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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
John 7

 

 

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Verses 1-13

My time is not yet come

John 7:1-13

John 7:1. ‘After these things’ evidently has reference to our Lord's ministry in Galilee (John 2:1-11; John 4:43-54) but particularly to what is recorded in Chapter 6 – his discourse on the bread of life and the fact that most of these Galilean disciples ‘went back and walked no more with him.’ But he remained in Galilee and would not go into Judea because the ‘Jews’ (that is, the religious leaders) ‘sought to kill him.’ They had two things against him.

1. His violation of the sabbath by healing the man at the pool of Bethesda.

2. His making himself equal with God (John 5:16-18).

John 7:2. The feast of the tabernacles was a feast, which the Lord ordained the Jews to keep the 15th day of the seventh month, after they had gathered in the fruits of the land. They were to dwell in tents these seven days in remembrance of the forty years spent in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:34-36; Leviticus 23:39-44). The feast was the grand harvest festival, when the Lord of harvest was praised for his mercies.

John 7:3. ‘His brethren’ were the brothers of Christ according to the flesh–the sons of Mary and Joseph (Matthew 12:46-47; Matthew 13:55). These men urged him to go to Jerusalem, the center of Judaism, and let his followers there see the mighty works and miracles he was doing. They observed that his disciples in Galilee had forsaken him. They thought that this feast of the tabernacles would be a good time for him to demonstrate his powers, since multitudes of Jews would be in Jerusalem at this time.

John 7:4. Note the word ‘if’ here. The word indicates unbelief, doubt, and challenge. These brethren are saying, ‘If these works of yours are real and genuine, don't confine yourself to small villages in Galilee; go to the capital of religion and show yourself to the famous and to the influential people.’ They reasoned that a man who sought notoriety could not find it in obscure towns. Perhaps they hoped that he would establish his fame; and, as his kinsmen, they could share in it.

John 7:5. But this verse reveals the truth about these brethren. ‘They did not believe him to be the Messiah’ (Psalms 69:8). Many believe that Mark 3:21 refers to these kinsmen, who thought he was ‘beside himself.’

John 7:6-8. These verses must be considered together; for he begins with, ‘My time is not yet come,’ and closes the statement with practically the same words, ‘My time is not yet fully come.’ Some believe that the simple meaning of these verses is that Christ declined to go up to the feast with his brethren at this particular time. But in the light of other similar statements (John 2:4; John 8:20; Matthew 26:18), the time or hour was not yet come for him to publicly display his miracles in Jerusalem, to have a head-on confrontation with the religious leaders, to reveal himself as the Messiah and King, and so to stir up their enmity and fears of him which would lead them to crucify him in open shame. He said to these brethren, ‘Your time is always ready,’ or anytime is suitable for you; for you are of the world, and the world does not hate you. They had in mind, like everyone else, an earthly kingdom, great favor, and applause of the world. But our Lord came to redeem a people, to condemn the social, political, and religious world in general; therefore, he incurred the wrath of all. ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ When the proper time came, our Lord would speak the words, do the works, and accomplish in Jerusalem what he came to do!

John 7:9. When he said these words, he abode still in Galilee while his brethren went to the feast in Jerusalem.

John 7:10. The general method of travel in those days, especially at festival seasons, was to form a caravan and travel with many people. If the ‘famous Galilean’ had gone with this crowd to Jerusalem, it would have been sensational and contrary to his purpose. He chose rather to go in secret and avoid the publicity. We must keep in mind the Lord's purpose was not notoriety, fame, and a following of opportunists, but to follow the divine timetable in revealing himself as the ‘Lamb of God,’ the Redeemer of sinners, and to accomplish that which was ‘written of him in the volume of the book’ (Hebrews 10:7-9).

John 7:11-12. What a contrast of opinions in these early days concerning Jesus of Nazareth! The Jewish leaders sought him with wrath and contempt because six months earlier at the feast of the Passover he had stirred up their anger by violating their sabbath and making himself equal with God (John 5:16-18). The general public was divided over Him, some saying, ‘He is a good man;’ others, ‘an imposter’ (Matthew 16:13-17).

John 7:13. Though many of the Galileans and the common people had a good opinion of Jesus Christ, they did not dare freely express their thoughts concerning him because they feared the rulers of the Jews, who despised him (John 19:38; Proverbs 29:25).


Verses 14-27

Christ reproves the Jews

John 7:14-27

John 7:14. The Lord went up to Jerusalem to the feast about the fourth day (the feast lasted eight days). He taught publicly in the temple. We are not told what his subject was, but we can assume that he expounded the scriptures and instructed the people. Perhaps he had much to say about this particular feast and its spiritual meaning.

John 7:15. The Jews marveled at the manner and matter of his doctrine, he spoke as never man spake. His words were gracious, delivered with power and authority, and gave evidence of an unusual knowledge of the scriptures. They knew that Jesus of Nazareth had never sat at the feet of the Jewish doctors nor been educated in their school of the prophets, yet he not only knew the scriptures but the great mysteries of the kingdom of God.

John 7:16. His doctrine was his in the sense that he is God. He is the author of it, the subject of it, and the glory of it. His doctrine respected his person as the God-man, his offices as prophet, priest, and king, and his redemptive work in life, death, and resurrection. But Christ is not speaking here from the standpoint of his essential glory, not as God, but as the servant of Jehovah, as the Son of God incarnate. His doctrine had been taught him by no man, nor did he invent it himself; but his is the wisdom which comes from the Father (John 8:28; Galatians 1:11-12).

John 7:17. If any man has a heart truly set on knowing and embracing the will of God (however contrary it may be to his own thoughts), if any man seeks for the truth of God seriously, in the fear of the Lord, willing to lay aside tradition, custom, and the wisdom of the flesh, God will reveal the truth to him so that he shall know that I do not speak from myself (as a man) but by the authority of the Father.

John 7:18. Here is another proof that his doctrine was from the Father. The one who totally acts, speaks, and works only for the glory of God is no imposter; and there is no deception nor unrighteousness in him. He who preaches his own message and his own thoughts aims at his own honor and attracts attention to himself. But the servant who sincerely seeks his glory that sent him is a true servant and ought to be heard (John 5:42-44). Doctrine, which advances the honor and glory of God and humbles the creature, is most likely to be of God! (1 Corinthians 1:26-31.)

John 7:19. Christ completely turns the tables upon them. They charged him with being unlettered; and now he charges them with having the letter of the law but failing to render obedience to it; for they sought to kill Him, which was a violation of the sixth commandment (John 7:1; John 7:25). Where there is no heart for the truth, there is a heart against it. Where there is enmity against the truth, there is always a hatred for those who faithfully preach it.

John 7:20. The people mentioned here seem to be the common or country people who had come from other places to the feasts and knew not how the Jewish leaders sought to kill him. They said, ‘You talk like a mad man. Evidently you are demon-possessed;’ for they thought all insanity was demon-possession. They asked Him, ‘Who seeks to kill you?’ Little did they realize that at a later feast they would be crying, ‘Crucify him, crucify him.’

John 7:21-23. By one work or miracle it is plain that he refers to the healing of the man by the pool of Bethesda on the sabbath (John 5:1-8). Because he did this on the sabbath, they were offended (John 5:16). Moses passed on to you the law of circumcision, which was given to Abraham, and in obedience to that law you circumcise a male child on the sabbath day. The law required the child to be circumcised on the eighth day; and if that day falls on the sabbath and it is no breach of the law to make a wound and apply a plaster on it, then why are you angry because I have completely healed a man on the sabbath? Works of necessity and works of mercy may be legitimately performed on the sabbath. Circumcision on the eighth day was a work of necessity. The healing of the man was a work of mercy.

John 7:24. He exhorts the people to be fair in their judgment of his act and to take into account all the circumstances and the scriptures. Do not be influenced by your desire to please the Pharisees and the Scribes (who had condemned him) nor by your prejudice against me. Judge this act of mercy on the basis of that which is true and righteous. In the sense that the sabbath is the day of rest, worship, and communion with God, is it not fitting that a man should be made whole on that day?

John 7:25-26. Some of the people of Jerusalem who knew the designs and counsels of the Pharisees said, ‘Is not this the man they seek to kill? Here he is speaking openly, and they say nothing. Can it be possible that they have discovered that he is indeed the Christ? Have they changed their minds concerning him?’

John 7:27. We know that this man is from Nazareth, that Joseph is his father, Mary is his mother, and we know his brothers and sisters. When the Christ comes, he will be of the tribe of Judah, the family of David, and of the town of Bethlehem. He will be supernaturally born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). They probably thought that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem and carried away until he appeared to the world as a man dropped down from heaven. Jesus spent his early days in Nazareth; this they knew (John 6:41-42).


Verses 28-37

Many of the people believed

John 7:28-37

John 7:28. Some of them which lived at Jerusalem said, ‘We know this man and where he came from.’ Our Lord then spoke with a loud voice that all might hear, ‘Do you know me? Do you know from whence I am? You know me to be Jesus of Nazareth, but you are wrong! I am not of Nazareth. You suppose I am from Galilee, but you are wrong! You take me to be the son of Joseph, but that is your mistake! I am not come of Myself into this world by incarnation to accomplish the salvation of sinners; the Father sent me.’ He that sent Christ is true to the covenant he made with Christ, true to his promises, and true to be believed. So with all their boasted knowledge of Him, they knew not the Father who sent him and, consequently, knew not him that was sent (John 8:19).

John 7:29. ‘I know Him’ – his nature and perfections, his purposes and promises, his counsel and covenant, his mind and will; for Christ and the Father are one (John 10:30; Isaiah 9:6). ‘I am from Him,’ being the only-begotten of him (John 17:5; John 1:18). ‘He sent me’ in an office capacity as the Christ to redeem his people. None of these things did they know of Jesus of Nazareth.

John 7:30. Therefore, being angered by his claims, they sought to take him by force and carry him before the Sanhedrin to be tried and condemned as a blasphemer; but though this was their design, they had no power to do so, being restrained by the providence of God; for his hour to suffer and die had not yet come (Luke 4:28-30; John 8:20).

John 7:31. Many of the common people, impressed by his miracles, believed on Him, at least as an extraordinary prophet and person; for they said, ‘When Messiah comes, will he do more miracles than this man hath done?’ (John 2:23). The Jews expected the Messiah to perform many miracles (Isaiah 35:3-7; Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 11:3-6).

John 7:32. The Pharisees heard that the people talked among themselves about his miracles, his words, and his claims, and that many of them suspected that he could be the Christ; so they sent officers from the temple to arrest him. These Pharisees felt their authority, positions, and teachings to be threatened by him.

John 7:33. Our Lord said to the officers sent to take him and to other unbelieving Jews, ‘Yet a little while (six months at the most or until the next Passover, when he would be crucified) I am with you.’ And then Christ would lay down his life, rise again from the dead, and ascend to the Father who sent him into the world (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 10:12).

John 7:34. Great distress shall come upon Israel, and you will continue to look for the coming of the Messiah for a redeemer and deliverer; but no Messiah will appear, no redeemer will come to relieve you. You shall seek in vain (Proverbs 1:24-29). ‘And where I am ye cannot approach.’

John 7:35-36. Despite all of his miracles, his holiness, his words of instruction, his revelations of his deity, and the inability of their leaders to answer him or to lay hands on Him, these Jews were totally blind to who he was and what he came to do (1 Corinthians 2:7-14; John 6:44-45). They wondered if he would go among the Jews in some foreign country or even among the Gentiles or Greeks. What he said in John 7:34 puzzled them, and they knew not what to make of it. These were not all illiterate men. Some were men of culture and much religious training, but they knew not what he said; for the plainest and simplest word from God is far beyond the reach of natural wisdom.

John 7:37. The last day of the feast arrived. It is called ‘that great day of the feast’ because on the closing day there was a general and solemn gathering of worshippers (Leviticus 23:36). On this day, when the temple courts were thronged with a large crowd, our Lord stood and cried with a loud voice, ‘If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink.’ Three words stand out and demand our attention.

1. ‘Thirst.’ This is a spiritual thirst (John 4:13-14), a strong desire for forgiveness, for righteousness, for a knowledge of God, and acceptance by him. This is a man longing for the living God (Psalms 42:1; Matthew 5:6).

2. ‘Come to me;’ not to Moses and the law, not to works and ceremonies, not to religious leaders and organizations, but to him! Coming to him is to believe on Him, to receive Him, and to trust in him (2 Timothy 1:12).

3. ‘Drink;’ that is, to take the water of life freely or to take of his grace freely. Salvation by Christ is of free grace, and justification is freely by his grace. We have but to come to him and drink. There is a fullness of grace in Christ. His grace is sufficient and abundant for all (Colossians 2:9-10). ‘All the fitness he requireth is to feel your need of him.’ The fountain of life flows abundantly and freely; all the sinner need do is drink.


Verses 38-53

If any man thirst, let him come to me

John 7:38-53

On the last day of the feast our Lord declared (John 7:37) that if any man felt the need of spiritual life, righteousness, forgiveness, and inward peace, it was to be found in him. ‘Let him come to me.’ The law, sacrifices, and ceremonies cannot give life. They all point to Him, who is our life.

John 7:38. ‘He that believeth on me’ explains what is meant by coming to Christ and drinking. These acts are no other than for a man to go out of himself to Christ and live by faith on him and his grace. By faith we acknowledge, receive, and believe on him as our righteousness, sin-offering, saviour, and mediator. ‘Out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’ That is, he shall have from Christ whatever grace, mercy, and peace he needs. This fountain of grace shall spring from within him, out of his heart. It flows continually in abundance to his comfort, to the blessing of others, and to the glory of God.

John 7:39. By living water he meant the indwelling Holy Spirit; for the scriptures speak of grace and the Spirit of God under the metaphors of water, rivers, floods of water, and abundance of water (Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 41:17-18; Isaiah 43:19-20). All who are saved are baptized by the Spirit of God into Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). All believers have the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9; John 16:13-14). ‘The Holy Ghost was not yet given.’ We know the Holy Ghost was in being as a divine person, equal with the Father and the Son; for he is eternal. We know that the Holy Spirit had been bestowed in his grace on the Old Testament saints. We know that he is the author of the scriptures (2 Peter 1:21). He came upon Christ in special manifestation at his baptism, and he certainly regenerated and quickened the apostles. But after Christ was crucified, risen, and glorified, the Holy Spirit came as Christ had promised in a special manifestation upon the disciples and believers as comforter, teacher, guide, and bestower of gifts and grace.

John 7:40. Some of the people who heard him said, ‘Of a truth this is the Prophet Moses wrote of in Deuteronomy 18:15,’ which many believed was not the Messiah but an extraordinary prophet that would come before the Messiah.

John 7:41. Others said, ‘This is the Christ’ – the true Messiah! This they concluded from his miracles and his gracious words. But again, as in John 7:27, the question arose, ‘Shall the Christ come from Galilee?’

John 7:42. The scripture clearly states that the Christ comes of the seed of David (Isaiah 11:1; Psalms 132:11; Psalms 132:17) and out of the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). These very things they objected to (though unknown to them) were true of Jesus of Nazareth.

John 7:43. There was a sharp division among the people as to their opinions about him.

John 7:44. Some of them were in favor of seizing him in a violent manner and trying him as an imposter and a blasphemer. But they were restrained by the providence of God (John 7:30).

John 7:45-49. Back in John 7:32 it is said that the Pharisees and chief priests sent officers to arrest him. These officers were among the people and heard him speak. Being astonished by his person, power, and words, they returned to their masters without him. When the Pharisees asked, ‘Why have you not arrested him and brought him to us?’ they replied, ‘Never man spake like this man’ (Isaiah 11:4). The Pharisees asked the officers, ‘Has he seduced and deceived you? We are your teachers and masters, and none of us has believed on him.’ Then, with great contempt and anger, they berated the common people as those who, being ignorant of the scriptures and taken in by this imposter, are under the curse of God.

John 7:50-51. Then Nicodemus (who was a Pharisee and a member of this religious court) stands up to speak for Christ. However, it is noticeable that Nicodemus did not confess his faith in Christ nor defend his claims; he only faintly and carefully states that their law did not condemn a man until he be heard and proper witnesses assembled. This he said, having a secret respect for Christ, though he had not the courage to openly confess him.

John 7:52-53. ‘Are you of Galilee?’ They knew Nicodemus was not of Galilee; but they said this in reproach and sarcasm, also asking, ‘Are you a Galilean? or are you a follower of the Galilean? No prophet arises out of Galilee.’ This was not true. Jonah and Nahum were Galileans, but it may be that they were riding the same theme found in John 7:32; John 7:41. None of them took the time nor put forth the effort to discover that Jesus had been born of the tribe of Judah, family of David, in Bethlehem, and only grew up in Galilee. But as little as Nicodemus said, it put a stop to their proceedings against Christ for the present.

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on John 7:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/john-7.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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