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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

John 7

Verses 1-99

Retreat to Galilee; His Brethren Urge Jesus to Show Himself at Jerusalem (7:1-9)

7:1. καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα περιεπάτει κτλ. SO אcaBC*LΓΔΘ, but אC2DW with most syrr. latt. om. καί, which may be an editorial addition. N has καὶ περιεπάτει μετʼ αὐτῶν ὁ Ἰης. κτλ., and the rec. also goes wrong with καὶ περιεπάτει ὁ Ἰης. μετὰ ταῦτα κτλ.

μετὰ ταῦτα is the beginning of a new section of the narrative, and reasons have been given (Introd., p. xix) for placing 7:1-14 in direct sequence to cc. 5, 7:15-24.

After the severe rebukes which Jesus had addressed to the Rabbis, already exasperated by the breach of the Sabbath and His lofty claims (5:18), it was natural that He should withdraw from the neighbourhood of Jerusalem for a while. He had gone up to Jerusalem for the Passover, and after that He healed the impotent man (5:8). Then controversy ensued, and in 5:19-47, 7:15-24 we have a summary of the main points on which stress was laid, the discussions probably extending over some days. If we suppose that He left Jerusalem about the month of May, there is time for a ministry of four or five months in Galilee, before He returned to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles at the end of September. Jn. gives no details of this Galilæan ministry, but there is room in these months for many of the incidents recorded in the Synoptic Gospels as having taken place in Galilee (see on v. 3).

The narrative of the events in Jerusalem after Jesus went up to the Feast of Tabernacles (v. 10) is full of movement and of local colour. Presumably (see on 5:1) the Twelve attended the Feast of Tabernacles, and were again in the company of Jesus after He went up.

περιεπάτει. This is the natural word for the itinerant ministry of a Rabbi accompanied by His disciples; cf. 6:66, 11:54. (For the larger meaning of περιπατεῖν, see on 8:12.) Jesus was “walking in Galilee,” because the Jews, as has just been said (7:19), were seeking His life.

For the phrase ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι�

The Feast of Tabernacles (σκηνοπηγία) was originally a Feast of Ingathering or a Harvest Festival, and was not at first held on a fixed date, but “at the year’s end” (Exodus 34:22), according to the time when the harvest was gathered. The Deuteronomic Code calls it “the Feast of Tabernacles” (Deuteronomy 16:13), and prescribes that it is to be kept for seven days. The reason for its name assigned in the Priest’s Code is that “I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:43). In the same Code the annual date is fixed; it was to begin on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Tishri), going on for seven days (Leviticus 23:34). That is, it was held at the end of September or the beginning of October. In Numbers 29:35 an eighth day of observance appears, on which was to be “a solemn assembly,” and we find this eighth day observed in post-exilic times (Nehemiah 8:18, Nehemiah 8:2 Macc. 10:6). Josephus, who mentions the eighth day (Anti. iii. x. 4), calls this feast ἑορτὴ σφόδρὰ παρὰ τοῖς Ἑβραίοις ἁγιωτάτη καὶ μεγίστη (Anti. viii. iv. i), thus marking its important place in Jewish life, it being, pre-eminently, the Feast of the Jews. For the ritual observed, see on 7:37 and 8:12.


For the phrase ἡ ἑορτὴ τῶν Ἰουδαίων, see on 2:13.

3. For the “brethren of Jesus,” see on 2:12. They were older than He was, and this may explain their venturing to offer Him advice as to His conduct. The discussion between them and Him, which is reported vv. 3-8, could only have been known to one who was in intimate relations with the family; and there could be no motive for setting it down in narrative, if it had not actually taken place.

μετάβηθι ἐντεῦθεν, “depart hence”: μεταβαίνειν is used 13:1 of departing from this world, and metaphorically 5:24, 1 John 3:14.


καὶ ὕπαγε (a favourite word with Jn.; see on v. 33) εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν, ἵνα καὶ οἱ μαθηταί σου θεωρήσουσιν τὰ ἔργα σου ἅ ποιεῖς. The advice seems to have been ironical, for they go on to express doubts about His alleged “works,” saying εἰ ταῦτα ποιεῖς, “if you do such things.” The suggestion is that the rumour of these ἔργα was confined to Galilee, and that if He were to establish His reputation in Judæ, it would be desirable that His disciples there should have an opportunity of seeing what He could do.

We have already heard of many disciples in Judæa (2:23, 4:1); indeed, it was because their number excited the jealousy of the Pharisees that He had left Judæa on a former occasion (4:3). But there was little of miracle there on His last visit; the cure of the impotent man is not described as a “sign,” and it had attracted attention rather because it had been wrought on a Sabbath day, than because of its marvellousness (5:5f.; and cf. 7:21, where see note). The “works” to which the brethren of Jesus make reference here are those of Galilee, perhaps the Miracle of Cana (2:1f.) or the Healing of the Nobleman’s Son and other sick folk (4:46f., 6:2), or the Feeding of the Five Thousand (6:5f.), or more probably healings wrought between His departure from Jerusalem and His going up again for the Feast of Tabernacles (vv. 1, 14), i.e. during the summer of the year 28. Nothing is told about them by Jn., but the words τὰ ἔργα σου ἅ ποιεῖς, “the works which you are doing,” suggest that the reference is not to anything that He had done months before the date of the conversation, but to quite recent events. And, as has been suggested on v. 1, some of the Galilæan miracles recorded by the Synoptists may be placed at this period in the ministry as narrated by Jn.

The allusion to the μαθηταί here cannot be to the Twelve, for they had been witnesses of many of the wonderful things that Jesus had done, and were already convinced of the truth of His claims. Nor can the allusion be to the Galilæan disciples who were disheartened by the difficulty of His teaching and left Him on a former occasion (6:66), for they would not be in the way of seeing miracles wrought at Jerusalem, whither His brethren advised Him to transfer His activities. We conclude, then, that the μαθηταί whom His brethren suggested He should confirm in their allegiance by displays of His power, were those in Judæa and at Jerusalem. If, indeed, He was to succeed in the Mission for which He claimed the highest sanctions, He must convince Jerusalem. And His brethren were right in the view they took of this. They did not accept His claims, as yet at any rate (v. 5), but they understood clearly that it was at the Holy City that they must either be proved or disproved.

θεωρήσουσιν: So אcB*DLNW, although ἵνα with the future indic. is rare in Jn. (cf. 17:2). א* has θεωροῦσιν, and ΓΔΘ read θεωρήσωσιν.

B places σου before τὰ ἔργα, but om. א*D.

4. The principle laid down by the brethren of Jesus is sound, sc. that no one who seeks public recognition can afford to keep his deeds a secret. οὐδεὶς γάρ τι ἐν κρυπτῷ ποιεῖ καὶ ζητεῖ αὐτὸς ἐν παρρησίᾳ εἶναι, “No one does anything in secret, and (at the same time) himself seeks to be in the public eye.”

καί is used like καίτοι (see on 1:10).

For αὐτός BD*W have αὐτό, through misunderstanding. παρρησία (from πᾶν ῥῆμα) expresses primarily a complete openness and freedom of speech (cf. Mark 8:32, the only place where the word occurs in the Synoptics), and in this sense it is a favourite word with John 7:13; John 7:26John 7:26; John 10:24John 10:24; John 16:25John 16:25; John 16:29John 16:29; John 18:20John 18:20 (where ἐν κρυπτῷ and ἐν παρρησίᾳ are again contrasted). It is thus, according to Proverbs 1:20, that Wisdom speaks: ἐν πλατείαις παρρησίαν ἄγει. The word then comes to connote intrepidity or courage; and it is used in 1 John 2:28, 1 John 3:21, 1 John 4:17, 1 John 5:14 of boldness in man’s attitude to God (cf. Job 27:10).

In this passage ἐν παρρησίᾳ εἶναι signifies “to be boldly in public view,” as in 11:54, where we have οὐκέτι παρρησίᾳ περιεπάτει ἐν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις; cf. Wisd. 5:1, Colossians 2:15. What the brethren of Jesus suggest is that to hide Himself in Galilee is incompatible with the claim for public recognition, as One sent by God, which He makes for Himself.


εἰ ταῦτα ποιεῖς, “if you do these things,” sc. the wonderful works with which rumour associated His name. The brethren do not express definite unbelief, but they are sceptical.

φανέρωσου σεαυτὸν τῷ κόσμῳ, “show thyself to the world,” i.e. to the great public at Jerusalem (cf. v. 7), where multitudes would be gathered at the Feast of Tabernacles. The wider meaning of κόσμας (see on 1:9) cannot be intended, as present to the minds of the brethren of Jesus. For φανερόω, see on 1:31; and cf. 14:22.

5. οὐδὲ γάρ οἱ�Mark 3:21, Matthew 12:46, Matthew 13:57).


6. λέγει οὖν. So אcBLNΓΔΘ, but om. οὖν א*DW and syrr. For οὖν in Jn., see on 1:22.

ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ἐμὸς οὔπω πάρεστιν, “my time is not yet come.” καιρός is a word which Jn. uses only in this passage; it stands for the moment of opportunity, the fitting occasion, rather than for the “predestined hour” (ὥρα), on which the Fourth Gospel dwells with such insistence (see on 2:4). The fitting time had not yet come, Jesus says in reply to the suggestion, “reveal Thyself to the world” (v. 4); and by this is meant not the hour of His Passion, but rather the best time for that public manifestation of Himself as Messiah, which He would make when He went up to the Feast of Tabernacles (v. 8). Such public declaration was made, when He did go up: cf. vv. 29, 33, 8:12, 28 etc.

ὁ δὲ καιρὸς ὁ ὑμέτερος πάντοτέ ἐστιν ἕτοιμος. Their case was different from His. It did not matter when they went up to the feast; it was one of strict obligation, but the exact day on which they would present themselves in Jerusalem was of no consequence, provided that they attended. Any day would be a fitting day (καιρός) for them to arrive, for they would not be received with hostility, but rather with indifference.

7. οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μισεῖν ὑμᾶς, “the world (see on v. 4) cannot hate you,” ὑμᾶς being emphatic. We have adopted (see on 2:12) the ancient belief that “the Lord’s brethren” were children of Joseph by his first wife, and were not numbered among the Twelve. The language of this verse shows, at any rate, that Jn. did not regard them as members of that select company, for it assumes that there was no reason why they should be regarded with disfavour by the Jews who were hostile to Jesus, as His accredited followers would certainly be (cf. 15:18).

ἐμὲ δὲ μισεῖ. Cf. 15:18, 23, 24. The κόσμος which “hates” Jesus is that world which Jn. describes as lying in wickedness, 1 John 5:19 (see on 1:9). But here the reference is only to the hostile Jews, as appears from the words which follow.


ὅτι ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ πονηρά ἐστιν. He had denounced the Jews recently, and had said that their unbelief was due to moral causes (5:42-45), wherefore they hated Him. Such denunciation was a form of His “witness” to the truth (cf. 18:37). See on 3:19, where the phrase ἦν αὐτῶν πονηρὰ τὰ ἔργα has already appeared.

8. ὑμεῖς�

As might have been expected, the gossip of the crowds was partly favourable, partly hostile. Some said�Mark 10:18). Others said πλανᾷ τὸν ὄχλον, “He leads the people astray,” probably with allusion to His healing on the Sabbath day at the previous Passover season, and His claim to Divine prerogatives (5:18); cf. v. 47.


For τὸν ὄχλον, the Leicester cursive 69 has τοὺς ὄχλους, an eccentric reading which would hardly call for notice were it not that the Vulgate, in common with the O.L. ef, has turbas. This is one of the instances in which Jerome has been supposed to have used Greek manuscripts no longer extant.

13. οὐδεὶς μέντοι παρρησίᾳ ἐλάλει περὶ αὐτοῦ. For παρρησία, see on v. 4; and for παρρησίᾳ λαλεῖν, cf. 7:26, 16:29, 18:20.

διὰ τὸν φόβον τῶν Ἰουδαίων. The phrase is repeated 19:38, 20:19, in both cases, as here, the reference being to the ecclesiastical authorities who terrorised the people; cf. 9:22, 12:42. The common people were afraid to express any opinion in favour of Jesus, recollecting that, on His last visit, “the Jews” had been anxious to put Him to death (5:18).

Jesus Teaches in the Temple: He Attracts the People, But the Sanhedrim Seek His Arrest (Vv. 14, 25-36)

14. ἤδη δὲ τῆς ἑορτῆς μεσούσης κτλ., “When the feast was half over.” The Feast of Tabernacles lasted for eight days (see on v. 2), so that this note of time (see Introd., p. cii, for Jn.’s liking for such notes) means that it was about the fourth day of the feast that Jesus presented Himself publicly in the Temple. The verb μεσοῦν is not found again in the N.T., but it occurs in the LXX; cf. μεσούσης τῆς νύκτος (Exodus 12:29, Judith 12:5).

ἀνέβη Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὸ ἱερόν. The Temple was on a hill, so that�Luke 18:10). The art. ὁ is omitted before Ἰησοῦς here by אBLT, appearing in DNWΓΔΘ (but see on 1:29).


καὶ ἐδίδασκεν, “and began to teach”; cf. v. 28, 8:20; 18:20. This is the first notice of the public teaching of Jesus in Jerusalem, as distinct from the answers to objectors recorded in c. 5.

7:15. We have given above (see Introd., p. xix) the reasons for taking vv. 15-24 of c.7 as following directly on 5:47. Jesus has appealed to the γράμματα of Moses as establishing His claims, and had probably (see on 5:47) quoted specific passages, commenting on them as He went along. This amazed the Jewish leaders, who had thought that such learning was confined to those trained in the Rabbinical schools, and they had never heard of Jesus as a disciple of any prominent Rabbi.

ἐθαύμαζον οὖν, “So they began to express wonder”; cf. v. 46 and Mark 12:17, Luke 2:47, Luke 4:22.

πῶς οὗτος γράμματα οἶδεν μὴ μεμαθηκώς; It was not so much the wisdom of His words that astonished them as His knowledge of the Jewish writings, which probably included the Rabbinical traditions that had gathered round the Old Testament, as well as the Old Testament itself. In Isaiah 29:12 μὴ ἐπιστάμενος γράμματα means a man who cannot read, an “illiterate.” For�Acts 4:13, see Introd., p. xxxvi. But in the present passage, μὴ μεμαθηκώς seems to mean rather “not having been the μαθητής of a recognised teacher.” The tradition of His scribbling upon the ground [8:6] shows that Jesus was not illiterate in the strict sense; and it is unlikely that this would have been suggested by the Jewish Rabbis who had engaged in controversy with Him.

16. Ἡ ἐμὴ διδαχὴ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐμή κτλ. Here only does Jesus call His message διδαχή, a “teaching”; it is a significant word, as He is now dealing with the professional διδασκάλοι. That His teaching is not His own, but the Father’s, is repeated often (8:28, 12:49, 14:10, 24); and this has already been said in effect at 5:30. διδαχή occurs again in Jn. only at 18:19; cf. 2 John 1:9, 2 John 1:10.

The answer of Jesus to the Jews’ objection that He had never learnt from a recognised Rabbi is remarkable. He does not say (which might seem to us the natural answer) that He needed no Master. Indeed, Mk. reports that it was a feature of His teaching to the multitudes that it was given “with authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22), i.e. that He appealed in His popular teaching to no Rabbinical precedents; and the Synoptic discourses sufficiently illustrate this. But in Son_5 and 7:15-24 we have the report of a long-drawn-out argument with the Rabbis, and it is conducted throughout (see on 5:31) in the style of the Jewish schools. If Jesus had said, in reply to their implied question “Whose disciple are you?” that He was no man’s disciple, but that He spoke of His own authority, they would at once have told Him that He was an


impostor and adventurer. But, exactly as at 5:31, He follows their line of thought. He does not claim to be self-taught, which would only have aroused contemptuous indignation; but He claims that His teacher was the Father who had sent Him, as He had said so often before (cf. especially 5:36-38).

17. ἐάν τις θέλῃ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ ποιεῖν κτλ., “If any man set his will (θέλῃ, is expressive of deliberate purpose) to do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, etc.” The Synoptic form of this saying is to the effect that it is only the man who does God’s will who can enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21). That right conduct is a necessary preliminary to accurate belief about Divine things, and conversely that the cause of unbelief is often a moral cause, are propositions which are repeated frequently in Jn. They are specially pressed in this controversy with the Jewish leaders. Jesus had claimed that He sought, not His own will, but τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντός με (5:30); and He goes on to suggest that it is just because this could not be said of the Rabbis that they had failed to accept His Divine mission. It is their moral nature that is at fault (5:38, 42). Cf. for similar teaching 8:31, 32, 47, 14:21; it is all summed up in the tremendous assertion, “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (18:37). Cf. Psalms 25:14.

πότερον ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἑστιν ἢ ἐγώ κτλ. The classical constr. πότερον … ἢ … occurs only here in the N.T. πότερον is found again in the Greek Bible only in the Book of Job (cf., e.g., Job 7:12).

ἐκ θεοῦ is the reading of אD, but BLTWΘ have ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, which is the regular Johannine form (1 John 4:1, 1 John 4:2, 1 John 4:3, 1 John 4:4, 1 John 4:6, 1 John 4:7).


That Jesus did not “speak from Himself” is repeated 12:49, 14:10, al. it is also said of the Spirit, “He shall not speak from Himself” (16:13). Jesus, again and again, repudiates the idea that He does or says anything apart from the Father (cf. 5:30, 7:28; and see 8:28). The repeated disclaimer of originality for His teaching is foreign to modern habits of thought. But originality, or departure from precedent, or the idea that there is any merit in being self-taught, were all equally distasteful to Jewish scholasticism.

18. ὁ�Romans 2:8, 1 Corinthians 13:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:12).


For the emphatic use of οὗτος, cf. 6:46.

The special form of�

Psalms 40:8 provides a parallel for the sequence of thought, vv. 17-19, which perhaps is fortuitous:


τοῦ ποιῆσαι τὸ θέλημά σου, ὁ θεός μου, ἐβουλήθην,

καὶ τὸν νόμον σου ἐν μεσῷ τῆς καρδίας μου.

In Psalms 40:8 τὸν νόμον σου in the second line corresponds, after the fashion of Hebrew poetry, to τὸ θελημά σου in the first line. The argument, implied but not explicitly stated, of vv. 17-19, is that if a man does not will to do God’s will, he has not God’s law in his heart, and does not keep it.


19. οὐ Μωϋσῆς ἔδωκεν (so BD; אLT ΓΔNWΘ have δέδωκεν) ὑμῖν τὸν νόμον; Moses gave the Law in all its bearings for a Jew (see on 1:19), but here the reference is specially to the Mosaic law of the Sabbath (v. 23). Jesus turns their appeal to the authority of Moses against themselves, as at 5:46.

καὶ (καὶ being used for καίτοι, as at 5:38, 40; see on 1:10) οὐδεὶς ἐξ ὑμῶν (cf. 16:5, 17:12: Mark 11:1, Luke 14:24 preferring to omit ἐκ in similar constructions; cf. 13:28, 21:12, and see on 1:40) ποιεῖ τὸν νόμον. No one, He urges, keeps the Mosaic law of the Sabbath with minute scrupulosity in all circumstances, and He goes on to mention an admitted exception (v. 23).


τί με ζητεῖτε�

δαιμόνιον ἔχεις. The same thing was said of John the Baptist, as an explanation of his asceticism (Matthew 11:18); and later on, Jn. records that the Jewish leaders, or some of them, accused Jesus of being possessed with a demon (8:48, 49, 10:20; cf. Mark 3:22). But here it is the people who say “Thou hast a demon,” meaning not to impute moral blame but mental infirmity. It is a well-known sign of insanity to believe that other people are in league against one. “Who seeks to kill you?” It is only your disordered imagination which makes you suspect it (cf. Mark 3:21). See Introd., p. clxxvii.


21. Jesus does not answer the insulting suggestion that He is out of His mind. He goes back to His statement that no Jew keeps the Sabbatical law after a fashion which admits of no exception.

ἓν ἔργον ἐποίησα καὶ πάντες θαυμάζετε. This has generally been interpreted as meaning, “I did one miracle, and you all marvel.” But such a pronouncement is not in harmony with the context. Nothing has been said throughout 5:1-47 or 7:15-24 to indicate that the observers, whether the simple folk or the Jewish leaders, had seen anything extraordinary in the cure of the impotent man, or had expressed any wonder. Indeed, 5:20 suggests that “greater works” would be necessary, if their wonder was to be aroused. Nor, again, would an appeal made by Jesus at this point to the miraculous nature of what He had done be apposite to the argument which He is developing. That argument has to do with one point only, sc. His alleged breach of the Sabbath; and it would be no answer to the charge of breaking the Sabbath to tell His critics that what He had done had been miraculous, and to remind them that they had been astonished.

We have seen above (5:20) that Jn. frequently speaks of the wonderful works of Jesus as His ἔργα; but there is no instance of a specific miracle being referred to as ἔργον in the singular (as σημεῖον is used, 4:54), unless 10:32 be regarded as an exception: πολλὰ καλὰ ἔργα ἔδειξα ὑμῖν … διὰ ποῖον αὐτῶν ἔργον λιθάζετέ με; ἔργον in the sing. occurs again in Jn. only at 4:34, 17:4 (of the work which the Father prescribes to the Son) and at 6:29 (of the work which God desires of man).

Furthermore, stress is laid here on the singularity of the “work” that has been “done” by Jesus. “I did one work.” But in the course of the preceding argument He had appealed to the “works,” in the plural, which bore witness to His claims (5:36, where see note). There would be no point in now singling out one ἔργον only, as having excited wonder because of its extraordinary character; and it would be surprising if that one were singled out, of which it is not recorded that it caused any astonishment.

Accordingly we render ἓν ἔργον ἐποίησα, “I did one work,” sc. of labour, and interpret it as having reference to the matter originally in dispute, sc. that He had broken the Sabbath.1 The law was, πᾶς ὃς ποιήσει ἔργον τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἐβδόμῃ, θανατωθήσεται (Exodus 31:15, Exodus 35:2). Jesus admits, in terms, that He has broken this law on the particular occasion to which His critics refer. ἓν ἔργον ἐποίησα κτλ., “I did one work,” sc. on the Sabbath, “and you are all astonished,” θαυμάζειν indicating that they were puzzled, as at 3:7, 4:27. Their astonishment was not caused by the extraordinary nature of the cure, but by the circumstance that Jesus had ventured to cure the man on a Sabbath day.

We take θαυμάζετε with διὰ τοῦτο which follows: “you are all astonished by this.” Cf. ἐθαύμασεν διὰ τὴν�Mark 6:6), where the reason of astonishment is indicated by διά with the acc., as here. διὰ τοῦτο is often used by Jn. in relation to what follows (see on 5:16); while the more common usage, in accordance with which it relates to what has gone before, is also adopted several times in the Gospel (see on 9:23), although there is no other instance in Jn. Of διὰ τοῦτο coming at the end of a sentence.


The tendency of the versions is to take διὰ τοῦτο as beginning the next sentence: “Therefore Moses, etc.” But, in that case, διὰ τοῦτο is difficult to interpret, and involves a very elliptical construction. It would mean “For this very cause, Moses gave you the ordinance of circumcision, knowing that it would conflict with the strict law of the Sabbath; sc. in order that he might teach you that the Sabbatical precepts admit of exceptions and are not always to be enforced literally.” This would give a tolerable sense, but it strains the force of διὰ τοῦτο too far, and introduces a very subtle reason (not suggested elsewhere) for the rule that circumcision must always be on the eighth day after birth. It is simpler to take πάντες θαυμάζετε διὰ τοῦτο as one sentence, “You are all astonished at this act of mine.”

א* Omits διὰ τοῦτο, thus cutting the knot of the difficulty by treating the words as a later gloss.

22. Μωϋσῆς δέδωκεν ὑμῖν τὴν περιτομή. περιτομή does not occur elsewhere in the Gospels; but we have περιτέμνειν (Luke 1:59, Luke 2:21). The ordinance of circumcision on the eighth day after birth is re-enacted, Leviticus 12:3.

οὐχ ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ Μωϋσέως ἐστὶν�Genesis 17:10, Genesis 21:4, Acts 7:8). For τῶν πατέρων, see on 6:58.


καὶ ἐν σαββάτῳ κτλ. B om. ἐν, but ins. אDLTΘW (cf. 5:16).

Even if the eighth day after the birth of the child fell on a Sabbath, the act of circumcision was performed. Lightfoot (Hor. Hebr. in loc.) cites the Rabbinical rule: “Rabbi Akiba saith, ‘Work that may be done on the eve of the Sabbath must not be done on the Sabbath, but circumcision … may be done on the Sabbath.’”1

Justin uses the argument of the text in the Dialogue with Trypho (§ 27), appealing to the injunction to circumcise on the Sabbath.

23. εἰ περιτομήν κτλ. “If a man receives circumcision on a sabbath, in order that the law of Moses (sc. the law relating to circumcision, Leviticus 12:3) may not be broken, are you angry with me because on a Sabbath I made the whole man healthy?” A somewhat similar idea appears in the Rabbinical writings: “Circumcision, which has to do with one member only, breaks the Sabbath; how much more the whole body of a man?”2 The contrast is between the treatment of one member, and of the whole body (ὅλον ἄνθρωπον). If the lesser thing is permitted, why not the greater? The argument is comparable with that of Matthew 12:11, Luke 13:15, by which a technical breach of the Sabbath is defended, but is unlike that of 5:17, where see the note.


For λύειν, of “breaking” a law, see on 5:18.

ὁ νόμος Μωϋσέως is a comprehensive term for the whole Jewish law, or for a particular enactment: cf. Luke 2:22, Luke 24:44, Acts 15:5 (this passage referring to the law of circumcision), 1 Corinthians 9:9 etc. λύειν is used at 5:18 of breaking the law of the Sabbath. The word ὑγιής goes back to 5:9, 14.

24. μὴ κρίνετε κατʼ ὄψιν, “do not judge by looks,” i.e. superficially, the too frequent weakness of the Pharisees, which is rebuked again ὑμεῖς κατὰ τὴν σάρκα κρίνετα (8:15). Cf. Isaiah 11:3 οὐ κατὰ τὴν δόξαν κρινεῖ, and 2 Corinthians 10:7. ὄψις occurs again in the N.T. only at 11:44 and Revelation 1:16, and then in the sense of “face.”

ἀλλὰ τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν κρίνατε, “but judge righteous judgment,” i.e. be fair. The expression is used of the judgments of God, Tob. 3:2. Cf. also Zechariah 7:9 κρίμα δίκαιον κρίνατε. The constr. κρίσιν κρινειν is common (Isaiah 11:4) and is also classical (Plato, Rep. 360 E).


25. The section introduced by v. 14, and then including vv. 25-36, has no reference to the Sabbatical Controversy.1 The discussion about the breach of the Sabbath by Jesus, begun in c. 5, and ending with 7:15-24, is not continued on this visit to Jerusalem, which took place some months after the former one (see on 7:1). About the fourth day of the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (7:14) Jesus began to teach publicly in the Temple, and His teaching attracted the attention of the citizens, who began to ask themselves if He might not be the Messiah after all, although the Jewish leaders were seeking to arrest and silence Him (7:25-27). At this point, Jesus declares openly that His mission is from God, and that in a short time He will return to Him (7:28-33). His strange language about Himself disconcerts the Pharisees, who say scornful words (7:35, 36), but they do not arrest Him on this occasion.

Some of the Jews were impressed by the public teaching now begun (v. 14). τινες ἐκ τῶν Ἱροσολυμειτῶν, sc. the inhabitants of Jerusalem, as distinct from the multitudes of country folk who had come up for the feast. The term Ἱεροσολυμεῖται is found in N.T. only here and Mark 1:5 (cf. 4 Macc. 4:22, 18:5).


The Vulgate has ex Hierosolymis here instead of ex Hierosolymitanis, which the Oxford editors suggest may be due to the use by Jerome of some Greek text now lost. But Hierosolymitanis appears in d f q as Hierosolymitis, from which the transition is easy to Hierosolymis.

These shrewd townsmen were surprised that their religious leaders were seeking the death of One who spoke with such power. With ὅν ζητοῦσιν�

μή ποτε is not used elsewhere by Jn. Cf. its similar use in Luke 3:15, where the people are wondering about John the Baptist, μή ποτε αὐτὸς εἴη ὁ Χριστός. So here: “Can it be that the rulers in truth know that this is the Christ?” οἱ ἄρχοντες describes generally the members of the Sanhedrim (for the constitution of which, see below on v. 32). Cf. v. 48, 3:1, 12:42; and see Luke 23:13, Luke 23:35, Luke 23:24:20.


The rec. ins.�

τοῦτον οἴδαμεν πόθεν ἐστίν, “this man, we know whence he is.” Cf. 6:42, where “the Jews” said that they knew the family of Jesus. There was no mystery about Him now, as they thought. Many people knew His home at Nazareth (Matthew 13:55). Presumably His disciples were with Him hence forward.


ὁ δὲ Χριστός ὅταν ἔρχηται, οὐδεὶς γινώσκει πόθεν ἐστίν. The birthplace of Messiah was held to be known, sc. Bethlehem (see on v. 42), but all else as to the time or the manner of His Advent was believed to be hidden. Westcott quotes a Rabbinical saying, “Three things come wholly unexpected—Messiah, a godsend, and a scorpion” (Sanhedr. 97a). The phrase “will be revealed” used of His appearance, 2 Esd. 7:28, 13:32, and in Apocalypse of Baruch xxix. 3, suggests (as Charles has pointed out) an emergence from concealment; and with this agrees the Jewish doctrine described in Justin, Tryph. 110, “They say that He has not yet come … and that even if He has come, it is not known who He is (οὐ γινώσκεται ὅς ἐστιν), but that when He has become manifest and glorious then it shall be known who He is.” At an earlier point (Tryph. 8) the Jewish interlocutor says of the Christ, “If He be born and is anywhere, He is unknown, and does not even know Himself (ἄγνωστός ἐστι καὶ οὐδὲ αὐτός πω ἑαυτὸν ἐπίσταται), nor has He any power until Elijah having come anoints Him and makes Him manifest to all.” These passages show that the evangelist accurately reports here the Jewish doctrine as to the mysterious emergence of Messiah from obscurity.

ἔρχηται. So BDLTW; אD*NΘ have ἔρχεται. ὅταν with the pres. subj. is rare in Jn. (cf. 8:44, 16:21), although not uncommon elsewhere (e.g. Mark 12:25, Mark 13:4, Luke 11:2, Luke 11:21).

28. ἔκραξεν. κράζειν is used only once in the Synoptists of Christ’s utterances, viz. Matthew 27:50, where it is applied to the cry from the Cross. Jn. does not so apply it, but it is used by him three times to describe public and solemn announcements of doctrine by Jesus (7:37, 12:44; cf. also 1:15, where it is used of the Baptist’s proclamation). Cf. ἐκραύγασεν, 11:43.

ἐκραξεν οὖν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ διδάσκων …, “So then (οὖν, in reply to the scepticism displayed by His audience) Jesus cried aloud, as He was teaching in the temple” (cf. v. 14). There was nothing secret about this teaching (cf. 18:20 and Matthew 26:55).


κἀμὲ οἴδατε καὶ οἴδατε πόθεν εἰμί. This is not ironical or interrogative, but affirmative. It was true that they knew Him and His family (v. 27), but there was more to know. There is no inconsistency with 8:14, where see note.

καὶ�

ὅν ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε. Despite the fact that the Jews “knew what they worshipped” (4:22), they did not know God’s character and purposes, and this scathing rebuke is addressed to them again (8:19, 55). That it might be said of heathen was not surprising (Galatians 4:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:5, 2 Thessalonians 1:8), and the persecutions of Christians in the future were mainly to spring from this ignorance (cf. 15:21); but here the sting of the words “whom ye know not,” is that they were addressed to Jews, the chosen people.


29. After ἐγώ, אDN add δέ; but om. BLTWΓΔΘ.

ἐγὼ οἴδα αὐτόν. This is repeated verbally 8:55, and again at 17:25 in the form ἐγὼ δέ σε ἔγνων. These three words contain the unique claim of Jesus, which is pressed all through the chapters of controversy with the Jews. But it is not more explicit, although it is more frequently expressed, in Jn. than in Matthew 11:27, Luke 10:22.


ὅτι παρʼ αὐτοῦ εἰμι, “because I am from Him.” See on 6:46 for similar phrases in Jn., which imply a community of being between the Father and the Son (cf. 1:14 and 16:27, 28).

κἀκεῖνός με�

πιάζειν, to “take,” is not found in the Synoptists; Jn. uses it again vv. 32, 44, 8:20, 10:39, 11:57 of “arresting” Jesus (cf. Acts 12:4, 2 Corinthians 11:32), and at 21:3, 10 of “catching” fish.

καὶ οὐδὲς ἐπέβαλεν ἐπʼ αὐτὸν τὴν χεῖρα, “and yet (καί being used for καίτοι, as often in Jn.; see on 1:10) no one laid his hand on Him,” the ecclesiastical authorities, no doubt, fearing to arrest one who had won attention from the people (cf. Matthew 21:46). These words are repeated almost verbatim at v. 44 τινὲς δὲ ἤθελον ἐξ αὐτῶν πιάσαι αὐτόν,�


Jn. is at pains to bring out at every point that the persecution and death of Jesus followed a predestined course. The Jews could not hasten the hour determined in the Divine purpose, and so the evangelist adds here, ὅτι οὔπω ἐληλύθει ἡ ὥρα αὐτοῦ, the same words being added in a similar context at 8:20 (cf. vv. 6, 8; and see on 2:4).

31. ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου δὲ πολλοὶ ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτόν. Those who “believed on Him” (see for the phrase on 4:39) were of the common people rather than of the upper classes (cf. vv. 48, 49). See 9:16.

καὶ ἔλεγον κτλ., “and they were saying, When the Christ shall come, will He do more signs than this man did?” (cf. Matthew 12:23). Jesus had not yet told them plainly that He was Messiah (10:24).


After ἔλεγον the rec. ins. ὅτι recitantis, but om. אBDLWΘ. After ὅταν ἔλθῃ the rec. has μήτι, but the better reading is μή (אBDLTW). After σημεῖα the rec. has τούτων, but om. אBDLTNWΘ. For ἐποίησεν (אcBLTNW), א*DΘ and some vss. have ποιεῖ.

πλείονα σημεῖα. Jn. does not profess to tell of all the “signs” which Jesus wrought, but he alludes here (and at 2:23) to some which he has left undescribed.

πλείονα σημεῖα ποιήσει; Messiah was expected to be a miracle worker. The prophet had declared that in His kingdom “the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing” (Isaiah 35:5, Isaiah 35:6). A corresponding expectation of Messianic “signs” is found in the Synoptists as well as in Jn. Thus John the Baptist is stimulated to inquire further when he hears of “the works of the Christ” (Matthew 11:2; cf. Luke 7:18); and one of the difficulties in the way of detecting “false Christs” is to be their power of showing “signs and wonders,” which were a note of the true Messiah (Mark 13:22). It was because Bartimæus recognised Jesus as “the Son of David” that he believed He could restore his sight (Mark 10:48).

It is therefore a mistake to speak1 of the Messianic significance of miracles as a Johannine peculiarity; it appears also in the Synoptists, although more conspicuously in Jn. (cf. 2:23 4:19). The evangelist is true to the historical situation when he notes that the Jews expected “signs” from Messiah, as indeed they did from any one claiming to be a prophet (2:18, 3:2, 6:14, 9:17; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:22). And the aim of the Fourth Gospel is to record selected “signs” of Jesus with the express purpose of proving Him to be the Christ (20:31).


32. οἱ φαρισαῖοι: see on 1:24. The Pharisees had heard the whispered talk of the people (cf. v. 12), and they determined to silence Jesus. Accordingly they brought the matter before the Sanhedrim, so that measures might be taken for His arrest.

The Sanhedrim (συνέδριον) was the supreme council or high court of justice in Jerusalem during the period of the Roman occupation, and successive procurators left the administration of the law for the most part in its hands. It had no power to carry into execution a sentence of death, but it was the uniform policy of the Roman administration to support its authority. Three classes of members may be distinguished: (1) The�Matthew 27:62), although the chief priests appear as the principal agents. Cf. 11:49.

ἀπέστειλαν οἱ�Matthew 21:45, Matthew 27:62), and the combination stands for the Sanhedrim as an organised council or court. They now sent officers of the Sanhedrim, or, as we might say, “Temple police” (ὑπηρέτας; cf. v. 45, 18:3, 12, 18, 19:6), to make the arrest, which some of them had been seeking (ἐζήτουν, v. 30) to bring about.


33. εἶπεν οὖν ὁ Ἰη. If we press the causative force of οὖν, the meaning is that Jesus said that He would be only among them a little while longer, so that there was nothing to be gained by arresting Him. οὖν, however (see on 1:22), is not always to be rendered “therefore,” and may be only a conjunction, “and so.”

The rec. adds αὐτοῖς after οὖν, but om. אBDLNWΘ.

ἔτι χρόνον μικρόν κτλ. The end of His ministry was near, and He knew it; it would come in “a little while”—in fact in about six months. The phrase μικρὸν χρόνον (or μικρόν alone) is repeatedly on His lips henceforth, according to Jn. (12:35, 13:33, 14:19, 16:16). Cf 9:4.

The rec. has μικρὸν χρόνον (DNΓΔ), but אBLTWΘ give the order. χρ. μικρ.

καὶ ὑπάγω πρὸς τὸν πέμψαντά με. The words are repeated 16:5. For the phrase “Him that sent me,” frequent in Jn., see on 3:17. This was a saying of mystery, and the Jews could not understand it.

ὑπάγειν is a favourite verb with Jn., and it is often used in the Gospel of Jesus “going to God” (cf. 8:14, 21, 13:3, 33, 36, 14:4, 5, 28, 16:5, 10, 17). It means strictly “to depart,” and so is specially appropriate of the withdrawal of Christ’s visible presence from among men, and His “going to the Father” or “going home.” See on 15:16, 16:7; and cf. Mark 14:21 ὁ μὲν υἱὸς τοῦ�


34. ζητήσετε. This is certainly the true text, only two MSS., II and 69, reading ζητεῖτε. None the less, the Vulgate has quaeritis, this being one of the renderings which suggest to some that Jerome followed a type of Greek manuscript of which we know little.1

With vv. 33, 34, must be compared at every point 8:21 and 13:33.

ζητήσετέ με καὶ οὐχ εὑρήσετε. BTN add μέ after εὑρήσετε:om. אDLWΓΔΘ. “Seek and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7) is the promise of Jesus; but the seeking may be so long delayed that the promise cannot be claimed. Cf. Luke 17:22 and Proverbs 1:28. So, here, the warning is of the danger of delay. “Ye shall seek me,” sc. (not, as at v. 30, to kill me, but) as the Messiah for your deliverance, “and ye shall not find,” for Jesus will not be present in the body, as He was then.


καὶ ὅπου εἰμὶ ἐγώ κτλ., “and where I am,” sc. in my essential being, in the spiritual world, “you cannot come.” There is no contradiction between μεθʼ ὑμῶν εἰμί of v. 33 and this statement; for the former only asserted His visible, bodily presence, whereas the latter (εἰμὶ ἐγώ) spoke of His spiritual home. This can be shared only by those who are in spiritual touch with Him (12:26, 17:24), as the Jews were not (cf. 8:21). Even His disciples, as He reminded them later, could not follow Him to the heavenly places while they were still in the body (13:33, 36).

35. εἶπον οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι πρὸς ἑαυτούς, “the Jews said among themselves,” i.e. the Jewish leaders or Pharisees of v. 32.

ποῦ οὗτος μέλλει πορεύεσθαι; “Where is this person (οὗτος suggesting contempt) about to go?” They did not understand what Jesus had said (vv. 33, 34) in words of mystery. μέλλειν here only indicates simple futurity (see on 6:71 for Jn.’s use of this verb).

ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐχ εὑρήσομεν αὐτόν. They speak ironically, feeling that it will be impossible for Him to escape them. ἡμεῖς is omitted by אD, but ins. BLTNΔΓΘ. Cf. 8:22.

μὴ εἰς τὴν διασπορὰν τῶν Ἑλλήνων κτλ., “Will He go to the Dispersion of the Greeks?” i.e. to the Jews who lived among Greek populations. Jews who lived out of Palestine were the διασπορὰ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ (Psalms 147:2, Isaiah 49:6), and the term is often applied to them (cf. Isaiah 11:12, Isaiah 56:8, Zephaniah 3:10, Jeremiah 15:7, etc.). In 1 Peter 1:1 (where see Hort’s note), we have διασπορὰ Πόντου, Ἀσίας, etc., the place of their residence being thus indicated. So here, ἡ διασπορὰ τῶν Ἑλλήνων is “the Dispersion among the Greeks.”


καὶ διδάσκειν τοὺς Ἕλληνας; “and teach the Greeks,” i.e. the heathen Greeks themselves, among whom the Jews of the Dispersion lived. (See on 12:20 for Ἕλληνες as indicating Greek proselytes, which is not the meaning here.)

The Palestinian Jews of the stricter sort looked down on the Jews of the Dispersion and despised all Gentiles. There is, then, something contemptuous in their suggestion that Jesus may be contemplating a journey to foreign parts, where He may make disciples of Hellenistic Jews or even of the Greeks themselves. It is an instance of the “irony” of the evangelist (see on 1:45) that he does not stay to make the obvious comment that what the Jewish critics of Jesus thought so absurd was afterwards accomplished by the first preachers of His gospel, which embraced both Greek and Jew.

36. Yet they are puzzled and uneasy, for they repeat His strange saying of v. 34 again: “What is this word which He said, You shall seek me and shall not find me, and where I am you cannot come?”

BDLNWΘ give ὁ λόγ. οὗτ., as against οὖτ. ὁ λόγ. of אΓΔ.

A Special Appeal to the People, Who are Divided in Opinion, to the Indignation of the Pharisees (Vv. 37-49)

37. Jesus seems to have continued His teaching daily, or at any rate continuously, in the Temple; and on the last day of the feast, He made a special and final appeal to His hearers to accept His message.

εἱστήκει1 ὁ Ἰησοῦς. Jesus, like other teachers, was accustomed to sit as He taught (see on 6:3); but at this point, to emphasise the momentousness of His words, He rose and cried out (see on 7:28 for ἔκραξεν, and cf. Proverbs 8:3, Proverbs 8:9:3, Proverbs 8:5), “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” Cf. Isaiah 55:1.


ἐρχέσθω πρός με. So אcBLNTWΘ, but א*D om. πρός με. Cf. 6:35.

“The last day, the great day, of the Feast” of Tabernacles was probably the eighth day (see on 7:2), on which were special observances. The ritual on each day, and probably on the eighth day also (although this seems to be uncertain), comprised an offering of water, perhaps (when the rite was initiated) symbolising abundance of rain to ensure a good crop at the next harvest. Rabbi Akiba says as much: “Bring the libation of water at the Feast of Tabernacles, that the showers may be blessed to thee. And accordingly it is said that whosoever will not come up to the Feast of Tabernacles shall have no rain.”1 At any rate, a golden vessel was filled with water from the Pool of Siloam, and the water was solemnly offered by the priest, the singers chanting, “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).


This water ceremonial may have suggested the words of Jesus: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.”

38. καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή κτλ. ἡ γραφή always indicates a specific passage in the O.T. (see on 2:22), although (cf. v. 42 below) the quotation may not always be exact. Here, the source of the quotation cannot be identified with certainty, although, as we shall see, the idea of v. 38 is scriptural. The fact that we cannot precisely fix the quotation makes for the genuineness of the reminiscence here recorded. A writer whose aim was merely to edify, and who did not endeavour to reproduce historical incidents, would not have placed in the mouth of Jesus a scriptural quotation which no one has ever been able to identify exactly.

The passage has been punctuated in various ways:

(1) Chrysostom confines the quotation to the words “he that believeth in me,” taking the rest of v. 38 as words of Jesus. Thus the “scripture” might be Isaiah 28:16, quoted in Romans 9:33 in the form ὁ πιστεύων ἐπʼ αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθήσεται. But this exegesis is a mere evasion of the difficulties.


(2) Some ancient Western authorities connect πινέτω with ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ which follows, putting a stop after ἐμέ: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and let him drink that believeth on me. As the Scripture saith, Out of His belly shall flow rivers of living water.” By this arrangement, αὐτοῦ is understood of Christ, not of the believer.

The colometry of the O.L. codices d and e would agree with this punctuation.2 The Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons3 has … τοῦ ὕδατος τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ ἐξιόντος ἐκ τῆς νηδύος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, Which takes αὐτοῦ as meaning Christ. So also Cyprian has “clamat dominus ut qui sitit ueniat et bibat de fluminibus aquae uiuae quae de eius uentre fluxerunt.”1 Many Western Fathers are cited to the same effect by Turner.2 Loisy and some other modern exegetes favour this view.

Burney held that this arrangement of clauses represented the sense, the Greek κοιλία being due to a misunderstanding of the underlying Aramaic, and a confusion of מְעִין “belly”(cf. Daniel 2:32) with מַעְיָן “fountain.” He rendered v. 38 accordingly, “As the scripture hath said, Rivers shall flow forth from the fountain of living waters,” the allusion being to Ezekiel 47:1. C. C. Torrey3 also appeals to the Aramaic, rendering “As the Scripture hath said, Out of the midst of her (i.e. Jerusalem) shall flow rivers of living water,” the reference being to Zechariah 14:8. These explanations are ingenious, but they do not disclose any exact citation from the O.T.

(3) We prefer the Eastern exegesis here. Origen is explicit in his reference of αὐτοῦ to the believer in Christ: εἰ γὰρ περὶ τοῦ πνεύματος εἴρηται ὡς ὕδωρ ζῶν ποταμῶν δίκην ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ πιστεύοντος …4 So, too, Cyril of Jerusalem (Cat. xvi. 2), Basil5 (in Psalms 46:4), and Athanasius (Festal Letters, ix. 7, 44.).6 That Christ is the ultimate source of living water, which represents the Spirit, is common to all interpretations; but these writers understand also that those who receive it from Him hand it on in their turn to others.7 So in the Odes of Solomon (vi.) we have Christ the χείμαρρος8 or torrent of living water spreading over the world, while the ministers of this draught of the Spirit relieve many. This is the Johannine doctrine of the Spirit, appearing again in another form at 20:23.

The reference of ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ to the believer is in strict correspondence with the earlier passage 4:10-14, where it is said of the water which Christ gives that it will be in the believer πηγὴ ὕδατος ἁλλομένου εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. The imagery of “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink,” goes back to Isaiah 55:1; and similarly (as at 4:14) the imagery of v. 38 goes back to Isaiah 58:11: “Thou shalt be like a spring of water whose waters fail not.” As we have seen on 4:14, this idea appears in many places in Hebrew literature, although the actual words cannot be traced. He who has drunk deep of the living waters which are the gift of Christ becomes himself, in his turn and in humbler measure, a fountain from which the water of life flows for the refreshment of others.

The κοιλία is regarded in the O.T. as the seat of man’s emotional nature (Proverbs 20:27). Water is often symbolic of the Divine Law (see on 4:10), and the Law is “in the heart” (Psalms 40:8) of Yahweh’s servant, or, as some LXX texts have it, ἐν μέσῳ τῆς κοιλίας μου.The Psalm goes on: “I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart, I have declared thy faithfulness” (Psalms 40:10). So again in Proverbs 18:4 we have: ὔδωρ βαθὺ λόγος ἐν καρδίᾳ�

The use of κοιλία is in accordance with the Semitic habit of expressing emphasis1 by mentioning some part of the body, e.g. “the mouth of Yahweh hath spoken it,” “His arm wrought salvation.” “Out of his belly” is only an emphatic way of saying “From him shall flow.” The living waters to the thought of the prophets (Zechariah 14:8. Ezekiel 47:1) flowed from a holy place, viz. Jerusalem; but here they are said to flow from a holy man, viz. one who has believed in Christ.


There is no difficulty in the construction, ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ being a suspended subject; cf. 15:5 ὁ μένων ἐν ἐμοί … οὖτος φέρει καρπόν, and see on 1:12.

39. τοῦτο δὲ εἶπεν περὶ τοῦ πνεύματος. We have here an explanatory comment by the evangelist on the words of Jesus which precede it; see, for similar comments, Introd., p. xxxiv. In this passage, at any rate, there can be no question of the accuracy of the interpretation. The Living Water symbolises the Spirit, which believers in Christ (not only the original disciples) were (ἔμελλον, cf. 6:71) to receive (cf. 16:13. 1 John 3:24, 1 John 4:13). As Paul has it πάντες ἓν πνεῦμα ἐποτίσθημεν (1 Corinthians 12:13), the metaphor, of the Spirit as water, being the same as here.

Lightfoot (Hor. Hebr. iii. 322) quotes a passage from the Talmud, showing that even by the Jews the libation of water at the Feast of Tabernacles (see on v. 37) was taken to symbolise the outpouring of the Spirit: “Why do they call it the house of drawing? Because thence they draw the Holy Spirit” (Beresh. Rabba, fol. 70. 1). The Jews held that the Holy Spirit had departed after the deaths of Zechariah and Malachi, the last of the prophets, and they looked for a future outpouring (Joel 2:28; cf. Acts 2:17).


The various readings are mainly due to attempts at interpretation. אDΓΔΘ have πιστεύοντες, but BLTW have πιστεύσαντες, the words primarily referring to the reception of the Spirit by the original group of disciples. B has ὄ for the better attested οὖ. In the second clause of the verse, scribes have defined πνεῦμα by the insertion of ἄγιον (LNWΓΔ), D reading τὸ πνεῦμα ἄγιον ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς and B ἄγιον δεδομένον. LNTWΓΔ have οὐδέπω for οὔπω (the reading of אBDΘ before ἐδοξάσθη.

For the force of πιστεύειν εἰς αὐτόν, see on v. 5.

οὔπω γὰρ ἦν πνεῦμα, i.e. the Spirit was not yet operating or not yet present, εἶναι being used for παρεῖναι, as in Acts 19:2


Attempts have been made to distinguish τὸ πνεῦμα, with the article, from πνεῦμα without it; the former standing for the personal Spirit, the latter for a gift or manifestation of the Spirit. The distinction may hold sometimes, but here it is hard to maintain it: “He spake περὶ τοῦ πνεύματος, which they who believed on Him were to receive: for πνεῦμα was not yet.” We should expect, if the proposed rule about the article were sound, that at its first occurrence in this verse πνεῦμα should be without it. See above on 3:6, 4:24.

οὔπω γὰρ ἦν πνεῦμα, ὅτι ὁ Ἰησοῦς οὔπω ἐδοξάσθη. Here Jn. introduces a conception, not explicit outside the Fourth Gospel, of the Passion of Jesus as His “glorification” (see on 1:14). It is the word used by Jesus Himself (12:23, and by anticipation 13:31), and Jn. uses it again in his narrative (12:16). This is the supreme illustration of the saying that “he that hateth his life shall keep it” (see on 12:25). It is the continual paradox of the Gospel that death is the beginning of new life. And so it was not until Jesus had been “glorified” in death that the Spirit came upon those who were “in Him.” The seed is not quickened except it die, and, to the thought of Paul, it was not until His Resurrection after death that Christ became a Quickening Spirit, πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν (1 Corinthians 15:45). Not until He had passed through death could His Spirit descend. Not until the Passion was over could He say λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιον (20:22). Pentecost was, necessarily, after Calvary. This great conception is common to Paul and Jn. (cf. 10:17, 12:32); and it follows from it that the death of the Incarnate Word was His “glorification.” Cf. 17:1, and see further on 16:7.


The verb δοξάζεσθαι is used more than once of the death of a Christian martyr in later literature. Not only in the case of Christ (12:16, 23, 13:31) might it be said that martyrdom was a “glorification” of the martyr himself; e.g. in the Canons of Peter of Alexandria (circa 300 a.d.) we have: οὔτω Στέφανος πρῶτος κατʼ ἴχνος αὐτοῦ μαρτύριον�

41., 42. “Doth the Christ come out of Galilee?” They were incredulous, because the Scriptures had led them to believe that He would be “of the seed of David” (2 Samuel 7:12, 2 Samuel 7:13.Psalms 132:11, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5), and from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), David’s village (1 Samuel 17:15); and they were surprised that One coming from Galilee should be regarded as fulfilling these conditions. It is characteristic of the “irony of St. John” (see on 1:45) that he does not stay his narrative to make any comment. His readers were, he was sure, well instructed in the Christian tradition that Jesus was born at Bethlehem, while His home was at Nazareth in Galilee. See on v. 52.


The suggestion (see on 1:44) that in Jn. the prepositions�

Other differences between v. 30 and v. 44 (apart from the omission in v. 44 of Jn.’s statement in v. 30 that the reason why the arrest of Jesus was not made was that “His hour had not come”) are: (1) ἤθελον is not so strong as ἐζήτουν. Some of the crowd were inclined to arrest Jesus, but they did not seek to make the arrest, as His Jewish opponents did. (2) For the characteristic Johannine use of καί instead of καίτοι at v. 30, we have here the more usual�Esther 6:2 where, for the Hebrew “lay hand on,” the LXX has ἐπιβαλεῖν τὰς χεῖρας. But this is too subtle.


45. The report of the Temple police, who had been ordered (v. 32) to arrest Jesus, now follows, with a notice of the protest made by Nicodemus.

No arrest had been made, evidently because the differences of opinion about Jesus and His claims were obvious, and it might not have been safe. So the police officers (ὑπηρέται) report to the Sanhedrim (πρὸς τοὺς�

46. The answer to the question, “Why did you not bring Him?” is surprising and unwelcome: “Never did man so speak.” These official servants of the Sanhedrim had been impressed, as the Galilæan peasants had been impressed (Matthew 7:28, Matthew 7:29), by the power of Jesus’ teaching. It is not to be supposed that vv. 33, 34, 37, 38, give more than fragments of what He said since the order was given for His arrest (v. 32); but it is noticeable that it was His words, not His works, that attracted attention, and it must have been disconcerting to those who were habitual teachers of the Law, to learn that the words of the new Teacher had made so deep an impression. His words were unique and without parallel, as also were His works, which He said were such as “none other did” (15:24).


After οὐδέποτε ἐλάλησεν οὕτως ἄνθρωπος, א*DNΘ add ὡς οὗτος (λαλεῖ) ὁ ἄνθρωπος. These additional words are omitted by אcBLTW, but the sense remains unaltered.

47. The Pharisees, the most forward in the persecution of Jesus, as being the most zealous in the cause of Jewish orthodoxy, reply for the rest μὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς πεπλάνησθε; “Are you also led astray?” See on 6:67 for the form of the question, which suggests that a negative answer is expected. Cf. v. 12 for πλανᾶν.

48. μή τις ἐκ τῶν�

51. The expostulation of Nicodemus is characteristic of the cautious timidity of the man. He rests his case on a recognised principle of law, and suggests that the procedure intended by the Sanhedrim will be illegal; but he does not explicitly espouse the cause of Jesus (see on 3:1). That a report should not be received without scrutiny (Exodus 23:1), and that both sides should be heard (Deuteronomy 1:16), are principles implied in the Jewish legislative code.

With τὸν ἄνθρωπον, sc. “any man,” cf. 2:25, Matthew 10:36. Less probably it might be rendered “the man,” i.e. the man who is accused (cf. Matthew 26:72).


ἐὰν μὴ�

For ἐγείρεται (אBDTNWΘ) the rec. has ἐγήγερται. If the reading ἐγήγερται were correct, the assertion that from Galilee no prophet has arisen would be obviously untrue. Jonah, at any rate, was a Galilæan, for he was of Gath-hepher (2 Kings 14:25), which was in Galilee (Joshua 19:13). And possibly Hosea, whose prophecies were concerned with the Northern Kingdom, was also a Galilæan.

There was nothing in O.T. tradition to suggest that Galilee was an inferior district of the Holy Land. Isaiah, in particular, had sung of the days when Zebulun and Naphtali should be made glorious “beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles”1. (Isaiah 9:1). It is not likely, therefore, that the saying ἐκ τῆς Γαλιλαίας προφήτης οὐκ ἐγείρεται was a proverb, as the form of the sentence might suggest. It is a merely contemptuous assertion, “Out of Galilee is not arising a prophet” (cf. v. 41). See on 1:46.


ὅτι is not to be translated “for,” but “that.”

For the verb ἐραυνᾶν, see above on 5:39, the only other place where it is found in Jn. Possibly ἐραύνησον has reference here also to a searching of the Scriptures; but it is more probable that the meaning is “if you will take the trouble to look, you will see that out of Galilee no prophet is arising.” Cf. 2 Kings 10:23 ἐρευνήσατε καὶ ἴδετε, where ἐρευνήσατε is only ampliative of ἴδετε, as here.


[For 7:53-8:11 see the notes at the end of Vol. II. on the Pericope de Adultera.]









אԠSinaiticus (δ 2). Leningrad. iv.

B Vaticanus (δ 1). Rome. Cent. iv.

C Ephræmi (δ 3). Paris. v. Palimpsest. Contains considerable fragments of Jn.

L Regius (ε 56). Paris. viii. Cc. 15:2-20 21:15-25 are missing.

Γ̠(ε 70) Oxford and Leningrad. ix-x. Contains Song of Solomon 1:1-13 8:3-15:24 19:6 to end.


Δ̠Sangallensis (ε 76). St. Gall. ix-x. Græco-Latin.

Θ̠Koridethi (ε 050). Tiflis. vii-ix. Discovered at Koridethi, in Russian territory, and edited by Beermann & Gregory (Leipzig, 1913). The text is akin to that of fam. 13, fam. 1, and the cursives 28, 565, 700 See Lake and Blake in Harvard Theol. Review (July 1923) and Streeter, The Four Gospels. Cf. also J.T.S. Oct. 1915, April and July 1925.

D Bezæ (δ 5). Cambridge. v-vi. Græco-Latin. Cc. 18:14-20:13 are missing in the Greek text, and the gap has been filled by a ninth-century scribe (Dsupp).

W Freer (ε 014). Washington. iv-vi. Discovered in Egypt in 1906. The Gospels are in the order Mt., Jn., Lk., Mk. Collation in The Washington MS. of the Four Gospels, by H. A. Sanders (1912).

N Purpureus Petropolitanus (ε 19). Dispersed through the libraries of Leningrad, Patmos, Rome, Vienna, and British Museum. vi. Some pages are missing. Edited by H. S. Cronin in Cambridge Texts and Studies (1899).

T Borgianus (ε 5). Rome. v. Græco-Sahidic. Contains cc. 6:28-67 7:6-8:31.

1 See Introd., p. xix, and on v. 1 above, for the dislocation of the text.

1 Cf. Schweitzer, Quest of the Historical Jesus, p. 345.

1 See Schürer History of Jewish People, Eng. Tr., ii. i. 177 f., 203 f. Thus Annas and Caiaphas are both called�Luke 3:2); and in Acts 4:6 we have Ἄννας ὁ�


1 Cf. Wordsworth and White, Nov. Test. Lat., in loc.; and see above on vv. 12, 25.

1 See on 1:35 for this form.

1 Quoted by E. C. Selwyn in J.T.S., Jan. 1912, p. 226.

2 Cf. A. Robinson, Passion of St. Perpetua, p. 98.

3 Cf. Euseb. H.E. v. 1:22.

1 Epist. 73:11; but cf. 63:8.

2 J.T.S., Oct. 1922, p. 66 f.. and cf. Jan. 1923, p. 174.

3 Harvard Theol. Review, Oct. 1923, p. 339.

4 Comm. in Ioan. Vol. 2. p. 250 (ed. Brooke); cf. also Hom. in Numbers 17:4.

5 Basil’s comment on the river of Psalms 46:4 is: τίς δʼ ἂν εἴη ὁ ποταμὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἢ τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἄγιον ἐκ τῆς πίστεως τῶν εἰς Χριστὸν πεπιστευκότων, ἐγγενόμενον τοῖς�John 7:38 and 4:14.


6 Ephraim also ends the first clause with πινέτω (Hom. On our Lord. i. 41); and Tatian seems to have taken the same line, although this cannot be certain.

7 Syr. sin and Syr. cur. appear also t0 support this interpretation.

8 So Origen (Selecta in Deut., Lommatzsch, x. 374) speaks of that good land ἦς χείμαρρος ὁ Χριστός, ποτίζων τοῖς τῆς σοφίας νάμασιν.

1 See Barnes, J.T.S., July 1922, p. 421.

1 Routh, Rel. Sacr., iv. 34.

2 E.B., 4594.

Diat. E. A. Abbott’s Diatessarica, including his Johannine Vocabulary and Johannine Grammar, Parts I.-X. (1900-1915).

1 See G. A. Smith. Histor. Geogr. of Holy Land, p. 428 n., for considerations which show that this was 0n the west side of Jordan

אΓΔΘ have κρίσιν κρίνατε (the authoritative aorist im perative; see on 2:5), but BDLTNW give κρίνετε.

This is the last word of the controversy which arose out of the healing of the impotent man at Bethesda, sc. 5:1-47, 7:15-24; and naturally, the Jewish leaders were indignant. Cf. 7:1.

אԠSinaiticus (δ 2). Leningrad. iv.

D Bezæ (δ 5). Cambridge. v-vi. Græco-Latin. Cc. 18:14-20:13 are missing in the Greek text, and the gap has been filled by a ninth-century scribe (Dsupp).

B Vaticanus (δ 1). Rome. Cent. iv.

L Regius (ε 56). Paris. viii. Cc. 15:2-20 21:15-25 are missing.

T Borgianus (ε 5). Rome. v. Græco-Sahidic. Contains cc. 6:28-67 7:6-8:31.

W Freer (ε 014). Washington. iv-vi. Discovered in Egypt in 1906. The Gospels are in the order Mt., Jn., Lk., Mk. Collation in The Washington MS. of the Four Gospels, by H. A. Sanders (1912).

Θ̠Koridethi (ε 050). Tiflis. vii-ix. Discovered at Koridethi, in Russian territory, and edited by Beermann & Gregory (Leipzig, 1913). The text is akin to that of fam. 13, fam. 1, and the cursives 28, 565, 700 See Lake and Blake in Harvard Theol. Review (July 1923) and Streeter, The Four Gospels. Cf. also J.T.S. Oct. 1915, April and July 1925.

Γ̠(ε 70) Oxford and Leningrad. ix-x. Contains Song of Solomon 1:1-13 8:3-15:24 19:6 to end.


Δ̠Sangallensis (ε 76). St. Gall. ix-x. Græco-Latin.

N Purpureus Petropolitanus (ε 19). Dispersed through the libraries of Leningrad, Patmos, Rome, Vienna, and British Museum. vi. Some pages are missing. Edited by H. S. Cronin in Cambridge Texts and Studies (1899).

1 Wendt (Gospel according to St. John, p. 64 n.) takes this view. Cf. ἐργάζεσθαι in 5:17 and Luke 13:14.


1 Shabb. fol. 130.

2 Joma, f. 85, quoted by Wetstein.



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Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on John 7". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/john-7.html. 1896-1924.