|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.
Verse 52. - They answered and said to him, Art thou also, as he is and his supporters are, from Galilee? and, therefore, is this criticism of yours on our baffled plan the dictate of provincial pride? They sought to fix a contemptuous country cousin sobriquet upon this distinguished man, instead of replying to his sensible inquiry. Search, and see, that out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. The present tense has very nearly the force of the perfect, and denotes the general rule of the Divine providence in the matter. The prophetic order can scarcely be thought to have been recruited from the northern province. Even Hosea had his origin in Samaria. Amos was an inhabitant of Tekoah; twelve miles south of Jerusalem. Nahum the El-koshite cannot be proved to have sprung from the Galilaean town of Elkosh; though it is not impossible, it is at least probable, that Elkosh in Assyria, on the Tigris, two miles north of Mosul and south of Nineveh, was the place whence Nahum and his prophecies issued. Elijah the Tishbite, of the land of Gilead, cannot be claimed as a Gallilaean. The case is different with reference to Jonah of Gath-Hepher, of the tribe of Zebulon (2 Kings 14:25), who, as a solitary and by no means morally impressive character, might almost as an exception prove the truth of the general statement. The historical error is far from difficult to account for in the stress of the discontent which these Pharisees were now manifesting towards everything Galilaean. Godet, on the authority of ἀγήγερται, being the text, would have it that "there has not now arisen in the Person of Jesus a Prophet." Baumlein presses this still further, by making the "prophet" mean "the Messiah." There is no reasonable ground for charging on these Pharisees "an incredible ignorance or incomprehensible misunderstanding." Such a charge is more like one of the incomprehensible misunderstandings of the modern critical school whenever a chance opens of assailing the authenticity of the Fourth Gospel.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They answered and said unto him,.... Being displeased with him, and as reproaching him, though they could not deny, or refute what he said:
art thou also of Galilee? a follower of Jesus of Galilee, whom, by way of contempt, they called the Galilean, and his followers Galilaeans, as Julian the apostate after them did; for otherwise they knew that Nicodemus was not of the country of Galilee;
search and look; into the histories of former times, and especially the Scriptures:
for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet; but this is false, for Jonah the prophet was of Gathhepher, which was in the tribe of Zebulun, which tribe was in Galilee; see 2 Kings 14:25. And the Jews (z) themselves say, that Jonah, the son of Amittai, was, of "Zebulun", and that his father was of Zebulun, and his mother was of Asher (a); both which tribes were in Galilee: and if no prophet had, as yet, arose from thence, it did not follow that no one should arise: besides, there is a prophecy in which it was foretold, that a prophet, and even the Messiah, the great light, should arise in Galilee; see Isaiah 9:1; and they themselves say, that the Messiah should be revealed in Galilee; See Gill on John 7:41.
(z) T. Hieros. Succa, fol. 55. 1, (a) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 98. fol. 85. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
52. thou of Galilee—in this taunt expressing their scorn of the party. Even a word of caution, or the gentlest proposal to inquire before condemning, was with them equivalent to an espousal of the hated One.
Search … out of Galilee … no prophet—Strange! For had not Jonah (of Gath-hepher) and even Elijah (of Thisbe) arisen out of Galilee? And there it may be more, of whom we have no record. But rage is blind, and deep prejudice distorts all facts. Yet it looks as if they were afraid of losing Nicodemus, when they take the trouble to reason the point at all. It was just because he had "searched," as they advised him, that he went the length even that he did.
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