. 5] So far as reported this teaching is found in three short statements: (1) in justification of His authority as a teacher; (2) in assertion of His Divine origin; and (3) of His approaching departure. This threefold teaching elicited expressions of opinion from three parties: (1) from “the Jews” (John 7:15-24); (2) from inhabitants of Jerusalem (John 7:25-31); (3) from the officers sent to apprehend Him (John 7:32-36).
John 7:16. But though not received from them, it was a derived teaching. He is not self-taught. ’ . The teaching which I give has not its source in my knowledge but in Him that sent me. “Der Autodidakt in Wahrheit ein Theodidakt ist,” Holtzmann. The truest self-renunciation is the highest claim. That this claim was true He proceeds to show (1) from the conviction of every one who desired to do God’s will, John 7:17; and (2) from His own character, John 7:18.
John 7:17. ’ . “If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know concerning the teaching, whether it is of God (or from God) or I speak from myself.” As Jesus everywhere asserts (John 5:46, John 18:37), he who thirsts for God will recognise Him as God’s messenger; he who hungers for righteousness is filled in Jesus; he who is of the truth hears His voice. The teaching of Jesus is recognised as Divine by those whose purpose and desire it is to be in harmony with God.
John 7:18. There are also two different kinds of teachers: the one , speaks his own mind, teaches his own ideas, does not represent God and reveal His mind; because he , “seeks his own glory,” which of course cannot be reached by representing himself to be merely the herald of another’s glory. The other style of teacher is described in the words ’ . Plainly He who seeks the glory of Him whose ambassador He is, has no interest in falsifying matters to advance His own interests. If His aim is to advance the glory of Him who has sent Him, He will truthfully deliver His message; , ’ and injustice, dishonesty, is not in Him. The application of this general principle to Jesus was obvious.
John 7:19. ’ . The connection is not obvious, but seems to be this: You reject my teaching, but that is not surprising, for you reject Moses’ also (cf.John 5:39; John 5:45-47). “Did not Moses give you the law?” or, “Hath not Moses given you the law?” [the point of interrogation should be after the first ; none after the second]. “Yet none of you keeps it. If you did you would not seek to kill me.” Was there not a former revelation of God which should have prevented you from thus violently rejecting my teaching?
John 7:20. This, some of the crowd think mere raving. He is a monomaniac labouring under a hallucination that people wish to kill Him.— ’ ; This question, repudiating the idea that any one seeks to slay Him, needs no answer and gets none.
John 7:21. Jesus prefers to expose the unjustifiable character of the hostility which pursued Him (John 7:16). Referring to the miracle wrought at Bethesda, and which gave occasion to this hostility, He says ’ . One single work I did and ye all marvel [are horrified or scandalised]; for this same object, of imparting health, Moses gave you circumcision, an ordinance that continues through all the generations and regularly sets aside the Sabbath law. If circumcision is performed, lest the law of Moses be broken, are ye angry at me for making a man every whit whole [or rather, for making an entire or whole man healthy] on the Sabbath day? The argument is obvious; and its force is brought out by the antithetical form of the sentence: the of the healing of the impotent man is contrasted with the continuous ordinance of circumcision, and so the aorist is used of the one, the perfect of the other. In John 7:23 is contrasted with , the partial and symbolic with the complete and actual soundness. The argument is all the more telling because a “vis medicatrix,” as well as a ceremonial purity (but vide Meyer), was ascribed to circumcision [“praeputium est vitium in corpore”]. Wetstein quotes from a Rabbi a singularly analogous argument: “Si circumcisio, quae fit in uno membrorum 248 hominis, pellit Sabbatum, quanto magis verum est, conservationem vitae Sabbatum pellere?” The parenthesis in John 7:22, ’ , is apparently thrown in for accuracy’s sake, lest some captious persons should divert attention from the argument by objecting to the statement that Moses had “given” them circumcision. The reference of in the same verse is obscure. Some editors join these words with ; but although in Mark 6:6 follows , this construction does not occur in John. Besides, John frequently begins his sentences with ; and if John 7:22 begins with , such a commencement is certainly abrupt. Retaining as part of John 7:22, the words might be understood thus: “I have done one work and ye all marvel: therefore (be it known unto you) Moses has given you,” etc., i.e., “I will remove your astonishment: you yourselves perform circumcision,” etc. See Winer, p. 68. So Holtzmann, and Weizsäcker, who renders: “Darum: Moses hat euch,” etc. This gives a good sense, but surely the ellipsis is too severe. Holtzmann’s reference to John 6:65 tells rather against it, for there is added. May not mean, “on this account,” i.e., for the same reason as I had in healing the impotent man, did Moses give you circumcision? I did one work of healing and ye marvel. But with a similar object Moses gave you circumcision. This seems best to suit the words and the context. He adds to His argument the comprehensive advice of John 7:24. ’ . “Judge not according to appearance:” , according to what presents itself to the eye; the Pharisaic vice. In appearance the healing of the impotent man was a breach of the Sabbath-law. No righteous judgment can be come to if appearances decide. For , cf. Plato Rep., 360 E; and cf. , , , etc.
John 7:25. , in consequence of the bold denunciation which they had heard from the lips of Jesus. [or , or ], distinct from the of John 7:20, which was unaware of any intention to kill Him; but themselves not so familiar as the Galileans with the appearance of Jesus, and therefore they asked: ’ . Or the words may only be a strong way of expressing their astonishment at the inactivity of the authorities. ’ ; “Can it be that the rulers indeed know that this man is the Christ?” But this idea, again, is at once dismissed, ’ . “Howbeit we know this man whence He is: but when the Christ comes, no one knows whence He is.” There was a general belief that the Christ would spring from David’s line and be born in Bethlehem; see John 7:42. The words “no one knows whence He is” must refer to the belief encouraged by the Apocalyptic literature that He would appear suddenly “in the clouds” or “from the sun”. Cf. 4 Ezra 7:28, 13:32, Apoc. Baruch 13:32; with Mr. Charles’ note; and other passages cited in Drummond’s Messiah, 279 ff. Different sections of the community may have had different expectations. The surmises of the Jerusalemites came to the ears of Jesus, and stirred Him to further and more emphatic statements, . From the repetition of the words “in the Temple,” Westcott gathers that a break occurred between this scene and the last; but this idea seems to be precluded by the continuity of the conversation. Jesus takes up the words of the doubters, ’ Some interpreters think there is a touch of irony in the first clauses; thus Weizsäcker translates: “So? mich kennet ihr und wisset wo ich her bin? Und doch bin ich,” etc. Similarly Lücke and Godet. But this is unnecessary. Jesus concedes their ability to identify Him as the carpenter of Nazareth. This knowledge they had; but the knowledge which they had not was of far greater importance. To know my native place and to be able to recognise me as Jesus is not enough; for I am not come at my own prompting. To deduce from your knowledge of my origin that I am a self-constituted prophet and therefore not the Messiah, is to mistake; for I am not come of myself. To know me apart from Him that sent me is empty knowledge. He that sent me has a real existence, and is not a fancy of mine. You indeed do not know Him; but I know Him because from Him I have my being and He has sent me. Weiss rightly observes that (John 7:29) does not include under its government. Jesus knew the Father because He was from Him; but His being sent was the result, not the cause, of His knowledge. These statements exasperated the Jews, (John 7:30) . They sought to seize or apprehend Him. , Doric and Hellenistic for , “I press”; in later Greek “I catch” (John 21:3), “I arrest,” John 7:32, etc. But “no one laid hands [or, ‘his hand,’ R.V] upon Him, for His hour was not yet come”; the immediate cause being that they were not all of one mind, and feared resistance on the part of some of the people.
 Revised Version.
John 7:25-31. Opinion of inhabitants of Jerusalem regarding Jesus. Knowing the hostility of the authorities, they express surprise that Jesus should be allowed to teach openly; and wonder whether the authorities themselves can have changed their opinion about Him. This they find it difficult to believe, because on the point of origin Jesus does not satisfy Messianic requirements.
John 7:31. For, ’ Here as usual alongside of the hostility evoked by the deeds and words of Jesus faith also was evoked; faith which suggested covertly that He might be the Messiah. , “When the Christ comes will He do more signs than this man has done?”
John 7:32. ’ . The Pharisees, perceiving that many of the people were coming under the influence of Jesus, determined to put a stop to His teaching, and persuaded the Sanhedrim [ ] to send officers to apprehend Him.
John 7:32-36. The Sanhedrim takes action regarding Jesus.
John 7:33. [ omitted by modern editors] ’ . Seeing the servants of the Sanhedrim [ ], Jesus said to the crowd: “Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go to Him that sent me”. The “little while” is prompted by the actively hostile step taken by the Sanhedrim. The utterance was a word of warning. does not convey any sense of secrecy, as has been alleged. [It has been supposed that is a Johannine addition; chiefly because of John 7:35. But this misunderstanding proves nothing; for the people never apprehended who was meant by “Him that sent Him”.]
John 7:34. In John 7:34 He views with pity (cf. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” etc.) their too late awakening to a sense of their need: . “The tragic history of the Jewish people since their rejection of Jesus as Christ is condensed into these words,” Reith. Cf.Luke 17:22, “The days will come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and ye shall not see it”; also Luke 19:43-44; and Isaiah 55:6. ’ , Euthymius. Even though they may then know where He has gone, they cannot follow Him, , “where I am” [not , “I will go”], i.e., in the presence of Him that sent me, “ye cannot,” as ye now are and by your own strength, “come”. For the full meaning see chap. John 8:21-24.
John 7:35. This was quite unintelligible to the Jews, ’ . The only meaning they could put upon His words was that, finding no reception among the Jews of Judaea and Galilee, He intended to go to the Jews of the Dispersion and teach them and the Greeks among whom they lived. The does not mean, as Chrysostom and Euthymius suppose, the Gentiles , but the Jews dispersed among the Gentiles, see Deuteronomy 28:25, Jeremiah 34:17, 1 Peter 1:1, James 1:1 (cf. Schürer, Div. II., vol. ii., and Morrison, Jews under Roman Rule). But the following clause, , indicates that they supposed He might teach the Greeks themselves: thus ignorantly anticipating the course Christianity took; what seemed unlikely and impossible to them became actual.— ’ The saying has impressed itself on their memory, though they find it unintelligible. How they could not go where He could, they could not fathom. Cf. Peter’s “Lord, why can I not follow Thee now?” and the whole conversation, chap. John 13:33 to John 14:6, “No one comes to the Father but through me”.
John 7:37. ’ This exact specification of time is given that we may understand the significance of the words uttered by Jesus. The Feast of Tabernacles lasted for seven days (Leviticus 23:34, Nehemiah 8:18), and on the eighth day was “an holy convocation,” on which the people celebrated their entrance into the holy land, abandoning their booths, and returning to their ordinary dwellings. On each of the seven feast days water was drawn in a golden pitcher from the pool of Siloam, and carried in procession to the Temple, in commemoration of the water from the rock with which their fathers in the desert had been provided. On the eighth day, which commemorated their entrance into “a land of springs of water,” this ceremony was discontinued. But the deeper spirits must have viewed with some misgiving all this ritual, feeling still in themselves a thirst which none of these symbolic forms quenched, and wondering when the vision of Ezekiel would be realised, and a river broad and deep would issue from the Lord’s house. Filled with these misgivings they suddenly hear a voice, clear and assured, , : that is, whatever natural wants and innocent cravings and spiritual aspirations men have, Christ undertakes to satisfy them every one. To this general invitation are added words so enigmatical that John finds it necessary to explain their reference.
John 7:37-44. Jesus proclaims His ability to quench human thirst with living water.
John 7:38. ’ . [The nominative absolute is common.] No Scripture gives the words verbatim. Isaiah 58:11 has: “The Lord shall satisfy thy soul in drought: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters fail not”. Cf.John 4:14. The words seem to intimate that the believer shall not only have his own thirst quenched, but shall be a source of new streams for the good of others (O. Holtzmann). A remarkably analogous saying is quoted by Schoettgen from the Talmud: “Quando homo se convertit ad Dominum suum, tanquam fons aquis vivis impletur, et fluenta ejus egrediuntur ad omnis generis homines et ad omnes tribus”. At the same time it is not easy to see the relevancy of the saying if this meaning be attached to it, and the saying of John 4:14 is so similar that it seems preferable to understand it in the same sense, of the inseparableness and inwardness of the living water. Those who advocate the other meaning can certainly find confirmation for their view in the explanation added by John.
John 7:39. ’ , for these words apparently refer to Pentecost, the initial outpouring of the Spirit, when it once for all became manifest that the Spirit’s presence did not turn men’s thoughts in upon themselves, and their own spiritual anxieties and prospects, but prompted them to communicate to all men the blessings they had received. From the little group in the upper room “rivers” did flow to all. But the appended clause, , is difficult. The best attested reading (see critical note) gives the meaning: “The Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet [ , not ] glorified” with John signifies the entire process of glorification, beginning with and including His death (see chap. John 12:23; John 12:32-33); but especially indicating His recognition by the Father as exalted Messiah (see chap. John 17:1; John 17:5, John 13:31). Until He thus became Lord the Spirit was not given: and the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost was recognised as the grand proof and sign that He had reached the position of supremacy in the moral universe. (See especially Acts 2:32-33.) The Spirit could not be given before in His fulness, because until Christ no man could receive Him in His fulness. Christ was the lens in whom all the scattered rays were gathered. And it is always and only by accepting Christ as perfect humanity, and by finding in Him our norm and ideal, that we receive the Spirit. It is by the work of the Spirit on the human nature of Christ that we are made aware of the fulness and beauty of that work. It is there we see what the Spirit of God can make of man, and apprehend His grace and power and intimate affinity to man.
John 7:40. The immediate results of this declaration were twofold. In some faith was elicited: many of the crowd said: “This is of a truth the prophet”; others, going a step further, said: “This is the Christ”. On the relation of “the prophet” to “the Christ,” see on John 1:21.
John 7:41. But others, either honestly perplexed, or hostile to Christ, and glad to find Scripture on their side, objected, ; “But does the Christ come out of Galilee?” [Hoogeveen explains the by resolving the sentence into a double statement: “Others said this is not the Christ: for Christ will not come out of Galilee”. The assigns the reason for the denial already hinted in the introducing a contrary opinion to that already expressed.] They knew that Jesus was a Galilean, and this clashed with their idea that the Christ was to be born of the seed of David and in Bethlehem; an idea founded on Micah 5:2; Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5. Bethlehem is here called the [or , which gives the same pronunciation], because there David spent his youth; 1 Samuel 16:1; 1 Samuel 16:4, etc.
John 7:43-44. ’ . On this verse Calvin has the following pertinent remark: “quaecunque dissidia emergunt quum praedicatur Evangelium, eorum causa et semen prius in hominibus latebant; sed tunc demum quasi ex somno expergefacti se movere incipiunt, qualiter vapores aliunde quam a sole procreantur, quamvis nonnisi exoriente sole emergant”. To this divided state of opinion He owed His immunity on this occasion.
John 7:45. ’ . It now appears that the of the preceding clause applies even to the officers sent by the Sanhedrim. They returned empty-handed , that is, as the single article shows, to the Sanhedrim, or at any rate to these parties acting together and officially. What follows indicates rather that they were met as a court. They [ regularly refers to the more remote noun; but here, although in the order of the sentence the are more remote, they are nearer in the writer’s mind, and he uses of the priests and Pharisees] at once demand the reason of the failure, ; “Why have ye not brought Him?” Apparently they were sitting in expectation of immediately questioning Him.
John 7:45-52. Anger of the Sanhedrim on receiving the report of their officers.
John 7:46. The servants frankly reply: ’ . The testimony is notable, because the officers of a court are apt to be entirely mechanical and leave all responsibility for their actions with their superiors. Also it is remarkable that the same result should have found place with them all; for in view of the divided state of public feeling, probably five or six at least would be sent.
John 7:47. But their apology only rouses the indignation of those who had sent them, ; Are ye also, of whom better things might have been expected, deluded?— ’ ; What right have subordinates to have a mind of their own? Wait till some of the constituted authorities or of the recognised leaders of religious opinion give you the cue. Here the secret of their hostility is out. Jesus appealed to the people and did not depend for recognition on the influential classes. Power was slipping through their fingers.— ’ . “But this mob [these masses] that knows not the law are cursed.” This Pharisaic scorn of the mob [or “am-haarets,” which is here represented by ] appears in Rabbinic literature. Dr. Taylor [Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, p. 44] quotes Hillel as saying: “No boor is a sin-fearer; nor is the vulgar pious”. To the Am-haarets are opposed the disciples of the learned in the law; and Schoettgen defines the Am-haarets as “omnes illi qui studio sacrarum literarum operam non dederunt”. The designation, therefore, , was usual. That it was prompted here by the popular recognition as Messiah of one who came out of Galilee, in apparent contradiction of the law and of the opinion of the Pharisees, is also probable. People so ignorant as thus to blunder .
John 7:50. To this strong expression one of their own number (and therefore to their great surprise), Nicodemus, the same person who had visited Jesus under cover of night, takes exception and makes a protest. [Tisch deletes the clause , and no doubt it has quite the appearance of a gloss. At the same time it is John’s manner thus to identify persons named. And at John 19:39 the similar clause is not deleted.] This was a bold step. For he must have known it was useless; and he might have persuaded himself to evade all risk by silence. His remonstrance is based on their implied claim to know the law: ’ ; their own action is suspiciously like a violation of the law. “Does our law pass judgment on the suspected person before it first hears him and knows what he is guilty of doing?” For the law regarding trials see Deuteronomy 1:16 and Stapfer’s Palestine, p. 108, on the administration of justice. The construction is simple; “the law” which the Sanhedrim administered is the nominative throughout.
John 7:52. This remonstrance is exasperatingly true, and turns the bitterness of the Pharisaic party on Nicod mus, ’ . “Art thou also, as well as Jesus, from Galilee, and thus disposed to befriend your countryman?” Cf.Mark 14:70. By this they betray that their own hostility was a merely personal matter, and not founded on careful examination. “Search and see, because [or ‘that’] out of Galilee there arises no prophet.” That is, as Westcott interprets, “Galilee is not the true country of the prophets: we cannot look for Messiah to come from thence”. They overlooked the circumstance that one or two exceptions to this rule existed.
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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 7". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany