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Bible Commentaries

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels
John 7

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-8

After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. 2. Now the Jews" feast of tabernacles was at hand. 3. His brethren therefore said to him, Depart hence, and go into Judea, that your disciples also may see the works that you do. 4. For there is no man that does any thing in secret, and he himself seek to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world. 5. For neither did his brethren believe in him. 6. Then Jesus said to them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. 7. The world cannot hate you: but me it hates, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. 8. Go you up to this feast: I go not up yet to this feast; for my time is not yet fully come.

AUG. As the believer in Christ would have in time to, come to hide himself from persecution, that no guilt might attach to such concealment, the Head began with doing Himself, what He sanctioned in the member; After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him.

BEDE. The connection of this passage admits of much taking place in the interval previously. Judea and Galilee are divisions of the province of Palestine. Judea has its name from the tribe of Judah; but it embraces not only the territories of Judah, but of Benjamin, all of which were called Judea, because Judah was the royal tribe Galilee has its name, from the milky, i.e. white, color of its inhabitants; Galilee being Greek for milk.

AUG. It is not meant that our Lord could not walk among the Jews, and escape being killed; for He had this power, whenever He chose to show it: but He set the example of so doing, as an accommodation to our weakness. He had not lost His power, but He indulged our frailty.

CHRYS. That is to say, He displayed the attribute both of divinity and humanity. He fled from His persecutors as man, He remained and appeared amongst them as God; being really both.

THEOPHYL. He withdrew too now to Galilee, because the hour of His passion was not yet come; and He thought it useless to stay in the midst of His enemies, when the effect would only have been to irritate them the more. The time at which this happened is then given; Now the Jews; feast of tabernacles was at hand.

AUG. What the feast of tabernacles is, we read in the Scriptures. They used to make tents on the festival, like those in which they lived during their journey in the desert, after their departure from Egypt. They celebrated this feast in commemoration of the good things the Lord had done for them; though they were the very people who were about to slay the Lord. It is called the day of the feast, though it lasted many days.

CHRYS. It appears here, that a considerable time had passed since the last events. For when our Lord sat upon the mount, it was near the feast of the Passover and now it is the feast of tabernacles: so that in the five intermediate months the Evangelist has related nothing but the miracle of the loaves, and the conversation with those who ate of them. As our Lord was unceasingly working miracles, and holding disputes with people, the Evangelists could not relate all; but only aimed at giving those, in which complaint or opposition had followed on the part of the Jews as was as the case here.

THEOPHYL. His brethren saw that He was not preparing to go to the feast: His brethren therefore said to him, Depart hence, and go into Judea.BEDE. Meaning to say, You do miracles, and only a few see them: go to the royal city, where the rulers are, that they may see Your miracles, and so you obtain praise. And as our Lord had not brought all His disciples with Him, but left many behind in Judea, they add, That Your disciples also may see the storks that you do.

THEOPHYL. i.e. the multitudes that follow You. They do not mean the twelve, but the others that had communication with Him.

AUG. When you hear of our Lord"s brethren, you must understand the kindred of Mary, not her offspring after our Lord"s birth. For as the body of our Lord once only lay in the sepulcher, and neither before, nor after that once; so could not the womb of Mary have possibly conceived any other mortal offspring. Our Lord"s works did not escape His disciples, but they escaped His brethren; hence their suggestion, That Your disciples may see the works that you do. They speak according to the wisdom of the flesh, to the Word that was made flesh, and add, For there is no man that does any thing in secret, and he himself seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show Yourself to the world; as if to say, You do miracles, do them in the eyes of the world, that the world may honor You. Their admonitions aim at procuring glory for Him; and this very thing, viz. aiming at human glory, proved that they did not believe in Him, as we next read, For neither did His brethren believe in Him. They were Christ"s kindred, hut they were on that very account above believing in Him.

CHRYS. It is striking to observe the great sincerity of the Evangelists; that they are not ashamed to mention things which appear to be to our Lord"s disadvantage, but take particular care to tell us of them. It is a considerable reflection on our Lord, that His brethren do not believe on Him. The beginning of their speech has a friendly appearance about it: tent there is much bitterness in it, thus charging Him with the motives of fear and vain glory; No man, say they, does anything in secret: this was reproaching Him tacitly with fear; and was an insinuation too that His miracles had not been real and solid ones. In what follows, And he himself seeks to be known openly, they taunt Him with the love of glory. Christ however answers them mildly, teaching us not to take the advice of people ever so inferior to ourselves angrily; Then Jesus said to them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready.

BEDE. This is no contradiction to what the Apostle says, But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son. Our Lord referring here to the time not of His nativity, but of His glorification.

AUG. They gave Him advice to pursue glory, and not allow Himself to remain in concealment and obscurity; appealing altogether to worldly and secular motives. But our Lord was laying down another road to that very exaltation, viz. humility: My time, He says, i.e. the time of My glory, when I shall come to judge on high, is not yet come; but your time, i.e. the glory of the world, is always ready. And let us, who are the Lord"s body, when insulted by the lovers of this world, say, Your time is ready: ours is not yet come. Our country is a lofty one, the way to it is low. Whoso rejects the way, why seek he the country?

CHRYS, Or there seems to be another meaning concealed in the words; perhaps they intended to betray Him to the Jews; and therefore He says, My time is not yet come, i.e. the time of My cross and death: but your time is always ready; for though you are always with the Jews, they will not kill you, because you are of the same mind with them: The world cannot hate you; but Me it hates, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil: as if He said, How can the world hate them who have the same wishes and aims with itself? It hates Me, because I reprove it. I seek not then glory from men; inasmuch as I hesitate not to reprove them, though I know that I am hated in consequence, and that My life is aimed at. Here we see that the hatred of the Jews was owing to His reproofs, not to His breaking the sabbath.

THEOPHYL. Our Lord brings two arguments in answer to their two charges. To the charge of fear He answers, that He reproves the deeds of the world, i.e. of those who love worldly things; which He would not do, if He were under the influence of fear; and He replies to the charge of vain glory, by sending them to the feast, Go you up to this feast. Had He been possessed at all with the desire for glory, He would have kept them with Him: for the vain glorious like to have many followers.

CHRYS. This is to show too, that, while He does not wish to humor them, He still allows them to observe the Jewish ordinances.

AUG. Or He seems to say, Go you up to this feast, and seek for human glory, and enlarge your carnal pleasures, and forget heavenly things.I go not up to this feast;

CHRYS. i.e. not with you, for My time is not yet full come. It was at the next passover that He was to be crucified.

AUG. Or My time, i.e. the time of My glory, is not yet come. That will be My feast day; not a day which passes and is gone, like holidays here: but one which remains for ever. Then will be festivity; joy without end, eternity without stain, sunshine without a cloud.


Verses 9-13

When he had said these words to them, he abode still in Galilee. 10. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. 11. Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he?12. And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceives the people. 13. Howbeit no man spoke openly of him for fear of the Jews.

THEOPHYL. Our Lord at first declares that He will not go up to the feast, (I go not up with you,) in order not to expose Himself to the rage of the Jews; and therefore we read, that, When He had said these words to them, He abode still in Galilee. Afterwards, however, He goes up; But when His brethren were gone up, then went He also up to the feast.

AUG. He went up, however, not to get temporary glory, but, to teach wholesome doctrine, and remind men of the eternal feast.

CHRYS. He goes up, not to suffer, but to teach. And He goes up secretly; because, though He could have gone openly, and kept the violence and impetuosity of the Jews in check, as He had often done before; yet to do this every time, would have disclosed His divinity; and he wished to establish the fact of His incarnation, and to teach us the way of life. And He went up privately too, to show us what we ought to do, who cannot check our persecutors. It is not said, however, in secret, but, as it were in secret; to show that it was done as a kind of economy. For had He done all things as God, how should we of this world know what to do, when we fell into danger?

ALCUIN. Or, He went up in secret, because He did not seek the favor of men, and took no pleasure in pomp, and being followed about with crowds.

BEDE. The mystical meaning is, that to all those carnal persons who seek human glory, the Lord remains in Galilee; the meaning of which name is, "passing over;" applying to those his members who pass from vice to virtue, and make progress in the latter. And our Lord Himself delayed to go up, signifying that Christ"s members seek not temporal but eternal glory. And He went up secretly, because all glory is from within: that is, from a pure heart and good conscience, and faith unfeigned.

AUG. Or the meaning is, that all the ceremonial of the ancient people was the figure of what was to be; such as the feast of tabernacles. Which figure is now unveiled to us. Our Lord went up in secret, to represent the figurative system. He concealed Himself at the feast itself, because the feast itself signified, that the members of Christ were in a strange country. For he dwells in the tents, who regards himself as a stranger in the world. The word scenopegia here means the feast of tabernacles.

CHRYS. Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, Where is He? out of hatred and enmity; for they would not call Him by His name. There was not much reverence or religion in this observance of the feast, when they wanted to make it an opportunity of seizing Christ.

AUG. And there was much murmuring in the people concerning Him. A murmuring arising from disagreement. For some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; out He seduces the people. Whoever had any spark of grace, said, He is a good man; the rest, Nay, but He seduces the people. That such was said of Him, Who was God, is a consolation to any Christian, of whom the same may be said. If to seduce be to decide, Christ was not a seducer, nor can any Christian be. But if by seducing be meant bringing a person by persuasion out of one way of thinking into another, then we must inquire from what, and to what. If from good to evil, the seducer is an evil man; if from evil to good, a good one. And would that we were all called, and really were, such seducers.

CHRYS. The former, I think, was the opinion of the multitude, the one, viz. who pronounced Him a good man; the latter the opinion of the priests and rulers; as is strewn by their saying, He deceives the people, not, He deceives us.

AUG. Howbeit no man spoke openly of Him, for fear of the Jews; none, that is, of those who said, He is a good man. They who said, He deceives the people, proclaimed their opinion openly enough; while the former only dared whisper theirs.

CHRYS. Observe, the corruption is in the rulers: the common people are sound in their judgment, but have not liberty of speech, as is generally their case.


Verses 14-18

Ver 14. Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. 15. And the Jews marveled, saying, How knows this man letters, having never learned?16. Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. 17. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. 18. He that speaks of himself seeks his own glory: but he that seeks his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.

CHRYS. Our Lord delays His visit, in order to excite men"s attention, and goes up not the first day, but about the middle of the feast: Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. Those who had been searching for Him, when they saw Him thus suddenly appear would be more attentive to His teaching, both favorers and enemies; the one to admire and profit by it; the other to find an opportunity of laying hands on Him.

THEOPHYL. At the commencement of the feast, men would be attending more to the preachings of the festival itself; and afterwards would be better disposed to hear Christ.

AUG. The feast seems, as far as we can judge, to have lasted several days. And therefore it is said, "about the middle of the feast day:" i.e. when as many days of that feast had passed, as were to come. So that His assertion, I go not up yet to this feast day, (i.e. to the first or second day, as you would wish me,) was strictly fulfilled. For He went up afterwards, about the middle of the feast.

AUG. In going there too, He went up, not to the feast day, but to the light. They had gone to enjoy the pleasures of the festival, but Christ"s feast day was that on which by His Passion He redeemed the world.

AUG. He who had before concealed Himself, taught and spoke openly, and was not laid hold on. The one was intended for an example to us, the other to testify His power.

CHRYS. What His teaching is, the Evangelist does not say; but that it was very wonderful is shown by its effect even upon those who had accused Him of deceiving the people, who turned round and began to admire Him: And the Jews marveled, saying, How knows this Man letters, having never learned? See how perverse they are even in their admiration. It is not His doctrine they admire, but another thing altogether.

AUG. All, it would appear, admired, but all were not converted. Whence then the admiration? Many knew where here He was born, and how He had been educated; but had never seen Him learning letters. Yet now they heard Him disputing on the law, and bringing forward its testimonies. No one could do this, who had not read the law; no one could read who had not learnt letters; and this raised their wonder.

CHRYS. Their wonder might have led them to infer, that our Lord became possessed of this learning in some divine way, and not by any human process. But they would not acknowledge this, and contented themselves with wondering. So our Lord repeated it to them: Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me.

AUG. Mine is not mine, appears a contradiction; why did He not say, This doctrine is not Mine? Because the doctrine of the Father being the Word of the Father, and Christ Himself being that Word, Christ Himself is the doctrine of the Father. And therefore He calls the doctrine both His own, and the Father"s. A word must be a word of someone"s. What is so much Yours as You, and what is so much not Yours as You, if what You are, You art of another. His saying then, My doctrine is not Mine own, seems briefly to express the truth, that He is not from Himself; it refuses the Sabellian heresy, which dares to assert that the Son is the same as the Father, there being only two names for one thing.

CHRYS. Or He calls it His own, inasmuch as He taught it; not His own, inasmuch as the doctrine was of the Father. If all things however which the Father has are His, the doctrine for this very reason is His; i.e. because it is the Father"s. Rather that He says, Is not Mine own, shows very strongly, that His doctrine and the Father"s are one: as if He said, I differ nothing from Him; but so act, that it may be thought I say and do nothing else than does the Father.

AUG. Or thus: In one sense He calls it His, in another sense not His; according to the form of the Godhead His, according to the form of the servant not His.

AUG. Should any one however not understand this, let him hear the advice which immediately follows from our Lord: If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself. What means this, If any man will do His will? To do His will is to believe in Him, as He Himself says, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent. And who does not know, that to work the work of God, is to do His will? To know is to understand. Do not then seek to understand in order to believe, but believe in order to understand, for, Except you believe, you shall not understand.

CHRYS. This is as much as to say, Put away the anger, envy, and hatred which you have towards Me, and there will be nothing to prevent your knowing, that the words which I speak are from God. Then He brings in an irresistible argument taken from human experience: He that speaks of himself, seeks his own glory: as if to say, He who aims at establishing some doctrine of his own, does so for no purpose, but to get glory. But I seek the glory of Him that sent me, and wish to teach you for His, i.e. another"s, sake: and then it follows, But he that seeks His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

THEOPHYL. As if He said, I speak the truth, because My doctrine contains the truth there is no unrighteousness in Me, because I usurp not another"s glory.

AUG. He who seeks his own glory is Antichrist. But our Lord set us an example of humility, in that being found in fashion as a man, He sought His Father"s glory, not His own. You, when you do good, take glory to yourself, when you do evil, upbraid God.

CHRYS. Observe, the reason why He spoke so humbly of Himself, is to let men know, that He does not aim at glory, or power; and to accommodate Himself to their weakness, and to teach them moderation, and a humble, as distinguished from an assuming, way of speaking of themselves.


Verses 19-24

Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keep the law? Why go you about to kill me?20. The people answered and said, You have devil: who goes about to kill you?21. Jesus answered and said to them, I have done one work, and you all marvel. 22. Moses therefore gave to you circumcision (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers:) and you on the sabbath day circumcise a man. 23. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision that the law of Moses should not be broken; are you angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?24. Judge not according to the appearance, but Judge righteous judgment.

CHRYS. The Jews brought two charges against Christ; one, that He broke the sabbath; the other, that He said God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. The latter He confirmed first by showing, that He did nothing in opposition to God, but that both taught the same. Then turning to the charge of breaking the sabbath, He says, Did not Moses give you a law, and none of you keep the law? as much as to say, The law says, You shall not kill, whereas you kill. And then, Why go you about to kill Me? As if to say, If I broke a law to heal a man, it was a transgression, but a beneficial one; whereas you transgress for an evil end; so you have no right to judge Me for breaking the law. He rebukes them then for two things; first, because they went about to kill Him; secondly, because they were going about to kill another, when they had not even any right to judge Him.

AUG. Or He means to say, that if they kept the law, they would see Him pointed to in every part of it, and would not seek to kill Him, when He came. The people return an answer quite away from the subject, and only showing their angry feelings: The people answered and said, You have a devil: who goes about to kill You? He who cast out devils, was told that He had a devil. Our Lord however, in no way disturbed, but retaining all the serenity of truth, returned not evil for evil, or railing for railing.

BEDE. Wherein He left us an example to take it patiently, whenever wrong censures are passed upon us, and not answer them by asserting the truth, though able to do so, but rather by some wholesome advice to the persons; as does our Lord: Jesus answered and said to them, I have done one work, and you all marvel.

AUG. As if He said, What if you saw all My works? For all that they saw going on in the world was of His working, but they saw not Him Who made all things. But He did one thing, made a man whole on the sabbath day, and they were in commotion: as if, when any one of them recovered from a disease on the sabbath, he who made him whole were any other than He, who had offended them by making one man whole on the sabbath.

CHRYS. You marvel, i.e. are disturbed, are in commotion. Observe how well He argues with them from the law. He wishes to prove that this work was not a violation of the law; and shows accordingly that there are many things more important than the law for the observance of the sabbath, by the observance of which that law is not broken but fulfilled. Moses therefore, He says, gave to you circumcision, not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers, and you on the sabbath day circumcise a man.

AUG. As if He said, you have done well to receive circumcision from Moses, not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers; for Abraham first received circumcision from the Lord. And you circumcise on the sabbath. Moses has convicted you: you received a law to circumcise on the eighth day; and you received a law to rest on the seventh day. If the eighth day after a child is born happen to be the sabbath, you circumcise the child; because circumcision appertains to, is a kind of sign of, salvation; and men ought not to rest from the work of salvation on the sabbath.

ALCUIN. Circumcision was given for three reasons; first, as a sign of Abraham"s great faith; secondly, to distinguish the Jews from other nations; thirdly, that the receiving of it on the organ of virility, might admonish us to observe chastity both of body and mind. And circumcision then possessed the same virtue that baptism does now; only that the gate was not yet open. Our Lord concludes: If a man. on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are you angry at Me because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?

CHRYS. Which is as much as to tell them, The breaking of the sabbath in circumcision is a keeping of the law; and in the same way I by healing on the sabbath have kept the law. You, who are not the legislators, enforce the law beyond its proper bounds; whereas Moses made the law give way to the observance of a commandment, which did not come from the law, but from the fathers. His saying, I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day, implies that circumcision was a partial recovering.

AUG. Circumcision also was perhaps s a type of our or Lord Himself. For what is circumcision but a robbing of the flesh, to signify the robbing the heart of its carnal lusts. And therefore it was not without reason that it was applied to that member by which the mortal creature is propagated: for by one man sin entered into the world. And therefore every one is born with the foreskin, because every one is born with the fault of his propagation. And God does not change us either from the corruption of our birth, or from that we have contracted ourselves by a bad life, except by Christ: and therefore they circumcised with knives of stone, to prefigure Christ who is the stone; and on the eighth day, because our Lord"s resurrection took place on the day after the seventh day; which resurrection circumcises us, i.e. destroys our carnal appetites. Regard this, said our Lord, as a type of My good work in making a man every whit whole on the sabbath day: for he was healed, that he might be whole in body, and he believed, that he might be whole in mind. You are forbidden indeed to do servile work on the sabbath; but is it a servile work to heal on the sabbath? You eat and drink on the sabbath, because it is necessary for your health: which shows that works of healing are by no means to be omitted on the sabbath.

CHRYS. He does not say, however, I have done a greater work than circumcision; but only states the matter of fact, and leaves the judgment to them, saying, Judge not according to the appearance, out judge righteous judgment: as if to say, Do not, because Moses has a greater name with you than I, decide by degree of personal eminence; but decide by the nature of the thing itself, for this is to judge righteously. No one however has blamed Moses for making the sabbath give place to the commandment of circumcision, which was not derived from the law, but from another source. Moses then commands the law to be broken to give effect to a commandment not of the law: and he is more worthy of credit than you.

AUG. What our Lord here tells us to avoid, in judging by the person, is very difficult in this world not to do. His admonition to the Jews is an admonition to us as well; for every sentence which our Lord uttered, was written for us, and is preserved to us, and is read for our profit. Our Lord is above; but our Lord, as the truth, is here as well. The body with which He rose can be only in one place, but His truth is diffused every where. Who then is he who judges not by the person? He who loves all alike. For it is not the paying men different degrees of honor according to their situation, that will make us chargeable with accepting persons. There may be a case to decide between father and son: we should not put the son on an equality with the father in point of honor; but, in respect of truth, if he have the better cause, we should give him the preference; and so give to each their due, that justice do not destroy desert.


Verses 25-30

Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?26. But, lo, he speaks boldly, and they say nothing to him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?27. Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ comes, no man knows whence he is. 28. Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, You both know me, and you know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom you know not. 29. But I know him: for I am from him, and he has sent me. 30. Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.

AUG. It was said above that our Lord went up to the feast secretly, not because He feared being taken, (for He had power to prevent it,) but to show figuratively, that even in the very feast which the Jews celebrated, He was hid, and that it was His mystery. Now however the power appears, which was thought timidity: He spoke publicly at the feast, in so much that the multitude marveled: They said some of them at Jerusalem, Is not this He, whom they seek to kill? but, lo, He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. They knew the fierceness with which He had been sought for; they marveled at the power by which he was not taken.

CHRYS. The Evangelist adds, from Jerusalem: for there had been the greatest display of miracles, and there the people were in the worst state, seeing the strongest proofs of His divinity, and yet willing to give up all to the judgment of their corrupt rulers. Was it not a great miracle, that those who raged for His life, now that they had Him in their grasp, became on a sudden quiet?

AUG. So, not fully understanding Christ"s power, they supposed that it was owing to the knowledge of the rulers that He was spared: Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?

CHRYS. But they do not follow the opinion of the rulers, but put forth another most perverse and absurd one; Howbeit we know this Man, whence He is; but when Christ comes, no man knows whence He is.

AUG. This notion did not arise without foundation. We find indeed that the Scriptures said of Christ, He shall be called a Nazarene, and thus predicted whence He would come. And the Jews again told Herod, when he inquired, that Christ would be born in Bethlehem of Judah, and adduced the testimony of the Prophet. How then did this notion of the Jews arise, that, when Christ came, no one would know whence He was? From this reason, viz. that the Scriptures asserted both. As man, they foretold whence Christ would be; as God, He was hid from the profane, but revealed Himself to the godly. This notion they had taken from Isaiah, Who shall declare His generation? Our Lord replies, that they both knew Him, and knew Him not: Then cried Jesus in the temple as He taught, saying, You both know Me, and know whence I am: that is to say, You both know whence I am, and do not know whence I am: you know whence I am, that I am Jesus of Nazareth, whose parents you know. The birth from the Virgin was the only part of the matter unknown to them: with this exception, they knew all that pertained to Jesus as man. So He well says, You both know Me, and know whence I am: i.e. according to the flesh, and the likeness of man. But in respect of His divinity, He says, I am not come of Myself, but He that sent Me is true.

CHRYS. By which He discloses what was in their minds. I am not, He seems to say, of the number of those who have come without reason, but He is true that sent Me; and if He is true, He has sent Me in truth; and therefore He who is sent must needs speak the truth. He then convicts them from their own assertions. For whereas they had said, When Christ comes, no man knows whence He is, He shows that Christ did come from one whom they knew not, i.e. the Father. Wherefore He adds, Whom you know not.

HILARY. Every man, ever born in the flesh, is in a certain sense from God. How then could He say that they were ignorant who He was, and whence He was.? Because our Lord is here referring to His own peculiar birth from God, which they were ignorant of, because they did not know that He was the Son of God. His very saying then that they did not know whence He was, was telling them whence He was. If they, did not know whence He was, He could not be from nothing; for then there would be no whence to be ignorant of. He must therefore be from God. And then not knowing whence He is, was the reason that they did not know who He is. He does not know the Son who does not know His birth from the Father.

CHRYS. Or the ignorance, He here speaks of, is the ignorance of a bad life; as Paul said, They profess that they know God, but in words they deny Him. Our Lord"s reproof is twofold: He first published what they were speaking secretly, crying out, in order to put them to shame.

AUG. Lastly, to show whence they could get to know Him (who had sells Him), He adds, I know Him: so if you would know Him, inquire of Me. No one knows the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him. And if I should say, I know Him not, I should be a liar like to you.

CHRYS. Which is impossible for He that sent Me is true, and therefore He that is sent must be true likewise He every where attributes the knowledge of the Father to Himself, as being from the Father: thus here, But I know Hint, for I am from Him.

HILARY. I ask however does the being from Him express a work of creation, or a birth by generation? If a work of creation, then every thing which is created is from Him. And how then does not all creation know the Father, if the Son knows Him, because He is from Him? But if the knowledge of the Father is peculiar to Him, as being from Him, then the being from Him is peculiar to Him also; i.e. the being the true Son of God by nature. So you have then a peculiar knowledge springing from a peculiar generation. To prevent however ever any heresy applying the being from Him, to the time of His advent He adds, And He has sent Me; thus preserving, the order of the Gospel sacrament; first announcing Himself born, and then sent.

AUG. I am from Him, He says, i.e. as the Son from the Father: but that you see Me in the flesh is because He has sent Me. Wherein understand not a difference of nature, but the authority of a father.

CHRYS. His saying however, Whom you know not, irritated the Jews, who professed to have knowledge; and they sought to take Him, but no man laid hands on Him. Mark the invisible check which is kept upon their fury: though the Evangelist does not mention it, but preserves purposely a humble and human way of speaking, in order to impress us with Christ"s humanity; and therefore only adds, Because His hour was not yet come.

AUG. That is, because He was not so pleased; for our Lord was not born subject to fate. You must not believe this even of yourself, much less of Him by Whom you were made. And if your hour is in His will, is not His hour in His own will? His home then here does not mean the time that He was obliged to die, but the time that He deigned to be put to death.


Verses 31-36

And many of the people believed in him, and said, When Christ comes, will he do more miracles than these which this man has done?32. The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him. 33. Then said Jesus to them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go to him that sent me. 34. You shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither you cannot come. 35. Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go to the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?36. What manner of saying is this that he said, You shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither you cannot come?

AUG. And many of the people believed in Him. Our Lord; brought the poor and humble to be saved. The common people, who soon saw their own infirmities, received His medicine without hesitation.

CHRYS. Neither had these however a sound faith; but took up a low way of speaking, after the manner of the multitude: When Christ comes, will He do more miracles than this Man has done? Their saying, When Christ comes, shows that they were not steady in believing that He was the Christ: or rather, that they did not believe He was the Christ at all; for it is the same as if they said, that Christ, when He came, would be a superior person, and do more miracles. Minds of the grosser sort are influenced not by doctrine, but by miracles.

AUG. Or they mean, If there are not to be two Christs, this is He. The rulers however, possessed with madness, not only refused to acknowledge the physician, but even wished to kill Him: The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and chief priests sent officers to take Him.

CHRYS. He had discoursed often before, but they had never so treated Him. The praises of the multitude however now irritated them; though the transgression of the sabbath still continued to be the reason put forward. Nevertheless, they were afraid of taking this step themselves, and sent officers instead.

AUG. Not being able to take Him against His will, they sent men to hear Him teach. Teach what? Then said Jesus to them, Yet a little while I am with you.

CHRYS. He speaks with the greatest humility: as if to say, Why do you make such haste to kill Me? Only wait a little time.

AUG. That which you wish to do now, you shall do sometime, but not now: because it is not My will. For I wish to fulfill My mission in due course, and so to come to My passion.

CHRYS. In this way He astonished the bolder part of the multitude, and made the earnest among them more eager to hear Him; so little time being now left, during which they could have the benefit of His teaching. He does not say, I am here, simply; but, I am with you; meaning, Though you persecute Me, I will not cease fulfilling my part towards you, teaching you the way to salvation, anti admonishing you. What follows, And I go to Him that sent Me, was enough to excite some fear.

THEOPHYL. As if He were going to complain of them to the Father: for if they reviled Him who was sent, no doubt they did an injury to Him that sent.

BEDE. I go to Him that sent Me: i.e. I return to My Father, at whose command I became incarnate. He is speaking of that departure, from which He has never returned.

CHRYS. That they wanted His presence, appears from His saying, You seek Me, and shall not find Me. But when did the Jews seek Him? Luke relates that the women lamented over Him: and it is probable that many others did the same. And especially, when the city was taken, would they call Christ and His miracles to remembrance, and desire His presence.

AUG. Here He foretells His resurrection: for the search for Him was to take place after His resurrection, when men were conscience stricken. They would not acknowledge Him, when present; afterward they sought Him, when they saw the multitude believing on Him; and many pricked in their hearts said, What shall we do? They perceived that Christ"s death was owing to their sin, and believed in Christ"s pardon to sinners; and so despaired of salvation, until they drank of that blood which they shed.

CHRYS. Then lest any should think that His death would take place in the common way, He adds, And where I am, thither you cannot come. If He continued in death, they would be able to go to Him: for we all are going thitherwards.

AUG. He does not say, Where I shall be, but Where I am. For Christ was always there in that place, whither He was about to return: He returned in such a way, as that He did not forsake us. Visibly and according to the flesh, He was upon earth; according to His invisible majesty, He was in heaven and earth. Nor again is it, you will not be able, but, you are not able to come: for they were not such at the time, as to be able. That this is not meant to drive men to despair, is shown by His saying the very same thing to His disciples; Whither I go, you cannot come; and by His explanation last of all to Peter, Whither I go, you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterwards.

CHRYS. He wants them to think seriously how little time longer He should be with them, and what regret they will feel when He is gone, and they are not able to find Him. I go to Him that sent Me; this shows that no injury was done Him by their plots, and that His passion was voluntary. The words had some effect upon the Jews, who asked each other, where they were to go, which was like persons desiring to be quit of Him: Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will He go, that we shall not find Him? Will He go to the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? In the fullness of their self-satisfaction, they call them Gentiles, as a term of reproach; the Gentiles being dispersed every where; a reproach which they themselves underwent afterwards. Of old all the nation was united together: but now that the Jews were mixed with the Gentiles in every part of the world, our Lord would not have said, Whither I go, you cannot come, in the sense of going to the Gentiles.

AUG. Whither I go, i.e. to the bosom of the Father. This they did not at all understand: and yet even their mistake is an unwitting prophecy of our salvation; i.e. that our Lord would go to the Gentiles, not in His own person, but by His feet, i.e. His members. He sent to us those whom He had made His members, and so made us His members.

CHRYS. They did not mean, that our Lord was going to the Gentiles for their hurt, but to teach them. Their anger had subsided, and they believed what He had said. Else they would not have thought of asking each other, What manner of saying is this that He said, you shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and whither I am, you cannot come.


Verses 37-39

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. 38. He that believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe in him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

CHRYS. The feast being over, and the people about to return home, our Lord gives them provisions for the way: On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink.

AUG. The feast was then going on, which is called scenopegia, i.e. building of tents.

CHRYS. Which lasted seven days. The first and last days were the most important; In the last day, that great day of the feast, says the Evangelist. Those between were given chiefly to amusements. He did not then make the offer on the first day, or the second, or the third, lest amidst the excitements that were going on, people should let it slip from their minds, He cried out, on account of the great multitude of people present.

THEOPHYL. To make Himself audible, inspire confidence in others, and show an absence of all fear in Himself.

CHRYS. If any thirsts: as if to say, I use no compulsion or violence: I but if any have the desire strong enough, let him come.

AUG. For there is an inner thirst, because there is an inner man: and the inner man of a certainty loves more than the outer. So then if we thirst, let us go not on our feet, but on our affections, not by change of place, but by love.

CHRYS. He is speaking of spiritual drink, as His next words show: He that believes in Me, as the Scripture truth said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But where here does the Scripture say this? No where. What then? We should read, He that believes in Me, as said the Scripture, putting the stop here; and then, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water: the meaning being, that that was a right kind of belief, which was formed on the evidence of Scripture, not of miracles. Search the Scriptures, he had said before. JEROME. Or this testimony is taken from the Proverbs, where it is said, Let your fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.

AUG. The belly of the inner man, is the heart"s conscience. Let him drink from that water, and his conscience is quickened and purified; he drinks in the whole fountain, nay, becomes the very fountain itself. But what is that fountain, and what is that river, which flows from the belly of the inner man? The love of his neighbor. If any one, who drinks of the water, thinks that it is meant to satisfy himself alone, out of his belly there does not flow living water. But if he does good to his neighbor, the stream is not dried up, but flows.

GREG. When sacred preaching flows from the soul of the faithful, rivers of living water, as it were, run down from the bellies of believers. For what are the entrails of the belly but the inner part of the mind; i.e. a right intention, a holy desire, humility towards God, mercy toward man.

CHRYS. He says, rivers, not river, to show the copious and overflowing power of grace: and living water, i.e. always moving; for when the grace of the Spirit has entered into and settled in the mind, it flows freer than any fountain, and neither fails, nor empties, nor stagnates. The wisdom of Stephen, the tongue of Peter, the strength of Paul, are evidences of this. Nothing hindered them; but, like impetuous torrents, they went on, carrying every thing along with them.

AUG. What kind of drink it was, to which our Lord invited them, the Evangelist next explains; But this He spoke of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive. Whom does the Spirit mean, but the Holy Spirit; For every man has within him his own spirit.

ALCUIN. He promised the Holy Spirit to the Apostles before the Ascension; He gave it to them in fiery tongues, after the Ascension. The Evangelist"s words, Which they that believe in Him should receive, refer to this.

AUG. The Spirit of God was, i.e. was with God, before now; but was not yet given to those who believed on Jesus; for our Lord had determined not to give them the Spirit, till He was risen again: The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.

CHRYS. The Apostles indeed cast out devils by the Spirit before, but only by the power which they had from Christ. For when He sent them, it is not said, He gave them the Holy Spirit, but, He gave to them power. With respect to the Prophets however, all agree that the Holy Spirit was given to them but this grace had been withdrawn from the world.

AUG. Yet we read of John the Baptist, He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother"s womb. And Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied. Mary was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied of our Lord. And so were Simeon and Anna, that they might acknowledge the greatness of the infant Christ. We are to understand then that the giving of the Holy Spirit was to be certain, after Christ"s exaltation, in a way in which it never was before. It was to have a peculiarity at His coming, which it had not before. For we no where read of men under the influence of the Holy Spirit, speaking with tongues which they had never known, as then took place, when it was necessary to evidence His coming by sensible miracles.

AUG. If the Holy Spirit then is received now, why is there no one who speaks the tongues of all nations? Because now the Church herself speaks the tongues of all nations. Whoso is not in her, neither does he now receive the Holy Spirit. But if only you love unity, whoever has any thing in her, has it for you. Put away envy, and that which I have is yours. Envy separates, love unites: have it, and you have all things: whereas without it nothing that you can have, will profit you. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which its given to us. But why did our Lord give the Holy Spirit after His resurrection? That the flame of love might mount upwards to our own resurrection: separating us from the world, and devoting us wholly to God. He who said, He that believes in Me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, has promised life eternal, free from all fear, and change, and death. Such then being the gifts which He promised to those in whom the Holy Spirit kindled the flame of love, He would not give that Spirit till He was glorified: in order that in His own person He might show us that life, which we hope to attain to in the resurrection.

AUG. If this then is the cause why the Holy Spirit was not yet given; viz. because Jesus was not yet glorified; doubtless, the glorification of Jesus when it took place, was the cause immediately of its being given. The Cataphryges, however, said that they first received the promised Paraclete, and thus strayed from the Catholic faith. The Manichaeans too apply all the promises made respecting the Holy Spirit to Manichaeus, as if there were no Holy Spirit given before.

CHRYS. Or thus; By the glory of Christ, He means the cross. For, whereas we were enemies, and gifts are not made to enemies, but to friends, it was necessary that the victim should be first offered up, and the enmity of the flesh removed; that, being made friends of God, we might be capable of receiving the gift.


Verses 40-53

Ver 1a. In the beginning was the Word,

 


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Bibliography Information
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on John 7:4". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/john-7.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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