|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:1-13 The brethren or kinsmen of Jesus were disgusted, when they found there was no prospect of worldly advantages from him. Ungodly men sometimes undertake to counsel those employed in the work of God; but they only advise what appears likely to promote present advantages. The people differed about his doctrine and miracles, while those who favoured him, dared not openly to avow their sentiments. Those who count the preachers of the gospel to be deceivers, speak out, while many who favour them, fear to get reproach by avowing regard for them.
Verse 4. - For no man doeth anything in secret, and himself seeketh to be known openly. Vulgate, in palam esse. Lucke translates in Latin, "idemque cupit celeber ease." The αὐτός answers to the subject of the verb "doeth," who yet is denied to exist by the οὐδείς. The ἐν παῥῤησίᾳ εϊναι says Meyer, is "to be the opposite of a shy and timid nature," which is very unmeaning. Grimm says of the phrase ἐν παῥῤησίᾳ, "Is se gerendi modus quo aliquis omnibus conspicuus est," and justifies it by this passage and by John 11:54; Coss. 2:15 (cf. Wisd. 5:1, Τότε στήσεται ἐν παῥῤησίᾳ πολλῇ ὁ δίκαιος). So Luthardt: "It denotes that which is open, in contrast to that which is concealed." Westcott settles the meaning of the word by the remark that "the phrase (בפרהסיא) is commonly used by the rabbinical writers for 'in public,' as opposed to 'in secret.'" The man who persists in quiet, secret ways of acting, and strenuously avoids publicity, is not the man who seeketh to be illustrious and conspicuous. The brethren see a palpable contradiction between the claims which Jesus is making and the comparative retirement to which he is confining himself. The crowds of the Galilaean lake are blank retirement when compared with the metropolis in the great climacteric festival of the year. The brethren call on Christ to solve the contradiction. It cannot be concealed that Jesus had (Luke 8:16; Luke 11:33; Luke 12:2) repeatedly said, "No man lighteth a lamp and putteth it under a bushel, but on a candlestick," etc.; and so the brothers use Christ's words against himself. But the Lord's idea of needful manifestation, both as to degree, time, and place, was accurately realized and represented in both narratives. If thou doest these things. The αἰ is simply the logical premise, without necessarily throwing doubt on the facts. It is not equal, however, to the particle ἐπει, "since." Admitting these works to be real, and these mighty deeds to be correctly reported, there, is from the standpoint of the brethren no other course than that which they suggest: Manifest thyself to the world; i.e. "proceed to the widest arena at once;" "thou art compromising thyself by thy retirement;" "what thou art doing with one hand thou art undoing with the other." "All the Israel world from all lands is crowding to the great feast, thy disciples amongst them; make thyself known; claim the place that belongs to thee." It must be remembered that the disciples (Judas, not Iscariot, especially) said on the very night of the Passion, "How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world?" This slight note of resemblance with the form of the present admonition of the brothers, is more coincident in the letter than the spirit, and received from the Lord a profoundly different reply (see John 14:22, 23, notes).
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For there is no man that doeth anything in secret,.... For so they reckoned his doing miracles in such a corner of the land, and in so obscure a place as Galilee:
and he himself seeketh to be known openly; suggesting hereby, that Christ was an ambitious person, and sought popular applause, and honour and glory from men, when nothing was more foreign from him; see John 5:41.
If thou do these things; for they question whether the miracles he wrought were real; and suspected that they were deceptions of the sight, and delusions; or at least they questioned their being done by him; and rather thought that they were done by diabolical influence, by Beelzebub the prince of devils: but if they were real ones, they advise him, saying,
shew thyself to the world; or do these openly, and in the presence of the great men of the world; the princes of it, the rulers of the people, the chief priests and sanhedrim; and before all the males of Israel; who at this feast would come up from all parts of the land, and are for their multitude called the world: the reason of this their advice was, that if his miracles were real, and he was the person he would be thought to be, the doing of them before such, would gain him great credit and esteem; and if not, he might be detected by such numbers, and by men of such penetration as were among them.
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