John 2:23
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
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(23) In the feast day.—Omit the word “day” after feast. The italics show that there is no word to express it in the Greek, and it gives the impression of one day, whereas the feast extended over a week. The idea of time, moreover, is not expressed by “in the feast.” The sentence means, When He was in the feast (engaged in keeping the feast) at Jerusalem, during the Passover.

Many believed.—The persons are distinct from the official representatives of the nation (John 2:18-19), as the place, Jerusalem, is distinguished from the Temple.

When they saw the miracles.—Better, as before, signs. The original words imply that their faith was dependent upon the signs which they gazed upon, without entering into their deeper meaning. It was the impulsive response of the moment, not based upon a previous preparation, nor resulting in a present deep conviction. It came far short of the faith of the disciples, who passed from a true knowledge of Moses and the Prophets to a true knowledge of Christ without a sign; but it came far above the disbelief of scribes and Pharisees, who after a sign rejected Him. It was not the prepared good ground bringing forth abundantly; but neither was it the hardened wayside which did not receive the seed at all.

John 2:23-25. When he was in Jerusalem, in the feast-day — Or rather, during the feast, as εν τη εορτη, should undoubtedly be translated: that is, during all the days of the solemnity; many believed in his name — Were inwardly persuaded that he was the Messiah, or, at least, that he was a teacher sent from God; when they saw the miracles which he did — This, as well as John 3:2; John 4:45, plainly refers to some miracles wrought by Christ, the particulars of which are not transmitted to us. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them — Did not repose such confidence in the sincerity of their profession of faith in him, or in their fidelity, courage, or wisdom, as to discover himself to be the Messiah. Because he knew all men — Had perfect knowledge of their dispositions; and needed not that any should testify of man — To give him any information concerning the character of any man, though ever so much a stranger to him; for he knew what was in man — By an immediate and unerring penetration, he knew what was in the heart of every man; and consequently knew, that those people had such gross notions of the Messiah’s kingdom, that there was no room for him to confide in them: or, he knew that the faith of many of them had not yet advanced to a full conviction; and foresaw that they would quickly fall off, when they found he was rejected by the great men, and did not erect a secular empire. Let us learn hence, not rashly to put ourselves into the power of others. Let us study a wise and happy medium, between universal suspiciousness, and that easiness and openness of temper which would make us the property of every pretender to kindness and respect.

2:23-25 Our Lord knew all men, their nature, dispositions, affections, designs, so as we do not know any man, not even ourselves. He knows his crafty enemies, and all their secret projects; his false friends, and their true characters. He knows who are truly his, knows their uprightness, and knows their weaknesses. We know what is done by men; Christ knows what is in them, he tries the heart. Beware of a dead faith, or a formal profession: carnal, empty professors are not to be trusted, and however men impose on others or themselves, they cannot impose on the heart-searching God.Feast-day - Feast. During the celebration of the Passover, which continued eight days.

Miracles which he did - These miracles are not particularly recorded. Jesus took occasion to work miracles, and to preach at that time, for a great multitude were present from all parts of Judea. It was a favorable opportunity for making known his doctrines and showing the evidence that he was the Christ, and he embraced it. We should always seek and embrace opportunities of doing good, and we should not be "deterred," but rather "excited," by the multitude around us to make known our real sentiments on the subject of religion.

23-25. in the feast day—the foregoing things occurring probably before the feast began.

many believed—superficially, struck merely by "the miracles He did." Of these we have no record.

To believe in Christ’s name, and to believe in Christ himself, are one and the same thing; as it is the same to call upon God, and to call upon the name of God: so Acts 3:16. The meaning is, that they believed the things which were published concerning his person and office: yet the periphrasis,

Believed in his name, is not vain; but declareth a mutual relation between God and the word, by the preaching of which he maketh himself known to the world.

True faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. I think it is to no purpose disputed here by some, whether the faith here mentioned was true faith, yea or no. It appeareth by what followeth, that it was not true justifying faith; but it was true in its kind. To make up true justifying, saving faith, which the apostle calls the faith of God’s elect, three things are required:

1. A knowledge of the proposition of the word revealing Christ: this is acquired by reading, hearing, meditation, &c.

2. The second is assent, which is the act of the understanding, agreeing in the truth of the word revealed, when such an assent is given to a proposition, if merely upon the Divine revelation of it: this is faith, a true faith in its kind.

3. Upon this now (in those who savingly believe) the will closes with Christ as an adequate object; for it receiveth him, accepteth him, relies on him as its Saviour, and moveth by the affections to love, desire, hope, rejoice in him; and commandeth the outward man into an obedience to his law.

Now it is very possible, that, through a common influence of the Holy Spirit of God, men upon the hearing of the word, especially having the advantage of seeing miraculous operations confirming the word, may give a true assent to the proposition of the word, as a proposition of truth, and yet may never receive Christ as their Saviour, close with him, trust in him, desire, love, or obey him; this was the case of these persons, many at least of them. They believed, seeing the miracles which Christ did: they wanted a due knowledge of Christ founded in the word; neither had they any certain, steady, fixed assent, founded in the discerning the truth of the proposition; their assent was sudden, founded only upon the miracles they saw wrought; so as though they might have some confidence in him, as a famous person, and some great prince, from whom they might expect some earthly good, yet this was all, which was far enough from true saving faith.

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover,.... Whither he went, in order to keep it, that being at hand, and now come; see John 2:13;

in the feast day; either on the day the Chagigah was eaten, which was sometimes emphatically called "the feast", as in Numbers 28:16, "and in the fourteenth day of the first month, is the passover of the Lord; and in the fifteenth day of this month, is the feast"; the passover lamb was eaten on the fourteenth day of the month "Nisan", and the "Chagigah" was on the fifteenth; in the former only a lamb was eaten, in the other, cattle out of the herds; hence mention is made, both of flocks and herds, for the keeping the passover, Deuteronomy 16:2. Jarchi's note upon the place is, that the herds were for the Chagigah, with which the Talmud (l) agrees; and Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrases the words thus,

"and ye shall slay the passover before the Lord your God, between the evenings, and the sheep and oxen on the morrow, in that very day, for the joy of the feast;''

for it was observed with great joy and mirth: and the rather this is here meant, since the "Chagigah" is not only called "the feast", but this here is distinguished from the passover, as that is in the passage above cited, Numbers 28:16. For the passover here, seems to be the general name for the whole seven days of the festival; and the feast to be the particular feast of the first day of it, which was the fifteenth; to which may be added, that on this day all the males made their appearance in court (m); and so was a very proper time for Christ to work his miracles in, when there were so many spectators: though it may design the whole time of the feast, all the seven days of unleavened bread; during which time Christ was at Jerusalem, and wrought miracles, which had the following effect:

many believed in his name; that he was some great prophet, or the prophet, or the Messiah; they gave an historical assent unto him as such, at least for that time:

when they saw the miracles which he did; for as miracles, according to the prophecies of the Old Testament, were to be performed by the Messiah, such as giving sight to the blind, causing the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk, Isaiah 35:5; so they were expected by the ancient Jews, that they would be wrought by him, when he came; wherefore these Jews, seeing such like wonderful things wrought by Jesus, they concluded he must be the Messiah: though the modern ones, in order to shift off the evidence of Jesus being the Messiah, from his miracles, deny that miracles are the characteristic of the Messiah, or will be performed by him; at least, that there is no necessity of them to prove him to be the person. What miracles these were, which were now wrought by Christ, are not recorded by this, or any other evangelist; see John 20:30. However, being surprised at the marvellous things he did, and upon the evidence of these extraordinary works, there were many that concluded he must be come from God; among these it seems as if Nicodemus was one; see John 3:2; great part of these, at least some of them, were only nominal and temporary believers, who were not to be confided in as true disciples, and hearty followers of Christ; and who continued not long in the same mind and profession, as appears by what follows.

(l) Pesachim, fol. 70. 2.((m) Maimon. Hilch. Chagigah, c. 1. sect. 1.

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
John 2:23. Δέ] introducing a characteristic summary statement (to John 2:25) regarding this stay of Jesus at the feast, in order next to give prominence to a special scene, the story of Nicodemus in John 3:1 ff.

ἐν τ. Ἱεροσ. ἐν τ. πάσχα ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ] The latter clause is not added as an explanation for Greek readers (that should have been done at John 2:13), but “He was at Jerusalem during the passover in the feast (engaged in celebrating the feast);” thus the first ἐν is local, the second refers to time, and the third joins on with ἦν, and expresses the surroundings, that in which a person is engaged (versari in aliqua re). See, concerning εἶναι ἐν here, Bernhardy, p. 210; Ast, Lex. Plat. I. 623.

θεωροῦντες, κ.τ.λ.] while they beheld His miracles, etc. αὐτοῦ, comp. Lycurg. 28: ταῦτα ἐμοῦ ἐθεωρήσατε, and Kühner, § 528, ad Xen. Mem. i. 1. 11. Euthymius Zigabenus rightly says: ἐκεῖνοι γὰρ ἀκριβέστερον ἐπίστευον, ὅσοι μὴ διὰ τὰ σημεῖα μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ τὴν διδασκαλίαν αὐτοῦ ἐπίστευον. Their faith in His name (as that of the Messiah) did not yet amount to any decision of their inner life for Jesus, but was only an opinion, produced by the sight of His miracles, that He was the Messiah; comp. John 8:30, John 6:26. Luther calls it “milk faith.” Comp. Matthew 13:20. On τὰ σημεῖα, comp. John 3:2. None of the miracles of this period has been recorded; John 20:30, comp. John 4:45. Consequently, not only the Synoptics, but John also speaks summarily of multitudes of miracles, without relating any of them individually (against Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 201).

John 2:23. Time, place, and circumstance are again given. ὡς δὲ ἦν ἐν τοῖς Ἰεροσολύμοις ἐν τῷ πάσχα ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ. The last clause is added with a reference to John 2:13. Then the feast was near, now it had arrived. We are to hear what happened while Jesus resided in Jerusalem during the feast.—πολλοὶ ἐπίστευσαν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, which can scarcely mean less than that they believed He was the Messiah. Nicodemus, however, seems willing only to admit He is “a teacher come from God”. Their belief was founded on the miracles they saw.—θεωροῦντες αὐτοῦ τὰ σημεῖα ἃ ἐποίει, seeing day by day the signs He was doing, and of which John relates none. This faith, resting on miracles, is in this Gospel never commended as the highest kind of faith, although it is by no means despised. It is what Luther calls “milk faith” and may grow into something more trustworthy. Accordingly, although Jesus had at once committed Himself to the men who were attracted without miracle by His personality and the testimony of the Baptist, to these αὐτὸς Ἰησοῦς οὐκ ἐπίστευεν ἑαυτὸν, “Jesus on His part did not commit Himself”. It is necessary to consider not only whether we have faith in Christ but whether Christ has faith in us. Thoroughgoing confidence must always be reciprocal. Christ will commit Himself to the man who thoroughly commits himself to Him. The reason of this reserve is given in a twofold expression: positive, διὰ τὸ αὐτὸν γινώσκειν πάντας, “because He Himself knew all men”; negative, καὶ ὅτι οὐ χρείαν εἶχεν ἵνα τὶς μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, “and because He had no need that any one should witness concerning man”. Holtzmann, following Winer, thinks that the article is inserted because reference is made to the individual with whom Jesus had on each occasion to do. This seems quite unnecessary. ὁ ἄνθρωπος is here, as in A.V[37], “man,” the ordinary generic use of the article. The reason for this again is given in the closing words, αὐτὸς γὰρ … “For He Himself knew what was in man,” knew human nature, the motives, governing ideas, and ways of man. This knowledge was not supernatural. Westcott has an important note on this point, in which he points out that John describes the knowledge of Jesus “both as relative, acquired (γινώσκειν) and absolute, possessed (εἰδέναι)”. Each constitutes a higher degree of the kind of knowledge found among men. Reynolds says: “There are many other indications of this thought mastery, which the evangelists appear to regard as proofs of divine power; so that I think the real significance of the passage is an ascription to Jesus of Divine power. The supernatural in mind, the superhuman mental processes of Jesus, are part of the proof we have that though He was man He created the irresistible impression that He was more than man.”

[37] Authorised Version.

23–25. Belief without Devotion

23. in Jerusalem at, &c.] More accurately, in Jerusalem, at the Passover, during the Feast. Note the exactness of detail.

when they saw the miracles] None of these have been recorded. Comp. John 4:45, John 20:30. Faith growing out of such soil would be likely to cease when the miracles ceased. ‘When they saw’ should perhaps be ‘whilst they saw,’ as if implying ‘and no longer.’ For ‘miracles’ read signs, as in John 2:11.

John 2:23. Ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ, in the feast) the people being collected, ch. John 4:45, “The Galilæans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast.”—ἐπίστευσαν, believed) as those, concerning whom ch. John 8:30 speaks: “As He spake these words, many believed on Him;” John 12:42, “Among the chief rulers also many believed on Him.”—τὰ σημεῖα, signs) More signs are recorded as having been done by the Evangelists in Galilee, than in Judæa and Jerusalem: John 2:1, and chap. John 4:46 [The miracle of the wine at Cana, and on the nobleman’s son at Capernaum]. For in Galilee He wrought very many: Matthew 11:20, “Then began He to upbraid the cities, wherein most of His mighty works were done:” and those which had been wrought in Jerusalem, were then very well known of themselves.

Verse 23-ch. 3:2. -

(3) Numerous signs in Jerusalem, with their twofold effects. Verse 23. - A new paragraph is commenced here. The conversation with Nicodemus is prefaced by a very remarkable summary of facts, and a hint of principles of action, which are intended to throw light on the great discourse, which hears the same kind of relation to St. John's Gospel that the sermon on the mount does to St. Matthew's Gospel. It is a compendium of the Christian faith. The very fulness and sufficiency of it suggests the doubt of its authenticity. Is not the Lord's reticence on other occasions, and even his enigmatic, parabolic methods of teaching, in decided contrast with the abundance of the revelations with which Nicodemus was favoured? We are tempted to ask - What was the evangelist's source of information? The only reply that seems to me rational is that John himself was the auditor of this discourse, and has preserved it for the edification and solace of the world. The disciple whom Jesus loved never left him, but was perpetually drinking in his words, and, with a genuine Hebrew retentiveness, preserved them intact; at all events, he so reproduced the leading ideas of the conversation. This is, we maintain, a far more scientific treatment of the authorities than the hypothesis of a Johannist of the second century having gathered up and idealized the synoptic records of the scribes, who, by sundry questions, brought forth from the Lord some of his most characteristic teaching. Thoma urges that we have here a spiritual rechauffe of "the rich young man," of "the lawyer," and of the story of Paul, himself a Pharisee, when finally convinced that he needed a new creation and a spiritual life! First of all, then, we have the place, general period, and specific time referred to: Now when he was in Jerusalem - not the temple, but in the houses and streets, and perhaps suburbs, of Jerusalem (Ἱερουσαλύμοις the plural form used generally in the Gospel, while Ἱερουσαλήμ is used in the Revelation in symbolic sense) - at the Passover; a period generally covering nine or ten days of celebration, extending from the first purifying of the houses from all leaven and the drawing of pure water on the thirteenth Nisan, the paschal meal on the fourteenth Nisan, the feasts in the evenings of the great days of convocation, fifteenth and twenty-first of the month, and the ceremonies of the intervening six days. In the feast must refer to one or ether of the great days of convocation, worship, and feasting. Many believed on his Name; i.e. on his Messiahship, rather than on himself, as their Prophet, Purifier, self-sacrificing Priest, or than on himself as Lamb of God or Son of God. They accepted on easy terms, with a fickle and perhaps eager fanaticism, the first impression produced by him when they saw the signs which he was making of his heavenly mission and nature. We must conclude, therefore, that he did in many ways partially unveil himself. Nicodemus heard of these "signs," and referred them to a Divine commission. John does not here, nor elsewhere, say what these signs were - whether they consisted of effects produced on nature or on men, whether they were deeds of healing, or of moral compulsion, or repression, or reformation. Great expectations with reference to a coming Christ had been excited in the breasts of tens of thousands by John the Baptist's fiery ministry. The result was that men now flocked to Jesus in greater numbers than they had done to him (John 3:26). The faith that they exercised was neither deep nor appreciative, yet it was worthy of the name of faith. John 2:23At the passover

Note the omission of of the Jews (John 2:13).

In the feast-day (ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ)

Rev., during the feast. The feast of unleavened bread, during the seven days succeeding the actual passover (see on Mark 14:1).

Believed on (ἐπίστευσαν εἰς)

The stronger expression of faith (John 1:12).

His name

See on John 1:12. With the phrase believe on His name, compare believe on Him (John 8:30), which is the stronger expression, indicating a casting of one's self upon Him; while to believe on the name is rather to believe in Him as being that which he claims to be, in this case the Messiah. It is believing recognition rather than appropriation. "Their faith in His name (as that of the Messiah) did not yet amount to any decision of their inner life for Jesus, but was only an opinion produced by the sight of His miracles, that He was the Messiah" (Meyer).

When they saw (θεωροῦντες)

Rev., literally and rightly, beholding (see on John 1:14, John 1:29).

He did (ἐποίει)

Better, was doing; the imperfect denoting the wonderful works as in progress.

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