You shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither you cannot come.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me.—These words are to be interpreted in connection with John 8:21, where they are repeated, and with John 13:33, where they are quoted and applied to the disciples. This will exclude any special reference, such as to the destruction of Jerusalem and to the seeking Him in the miseries which should follow, which most expositors have found here. The words refer rather to the more general truth now present to His mind, and applicable to all alike, that the time was at hand when He would return to the Father, and His bodily presence would be unapproachable, alike by those who should seek in hatred, or those who should seek in love.Matthew 23:39.
Shall not find me - Shall not find the Messiah. He will not come, according to your expectations, to aid you. See the notes at Matthew 24.
Where I am - This whole clause is to be understood as future, though the words AM and cannot are both in the present tense. The meaning is, Where I shall be you will not be able to come. That is, he, the Messiah, would be in heaven; and though they would earnestly desire his presence and aid to save the city and nation from the Romans, yet they would not be able to obtain it - represented here by their not being able to come to him. This does not refer to their individual salvation, but to the deliverance of their nation. It is not true of individual sinners that they seek Christ in a proper manner and are not able to find him; but it was true of the Jewish nation that they looked for the Messiah, and sought his coming to deliver them, but he did not do it.Ye shall seek me to execute your malice upon me, but to no purpose, for you
shall not find me. Or, You shall seek me to destroy me in my church, and to root out my name; but to no purpose. But the most probable sense is this: You wicked Jews, that now contemn the means of grace by me offered to you, shall one day be in distress and calamity enough; and when you are so, then you will wish I were again amongst you; but I shall be ascended to my Father, and as deaf to your prayers as above the reach of your malice. There is much the same thing said in Matthew 23:39. That he here speaketh of his ascension is plain from John 13:33. He speaketh of heaven as a place where he was at that time, for so he was as to his Divine nature. It is upagw, whither I go, which makes some think it should not here be eimi, but eimi, vado. But others reject it, because it is a poetical word, hardly used in the New Testament.
and shall not find me; no Messiah will appear, no Saviour will be sent, no Redeemer will come to relieve them; they shall inquire, and look for one in vain, as they did.
And where I am, thither ye cannot come; intimating hereby, that not only their temporal estate and condition would be very distressed and miserable, but also their eternal estate; since they should not be able to come where he would be in his human nature, and where he now was as a divine person, namely, in heaven.Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 7:34. In John 7:34 He views with pity (cf. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” etc.) their too late awakening to a sense of their need: ζητήσετέ με καὶ οὐκ εὑρήσετε. “The tragic history of the Jewish people since their rejection of Jesus as Christ is condensed into these words,” Reith. Cf. Luke 17:22, “The days will come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and ye shall not see it”; also Luke 19:43-44; and Isaiah 55:6. εἰκὸς γὰρ πολλοὺς … ζητεῖν αὐτὸν βοηθὸν καὶ μᾶλλον ἁλισκομένων Ἱεροσολύμων, Euthymius. Even though they may then know where He has gone, they cannot follow Him, ὅπου εἰμὶ ἐγώ ὑμεῖς οὐ δύνασθε ἐλθεῖν, “where I am” [not εἶμι, “I will go”], i.e., in the presence of Him that sent me, “ye cannot,” as ye now are and by your own strength, “come”. For the full meaning see chap. John 8:21-24.34. Ye shall seek me] From John 13:33 it seems almost certain that these words are not to be understood of seeking His life: rather of seeking for help at His hands. Comp. John 8:21. It is best, however, not to limit their application to any particular occasion, such as the destruction of Jerusalem, the great hour of Jewish need.
where I am, thither ye cannot come] ‘Thither’ is not in the Greek and is perhaps better omitted, so as to bring out the emphatic opposition between ‘I’ and ‘ye.’John 7:34.  ΖΗΤΉΣΕΤΈ ΜΕ, ye shall seek Me) Me, whom ye now see, and despise. These words are a kind of text, on which the discourses of this and the following chapter are built as a superstructure; ch. John 8:21, “I go My way, and ye shall seek Me, and shall die in your sins; whither I go, ye cannot come,” etc. Such a text occurs also, ch. John 16:16, “A little while, and ye shall not see Me, and again a little while and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.”—καὶ οὐχ εὑρήσετε, and ye shall not find Me) Afterwards He speaks more sternly, “ye shall die in your sin,” ch. John 8:21.—ὅπου, whither) namely, to heaven: ch. John 3:13, “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man, which is in heaven.” The Lord sometimes put forth a discourse of such a nature, as that a meaning of it, in some degree, was, for the time being, apparent to His hearers: the deeper meaning became so subsequently. Comp. with this passage ch. John 13:33, “Yet a little while, I am with you. Ye shall seek Me; and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come, so now I say to you.” Such a discourse also occurs, ch. John 13:16, “The servant is not greater than his lord.” Comp. ch. John 15:20.
 μικρὸν χοόνον, a little time) It proved to be truly so; for hardly the half of a year elapsed from this discourse to the time of His passion.—Harm., p. 355.Verse 34. - Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me. Many interpretations are given of this.
(1) Origen and Grotius refer it to a hostile search for him which would not be gratified; but the whole story of the arrest which follows, as well as the quotation of these words in John 13:33, prove that this was not his meaning.
(2) Augustine and others imagine penitential seeking when it would be too late. This is not justified by the connection. The limitation of the day of grace for seeking souls is not the theme of this address, and it is, save under special circumstances, no teaching of the New Testament.
(3) The ideas of Hengstenberg and others, so largely built on the great texts in Proverbs 1:28 and Amos 8:12, show that the Messiah would be sought by them when they had utterly rejected Jesus. We do not believe that a genuine search for the Lord will ever be disappointed, but a vicious and vain search may be possible when the opportunity for due approach has gone by forever. Moments, catastrophes, did arrive in their tragic history when they had passionately desired, but in vain, to see one of the days of the Son of man. The individuals who turned to him found the veil which concealed him taken away (2 Corinthians 3:16). The nation as a whole was blinded; they crucified their King, the Lord of glory; and they brought uttermost extinction on themselves as a nation. "They sought their Messiah in vain" (Weiss). Where I am - in the glory in which I dwell, and to which I belong, and to which I am now inviting you - you cannot come. "The door will be shut;" you will not "have known the day of your visitation." "How often would I have gathered you, but ye would not!" The seeking cannot be the search of penitence, but of unavailing despair. You have the opportunity now. In a little while I go, and then you will find it impossible to follow me.
Not as now, for disputation or violence, but for help.
In absolute, eternal being and fellowship with the Father. I am (ἐγω εἰμι) is the formula of the divine existence (John 8:58). The phrase carries a hint of the essential nature of Jesus, and thus prepares the way for ye cannot come (see on John 7:7). The difference in character will make it essentially impossible.
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