|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:31-36 The discourses of Jesus convinced many that he was the Messiah; but they had not courage to own it. It is comfort to those who are in the world, but not of it, and therefore are hated by it and weary of it, that they shall not be in it always, that they shall not be in it long. Our days being evil, it is well they are few. The days of life and of grace do not last long; and sinners, when in misery, will be glad of the help they now despise. Men dispute about such sayings, but the event will explain them.
Verse 35. - The Jews therefore said among themselves, Whither will this Man go, that we shall not find him? With their murderous designs they are blinded even to the meaning of his words. They pretend that he was not making any reference to their sworn purpose of rejecting his claims. They would not lift their thoughts to that eternal glory in which he would soon, by their own execrable acts, be enshrouded. They could not grasp the eternal life involved in the acceptance of the Father's revelation in him. They are resolved to put ironical and confusing meaning into his words, to pour an air of contempt over his reply; and to insert veritable though unconscious prophecy of their own into his words. Will he go to the Dispersion (of) - or, among - the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? The word "Greek" is, throughout the New Testament, the Gentile, the Pagan world, at that time so largely Greek in speech, if not in race. Another word, "Grecian" or "Hellenist," is used for the Jews who had adopted Greek ideas, habits, and speech. Whatever may be the strict meaning of that word (see Roberts's 'Discussions on the Gospels,' and other works, where that writer seeks to establish the Greek-speaking peculiarity of all Palestinian Jews, and limits the word to Greek ideas rather than to Greek speech), the word "Greek" is the antithesis to "Jew" in every respect. The Dispcrsion (τῶν Ἑλλήνων) may mean
(1) the Jewish dispersion among the Greeks beyond the limits of Palestine (2 Macc. 1:27). It is also found in Josephus for the outcast of Israel (see LXX. Psalm 146:2; cf. James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1). There was a wide "dispersion" in Babylon and Syria, throughout Persia, Egypt, Asia Minor, and Cyprus, even in Achaia, Macedonia, and Italy. The Dispersion was the Greater Israel. Most intimate relations subsisted between these scattered Israelites and their political and ecclesiastical centre in the metropolis. Often those at the greatest distance front the temple were the most passionately loyal and patriotic. But for the Messiah to commence a prophetic career among them, after having been repudiated by the great council of the nation, was a bitter sarcasm. But
(2) the "Dispersion" may refer to the wide scattering of the Greeks themselves, the natural antithesis to God's covenanted people. Now
(1) is certainly a very awkward and unique rendering of the genitive, and
(2) applies the "dispersion" in a peculiar sense not elsewhere used. Alford says the word means the land where the Jews are scattered. Still,
(2) appears to me a fair rendering of the words, especially as it is followed by "and teach the Greeks." Nothing could more adequately express the utter scorn of the Jewish mind for a pseudo-Messiah who, failing with his own people, and here in the courts of the Lord's house, would turn to the Gentiles. Such a bare supposition would bring utter discomfiture, as they thought, upon his claims. What a forecast they made in their malicious suggestions! Long before John reported this speech he himself had taken up his seat in Ephesus. In all the great cities of the empire it was avowed on both sides that "in Christ Jesus there was neither Jew nor Greek." Had not Jesus already given indication of this laxity as to the privileges of Israel: "Many shall come," etc. (Matthew 8:11)? Had he not referred to the ministry of Elijah and Elisha severally to the Syro-Phoenician and the Syrian (Luke 4:25-27)? Had he not shown culpable leniency to the hated Samaritan? Surely they meant to suggest the uttermost treason to the traditions of Israel, when they thus chose to put a meaning into his words. Like Caiaphas in John 11:49-51, they said and prophesied more than they knew. Archdeacon Watkins says, "The irony of history is seen in the fact that the very words of these Jews of Palestine are recorded in Greek, by a Jew of Palestine, presiding over a Christian Church in a Gentile city."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then said the Jews among themselves,.... That is, the unbelieving, scoffing Jews; it may be the officers, at least some of them, that were sent to take him:
whither will he go that we shall not find him? what distant, or obscure part of the world will he betake himself to, and there hide himself, that so he cannot be found?
will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles? or Greeks; and so may design the Jews, who were scattered abroad in the times of the Grecian monarchy, under the successors of Alexander, and particularly Antiochus, in distinction from the Babylonish dispersion; or the strangers scattered through Pontus Galatia, &c. to whom Peter writes, 1 Peter 1:1. The Arabic version renders it, "the sect of the Greeks" by which the Hellenistic Jews seem to be meant: or the Jews in general, wherever, and by whomsoever scattered, who might be thought to be more ignorant than the Jews in Judea, and therefore more easily to be imposed upon: hence, in a flouting manner, they inquire, whether he will go to those when he is rejected by them. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions read, "will he go into the countries, or country of the Gentiles"; into Heathen countries, not to the Jews there, but to the Gentiles themselves:
and teach the Gentiles? suggesting, that he was more fit to be a teacher of them, than of the Jews, and might meet with more encouragement and success among them, who would not be able to detect him.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
35, 36. Whither will he go, &c.—They cannot comprehend Him, but seem awed by the solemn grandeur of His warning. He takes no notice, however, of their questions.
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