The Gospel of John: Revealing the Invisible God
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
This book is a verse-by-verse commentary. To go to the commentary for any particular verse in Chapter 7, please click on a number below.
7:1 And after these things, Jesus was walking in Galilee, for he did not desire to walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.
"After these things" refers to what Jesus said and did in Capernaum. He had said he was the "bread of life" which had been foreshadowed when Jehovah fed manna to the Israelites in their desert wanderings. Now, he was the one who would give his body and his blood, for "the life of the world." As a result, his followers were now much fewer than they had been when he was in Capernaum.
"Jesus was walking in Galilee." Walking is written in the imperfect, which shows continuous action in the past. The imperfect also shows that this was his customary action while he was in Galilee. Jesus was traveling around Galilee because, at the time, it was a safe haven from the Jews.
The reason Jesus did not walk in Judea was because the Jews were seeking to kill him. From this point in his life, Jesus always needed to be aware of his safety. The Jewish hierarchy was out to protect their positions in the religion they had so carefully constructed.
Preservation is still the primary rule of religious denominations today. Their main purpose is to perpetuate their brand of "truth," their hierarchical structure, and their positions in it. Would they actually kill someone who was threatening their very existence? If the history of "christianity" is any indication, the answer is a resounding, Yes! Especially if they had control of the government, or could get away with murder. Religion, of all kinds, has been responsible for more death than probably any other cause, including disease.
7:2 Now the feast of the Jews, the tabernacles, was near.
Jesus walked in Galilee in the fall, which was also the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. Fallow (Vol. 3, p. 1629) describes the Feast of the Tabernacles. [For the scriptural explanation of the Feast of Tabernacles, see Leviticus 23:34-43].
TABERNACLES, FEAST OF. (Heb. khag has-soo-fohth', feast of tents), one of the three great festivals of the Jews, being that of the closing year, as the Passover was of the spring.
(1) Occasion. It was held in commemoration of the divine goodness as exercised towards the Jews when they were wandering in the desert, as well as expressive of gratitude for the supply of the rich fruits of the earth; and so was fitted to awaken the most lively feelings of piety in the minds of the Hebrews in each successive generation.
(2) Ceremony. From the writings of the Rabbins we learn: (1) That those who took part in the festival bore in their left hand a branch of citron, and in their right a palm branch, entwined with willows and myrtle. (2) A libation of water took place on each of the seven days (Is. xii:3; John vii:37); at the time of the morning oblation a priest drew from the fount of Siloam water in a jar holding three logs, and poured it out, together with wine, into two channels or conduits, made on the west side of the altar, the water into the one, the wine into the other. (3) In the outer court of the women there began, on the evening of the first day, an illumination on great golden candlesticks, which threw its light over the whole of Jerusalem; and a dance by torchlight (the torches being made from the priest's cast-off linen), attended by song and music, was performed before the candelabra.
(3) A Season of Joy. From these details it appears that the Feast of Tabernacles was a season of universal joy. Jerusalem bore the appearance of a camp. The entire population again dwelt in tents, but not with the accompaniments of travel, fatigue, and solicitude; all was hilarity, all wore a holiday appearance; the varied green of the ten thousand branches of different trees; the picturesque ceremony of the water libation, the general illumination, the sacred solemnities in and before the temple; the feast, the dance, the music; the bright joy that lighted up every face, and the gratitude at ‘harvest home' which swell every bosom, all conspired to make these days a season of pure, deep, and lively joy, which, in all its elements, finds no parallel among the observances of men.
The true religion of the Jews was one which brought joy to the people, and thanks to Jehovah for the bounties poured out upon them. How wonderful it would be if more folks today offered thanks to The God for his bounty to us!
7:3 His brethren therefore said to him, Remove hence, and go into Judea, that also thy disciples may see thy works which thou doest.
The word "brethren" has many meanings in the Greek. It may mean siblings, or cousins, or nephews, or any related males of the family. It also may refer to a group of people banded together by some similar purpose. In this verse, the scholars still dispute whether those referred to as brethren were his siblings, or some other group.
Remember, Jesus did not walk in Judea because the Jews sought to kill him. So, why did these brethren ask him to go there? Their stated purpose was "that also thy disciples may see thy works which thou doest." Perhaps they were sincere; perhaps they really wanted the people in Judea to see his miraculous works. Or, perhaps they had an ulterior motive. If they were his siblings, it would be a very base thing for them to suggest that he go to Jerusalem when they knew how dangerous it would be for him.
7:4 For no one does anything in secret, and seeks himself to be in public. If these things thou doest, manifest thy self to the world.
His brethren apparently could not understand. If Jesus wanted "to be in public," why did he not go to Judea, to be among the great leaders of Israel, and to show them what he could do. Then, they used "if," sometimes called the biggest word in the dictionary.
The phrase "if these things thou doest" revealed that they were not yet convinced of his ability to do these "stunts" where they could be examined by the priesthood, or the "public," which was at least 10 people. But, "if you can do these things," than go get the publicity you really deserve. This sounds very similar to some of the temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness (Matthew 4).
7:5 For neither believed his brethren on him.
Neither comes from oude, a compound word of ou and de. Ou is the absolute no. His brethren absolutely had no belief in him. The word believed is written in the imperfect, which shows that in the past, up until the present, his brethren had absolutely no faith in what Jesus said he could do. Jesus did not "perform" to gain the faith of his brethren, who were definitely playing the part of a satan. Because of their unbelief, they were willing to send Jesus into an area where his life would be in great danger.
7:6 Jesus therefore says to them, My time is not yet come, but your time is always ready.
An early death, before his time had come, would thwart the purpose for which Jesus was sent. Knowing what was in the hearts of all men, including his brethren, Jesus told them that "my time is not yet come." Jesus knew this because of his total commitment to his heavenly father.
Jesus said at other times that he did not do or say anything except what his father told him. If his time had come, his father would have told him. Therefore, Jesus was not doing anything which would glorify himself instead of his heavenly father. His sole purpose in living in the flesh was to give glory to The God.
Although his time had not yet come, Jesus also told them, "But your time is always ready." In other words, the time is right for them to believe in what he said and did. They need not wait for anything further to happen; they could believe now.
This is also true today. Anyone can come to faith in Jesus at anytime, because The God has given every person a measure of faith (see Romans 12:3). The fleshly nature can not, of itself, conjure up belief in Jesus. This is why the carnal mind cannot understand spiritual things. We can only believe with the aid of The God's grace.
Even our ability to come to faith is not of ourselves. Everything concerning the matter of salvation is a gift from The God to mankind. Men, in their carnal nature, always seek to find a way to work for their salvation, and thereby put The God in debt to them. By doing so, they believe that The God will present them with salvation because of their own good works. Nothing could be further from the truth of the scriptures!
7:7 The world is unable to hate you, but it hates me, because I bear witness concerning it, that the works of it are evil.
Hate comes from misein, which Thayer (p. 415) defines as,
"to hate, to pursue with hatred, detest."
Jesus told his brethren that since they are of the world, or the worldly system, that it is ou, absolutely impossible, for that worldly system to hate them. As long as people actively participate in whatever system they are a part of, that system will find them acceptable.
Jesus went on to say, "but it hates me." He knew that the worldly system, a creation of mankind, would naturally hate him. Why? "Because he bore witness concerning it." The worldly system is totally opposed to the cause of The God. Therefore, Jesus, who represented his heavenly father, was pursued with hatred.
Keep in mind that the ones who were pursuing Jesus with hatred were the religious leaders. Jesus said their religion was part of the worldly system that stood in opposition to The God.
Today's religious organizations would likely do the same. They would most likely battle to keep their religious organizations intact, to preserve their places of worldly importance, just as did the priests of that time. A difficult concept for many to grasp is that religious, particularly "christian," organizations have been so invaded by worldly principles that they have actually become part of the world, and stand opposed to The God's spiritual realm.
Jesus witnessed that, "the works of it are evil." Evil comes from poneera, which meant something very different from the common definition today. It meant toilsome, hard labor, or those vicissitudes of life which make living difficult. In other words, their worldly, priestly organization did not make life easier for people. Rather, it presented a burden to the common man. Jesus bore witness to this; therefore, that organization sought to get rid of this man who was berating them publicly.
7:8 Ye, go ye up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for my time has not yet been fulfilled.
Jesus told his brethren, "Go ye up to the feast." He knew they would be welcomed as they were a part of that world of unbelief.
There are two groups in the world: unbelievers and believers. The unbelievers, whether they are aware of it or not, hate, despise, and count of little worth the group of believers. Unfortunately, many who claim to be believers are quite reluctant to say anything which would identify them as believers.
Jesus said, "I am not yet going up to this feast." He knew the consequences if he went there at that time, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. And, since his heavenly father had not yet told him to go there, he was not going.
"My time has not yet been fulfilled." Time comes from kairos, a quality time, or a time of fulfillment. Jesus meant the latter. He knew there was a proper time, and his heavenly father would reveal it to him. With these words, Jesus was actually revealing that he knew he would be put to death at some time in the future.
7:9 And these things having said, he abode in Galilee.
"These things having said" includes the previous remarks made to his brethren. First, that the world hated him because he revealed the evil of its ways. Second, that his time had not yet come.
Today, many pastors and teachers are unwilling to declare clearly the evil of worldly ways as opposed to those of The God. Perhaps it is because they do not want the world to hate them. At this time, at least in this country, there seems to be little difference between the standards of the world and those of the church. The reason for this is that the church long ago capitulated to worldly ways.
7:10 But when his brethren had gone up,, then also he went up to the feast, not openly, but as in secret.
Why did Jesus not accompany his brethren to the feast? Why did he go in secret after telling them he was not going? Probably because his brethren would not have been quiet about his presence. Remember, they wanted him to go public with his ministry of miracles.
In the phrase "but not openly, but as in secret," the not comes from the absolute no. Openly comes from phaneroos, which means,
"apparent, manifest, evident, known…opposite to en toi kruptooi" (Thayer, p. 648).
En toi kruptooi, in secret, is directly opposite to going openly. However, openly is preceded by the absolute no, and is joined to "in secret" by the particle oos, or as, which may be read as an equal sign. Therefore, not going openly is equal to going in secret.
Jesus did not, at first, make it known, or apparent, that he was at this feast. He went in secret. Secret, kruptooi, means to hide or cover. This word was often used in connection with the secrets of a man's soul, or being. (Thayer, p. 362).
7:11 Therefore the Jews were seeking him at the feast, and said, Where is he?
"Therefore," points back to the previous statement that Jesus had gone up in secret. Those Jews who were seeking to find Jesus in order to kill him, could not find him. Jesus remained hidden among the masses. This caused the Jews who sought him to ask, "Where is he?" Although those Jews wanted to find him, they were unsuccessful in their search.
7:12 There was much murmuring about him among the crowds. Some said, He is good; but others said, No; but he deceives the crowd.
Murmuring comes from the Greek word goggusmos, which means
"a murmur, muttering; applied to secret debate; secret displeasure, not openly avowed" (Thayer, p. 120).
The crowds were debating about Jesus, but they were afraid to do so openly on account of their fear of the Jews who were in control (the priesthood). The priesthood had great power to control or punish those whom they felt opposed their religious views.
The religious authorities of today wield similar power, although most would deny it. If you want to find out how much power any organized religion today can bring against you, just oppose them openly. Church organization leaders have many ways, both social and economic, to put fear in the hearts of dissenters.
The murmuring crowds disagreed about Jesus. "Some said, He is good; but others said, No; but he deceives the crowd." The crowd was apparently divided between two opinions. One group believed that Jesus did good, agathos, which means
"excelling in any respect, distinguished, good. It can be predicated of persons, things, conditions, qualities and affections of the soul, deeds, times and those senses which the word gathers from the condition in which it stands" (Thayer, p. 2).
The other group believed that "he deceives the crowd." The latter group believed that Jesus was some kind of imposter, and not as genuine as he proclaimed to be.
7:13 No one, however, publicly spoke concerning him, because of the fear of the Jews.
Here is the definitive answer about why the crowds disputed very quietly about Jesus. They stood in dread fear of the Jewish religious rulers. They knew the Jewish rulers were absolutely opposed to Jesus. They were not about to publicly discuss anything about Jesus, whether they agreed or disagreed with him. They shied away from anything that might bring them to the attention of the religious rulers.
7:14 But now, it being the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple, and was teaching.
Half-way through the week of the feast, Jesus changed from hiding to openness, and went to the temple to teach. Went up comes from anebee, written in the aorist. Teaching comes from edidasken, augmented with e, and written in the imperfect. Robertson (p. 838) says this about these two words.
"In juxtaposition the aorist lifts the curtain and the imperfect continues the play."
By stating that Jesus went up into the temple, John was setting the scene. Then, by saying that Jesus was teaching, in the imperfect, he showed continuous action. In other words, Jesus was continually teaching, at least while he was in the temple.
7:15 And the Jews were wondering, saying, How knows this one letters, not having learned?
As the Jews listened to Jesus teaching in the temple, it raised questions in their minds. Jesus did not speak as though he was an unlettered carpenter's son. The question arose, "How knows this one letters?"
In Matthew 13:54, the same question was raised.
"And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogues, so that they were astonished and said, Whence to this [man] this wisdom and the works of power? Is this not the carpenter's son?"
When anyone presumes to teach the scriptures, people want to know about the speaker's education or credentials. The assumption seems to be, especially among the clergy, that only those who have attended a particular seminary are qualified to interpret the scriptures. The "correct" seminary depends on the denomination of the questioner. This assumption of authenticity is an insidious method to indoctrinate people into the particular denominational views. It has little to do with the search for what The God actually said in the scriptures.
Of course, the various seminaries and denominations do not even agree with one another. When asked about this disparity of doctrines, a common answer is that, "Well, our differences only help to emphasize the diversity of the word of god." However, the word of The God is truth. How can disparate teachings on the same scriptures add up to truth? Instead, they add up to error.
The Jews at least recognized that Jesus was teaching as though he had been educated, yet they knew he had not been. The quandary raised in their minds was how could he know what he knew?
7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.
The obvious explanation to this quandary was to accept that Jesus came from The God, as he so often said. He simply told them, "my teaching is not mine." However, this was not an answer they were prepared to accept.
Mine is a genitive, which shows possession, and the not was the absolute ouk. This statement then was an absolute denial that Jesus was teaching something he had learned from some rabbi. Then he made a claim which was certain to further the Jew's animosity toward him. He said that his teaching was "his who sent me." His is another genitive of possession, indicating whose teachings these were. This brings us back again to the point that Jesus claimed he said and did only what the Father told him.
7:17 If anyone desire to practice his will, he shall know concerning the teaching whether it is from The God, or I speak from myself.
The phrase "if anyone desire to practice his will" contains two words which are derived from the same Greek word. This phrase could also be translated as "if any man will to practice his will." By using these words, Jesus forced a soul-searching question upon the Jews who were questioning him. What is your will? Do any of you really desire, or will, yourself to know the truth?
This is still a viable question today for anyone who would understand the word of The God. There must be an action of will on the part of such a person. Too few desire to know more of the scriptures. They are happy to listen to a trivial 20-minute sermonette week after week. They prefer this to any teaching which would cause them to think about what scripture actually says. They are more interested in the preacher's views than in what The God says, especially if the preacher agrees with what they already believe.
There must not only be a will, but a practice. Practice comes from poiein, which means,
"do, keep, carry out, practice, commit" (Bauer, p. 682).
This is written in the present tense, which shows that this is something not just done once, but it is a continuing process. It is the normal practice of one's life. What, then, is the result of such a practice? Jesus said those who practice, "shall know concerning the teaching whether it is from The God, or I speak from myself."
This same criteria should apply today. Do all the messages being preached from thousands of pulpits come from The God? Are they true to the scriptures, or are they simply some denominational doctrine? Do these messages originate from the speaker alone, rather than from The God.?
7:18 He that speaks from himself, seeks his own glory; but he that seeks the glory of him that sent him, he is true, and unrighteousness is not in him.
Jesus told the Jews how they could discern where his teachings originated. "He that speaks from himself, seeks his own glory." What a lesson lies in these words of Jesus for those who would presume to teach, or preach, without inspiration from The God through holy spirit. Very few people ever hear anyone who teaches or preaches under the guidance of holy spirit. This comes only by submission to The God, and through prayer, and through studying the scriptures.
Preachers and teachers today are to be prophets, or forth-tellers, not fore-tellers, as some presume. They are to bring greater understanding to people. If the one who brings the message is not committed to The God, then they seek their own glory.
"But he that seeks the glory of him that sent him, he is true, and unrighteousness is not in him." The word true comes from aleethees. Thayer (p. 27) says it means,
"loving the truth, speaking the truth, truthful: Jn.vii:18."
What is truth? It is the scriptures. It is truth when the scriptures are taught by a person dedicated to The God, enabled by holy spirit, and speaking for the purpose of glorifying The God.
"And unrighteousness is not in him." The word unrighteousness comes from adikia, composed of the basic word dike, prefixed with the negative a, or the English un. Dike is a judicial term which basically means justice, to cut evenly. A just person will consider the evidence, and then divide it evenly, or correctly. Such a person has no unrighteousness in him.
7:19 Has not Moses given you the law, and no one of you practises the law? Why do ye seek to kill me?
This was in reference to an earlier statement (John 5:45):
"Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, Moses, in whom ye have hoped."
Jesus was again reminding the Jews that they have not kept the law given them by Moses, in which they had put their hope.
This was striking at the heart of those Jews who heard this. They were convinced that they had kept the law well enough to merit salvation. At least, that was their hope. But Jesus knew that their keeping of the law was more of an outward thing than one of the heart. They held to the letter, not the spirit, of the law. If they were keeping the law as they said they were, then they would not seek to kill Jesus. When Jesus said this, he went to the very heart of their outward religion, and brought it out into the open. The result was a belligerent response from the crowd.
7:20 The crowd answered and said, Thou hast a demon; who seeks to kill thee?
It is amazing how the superstitions of that time are still so rampant in religious circles today. Many preachers are still preaching about demons and satan as though they are viable personalities. Both terms, demon and satan, are not used literally, but metaphorically. [For more on these two terms, see our article, A Study of Satan.]
In reality, this crowd was telling Jesus that it was not he that was speaking, but some demon which had taken him over. Why did they say this? Because the crowd around him did not know the purpose of the Jewish priests who actually were seeking to kill Jesus. In their ignorance of the truth, they assumed that his words must be the result of some demon.
Nothing much has changed today. Try speaking the plain truth of the scriptures, and you will arouse the wrath of those who hold to denominational doctrine. They will also accuse you of being a heretic, of being demonic or satanic, or they will ridicule you for being stupid.
7:21 Jesus answered and said to them, One work I did, and ye all wonder.
Then Jesus touched upon another reason they were angry with him. He had, in their minds, broken one of the Sabbath laws. Jesus referred to this when he said, "One work I did, and ye all wonder." The word work comes from ergon, the usual word used to denote common labor. To Jesus, what he did was labor for his father in heaven. It was his vocation.
The one work he had done had caused them to wonder. Wonder comes from thaumazete, which means to be amazed, even to be terrified. They may have been both amazed and terrified.
7:22 Therefore Moses has given you circumcision, it is not that of Moses, but of the fathers, and on Sabbath ye circumcise a man.
This was a reference to Leviticus 12:1-3, which states,
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child; then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised."
This was the law of circumcision in the Jewish religion. They maintained that it was Moses who gave this law. In one sense, he did. However, he was only repeating a former command of the fathers. When Jesus added, "It was not of Moses but of the fathers," he was referring to Genesis 17:9-12.
"And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed."
Jesus was correct when he said that circumcision was not of Moses. The Genesis account plainly stated that the covenant was first given to Abraham by the Lord.
Jesus went on to tell the crowd that they circumcise on the Sabbath. Although no work was to be done on the Sabbath, including circumcision, the Jews made an exception. When the eighth day of life for a male child fell on the Sabbath, they circumcised him, which was a direct violation of the law.
With this statement, Jesus was laying the groundwork for why he did a work, or miracles, on the Sabbath.
7:23 If a man receives circumcision on Sabbath, that the law of Moses may not be broken, Are you angry with me because I made a man sound on Sabbath?
Jesus argued with the crowd that they also were guilty of breaking the law when they circumcised someone on the Sabbath. They had to choose between breaking the law of circumcision, or the law of the Sabbath. They chose the latter. Why then were they angry with him because he "made a man sound on the Sabbath?" Jesus was referring back to the incident in John 5:8-9, where he had healed the man waiting beside the pool.
7:24 Judge not according to sight, but judge righteous judgment.
The not in this sentence comes from mee, which denies the thought of something. This is not the absolute no, ouk, but the subjective denial. Do not even think about judging by sight.
Sight, or what one sees, is not a viable basis for making a judgment about another. Yet, this is the common ground for most judgments which men make. A study of the scriptures concerning judgment would soon render anyone incapable of judging others.
"But judge righteous judgment." It is difficult, very difficult, to do as Jesus admonished the crowd to do. Righteous judgment is a judgment in which all the surrounding circumstances are put in proper perception, and then rightly divided. The Greek dikaian, righteous, comes from dike, which means to divide evenly.
The crowd failed to do this, either because they were not conversant enough with the scriptures, or because they chose to be ignorant of them.
7:25 Some of those of Jerusalem therefore said, Is not this he whom they seek to kill?
Earlier, some of the crowd around Jesus had said, "Thou hast a demon." Now others of the crowd were asking the question, "Is not this he whom they seek to kill?" According to the context, the crowd must have had a divided opinion about whether Jesus was telling the truth about the priesthood seeking to kill him. The Jews from Jerusalem were better informed than those from other places.
7:26 And lo, he speaks publicly, and they say nothing to him. Have those who rule truly recognized that this is truly the Christ?
According to Jewish tradition, one was speaking publicly when there were more than 10 people present. Since this group had been referred to as a crowd, there must have been more than 10 people present. Crowd comes from oxlos, which means,
"A casual collection of people; a multitude of men who have flocked together in some place, a throng" (Thayer, p. 470).
Jesus was speaking openly while the Jewish leaders sought to kill him. This was puzzling to some in the crowd. When they saw that nothing happened to Jesus, they wondered what it meant. They asked, "Have those who rule truly recognized that this is truly the christ?" Had the priests changed their minds? Did they now believe that Jesus was the christ? Some in the crowd speculated that this might be the reason they were leaving him alone.
7:27 But this one we know whence he is. But, the Christ, whenever he may come, no one knows whence he is.
As the crowd continued their discussion, they finally arrived at two conclusions. The first was that "this one we know whence he is." Many had pointed this out. For example, Matthew 13:55 says,
"Is this not the son of the carpenter? [Is] not his mother called Mary, and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?"
It is very difficult to get people to change their minds about a person they think they know well. They could not fathom that Jesus was any different than he had ever been. They not only knew him, they knew his parents, and his siblings. They had watched him grow to manhood.
Their second conclusion was that "the christ, whenever he may come, no one knows whence he is." They assumed that no one would know the messiah before he appeared on the scene. However, this was a wrong assumption.
Jesus, while still teaching the crowd in the temple, took exception to their statements about knowing him, yet not knowing whence he came. He told them they did know from where he came. He, knowing what was in man, knew that in their hearts, they understood he had come out from his father in heaven, as he had said previously. They just did not wish to accept this. It went against their religious beliefs, and also put them in jeopardy with the priesthood.
Micah 5:2 says,
"But, thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
Micah's prophecy clearly stated that the christ would come from Bethlehem. Micah also said that his "goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." This refers to the fact that the coming christ was formerly Jehovah. He was from everlasting.
Matthew 2:3-6 also declares from whence comes the christ.
"When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him. In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet. And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel."
This is the New Testament version of Micah 5:2. The meaning is the same, although Matthew did not quote it verbatim.
7:28 Therefore Jesus cried in the temple, teaching and saying, Both me ye know, and ye know whence I am; and I have come not of myself, but he who sent me is true, whom ye know not.
The statement that "Jesus cried in the temple" does not mean he wept. The word used here comes from the basic word, krazoo, which would be better translated as "cried out," noting a means of getting attention.
Jesus was speaking to a very religious group of people, signified by the fact that they had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the great feast of the tabernacles. Yet, Jesus said, "but he who sent me is true, whom ye know not." He used ouk, the absolute no. Jesus also said "I have come not of myself," again, using ouk. He had absolutely nothing to do with his coming to earth as a man.
"He who sent me is true." Those present would believe that these words referred to their god, Jehovah. However, Jesus made it very clear to these religious people that they did not really know The God which they professed to serve. The Jews knew Jehovah as their god, but they did not realize that Jehovah was only the word of The God, whom they did not know.
Many people today make a similar mistake by worshiping Jesus, who is not The God, but only his word, or his expression to the world. We wonder how Jesus would react to many of the church members of today's religious organizations? Jesus never wavered in any way; he always said that his ministry was totally of his heavenly father.
7:29 But I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.
Know comes from iedoo, and it conveys two lines of possible meaning. One means basically to perceive with the eyes. The other means to be acquainted with. This statement was certain to cause an even greater turmoil among the crowd. However they chose to take his meaning, it was strictly against their religion—whether he meant he had seen their god, Jehovah, or whether he meant he was acquainted with him personally.
Jesus continued by saying, "because I am from him." From is the Greek word para, a genitive. According to Thayer (p. 476), when para is used in the genitive it means
"To denote that a thing proceeds from the side or the vicinity of one, or from one's sphere of power, or from one's wealth or store. Properly, with a suggestion of union of place or of residence after verbs of coming, departing, setting out, etc."
Thus, by using para, Jesus was stating that he came from the same place, or residence, as his heavenly father.
Once again, Jesus said, "and he sent me." Sent comes from apesteilen, and means to be ordered to go to some specific place. On many occasions, Jesus said his father sent him. In spite of all that, it is truly puzzling why so many people insist that Jesus and The God are one and the same. Jesus went to great pains to establish a separation between himself and The God, and yet multitudes insist differently.
7:30 They were seeking therefore to take him, but no one laid [his] hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.
Jesus' statements were just too much for most of the crowd to accept: He had said he knew The God, that he was from the proximity of The God, and that The God had sent him. Therefore, "they were seeking to take him." The amazing thing is that although they tried, "no one laid [his] hand upon him." Why not? "Because his hour had not yet come."
The God has a time table for everything in his plans for his creation. Because it was not yet time for Jesus to be crucified, his heavenly father prevented the crowd from seizing him. Men's pride may delude them into thinking they can alter the structure of events in the universe. Still, it is The God who controls the things that really count in the affairs of men.
7:31 But many of the crowd believed on him, and said, The Christ, when he comes, will he do more signs than these which this [man] did?
People in the crowd were divided in their opinions. Many of them did not believe, but others did believe that Jesus was the christ. The whole of the New Testament was written about the very same issue that this crowd discussed. Is Jesus the christ of The God? That was the question then, and that is still the question today. Please note that the scriptures never asked people to even consider Jesus as their "personal savior."
Organized religions have, for the most part, skewed this important element of New Testament teaching. They have changed believing that Jesus is the christ into "accepting Jesus as personal savior." This idea, so prominent in evangelical churches, is completely estranged from the truth of the scriptures. At the very least, it is misleading. The most damaging aspect is that it ignores the correct teaching of the New Testament about Jesus, and who he really is.
The reason some of the crowd now "believed on him" is because of the signs, or miracles, which Jesus performed. "The christ, when he comes, will he do more signs than these which this [man] did?" His message was finally getting through to some of them.
7:32 The Pharisees heard of the crowd murmuring these things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers that they might take him.
Jesus now had to deal with more than just the crowd. The Pharisees and chief priests were the higher echelon of Jewish leaders, and they were greatly disturbed. They were not about to stay inactive when some man was out there convincing people that he was the christ. If it were true, then their positions were in jeopardy. But, more than that, previous self-declared messiahs had caused uprisings among the people.
As far as the Pharisees were concerned, Jesus had now gone beyond the point where he could be safely ignored. They had already sought to capture him and kill him. Now, they were more serious than ever. This time, they "sent officers that they might take him."
7:33 Therefore Jesus said to them, Yet a little time I am with you, and I go to him who sent me.
The Feast of the Tabernacles, which Jesus and the crowd were celebrating in Jerusalem, took place close to the end of the year. Jesus was not taken captive until the Passover, several months later in the spring, or early summer, of the next year. His crucifixion was not yet imminent at this time. Therefore, Jesus could say, "yet a little time I am with you."
After a short period of time, Jesus would "go to him who sent me." He knew that after his crucifixion, he would ascend to a place of power at the right hand of his heavenly father. Notice that, once again, he did not miss the opportunity to tell the crowd around him that he was "sent."
7:34 Ye will seek me and not find [me], and where I am ye are unable to come.
This statement confounded the crowd around him. This, of course, referred to his return to the right hand of his heavenly father. Some people believe that after the resurrection they will be in the same position as Jesus, but they are mistaken. Only Jesus will be at the right hand of the heavenly father.
7:35 Therefore the Jews said among themselves, Where is he about to go that we shall not find him? Is he about to go to the dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks?
They had no idea what Jesus meant. He was speaking of his return to the heavenly father, and they thought he was going somewhere on this earth. They thought that perhaps he was going to join "the dispersion among the Greeks."
The word "Greeks" does not mean the people of Greece. This was a term which the Jews used to signify any Gentiles who were separate from the Jewish nation. They wondered, since he was a teacher of the scriptures, if maybe he was going to go teach the Gentiles.
We should not be too harsh in our judgment toward this crowd. If any of us had been in the same situation, what would we have thought?
7:36 What is this word which he said, Ye will seek me, and shall not find [me]; and where I am ye are unable to come?
The crowd was still pondering the mysterious statement Jesus had made. They could not make any sense of it. Jesus was speaking to them of spiritual matters concerning himself, and they were thinking in material, or fleshly, terms. What they were doing was only a natural, human response. Human nature has not changed.
7:37 Jesus stood in the last day of the great feast, and cried, saying, If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink.
The last day of the great feast included a certain ceremony, which was described earlier in this chapter. It was on this last day that Jesus stood and cried out, "If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink." Water was a scarce item, and in a desert community it signified life. To Jesus, the pouring out of water spoke of more than the physical life it represented. To him, it signified spiritual life. That is why he stood and cried out.
"Cried" indicates a loud shout so as many people as possible would hear his words. Jesus was speaking of that water which only he would give. Isaiah 55:1 also speaks of this water.
"Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
Revelation 21:5-6 provides the final picture of this water which Jesus will give to those who come to him.
"And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athrist of the fountain of the water of life freely." [For more comment on this verse, see our book, The Apocalypse of Revelation.]
7:38 He that believes on me, as the scriptures said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
The phrase "he that believes on me" limits what Jesus promised shall occur later to those believers. Only by coming to faith in what The God has accomplished through his son, Jesus, will there be any "rivers of living water" flowing out of his belly. Belly was the term used then as
"the hidden, innermost recesses of the human body" (Rienecker, p. 136).
"Living water" speaks of water which flows; it is never stagnant. Neither is any believer's life a stagnant pool, if they continue in faith.
Faith impels one to action through holy spirit. Those who have a proper faith realize that whatever they may accomplish on their own is worthless in the sight of The God. James 1:22-25 says,
"But be ye doers of [the] word, and not only hearers, beguiling yourselves. Because if any man is a hearer of [the] word, and not a doer, this one is like to a man considering his natural face in a mirror: for he considered himself and has gone away, and immediately forgot what he was like. But he that looked into [the] perfect law, that of freedom, and continued in [it], this one not having been a forgetful hearer, but a doer of [the] work, this one shall be blessed in his doing."
James described several characteristics of a man whose works will be blessed. One was that he has "looked into that perfect law of freedom." Because of the death of Jesus, men have been set free from the law. Many people do not realize this and they continue to operate under law, and not under grace, which is liberty of actions. Law works are not pleasing to The God, but works of liberty are.
The "perfect law of liberty" is understood only when we realize we have been set free from the works of law, and the bondage of sin. We each have the privilege of choosing the source of our works for The God. Either they arise from the law, or they arise from the driving force of holy spirit in a walk of liberty. "Rivers of living water" are the works of holy spirit in one's life of liberty; unfortunately, few church goers ever hear this.
The latter works, where The God is allowed to use our bodies for his glory, come only from a total commitment of our bodies to The God, and submission to the lord, Jesus, the Christ. Too many people desire not the wide open vistas of liberty, but the defined parameters of the law. They are too fearful of operating under the law of liberty because that is undefined except by the scriptures, and by the gift of holy spirit. The law of liberty precludes us controlling our own lives. The God does that.
7:39 But this he said concerning the Spirit which those believing on him were about to receive; for not yet was [the] holy spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
This scripture is often misconstrued. The common teaching is that "believing" is necessary for one to have holy spirit. That position is a misconception, as Acts 2:17 says,
"And it shall be in the last days, says The God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh…."
We are living in the last days, and we have been since the ascension of Jesus to the right hand of The God. All people—everywhere—have already been given a portion of holy spirit.
However, that was not true when Jesus was here on earth. He was prophesying about the future, about the time after his ascension to the Father in heaven, when he would receive the gift of the holy spirit in its fullness, to do with as he pleased. He chose to spread holy spirit throughout all of humanity as a gift of grace, thereby blessing all nations through Abraham (see Galatians 3:14).
"Were about to receive" was speaking of the future. To receive is a verbal infinitive, also written in the passive, which shows that those believing on him had nothing to do with the coming of holy spirit. It was a gift.
Jesus went on to say, they were "about to receive." It was not yet available because Jesus had not yet been glorified. Holy spirit would be available after he was glorified, after he had again recovered the former authority he had as lord, or Jehovah. However, this time he would have that authority as the glorified man, Jesus.
After his reception by The God, and after he was seated at the right hand of The God in a place of power and glory, he was presented the holy spirit by his heavenly father. That would be the time when "holy spirit would be."
This was not speaking of "the holy spirit," which would be the totality of the spirit. It was speaking only of a portion, or some quality, or characteristic, of holy spirit which each person would receive. [For more in-depth discussion of this subject, see Part III in our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation.]
7:40 Therefore many of the crowd having heard the word, said, This is truly the prophet.
The phrase "having heard the word" was referring to the remarks which Jesus made concerning the coming of holy spirit. According to Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses told the people,
"The Lord, thy God, shall raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me: unto him ye shall hearken."
Were these people referring to the prophet of Deuteronomy? Possibly so. At a minimum, they were accepting the truth that Jesus was more than just an ordinary person.
7:41 Others said, This is the Christ. And others said, Comes the Christ out of Galilee?
As is common with any group, there were dissenting opinions. Some of the crowd believed that Jesus was the prophet described in the Old Testament. Others believed he was the christ, the anointed one who would deliver them from their oppressors, the Romans. Still others questioned that the christ could come out of Galilee. They knew Jesus to be a Galilean, and they were aware of the scriptures, as evidenced by their remarks in the next verse.
7:42 Said not the scriptures that out of the seed of David, and from the village Bethlehem, comes the Christ?
They were raising these questions because of the prophecy in Micah 5:2, quoted earlier, where Micah said that the christ would be of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem. These people were raising concerns because of the scriptures. They apparently did not realize that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, although they were aware that he had been raised in Galilee.
7:43 Therefore a division occurred in the crowd because of him.
Division comes from word skisma. It is the word from which we derive the English word schism, or division. Some thought Jesus was a prophet, while others believed he was the christ. As the discussion grew, it became louder, and angrier.
7:44 But some of them desired to take him, but no one laid hands on him.
Here was still another division in the crowd of Jews. This third group "desired to take him." To take comes from piasai, from the basic word, piazoo. Bauer (p. 657) gives this definition:
"with hostile intent; of men, seize, arrest, take into custody."
This is a different word than the one used in John 6:14. That crowd wanted to seize him to make him a king, and they had no evil intent, as shown by the Greek word, epxesthai. The word used in this verse, however, indicates the anger and hostility of the crowd.
"But no one laid hands on him." Laid hands on comes from, epebalen, which conveys the sense of taking captive. Who was it that composed this third group in the crowd?
7:45 Therefore came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, Why did ye not bring him?
This third group was comprised of the officers who had been sent to seize Jesus. These officers, upeeretees, reported to the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews. The Sanhedrin was composed of Pharisees, and other high officials of Judaism.
The rulers of the Jews, who had sent the officers, asked a question: "Why did ye not bring him?" Asking this question made it evident that the Pharisees and chief priests had instructed them to bring Jesus before them.
7:46 The officers answered, Never thus spoke man as this man.
These officers had the acumen to recognize that Jesus was not just another teacher. Although they had taken a public stand against him while they were in the crowd, they actually were not about to take him as they were obviously commanded to do. Their words and actions while in the crowd did not necessarily indicate what they actually believed.
7:47 The Pharisees therefore answered them, have ye also been deceived?
The Pharisees had a real problem. Their own officers, whom they had sent to take Jesus captive, had not only returned empty-handed, but were even extolling the praises of Jesus. They assumed that their officers shared the beliefs of many others. For the time being at least, the plans of the Pharisees were upset.
7:48 Has anyone of the rulers believed on him, or of the Pharisees?
This question makes it obvious that the rulers and the Pharisees considered themselves better than the rest of the Jews, an example the others should follow. After all, were they not the priests who taught the people? Were not the Pharisees the learned ones of Israel? Did the ignorant crowd think they are smarter than we? This is the intent of their question, as indicated by the Greek grammar used.
Their question began with the Greek, mee. This is the qualitative negative, and when written as above, requires "no" as the answer. By the way this question was framed, they expected a negative response from the officers. This question left the impression that, "We were not fooled, why were you?
7:49 But this crowd, which knows not the law, are accursed.
Accursed comes from the Greek epikatapatoi which means,
"accursed, execrable, exposed to divine vengeance, lying under God's curse: Jn.vii.49" (Thayer, p. 239).
To derive the proper meaning, one must add the word "ones" to the word accursed. They were accursed ones. This will clarify that accursed is not a verb, but an adjective, describing the people.
This is a telling example of how those leaders really felt about people who held differing opinions than theirs. Not much has changed about the religious leaders of hierarchical denominations today. Many of today's religious leaders look with disdain, or animosity, or even hostility, upon those who do not agree with them. Such people are seen as ignorant, as sheep to be shorn, and they are fleeced out of millions of dollars every year.
7:50 Nicodemus says to them, (he, who came by night to him, being one of themselves.)
Nicodemus appeared again in an event concerning the life of Jesus. He was the one who had came to Jesus by night. He was identified here as being a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling party, and the group which sought to seize Jesus. At the very least, Nicodemus was not reluctant to speak out, and does so in the next verse.
7:51 Does our law judge the man, unless first it have heard from himself, and known what he does?
Again, this question begins with the Greek mee, and the grammar requires a negative answer. "No, our law does not first judge a man until it is known what he has done, and heard from the man himself."
Nicodemus was well acquainted with their laws. After all, the Sanhedrin was roughly equivalent to our supreme court. They were both religious and legal leaders, and like many today, they were willing to bend the law to get their own way. For the time being, though, this question put a halt to their quest to seize Jesus.
Nicodemus stated two elements of the law to the other members of the Sanhedrin. First, they should hear from the man himself. Under Jewish law, a man had a judicial right to explain whether or not he had done something, and why.
Second, the Sanhedrin should know what he does. From these remarks by Nicodemus, the evidence they were willing to judge him by must have been only hearsay.
7:52 They answered and said to him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search and look, that a prophet has not arisen out of Galilee.
The other members of the Sanhedrin answered by asking another question. This question was also prefaced with the Greek, mee, which required a negative reply. The manner in which they posed this question shows that they knew Nicodemus was not out of Galilee. This was their attempt to use sarcasm as a defense for not abiding by their own law. It also unfairly identified Nicodemus as being partial to Jesus.
They were correct, however, when they told him to, "Search and look, that a prophet has not arisen out of Galilee." They were either ignorant of, or chose to ignore, that Jesus had been born in Bethlehem, and therefore was qualified to be the messiah, or christ, insofar as his birth place was concerned.
7:53 And each went to their house.
Nicodemus had pointed out their duplicity in overlooking the law which guaranteed a man certain rights. After throwing sarcastic barbs at Nicodemus, they dispersed and went home.
# Preservation is still the primary rule of religious denominations today.
Their main purpose is to perpetuate their brand of "truth," their
hierarchical structure, and their positions in it.
# Jesus was not doing anything which would glorify himself instead of
his heavenly father. His sole purpose in living in the flesh was to give
glory to The God.
# The carnal mind cannot understand spiritual things. We can only
believe with the aid of The God's grace. Even our ability to come to
faith is not of ourselves. Everything concerning the matter of salvation
is a gift from The God to mankind. Men, in their carnal nature, always
seek to find a way to work for their salvation, and thereby put The God
in debt to them. By doing so, they believe that The God will present
them with salvation because of their own good works. Nothing could
be further from the truth of the scriptures!
# The worldly system is totally opposed to the cause of The God.
# A difficult concept for many to grasp is that religious, particularly
"christian," organizations have been so invaded by worldly principles
that they have actually become part of the world, and stand opposed to
The God's spiritual realm.
# There are two groups in the world: unbelievers and believers. The
unbelievers, whether they are aware of it or not, hate, despise, and
count of little worth the group of believers.
# At this time, at least in this country, there seems to be little difference
between the standards of the world and those of the church. The reason
for this is that the church long ago capitulated to worldly ways.
# If you want to find out how much power any organized religion today
can bring against you, just oppose them openly. Church organization
leaders have many ways, both social and economic, to put fear in the
hearts of dissenters.
# When anyone presumes to teach the scriptures, people want to know
about the speaker's education or credentials. The assumption seems to
be, especially among the clergy, that only those who have attended a
particular seminary are qualified to interpret the scriptures. The
"correct" seminary depends on the denomination of the questioner.
This assumption of authenticity is an insidious method to indoctrinate
people into the particular denominational views. It has little to do with
the search for what The God actually said in the scriptures.
# Do you really desire, or will, yourself to know the truth? This is still a
viable question today for anyone who would understand the word of
The God. There must be an action of will on the part of such a person.
Too few desire to know more of the scriptures. They are happy to listen
to a trivial 20-minute sermonette week after week. They prefer this to
any teaching which would cause them to think about what scripture
actually says. They are more interested in the preacher's views than in
what The God says, especially if the preacher agrees with what they
# Very few people ever hear anyone who teaches or preaches under the
guidance of holy spirit. This comes only by submission to The God, and
through prayer, and through studying the scriptures.
# Preachers and teachers today are to be prophets, or forth-tellers, not
fore-tellers, as some presume. They are to bring greater understanding
to people. If the one who brings the message is not committed to The
God, then they seek their own glory.
# What is truth? It is the scriptures. It is truth when the scriptures are
taught by a person dedicated to The God, enabled by holy spirit, and
speaking for the purpose of glorifying The God.
# It is amazing how the superstitions of that time are still so rampant in
religious circles today. Many preachers are still preaching about
demons and satan as though they are viable personalities. Both terms,
demon and satan, are not used literally, but metaphorically.
# Try speaking the plain truth of the scriptures, and you will arouse the
wrath of those who hold to denominational doctrine.
# Sight, or what one sees, is not a viable basis for making a judgment
about another. Yet, this is the common ground for most judgments
which men make.
# They (the Jews) just did not wish to accept this. It went against their
religious beliefs, and also put them in jeopardy with the priesthood.
# Jesus never wavered in any way; he always said that his ministry was
totally of his heavenly father. On many occasions, Jesus said his father
sent him. In spite of all that, it is truly puzzling why so many people
insist that Jesus and The God are one and the same. Jesus went to great
pains to establish a separation between himself and The God, and yet
multitudes insist differently.
# The whole of the New Testament was written about the very same issue
that this crowd discussed. Is Jesus the christ of The God? That was the
question then, and that is still the question today. Please note that the
scriptures never asked people to even consider Jesus as their "personal
savior." Organized religions have, for the most part, skewed this
important element of New Testament teaching. They have changed
believing that Jesus is the christ into "accepting Jesus as personal
savior." This idea, so prominent in evangelical churches, is completely
estranged from the truth of the scriptures. At the very least, it is
misleading. The most damaging aspect is that it ignores the correct
teaching of the New Testament about Jesus, and who he really is.
# Jesus was speaking to them of spiritual matters concerning himself, and
they were thinking in material, or fleshly, terms. What they were doing
was only a natural, human response. Human nature has not changed.
# "Living water" speaks of water which flows; it is never stagnant. Neither
is any believer's life a stagnant pool, if they continue in faith. Faith
impels one to action through holy spirit.
# Too many people desire not the wide open vistas of liberty, but the
defined parameters of the law. They are too fearful of operating under
the law of liberty because that is undefined except by the scriptures,
and by the gift of holy spirit. The law of liberty precludes us controlling
our own lives. The God does that.
# This is a telling example of how those leaders really felt about people
who held differing opinions than theirs (they were called accursed
ones). Not much has changed about the religious leaders of
hierarchical denominations today. Many of today's religious leaders
look with disdain, or animosity, or even hostility, upon those who do
not agree with them.