|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:40-53 The malice of Christ's enemies is always against reason, and sometimes the staying of it cannot be accounted for. Never any man spake with that wisdom, and power, and grace, that convincing clearness, and that sweetness, wherewith Christ spake. Alas, that many, who are for a time restrained, and who speak highly of the word of Jesus, speedily lose their convictions, and go on in their sins! People are foolishly swayed by outward motives in matters of eternal moment, are willing even to be damned for fashion's sake. As the wisdom of God often chooses things which men despise, so the folly of men commonly despises those whom God has chosen. The Lord brings forward his weak and timid disciples, and sometimes uses them to defeat the designs of his enemies.
Verses 50, 51. - They were hardly prepared for what followed; for one of their own order, one of their "rulers," "the teacher of Israel," a chief among the Pharisees, opens his lips to speak to them, and to call for a halt in their rash proceedings. He did not go far, but he directed attention to a fundamental principle of that very "Law" which the Pharisaic party were ignoring. Nicodemus saith to them (he who came to him formerly, although being one of them). The parenthesis shows the author's strong recollection of the scene (John 3:1, etc.), when the Lord had opened to his own mind, as well as to Nicodemus, the mystery of the kingdom, and the need of that very Spirit's power to which (John knew when he wrote that) the Lord was referring in his great discourse. Nicodemus had not proclaimed his own discipleship, but he meant to cover and shield the enthusiastic crowd from the sting of the cruel condemnation of this Pharisaic junta. Doth our Law judge a man except it have first heard from himself, and have come to know what he doeth? (Exodus 23:1 margin, "Thou shalt not receive a false report;" Deuteronomy 1:16, "Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother"). The Law is here personified in the person of the judge. The process is not followed by this hasty ex parte statement. The Law is traversed by this forgetfulness of the first principle of justice as between man and man. They might have rejoined that they did know the teaching and the work of Jesus. They had been following him by their representatives, and were now witnesses of his extraordinary assumptions, and had evidence enough on which to proceed. The retort which they made is sufficient proof of the defective and passion-blinded method of their own procedure. Moreover, it shows that the prophetic rank assigned to the Lord Jesus was the main question in the mind of Nicodemus and his Pharisaic companions. The rules for the judgment of a prophet were stringent, and no attempt had been made to put these prophetic claims to the test (Deuteronomy 18:19-22). Moreover, they ran off upon an utterly false tack, and were not free from inaccuracy in their solemn appeal to Holy Scripture.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Nicodemus saith unto them,.... To the Jewish sanhedrim, who were running down Christ, and his followers, in great wrath and fury:
he that came to Jesus by night; see John 3:1;
being one of them; a member of the sanhedrim.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
50-53. Nicodemus—reappearing to us after nearly three years' absence from the history, as a member of the council, probably then sitting.
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