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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
John 7



Other Authors

CHAP. 7–10.] JESUS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. The conflict at its height.

Verse 1

1.] The chronology of this period is very doubtful. I have remarked on it in my note on Luke 9:51. Thus much we may observe here, that μετὰ ταῦτα cannot apply emphatically to ch. 6, but must be referred back to ch. 5, as indeed must the Jews seeking to kill Him, and the miracle alluded to in John 7:23. But it will not follow from this, that ch. 6 is not in its right place: it contains an independent memoir of a miracle and discourse of our Lord in Galilee which actually happened in the interval, and only serves to shew us the character of this Gospel as made up of such memoirs, more or less connected with one another, and selected by the Evangelist for their higher spiritual import, and the discourses arising from them. I would understand this verse as merely carrying on the time from ch. 5 and ch. 6,—and its contents as introductory to the account of Jesus not going up at first to the feast. Ch. 6 is in some measure presupposed in our John 7:3, as indicating that He had not constantly observed the festal journeys of late.

Verses 1-52

1–52.] JESUS MEETS THE UNBELIEF OF THE JEWS AT JERUSALEM. The circumstances (John 7:1-13).

Verse 2

2.] See Deuteronomy 16:13-17. Josephus, Antt. viii. 4. 1, calls this ἑορτὴ ἁγιωτάτη καὶ μεγίστη. It began on the 15th (evening of 14th) of Tisri [Sept. 28], and lasted till the evening of the 22nd [Oct. 6].

Verses 3-5

3–5.] Respecting the BRETHREN OF THE LORD, see note on Matthew 13:55. They seem to have had at this time a kind of belief in the Messianic character of Jesus, but of the very lowest sort, not excluding the harsh and scoffing spirit visible in these words. They recognized his miracles, but despised his apparent want of prudence and consistency of purpose, in not shewing himself to the world. In the ἵνα καὶ οἱ μαθ. σου κ. τ. λ. there is perhaps a reference to the desertion of many of his disciples just before. Nay, more than this: the indication furnished by this verse of the practice of our Lord with regard to His miracles up to this point is very curious. He appears as yet to have made His circuits in Galilee, and to have wrought miracles there, in the presence of but a small circle of disciples properly so called: and there would seem to have been a larger number of disciples, in the wider sense, in Judæa, or to be gathered in Judæa by the feast, who yet wanted assuring, by open display, of the reality of His wonderful works.

In John 7:5 (as well as by οἱ μαθηταί σου, John 7:3), we have these brethren absolutely excluded from the number of the Twelve (see ch. John 6:69); and it is impossible to modify the meaning of ἐπίστευον so as to suppose that they may have been of the Twelve, but not believers in the highest sense. This verse also excludes all of His brethren: it is inconceivable that John should have so written, if any among them believed at that time. The attempt to make the words mean, that some of his brethren did not believe on him, is in my view quite futile. In that case we should certainly have had some such expression as ἦσαν γὰρ καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἀδελφῶν αὐτοῦ, οἳ οὐκ ἐπίστευον εἰς αὐτόν. No such attempt would ever have been made by a Greek scholar,—except for the fiction which has been so long, and, strange to say, is still upheld with regard to our Lord’s brethren.

The emphatic expression, οὐδὲ γὰρ οἱ ἀδ., is a strong corroboration of the view that they were really and literally brethren: see also Psalms 69:8.

Verses 6-9

6–9.] ὁ καιρ. ὁ ἐμ. can hardly be taken as directly meaning ‘the time of my sufferings and death,’—but as ἡ ὥρα μου in ch. John 2:4 : ‘My time for the matter of which you speak, viz. manifestation to the world.’ That (ch. John 12:32) was to take place in a very different manner. But they, having no definite end before them, no glory of God to shew forth, but being of the world, always had their opportunity ready of mingling with and standing well with the world. Then (John 7:7), ‘you have no hatred of the world in your way: but its hatred to Me on account of my testimony against it, causes me to exercise this caution which you so blame.’

In John 7:8, it is of little import (see var. readd.) whether we read οὐκ or οὔπω: the sense will be the same, both on account of the present, ἀναβαίνω (not ἀναβήσομαι, which would express the disavowal of an intention to go up), and of οὔπω afterwards. οὐκ ἀναβ. would mean, I am not (at present) going up. Meyer attributes to our Lord change of purpose, and justifies his view by the example of His treatment of the Syrophœnician woman, whom He at first repulsed, but afterwards had compassion on. Matthew 15:26 ff. The same Commentator directs attention to the emphatic ταύτην, as implying that our Lord had it in His mind to go up to some future feasts, but not to this one.

οὔπω πεπλήρ., is not yet fully come: see Luke 9:51 and note.

Verse 10

10.] οὐ φαν., i.e. not in the usual caravan-company, nor probably by the usual way. Whether the Twelve were with Him, we have no means of judging: probably so, for they appear ch. John 9:2; and after their becoming once attached to the Person of our Lord as Apostles, we find no trace of his having been for any long time separated from them, except during their mission Matthew 10, which was long ago accomplished.

Verse 11

11.] These ἰουδ. are, as usual, the ἄρχοντες, as distinguished from the multitudes. Their question itself ( ἐκεῖνος) shews a hostile spirit.

Verse 12

12.] οἱ ὄχλ. (the different groups of which ὁ ὄχλος was composed) would include the Galilæan disciples, and those who had been baptized by the disciples in Judæa,—whose view ἀγαθός ἐστιν would represent,—as expressed mildly in protest against His enemies.

πλανᾷ τὸν ὄχλον, possibly in reference to the feeding of and then the discourse to the multitude, which had given so much offence.

Verse 13

13. παῤῥ.] This was true only of the side who said ἀγαθός ἐστιν: they dared not speak their mind: the others spoke plainly enough. Here again οἱ ἰουδ. are distinguished from the ὄχλοι.

Verse 14-15

14, 15.] τ. ἑορ. μεσ., about the middle of the feast. Probably on a sabbath (see Wieseler, Chron. i. 309). It appears to have been the first time that He ἐδίδασκεν publicly at Jerusalem;—whence ( οὖν) the wonder of the Jews, i.e. the rulers of the hierarchy.

γράμματα—generally letters; but also particularly, scripture-learning—perhaps because this was all the literature of the Jews: see reff. Probably His teaching consisted in exposition of the Scripture.

μὴ μεμ., never having been the scholar of any Rabbi. He was θεοδίδακτος. These words are spoken in the true bigotry and prejudice of so-called ‘learning.’

These words of His enemies, testifying to matter of fact well known to them, are, as Meyer observes, decisive against all attempts of unbelievers to attribute our Lord’s knowledge to education in any human school of learning. Such indications are not without their value in these times.

Verses 14-39

14–39.] Jesus testifies to Himself in the Temple.

Verses 15-24

15–24.] His teaching is from the Father.

Verse 16

16.] Here only does our Lord call His teaching διδαχή, as being now among the διδάσκαλοι, the Rabbis, in the temple. It is often so called by the Evangelists, see reff.

The words may bear two meanings:—either, ‘the sense of Scripture which I teach is not my own, but that in which it was originally penned as a revelation from God;’ or, My teaching (generally) is not mine, but that of Him who sent me. The latter is preferable, as agreeing better with what follows, and because the former assumes that He was expounding Scripture, which, though probable, is not asserted.

Verse 17

17.] θέλειν τὸ θέλ. αὐτ. ποιεῖν is equivalent to τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ θεοῦ ἔχειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, ch. John 5:42. The θέλειν should not have been slurred over in the E. V., for it is important. If any man’s will be, to do His will, &c. As it now stands in the E. V., a wrong idea is conveyed: that the bare performance of God’s outward commands will give a man sufficient acquaintance with Christian doctrine:—whereas what our Lord asserts to the Jews is, that if the will be set in His ways, if a man be really anxious to do the will of God, and thus to fulfil this first great commandment of the law,—be, as Meyer expresses it, in ethical harmony with God,—the singleness of purpose, and subjection to the will of God, will lead him on to faith in the promised and then apparent Messiah, and to a just discrimination of the divine character of his teaching.

Verse 18

18.] This gives us the reason why he, who wishes to do God’s will, will know of the teaching of Christ: viz. because both are seeking one aim—the glory of God:—and the humility of him, whose will it is to do God’s will, can best appreciate that more perfect humility of the divine Son, who speaks not of himself, but of Him that sent him,—see ch. John 5:41-44, of which this verse is a repetition with a somewhat different bearing. In its general sense, it asserts that self exaltation and self-seeking necessarily accompany the unaided teaching of man, but that all true teaching is from God. But then we must remember that, simply taken, the latter part of the sentence is only true of the Holy One Himself; that owing to human infirmity, purity of motive is no sure guarantee for correctness of doctrine;—and therefore in this second part it is not τοῦ θεοῦ, which would generalize it to all men, but τοῦ πέμψ. αὐτόν, which confines it to Himself.

Verse 19

19.] There is a close connexion with the foregoing. Our Lord now takes the offensive against them. The θέλειν τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ ποιεῖν was to be the great key to a true appreciation of His teaching: but of this there was no example among them: and therefore it was that they were no fair judges of the teaching, but bitter opponents and persecutors of Jesus, of whom, had they been anxious to fulfil the law, they would have been earnest and humble disciples (ch. John 5:46). The law was to be read before all Israel every seventh year in the feast of tabernacles (Deuteronomy 31:10-13):—whether this was such a year is uncertain: but this verse may allude to the practice, even if it was not.

ζητεῖτε ἀποκτ.] In their killing the Lord of Life was summed up all their transgression of God’s law. It was the greatest proof of their total ignorance of and disobedience to it.

Verse 20

20.] The multitude, not the rulers, replied this. Indeed their question, τίς σε ζητεῖ ἀποκτεῖναι; shews their ignorance of the purpose of their rulers, which our Lord had just exposed and charged them with. It would not now be their policy to represent Him as possessed.

Verse 21

21.] The one work was the sabbath-healing in ch. 5.

Verse 22

22.] διὰ τοῦτο is variously placed; either at the end of John 7:21, so as to come after θαυμάζετε, (Cod. (98), lat. q, Theophyl., Beza, and many of the moderns, Lücke, De Wette, Stier, Lachmann, &c.,)—or at the beginning of this verse (Codd. (99), (100), (101), (102), (103), (104), (105), δ, λ, [(106), (107), γ, π,] vul(108)., the syriac versions, copt(109)., got(110)., Euthym(111), Chrys., Cyril, Grotius, &c.). I prefer the latter arrangement: because (1) I believe τοῦτο would not be used in the sense required by the other, but αὐτό (nor can I see that the ἓν ἔργον makes the τοῦτο any more applicable (see Stier, edn. 2, iv. 315); nay, it seems to me to take the attention off from the particular work done, and fix it on the mere ἓν ἔργ. ποιῆσαι, abstractedly—‘Ye wonder that I have acted at all’): and (2) because I find διὰ τοῦτο joined with ὅτι to be a usual mode of speaking with our Evangelist, see ch. John 5:16; John 5:18; John 8:47 ( θαυμάζειν διά τι is used Mark 6:6; Revelation 17:7; see also John 3:29). (3) I see an appropriateness of meaning in John 7:22 with the διὰ τοῦτο, which it has not without it. Moses on this account gave you circumcision, not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers; (the repetition of ἐκ τ. ΄ωυ. ἐστ. does not necessarily imply a parenthesis: John constantly uses these formal repetitions: this in answer to Stier, iv. 315, edn. 2)—i.e. it is no part of the law of Moses, properly so called,—but was adopted by Moses, and thereby becomes part of his law. The meaning of οὐχ ὅτι, ‘not that,’ implying ‘I mean not, that,’ does not seem to suit the context so well, because it would leave the preceding διὰ τοῦτο without any thing to refer to. Now you circumcise on the Sabbath, to avoid breaking the law of Moses, &c. If our Lord had said these last words (in John 7:23) merely, the argument would not have been strict: they might have answered, that circumcision was not only a command of the law, but anterior to it: whereas John 7:22 takes this answer from them; reminding them that though they regarded its sanction as derived from Moses, it was in fact older,—and tacitly approving their doing it on the Sabbath. Then the argument is, If this may be done on the Sabbath:—if an ordinance strictly Mosaic (which the Sabbath in its Jewish mode of observance was) may be set aside by another, Mosaic also, but more ancient, and borrowed from a more general and direct command of God (“circumcisio est antiquior rigido otio sabbati per Mosen imperato”—Grotius), how much more may it by a deed of mercy, a benevolent exercise of divine power, the approval of which is anterior to and deeper than all ceremonial enactment?

Verse 23

23.] ἵνα μὴ λυθῇ—not,—“ita ut non solvatur”—“salva lege;” which is ungrammatical;—but in order that the Law of Moses may not be broken, viz. that which (after the fathers) ordains circumcision on the eighth day.

ὅλον ἄνθρ.] The distinction is between circumcision, which purified only part of a man, by which he received ( ἔλαβεν) ceremonial cleanness,—and that perfect and entire healing which the Lord bestowed on the cripple. Stier (after Bengel) thinks the ὅλον refers to body and soul,—see ch. John 5:14,—whose healing is a much greater benefit than circumcision, even viewed as a sacrament: “nam circumcisio est medium, sanatio animæ finis.” But this is perhaps too subtle. The Jews could not have appreciated this meaning, and the argument is especially addressed to them. Besides, it is by no means certain from that passage that such was the case.

Verse 24

24.] No stress must be laid on the article ( τήν) with κρίνετε: it is merely expressive of habit,—Let your judgment ( κρ. ὑμῶν) be a just one.

κρίνετε implies habit—in all your judgments: whereas the aorist (see var. readd.) would enjoin right judgment on the present occasion, directing the attention on what had just happened.

Verse 25-26

25, 26.] The inhabitants of Jerusalem know better than the ὄχλος the mind of their rulers towards Jesus; and suspect some change in their purpose, on account of His being thus permitted to teach freely.

Verses 25-31


Verse 27

27.] Perhaps they refer to the idea (see Justin Mart., Dial. c. Tryph. 8, 110, pp. 110, 203) that the Messiah would not be known ( ἄγνωστός ἐστι καὶ οὐδὲ αὐτός πω ἑαυτὸν ἐπίσταται) until anointed by Elias, when He would suddenly come forth from obscurity.

They may allude to Isaiah 53:8.

The place of the Messiah’s birth was known, John 7:42.

At all events we see here, that the Jews regarded their Messiah not as a mere man, but one to be supernaturally sent into the world.

Verse 28-29

28, 29.] ἔκραξεν,—in the same open undisguised manner referred to in παῤῥησέᾳ λαλεῖ above; but διδάσκων, in the course of His teaching.

κἀμὲ οἴδατε.…] It has been questioned whether these words are to be taken ironically, interrogatively, or affirmatively. I incline to the last view, for this reason:—obviously no very high degree of knowledge whence He was is implied, for they knew not Him that sent Him (see also ch. John 8:14; John 8:19), and therefore could not know whence He was, in this sense. The answer is made in their own sense:—they knew that He was from Nazareth in Galilee, see John 7:41,—and probably that He was called the son of Joseph. In this sense they knew whence He was; but further than this they knew not.

καὶ ἀπʼ ἐμ … and moreover—and besides this—not = but.

The sense of ἀληθινός must be gathered from the context. I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is ἀληθινόςye know Him not; I know Him,—for I came from Him, and He sent Me. The matter here impressed on them is the genuineness, the reality of the fact:—that Jesus was sent, and there was one who sent Him, though they knew Him not, and consequently knew not πόθεν ἐστίν. The nearest English word would be real: but this would not convey the meaning perspicuously to the ordinary mind;—perhaps the E. V. true is better, provided it be explained to mean objectively, not subjectively, true: really existent, not ‘truthful,’ which it may be questioned whether the word ἀληθινός will bear, although it is so maintained by Euthym(112), Cyril, Chrys., Theophylact, Lampe, Baumgarten-Crusius, Tholuck, and many others. See on this, ch. John 8:16 and note. With the δέ of the re(113). omitted the sense becomes more emphatic. It was probably inserted on account of the apparent want of connexion, as has been the case very frequently throughout the Gospel. We have here an instance of a usage of ἐκεῖνος which is very common in St. John, as emphasizing the main subject, not (as more commonly) diverting the attention to one more removed. In ignorance of this usage, Hilgenfeld, “Die Evangelia nach ihrer Entstehung, u. s. w.,” has argued from ch. John 19:35, that the writer of this Gospel cannot himself have been an eye-witness of the crucifixion, because he there distinguishes that witness by ἐκεῖνος from himself. In consequence of this assertion, an article appeared in the Stud. u. Kritik. for 1859, pt. 3, by G. E. Steiss, in which the use of ἐκεῖνος by St. John is gone into, and Hilgenfeld’s mistake (which Köstlin had committed before him) was exposed. Referring to that article for the full treatment of the subject, I merely cite from among many other instances of the usage, ch. John 1:18; John 1:33; John 5:11; John 6:57; John 10:1; John 12:48; John 14:12; John 14:21; John 14:26; John 17:24.

Verse 30

30.] Namely, the rulers,—instigated by what had been above remarked by the people, John 7:25-26. There was some secondary hindrance to their laying hands on Him,—possibly the fear of the people: but the Evangelist passes at once to the real cause;—that God’s appointed time was not yet come.

Verse 31

31.] The δέ here contrasts with what went before—nay, many &c.

The indefiniteness of ὅταν ἔλθῃ implies their belief that the Christ had come.

Verse 32

32.] The wavering of the multitude appears to the Pharisees a dangerous sign: and the Sanhedrim ( οἱ ἀρχ. κ. οἱ φ.) send officers specially to lay hold on Him.

Verses 32-36


Verse 33-34

33, 34.] The omission or insertion of αὐτοῖς makes very little difference. The words were spoken, not to the officers only, but to all the people.

ἔτι χρ. μικ] This appears to be said in reference to John 7:30, to shew them the uselessness of their attempting to lay hands on Him till His hour was come, which it soon would be.

πρὸς τ. πέμψ. με] It has been asked, ‘If Jesus thus specified where He was going, how could the Jews ask the question in John 7:35?’ but De Wette answers well, that the Jews knew not τὸν πέμψαντα αὐτόν, and therefore the saying was a dark one to them.

ζητ. με, κ. οὐχ εὑρ.] These words must not be pressed too much, as has been done by many interpreters (Chrysost., Theophyl., Euthym(114), Meyer, Tholuck, but not in his 6th edn.), who would make them mean, ‘Ye shall seek My help and not find it’ (viz. in your need, at the destruction of Jerusalem); for this would not be true even of the Jews, any one of whom might have at any time turned and looked on Him whom he had pierced, by faith,—and have been saved;—nor again must it be taken as meaning, ‘Ye shall seek to lay hands on Me, and shall not be able’ (Orig(115), Grot.),—which is vapid and unmeaning. Neither of these interpretations, nor their cognates, will agree with the parallel place, ch. John 13:33, where the same words are used to the disciples. The meaning is simply (as in reff.), ‘My bodily presence will be withdrawn from you; I shall be personally in a place inaccessible to you:’ see ch. John 13:36.

εἰμί, am; not εἶμι, ‘go,’ which is never used in the N.T. Nor need we supply τότε; the present tense is used in the solemn sense of ch. John 1:18, and ch. John 3:13, to signify essential truth. Compare οὐ δύνασθε addressed to the Jews, with οὐ δύνασαί μοι νῦν ἀκολ., ἀκολουθήσεις δὲ ὕστερον to Peter, ch. John 13:36, and it will be evident that the Lord had their spiritual state in view: ‘Ye cannot, as ye are now, enter there.’

On the whole, see Luke 17:22.

Verse 35-36

35, 36.] The Jews understood not his death to be meant, but some journey which he would take in the event of their rejecting him.

The διασπ. τ. ἑλλ. must not be interpreted ‘the Hellenistic Jews,’ for the ἕλληνες are always distinguished from the Jews; and this would convey hardly any meaning. The sense of διασπορά is,—see reff. James, 1 Pet.,—‘the country where Jews lay scattered,’ as qualified by the succeeding genitive, where one occurs, as here. So here ἡ δ. τ. ἑλ. means ‘the dispersed in the Gentile world;’—and their intent is, to convey contempt and mockery. They do not however believe the hypothesis; but ask again, τίς ἐστιν ὁ λόγος οὗτος;

Verse 37-38

37, 38.] It is not certain what is meant by this ἡ ἐσχ. ἡμ. ἡ μεγ. The command, Leviticus 23:34-35, was to keep the feast seven days; the first to be a solemn assembly and a feast-sabbath,—then on the eighth day another solemn assembly and a feast-sabbath:—so also ib. Leviticus 23:39. (But in Deuteronomy 16:13 nothing is said of the eighth day.) In Nehemiah 8:18 the feast is kept seven days, and on the eighth is a solemn assembly, “according unto the manner.” In Numbers 29:12-38, where minute directions are given for every day of the feast, the eighth day is reckoned in, as usual. Josephus, Antt. iii. 10. 4, gives a similar account. In 2 Maccabees 10:6, we read ἡμέρας ὀκτώ, σκηνωμάτων τρόπον. But the eighth day was not properly one of the feast days; the people ceased to dwell in the tabernacles on the seventh day. Philo says of it, ἑπτὰ δὲ ἡμέραις ὀγδόην ἐπισφραγίζεται, καλέσας ἐξόδιον αὐτήν, οὐκ ἐκείνης ὡς ἔοικε μόνον τῆς ἑορτῆς, ἀλλὰ πασῶν τῶν ἐτησίων ὅσας καθηριθμήσαμεν· τελευταία γὰρ ἐστι τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ. De Septenario, § 24. And though this, as Lücke observes (ii. 224), may be pure conjecture, it is valuable, as shewing the fact the reason of which is conjectured; viz. that the eighth day was held in more than ordinary estimation. The eighth day then seems here to be meant, and the last of the feast to be popularly used, as in some of the citations above. But a difficulty attends this view. Our Lord certainly seems to allude here to the custom which prevailed during the seven days of the feast, of a priest bringing water in a golden vessel from the pool of Siloam with a jubilant procession to the temple, standing on the altar and pouring it out there, together with wine, while meantime the Hallel (Psalms 113-118.) was sung. This practice was by some supposed—as the dwelling in tabernacles represented their life in the desert of old—to refer to the striking of the rock by Moses:—by others, to the rain, for which they then prayed, for the seed of the ensuing year:—by the elder Rabbis (Maimonides, cited by Stier, iv. 331, edn. 2), to Isaiah 12:3, and the effusion of the Holy Spirit in the days of the Messiah. But it was universally agreed (with the single exception of the testimony of R. Juda Hakkadosh, quoted in the tract Succa, which itself distinctly asserts the contrary), that on the eighth day this ceremony did not take place. Now, out of this difficulty I would extract what I believe to be the right interpretation. It was the eighth day, and the pouring of water did not take place. But is therefore (as Lücke will have it) all allusion to the ceremony excluded? I think not: nay, I believe it is the more natural. For seven days the ceremony had been performed, and the Hallel sung. On the eighth day the Hallel was sung, but the outpouring of the water did not take place: “desideraverunt aliquid.” ‘Then Jesus stood and cried, &c.’ Was not this the most natural time? Was it not probable that He would have said it at such a time, rather even than while the ceremony itself was going on?

An attempt has been made to alter the punctuation thus: ἐάν τις διψᾷ, ἐρχέσθω πρός με, καὶ πινέτω ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ· καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γρ., ποταμοὶ κ. τ. λ. Of this I can only say, that it is surprising to me how any one accustomed to the style of our Evangelist can for a moment suppose it possible. The harshness of καὶ πινέτω ὁ π. εἰς ἐμέ is beyond all example. The ordinary punctuation, making ὁ πισ. εἰς ἐμέ a nom. abs., see ch. John 6:39, is the only admissible one,—even were it beset with far greater difficulties than it is. (The punctuation above mentioned is strongly upheld against this note in Stier, edn. 2. In spite of what he there says, I cannot think it can ever make way among Biblical scholars. It introduces two subjects into the first part of the sentence, viz. ὁ διψῶν and ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ, to the utter confusion of both sense and metaphor. The distinction, insisted on by Stier, between the believer on Christ, who was not only to come, but to drink,—and the people at the feast, who only witnessed the outpouring of the water,—and which he gives as a reason why πινέτω must stand emphatically before ὁ πιστ. its qualifying subject, will be quite as marked with the usual punctuation: nay even more so.)

On the first clauses, see notes on ch. John 4:13-14.

καθὼς εἶπ. ἡ γρ.] These words must apply to ποταμοὶ ἐκ τ. κ.…, since ὁ πιστ. εἰς ἐμέ could not form part of the citation. But we look in vain for such a text in the O.T., and an apocryphal or lost canonical book is out of the question.

I believe the citation to be intimately connected with the ceremony referred to, and that we must look for its place by consulting the passages where the flowing out of water from the temple (see above) is spoken of. The most remarkable of these is found in Ezekiel 47:1-12. There a ποταμός of water of life (see John 7:9 especially) flows from under the threshold of the temple. Again in Zechariah 14:8, ἐξελεύσεται ὕδωρ ζῶν ἐξ ἱερουσαλήμ. I believe these expressions to be all to which the citation applies, and the ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ to be the interpretation of the corresponding words in the prophecies. For the temple was symbolic (see ch. John 2:21) of the Body of the Lord; and the Spirit which dwells in and flows forth from His glorified Body, dwells in and flows forth from His people also, who are made like unto Him, Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:9-11 :1 Corinthians 3:16.

Verses 37-52


Verse 39

39.] The difficulties raised concerning this interpretation of the saying of our Lord have arisen from a misapprehension. John does not say that the words were a prophecy of what happened on the day of Pentecost; but of the Spirit, which the believers were about to receive. Their first reception of Him must not be illogically put in the place of all His indwelling and working, which are here intended. And the symbolism of the N.T. is fully satisfied by the interpretation. Granted that the water is the water of life—what is that life but the life of the Spirit? τὸ φρόνημα τοῦ πνεύμ., ζωή,, Romans 8:6; and again, τὸ πνεῦμα, ζωή, ib. Romans 7:10.

It is lamentable to see such able and generally right-minded Commentators as Lücke carping at the interpretation of an Apostle, and the one Apostle who perhaps of all men living had the deepest insight into the wonderful analogies of spiritual things.

οὔπω ἦν] The additions δεδομένον, δοθέν, ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς, are all glosses, to avoid a misunderstanding which no intelligent reader could fall into. Chr(116) in loc. quotes the verse thus: ὁ εὐαγγελιστὴς ἔλεγεν, οὔπω γὰρ ἦν πνεῦμα ἅγιον, τουτέστι δοθέν, ἐπεὶ ἰησοῦς οὔπω ἐδοξάσθη· δόξαν καλῶν τὸν σταυρόν. It is obvious that ἦν cannot refer to the essential existence of the Holy Spirit, as this would be not only in flat contradiction to ch. John 1:32-33; John 3:5; John 3:8; John 3:34, but to the whole O.T., in which the agency of the Spirit in the outward world is recognized even more vividly than in the N.T. The ἦν implies not exactly δεδομένον, but rather ἐνεργοῦν, or some similar word: was not,—had not come in;the dispensation of the Spirit was not yet.’

ἐδοξάσθη, through death. The glorified Body of the Lord is the temple from under whose threshold the Holy Spirit flows forth to us: see ch. John 1:16 : Romans 8:11; Colossians 2:9.

Verse 40

40.] ὁ προφήτης is here clearly distinguished from ὁ χριστός: see note on ch. John 1:21, and Deuteronomy 18:15.

Verses 41-43

41–43.] The mention of the question about Bethlehem seems to me rather to corroborate our belief that the Evangelist was well aware how the fact stood, than (De Wette) to imply that he was ignorant of it. That no more remarks are appended, is natural. John had one great design in writing his Gospel, and does not allow it to be interfered with by explanations of matters otherwise known. Besides, we may note that De Wette’s “probability, that John knew nothing of the birth at Bethlehem,” reaches much further than may appear at first. If John knew nothing of it, and yet the mother of the Lord lived with him, the inference must be that she knew nothing of it,—in other words, that it never happened.

σχίσμα implies a violent dissension,—some taking up His cause, some wishing to lay hands on Him.

Verse 44

44.] These were from among the multitude. Those who wished to lay hands on Him were, as Euthymius remarks, invisibly restrained.

Verses 45-52

45–52.] Return of the officers to the Sanhedrim; consultation on their report.

Either these officers had been watching Jesus for some days, or the present section goes back a little from what has preceded. The latter is more probable.

Verse 49

49.] There is no intention to pronounce a formal ban upon the followers of Jesus;—the words are merely a passionate expression of contempt. The putting a stop at νόμον, and supplying ἐπίστευσεν εἰς αὐτόν, and then making ἐπάρ. εἰσιν! an exclamation (Paulus, Kuinoel), is not to be thought of.

Verse 50

50.] The Jews had, since the sabbath-healing, condemned Jesus, and were seeking to kill him. But in Exodus 23:1-2; Deuteronomy 1:16-17, justice is commanded to be done in the way here insisted on by Nicodemus. On the consistency, and development, of the character of Nicodemus, Luthardt has some valuable remarks, pp. 125 ff. [see on ch. John 19:39].

Verse 51

51.] There is no need of supplying κριτής before ἀκούσῃ and γνῷ—the judge is implied in ὁ νόμος. He is only its representative and mouthpiece.

ἐὰν μὴ ἀκ.] See Deuteronomy 1:16.

Verse 52

52.] They taunt him with being disposed to join those (mostly Galilæans) who had attached themselves to Jesus. Whether we read ἐγείρεται or ἐγήγερται, the assertion is much the same: for προφ. cannot mean the Prophet, or the Messiah. It was not historically true;—for two Prophets at least had arisen from Galilee: Jonah of Gathhepher, and the greatest of the Prophets, Elijah of Thisbe; and perhaps also Nahum and Hosea. Their contempt for Galilee made them lose sight of historical accuracy. (Bretschneider absurdly lays the inaccuracy to the charge of the Evangelist.)

Verse 52


[John 7:53 to John 8:11.] THE HISTORY OF THE WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY.—See var. readd.; and a very complete discussion of the authorities for and against the passage in Lücke (edn. 3), ii. 243–256. The critical examination of the genuineness of this passage is attended with many and complicated difficulties. Setting aside here purely diplomatic evidence (for which see var. readd.), we may observe (1) that at first sight, the reasons given by Aug(117) and Nicon seem enough to warrant the inference that it was expunged on account of the supposed licence given by it to sin. And this has been the hypothesis generally adopted by those who would override critical difficulties by strong autocratic assertion. Even Stier and Ebrard decide thus, without pausing to examine the real complications of the question. But (2) granting that such an hypothesis might be admissible as regards ch. John 8:3-11, I do not see how the whole passage can be involved in it, especially the opening John 7:53, which would naturally appear to form a sequel to what has preceded, and would surely never have been expunged with the offensive paragraph. (3) No such hypothesis as this will account for the coexistence of so many distinct and independent texts, apparently none of which owes its origin to any attempt to remove matter of offence. This phænomenon (not that of the abundance of various readings, from which it is totally distinct) points undoubtedly to some inherent defect in the text of the passage itself, irrespective of all treatment subsequent to its establishment as a part of the sacred narrative. (4) At the same time it is an embarrassing circumstance, that the contents of the passage are of such a kind, as to give every countenance to the supposition above dealt with. Had they been otherwise, we should have been much more free in pronouncing a critical decision for or against it. (5) Another difficulty is presented by the very general concurrence of the MSS. containing the passage, in placing it here. If it was not originally found in the text, why should this place, of all others, have been selected for its insertion? It has no connexion with the context: belongs, apparently, to another portion of our Lord’s ministry: what could induce the interpolators to place it here? (6) Nor are we helped much by its variations of position in some MSS. The end of Luke 21. seems most to approve itself as the fitting place. but if it was the original one, it is totally inexplicable that we should find no trace of the fact there, except in four of the (best) cursive mss. Its occurrence here then, seems to me much in its favour. (7) After all, the most weighty argument against the passage is found in its entire diversity from. the style of narrative of our Evangelist. It is not merely that many words and idioms occur which John never uses, but that the whole cast and character of the passage is alien from his manner, in whichever of the existing texts we read it. (It would be hardly worth while to cite an opinion which affirms that “such a course of argument is very fallacious, leads to nothing but endless logomachies, and can never settle a question of this kind” (Bloomf. edn. 9),—were it not earnestly to remind my readers, that the more the sacred text is really studied, the more such considerations, duly and cautiously weighed, will be urged and appreciated.) (8) Balancing all these difficulties, I am almost disposed, as a desperate resource, to adopt the following hypothesis; not as by any means satisfying or even recommending itself to me, but as really the only one which seems at all to shew us a way out of the ænigma: That the Evangelist may have, in this solitary case, incorporated a portion of the current oral tradition into his narrative: that this portion may have been afterwards variously corrected, from the Gospel of the Hebrews, or other traditional sources: that being seen in early times to be alien from John’s diction, it may have been by some replaced in the synoptic narrative, in its apparent chronological place, at Luke 21 fin.: or inserted variously in this Gospel from the mere fact of having dropped out here. Then again the contents of the passage would operate with the above causes to its exclusion altogether from many MSS.: and the fact of some excluding only ch. John 8:3-11, seems certainly to shew that the moral element did operate in the matter. (9) Dropping all idea of the hypothesis just suggested, our conclusion on the data must I think be, to retain the passage, as we retain Mark 16:9 ff., with a distinction from the rest of the text. With regard to the question, what text of the passage itself to adopt, it would seem idle to attempt to unite into one by critical processes texts which seem to be due to different sources. Our solution of the question must be merely formal and diplomatic. And, thus solving it, it has been thought best in this Edition to give the text as it is found in the only one of our most ancient MSS. which contains it: the amount and nature of the variations being fully seen in the accompanying Digest. In adopting this plan, it will be observed that no judgment whatever is given on the purity of the text thus adopted,—no approval whatever of the Codex Bezæ as a fons lectionum: our proceeding is simply a formal and objective one, adopted as a necessity where no other seemed even moderately satisfactory.

Verse 53

53.] The circumstance that this verse is included in the dubious passage is remarkable, and seems to shew, as remarked above, that the doubt has not arisen from the ethical difficulty, as Aug(118) hints (var. readd.),—for then the passage would have begun with ch. John 8:1. Nor can this verse have been expunged to keep up the connexion with ch. John 8:12—for that is just as good with it,—if understood, as usually, of the members of the Sanhedrim. We must now regard it as fragmentary, forming the beginning of the account of the woman taken in adultery. It is therefore not clear to what the words apply. Taken in conjunction with what follows (see on ch. John 8:5), I should say that they indicate some time during the last days of the Lord’s ministry, when He spent the nights on the Mount of Olives, as the date of the occurrence. Certainly the end of Luke 21. seems to be its fitter place.


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 7:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

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